“I think you will do me injustice, but you must believe as you like. I am not glad. I am very far from glad or happy. I doubt if I shall ever be happy again. But I do not hate you as I did.”
She went out, closing the door softly.
THE SHIP OF STARS.
Taffy guessed nothing of these passions in conflict, these weak agonies. He went about his daily work, a man grown, thinking his own thoughts; and these thoughts were of many things; but they held no room for the problem which meant everything in life to Honoria and Lizzie—yes, and to Humility, though it haunted her in less disturbing shape. Humility pondered it quietly with a mind withdrawn while her hands moved before her on the lace pillow; and pondering it, she resigned the solution to time. But it filled her thoughts constantly, none the less.
One noon Taffy returned from the light-house for his dinner to find a registered postal packet lying on the table. He glanced up and met his mother’s gaze; but let the thing lie while he ate his meal, and having done, picked it up and carried it away with him unopened.
On the cliff-side, in a solitary place, he broke the seal. He guessed well enough what the packet contained: the silver medal procured for him by the too officious coroner. And the coroner, finding him obstinate against a public presentation, had forwarded the medal with an effusive letter. Taffy frowned over its opening sentences, and without reading farther crumpled the paper into a tight ball. He turned to examine the medal, holding it between finger and thumb; or rather, his eyes examined it while his brain ran back along the tangled procession of hopes and blunders, wrongs and trials and lessons hardly learnt, of which this mocking piece of silver symbolised the end and the reward. In that minute he saw Honoria and George, himself and Lizzie Pezzack as figures travelling on a road that stretched back to childhood; saw behind them the anxious eyes of his parents, Sir Harry’s debonair smile, the sinister face of old Squire Moyle, malevolent yet terribly afraid; saw that the moving figures could not control their steps, that the watching faces were impotent to warn; saw finally beside the road other ways branching to left and right, and down these undestined and neglected avenues the ghosts of ambitions unattempted, lives not lived, all that might have been.
Well, here was the end of it, this ironical piece of silver. . . . With sudden anger he flung it from him; sent it spinning far out over the waters. And the sea, his old sworn enemy, took the votive offering. He watched it drop—drop; saw the tiny splash as it disappeared.