Saint's Progress eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 279 pages of information about Saint's Progress.
and anyone seeing him at his work in the dim light which visited the staircase from above the front door and the upper-passage window, would have thought:  ’A ghost, a ghost gone into mourning for the condition of the world.’  He had to make this reckoning to-night, while the exaltation of his new idea was on him; had to rummage out the very depths of old association, so that once for all he might know whether he had strength to close the door on the past.  Five o’clock struck before he had finished, and, almost dropping from fatigue, sat down at his little piano in bright daylight.  The last memory to beset him was the first of all; his honeymoon, before they came back to live in this house, already chosen, furnished, and waiting for them.  They had spent it in Germany—­the first days in Baden-baden, and each morning had been awakened by a Chorale played down in the gardens of the Kurhaus, a gentle, beautiful tune, to remind them that they were in heaven.  And softly, so softly that the tunes seemed to be but dreams he began playing those old Chorales, one after another, so that the stilly sounds floated out, through the opened window, puzzling the early birds and cats and those few humans who were abroad as yet.....

He received the telegram from Noel in the afternoon of the same day, just as he was about to set out for Leila’s to get news of her; and close on the top of it came Lavendie.  He found the painter standing disconsolate in front of his picture.

“Mademoiselle has deserted me?”

“I’m afraid we shall all desert you soon, monsieur.”

“You are going?”

“Yes, I am leaving here.  I hope to go to France.”

“And mademoiselle?”

“She is at the sea with my son-in-law.”

The painter ran his hands through his hair, but stopped them half-way, as if aware that he was being guilty of ill-breeding.

“Mon dieu!” he said:  “Is this not a calamity for you, monsieur le cure?” But his sense of the calamity was so patently limited to his unfinished picture that Pierson could not help a smile.

“Ah, monsieur!” said the painter, on whom nothing was lost.  “Comme je suis egoiste!  I show my feelings; it is deplorable.  My disappointment must seem a bagatelle to you, who will be so distressed at leaving your old home.  This must be a time of great trouble.  Believe me; I understand.  But to sympathise with a grief which is not shown would be an impertinence, would it not?  You English gentlefolk do not let us share your griefs; you keep them to yourselves.”

Pierson stared.  “True,” he said.  “Quite true!”

“I am no judge of Christianity, monsieur, but for us artists the doors of the human heart stand open, our own and others.  I suppose we have no pride—­c’est tres-indelicat.  Tell me, monsieur, you would not think it worthy of you to speak to me of your troubles, would you, as I have spoken of mine?”

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Saint's Progress from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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