Just as he was speaking Lady Latimer came back bringing some delicious fruit for Harry’s refreshment. “What is that you are saying about Ryde?” she inquired quickly. “I am going to Ryde for a week or two, and as I shall take Elizabeth with me, you can come to us there, Mr. Musgrave, and enjoy the salt breezes. It is very relaxing in the Forest at this season.”
Bessie by a glance supplicated Harry to be gracious, and in obedience to her mute entreaty he thanked her ladyship and said it would give him the truest pleasure. My lady had never thought of going to Ryde until that moment, but since she had seen Harry Musgrave and had been struck by the tragedy of his countenance, and all that was meant by his having to fall out of the race of life so early, she was impelled by an irresistible goodness of nature to be kind and generous to him. Robust people, healthy, wealthy, and wise, she could let alone, but poverty, sickness, or any manner of trouble appealed straight to her noble heart, and brought out all her spirit of Christian fellowship. She was prompt and thorough in doing a good action, and when she met the young people at luncheon her arrangements for going to the island were all made, and she announced that the next day, in the cool of the evening, they would drive to Hampton and cross by the last boat to Ryde. This sudden and complete revolution in her behavior was not owing to any change in principle, but to sheer pitifulness of temper. She had not realized before what an immense disaster and overthrow young Musgrave was suffering, but at the sight of his pathetic visage and weakened frame, and of Elizabeth’s exquisite tenderness, she knew that such great love must be given to him for consolation and a shield against despair. It was quite within the scope of her imagination to depict the temptations of a powerful and aspiring mind reduced to bondage and inaction by the development of inherited disease: to herself it would have been of all fates the most terrible, and thus she fancied it for him. But in Harry Musgrave’s nature there was no bitterness or fierce revolt, no angry sarcasm against an unjust world or stinging remorse for fault of his own. Defeat was his destiny, and he bowed to it as the old Greek heroes bowed to the decree of the gods, and laughed sometimes at the impotence of misfortune to fetter the free flight of his thoughts. And Elizabeth was his angel of peace.
The house that Lady Latimer always occupied on her visits to Ryde was away from the town and the pier, amongst the green fields going out towards Binstead. It had a shaded garden down to the sea, and a landing-place of its own when the tide was in. A balcony, looking north, made the narrow drawing-room spacious, and my lady and her despatch-box were established in a cool room below, adjoining the dining-parlor. She did not like the pier or the strand, with their