Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

toil, whose memory is ever dear to the hearts of those who knew them. And these are no less worthy of remembrance and renown, for the heart alone makes a man truly great.'

I gazed long upon the portrait of Mother Walmot; then my eye passed to the one that hung above it. Whom it represented I could not for a moment doubt, and a word which had fallen from Holding Terborg, the little word 'us' when he had said

she bade us good-bye,' gave me courage to refer to what had not yet been mentioned between us.

Feeling that I might venture, I asked if the other portrait was not that of Freda. But I was almost sorry that I had put the question, for Holding Terborg turned his face aside, as if he had not heard me and wished to avoid an answer. But soon he turned on me again his shining eyes, and said :

'I have never yet spoken of her to a living soul; you shall be the first, for you have learned to know Datya. It is her likeness ; it shows her as she was when past her fortieth year, and you no longer see in it the sweet bloom of youth; but my eye can always see it. Many years elapsed after we had been received on board the English brig before we became man and wife, and many more before I was in a position to have her portrait painted. But for more than a quarter of a century she shared my every thought and feeling; and then she quitted me, leaving me all alone, as she once sought to do in the midst of

The waves of life rose up and drew her down; I had no power now to draw her back again, but was forced to stand alone beside her grave. I thought, at first, it would be impossible to live; yet I lived and still live on. My cup of happiness had been so full that the longest life on earth could never drain it dry. This happiness abides through every hour, for she is not really dead. While I live, she too lives with me.

“The picture of a Madonna, my young friend, drew you and me together-a picture that seeks to express irreconcilable views of human life. Try to find incarnate in a woman's form the figure that sat upon your third “Runic Rock"; then will this mortal life of yours combine in itself both heaven and earth, as my heart does still.'

Having said this, Holding Terborg approached the window, and, as he had done the evening before, gazed in silence on the mysterious stars that shone overhead.

the waves.

EPILOGUE.

UPON Holding Terborg, too, the grave has long since closed.

We were friends in the truest sense of the word, a sense scarcely understood in these degenerate days, when all deep sentiment and warm human feeling is gradually wearing away. In his will he bequeathed to me this written history of his early days.

I was seized with a desire to visit the haunts of Holding Terborg's childhood, but I was bitterly disappointed when I reached the island. Modern society had found its way thither, and fashionably-dressed visitors passed me to and fro on the sands. I took a boat and, rowing against the tide, sought out the little sea-gulls' isle. There, at my approach, the birds flew up as they had done years ago, and fluttered in the air like flakes of drifting snow. On the north side, high above the

. water, three dark rocks reared their rugged crests. A deathlike stillness reigned around ; no human figures rested there. But my mind's eye saw upon those rocks the old, old runes, embodying the mystery of life, which man has ever been trying to decipher. Never can we hope to read these runes or to fully understand their import. One thing there is, however, which, though not solving the mystery, does at least reconcile us with its existence; it is the human heart, ever beating with human love and human sympathy.

THE END.

Elliot Stock, 62, Paternoster Row, London.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
« ForrigeFortsett »