Of marriage there was no further word. Her heart was evidently quite at ease; and that it should be so without chaining him to a date, was Wilfrid’s peculiar desire. He could pledge himself to eternity, but shrank from being bound to eleven o’clock on the morrow morning.
So, now, the soft Summer hours flew like white doves from off the mounting moon, and the lovers turned to go, all being still: even the noise of the waters still to their ears, as life that is muffled in sleep. They saw the cedar grey-edged under the moon: and Night, that clung like a bat beneath its ancient open palms. The bordering sward about the falls shone silvery. In its shadow was a swan. These scenes are but beckoning hands to the hearts of lovers, waving them on to that Eden which they claim: but when the hour has fled, they know it; and by the palpitating light in it they know that it holds the best of them.
At this season Mr. Pericles reappeared. He had been, he said, through “Paris, Turin, Milano, Veniss, and by Trieste over the Summering to Vienna on a tour for a voice.” And in no part of the Continent, his vehement declaration assured the ladies, had he found a single one. It was one universal croak—ahi! And Mr. Pericles could, affirm that Purgatory would have no pains for him after the torments he had recently endured. “Zey are frogs if zey are not geese,” said Mr. Pericles. “I give up. Opera is dead. Hein? for a time;” and he smiled almost graciously, adding: “Where is she?” For Emilia was not present.
The ladies now perceived a greatness of mind in the Greek’s devotion to music, and in his non-mercenary travels to assist managers of Opera by discovering genius. His scheme for Emilia fired them with delight. They were about to lay down all the material arrangements at once, but Mrs. Chump, who had heard that there was a new man in the house, now entered the room, prepared to conquer him. As thus, after a short form of introduction: “D’ye do, sir! and ye’re Mr. Paricles. Oh! but ye’re a Sultan, they say. Not in morr’ls, sir. And vary pleasant to wander on the Cont’nent with a lot o’ lacqueys at your heels. It’s what a bachelor can do. But I ask ye, sir, is ut fair, ye think, to the poor garls that has to stop at home?”
Hereat the ladies of Brookfield, thus miserably indicated, drew upon their self-command that sprang from the high sense of martyrdom.
Mr. Pericles did not reply to Mrs. Chump at all. He turned to Adela, saying aloud: “What is zis person?”
It might have pleased them to hear any slight put publicly on Mrs. Chump in the first resistance to the woman, but in the present stage their pride defended her. “Our friend,” was the reply with which Arabella rebuked his rudeness; and her sister approved her. “We can avoid showing that we are weak in our own opinion, whatsoever degrades us,” they had said during a consultation.