DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS - V2
DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS - V2
IX. SHOWS HOW A POSITION OF DELICACY FOR A LADY AND GENTLEMAN WAS
MET IN SIMPLE FASHION WITHOUT HURT TO EITHER.
X. THE CONFLICT OF THE NIGHT
XI. RECOUNTS THE JOURNEY IN A CHARIOT WITH A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF
DIALOGUE AND A SMALL INCIDENT ON THE ROAD
XII. BETWEEN EMMA AND DIANA
XIII. TOUCHING THE FIRST DAYS OF HER PROBATION
XIV. GIVING GLIMPSES OF DIANA UNDER HER CLOUD BEFORE THE WORLD AND
OF HER FURTHER APPRENTICESHIP
XV. INTRODUCES THE HON. PERCY DACIER
XVI. TREATS OF A MIDNIGHT BELL AND OF A SCENE OF EARLY MORNING
XVII. THE PRINCESS EGERIA
SHOWS HOW A POSITION OF DELICACY FOR A LADY AND GENTLEMAN WAS MET IN
SIMPLE FASHION WITHOUT HURT TO EITHER
Redworth's impulse was to laugh for very gladness of heart as he
proffered excuses for his tremendous alarums and in doing so the worthy
gentleman imagined he must have persisted in clamouring for admission
because he suspected that if at home she would require a violent
summons to betray herself. It was necessary to him to follow his
abashed sagacity up to the mark of his happy animation.
'Had I known it was you!' said Diana bidding him enter the passage.
She wore a black silk mantilla and was warmly covered.
She called to her maid Danvers whom Redworth remembered: a firm woman of
about forty wrapped like her mistress in head-covering cloak scarf
and shawl. Telling her to scour the kitchen for firewood Diana led into
a sitting-room. 'I need not ask--you have come from Lady Dunstane' she
said. 'Is she well?'
'She is deeply anxious.'
'You are cold. Empty houses are colder than out of doors. You shall
soon have a fire.'
She begged him to be seated.
The small glow of candle-light made her dark rich colouring orange in
'House and grounds are open to a tenant' she resumed. 'I say good-bye
to them to-morrow morning. The old couple who are in charge sleep in the
village to-night. I did not want them here. You have quitted the
Government service I think?'
'A year or so since.'
'When did you return from America?'
'Two days back.'
'And paid your visit to Copsley immediately?'
'As early as I could.'
'That was true friendliness. You have a letter for me?'
He put his hand to his pocket for the letter.
'Presently' she said. She divined the contents and nursed her
resolution to withstand them. Danvers had brought firewood and coal.
Orders were given to her and in spite of the opposition of the maid
and intervention of the gentleman Diana knelt at the grate observing:
'Allow me to do this. I can lay and light a fire.'
He was obliged to look on: she was a woman who spoke her meaning. She
knelt handling paper firewood and matches like a housemaid. Danvers
proceeded on her mission and Redworth eyed Diana in the first fire-glow.
He could have imagined a Madonna on an old black Spanish canvas.
The act of service was beautiful in gracefulness and her simplicity in
doing the work touched it spiritually. He thought as she knelt there
that never had he seen how lovely and how charged with mystery her
features were; the dark large eyes full on the brows; the proud line of
a straight nose in right measure to the bow of the lips; reposeful red
lips shut and their curve of the slumber-smile at the corners. Her
forehead was broad; the chin of a sufficient firmness to sustain: that
noble square; the brows marked by a soft thick brush to the temples; her
black hair plainly drawn along her head to the knot revealed by the
mantilla fallen on her neck.
Elegant in plainness the classic poet would have said of her hair and
dress. She was of the women whose wits are quick in everything they do.
That which was proper to her position complexion and the hour surely
marked her appearance. Unaccountably this night the fair fleshly
presence over-weighted her intellectual distinction to an observer bent
on vindicating her innocence. Or rather he saw the hidden in the
Owner of such a woman and to lose her! Redworth pitied the husband.
The crackling flames reddened her whole person. Gazing he remembered
Lady Dunstane saying of her once that in anger she had the nostrils of a
war-horse. The nostrils now were faintly alive under some sensitive
impression of her musings. The olive cheeks pale as she stood in the
doorway were flushed by the fire-beams though no longer with their
swarthy central rose tropic flower of a pure and abounding blood as it
had seemed. She was now beset by battle. His pity for her and his
eager championship overwhelmed the spirit of compassion for the foolish
wretched husband. Dolt the man must be Redworth thought; and he asked
inwardly Did the miserable tyrant suppose of a woman like this that
she would be content to shine as a candle in a grated lanthorn?
The generosity of men speculating upon other men's possessions is known.
Yet the man who loves a woman has to the full the husband's jealousy
of her good name. And a lover that without the claims of the alliance
can be wounded on her behalf is less distracted in his homage by the
personal luminary to which man's manufacture of balm and incense is
mainly drawn when his love is wounded. That contemplation of her
incomparable beauty with the multitude of his ideas fluttering round it
did somewhat shake the personal luminary in Redworth. He was conscious
of pangs. The question bit him: How far had she been indiscreet or
wilful? and the bite of it was a keen acid to his nerves. A woman
doubted by her husband is always and even to her champions in the first
hours of the noxious rumour until they had solidified in confidence
through service a creature of the wilds marked for our ancient running.
Nay more than a cynical world these latter will be sensible of it. The
doubt casts her forth the general yelp drags her down; she runs like the
prey of the forest under spotting branches; clear if we can think so but
it has to be thought in devotedness: her character is abroad. Redworth
bore a strong resemblance to his fellowmen except for his power of
faith in this woman. Nevertheless it required the superbness of her
beauty and the contrasting charm of her humble posture of kneeling by the
fire to set him on his right track of mind. He knew and was sure of
her. He dispersed the unhallowed fry in attendance upon any stirring of
the reptile part of us to look at her with the eyes of a friend. And if
. . . !--a little mouse of a thought scampered out of one of the
chambers of his head and darted along the passages fetching a sweat to
his brows. Well whatsoever the fact his heart was hers! He hoped he
could be charitable to women.
She rose from her knees and said: 'Now please give me the letter.'
He was entreated to excuse her for consigning him to firelight when she
left the room.
Danvers brought in a dismal tallow candle remarking that her mistress
had not expected visitors: her mistress had nothing but tea and bread and
butter to offer him. Danvers uttered no complaint of her sufferings;
happy in being the picture of them. 'I'm not hungry' said he.
A plate of Andrew Hedger's own would not have tempted him. The foolish
frizzle of bacon sang in his ears as he walked from end to end of the
room; an illusion of his fancy pricked by a frost-edged appetite. But
the anticipated contest with Diana checked and numbed the craving.
Was Warwick a man to proceed to extremities on a mad suspicion?--What
kind of proof had he?
Redworth summoned the portrait of Mr. Warwick before him and beheld a
sweeping of close eyes in cloud a long upper lip in cloud; the rest of
him was all cloud. As usual with these conjurations of a face the index
of the nature conceived by him displayed itself and no more; but he took
it for the whole physiognomy and pronounced of the husband thus
delineated that those close eyes of the long upper lip would both
suspect and proceed madly.
He was invited by Danvers to enter the dining-room.
There Diana joined him.
'The best of a dinner on bread and butter is that one is ready for
supper soon after it' she said swimming to the tea-tray. 'You have
'At the inn' he replied.
'The Three Ravens! When my father's guests from London flooded The
Crossways The Three Ravens provided the overflow with beds. On nights
like this I have got up and scraped the frost from my window-panes to see
them step into the old fly singing some song of his. The inn had a good
reputation for hospitality in those days. I hope they treated you well?'
'Excellently' said Redworth taking an enormous mouthful while his
heart sank to see that she who smiled to encourage his eating had been
weeping. But she also consumed her bread and butter.
'That poor maid of mine is an instance of a woman able to do things
against the grain' she said. 'Danvers is a foster-child of luxury.
She loves it; great houses plentiful meals and the crowd of twinkling
footmen's calves. Yet you see her here in a desolate house consenting
to cold and I know not what terrors of ghosts! poor soul. I have some
mysterious attraction for her. She would not let me come alone.
I should have had to hire some old Storling grannam or retain the
tattling keepers of the house. She loves her native country too and
disdains the foreigner. My tea you may trust.'
Redworth had not a doubt of it. He was becoming a tea-taster. The merit
of warmth pertained to the beverage. 'I think you get your tea from
Scoppin's in the City' he said.
That was the warehouse for Mrs. Warwick's tea. They conversed of Teas;
the black the green the mixtures; each thinking of the attack to come
and the defence. Meantime the cut bread and butter having flown
Redwerth attacked the loaf. He apologized.
'Oh! pay me a practical compliment' Diana said and looked really happy
at his unfeigned relish of her simple fare.
She had given him one opportunity in speaking of her maid's love of
native country. But it came too early.
'They say that bread and butter is fattening' he remarked.
'You preserve the mean' said she.
He admitted that his health was good. For some little time to his
vexation at the absurdity she kept him talking of himself. So flowing
was she and so sweet the motion of her mouth in utterance that he
followed her lead and he said odd things and corrected them. He had to
describe his ride to her.
'Yes! the view of the Downs from Dewhurst' she exclaimed. 'Or any point
along the ridge. Emma and I once drove there in Summer with clotted
cream from her dairy and we bought fresh-plucked wortleberries and
stewed them in a hollow of the furzes and ate them with ground biscuits
and the clotted cream iced and thought it a luncheon for seraphs. Then
you dropped to the road round under the sand-heights--and meditated
'Just a notion or two.'
'You have been very successful in America?'
'Successful; perhaps; we exclude extremes in our calculations of the
'I am sure' said she 'you always have faith in your calculations.'
Her innocent archness dealt him a stab sharper than any he had known
since the day of his hearing of her engagement. He muttered of his
calculations being human; he was as much of a fool as other men--more!
'Oh! no' said she.
'I cannot think it.'
'I know it.'
'Mr. Redworth you will never persuade me to believe it.'
He knocked a rising groan on the head and rejoined 'I hope I may not
have to say so to-night.'
Diana felt the edge of the dart. 'And meditating railways you scored
our poor land of herds and flocks; and night fell and the moon sprang
up and on you came. It was clever of you to find your way by the
'That's about the one thing I seem fit for!'
'But what delusion is this in the mind of a man succeeding in everything
he does!' cried Diana curious despite her wariness. 'Is there to be the
revelation of a hairshirt ultimately?--a Journal of Confessions? You
succeeded in everything you aimed at and broke your heart over one
'My heart is not of the stuff to break' he said and laughed off her
fortuitous thrust straight into it. 'Another cup yes. I came . . .'
'By night' said she 'and cleverly found your way and dined at The
Three Ravens and walked to The Crossways and met no ghosts.'
'On the contrary--or at least I saw a couple.'
'Tell me of them; we breed them here. We sell them periodically to the
'Well I started them in their natal locality. I saw them going down
the churchyard and bellowed after them with all my lungs. I wanted
directions to The Crossways; I had missed my way at some turning. In an
instant they were vapour.'
Diana smiled. 'It was indeed a voice to startle delicate apparitions!
So do roar Hyrcanean tigers. Pyramus and Thisbe--slaying lions! One
of your ghosts carried a loaf of bread and dropped it in fright; one
carried a pound of fresh butter for home consumption. They were in the
churchyard for one in passing to kneel at her father's grave and kiss his
She bowed her head forgetful of her guard.
The pause presented an opening. Redworth left his chair and walked to
the mantelpiece. It was easier to him to speak not facing her.
'You have read Lady Dunstane's letter' he began.
She nodded. 'I have.'
'Can you resist her appeal to you?'
'She is not in a condition to bear it well. You will pardon me Mrs.
Warwick . . .'
'I venture to offer merely practical advice. You have thought of it all
but have not felt it. In these cases the one thing to do is to make a
stand. Lady Dunstane has a clear head. She sees what has to be endured
by you. Consider: she appeals to me to bring you her letter. Would she
have chosen me or any man for her messenger if it had not appeared to
her a matter of life and death? You count me among your friends.'
'One of the truest.'
'Here are two then and your own good sense. For I do not believe it
to be a question of courage.'
'He has commenced. Let him carry it out' said Diana.
Her desperation could have added the cry--And give me freedom! That was
the secret in her heart. She had struck on the hope for the detested
yoke to be broken at any cost.
'I decline to meet his charges. I despise them. If my friends have
faith in me--and they may!--I want nothing more.'
'Well I won't talk commonplaces about the world' said Redworth.
'We can none of us afford to have it against us. Consider a moment: to
your friends you are the Diana Merion they knew and they will not suffer
an injury to your good name without a struggle. But if you fly? You
leave the dearest you have to the whole brunt of it.
'They will if they love me.'
'They will. But think of the shock to her. Lady Dunstane reads you--'
'Not quite. No not if she even wishes me to stay!' said Diana.
He was too intent on his pleading to perceive a signification.
'She reads you as clearly in the dark as if you were present with her.'
'Oh! why am I not ten years older!' Diana cried and tried to face
round to him and stopped paralyzed. 'Ten years older I could discuss
my situation as an old woman of the world and use my wits to defend
'And then you would not dream of flight before it!'
'No she does not read me: no! She saw that I might come to The
Crossways. She--no one but myself can see the wisdom of my holding
aloof in contempt of this baseness.'
'And of allowing her to sink under that which your presence would arrest.
Her strength will not support it.'
'Emma! Oh cruel!' Diana sprang up to give play to her limbs. She
dropped on another chair. 'Go I must I cannot turn back. She saw my
old attachment to this place. It was not difficult to guess . . .
Who but I can see the wisest course for me!'
'It comes to this that the blow aimed at you in your absence will strike
her and mortally' said Redworth.
'Then I say it is terrible to have a friend' said Diana with her bosom
'Friendship I fancy means one heart between two.'
His unstressed observation hit a bell in her head and set it
reverberating. She and Emma had spoken written the very words. She
drew forth her Emma's letter from under her left breast and read some
Redworth immediately prepared to leave her to her feelings--trustier
guides than her judgement in this crisis.
'Adieu for the night Mrs. Warwick' he said and was guilty of
eulogizing the judgement he thought erratic for the moment. 'Night is a
calm adviser. Let me presume to come again in the morning. I dare not
go back without you.'
She looked up. As they faced together each saw that the other had passed
through a furnace scorching enough to him though hers was the delicacy
exposed. The reflection had its weight with her during the night.
'Danvers is getting ready a bed for you; she is airing linen' Diana
said. But the bed was declined and the hospitality was not pressed.
The offer of it seemed to him significant of an unwary cordiality and
thoughtlessness of tattlers that might account possibly for many things--
supposing a fool or madman or malignants to interpret them.
'Then good night' said she.
They joined hands. He exacted no promise that she would be present in
the morning to receive him; and it was a consolation to her desire for
freedom until she reflected on the perfect confidence it implied and
felt as a quivering butterfly impalpably pinned.
THE CONFLICT OF THE NIGHT