... A list of... resolutes

For food and diet, to some enterprise

That hath a stomach in't.

My news shall be the fruit to that great feast.

Why, let the stricken deer go weep,

The hart ungalléd play;

For some must watch, while some must sleep;

Thus runs the world away.—Hamlet.

THE Bishop of the Calapash Islands and Metropolitan of the Salamander Archipelago was smiling very tranquilly upon his guests as they arrived at his house, which was about two miles from Mowbray. But the son of the bishop was not smiling—he, in fact, seldom smiled; there was a certain breadth of expression associated with such a manifestation of feeling that was inconsistent with his ideas of subtlety of suggestion. He was now endeavouring to place his father's guests at ease by looking only slightly bored by their presence, giving them to understand that he would endure them around him for his father's sake, so that there should be no need for them to be at all anxious on his account. A dinnerparty in a colony was hardly that sort of social demonstration which Mr. Glaston would be inclined to look forward to with any intensity of feeling; but the bishop, having a number of friends at the Cape, including a lady who was capable of imparting some very excellent advice on many social matters, had felt it to be a necessity to give this little dinnerparty, and his son had only offered such a protest against it as satisfied his own conscience and prevented the possibility of his being consumed for days after with a gnawing remorse.

The bishop had his own ideas of entertaining his guests—a matter which his son brought under his consideration after the invitations had been issued.

“There is not such a thing as a rising tenor in the colony, I am sure,” said Mr. Glaston, whose experience of perfect social entertainment was limited to that afforded by London drawing-rooms. “If we had a rising tenor, there would be no difficulty about these people.”

“Ah, no, I suppose not,” said the bishop. “But I was thinking, Algernon, that if you would allow your pictures to be hung for the evening, and explain them, you know, it would be interesting.”

“What, by lamplight? They are not drop-scenes of a theatre, let me remind you.”

“No, no; but you see your theories of explanation would be understood by our good friends as well by lamplight as by daylight, and I am sure every one would be greatly interested.” Mr. Glaston promised his father to think over the matter, and his father expressed his gratitude for this concession. “And as for myself,” continued the bishop, giving his hands the least little rub together, “I would suggest reading a few notes on a most important subject, to which I have devoted some attention lately. My notes I would propose heading 'Observations on Phenomena of Automatic Cerebration amongst some of the Cannibal Tribes of the Salamander Archipelago.' I have some excellent specimens of skulls illustrative of the subject.”

Mr. Glaston looked at his father for a considerable time without speaking; at last he said quietly, “I think I had better show my pictures.”

“And my paper—my notes?”

“Impossible,” said the young man, rising. “Utterly Impossible;” and he left the room.

The bishop felt slightly hurt by his son's manner. He had treasured up his notes on the important observations he had made in an interesting part of his diocese, and he had looked forward with anxiety to a moment when he could reveal the result of his labours to the world, and yet his son had, when the opportunity presented itself, declared the revelation impossible. The bishop felt slightly hurt.

Now, however, he had got over his grievance, and he was able to smile as usual upon each of his guests.

The dinner-party was small and select. There were two judges present, one of whom brought his wife and a daughter. Then there were two members of the Legislative Council, one with a son, the other with a daughter; a clergyman who had attained to the dizzy ecclesiastical eminence of a colonial deanery, and his partner in the dignity of his office. The Macnamara and Standish were there, and Mr. Harwood, together with the Army Boot Commissioner and Mrs. Crawford, the last of whom arrived with Colonel Gerald and Daireen.

Mrs. Crawford had been right. The bishop was charmed with Daireen, and so expressed himself while he took her hand in his and gave her the benediction of a smile. Poor Standish, seeing her so lovely as she was standing there, felt his soul full of love and devotion. What was all the rest of the world compared with her, he thought; the aggregate beauty of the universe, including the loveliness of the Miss Van der Veldt who was in the drawing-room, was insignificant by the side of a single curl of Daireen's wonderful hair. Mr. Harwood looked towards her also, but his thoughts were somewhat more complicated than those of Standish.

“Is not Daireen perfection?” whispered Mrs. Crawford to Algernon Glaston.

The bishop's son glanced at the girl critically.

“I cannot understand that band of black velvet with a pearl in front of it,” he said. “I feel it to be a mistake—yes, it is an error for which I am sorry; I begin to fear it was designed only as a bold contrast. It is sad—very sad.”

Mrs. Crawford was chilled. She had never seen Daireen look so lovely. She felt for more than a moment that she was all unmeet for a wife, so child-like she seemed. And now the terrible thought suggested itself to Mrs. Crawford: what if Mr. Glaston's opinion was, after all, fallible? might it be possible that his judgment could be in error? The very suggestion of such a thought sent a cold thrill of fear through her. No, no: she would not admit such a possibility.

The dinner was proceeded with, after the fashion of most dinners, in a highly satisfactory manner. The guests were arranged with discrimination in accordance with a programme of Mrs. Crawford's, and the conversation was unlimited.

Much to the dissatisfaction of The Macnamara the men went to the drawing-room before they had remained more than ten minutes over their claret. One of the young ladies of the colony had been induced to sing with the judge's son a certain duet called “La ci darem la mano;” and this was felt to be extremely agreeable by every one except the bishop's son. The bishop thanked the young lady very much, and then resumed his explanation to a group of his guests of the uses of some implements of war and agriculture brought from the tribes of the Salamander Archipelago.

Three of the pictures of Mr. Glaston's collection were hung in the room, the most important being that marvellous Aholibah: it was placed upon a small easel at the farthest end of the room, a lamp being at each side. A group had gathered round the picture, and Mr. Glaston with the utmost goodnature repeated the story of its creation. Daireen had glanced towards the picture, and again that little shudder came over her.

She was sitting in the centre of the room upon an ottoman beside Mrs. Crawford and Mr. Harwood. Standish was in a group at the lower end, while his father was demonstrating how infinitely superior were the weapons found in the bogs of Ireland to the Salamander specimens. The bishop moved gently over to Daireen and explained to her the pleasure it would be giving every one in the room if she would consent to sing something.

At once Daireen rose and went to the piano. A song came to her lips as she laid her hand upon the keys of the instrument, and her pure earnest voice sang the words that came back to her:—

From my life the light has waned:

Every golden gleam that shone

Through the dimness now has gone:

Of all joys has one remained?

Stays one gladness I have known?

Day is past; I stand, alone,

Here beneath these darkened skies,

Asking—“Doth a star arise?”

She ended with a passion that touched every one who heard her, and then there was a silence for some moments, before the door of the room was pushed open to the wall, and a voice said, “Bravo, my dear, bravo!” in no weak tones.

All eyes turned towards the door. Mr. Despard entered, wearing an ill-made dress-suit, with an enormous display of shirt-front, big studs, and a large rose in his button-hole.

“I stayed outside till the song was over,” he said. “Bless your souls, I've got a feeling for music, and hang me if I've heard anything that could lick that tune.” Then he nodded confidentially to the bishop. “What do you say, Bishop? What do you say, King? am I right or wrong? Why, we're all here—all of our set—the colonel too—how are you, Colonel?—and the editor—how we all do manage to meet somehow! Birds of a feather—you know. Make yourselves at home, don't mind me.”

He walked slowly up the room smiling rather more broadly than the bishop was in the habit of doing, on all sides. He did not stop until he was opposite the picture of Aholibah on the easel. Here he did stop. He seemed to be even more appreciative of pictorial art than of musical. He bent forward, gazing into that picture, regardless of the embarrassing silence there was in the room while every one looked towards him. He could not see how all eyes were turned upon him, so absorbed had he become before that picture.

The bishop was now certainly not smiling. He walked slowly to the man's side.

“Sir,” said the bishop, “you have chosen an inopportune time for a visit. I must beg of you to retire.”

Then the man seemed to be recalled to consciousness. He glanced up from the picture and looked into the bishop's face. He pointed with one hand to the picture, and then threw himself back in a chair with a roar of laughter.

“By heavens, this is a bigger surprise than seeing Oswin himself,” he cried. “Where is Oswin?—not here?—he should be here—he must see it.”

It was Harwood's voice that said, “What do you mean?”

“Mean, Mr. Editor?” said Despard. “Mean? Haven't I told you what I mean? By heavens, I forgot that I was at the Cape—I thought I was still in Melbourne! Good, by Jingo, and all through looking at that bit of paint!”

“Explain yourself, sir?” said Harwood.

“Explain?” said the man. “That there explains itself. Look at that picture. The woman in that picture is Oswin Markham's wife, the Italian he brought to Australia, where he left her. That's plain enough. A deucedly fine woman she is, though they never did get on together. Hallo! What's the matter with Missy there? My God! she's going to faint.”

But Daireen Gerald did not faint. Her father had his arm about her.

“Papa,” she whispered faintly,—“Papa, take me home.”

“My darling,” said Colonel Gerald. “Do not look like that. For God's sake, Daireen, don't look like that.” They were standing outside waiting for the carriage to come up; for Daireen had walked from the room without faltering.

“Do not mind me,” she said. “I am strong—yes—very—very strong.”

He lifted her into the carriage, and was at the point of entering himself, when the figure of Mrs. Crawford appeared among the palm plants.

“Good heavens, George! what is the meaning of this?” she said in a whisper.

“Go back!” cried Colonel Gerald sternly. “Go back! This is some more of your work. You shall never see my child again!”

He stepped into the carriage. The major's wife was left standing in the porch thunderstruck at such a reproach coming from the colonel. Was this the reward of her labour—to stand among the palms, listening to the passing away of the carriage wheels?

It was not until the Dutch cottage had been reached that Daireen, in the darkness of the room, laid her head upon her father's shoulder.

“Papa,” she whispered again, “take me home—let us go home together.”

“My darling, you are at home now.”

“No, papa, I don't mean that; I mean home—I home—Glenmara.”

“I will, Daireen: we shall go away from here. We shall be happy together in the old house.”

“Yes,” she said. “Happy—happy.”

“What do you mean, sir?” said the maître d'hôtel, referring to a question put to him by Despard, who had been brought away from the bishop's house by Harwood in a diplomatically friendly manner. “What do you mean? Didn't Mr. Markham tell you he was going?”

“Going—where?” said Harwood.

“To Natal, sir? I felt sure that he had told you, though he didn't speak to us. Yes, he left in the steamer for Natal two hours ago.”

“Squaring everything?” asked Despard.

“Sir!” said the maître; “Mr. Markham was a gentleman.”

“It was half a sovereign he gave you then,” remarked Despard. Then turning to Harwood, he said: “Well, Mr. Editor, this is the end of all, I fancy. We can't expect much after this. He's gone now, and I'm infernally sorry for him, for Oswin was a good sort. By heavens, didn't I burst in on the bishop's party like a greased shrapnel? I had taken a little better than a glass of brandy before I went there, so I was in good form. Yes, Paulina is the name of his wife. He had picked her up in Italy or thereabouts. That's what made his friends send him off to Australia. He was punished for his sins, for that woman made his life a hell to him. Now we'll take the tinsel off a bottle of Moët together.”

“No,” said Harwood; “not to-night.”

He left the room and went upstairs, for now indeed this psychological analyst had an intricate problem to work out. It was a long time before he was able to sleep.

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