And all men are my
Wherever they may be,
And he is most my proper care
Who most has need of me;
Who most may need my counsel,
My influence, my pelf,
And most of all who needs my strength
To save him from myself.
For all I have of power
Beyond what he can wield,
Is not a weapon of offence
But a protecting shield,
Which I must hold before him
To save him from his foe,
E’en though I be the enemy
That longs to strike the blow.
I am my brother’s
And must be to the end—
A neighbour to the neighbourless,
And to the friendless, friend;
His weakness lays it on me,
My strength involves it too,
And common love for common life
Will bear the burden through.
THE STRAIGHT RIDER.
(FROM “BLACK AND WHITE?” BY PERMISSION.)
“My dear Mabel, how pale you look! It is this hot room. I am sure Lord Saint Sinnes will not mind taking you for a little turn in the garden—between the dances.”
My Lord Saint Sinnes—or Billy Sinnes as he is usually called by his friends—shuffled in his high collar. It is a remarkable collar, nearly related to a cuff, and it keeps Lord Saint Innes in remembrance of his chin. If it were not that this plain young nobleman were essentially a gentleman, one might easily mistake him for a groom. Moreover, like other persons of equine tastes, he has the pleasant fancy of affecting a tight and horsey “cut” in clothes never intended for the saddle.
The girl, addressed by her somewhat overpowering mother as Mabel, takes the proffered arm with a murmured acquiescence and a quivering lip. She is paler than before.
Over his stiff collar Lord Saint Sinnes looks down at her—with something of the deep intuition which makes him the finest steeplechaser in England. Perhaps he notes the quiver of the lip, the sinews drawn tense about her throat. Such silent signals of distress are his business. Certainly he notes the little shiver of abject fear which passes through the girl’s slight form as they pass out of the room together. Their departure is noted by several persons—mostly chaperons.
“He must do it to-night,” murmurs the girl’s mother with a complacent smile on her worldly, cruel face, “and then Mabel will soon see that—the other—was all a mistake.”
Some mothers believe such worn-out theories as this—and others—are merely heartless.
Lord Saint Sinnes leads the way deliberately to the most secluded part of the garden. There are two chairs at the end of a narrow pathway. Mabel sits down hopelessly. She is a quiet-eyed little girl, with brown hair and gentle ways. Just—in a word—the sort of girl who usually engages the affections of blushing, open-air, horsey men. She has no spirit, and those who know her mother are not surprised. She is going to say yes, because she dare not say no. At least two lives are going to be wrecked at the end of the narrow path.