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Eleanor

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222 pages
The Project Gutenberg EBook of Eleanor, by Mrs. Humphry Ward #2 in our series by Mrs. Humphry WardCopyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the copyright laws for your country before downloadingor redistributing this or any other Project Gutenberg eBook.This header should be the first thing seen when viewing this Project Gutenberg file. Please do not remove it. Do notchange or edit the header without written permission.Please read the "legal small print," and other information about the eBook and Project Gutenberg at the bottom of thisfile. Included is important information about your specific rights and restrictions in how the file may be used. You can alsofind out about how to make a donation to Project Gutenberg, and how to get involved.**Welcome To The World of Free Plain Vanilla Electronic Texts****eBooks Readable By Both Humans and By Computers, Since 1971*******These eBooks Were Prepared By Thousands of Volunteers!*****Title: EleanorAuthor: Mrs. Humphry WardRelease Date: October, 2005 [EBook #9087] [Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule] [This file was firstposted on September 4, 2003]Edition: 10Language: English*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK ELEANOR ***Produced by Jonathan Ingram, William Flis, and Distributed ProofreadersELEANORBYMRS. HUMPHRY WARDWITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY ALBERT STERNER1900TO ITALY THE BELOVED AND BEAUTIFUL, INSTRUCTRESS OF OUR PAST, DELIGHT OF OURPRESENT, COMRADE OF OUR FUTURE:— ...
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The Project Gutenberg EBook of Eleanor, by Mrs. Humphry Ward #2 in our series by Mrs. Humphry Ward Copyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the copyright laws for your country before downloading or redistributing this or any other Project Gutenberg eBook. This header should be the first thing seen when viewing this Project Gutenberg file. Please do not remove it. Do not change or edit the header without written permission. Please read the "legal small print," and other information about the eBook and Project Gutenberg at the bottom of this file. Included is important information about your specific rights and restrictions in how the file may be used. You can also find out about how to make a donation to Project Gutenberg, and how to get involved. **Welcome To The World of Free Plain Vanilla Electronic Texts** **eBooks Readable By Both Humans and By Computers, Since 1971** *****These eBooks Were Prepared By Thousands of Volunteers!***** Title: Eleanor Author: Mrs. Humphry Ward Release Date: October, 2005 [EBook #9087] [Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule] [This file was first posted on September 4, 2003] Edition: 10 Language: English *** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK ELEANOR *** Produced by Jonathan Ingram, William Flis, and Distributed Proofreaders ELEANOR BY MRS. HUMPHRY WARD WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY ALBERT STERNER 1900 TO ITALY THE BELOVED AND BEAUTIFUL, INSTRUCTRESS OF OUR PAST, DELIGHT OF OUR PRESENT, COMRADE OF OUR FUTURE:— THE HEART OF AN ENGLISHWOMAN OFFERS THIS BOOK. LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS ELEANOR THE VILLA LUCY FOSTER THE BEAUTIFYING OF LUCY THE LOGGIA FATHER BENECKE PART I. 'I would that you were all to me, You that are just so much, no more. Nor yours nor mine, nor slave nor free! Where does the fault lie? What the core O' the wound, since wound must be?' CHAPTER I 'Let us be quite clear, Aunt Pattie—when does this young woman arrive?' 'In about half an hour. But really, Edward, you need take no trouble! she is coming to visit me, and I will see that she doesn't get in your way. Neither you nor Eleanor need trouble your heads about her.' Miss Manisty—a small elderly lady in a cap—looked at her nephew with a mild and deprecating air. The slight tremor of the hands, which were crossed over the knitting on her lap, betrayed a certain nervousness; but for all that she had the air of managing a familiar difficulty in familiar ways. The gentleman addressed shook his head impatiently. 'One never prepares for these catastrophes till they actually arrive,' he muttered, taking up a magazine that lay on the table near him, and restlessly playing with the leaves. 'I warned you yesterday.' 'And I forgot—and was happy. Eleanor—what are we going to do with Miss Foster?' A lady, who had been sitting at some little distance, rose and came forward. 'Well, I should have thought the answer was simple. Here we are fifteen miles from Rome. The trains might be better—still there are trains. Miss Foster has never been to Europe before. Either Aunt Pattie's maid or mine can take her to all the proper things—or there are plenty of people in Rome—the Westertons—the Borrows?—who at a word from Aunt Pattie would fly to look after her and take her about. I really don't see that you need be so miserable!' Mrs. Burgoyne stood looking down in some amusement at the aunt and nephew. Edward Manisty, however, was not apparently consoled by her remarks. He began to pace up and down the salon in a disturbance out of all proportion to its cause. And as he walked he threw out phrases of ill-humour, so that at last Miss Manisty, driven to defend herself, put the irresistible question— 'Then why—why—my dear Edward, did you make me invite her? For it was really his doing—wasn't it, Eleanor?' 'Yes—I am witness!' 'One of those abominable flashes of conscience that have so much to answer for!' said Manisty, throwing up his hand in annoyance.—'If she had come to us in Rome, one could have provided for her. But here in this solitude—just at the most critical moment of one's work—and it's all very well—but one can't treat a young lady, when she is actually in one's house, as if she were the tongs!' He stood beside the window, with his hands on his sides, moodily looking out. Thus strongly defined against the sunset light, he would have impressed himself on a stranger as a man no longer in his first youth, extraordinarily handsome so far as the head was concerned, but of a somewhat irregular and stunted figure; stunted, however, only in comparison with what it had to carry; for in fact he was of about middle height. But the head, face and shoulders were all remarkably large and powerful; the colouring—curly black hair, grey eyes, dark complexion—singularly vivid; and the lines of the brow, the long nose, the energetic mouth, in their mingled force and perfection, had made the stimulus of many an artist before now. For Edward Manisty was one of those men of note whose portraits the world likes to paint: and this 'Olympian head' of his was well known in many a French and English studio, through a fine drawing of it made by Legros when Manisty was still a youth at Oxford. 'Begun by David—and finished by Rembrandt': so a young French painter had once described Edward Manisty. The final effect of this discord, however, was an effect of power—of personality—of something that claimed and held attention. So at least it was described by Manisty's friends. Manisty's enemies, of whom the world contained no small number, had other words for it. But women in general took the more complimentary view. The two women now in his company were clearly much affected by the force—wilfulness—extravagance—for one might call it by any of these names—that breathed from the man before them. Miss Manisty, his aunt, followed his movements with her small blinking eyes, timidly uneasy, but yet visibly conscious all the time that she had done nothing that any reasonable man could rationally complain of; while in the manner towards him of his widowed cousin Mrs. Burgoyne, in the few words of banter or remonstrance that she threw him on the subject of his aunt's expected visitor, there was an indulgence, a deference even, that his irritation scarcely deserved. 'At least, give me some account of this girl'—he said, breaking in upon his aunt's explanations. 'I have really not given her a thought—and—good heavens!—she will be here, you say, in half an hour. Is she young—stupid—pretty? Has she any experience—any conversation?' 'I read you Adèle's letter on Monday,' said Miss Manisty, in a tone of patience—'and I told you then all I knew—but I noticed you didn't listen. I only saw her myself for a few hours at Boston. I remember she was rather good-looking—but very shy, and not a bit like all the other girls one was seeing. Her clothes were odd, and dowdy, and too old for her altogether,—which struck me as curious, for the American girls, even the country ones, have such a natural turn for dressing themselves. Her Boston cousins didn't like it, and they tried to buy her things—but she was difficult to manage— and they had to give it up. Still they were very fond of her, I remember. Only she didn't let them show it much. Her manners were much stiffer than theirs. They said she was very countrified and simple—that she had been brought up quite alone by their old uncle, in a little country town—and hardly ever went away from home.' 'And Edward never saw her?' inquired Mrs. Burgoyne, with a motion of the head towards Manisty. 'No. He was at Chicago just those days. But you never saw anything like the kindness of the cousins! Luncheons and dinners!'—Miss Manisty raised her little gouty hands—'my dear—when we left Boston I never wanted to eat again. It would be simply indecent if we did nothing for this girl. English people are so ungrateful this side of the water. It makes me hot when I think of all they do for us.' The small lady's blanched and wrinkled face reddened a little with a colour which became her. Manisty, lost in irritable reflection, apparently took no notice. 'But why did they send her out all alone?' said Mrs. Burgoyne. 'Couldn't they have found some family for her to travel with?' 'Well, it was a series of accidents. She did come over with some Boston people—the Porters—we knew very well. And they hadn't been three days in London before one of the daughters developed meningitis, and was at the point of death. And of course they could go nowhere and see nothing—and poor Lucy Foster felt herself in the way. Then she was to have joined some other people in Italy, and they changed their plans. And at last I got a letter from Mrs. Porter—in despair—asking me if I knew of anyone in Rome who would take her in and chaperon her. And then—well, then you know the rest.' And the speaker nodded again, still more significantly, towards her nephew. 'No, not all,' said Mrs. Burgoyne, laughing. 'I remember he telegraphed.' 'Yes. He wouldn't even wait for me to write. No—"Of course we must have the girl!" he said. "She can join us at the villa. And they'll want to know, so I'll wire." And out he went. And then that evening I had to write and ask her to stay as long as she wished—and—well, there it is!' 'And hence these tears,' said Mrs. Burgoyne. 'What possessed him?' 'Well, I think it was conscience,' said the little spinster, plucking up spirit. 'I know it was with me. There had been some Americans calling on us that day—you remember—those charming Harvard people? And somehow it recalled to us both what a fuss they had made with us—and how kind everybody was. At least I suppose that was how Edward felt. I know I did.' Manisty paused in his walk. For the first time his dark whimsical face was crossed by an unwilling smile—slight but agreeable. 'It is the old story,' he said. 'Life would be tolerable but for one's virtues. All this time, I beg to point out, Aunt Pattie, that you have still told us nothing about the young lady—except something about her clothes, which doesn't matter.' Mrs. Burgoyne's amused gesture showed the woman's view of this remark. Miss Manisty looked puzzled. 'Well—I don't know. Yes—I have told you a great deal. The Lewinsons apparently thought her rather strange. Adèle said she couldn't tell what to be at with her—you never knew what she would like or dislike. Tom Lewinson seems to have liked her better than Adèle did. He said "there was no nonsense about her—and she never kept a fellow waiting." Adèle says she is the oddest mixture of knowledge and ignorance. She would ask the most absurd elementary questions—and then one morning Tom found out that she was quite a Latin scholar, and had read Horace and Virgil, and all the rest.' 'Good God!' said Manisty under his breath, resuming his walk. 'And when they asked her to play, she played—quite respectably.' 'Of course:—two hours' practising in the morning,—I foresaw it,' said Manisty, stopping short. 'Eleanor, we have been like children sporting over the abyss!' Mrs. Burgoyne rose with a laugh—a very soft and charming laugh—by no means the least among the various gifts with which nature had endowed her. 'Oh, civilisation has resources,' she said—'Aunt Pattie and I will take care of you. Now we have got a quarter of an hour to dress in. Only first—one must really pay one's respects to this sunset.' And she stepped out through an open door upon a balcony beyond. Then turning, with a face of delight, she beckoned to Manisty, who followed. 'Every night more marvellous than the last'—she said, hanging over the balustrade—'and one seems to be here in the high box of a theatre, with the sun playing pageants for our particular benefit.' Before them, beneath them indeed, stretched a scene, majestic, incomparable. The old villa in which they stood was built high on the ridge of the Alban Hills. Below it, olive-grounds and vineyards, plough-lands and pine plantations sank, slope after slope, fold after fold, to the Campagna. And beyond the Campagna, along the whole shining line of the west, the sea met the sunset; while to the north, a dim and scattered whiteness rising from the plain—was Rome. The sunset was rushing to its height through every possible phase of violence and splendour. From the Mediterranean, storm-clouds were rising fast to the assault and conquest of the upper sky, which still above the hills shone blue and tranquil. But the north-west wind and the sea were leagued against it. They sent out threatening fingers and long spinning veils of cloud across it—skirmishers that foretold the black and serried lines, the torn and monstrous masses behind. Below these wild tempest shapes, again,—in long spaces resting on the sea—the heaven was at peace, shining in delicate greens and yellows, infinitely translucent and serene, above the dazzling lines of water. Over Rome itself there was a strange massing and curving of the clouds. Between their blackness and the deep purple of the Campagna, rose the city—pale phantom—upholding one great dome, and one only, to the view of night and the world. Round and above and behind, beneath the long flat arch of the storm, glowed a furnace of scarlet light. The buildings of the city were faint specks within its fierce intensity, dimly visible through a sea of fire. St. Peter's alone, without visible foundation or support, had consistence, form, identity.—And between the city and the hills, waves of blue and purple shade, forerunners of the night, stole over the Campagna towards the higher ground. But the hills themselves were still shining, still clad in rose and amethyst, caught in gentler repetition from the wildness of the west. Pale rose even the olive- gardens; rose the rich brown fallows, the emerging farms; while drawn across the Campagna from north to south, as though some mighty brush had just laid it there for sheer lust of colour, sheer joy in the mating it with the rose,—one long strip of sharpest, purest green. Mrs. Burgoyne turned at last from the great spectacle to her companion. 'One has really no adjectives left,' she said. 'But I had used mine up within a week.' 'It still gives you so much pleasure?' he said, looking at her a little askance. Her face changed at once. 'And you?—you are beginning to be tired of it?' 'One gets a sort of indigestion.—Oh! I shall be all right to-morrow.' Both were silent for a moment. Then he resumed.— 'I met General Fenton in the Borgia rooms this morning.' She turned, with a quick look of curiosity. 'Well?' 'I hadn't seen him since I met him at Simla three years ago. I always found him particularly agreeable then. We used to ride together and talk together,—and he put me in the way of seeing a good many things. This morning he received me with a change of manner—can't exactly describe it; but it was not flattering! So I presently left him to his own devices and went on into another room. Then he followed me, and seemed to wish to talk. Perhaps he perceived that he had been unfriendly, and thought he would make amends. But I was rather short with him. We had been real friends; we hadn't met for three years; and I thought he might have behaved differently. He asked me a number of questions, however, about last year, about my resignation, and so forth; and I answered as little as I could. So presently he looked at me and laughed —"You remind me," he said, "of what somebody said of Peel—that he was bad to go up to in the stable!—But what on earth are you in the stable for?—and not in the running?"' Mrs. Burgoyne smiled. 'He was evidently bored with the pictures!' she said, dryly. Manisty gave a shrug. 'Oh! I let him off. I wouldn't be drawn. I told him I had expressed myself so much in public there was nothing more to say. "H'm," he said, "they tell me at the Embassy you're writing a book!" You should have seen the little old fellow's wizened face—and the scorn of it! So I inquired whether there was any objection to the writing of books. "Yes!"—he said—"when a man can do a d——d sight better for himself—as you could! Everyone tells me that last year you had the ball at your feet." "Well,"—I said—"and I kicked it—and am still kicking it—in my own way. It mayn't be yours —or anybody else's—but wait and see." He shook his head. "A man with what were your prospects can't afford escapades. It's all very well for a Frenchman; it don't pay in England." So then I maintained that half the political reputations of the present day were based on escapades. "Whom do you mean?"—he said—"Randolph Churchill?—But Randolph's escapades were always just what the man in the street understood. As for your escapade, the man in the street can't make head or tail of it. That's just the, difference."' Mrs. Burgoyne laughed—but rather impatiently.