“So much, and no more, my friend. I drop the veil over my heart. You will understand me better hereafter. I shall not marry. That legal divorce is invalid. I could not perjure my soul by vows of fidelity toward another. Patiently and earnestly will I do my allotted work here. My better hopes lie all in the heavenly future.
“And now, my friend, we will understand each other better. You have looked deeper into my thoughts and experiences than any other human being. Let the revelation be sacred to yourself. The knowledge you possess may enable you to do me justice sometimes, and sometimes to save me from an intrusion of themes that cannot but touch me unpleasantly. There was a charm about Mrs. Eager that, striking me suddenly, for a little while bewildered my fancy. She is a woman of rare endowments, and I do not regret the introduction and passing influence she exercised over me. It was a dream from which the awakening was certain. Suddenly the illusion vanished, as I saw her beside my lost Irene. The one was of the earth, earthy—the other of heaven, heavenly; and as I looked back into her brilliant face, radiant with thought and feeling, I felt a low, creeping shudder, as if just freed from the spell of a siren. I cannot be enthralled again, even for a moment.”
Back again into his world’s work Mr. Emerson returned after this brief, exciting episode, and found in its performance from high and honorable motives that calmly sustaining power which comes only as the reward of duties faithfully done.
AFTER THE STORM.
AFTER the storm! How long the treasure remained buried in deep waters! How long the earth showed unsightly furrows and barren places! For nearly twenty years there had been warm sunshine, and no failure of the dews nor the early and latter rain. But grass had not grown nor flowers blossomed in the path of that desolating tempest. Nearly twenty years! If the history of these two lives during that long period could be faithfully written, it would flood the soul with tears.
Four years later than the time when we last presented Irene to the reader we introduce her again. That meeting in the picture-gallery had disturbed profoundly the quiet pulses of her life. She did not observe Mr. Emerson’s companion. The picture alone had attracted her attention; and she had just began to feel its meaning when an audible sigh reached her ears. The answering sigh was involuntary. Then they looked into each other’s faces again—only for an instant—but with what a volume of mutual revelations!