“Around the very place doth brood
A calm and holy quietude.”—Rev. Isaac Williams.
The level beams of a summer sun, ending one of his longest careers, were tipping a mountain peak with an ineffable rosy purple, contrasting with the deep shades of narrow ravines that cleft the rugged sides, and gradually expanded into valleys, sloping with green pasture, or clothed with wood. The whole picture, with its clear, soft sky, was retraced on the waters of the little lake set in emerald meadows, which lay before the eyes of Rachel Keith, as she reclined in a garden chair before the windows of a pretty rustic-looking hotel, but there was no admiration, no peaceful contemplation on her countenance, only the same weary air of depression, too wistful and startled even to be melancholy repose, and the same bewildered distressed look that had been as it were stamped on her by the gaze of the many unfriendly eyes at the Quarter Sessions, and by her two unfortunate dinner parties.
The wedding was to have been quietness itself, but though the bridegroom had refused to contribute sister, brother-in-law, or even uncle to the numbers, conventionalities had been too strong for Mrs. Curtis, and “just one more” had been added to the guests till a sufficient multitude had been collected to renew all Rachel’s morbid sensations of distress and bewilderment with their accompanying feverish symptoms, and she had been only able to proceed on her journey by very short stages, taken late in the day.
Alick had not forgotten her original views as to travelling, and as they were eventually to go to Scotland, had proposed beginning with Dutch reformatories and Swiss cretins; but she was so plainly unfit for extra fatigue and bustle, that the first few weeks were to be spent in Wales, where the enjoyment of fine scenery might, it was hoped, be beneficial to the jaded spirits, and they had been going through a course of passes and glens as thoroughly as Rachel’s powers would permit, for any over-fatigue renewed feverishness and its delusive miseries, and the slightest alarm told upon the shattered nerves.
She did not easily give way at the moment, but the shock always took revenge in subsequent suffering, which all Alick’s care could not prevent, though the exceeding charm of his tenderness rendered even the indisposition almost precious to her.
“What a lovely sunset!” he said, coming to lean over the back of her chair. “Have you been watching it?”
“I don’t know.”
“Are you very much tired?”
“No, it is very quiet here.”
“Very; but I must take you in before that curling mist mounts into your throat.”
“This is a very nice place, Alick, the only really quiet one we have found.”
“I am afraid that it will be so no longer. The landlord tells me he has letters from three parties to order rooms.”