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The Money Moon(Chapter28)

2006-08-28 23:19

  Chapter XXVIII. Which tells how Bellew left Dapplemere in the dawn

  Far in the East a grey streak marked the advent of another day, and upon all things was a solemn hush, a great, and awful stillness that was like the stillness of Death. The Earth was a place of gloom, and mist, where spectral shadows writhed, and twisted, and flitted under a frowning heaven, and out of the gloom there came a breath, sharp, and damp, and exceeding chill.

  Therefore, as Bellew gazed down from the frowning Heaven to the gloom of Earth, below, with its ever-moving, misty shapes, he shivered involuntarily.

  In another hour it would be day, and with the day, the gates of Arcadia would open for his departure, and he must go forth to become once more a wanderer, going up and down, and to and fro in the world until his course was run.

  And yet it was worth having lived for, this one golden month, and in all his wanderings needs must he carry with him the memory of her who had taught him how deep and high, how wide and infinitely far-reaching that thing called "Love" may really be.

  And——Porges!——dear, quaint, Small Porges! where under heaven could he ever find again such utter faith, such pure unaffected loyalty and devotion as throbbed within that small, warm heart? How could he ever bid "Good-bye" to loving, eager, little Small Porges?

  And then there was Miss Priscilla, and the strong, gentle Sergeant, and Peterday, and sturdy Adam, and Prudence, and the rosy-cheeked maids. How well they all suited this wonderful Arcadia! Yes, indeed he, and he only, had been out of place, and so——he must go——back to the every-day, matter-of-fact world, but how could he ever say "Good-bye" to faithful, loving Small Porges?

  Far in the East the grey streak had brightened, and broadened, and was already tinged with a faint pink that deepened, and deepened, as he watched. Bellew had seen the glory of many a sun-rise in divers wild places of the Earth, and, hitherto, had always felt deep within him, the responsive thrill, the exhilaration of hope new born, and joyful expectation of the great, unknown Future. But now, he watched the varying hues of pink, and scarlet, and saffron, and gold, with gloomy brow, and sombre eyes.

  Now presently, the Black-bird who lived in the apple-tree beneath his window, (the tree of the inquisitive turn of mind), this Black-bird fellow, opening a drowsy eye, must needs give vent to a croak, very hoarse and feeble; then, (apparently having yawned prodigiously and stretched himself, wing, and leg), he tried a couple of notes,——in a hesitating, tentative sort of fashion, shook himself,——repeated the two notes,——tried three, found them mellower, and more what the waiting world very justly expected of him; grew more confident; tried four; tried five,——grew perfectly assured, and so burst forth into the full, golden melody of his morning song.

  Then Bellew, leaning out from his casement, as the first bright beams of the rising sun gilded the top-most leaves of the tree, thus apostrophised the unseen singer:

  "I suppose you will be piping away down in your tree there, old fellow, long after Arcadia has faded out of my life. Well, it will be only natural, and perfectly right, of course,——She will be here, and may, perhaps, stop to listen to you. Now if, somehow, you could manage to compose for me a Song of Memory, some evening when I'm gone,——some evening when She happens to be sitting idle, and watching the moon rise over the upland yonder; if, at such a time, you could just manage to remind her of——me, why——I'd thank you. And so,——Good-bye, old fellow!"

  Saying which, Bellew turned from the window, and took up a certain bulging, be-strapped portmanteau, while the Black-bird, (having, evidently, hearkened to his request with much grave attention), fell a singing more gloriously than ever.

  Meanwhile, Bellew descended the great, wide stair, soft of foot, and cautious of step, yet pausing once to look towards a certain closed door, and so, presently let himself quietly out into the dawn. The dew sparkled in the grass, it hung in glittering jewels from every leaf, and twig, while, now and then, a shining drop would fall upon him as he passed, like a great tear.

  Now, as he reached the orchard, up rose the sun in all his majesty filling the world with the splendour of his coming,——before whose kindly beams the skulking mists and shadows shrank affrighted, and fled utterly away.

  This morning, "King Arthur" wore his grandest robes of state, for his mantle of green was thick sewn with a myriad flaming gems; very different he looked from that dark, shrouded giant who had so lately been Conspirator No. Two. Yet, perhaps for this very reason, Bellew paused to lay a hand upon his mighty, rugged hole, and, doing so, turned and looked back at the House of Dapplemere.

  And truly never had the old house seemed so beautiful, so quaint, and peaceful as now. It's every stone and beam had become familiar and, as he looked, seemed to find an individuality of its own, the very lattices seemed to look back at him, like so many wistful eyes.

  Therefore George Bellew, American Citizen, millionaire, traveller, explorer, and——lover, sighed as he turned away,——sighed as he strode on through the green and golden morning, and resolutely——looked back no more.

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