DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS - V5
DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS - V5
XXXVI. IS CONCLUSIVE AS TO THE HEARTLESSNESS OF WOMEN WITH BRAINS
XXXVII. AN EXHIBITION OF SOME CHAMPIONS OF THE STRICKEN LADY
XXXVIII. CONVALESCENCE OF A HEALTHY MIND DISTRAUGHT
XXXIX. OF NATURE WITH ONE OF HER CULTIVATED DAUGHTERS AND A SHORT
EXCURSION IN ANTI-CLIMAX
XL. IN WHICH WE SEE NATURE MAKING OF A WOMAN A MAID AGAIN AND A
XLI. CONTAINS A REVELATION OF THE ORIGIN OF THE TIGRESS IN DIANA
XLII. THE PENULTIMATE : SHOWING A FINAL STRUGGLE FOR LIBERTY AND RUN
XLIII. NUPTIAL CHAPTER: AND OF HOW A BARELY WILLING WOMAN WAS LED TO
BLOOM WITH NUPTIAL SENTIMENT
IS CONCLUSIVE AS TO THE HEARTLESSNESS OF WOMEN WITH BRAINS
Hymenaeal rumours are those which might be backed to run a victorious
race with the tale of evil fortune; and clearly for the reason that man's
livelier half is ever alert to speed them. They travel with an
astonishing celerity over the land like flames of the dry beacon-faggots
of old time in announcement of the invader or a conquest gathering as
they go: wherein to say nothing of their vastly wider range they
surpass the electric wires. Man's nuptial half is kindlingly concerned
in the launch of a new couple; it is the business of the fair sex: and
man himself (very strangely but nature quickens him still) lends a not
unfavouring eye to the preparations of the matrimonial vessel for its
oily descent into the tides where billows will soon be rising captain
and mate soon discussing the fateful question of who is commander. We
consent it appears to hope again for mankind; here is another chance!
Or else assuming the happiness of the pair that pomp of ceremonial
contrasted with the little wind-blown candle they carry between them
catches at our weaker fibres.
After so many ships have foundered some keel up like poisoned fish at
the first drink of water it is a gallant spectacle let us avow; and
either the world perpetuating it is heroical or nature incorrigible in
the species. Marriages are unceasing. Friends do it and enemies; the
unknown contractors of this engagement or armistice inspire an
interest. It certainly is both exciting and comforting to hear that man
and woman are ready to join in a mutual affirmative say Yes together
again. It sounds like the end of the war.
The proclamation of the proximate marriage of a young Minister of State
and the greatest heiress of her day; notoriously 'The young Minister of
State' of a famous book written by the beautiful now writhing woman
madly enamoured of him--and the heiress whose dowry could purchase a
Duchy; this was a note to make the gossips of England leap from their
beds at the midnight hour and wag tongues in the market-place. It did
away with the political hubbub over the Tonans article and let it noise
abroad like nonsense. The Hon. Percy Dacier espouses Miss Asper; and she
rescues him from the snares of a siren he her from the toils of the
Papists. She would have gone over to them she was going when luckily
for the Protestant Faith Percy Dacier intervened with his proposal.
Town and country buzzed the news; and while that dreary League trumpeted
about the business of the nation a people suddenly become Oriental
chattered of nothing but the blissful union to be celebrated in princely
state with every musical accessory short of Operatic.
Lady Wathin was an active agent in this excitement. The excellent woman
enjoyed marriages of High Life: which as there is presumably wealth to
support them are manifestly under sanction: and a marriage that she
could consider one of her own contrivance had a delicate flavour of a
marriage in the family; not quite equal to the seeing a dear daughter of
her numerous progeny conducted to the altar but excelling it in the pomp
that bids the heavens open. She and no other spread the tidings of Miss
Asper's debating upon the step to Rome at the very instant of Percy
Dacier's declaration of his love; and it was a beautiful struggle that
of the half-dedicated nun and her deep-rooted earthly passion love
prevailing! She sent word to Lady Dunstane: 'You know the interest I
have always taken in dear Constance Aspen' etc.; inviting her to come on
a visit a week before the end of the month that she might join in the
ceremony of a wedding 'likely to be the grandest of our time.' Pitiful
though it was to think of the bridal pair having but eight or ten days
at the outside for a honeymoon the beauty of their 'mutual devotion to
duty' was urged by Lady Wathin upon all hearers.
Lady Dunstane declined the invitation. She waited to hear from her
friend and the days went by; she could only sorrow for her poor Tony
divining her state. However little of wrong in the circumstances they
imposed a silence on her decent mind and no conceivable shape of writing
would transmit condolences. She waited with a dull heartache: by no
means grieving at Dacier's engagement to the heiress; until Redworth
animated her as the bearer of rather startling intelligence indirectly
relating to the soul she loved. An accident in the street had befallen
Mr. Warwick. Redworth wanted to know whether Diana should be told of it
though he had no particulars to give; and somewhat to his disappointment
Lady Dunstane said she would write. She delayed thinking the accident
might not be serious; and the information of it to Diana surely would be
so. Next day at noon her visitor was Lady Wathin evidently perturbed
and anxious to say more than she dared: but she received no assistance.
After beating the air in every direction especially dwelling on the fond
reciprocal affection of the two devoted lovers to be united within three
days' time Lady Wathin said at last: 'And is it not shocking! I talk of
a marriage and am appalled by a death. That poor man died last night in
the hospital. I mean poor Mr. Warwick. He was recovering getting
strong and well and he was knocked down at a street-crossing and died
last night. It is a warning to us!'
'Mr. Redworth happened to hear of it at his Club near which the accident
occurred and he called at the hospital. Mr. Warwick was then alive'
said Lady Dunstane; adding: 'Well if prevention is better than cure as
we hear! Accidents are the specific for averting the maladies of age
which are a certain crop!'
Lady Wathin's eyelids worked and her lips shut fast at the cold-hearted
remark void of meaning.
She sighed. 'So ends a life of misery my dear!'
'You are compassionate.'
'I hope so. But . . . Indeed I must speak if you will let me. I
think of the living.'
Lady Dunstane widened her eyes. 'Of Mrs. Warwick?'
'She has now the freedom she desired. I think of others. Forgive me
but Constance Asper is to me as a daughter. I have perhaps no grounds
for any apprehension. Love so ardent so sincere was never shown by
bridegroom elect: and it is not extraordinary to those acquainted with
dear Constance. But--one may be a worshipped saint and experience
defection. The terrible stories one hears of a power of fascination
almost . . . !' Lady Wathin hung for the word.
'Infernal' said Lady Dunstane whose brows had been bent inquiringly.
'Have no fear. The freedom you allude to will not be used to interfere
with any entertainment in prospect. It was freedom my friend desired.
Now that her jewel is restored to her she is not the person to throw it
away be sure. And pray drop the subject.'
'One may rely . . . you think?'
'This release coming just before the wedding . . . !'
'I should hardly suppose the man to be the puppet you depict or
'It is because men--so many--are not puppets that one is conscious of
'Your previous remark' said Lady Dunstane 'sounded superstitious. Your
present one has an antipodal basis. But as for your alarm check it:
and spare me further. My friend has acknowledged powers. Considering
that she does not use them you should learn to respect her.'
Lady Wathin bowed stiffly. She refused to partake of lunch having she
said satisfied her conscience by the performance of a duty and arranged
with her flyman to catch a train. Her cousin Lady Dunstane smiled
loftily at everything she uttered and she felt that if a woman like this
Mrs. Warwick could put division between blood-relatives she could do
worse and was to be dreaded up to the hour of the nuptials.
'I meant no harm in coming' she said at the shaking of hands.
'No no; I understand' said her hostess: 'you are hen-hearted over your
adopted brood. The situation is perceptible and your intention
As one of the good women of the world Lady Wathin in departing was
indignant at the tone and dialect of a younger woman not modestly
concealing her possession of the larger brain. Brains in women she both
dreaded and detested; she believed them to be devilish. Here were
instances:--they had driven poor Sir Lukin to evil courses and that poor
Mr. Warwick straight under the wheels of a cab. Sir Lukin's name was
trotting in public with a naughty Mrs. Fryar-Gunnett's: Mrs. Warwick
might still trim her arts to baffle the marriage. Women with brains
moreover are all heartless: they have no pity for distress no horror of
catastrophes no joy in the happiness of the deserving. Brains in men
advance a household to station; but brains in women divide it and are the
wrecking of society. Fortunately Lady Wathin knew she could rally a
powerful moral contingent the aptitude of which for a one-minded
cohesion enabled it to crush those fractional daughters of mischief.
She was a really good woman of the world heading a multitude; the same
whom you are accustomed to hear exalted; lucky in having had a guided
girlhood a thick-curtained prudence; and in having stock in the moral
funds shares in the sentimental tramways. Wherever the world laid its
hoards or ran its lines she was found and forcible enough to be
eminent; though at fixed hours of the day even as she washed her hands
she abjured worldliness: a performance that cleansed her. If she did not
make morality appear loveable to the objects of her dislike it was owing
to her want of brains to see the origin nature and right ends of
morality. But a world yet more deficient than she esteemed her
cordially for being a bulwark of the present edifice; which looks a
solid structure when the microscope is not applied to its components.
Supposing Percy Dacier a dishonourable tattler as well as an icy lover
and that Lady Wathin through his bride had become privy to the secret
between him and Diana? There is reason to think that she would have held
it in terror over the baneful woman but not have persecuted her: for she
was by no means the active malignant of theatrical plots. No she would
have charged it upon the possession of brains by women and have had a
further motive for inciting the potent dignitary her husband to employ
his authority to repress the sex's exercise of those fell weapons
hurtful alike to them and all coming near them.
So extreme was her dread of Mrs. Warwick that she drove from the London
railway station to see Constance and be reassured by her tranquil aspect.
Sweet Constance and her betrothed Percy were together examining a
Lady Dunstane despatched a few words of the facts to Diana. She hoped to
hear from her; rather hoped for the moment not to see her. No answer
came. The great day of the nuptials came and passed. She counted on her
husband's appearance the next morning as the good gentleman made a point
of visiting her to entertain the wife he adored whenever he had a
wallet of gossip that would overlay the blank of his absence. He had
been to the church of the wedding--he did not say with whom: all the
world was there; and he rapturously described the ceremony stating
that it set women weeping and caused him to behave like a fool.
'You are impressionable' said his wife.
He murmured something in praise of the institution of marriage--when
celebrated impressively it seemed.
'Tony calls the social world "the theatre of appetites" as we have it at
present' she said; 'and the world at a wedding is one may reckon in
the second act of the hungry tragicomedy.'
'Yes there's the breakfast' Sir Lukin assented. Mrs. Fryar-Gunnett was
much more intelligible to him: in fact quite so as to her speech.
Emma's heart now yearned to her Tony: Consulting her strength she
thought she might journey to London and on the third morning after the
Dacier-Asper marriage she started.
Diana's door was open to Arthur Rhodes when Emma reached it.
'Have you seen her?' she asked him.
His head shook dolefully. 'Mrs. Warwick is unwell; she has been working
'You also I'm afraid.'
'No.' He could deny that whatever the look of him.
'Come to me at Copsley soon' said she entering to Danvers in the
'My mistress is upstairs my lady' said Danvers. 'She is lying on her
'She is ill?'
'She has been lying on her bed ever since.'
'Since what?' Lady Dunstane spoke sharply.
Danvers retrieved her indiscretion. 'Since she heard of the accident my
'Take my name to her. Or no: I can venture.'
'I am not allowed to go in and speak to her. You will find the room
quite dark my lady and very cold. It is her command. My mistress will
not let me light the fire; and she has not eaten or drunk of anything
since . . . . She will die if you do not persuade her to take
nourishment: a little for a beginning. It wants the beginning.'
Emma went upstairs thinking of the enigmatical maid that she must be a
good soul after all. Diana's bedroom door was opened slowly.
'You will not be able to see at first my lady' Danvers whispered. 'The
bed is to the left and a chair. I would bring in a candle but it hurts
her eyes. She forbids it.'
Emma stepped in. The chill thick air of the unlighted London room was
cavernous. She almost forgot the beloved of her heart in the thought
that a living woman had been lying here more than two days and nights
fasting. The proof of an uttermost misery revived the circumstances
within her to render her friend's presence in this desert of darkness
credible. She found the bed by touch silently and distinguished a dark
heap on the bed; she heard no breathing. She sat and listened; then she
stretched out her hand and met her Tony's. It lay open. It was the hand
of a drowned woman.
Shutters and curtains and the fireless grate gave the room an appalling
likeness to the vaults.
So like to the home of death it seemed that in a few minutes the watcher
had lost count of time and kept but a wormy memory of the daylight. She
dared not speak for some fear of startling; for the worse fear of never
getting answer. Tony's hand was lifeless. Her clasp of it struck no
She stung herself with bitter reproaches for having let common mundane
sentiments worthy of a Lady Wathin bar her instant offer of her bosom
to the beloved who suffered in this depth of mortal agony. Tony's love
of a man as she should have known would be wrought of the elements of
our being: when other women named Happiness she said Life; in division
Death. Her body lying still upon the bed here was a soul borne onward by
the river of Death.
The darkness gave sight after a while like a curtain lifting on a veil:
the dead light of the underworld. Tony lay with her face up her
underlip dropped; straight from head to feet. The outline of her face
without hue of it could be seen: sign of the hapless women that have
souls in love. Hateful love of men! Emma thought and was; moved to
feel at the wrist for her darling's pulse. He has killed her! the
thought flashed as with pangs chilling her frame the pressure at the
wrist continued insensible of the faintest beat. She clasped it
trembling in pain to stop an outcry.
'It is Emmy' said the voice.
Emma's heart sprang to heaven on a rush of thanks.
'My Tony' she breathed softly.
She hung for a further proof of life in the motionless body. 'Tony!' she
The answer was at her hand a thread-like return of her clasp.
'It is Emmy come to stay with you never to leave you.'
The thin still answer was at her hand a moment; the fingers fell away.
A deep breath was taken twice to say:
'Don't talk to me.'
Emma retained the hand. She was warned not to press it by the deadness
following its effort to reply.
But Tony lived; she had given proof of life. Over this little wavering
taper in the vaults Emma cowered cherishing the hand silently hoping
for the voice.
It came: 'Winter.'
'It is a cold winter Tony.'
'My dear will be cold.'
'I will light the fire.'
Emma lost no time in deciding to seek the match-box. The fire was lit
and it flamed; it seemed a revival in the room. Coming back to the
bedside she discerned her Tony's lacklustre large dark eyes and her
hollow cheeks: her mouth open to air as to the drawing-in of a sword;
rather as to the releaser than the sustainer. Her feet were on the rug
her maid had placed to cover them. Emma leaned across the bed to put
them to her breast beneath her fur mantle and held them there despite
the half-animate tug of the limbs and the shaft of iciness they sent to
her very heart. When she had restored them to some warmth she threw
aside her bonnet and lying beside Tony took her in her arms heaving now
and then a deep sigh.
She kissed her cheek.
'It is Emmy.'
'I have no strength.'
Emma laid her face on the lips. They were cold; even the breath between
'Has Emmy been long . . .?'
'Here dear? I think so. I am with my darling.'
Tony moaned. The warmth and the love were bringing back her anguish.
She said: 'I have been happy. It is not hard to go.'
Emma strained to her. 'Tony will wait for her soul's own soul to go the
There was a faint convulsion in the body. 'If I cry I shall go in
'You are in Emmy's arms my beloved.'
Tony's eyes closed for forgetfulness under that sensation. A tear ran
down from her but the pain was lag and neighboured sleep like the
So passed the short winter day little spoken.
Then Emma bethought her of a way of leading Tony to take food and she
said: 'I shall stay with you; I shall send for clothes; I am rather
hungry. Don't stir dear. I will be mistress of the house.'
She went below to the kitchen where a few words in the ear of a
Frenchwoman were sufficient to waken immediate comprehension of what was
wanted and smart service: within ten minutes an appetizing bouillon sent
its odour over the bedroom. Tony days back had said her last to the
act of eating; but Emma sipping at the spoon and expressing satisfaction
was a pleasant picture. The bouillon smelt pleasantly.
'Your servants love you' Emma said.
'Ah poor good souls.'
'They crowded up to me to hear of you. Madame of course at the first
word was off to her pots. And we English have the habit of calling
ourselves the practical people!--This bouillon is consummate.--However
we have the virtues of barbarians; we can love and serve for love. I
never tasted anything so good. I could become a glutton.'