+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error

consciousness the knowledge that the thing
we ought to do is the thing we mean, if
we can help it, never to do? When we
refuse to have the open eye and open ear,
and choose to be among those whose ears
are dull of hearing, and whose eyes are
closed, must not the lips of the heart be
shut from praying?

And thus it was with Daisy. She could
only sob, till sobbing ceased from mere
exhaustion, then turn on her pillow, trying
to sleep, and find some fresh aspect of her
sorrow bring a fresh burst of sobbing.
Between her and the power to pray stood the
consciousness that she knew what she had
to do, but could not, would not, do it.

"If you will not have me for your husband,
you cannot have me for your friend."

He had said so. It was true. Must she
be always and utterly alone?

It was this night, that, for the first time,
or rather it was in the morning after this
night, when she opened her casement wide
at dawn, and leaned out into the dewy grey
fragrance of growth and lifeit was then
that, for the first time, in thinking of her
child, she was conscious of a dim yearning,
sweet and strong, as yet passing her by,
touching her as it passed, rather than entering
into her, seeming a part of the soft mist
of spring rather than anything personal.

"Perhaps it is dead!" She shivered,
the balmy air seeming to turn chill at the
thought. " If I knew it was dead, or if I
knew it would be sure to die before it grew
up, then I could love it! Any way, I should
like to look on its sleeping face once more,
and once more to feel its tiny hand close
round my finger."

After this, often, on spring evenings, the
mist-veiled stars would seem to her like
the tear-dimmed eyes of little children, and
the soft wind of the summer nights like
the breath of little children. And she was
never more able to forget that she had
a child. She kept count of the weeks and
the months of his age; and at any cottage
child who numbered the same she would
look with wistful wonder, marvelling if to
that stature had grown her own little son.

It was with Daisy now much as it is, in
the spring-time, with the wood primroses,
when they push their leaf-lances and their
little buds through the thick-lying dead-
leaves, the rotting beech-mast, or the empty
acorn-cups, the fallen bits of hoary lichen,
and the broken lichened twigs and boughs,
pushing through to the softening air and
the sunshine. What of fresh youth was
lett in Daisy was coming to life again,
was struggling through and pushing aside
the memories of the horrors and miseries
that had fallen upon and stifled her.

Poor Daisy! Though she often felt so
old, so old, and as weary as if she had all
but done with life, hers was a girlish heart
still, and a passionate girlish heart.

Daisy's love of nature was passionate,
and, perhaps, when one is still young, the
passionate love of irresponsive nature is
rarely unaccompanied by longing for
responsive love, a longing unconscious of what
it desires, and yet a conscious longing.

A thrush's singing through the spring
twilights, the summer incense of woodbines
at dew-fall, rich sunsets and " mellow
moon-births," the sound of distant village
bells, the dream-beauty of the sunny sleep
of a September day, with the dew staying
all day on the brambles in the deep hill-
hollows, and the gossamers lying all about
on the grey hill-sides, and the soft pale
sunlight on the corn slopes of late uplands,
these things had always had power to touch
Daisy nearly and deeply.

A mist of blue-bells in an April copse, a
primrose-starred bank, a flush of wild-roses
in a sunset hedge, a group of queenly white
lilies in a moonlit garden, the music of
bells, of brooks, of birds, the flooding
fragrance of summer blossoms, would stir in
her a sweet sad longing; such a longing as
makes many of us yearn towards something
that is not, that never can be; a
something that if found, would enable us
to hear the secret of things, to taste the
sweetness of things, to live, not to lead a
misty, sorrowful, dreamy existence, but to
live to the core.

In 1 vol. Demy 8vo, price 7s. 6d., with ILLUSTRATIONS
London: CHAPMAN AND HALL, 193, Piccadilly.

Just published, price 5s. 6d., bound in green cloth,
To be had of all Booksellers.