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Thus ended the manuscript of Holding Terborg. It had unrolled before me scenes of a quiet, far-off world, and yet they were scenes strangely and intimately associated with my dream. There really were three such rocks on a lonely sandy sea-beach, and the three silent sisters, whom I had only known as the "Watchers,' had for a brief space rested upon them in human form, and uttered human words.
Twice had they thus appeared. First, in Pastor Remmert, his wife and Mother Walmot; then the former and latter reappeared in Teda and Freda. Deena was also there once more, but this time strangely blended with her husband in the person of their daughter Teda.
Uwen-only now it occurred to me that his later surname had not once been mentioned-Uwen alone was not represented in any of these three personified views of human life. He undoubtedly belonged, at last, to that of Walmot and Freda, but before then what was he?
When I took back the manuscript in the evening to Holding Terborg, I felt myself already drawn into such confidential relationship with him that I did not hesitate to tell him what had struck me. I had also gradually become aware of another peculiar variation in the narrative. While the author had minutely described every other character, conjuring each before the mind's
eye very flesh and blood, he had scarcely said a word about the external appearance of Uwen, except that he was tall and possessed of great muscular power.
And yet his having won the love both of Teda and Freda was a strong proof that something special might also have been said about his outward characteristics. But the author had evidently left out such details on purpose.
I accordingly had the courage to ask straight out whether, after the consultation on the downs that had ended in such a quarrel, Uwen had not perchance assumed the name of Terborg. My companion was silent for a moment, then he answered:
* Had I not been willing for you to form such a notion, I
should not have dared to let you read my manuscript. Yes, he called himself Terborg after his father's birthplace; and after quitting the island, he also changed his Christian name into Holding, in order to escape recognition.'
He went on further to relate how Holding Terborg went to England in the brig, and afterwards served as soldier and officer in the Prussian army. On the close of the war, he had, with the help of his half-pay, entered on that study of the ancient languages by which he had qualified himself for the office of private tutor. In this way he had gradually gained a position of independence and freedom from pecuniary cares. The foundation of his success was due to the classical instruction he had received from Pastor Remmert, of which he ever retained a grateful remembrance.
There were many other details that I longed to know, but I feared to appear unduly inquisitive. One question respecting the after-fate of Teda I could not restrain. Terborg's answer was brief. As to particulars, he knew very little himself. It was reported that she had of her own free will accompanied the Walloon when he left the island, had lived with him in camp for some time, had then accepted the protection of other French officers, had turned Roman Catholic, and had died in a convent as Sister of some religious order. Terborg added very earnestly :
Her whole life was merely the development of a germ which she had possessed from her very birth. We have thought of her with deepest pity; never have we cast a stone upon her memory. Twice I heard her cry aloud in the mortal anguish of passion and despair; but there was no help for it: struggle as she might, she could not act otherwise than she did. She was the child of her parents ; in her was combined the father's piety with the mother's selfishness, and even her aspirations for the future life were but another form of self-love. Without the third element in her character-setting aside her beauty—she would but have resembled thousands of her sex. It was as if Nature, disregarded and suppressed in her parents, had determined to reassert her power, and some secret cause had from the first communicated to her blood a spark which developed at last into an uncontrollable flame that swayed her more powerfully than did even faith or love of self. This feeling was not love, but passion; neither Pastor Remmert nor his wife had been subjected to its influence. Had the
unnatural restrictions of their married life, once broken, revengefully kindled a flame, which otherwise would never have appeared ? Who can fathom the mysteries of heredity ? Therein must we seek the origin of Teda's ruin. From the very first she was doomed to her hapless fate—REQUIESCAT !
Holding Terborg had never been on the island since, but had received occasional reports of those who remained behind.
The war between France and Russia, which broke out soon after, saved the fisher-folk from the penalty which they had anticipated as a result of their disobedience to the French Emperor's representative. Falling back into their early obscurity, the islands had on the conclusion of peace been annexed with East Friesland to the newly-formed kingdom of Hanover. All who had been living, when these events took place, had long since passed away. Deena, indeed, had very soon afterwards put an end to her life. One morning she had been found dead on the beach. Her body had been cast ashore by the inrolling tide. The daily labour required for the maintenance of life was no longer balanced by the satisfaction of her physical necessities, and so, bracing herself up to the consistent resolve, she had, by drowning herself, put an end to her aimless existence.
'Nature had never formed her for great things,' said Holding Terborg, ‘but only endowed her with bodily health and human affections, a capacity for the simple duties of life, and, without any idealistic aspirations, had sown in her heart the usual woman's longing for love. She wanted nothing more than her natural due, to be loved by her husband and her child, and to be allowed to reciprocate their love. In the poorest peasant's hut, and under the heaviest drudgery, she might have found happiness and content. But fate had thrown her, not on the western, but on the eastern side of the island; unable to comprehend her husband's sublime love for his fellow-creatures, which he never, never manifested in any visible form, she had been helplessly crushed down by its pressure, hopelessly stupefied and thoroughly sickened of life.
'On the other hand, Walmot's warm human sympathy and love, exercised day by day for thirty years, had restored the worn-out body of Roeluf and revived his spirit, oppressed and beclouded as it had been by vice; it had brought him back to human feeling, to happiness, and to the true enjoyment of life. He died a beautiful death, for in his last moments he was able
to express some of the boundless gratitude that he had so long cherished in his heart.
'In her last moments Deena must have called all men fools who would willingly live on. Though I did not hear her, I know it must have been so, just as well as I know all the rest that I have written down. This narrative of my life and of the events with which I was connected contains much that I neither saw nor heard. Nevertheless, I am quite sure of the truth of all that I have written; the gaps have not been filled up by mere imagination. At the time there were many things that I failed to comprehend, but as I looked back on the past with greater knowledge of human nature, the thoughts and feelings of each individual at every moment unrolled themselves like a panorama before me.'
We spoke of Remmert Osterloo. He had filled the pastoral office on the island for many years afterwards. What feelings had been aroused in him by the suicide of his wife and the moral degradation of his daughter, Holding Terborg was unable to say, but he was quite sure that the forsaken man never for a moment experienced a sense of loneliness in this life.
'No purer, no more ideal nature than his,' said Terborg, 'has this world ever seen. No earthly desires, no selfish cravings, ever influenced him. He regarded the eternal salvation of each immortal soul entrusted to his charge as equally important with his own. Rarely has there lived a man more completely free from all human vanities. Only now and then have I seen a man at all like him. To such men may be applied the old saying : “Sint, ut sunt, aut non sint !" They cannot help it, any more than Teda could help following the law of her nature. What is to us the holiest of duties, is as nothing to them; this must be so, else their belief would be a lie; for what appears to us a delusion, they must be ready to sacrifice all the happiness, the greatness, the beauty, the sublimity, of this earthly life.
'Between us and them there can be no community of thought and feeling; it is as impossible as between the occupants of different planets. We both bear the name of man, but only one of us has any real claim to that title. What we very often find in life, a mingling of the two characters—the expectation of a life to come, with a seeking after the things of this lifeis a matter unworthy of serious examination. It arises either from mental incapacity, or from greed which desires to make sure of a future, and yet, consciously or not, is unable to restrain the desire for the fleeting possessions of time. Such people make up the majority of mankind, and always will do so; all those whom we met yesterday as the most distinguished people of our town belong to this same class, and not in our town only, but everywhere else in the same proportion.'
Holding Terborg said all this in his usual quiet tone of setting forth things that were unalterable and could not be helped, still avoiding all reference to the later circumstances of his own life. I hesitated to allude to this point, but as my eye wandered about the room it chanced to light upon the portrait of the aged gray-haired woman. I had guessed at once it must be that of Mother Walmot, and having asked if it was not, I added : 'It is just how I should have imagined her eyes
look.' Then a singular gleam shot forth from Terborg's eyes ; they assumed quite a different expression from what they had borne before, and I recognised what I had vainly pondered over during the past evening, that they were not only just like those I had seen in my dream, but the very same eyes that were now looking upon me from the canvas. He nodded to me in assent, and answered shortly, as if trying to collect his thoughts that had been wandering far away:
“Yes, can it be aught else than a heavenly spark in this earthly life? It passed from her soul into mine.'
He continued :
'It is a portrait of her in her eightieth year. There are deep wrinkles visible on the surface, but the heart within retained its youthful vigour to the very last. She was the sharer in all our joys and sorrows, ever ready to help, to cheer and to console, till, turning round her head upon the pillow, she at last said to us, “Good-bye.” Her death was indescribably peaceful: suddenly the heart stopped beating-it no longer felt the warm sympathy with human life. All the happiness that I still possessed I owed to her.'
He paused a moment, and then continued, in a tone of unwonted solemnity:
'History preserves the names of those who by their mental powers have promoted the progress of countries and nations, of arts and sciences. They are called “Great Men," and their memory is preserved for ages. But I know there are also men who pass through the world in the humble garb of poverty and