Two on a Tower


ON the third morning after the young man’s departure, Lady Constantine opened the post-bag anxiously. Though she had risen before four o’clock, and crossed to the tower through the gray half-light, when every blade and twig was furred with rime, she felt no languor. Expectation could banish at cockcrow the eye - heaviness which apathy had been unable to disperse all the day long.

There was, as she had hoped, a letter from Swithin St. Cleeve.

DEAR LADY CONSTANTINE, — I have quite succeeded in my mission, and shall return to-morrow at ten P. M. I hope you have not failed in the observations. Watching the star through an operaglass Sunday night, I fancied some change had taken place, but I could not make myself sure. Your memoranda for that night I await with impatience. Please don’t neglect to write down, at the moment, all remarkable appearances both as to color and intensity; and be very exact as to time, which correct in the way I showed you.

I am, dear Lady Constantine, Yours most faithfully,


Not another word in the letter about his errand ; his mind ran on nothing but this astronomical subject. He had succeeded in his mission, and yet he did not even say yes or no to the great question,— whether or not her husband was masquerading in London at the address she had given. “'Was ever anything so provoking! ” she cried.

However, the time was not long to wait. His way homeward would lie within a stone’s - throw of the manorhouse, and though for certain reasons she had forbidden him to call at the late hour of life arrival, she could easily intercept him in the avenue. At twenty minutes past ten she went out into the drive, and stood in the dark. Seven minutes later she heard his footstep, and saw his outline in the slit of light between the avenue-trees. He had a valise in one hand, a great-coat on his arm, and under his arm a parcel which seemed to be very precious, from the manner in which he held it.

“ Lady Constantine ? ” he asked softly.

“ Yes,” she said, in her excitement holding out both her hands, though he had plainly not expected her to offer one.

“ Did you watch the star ? ”

“I’ll tell you everything in detail; but, pray, your errand first! ”

“ Yes, it’s all right. Did you watch every night, — not missing one ? ”

“ I forgot to go — twice,” she murmured contritely.

“ Oh, Lady Constantine ! ” he cried in dismay. “ How could you serve me so! what shall I do ! ”

“ Please forgive me ! Indeed, I could not help it. I had watched and watched, and nothing happened; and somehow my vigilance relaxed when I found nothing was likely to take place in the star.”

“ But the very circumstance of it not having happened made it all the more likely every day ! ”

“ Have you — seen ” — she began, after a silence.

Swithin sighed, lowered his thoughts to sublunary things, and told briefly the story of his journey. Sir Blount Constantine was not in London at the address which had been anonymously sent her. It was a mistake of identity. The person who had been seen there Swithin had sought out. He resembled Sir Blount strongly; but he was a stranger.

“ How can I reward you ! ” she exclaimed, when he had done.

“ In no way but by giving me your good wishes in what I am going to tell you on my own account.” He spoke in tones of mysterious exultation. “ This parcel is going to make my fame! ”

“ What is it ? ”

“ A huge object-glass for the great telescope I am so busy about! Such a magnificent aid to science has never entered this county before, you may depend ! ”

He produced from under his arm the carefully cuddled-up package, which was in shape a round flat disk, like a dinnerplate, tied in paper.

Proceeding to explain his plans to her more fully, he walked with her towards the door by which she had emerged. It was a little side wicket through a wall dividing the open park from the garden terraces. Here for a moment he placed his valise and parcel on the coping of the stone balustrade, till he had bidden her farewell. Then he turned, and in laying hold of his bag by the dim light pushed the parcel over the parapet. It fell upou the paved walk ten or a dozen feet beneath.

“ Oh, good heavens ! ”

“ What ? ”

“ My object-glass broken ! ”

“ Is it of much value ? ”

“ It cost all I possess.”

He ran round by the steps to the lower lawn, Lady Constantine following, as he continued, “ It is a magnificent sixinch first quality object lens. I took advantage of my journey to Loudon to get it. I have been six weeks making the tube, of milled board; and as I had not enough money by twelve pounds for the lens, I borrowed it of my grandmother out of her last annuity payment. What can be — can be done ! ”

“ Perhaps it is not broken.”

He felt on the ground, found the parcel, and shook it. A clicking noise issued from inside. Swithin smote his forehead with his hand, and walked up and down like a mad fellow.

“ My telescope! I have waited nine months for this lens. Now the possibility of setting up a really powerful instrument is over ! It is too cruelcould it happen ! . . . Lady Constantine, I am ashamed of myself, — before you. Oh, but, Lady Constantine, if you only knew what it is to person engaged in science to have the means of clinching a theory snatched away at the last moment! It is I against the world; and when the world has accidents on its side in addition to its natural strength, what chance for me ! ” The young astronomer leant against the wall, and was silent. His misery was of an intensity and kind with that of Palissy, in these struggles with an adverse fate.

“ Don’t mind it, — pray don’t! ” said Lady Constantine, with deep feeling. “ It is dreadfully unfortunate! You have my whole sympathy. Can it be mended ? ”

“ Mended, — no, no ! ”

“ Cannot you do with your present one a little longer ? ”

“ It is altogether inferior, cheap, and bad ! ”

“ I ’ll get you another, — yes, indeed, I will! Allow me to get you another as soon as possible. I 'll do anything to assist you out of your trouble ; for I am most anxious to see you famous. I know you will he a great astronomer, in spite of this mishap ! Come, say I may get a new one.”

SWithin took her hand. He could not trust himself to speak.

Some days later a little box of peculiar kind came to the Great House. It was addressed to Lady Constantine, “ with great care.” She had it partly opened and taken to her own little writingroom ; and after lunch, when she had dressed for walking, she took from the box a paper parcel like the one which had met with the accident. This she hid under her mantle, as if she had stolen it; and, going out slowly across the lawn, passed through the little door before spoken of, and was soon hastening in the direction of the Rings-Hill column.

There Was a bright sun overhead on that afternoon of early spring, and its rays shed an unusual warmth, though shady places still retained the look and feel of winter. Rooks were already beginning to build new nests or to mend up old ones,and clamorously called in neighbors to give opinions on difficulties in their architecture. Lady Constantine swerved once from her path, as if she had decided to go to the homestead where Swithin lived; but on second thoughts she bent her steps to the column. Drawing near it, she looked up ; but on account of the height of the parapet nobody could be seen thereon who did not stand on tiptoe. She thought, however, that her young friend might possibly see her, if he were there, and come down ; and that he was there she soon ascertained by finding the door unlocked, and the key inside. No movement, however, reached her ears from above, and she began to ascend.

Meanwhile affairs at the top of the column had progressed as follows. The afternoon being exceptionally fine, Swithin had ascended about two o’clock, and, seating himself at the little table which he had constructed on the spot, he began reading over his notes and examining some astronomical journals that had reached him in the morning. The sun blazed into the hollow roof-space as into a tube, and the sides kept out every breeze. Though the month was February below, it was May in the abacus of the column. This state of the atmosphere, and the fact that on the previous night he had pursued his observations till past two o’clock, produced in him at the end of half an hour an overpowering inclination to sleep. Spreading on the lead-work a thick rug, which he kept up there, he flung himself down against the parapet, and was soon in a state of unconsciousness.

It was about ten minutes afterwards that a soft rustle of silken clothes came up the spiral staircase, and, hesitating onwards, reached the orilice, where appeared the form of Lady Constantine. She did not at first perceive that he was present, and stood still to reconnoitre. Her eye glanced over his telescope, now wrapped up, his table and papers, his observing-chair, and his contrivances for making the best of a deficiency of instruments. All was warm, sunny, and silent, except that a solitary bee, which had somehow got within the hollow of the abacus, was singing round inquiringly, unable to discern that ascent was the only mode of escape. In another moment she beheld the astronomer, lying in the sun like a sailor in the main-top.

Lady Constantine coughed slightly : he did not awake. She then entered, and, drawing the parcel from beneath her cloak, placed it on the table; after this she waited, looking for a long time at his sleeping face, which had a very interesting appearance. She seemed reluctant to leave, yet wanted resolution to wake him ; and penciling his name on the parcel, she withdrew to the staircase, where the brushing of her dress decreased to silence as she receded round and round on her way to the base.

Swithin still slept on, and presently the rustle began again in the far-down interior of the column. The door could be heard closing, and the rustle came nearer, showing that she had shut herself in, — no doubt to lessen the risk of an accidental surprise by any roaming villager. When Lady Constantine reappeared at the top, and saw the parcel still untouched, and Swithin asleep as before, she exhibited some disappointment ; but she did not retreat.

Looking again at him, her eyes became so sentimentally fixed on his face that it seemed as if she could not withdraw them. There lay, in the shape of an Antinous, no amoroso, no gallant, but a guileless philosopher. His parted lips were lips which spoke, not of love, but of millions of miles; those were eyes which looked, not into the depths of other eyes, but into other worlds. Within his temples dwelt thoughts, not of woman’s looks, but of stellar aspects and the configuration of constellations.

Thus, to his physical attractiveness was added the attractiveness of mental inaccessibility. The ennobling influence of scientific pursuits was demonstrated by the speculative purity which expressed itself in his eyes whenever he looked at her in speaking, and in the child-like faults of manner which arose from his obtuseness to their difference of sex. He had never, since becoming a man, looked even so low as to the level of a Lady Constantine. His heaven at present was truly in the skies, and not in that only other place where they say it can be found, in the eyes of some daughter of Eve. Would any Circe or Calypso — and if so what one?—ever check this pale-haired scientist’s nocturnal sailings into the interminable spaces overhead, and send all his mighty calculations on cosmic force and stellar fire flying into Limbo? Oh, the pity of it, if such should be the case !

She became much absorbed in these very womanly reflections ; and at hist Lady Constantine sighed, perhaps she herself did not exactly know why. Then a very soft expression lighted on her lips and eyes, and she looked at one jump seven years more youthful, — quite a girl in aspect, younger than he. On the table lay his implements; among them a pair of scissors, which, to judge from the shreds around, had been used in cutting curves in thick paper, for some calculating process.

What whim, agitation, or attraction prompted the impulse nobody knows; but she took the scissors, and, bending over the sleeping youth, cut off one of the curls, or rather crooks, — for they hardly reached a curl, — into which each lock of his hair chose to twist itself in the last inch of its length. The hair fell upon the rug. She picked it up quickly, returned the scissors to the table, and, as if her dignity had suddenly become ashamed of her fantasies, hastened through the door, and descended the staircase.


When his nap had naturally exhausted itself, Swithin awoke. He awoke without any surprise, for he not unfrequently gave to sleep in the day-time what he had stolen from it in the night watches. The first object that met his eyes was the parcel on the table, and, seeing his name inscribed thereon, he made no scruple to open it. The sun flashed upon a lens of surprising magnitude, polished to such a smoothness that the eye could scarcely meet its reflections. Here was a crystal, in whose depths were to be seen more wonders than bad been revealed by the crystals of all the Cagliostros.

Swithin, hot with joyousness, took this treasure to his telescope manufactory at the homestead; then he started off for the Great House. On gaining its precincts he felt shy of calling, never having received any hint or permission to do so; while Lady Constantine’s mysterious manner of leaving the parcel seemed to demand a like mysteriousness in his approaches to her. All the afternoon he lingered about uncertainly, in the hope of intercepting her on her return from a drive, occasionally walking with an indifferent lounge across glades commanded by the windows, that if she were in-doors she might know he was near. But she did not show herself during the daylight. Still impressed by her playful secrecy, he carried on the same idea after dark, by returning to the house, and passing through the garden door on to the lawn front, where he sat on the parapet that breasted the terrace. She frequently came out here for a melancholy saunter after dinner, and to-night was such an occasion. Swithin went forward, and met her at nearly the spot where he had dropped the lens some nights earlier.

“ I have come to see you, Lady Constantine. How did the glass get on my table ? ”

She laughed as lightly as a girl; that he had come to her in this way was plainly no offense thus far.

“ Perhaps it was dropped from the clouds by a bird,” she said.

“ Why should you be so good to me ? Whatever discoveries result from this shall be ascribed to you as much as to me. Where should I have been without your gift ? ”

“ You would possibly have accomplished your purpose just the same, and have been so much the nobler for your struggle against ill-luck. I hope that now you will he able to proceed with your large telescope as if nothing had happened.”

“ Oh yes, I will, certainly. I am afraid I showed too much feeling, the reverse of stoical, wiien the accident occurred. That was not very noble of me.”

“There is nothing unnatural in such feeling at your age. When you are older you will smile at such moods, and at the mishaps that gave rise to them.”

“ Ah, I perceive you think me weak in the extreme. But you will never realize that an incident which filled but a degree in the circle of your thoughts covered the whole circumference of mine. No person can see exactly what and where another’s horizon is.”

They soon parted, and she reentered the house, where she sat reflecting for some time, till she seemed to fear that she had wounded his feelings. She awoke in the night, and thought the same thing more intensely. When it was morning she looked across at the tower, and, sitting down, wrote the following note: —

DEAR MR. ST. CLEEVE, — I cannot allow you to remain under the impression that I despised your scientific endeavors in speaking as I did last night. I think you were too sensitive to my remark. But perhaps you were agitated with the labors of the day, and I fear that watching so late at night must make you very weary. If I can help you again, please let me know. I never realized the grandeur of astronomy till you showed me how to do so. Also let me know about the new telescope. Come and see me at any time. After your great kindness in being my messenger I can never do enough for you. I wish you had a mother or sister, and pity your loneliness ! I am lonely, too.

Yours truly,


She was so anxious that he should get this letter the same day that she ran across to the column with it during the morning, preferring to be her own emissary in so curious a case. The door, as she had expected, was locked; and, slipping the letter under it, she went home again. During lunch her ardor in the cause of Swithin’s hurt feelings cooled down, till she exclaimed to herself, as she sat at her lonely table, “ What could have possessed me to write in that way ! ”

After lunch she went faster to the tower than she had gone in the early morning, and peeped eagerly into the chink under the door. She could discern no letter, and on trying the latch found that the door would open. The letter was gone, Swithin having obviously arrived in the interval.

She blushed a blush which seemed to say, “ I am getting foolishly interested in this young man.” She had, in short, in her own opinion, somewhat overstepped the bounds of dignity. Her instincts did not square well with the formalities of her existence, and she walked home despondently.

Had a concert, bazaar, lecture, or Dorcas meeting required the patronage and support of Lady Constantine at this juncture, the circumstance would probably have been sufficient to divert her mind from Swithin St. Cleeve and astronomy for some little Lime. But as none of these incidents were within the range of expectation, — Welland House and parish lying far from towns and watering-places, — the void in her outer life continued, and with it the void in hexinner life. The youth had not answered her letter ; neither had he called upon her, in response to the invitation she had regretted, with the rest of the epistle, as being somewhat too warmly informal for black and white. To speak tenderly to him was one thing, to write another, — that was her feeling immediately after the event; but his countermove of silence and avoidance, though probably the result of pure uuconsciousness on his part, completely dispersed such self-considerations now. Her eyes never fell upon the Ring’s-Hill column without a solicitous wonder arising as to what he was doing. A natural woman, she would assume the remotest possibility to be the most likely contingency, if the possibility had the recommendation of being tragical ; and she now feared that something was wrong with Swithin St. Cleeve. Yet there was not the least doubt that he had become so immersed in the business of the new telescope as to forget everything else.

On Sunday, between the services, she walked to Little Welland, chiefly for the sake of giving a run to a housedog, a large black retriever, of whom she was fond. The distance was but short ; and she returned along a narrow lane, divided from the river by a hedge, through whose leafless twigs the ripples flashed silver lights into her eyes. Here she discovered Swithin, leaning over a gate, his eyes bent upon the stream. The dog first attracted his attention ; then he heard her, and turned round. She had never seen him looking so despondent.

“ You have never called, though I invited you,” said Lady Constantine.

“ My great telescope won’t work.”

“ I am sorry for that. So it has made you quite forget me ? ”

“ Ah, yes; you wrote me a very kind letter, which I ought to have answered. Well, I did forget, Lady Constantine. My new telescope won’t work ; and I don’t know what to do about it at all! ”

“ Can I assist you any further? ”

“ No, I fear not. Besides, you have assisted me already.”

“ What would really help you out of all your difficulties ? Something would, surely ? ”

He shook his head.

“ There must be some solution to them ? ”

“ Oh, yes,” he replied, with a hypothetical gaze into the stream; “some solution, of course, — an equatorial, for instance.”

“ What’s that ? ”

“ Briefly, an impossibility. It is a splendid instrument, with an object lens of, say, six or nine inches aperture, mounted with its axis parallel to the earth’s axis, and fitted up with graduated circles for denoting right ascensions and declinations ; besides having special eye-pieces, a finder, and all sorts of appliances, clock-work to make the telescope follow the motion in right ascension — I cannot tell you half the conveniences. Ah, an equatorial is a thing indeed ! ”

“An equatorial is the one instrument required to make you quite happy ? ”

“ Well, yes.”

“ I ’ll see what I can do.”

“ But, Lady Constantine, an equatorial such as I describe costs as much as two grand pianos.”

She was rather staggered at this news; but she rallied gallantly, and said, “ Never mind. I ’ll make inquiries.”

“ But it could not be put on the tower without people seeing it. It would have to be fixed to the masonry. And there must be a dome of some kind to keep off the rain. A tarpaulin might do.”

Lady Constantine reflected. “ It would be a great business, I see,” she said. “Though as far as the fixing and roofing go, I would of course consent to your doing what you liked with the old column. My workmen could fix it, could they not P ”

“ Oh, yes. But what would Sir Blount say, if he came home and saw the goings-on ? ”

Lady Constantine turned aside to hide a sudden displacement of blood from her cheek. Ah, — my husband ! ” she whispered. “ I am just now going to church,” she said. “ I will think of this matter.”

In church it was with Lady Constantine as with the Lord Angelo of Vienna, in a similar situation, — Heaven had her empty words only, and her invention heard not her tongue. She soon recovered from the momentary consternation into which she had fallen at Switliin’s abrupt query. The possibility of that young astronomer becoming a renowned scientist by her aid was a thought which gave her secret pleasure. The course of rendering him instant material help began to have a great fascination for her; it was a new and unexpected channel for her cribbed and confined emotions. With experiences so much wider than his, Lady Constantine saw that the chances were perhaps a million to one against Swithin St. Cleeve ever being Astronomer-Royal, or Astronomer-Extraordinary of any sort; yet the remaining chance in his favor was one of those possibilities which, to a woman of bounding intellect and venturesome fancy, are pleasanter to dwell on than likely issues that have no savor of high speculation in them. The equatorial question was a great one ; and she had caught such a large spark from his enthusiasm that she could think of nothing so piquant as how to obtain the important instrument.

When Tabitha Lark arrived at the Great House, next day, instead of finding Lady Constantine in bed, she discovered her in the library, poring over what astronomical works she had been able to unearth from the shelves. As these publications were, for a science of such rapid development, somewhat venerable, there was not much help of a practical kind to be gained from them. Nevertheless, the equatorial retained a hold upon her fancy, till she became as eager to see one on the Rings-Hill column as Swithin himself.

The upshot of it was that Lady Constantine sent a messenger that evening to Rings-Hill Bottom, where the homestead of Swithin’s grandmother was situated, requesting the young man’s presence at the house at twelve o’clock next day. He promptly returned an obedient reply, and the circumstance was enough to lend great freshness to her manner next morning, instead of the leaden air which was too frequent with her before the sun reached the meridian, and sometimes after. The mental room taken up by an idea depends as largely on the available space for it as on its nominal magnitude: in Lady Constantine’s life of infestivity, in her domestic voids, and in her social discouragements, there was nothing to oust the lightest fancy. Swithin had, in fact, arisen as an attractive little interpolation between herself and despair.


A fog deformed all the trees of the park that morning; the white atmosphere adhered to the ground like a fungoid growth from it, and made tin; turfed undulations look slimy and raw ; but Lady Constantine settled down in her chair to await the coming of the late curate’s son, with a serenity which the vast blanks outside could neither destroy nor baffle. At two minutes to twelve the door-bell rang, and a look overspread the lady’s face that was neither maternal, sisterly, nor amorous, but partook in an indescribable manner of all three. The door was flung open and the young man was ushered in, the fog still clinging to his hair, in which she could discern a little notch where she had nipped off the curl.

A speechlessness that socially was a defect in him was to her view a piquant attribute just now. He looked rather alarmed. “ Lady Constantine, have I done anything ” — he began breathlessly, as he gazed in her face, with parted lips.

“ Oh, no, of course not. I have decided to do something, —nothing more,” she said, holding out her hand, which he rather gingerly touched. “ Don’t look so concerned. Who makes equatorial ? ”

This remark was like the drawing of a weir-hatch, and she was speedily inundated with all she wished to know concerning astronomical opticians. When he had imparted the particulars he waited, manifestly burning to know whither these inquiries tended.

“ I am not going to buy you one,” she said, gently.

He looked as if he would faint.

“ Certainly not. I did not wish it. I — I could not have accepted it,” said the young man.

“ But I am going to buy one for myself. I lack a hobby, and I shall choose astronomy. I shall fix my equatorial on the column.”

Swithin brightened up.

“ And I shall let you have the use of it whenever you choose. I n brief, Swithin St. Cleeve shall be Lady Constantine’s Astronomer-Royal; and she” —

“ Shall he his queen.” The words came not much the worse for being uttered only in the tone of one anxious to complete a tardy sentence.

“ Well, that’s what I have decided to do,” resumed Lady Constantine. I will write to these opticians at once.”

There seemed to be no more for him to do than to thank her for the privilege, whenever it should be available, which he promptly did, and then made as if to go. But Lady Constantine detained him, with “ Have you ever seen my library ? ”

“ No; never.”

“ You don’t say you would like to see it.”

“ But I should.”

“It is the third door on the right. You can find your way in, and you can stay there as long as you like.”

Swithin then left the morning-room for the apartment designated, and amused himself in that “soul of the house,” as Cicero defined it, till he heard the lunchbell sounding from the turret, when he came down from the library steps, and thought it time to go home. But at that moment a servant entered to inquire whether he would prefer to have his lunch brought in to him there, and upon his replying in the affirmative a large tray arrived on the stomach of a footman, and Swithin was greatly surprised to see a whole pheasant placed at his disposal.

Having breakfasted at eight that morning, and having been much in the open air afterwards, the Adonis astronomer’s appetite assumed grand proportions. How much of that pheasant he might consistently eat without hurting his dear patroness Lady Constantine’s feelings, when he could readily eat it all, was a problem in which the reasonableness of a larger and larger quantity argued itself inversely as a smaller and smaller quantity remained. When, at length, he had finally decided on a terminal point in the body of the bird, the door was gently opened.

“ Oh, you have not finished ? ” came to him over his shoulder, in a considerate voice.

“ Oh, yes, thank you, Lady Constantine,” he said, jumping up.

“ Why did you prefer to lunch in this awkward, dusty place ? ”

“ I thought — it would be better,” said Swithin simply.

“ There is fruit in the other room, if you like to come. But perhaps you would rather not ? ”

“ Oh, yes, I should much like to,” said Swithin, walking over his napkin, and following her as she led the way to the adjoining apartment.

Here, while she asked him what he had been reading, he modestly ventured on an apple, in whose flavor he recognized the familiar taste of old friends robbed from her husband’s orchards in his childhood, long before Lady Constantine’s advent on the scene. She supposed he had confined his search to his own sublime subject, astronomy ?

Swithin suddenly became older to the eye, as his thoughts reverted to the topic thus reintroduced. “Yes,”he informed her. “ I seldom read any other subject. In these days the secret of productive study is to avoid well.”

“ Did you find any good treatises ? ”

“ None. The theories in your hooks are almost as obsolete as the Ptolemaic system. Only fancy, that magnificent Cyclopaedia, leather bound, and stamped, and gilt, and wide-margined, and bearing the blazon of your house in magnificent colors, says that the twinkling of the stars is probably caused by heavenly bodies passing in front of them in their revolutions.”

“ And is it not so ? That was what I learned when I was a girl.”

The modern Eudoxus now rose above the embarrassing horizon of Lady Constantine’s great house, magnificent furniture, and awe-inspiring footmen. He became quite natural, all his self-consciousness fled, and his eye spoke into hers no less than his lips to her ears, as he said, “ How such a theory can have lingered on to this day beats conjecture ! Francois Arago, as long as fifty or sixty years ago, conclusively established the fact that scintillation is the simplest thing in the world, — merely a matter of atmosphere. But I won’t speak of this to you now. The comparative absence of scintillation in warm countries was noticed by Humboldt. Then, again, the scintillations vary. No star flaps his wings like Sirius when he lies low ! He flashes out emeralds and rubies, amethystine flames and sapphirine colors, in a manner quite marvelous to behold. And this is only one star ! So, too, do Arcturus, and Capella, and lesser luminaries. . . . But I tire you with this subject ? ”

“ On the contrary, you speak so beautifully that I could listen all day.”

The astronomer threw a searching glance upon her for a moment ; but there was no satire in the warm, soft eyes which met his own with a luxurious contemplative interest.

“ Say some more of it to me,” she continued, in a voice not far removed from coaxing.

After some hesitation the subject returned again to his lips, and he said some more — indeed, much more ; Lady Constantine often throwing in an appreciative remark or question, oftener meditatively regarding him, in pursuance of ideas not exactly based on his words, and letting him go on as he would.

Before he left the house the new astronomical project was set in train. The top of the column was to be roofed in, to form a proper observatory ; and on the ground that he knew better than any one else how this was to be carried out, she requested him to give precise directions on the point, and to superintend the whole. A wooden cabin was to be erected at the foot of the tower, to provide better accommodation for casual visitors to the observatory than the spiral staircase and lead-flat afforded. As this cabin would be completely buried in the dense pine foliage which enveloped the lower part of the column and its pedestal, it would be no disfigurement to the general appearance. Finally, a path was to be made across the surrounding fallow, by which she might easily approach the scene of her new study.

When he was gone she wrote to the firm of opticians concerning the equatorial for whose reception all this was designed.

The undertaking was soon in full progress ; and by degrees it became the talk of the hamlets round that Lady Constantine had given up melancholy for astronomy, to the great advantage of all who came in contact with her. One morning, when Tabitha Lark had come as usual to read, Lady Constantine chanced to be in a quarter of the house to which she seldom wandered; and while here she heard her maid talking confidentially to Tabitha in the adjoining room on the curious and sudden interest which Lady Constantine had acquired in the moon and stars.

“ They do say all sorts of trumpery,” observed the hand-maid. “ They say — though’t is little better than mischief, to be sure — that it is n’t the moon, and it is n’t the stars, and it is n't the plannards, that my lady cares for, but for the pretty lad who draws ’em down from the sky to please her; and being a married example, and what with sin and shame knocking at every poor maid’s door afore you can say, ‘ Hands off, my dear,’ to the civilest young man, she ought to set a better pattern.”

Lady Constantine’s face flamed up vividly.

“ If Sir Blount were to come back all of a sudden — oh, my ! ”

• Lady Constantine grew cold as ice.

“ There’s nothing in it,” said Tabitha scornfully. “ I could prove it any day.”

“ Well, I wish I had half her chance! ” sighed the lady’s-maid. And no more was said on the subject then.

Tabitha’s remark showed that the suspicion was quite an embryo as yet. Nevertheless, saying nothing to reveal what she had overheard, immediately after the reading Lady Constantine flew like a bird to where she knew that Swithin might be found. He was in the plantation, sticking up little sticks to mark where the wooden cabin was to stand. She called him to a remote place under the funereal trees. “ I have altered my mind,” she said. “ I can have nothing to do with this matter.”

“ Indeed ? ” said Swithin, surprised.

“ Astronomy is not my hobby any longer. And you are not my Astrouomer-Royal.”

“ Oh, Lady Constantine ! ” cried the youth, aghast. “Why; the work is begun. I thought the equatorial was ordered.”

She dropped her voice, though there was nobody to hear even a Jericho shout “ Of course astronomy is my hobby privately, and you are to be my Astronomer-Royal, and I still furnish the observatory ; but not to the outer world. There is a reason against my indulgence in such scientific fancies openly; and the project must be arranged in this wise. The whole enterprise is yours : you rent the tower of me : you build the cabin : you get the equatorial. I simply give permission, since you desire it. The path that was to he made from the hill to the park is not to be thought of. There is to be no communication between the house and the column. The equatorial will arrive addressed to you, and its cost I will pay through you. My name must not appear, and I vanish entirely from the undertaking. . . . This blind is necessary,” she added, sighing. “ Good-by.”

“But you do take as much interest as before, and it will he yours just the same?” he said, walking after her. He scarcely comprehended the subterfuge, and was absolutely blind as to its reason.

“ Can you doubt it ? But I dare not do it openly.”

With this she went away ; and in due time there circulated through the parish an assertion that it was a mistake to suppose Lady Constantine had anything to do with Swithin St. Cleeve or his star-gazing schemes. She had merely allowed him to rent the tower of her for use as his observatory, and to put some temporary fixtures on it for that purpose.

After this Lady Constantine lapsed into her former life of loneliness ; and by these prompt measures the ghost of a rumor which had barely started into existence was speedily laid to rest. It had probably originated in her own house, and had gone but little further. Yet, despite her self-control, a certain north window of the Great House, that commanded an uninterrupted view of the upper ten feet of the column, revealed her as somewhat frequently gazing from it at a rotundity which had begun to appear on the summit. To those with whom she came in contact she sometimes addressed such remarks as,

“ Is young Mr. St. Cleeve getting on with his observatory? I hope he will fix his instruments without damaging the column, which is so interesting to us as being in memory of my dear husband’s great-grandfather — a truly brave man.”

On one occasion her building-steward ventured to suggest to her that, Sir Blount having deputed to her the power to grant short leases in his absence, she should have a distinctive agreement with Swithin, as between landlord and tenant, with a stringent clause against his driving nails into the stone-work of such a historical memorial. She replied that she did not wish to be severe on the last representative of such old and respected parishioners as his mother’s family had been, and of such a well-descended family as his father’s ; so that it would only be necessary for the steward to keep an eye on Mr. St. Cleeve’s doings.

Further, when a letter arrived at the Great House from Hilton and Pimm’s, the opticians, with information that the equatorial was ready and packed, and that a man would be sent with it to fix it, she replied to that firm to the effect that their letter should have been addressed to Mr. St. Cleeve, the local astronomer, on whose behalf she had made the inquiries ; that she had nothing more to do with the matter; that he would receive the instrument and pay the bill, — her guarantee being given for the latter performance.


Lady Constantine then had the pleasure of beholding a wagon, laden with packing-cases, in the act of crossing the field towards the pillar ; and not many days later Swithin, who had never come to the Great House since the luncheon, met her in a path which he knew to be one of her promenades.

“ The equatorial is fixed, and the man gone,” he said, half in doubt as to his speech, for her commands to him not to recognize her agency or patronage still puzzled him. “ I respectfully wish — you could come and see it, Lady Constantine.”

“ I would rather not ; I cannot.”

“ Saturn is lovely ; Jupiter is simply sublime ; I can sjee double stars in the Lion and in the Virgin where I had seen only a single one before. It is all I required to set me going ! ”

“Is it so? I ’ll come. But — you need say nothing about my visit. I cannot come to-night, but I will some time this week. Yet only this once, to try the instrument. Afterwards you must be content to pursue your studies alone.”

Swithin seemed but little affected at this announcement. “ Hilton and Pimm’s man handed me the bill,” he continued.

“ How much is it ? ”

He told her. “ And the man who has built the hut and dome, and done the other fixing, has sent in his.” He named this amount also.

“ Very well. They shall be settled with. My debts must be paid with my money, which you shall have at once, — in cash, since a check would hardly do. Come to the house for it this evening. But no, no ! —you must not come openly ; such is the world. Come to the window — the window that is exactly in a line with the long snow-drop bed, in the south front—at eight to-night, and I will give you what is necessary.”

“ Certainly, Lady Constantine,” said the young man respectfully.

At eight that evening, accordingly, Swithin entered like a ghost upon the terrace to seek out the spot she had designated. The equatorial had so entirely absorbed his thoughts that he did not trouble himself seriously to conjecture the why and wherefore of her secrecy. If he casually thought of it, he set it down in a general way to an intensely generous wish on her part not to lessen his influence among the sparse inhabitants by making him appear the object of patronage.

While he stood by the long snow-drop bed, which looked up at him like a nether Milky Way, the French casement of the window opposite softly opened, and a hand bordered by a glimmer of lace was stretched forth, from which he received a crisp little parcel, — bank-notes, apparently. He knew the hand, and held it long enough to press it to his lips, the only form which had ever occurred to him of expressing his gratitude to her without the incumbrance of clumsy words, — a vehicle at the best of times but rudely suited for such delicate merchandise. The hand was hastily withdrawn, as if the treatment had been unexpected. Then seemingly moved by second thoughts, she bent forward and said, “ is the night good for observations ? ”

“ Perfect.”

“Then I’ll come to-night; it makes no difference to me, after all. Wait just one moment.”

He waited, and she presently emerged, muffled up like a nun ; whereupon they left the terrace and struck across the park together. Very little was said by either till they were crossing the fallow, when he asked if his arm would help her. She did not take the offered support just then ; but when they were ascending under the heavy gloom of the fir-trees she seized it, as if rather influenced by the oppressive solitude than by fatigue.

Thus they reached the foot of the column, ten thousand spirits in prison seeming to gasp their griefs from the funereal boughs overhead, and a few twigs scratching the pillar with the drag of impish claws as tenacious as those figuring in St. Anthony’s temptation.

“ How intensely dark it is just here ! ” she whispered. “ I wonder you can keep in the path. Many ancient Britons lie buried here, doubtless.”

He led her round to the other side, where, feeling his way with his hands, he suddenly left her, appearing a moment after with a light.

“ What place is this ? ” she exclaimed.

“ This is the cabin,” said he; and she could just discern the outline of a little house, not unlike a bathing-machine without wheels. “ I have kept lights ready here, as I thought you might come any evening, and possibly bring company.”

“ Don’t quarrel with me for coming alone ! ” she exclaimed, with sensitive promptness. “ There are reasons for what I do of which you know nothing.”

“ Perhaps it is much to my discredit that I don’t know.”

“ Not at all. You are all the better for it. God forbid that I should enlighten you. Well, I see this is the hut. But I am more curious to go to the top, and make discoveries.”

He brought a little lantern from the cabin, and lighted her up the winding staircase to the temple of that sublime mystery on whose threshold he stood as priest. The top of the column was quite changed. The tub-shaped space within the parapet, formerly open to the air and sun, was now arched over by a light dome of lath-work covered with felt. But this dome was not fixed. At the line where its base descended to the parapet there were half a dozen iron balls, precisely like cannon-shot, standing loosely in a groove, and on these the dome rested its whole weight. In the side of the dome was a slit, through which the wind blew and the North Star beamed, and towards it the end of the great telescope was directed. This latter magnificent object, with its circles, axes, and handles complete, was securely fixed in the middle of the floor.

“ But you can only see one part of the sky through that slit,” said she.

The astronomer stretched out his arm, and the whole dome turned horizontally round, running on the balls with a rumble like that of near thunder. Instead of the star Polaris, which had been peeping in upon them through the slit, there now appeared the faces of Castor and Pollux. Swithin then manipulated the equatorial, and put it through its capabilities in like manner.

She was enchanted ; being rather excitable, she even clapped her hands just once. She turned to him : “ Now are you happy?”

“But it is all yours, Lady Constantine.”

“ At this moment. But that ’s a defect which can soon be remedied. When is your birthday ? ”

“ Next month, — the seventh.”

“ Then it shall all be yours, — a birthday present.”

The young man protested; it was too much.

“ No, you must accept it all, — equatorial, dome, stand, hut, and everything that has been put here for this astronomical purpose. The possession of these apparatus would only compromise me. Already they are reputed to be yours, and they must be made yours. There is no help for it. If ever ” (here her voice lost some firmness), — “if ever you go away from me, — from this place, I mean, —and marry, and settle in a new home elsewhere for good, you must take these things, equatorial and all, and never tell how they came to be yours.”

“ I wish I could do something more for you ! ” exclaimed the much-moved astronomer. “If you could but share my fame, — supposing I get any, which I may die before doing, — it would be a little compensation. As to my going away and marrying, I certainly shall not. I may go away, but I shall never marry.”

“ Why not ? ”

“ A beloved science is enough wife for me, — combined, perhaps, with a litthe warm friendship with one of kindred pursuits.”

“ Who is the friend ? ”

“ Yourself I should like it to be.”

“ You would have to become a woman before I could be that, publicly; or I a man,” she replied, with dry melancholy.

“ Why a woman, dear Lady Constantine ? ”

“ I cannot explain. No ; you must keep your fame and your science all to yourself, and I must keep my — troubles.”

Swithin, to divert her from melancholy, — not knowing that in the expression of her melancholy thus and now she found much pleasure, — changed the subject by asking if they should take some observations.

“ Yes ; the scenery is well hung tonight,” she said, looking out upon the heavens.

Then they proceeded to scan the sky, roving from planet to star, from single stars to double stars, from double to colored stars, in the cursory manner of the merely curious. They plunged down to that at other times invisible stellar multitude in the back rows of the celestial theatre: remote layers of constellations whose shapes were new and singular; pretty twinklers which for infinite ages had spent their beams without calling forth from a single poet a single line, or being able to bestow a ray of comfort on a single benighted traveler.

“ And to think,” said Lady Constantine, “ that the whole race of shepherds, since the beginning of the world, — even those immortal shepherds who watched near Bethlehem, — should have gone into their graves without knowing that for one star that lighted them in their labors there were ten as good behind trying to do so ! ... I have a feeling for this instrument not unlike the awe I should feel in the presence of a great magician in whom I really believed. Its powers are so enormous, and weird, and fantastical, that I should have a personal fear in being with it alone. Music drew an angel down, said the poet; but what is that to drawing down worlds ! ”

“ I often experience a kind of fear of the sky after sitting in the observing-chair a long time. And when I walk home afterwards I fear it, for what I know is there, but cannot see, as one naturally fears the presence of a vast something that only reveals a very little of itself. That’s partly what I meant by saying that magnitude, which up to a certain point has grandeur, has beyond it ghastliness.”

Thus the interest of their sidereal observations led them on, till the knowledge that scarce any other human vision was traveling within a hundred million miles of their own gave them such a sense of the isolation of that faculty as almost to be a sense of isolation as regarded their whole personality, causing a shudder at its absoluteness. At night, when human discords and harmonies are hushed, in a general sense, for the greater part of twelve hours, there is nothing to moderate the blow with which the infinitely great, the stellar universe, strikes down upon the infinitely little, the mind of the beholder; and this was the case now. Having got closer to immensity than their fellow-creatures, they saw at once its beauty and its frightfulness. They more and more felt the contrast between their own tiny magnitudes and those among which they had recklessly plunged, till they were oppressed with the presence of a vastness they could not cope with even as an idea, which hung about them like a nightmare.

He stood by her while she observed ; she by him when they changed places. Once that Swithin’s emancipation from a trammeling body had been effected by the telescope, and he was well away in space, she felt her influence over him diminishing to nothing. He was quite unconscious of his terrestrial neighborings, and of herself as one of them. It still further reduced her towards simplicity.

The silence was broken only by the ticking of the clock-work which gave diurnal motion to the instrument. To expect that he was ever voluntarily going to end the pause by speech was apparently futile. She laid her hand upon his arm. He started, withdrew his eye from the telescope, and brought himself back to the earth by a visible effort.

“Do come out of it!” she coaxed, with a softness in her voice which any man but Swithin would have felt to be exquisite. “ I feel that I have been so foolish as to put in your hands an instrument to effect my own annihilation. Not a word have you spoken for the last ten minutes.”

“ I have been mentally getting on with my great theory. I hope soon to be able to publish it to the world. What, are you going ? I will walk with you, Lady Constantine. When will you come again ? ”

“ When your great theory is published to the world.”


Lady Constantine, if narrowly observed at this time, would have seemed to be deeply troubled in conscience, and particularly after the interview above described. Ash-Wednesday occurred in the calendar a few days later, and she went to morning service with a look of genuine contrition on her emotional and yearning countenance. Besides herself the congregation consisted only of the parson, clerk, school-children, and three old people living on alms, who sat under the reading-desk ; and thus, when Mr. Torkingham blazed forth the denunciatory sentences of the Comminution, the whole force of them seemed to descend upon her own shoulders. Looking across the empty pews, she saw through the one or two clear panes of the window opposite a figure in the church-yard, and the very feeling against which she had tried to pray came back again. When she came out and had crossed into the private walk, Swithin came forward to speak to her. This was a most unusual circumstance, and argued a matter of importance.

“ I have made an amazing discovery in connection with the variable stars ! ” he exclaimed. “ It will excite the whole astronomical world, and the world outside but little less. I had long suspected the true secret of their variability ; but it was by the merest chance on earth that I hit upon a proof of my guess. Your equatorial has done it, my good, kind Lady Constantine, and our fame is established forever ! ” He sprang into the air, and waved his hat in his triumph.

“ Oh, I am so glad—so rejoiced ! ” she cried. “What is it? But don’t stop to tell me. Publish it at once in some paper ; nail your name to it, or somebody will seize the idea and appropriate it,—forestall you in someway. It will be Adams and Leverrier over again.”

“ If I may walk with you I will explain the nature of the discovery. It accounts for the occasional green tint of Castor and every difficulty. I said I would be the Copernicus of the stellar system, and I have begun to be. Yet who knows ? ”

“ Now don’t be so up and down ! I shall not understand your explanation, and I would rather not know it. I shall reveal it if it is very grand. Women, you know, are not safe depositaries of suck valuable secrets. You may walk with me a little way, with great pleasure. Then go and write your account, so as to insure your ownership of the discovery. . . . But how you have watched ! ” she cried, in a sudden accession of anxiety, as she turned to look more closely at him. “ The orbits of your eyes are leaden, and your eyelids are red and heavy. Don’t do it, — pray don’t! You will be ill, and break down.”

“ I have, it is true, been up a little late this last week,” he said cheerfully. “In fact, I couldn’t tear myself away from the equatorial; it is such a wonderful possession that it keeps me there till daylight. But what does that matter, now I have made the discovery ? ”

“ Ah, it does matter ! Now, promise me— I insist — that you will not commit such imprudences again ; for what should I do if my Astronomer-Royal were to die ? ” She laughed, but far too apprehensively to be effective as a display of levity.

They parted, and he went home to wrrite out his paper. He promised to call as soon as his discovery was in print. Then they waited for the result.

It is impossible to describe the tremulous state of Lady Constantine during the interval. The warm interest she took in Swithin St. Cleeve — many would have said dangerously warm interest — made his hopes her hopes; and though she sometimes admitted to herself that great allowance was requisite for the overweening confidence of youth in the future, she permitted herself to be blinded to probabilities for the pleasure of sharing his dreams. It seemed not unreasonable to suppose the present hour to be the beginning of realization to her darling wish that this young man should become famous. He had worked hard, and why should he not be famous early ? His very simplicity in mundane affairs afforded a strong presumption that in things celestial he might he wise. To obtain support for this hypothesis she had only to think over the lives of many eminent astronomers.

She waited feverishly for the flourish of trumpets from afar, by which she expected the announcement of his discovery to be greeted. Knowing that immediate intelligence of the outburst would be brought to her by himself, she watched from the windows of the Great House each morning for a sight of his figure hastening down the glade. But he did not come.

A long array of wet days passed their dreary shapes before her, and made the waiting still more tedious. On one of these occasions she ran across to the tower, at the risk of a severe cold. The door was locked. Two days after she went again. The door was locked still. But this was only to be expected in such weather. Y"et she would have gone on to his house, had there not been one reason too many against such precipitancy. As astronomer and astronomer there was no harm in their meetings; but as woman and man she feared them, — for herself, at any rate.

Ten days passed without a sight of him ; ten blurred and dreary days, during which the whole landscape dripped like a mop, and the park trees swabbed the gravel from the drive, while the sky was lined with a thick vault of immovable cloud. It seemed as if the whole science of astronomy had never been real, and that the heavenly bodies, with their motions, were as theoretical as the moves and pieces at a bygone game of chess.

She could content herself no longer with fruitless visits to the column, and when the rain had a little abated she walked to the nearest hamlet, and in a conversation with the first old woman she met contrived to lead up to the subject of Swithin St. Cleeve, by talking about his grandmother.

“ Ah, poor old heart; ’t is a bad time for her, my lady ! ” exclaimed the dame.

“ Why ? ”

“ Her grandson is dying; and such a gentleman born ! ”

“ Oh, it has something to do with that dreadful discovery ! ”

“ What, my lady ? ”

She left the old woman with an evasive answer, and with a breaking heart crept along the road. Tears brimmed into her eyes as she walked, and by the time that she was out of sight sobs burst forth tumultuously. “ I am too fond of him, but I can’t help it, and I don’t care, — I don’t care ! ”

Without further considerations as to who beheld her doings, she instinctively went straight towards Mrs. Martin’s. Seeing a man coming, she calmed herself sufficiently to ask him through her dropped veil how poor Mr. St. Cleeve was that day. But she only got the same reply : “ They say he is dying, my lady.”

When Swithin had parted from Lady Constantine, on the previous AshWednesday, he had gone straight to the homestead and prepared bis account of A New Astronomical Discovery. It was written perhaps in too glowing a rhetoric for the true scientific tone of mind ; but there was no doubt that his assertion met with a most startling aptness all the difficulties which had accompanied the received theories on the phenomena attending those marvelous suns of marvelous systems so far away. It accounted for the nebulous mist that surrounds some of them at their weakest time; in short, took up a position of probability which has never yet been assailed.

The papers were written in triplicate, and carefully sealed up with blue wax. One copy was directed to Greenwich, another to the Royal Society, another to a prominent astronomer. A brief statement of the essence of the discovery was also prepared for the leading daily paper.

He considered these documents, embodying as they did two years of his constant thought, reading, and observation, too important to be entrusted for posting to the hands of a messenger ; too important to be sent to the subpost-office at hand. Though the day was wet, dripping wet, he went on foot with them to a chief office, five miles off, and registered them. Quite exhausted by the walk, after his long night-work, wet through, yet sustained by the sense of a great achievement, be called at a bookseller’s for the astronomical periodicals to which he subscribed ; then, resting for a short time at an inn, he plodded his way homewards, reading his papers as he went, and planning how to enjoy a repose, on his laurels, of a week or more.

On he strolled through the rain, holding the umbrella vertically over the exposed page to keep it dry while be read. Suddenly his eye was struck by an article. It was the review of a pamphlet by an American astronomer, in which the author announced a conclusive discovery with regard to variable stars.

The discovery was precisely the discovery of Swithin St. Cleeve. Another man had forestalled his fame by a period of about six weeks.

Then the youth found that the goddess Philosophy, to whom he had vowed to dedicate his whole life, would not in return support him through a single hour of despair. In truth, the impishness of circumstance was newer to him than it would have been to a philosopher of threescore and ten. In a wild wish for annihilation he flung himself down on a patch of heather that lay a little removed from the road, and in this watery bed remained motionless, while time passed by unheeded. At last, from sheer misery and weariness, he fell asleep. The March rain pelted him mercilessly, the beaded moisture from the heavily charged locks of heath penetrated him through back and sides, and clotted his hair to unsightly tags and tufts. When he awoke it was dark. He thought of his grandmother, and of her possible alarm at missing him. On attempting to rise, he found that he could hardly bend his joints, and that his clothes were as heavy as lead from saturation. His teeth chattering and his knees trembling, he pursued his way home, where his appearance excited great concern. He was obliged at once to retire to bed, and the next day he was delirious from the chill.

It was about ten days after this unhappy occurrence that Lady Constantine learnt the news, as above described, and hastened along to the homestead in that state of anguish in which the heart is no longer under the control of the judgment, and self-abandonment, even to error, verges on heroism. On reaching the house in Rings-Hill Bottom, the door was opened to her by old Hannah, who wore an assiduously sorrowful look ; and Lady Constantine was shown into the large room, — so wide that the beams bent in the middle, — where she took her seat in one of a methodic range of chairs, beneath a portrait of the Reverend Mr. St. Cleeve, her astronomer’s erratic father.

The eight unwatered plants, in the row of eight flower-pots, denoted that there was something wrong in the house. Mrs. Martin came down-stairs, fretting, her wonder at beholding Lady Constantine not altogether displacing the previous mood. “ Here’s a pretty kettle of fish, my lady ! ” she exclaimed.

Lady Constantine said,”Hush ! ” and pointed inquiringly upward.

“ He is not overhead, my lady,” replied Swithin’s grandmother. “ His bed-room is at the back of the house.”

“ How is he now ? ”

“ He is better, just at this moment; and we are more hopeful. But he changes so.”

“ May I go up ? I know he would like to see me.”

Her presence having been made known to the sufferer, she was conducted upstairs to Swithin’s room. The way thither was through the large chamber he had used as a study and for the manufacture of optical instruments. There lay the large pasteboard telescope, that had been just such a failure as Crusoe’s large boat; there were his diagrams, maps, globes, and celestial apparatus of various sorts. The absence of the worker through illness or death is sufficient to touch the prosiest workshop with the hues of pathetic romance, and it was with a swelling bosom that Lady Constantine passed through this arena of his youthful activities to the little chamber where he lay.

Old Mrs. Martin sat down by the window, and Lady Constantine bent over Swithin.

“ Don’t speak to me! ” she whispered. “It will weaken you ; it will excite you. If you do speak it must be very softly.” She took his hand, and one irrepressible tear fell upon it.

“ Nothing will excite me now, Lady Constantine,” he said; “ not even your goodness in coming. My last excitement was when I lost the battle. . . . Do you know that my discovery has been forestalled? It is that that’s killing me.”

“ But you are going to recover ; you are better, they say. Is it so ? ”

“ I think I am, to-day. But who can be sure ? ”

“ The poor boy was so upset at finding that his labor had been thrown away,” said his grandmother, “that he lay down in the rain, and chilled his life out.”

“How could you do it ? ” Lady Constantine whispered. “How could you think so much of renown, and so little of me ? Why, for every discovery made there are ten behind that await making. To commit suicide like this, as if there were nobody in the world to care for you ! ”

“ It was done in my haste, and I am very, very sorry for it! I beg both you and all my few friends never, never to forgive me ! It would kill me with selfreproach if you were to pardon my rashness ! ”

At this moment the doctor was announced, and Mrs. Martin went downstairs to receive him. Lady Constantine thought she would remain to hear his report, and for this purpose came out, and sat down in a nook of the adjoining work-room of Swithin, the doctor meeting her as he passed through it into the sick-chamber.

He was there during what seemed a torturingly long time ; but at length he came out to the room she waited in, and crossed it on his way down-stairs. She rose and followed him to the stairhead. “ How is he ? ” she anxiously asked. “ Will he get over it ? ”

The doctor, not knowing the depth of her interest in the patient, spoke with the blunt candor natural towards a comparatively indifferent inquirer. “ No, Lady Constantine,” he replied ; “there’s a change for the worse.” And he retired down the stairs.

Scarcely knowing what she did, Lady Constantine ran back to Swithin’s side, flung herself upon the bed, and in a throb of sorrow kissed him.

Thomas Hardy.