Just before the ceremony itself the youthful Wellington, who had confounded science by a remarkable recovery from his ailment, was confronted with the offer of half-a-crown if he acquitted himself well, and threatened with corporal punishment if he didn’t. With this double stimulus, he pumped without cessation and with such heartiness that the rector’s words were at times hardly audible above the sound of air escaping from the bellows—necessitating a punitive expedition on the part of the sexton, and engendering in Wellington a permanent mistrust in the justice of human affairs.
Late in the afternoon bride and groom left for London, on their way to America.
When the train came in and they had entered their compartment, Selwyn, with feelings that left him dumb, looked out at the little group who had come to say farewell.
Lord Durwent stood with his unchangeable air of gentleness and courtesy, but in his eyes there was the look of a man for whom life holds only memories. Lady Durwent alternated dramatically between advice and tears; and Mathews stood proudly beside his wife (whose hat was of most marvellous size and colours), nodding his head sagaciously, and uttering as much philosophy in five minutes as falls to the lot of most men in a decade.
And so, with his wife’s hand trembling on his arm, Austin Selwyn leaned from the window and waved good-bye to the little English village.
A year went by, and, with the passing of winter, Selwyn and Elise, in their home at Long Island, watched the budding promise of another spring.
Their home was by the sea, and in the presence of that great majestic force they had lived as man and wife, taking up the broken threads of life, and knitting them together for the future.
The task of resuming his literary work had been next to impossible for Selwyn. He had tried to mould the destinies of nations—and they had fallen back upon him, crushing him. His thoughts cried out for utterance, but self-distrust robbed him of courage. Months went by, and his chafing, restless longing for self-expression grew more intense and more intolerable.
And then the woman who was his wife lost her own yoke of self-restraint in solicitude for him. Timidly, hesitatingly at first, she invaded the precincts of his mind. With subtle persistence, yet never seeming to force her way, she wove her personality about his like a web of silken thread. Her purity of thought, her innate artistry, her depth of feeling, played on his spirit like dew upon the parched earth.
As the passing hours took their course, each nature unconsciously gave to the other the freedom that comes only with surrender. His strength and his care for her liberated her womanhood, and, like a flower that has lived in shadow, her soul blossomed to fullness in that warmth.
And his troubled mind, directionless, yet rebellious of inaction, found again the meaning and the hidden truths of life, then gained the courage to be life’s interpreter.