LORD ORMONT AND HIS AMINTA - V5
LORD ORMONT AND HIS AMINTA - V5
XXIV. LOVERS MATED
XXXV. PREPARATIONS FOR A RESOLVE
XXVI. VISITS OF FAREWELL
XXVII. A MARINE DUET
XXVIII. THE PLIGHTING
XXIX. AMINTA TO HER LORD
He was benevolently martial to the extent of paternal in thinking his
girl of whom he deigned to think now as his countess pardonably
foolish. Woman for woman she was of a pattern superior to the world's
ordinary and might run the world's elect a race. But she was pitifully
woman-like in her increase of dissatisfaction with the more she got.
Women are happier enslaved. Men too if their despot is an Ormont.
Colonel of his regiment he proved that: his men would follow him
anywhere do anything. Grand old days before he was condemned by one
knows not what extraordinary round of circumstances to cogitate on women
as fluids and how to cut channels for them that they may course along
in the direction good for them imagining it their pretty wanton will to
go that way! Napoleon's treatment of women is excellent example.
Peterborough's can be defended.
His Aminta could not reason. She nursed a rancour on account of the blow
she drew on herself at Steignton and she declined consolation in her
being pardoned. The reconcilement evidently was proposed as a finale of
one of the detestable feminine storms enveloping men weak enough to let
themselves be dragged through a scene for the sake of domestic
A remarkable exhibition of Aminta the woman was her entire change of
front since he had taken her spousal chill. Formerly she was passive
merely stately the chiselled grande dame deferential in her bearing
and speech even when argumentative and having an opinion to plant.
She had always the independent eye and step; she now had the tongue of
the graceful and native great lady fitted to rule her circle and hold
her place beside the proudest of the Ormonts. She bore well the small
shuffle with her jewel-box--held herself gallantly. There had been no
female feignings either affected misapprehensions gapy ignorances and
snaky subterfuges and the like familiar to men who have the gentle
twister in grip. Straight on the line of the thing to be seen she flew
and struck on it; and that is a woman's martial action. He would right
heartily have called her comrade if he had been active himself.
A warrior pulled off his horse to sit in a chair and contemplate the
minute evolutions of the sex is pettish with his part in such battle-
fields at the stage beyond amusement.
Seen swimming she charmed him. Abstract views of a woman summon
opposite advocates: one can never say positively That is she! But the
visible fair form of a woman is hereditary queen of us. We have none of
your pleadings and counter-pleadings and judicial summaries to obstruct a
ravenous loyalty. My lord beheld Aminta take her three quick steps on
the plank and spring and dive and ascend shaking the ends of her bound
black locks; and away she went with shut mouth and broad stroke of her
arms into the sunny early morning river; brave to see although he had to
flick a bee of a question why he enjoyed the privilege of seeing and
was not beside her. The only answer confessed to a distaste for all
exercise once pleasurable.
She and her little friend boated or strolled through the meadows during
the day; he fished. When he and Aminta rode out for the hour before
dinner she seemed pleased. She was amicable conversable all that was
agreeable as a woman and she was the chillest of wives. My lord's
observations and reflections came to one conclusion: she pricked and
challenged him to lead up to her desired stormy scene. He met her and
meant to vanquish her with the dominating patience Charlotte had found
too much for her: women cannot stand against it.
To be patient in contention with women however one must have a
continuous and an exclusive occupation; and the tax it lays on us
conduces usually to impatience with men. My lord did not directly
connect Aminta's chillness and Morsfield's impudence; yet the sensation
roused by his Aminta participated in the desire to punish Morsfield
speedily. Without wishing for a duel he was moved by the social
sanction it had to consider whether green youths and women might not
think a grey head had delayed it too long. The practice of the duel
begot the peculiar animal logic of the nobler savage which tends to
magnify an offence in the ratio of our vanity and hunger for a blood
that is not demanded by the appetite. Moreover a waning practice in
disfavour with the new generation will be commended to the conservative
barbarian as partaking of the wisdom of his fathers. Further too we
may have grown slothful fallen to moodiness done excess of service to
Omphale our tyrant lady of the glow and the chill; and then undoubtedly
the duel braces.
He left Aminta for London submissive to the terms of intimacy dictated
by her demeanour his unacknowledged seniority rendering their harshness
less hard to endure. She had not gratified him with a display of her
person in the glitter of the Ormont jewels; and since he was under
common conditions a speechless man his ineptitude for amorous
remonstrances precipitated him upon deeds that he might offer additional
proofs of his esteem and the assurance of her established position as his
countess. He proposed to engage Lady Charlotte in a conflict severer
than the foregoing until he brought her to pay the ceremonial visit to
her sister-in-law. The count of time for this final trial of his
masterfulness he calculated at a week. It would be an occupation
miserable occupation though it was. He hailed the prospect of chastising
Morsfield for a proof that his tussels with women prolonged study of
their tricks manoeuvrings and outwittings of them had not emasculated
Aminta willingly promised to write from day to day. Her senses had his
absence insured to them by her anticipation of the task. She did not
conceive it would be so ponderous a task. What to write to him when
nothing occurred! Nothing did occur unless the arrival of Mr. Weyburn
was to be named an event. She alluded to it: 'Mr. Weyburn has come
expecting to find you here. The dispatch-box is here. Is he to await
That innocent little question was a day gained.
One day of boating on the upper reaches of the pastoral river and walks
in woods and golden meadows was felicity fallen on earth the ripe fruit
of dreams. A dread surrounded it as a belt not shadowing the horizon;
and she clasped it to her heart the more passionately like a mother her
rosy infant which a dark world threatens and the universal fate.
Love as it will be at her June of life was teaching her to know the
good and bad of herself. Women educated to embrace principles through
their timidity and their pudency discover amazed that these are not
lasting qualities under love's influence. The blushes and the fears take
flight. The principles depend much on the beloved. Is he a man whose
contact with the world has given him understanding of life's laws and
can hold him firm to the right course in the strain and whirling of a
torrent they cling to him deeply they worship. And if they tempt him
it is not advisedly done. Nature and love are busy in conjunction. The
timidities and pudencies have flown; they may hover they are not
present. You deplore it you must not blame; you have educated them so.
Muscular principles are sown only out in the world; and on the whole
with all their errors the worldly men are the truest as well as the
bravest of men. Her faith in his guidance was equal to her dependence.
The retrospect of a recent journey told her how he had been tried.
She could gaze tenderly betray her heart and be certain of safety.
Can wine match that for joy? She had no schemes no hopes but simply
the desire to bestow the capacity to believe. Any wish to be enfolded
by him was shapeless and unlighted unborn; though now and again for some
chance word or undefined thought she surprised the strange tenant of her
breast at an incomprehensibly faster beat and knew it for her own and
not her own the familiar the stranger--an utter stranger as one who had
snared her in a wreath and was pulling her off her feet.
She was not so guileless at the thought of little Selina Collett here
and of Selina as the letter-bearer of old; and the marvel that Matey and
Browny and Selina were together after all! Was it not a kind of summons
to her to call him Matey just once only once in play? She burned and
ached to do it. She might have taxed her ingenuity successfully to
induce little Selina to the boldness of calling him Matey--and she then
repeating it as the woman who revived with a meditative effort
recollections of the girl. Ah frightful hypocrite! Thoughts of the
pleasure of his name aloud on her lips in his hearing dissolved through
her veins and were met by Matthew Weyburn's open face before which
hypocrisy stood rent and stripped. She preferred the calmer the truer
pleasure of seeing him modestly take lessons in the nomenclature of
weeds herbs grasses by hedge and ditch. Selina could instruct him as
well in entomology but he knew better the Swiss Tyrolese and Italian
valley-homes of beetle and butterfly species. Their simple talk was a
cool zephyr fanning Aminta.
The suggestion to unite the two came to her of course but their
physical disparity denied her that chance to settle her own difficulty
and a whisper of one physically the match for him punished her. In
stature in healthfulness they were equals perhaps: not morally or
intellectually. And she could claim headship of him on one little point
confided to her by his mother who was bearing him and startled by the
boom of guns under her pillow when her husband fronted the enemy:
Matthew Weyburn the fencer boxer cricketer hunter all things manly
rather shrank from firearms--at least one saw him put on a screw to
manipulate them. In danger--among brigands or mutineers for example--
she could stand by him and prove herself his mate. Intellectually
morally she had to bow humbly. Nor had she nor could she do more than
lean on and catch example from his prompt spiritual valiancy. It shone
out from him and a crisis fulfilled the promise. Who could be his mate
for cheerful courage for skill the ready mind easy adroitness and for
self-command? To imitate was a woman's utmost.
Matthew Weyburn appeared the very Matey of the first of May cricketing
day among Cuper's boys the next morning when seen pacing down the
garden-walk. He wore his white trousers of that happiest of old days--
the 'white ducks' Aminta and Selina remembered. Selina beamed. 'Yes he
did; he always wore them; but now it's a frock-coat instead of a jacket.'
'But now he will be a master instead of a schoolboy' said Aminta.
'Let us hope he will prosper.'
'He gives me the idea of a man who must succeed' Selina said; and she
was patted rallied asked how she had the idea and kissed; Aminta
saying she fancied it might be thought for he looked so confident.
'Only not what the boys used to call "cocky"' said Selina. 'He won't be
contemptuous of those he outstrips.'
'His choice of the schoolmaster's profession points to a modesty in him
does it not little woman?'
'He made me tell him while you were writing your letters yesterday all
about my brother and his prospects.'
'Yes that is like him. And I must hear of your brother "little
Collett." Don't forget Sely little Collett was our postman.'
The Countess of Ormont's humorous reference to the circumstance passed
with Selina for a sign of a poetic love of the past and a present social
elevation that allowed her to review it impassively. She admired the
great lady and good friend who could really be interested in the fortunes
of a mere schoolmaster and a merchant's clerk. To her astonishment by
some agency beyond her fathoming she found herself and hardly for her
own pleasure pushing the young schoolmaster animatedly to have an
account of his aims in the establishment of the foreign school.
Weyburn smiled. He set a short look at Aminta; and she conscious of her
detected diplomacy had an inward shiver mixed of the fascination and
repugnance felt by a woman who knows that under one man's eyes her
character is naked and anatomized. Her character?--her soul. He held it
in hand and probed it mercifully. She had felt the sweet sting again and
again and had shrunk from him and had crawled to him. The love of him
made it all fascination. How did he learn to read at any moment right to
the soul of a woman? Did experience teach him or sentimental sympathy?
He was too young he was too manly. It must be because of his being in
heart and mind the brother to the sister with women.
Thames played round them on his pastoral pipes. Bee-note and woodside
blackbird and meadow cow and the fish of the silver rolling rings
composed the leap of the music.
She gave her mind to his voice following whither it went; half was in
air higher than the swallow's exalting him.
How is it he is the brother of women? They are sisters for him because
he is neither sentimentalist nor devourer. He will not flatter to feed
on them. The one he chooses she will know love. There are women who go
through life not knowing love. They are inanimate automatic machines
who lay them down at last inquiring wherefore they were caused to move.
She is not of that sad flock. She will be mated; she will have the right
to call him Matey. A certain Browny called him Matey. She lived and
died. A certain woman apes Browny's features and inherits her passion
but has forfeited her rights. Were she under happiest conditions
to put her hand in his shame would burn her. For he is just--he is
Justice; and a woman bringing him less than his due she must be a
creature of the slime!
This was the shadowy sentiment that made the wall of division between
them. There was no other. Lord Ormont had struck to fragments that
barrier of the conventional oath and ceremonial union. He was unjust--
he was Injustice. The weak may be wedded they cannot be married; to
Injustice. And if we have the world for the buttress of injustice then
is Nature the flaring rebel; there is no fixed order possible. Laws are
necessary instruments of the majority; but when they grind the sane human
being to dust for their maintenance their enthronement is the rule of
the savage's old deity sniffing blood-sacrifice. There cannot be a
based society upon such conditions. An immolation of the naturally
constituted individual arrests the general expansion to which we step
decivilizes more and is more impious to the God in man than temporary
revelries of a licence that Nature soon checks.
Arrows of thoughts resembling these shot over the half of Aminta's mind
not listening. Her lover's head was active on the same theme while he
spoke. They converged to it from looks crossing or catching profiles
or from tones from a motion of hand from a chance word. Insomuch that
the third person present was kept unobservant only by her studious and
humble speculations on the young schoolmaster's grand project to bring
the nationalities together and teach Old England to the Continent--the
Continent to Old England: our healthy games our scorn of the lie
manliness; their intellectual valour diligence considerate manners.
'Just to name a few of the things for interchange' said Weyburn. 'As to
method we shall be their disciples. But I look forward to our fellows
getting the lead. No hurry. Why will they? you ask in petto. Well
they 're emulous and they take a thrashing kindly. That 's the way to
learn a lesson. I 've seen our fellows beaten and beaten--never the
courage beaten out of them. In the end they won and kept the field.
They have a lot to learn--principally not to be afraid of ideas. They
lose heaps of time before they can feel at home with ideas. They call
themselves practical for having an addiction to the palpable. It is a
pretty wreath they clap on their deficiencies. Practical dogs are for
bones horses for corn. I want the practical Englishman to settle his
muzzle in a nosebag of ideas. When he has once got hold of them he
makes good stuff of them. On the Continent ideas have wings and pay
visits. Here they're stay-at-home. Then I want our fellows to have the
habit of speaking from the chest. They shall return to England with the
whoop of the mountains in them and ready to jump out. They shall have
an Achillean roar; and they shall sing by second nature. Don't fear:
they'll give double for anything they take. I've known Italians to whom
an Englishman's honesty of mind and dealing was one of the dreams of a
better humanity they had put in a box. Frenchmen too who when they
came to know us were astonished at their epithet of perfide and loved
'Emile' said Aminta. 'You remember Emile Selina: the dear little
French boy at Mr. Cuper's?'
'Oh I do' Selina responded.
'He will work with Mr. Weyburn in Switzerland.'
'Oh that will be nice!' the girl exclaimed.
Aminta squeezed Selina's hand. A shower of tears clouded her eyes. She
chose to fancy it was because of her envy of the modest busy peaceful
girl who envied none. Conquers also sincerity in the sincerest. She
was vexed with her full breast and had as little command of her thoughts
as of her feelings.
'Mr. Weyburn has ideas for the education of girls too' she said.
'There's the task' said he. 'It's to separate them as little as
possible. All the--passez-moi le mot--devilry between the sexes begins
at their separation. They 're foreigners when they meet; and their
alliances are not always binding. The chief object in life if happiness
be the aim and the growing better than we are is to teach men and women
how to be one; for if they 're not then each is a morsel for the other
to prey on. Lady Charlotte Eglett's view is that the greater number of
them on both sides hate one another.'
'Hate!' exclaimed Selina; and Aminta said: 'Is Lady Charlotte Eglett an
'She has observed and she thinks. She has in the abstract the justest
of minds: and that is the curious point about her. But one may say they
are trained at present to be hostile. Some of them fall in love and
strike a truce and still they are foreigners. They have not the same
standard of honour. They might have it from an education in common.'
'But there must be also a lady to govern the girls?' Selina interposed.
'Ah yes; she is not yet found!'
'Would it increase their mutual respect?--or show of respect if you
like?' said Aminta with his last remark at work as the shattering bell
of a city's insurrection in her breast.
'In time under management; catching and grouping them young. A boy who
sees a girl do what he can't and would like to do won't take refuge in
his muscular superiority--which by the way would be lessened.'
'You suppose their capacities are equal?'
'Things are not equal. I suppose their excellencies to make a pretty
nearly equal sum in the end. But we 're not weighing them each. The
question concerns the advantage of both.'
'That seems just!'
Aminta threw no voice into the word 'just.' It was the word of the
heavens assuaging earth's thirst and she was earth to him. Her soul
yearned to the man whose mind conceived it.
She said to Selina: 'We must plan an expedition next year or the year
after and see how the school progresses.'
All three smiled; and Selina touched and held Aminta's hand shyly.
Visions of the unseen Switzerland awed her.
Weyburn named the Spring holiday time the season of the flowering Alpine
robes. He promised welcome pressed for a promise of the visit. Warmly
it was given. 'We will; we will indeed!'
'I shall look forward' he said.
There was nothing else for him or for her except to doat on the passing
minute that slipped when seized. The looking forward turned them to the
looking back at the point they had flown from and yielded a momentary
pleasure enough to stamp some section of a picture on their memories
which was not the burning now Love lives for in the clasp if but of
hands. Desire of it destroyed it. They swung to the future swung to
the present it made the past sensible to the quick of the now they could
not hold. They were lovers. Divided lovers in presence they thought
and they felt in pieces. Feelings and thoughts were forbidden to speech.
She dared look the very little of her heart's fulness without the
disloyalty it would have been in him to let a small peep of his heart be
seen. While her hand was not clasped she could look tenderly and her
fettered state her sense of unworthiness muffled in the deeps would
keep her from the loosening to passion.
He who read through her lustrous transiently dwelling eyes had not that
security. His part besides the watch over the spring of his hot blood
was to combat a host insidious among which was unreason calling her
Browny urging him to take his own to snatch her from a possessor who
forfeited by undervaluing her. This was the truth in a better-ordered
world: she belonged to the man who could help her to grow and to do her
work. But in the world we have around us it was the distorted truth:
and keeping passion down he was able to wish her such happiness as
pertained to safety from shipwreck and for himself that he might
continue to walk in the ranks of the sober citizens.
Oh true and right but she was gloriously beautiful! Day by day she
surpassed the wondrous Browny of old days. All women were eclipsed by
her. She was that fire in the night which lights the night and draws the
night to look at it. And more: this queen of women was beginning to have
a mind at work. One saw already the sprouting of a mind repressed. She
had a distinct ability; the good ambition to use her qualities. She
needed life and air--that is comprehension of her encouragement the
companion mate. With what strength would she now endow him! The pride
in the sharp imagination of possessing her whispered a boast of the
strength her mate would have from her. His need and her need rushed
together somewhere down the skies. They could not he argued be
He had to leave her. Selina shocked at a boldness she could not
understand in herself begged him to stay and tell her of Switzerland
and Alpine flowers and herbs and the valleys for the gold beetle and
the Apollo butterfly. Aminta hinted that Lord Ormont might expect to
find him there if he came the next morning; but she would not try to