Was it her wrong if she loved him? She could not help it, and she was proud to love him. Even now, she would not undo the past. What were the lines that Geoffrey had read to her. They haunted her mind with a strange persistence—they took time to the beat of her falling paddle, and would not leave her:
“Of once sown
seed, who knoweth what the crop is?
Alas, my love, Love’s eyes are very blind!
What would they have us do? Sunflowers and poppies
Stoop to the wind——“[*]
[*] Oliver Madox Brown.
Yes, yes, Love’s eyes are very blind, but in their blindness there was more light than in all other earthly things. Oh, she could not live for him, and with him—it was denied to her—but she still could die for him, her darling, her darling!
“Geoffrey, hear me—I die for you; accept my sacrifice, and forget me not.” So!—she is in the rollers—how solemn they are with their hoary heads of foam, as one by one they move down upon her.
The first! it towers high, but the canoe rides it like a cork. Look! the day is dying on the distant land, but still his glory shines across the sea. Presently all will be finished. Here the breeze is strong; it tears the bonnet from her head, it unwinds the coronet of braided locks, and her bright hair streams out behind her. Feel how the spray stings, striking like a whip. No, not this wave, she rides that also; she will die as she has lived—fighting to the last; and once more, never faltering, she sets her face towards the rollers and consigns her soul to doom.
Ah! that struck her full. Oh, see! Geoffrey’s ring has slipped from her wet hand, falling into the bottom of the boat. Can she regain it? she would die with that ring upon her finger—it is her marriage-ring, wedding her through death to Geoffrey, upon the altar of the sea. She stoops! oh, what a shock of water at her breast! What was it—what was it?—Of once sown seed, who knoweth what the crop is? She must soon learn now!
“Geoffrey! hear me, Geoffrey!—I die, I die for you! I will wait for you at the foundations of the sea, on the topmost heights of heaven, in the lowest deeps of hell—wherever I am I will always wait for you!”
It sinks—it has sunk—she is alone with God, and the cruel waters. The sun goes out! Look on that great white wave seething through the deepening gloom; hear it rushing towards her, big with fate.
“Geoffrey, my darling—I will wait——”
Farewell to Beatrice! The light went out of the sky and darkness gathered on the weltering sea. Farewell to Beatrice, and all her love and all her sin.
A WOMAN’S LAST WORD
Geoffrey came down to breakfast about eleven o’clock on the morning of that day the first hours of which he had spent at Euston Station. Not seeing Effie, he asked Lady Honoria where she was, and was informed that Anne, the French bonne, said the child was not well and that she had kept her in bed to breakfast.