Full Online Books
BOOK CATEGORIES
Authors Authors Short Stories Short Stories Long Stories Long Stories Funny Stories Funny Stories Love Stories Love Stories Stories For Kids Stories For Kids Poems Poems Essays Essays Nonfictions Nonfictions Plays Plays Folktales Folktales Fairy Tales Fairy Tales Fables Fables Learning Kitchen Learning Kitchen
LINKS
Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional Free Classified Website Without Registration Free Classified Website Daniel Company
Twitter Twitter Add book
donate
Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesOrley Farm - Volume 2 - Chapter 50. It Is Quite Impossible
Famous Authors (View All Authors)
Orley Farm - Volume 2 - Chapter 50. It Is Quite Impossible Post by :emilythechef Category :Long Stories Author :Anthony Trollope Date :May 2012 Read :1975

Click below to download : Orley Farm - Volume 2 - Chapter 50. It Is Quite Impossible (Format : PDF)

Orley Farm - Volume 2 - Chapter 50. It Is Quite Impossible

VOLUME II CHAPTER L. IT IS QUITE IMPOSSIBLE

All was now sadness at The Cleeve. It was soon understood among the servants that there was to be no marriage, and the tidings spread from the house, out among the neighbours and into Hamworth. But no one knew the reason of this change;--none except those three, the woman herself who had committed the crime and the two to whom she had told it. On that same night, the night of the day on which the tale had been told, Lady Mason wrote a line,--almost a single line to her son.


DEAREST LUCIUS,

All is over between me and Sir Peregrine. It is better
that it should be so. I write to tell you this without
losing an hour. For the present I remain here with my
dear--dearest friends.

Your own affectionate mother,

M. MASON.


This note she had written in obedience to the behests of Mrs. Orme, and even under her dictation--with the exception of one or two words, "I remain here with my friends," Mrs. Orme had said; but Lady Mason had put in the two epithets, and had then declared her own conviction that she had now no right to use such language.

"Yes, of me you may, certainly," said Mrs. Orme, keeping close to her shoulder.

"Then I will alter it," said Lady Mason. "I will write it again and say I am staying with you."

But this Mrs. Orme had forbidden. "No; it will be better so," she said. "Sir Peregrine would wish it. I am sure he would. He quite agrees that--" Mrs. Orme did not finish her sentence, but the letter was despatched, written as above. The answer which Lucius sent down before breakfast the next morning was still shorter.


DEAREST MOTHER,

I am greatly rejoiced that it is so.

Your affectionate son,

L. M.


He sent this note, but he did not go down to her, nor was there any other immediate communication between them.

All was now sadness at The Cleeve. Peregrine knew that that marriage project was over, and he knew also that his grandfather and Lady Mason did not now meet each other; but he knew nothing of the cause, though he could not but remark that he did not see her. On that day she did not come down either to dinner or during the evening; nor was she seen on the following morning. He, Peregrine, felt aware that something had occurred at that interview in the library after breakfast, but was lost in surmising what that something had been. That Lady Mason should have told his grandfather that the marriage must be given up would have been only in accordance with the promise made by her to him; but he did not think that that alone would have occasioned such utter sadness, such deathlike silence in the household. Had there been a quarrel Lady Mason would have gone home;--but she did not go home. Had the match been broken off without a quarrel, why should she mysteriously banish herself to two rooms so that no one but his mother should see her?

And he too had his own peculiar sorrow. On that morning Sir Peregrine had asked him to ride through the grounds, and it had been the baronet's intention to propose during that ride that he should go over to Noningsby and speak to the judge about Madeline. We all know how that proposition had been frustrated. And now Peregrine, thinking over the matter, saw that his grandfather was not in a position at the present moment to engage himself ardently in any such work. By whatever means or whatever words he had been induced to agree to the abandonment of that marriage engagement, that abandonment weighed very heavily on his spirits. It was plain to see that he was a broken man, broken in heart and in spirit. He shut himself up alone in his library all that afternoon, and had hardly a word to say when he came out to dinner in the evening. He was very pale too, and slow and weak in his step. He tried to smile as he came up to his daughter-in-law in the drawing-room; but his smile was the saddest thing of all. And then Peregrine could see that he ate nothing. He was very gentle in his demeanour to the servants, very courteous and attentive to Mrs. Orme, very kind to his grandson. But yet his mind was heavy;--brooding over some sorrow that oppressed it. On the following morning it was the same, and the grandson knew that he could look to his grandfather for no assistance at Noningsby.

Immediately after breakfast Peregrine got on his horse, without speaking to any one of his intention,--almost without having formed an intention, and rode off in the direction of Alston. He did not take the road, but went out through The Cleeve woods, on to the common, by which, had he turned to the left, he might have gone to Orley Farm; but when on the top of the rise from Crutchley Bottom he turned to the right, and putting his horse into a gallop, rode along the open ground till he came to an enclosure into which he leaped. From thence he made his way through a farm gate into a green country lane, along which he still pressed his horse, till he found himself divided from the end of a large wood by but one field. He knew the ground well, and the direction in which he was going. He could pass through that wood, and then down by an old farm-house at the other end of it, and so on to the Alston road, within a mile of Noningsby. He knew the ground well, for he had ridden over every field of it. When a man does so after thirty he forgets the spots which he passes in his hurry, but when he does so before twenty he never forgets. That field and that wood Peregrine Orme would never forget. There was the double ditch and bank over which Harriet Tristram had ridden with so much skill and courage. There was the spot on which he had knelt so long, while Felix Graham lay back against him, feeble and almost speechless. And there, on the other side, had sat Madeline on her horse, pale with anxiety but yet eager with hope, as she asked question after question as to him who had been hurt.

Peregrine rode up to the ditch, and made his horse stand while he looked at it. It was there, then, on that spot, that he had felt the first pang of jealousy. The idea had occurred to him that he for whom he had been doing a friend's offices with such zealous kindness was his worst enemy. Had he,--he, Peregrine Orme,--broken his arms and legs, or even broken his neck, would she have ridden up, all thoughtless of herself, and thrown her very life into her voice as she had done when she knew that Felix Graham had fallen from his horse? And then he had gone on with his work, aiding the hurt man as zealously as before, but still feeling that he was bound to hate him. And afterwards, at Noningsby, he had continued to minister to him as to his friend,--zealously doing a friend's offices, but still feeling that the man was his enemy. Not that he was insincere. There was no place for insincerity or treachery within his heart. The man had done no ill,--was a good fellow--was entitled to his kindness by all the social laws which he knew. They two had gone together from the same table to the same spot, and had been close together when the one had come to sorrow. It was his duty to act as Graham's friend; and yet how could he not feel that he must hate him?

And now he sat looking at the fence, wishing,--wishing;--no, certainly not wishing that Graham's hurt had been more serious; but wishing that in falling from his horse he might utterly have fallen out of favour with that sweet young female heart; or rather wishing, could he so have expressed it, that he himself might have had the fall, and the broken bones, and all the danger,--so that he might also have had the interest which those eyes and that voice had shown.

And then quickly he turned his horse, and without giving the beast time to steady himself he rammed him at the fence. The leap out of the wood into the field was difficult, but that back into the wood was still worse. The up-jump was higher, and the ditch which must be first cleared was broader. Nor did he take it at the easiest part as he had done on that day when he rode his own horse and then Graham's back into the wood. But he pressed his animal exactly at the spot from which his rival had fallen. There were still the marks of the beast's struggle, as he endeavoured to save himself before he came down, head foremost, into the ditch. The bank had been somewhat narrowed and pared away, and it was clearly the last place in the face of the whole opening into the wood, which a rider with his senses about him would have selected for his jump.

The horse knowing his master's humour, and knowing also,--which is so vitally important,--the nature of his master's courage, jumped at the bank, without pausing. As I have said, no time had been given him to steady himself,--not a moment to see where his feet should go, to understand and make the most of the ground that he was to use. He jumped and jumped well, but only half gained the top of the bank. The poor brute, urged beyond his power, could not get his hind feet up so near the surface as to give him a fulcrum for a second spring. For a moment he strove to make good his footing, still clinging with his fore feet, and then slowly came down backwards into the ditch, then regained his feet, and dragging himself with an effort from the mud, made his way back into the field. Peregrine Orme had kept his seat throughout. His legs were accustomed to the saddle and knew how to cling to it, while there was a hope that he might struggle through. And now that he was again in the field he wheeled his horse to a greater distance, striking him with his whip, and once more pushed him at the fence. The gallant beast went at it bravely, slightly swerving from the fatal spot to which Peregrine had endeavoured once more to guide him, leaped with a full spring from the unworn turf, and, barely touching the bank, landed himself and his master lightly within the precincts of the wood.

"Ah-h!" said Peregrine, shouting angrily at the horse, as though the brute had done badly instead of well. And then he rode down slowly through the wood, and out by Monkton Grange farm, round the moat, and down the avenue, and before long he was standing at Noningsby gate.

He had not made up his mind to any plan of action, nor indeed had he determined that he would ask to see any of the family or even enter the place. The woman at the lodge opened the gate, and he rode in mechanically, asking if any of them were at home. The judge and Mr. Augustus were gone up to London, but my lady and the other ladies were in the house. Mr. Graham had not gone, the woman said in answer to his question; nor did she know when he was going. And then, armed with this information, Peregrine Orme rode round to the stables, and gave up his horse to a groom.

"Yes, Lady Staveley was at home," the servant said at the door. "Would Mr. Orme walk into the drawing-room, where he would find the young ladies?" But Mr. Orme would not do this. He would go into a small book-room with which he was well acquainted, and have his name taken up to Lady Staveley. "He did not," he said, "mean to stay very long; but particularly wished to see Lady Staveley." In a few minutes Lady Staveley came to him, radiant with her sweetest smile, and with both her hands held out to greet him.

"My dear Mr. Orme," she said, "I am delighted to see you; but what made you run away from us so suddenly?" She had considered her words in that moment as she came across the hall, and had thought that in this way she might best enable him to speak.

"Lady Staveley," he said, "I have come here on purpose to tell you. Has your daughter told you anything?"

"Who--Madeline?"

"Yes, Madeline. I mean Miss Staveley. Has she said anything to you about me?"

"Well; yes, she has. Will you not sit down, Mr. Orme, and then we shall be more comfortable." Hitherto he had stood up, and had blurted out his words with a sudden, determined, and almost ferocious air,--as though he were going to demand the girl's hand, and challenge all the household if it were refused him. But Lady Staveley understood his manner and his nature, and liked him almost the better for his abruptness.

"She has spoken to me, Mr. Orme; she has told me of what passed between you on the last day that you were with us."

"And yet you are surprised that I should have gone! I wonder at that, Lady Staveley. You must have known--"

"Well; perhaps I did know; but sit down, Mr. Orme. I won't let you get up in that restless way, if we are to talk together. Tell me frankly; what is it you think that I can do for you?"

"I don't suppose you can do anything;--but I thought I would come over and speak to you. I don't suppose I've any chance?" He had seated himself far back on a sofa, and was holding his hat between his knees, with his eyes fixed on the ground; but as he spoke the last words he looked round into her face with an anxious inquiring glance which went direct to her heart.

"What can I say, Mr. Orme?"

"Ah, no. Of course nothing. Good-bye, Lady Staveley. I might as well go. I know that I was a fool for coming here. I knew it as I was coming. Indeed I hardly meant to come in when I found myself at the gate."

"But you must not go from us like that."

"I must though. Do you think that I could go in and see her? If I did I should make such a fool of myself that I could never again hold up my head. And I am a fool. I ought to have known that a fellow like me could have no chance with her. I could knock my own head off, if I only knew how, for having made such an ass of myself."

"No one here thinks so of you, Mr. Orme."

"No one here thinks what?"

"That it was--unreasonable in you to propose to Madeline. We all know that you did her much honour."

"Psha!" said he, turning away from her.

"Ah! but you must listen to me. That is what we all think--Madeline herself, and I, and her father. No one who knows you could think otherwise. We all like you, and know how good and excellent you are. And as to worldly station, of course you stand above her."

"Psha!" he said again angrily. How could any one presume to talk of the worldly station of his goddess? For just then Madeline Staveley to him was a goddess!

"That is what we think, indeed, Mr. Orme. As for myself, had my girl come to me telling me that you had proposed to her, and telling me also that--that--that she felt that she might probably like you, I should have been very happy to hear it." And Lady Staveley as she spoke, put out her hand to him.

"But what did she say?" asked Peregrine, altogether disregarding the hand.

"Ah, she did not say that. She told me that she had declined the honour that you had offered her;--that she did not regard you as she must regard the man to whom she would pledge her heart."

"But did she say that she could never love me?" And now as he asked the question he stood up again, looking down with all his eyes into Lady Staveley's face,--that face which would have been so friendly to him, so kind and so encouraging, had it been possible.

"Never is a long word, Mr. Orme."

"Ah, but did she say it? Come, Lady Staveley; I know I have been a fool, but I am not a cowardly fool. If it be so;--if I have no hope, tell me at once, that I may go away. In that case I shall be better anywhere out of the county."

"I cannot say that you should have no hope."

"You think then that there is a chance?" and for a moment he looked as though all his troubles were nearly over.

"If you are so impetuous, Mr. Orme, I cannot speak to you. If you will sit down for a minute or two I will tell you exactly what I think about it." And then he sat down, trying to look as though he were not impetuous. "I should be deceiving you if I were not to tell you that she speaks of the matter as though it were all over,--as though her answer to you was a final one."

"Ah; I knew it was so."

"But then, Mr. Orme, many young ladies who have been at the first moment quite as sure of their decision have married the gentlemen whom they refused, and have learned to love them with all their hearts."

"But she isn't like other girls," said Peregrine.

"I believe she is a great deal better than many, but nevertheless she may be like others in that respect. I do not say that it will be so, Mr. Orme. I would not on any account give you hopes which I believed to be false. But if you are anxious in the matter--"

"I am as anxious about it as I am about my soul!"

"Oh fie, Mr. Orme! You should not speak in that way. But if you are anxious, I would advise you to wait."

"And see her become the wife of some one else."

"Listen to me, Mr. Orme. Madeline is very young. And so indeed are you too;--almost too young to marry as yet, even if my girl were willing that it should be so. But we all like you very much; and as you both are so very young, I think that you might wait with patience,--say for a year. Then come to Noningsby again, and try your fortune once more. That is my advice."

"Will you tell me one thing, Lady Staveley?"

"What is that, Mr. Orme?"

"Does she care for any one else?"

Lady Staveley was prepared to do anything she could for her young friend except to answer that question. She did believe that Madeline cared for somebody else,--cared very much. But she did not think that any way would be opened by which that caring would be made manifest; and she thought also that if wholly ungratified by any word of intercourse that feeling would die away. Could she have told everything to Peregrine Orme she would have explained to him that his best chance lay in that liking for Felix Graham; or, rather, that as his rejection had been caused by that liking, his chance would be good again when that liking should have perished from starvation. But all this Lady Staveley could not explain to him; nor would it have been satisfactory to her feelings had it been in her power to do so. Still there remained the question, "Does she care for any one else?"

"Mr. Orme," she said, "I will do all for you that a mother can do or ought to do; but I must not admit that you have a right to ask such a question as that. If I were to answer that now, you would feel yourself justified in asking it again when perhaps it might not be so easy to answer."

"I beg your pardon, Lady Staveley;" and Peregrine blushed up to his eyes. "I did not intend--"

"No; do not beg my pardon, seeing that you have given me no offence. As I said just now, all that a mother can and ought to do I will do for you. I am very frank, and tell you that I should be rejoiced to have you for my son-in-law."

"I'm sure I'm very much obliged to you."

"But neither by me nor by her father will any constraint ever be put on the inclinations of our child. At any rate as to whom she will not accept she will always be allowed to judge for herself. I have told you that to us you would be acceptable as a suitor; and after that I think it will be best to leave the matter for the present without any further words. Let it be understood that you will spend next Christmas at Noningsby, and then you will both be older and perhaps know your own minds better."

"That's a year, you know."

"A year is not so very long--at your time of life." By which latter remark Lady Staveley did not show her knowledge of human nature.

"And I suppose I had better go now?" said Peregrine sheepishly.

"If you like to go into the drawing-room, I'm sure they will all be very glad to see you."

But Peregrine declared that he would not do this on any account. "You do not know, Lady Staveley, what a fool I should make myself. It would be all over with me then."

"You should be more moderate in your feelings, Mr. Orme."

"It's all very well saying that; but you wouldn't be moderate if Noningsby were on fire, or if you thought the judge was going to die."

"Good gracious, Mr. Orme!"

"It's the same sort of thing to me, I can tell you. A man can't be moderate when he feels that he should like to break his own neck. I declare I almost tried to do it to-day."

"Oh, Mr. Orme!"

"Well; I did. But don't suppose I say that as a sort of threat. I'm safe enough to live for the next sixty years. It's only the happy people and those that are some good in the world that die. Good-bye, Lady Staveley. I'll come back next Christmas;--that is if it isn't all settled before then; but I know it will be no good." Then he got on his horse and rode very slowly home, along the high road to The Cleeve.

Lady Staveley did not go in among the other ladies till luncheon was announced, and when she did so, she said no word about her visitor. Nevertheless it was known by them all that Peregrine Orme had been there. "Ah, that's Mr. Orme's roan-coloured horse," Sophia Furnival had said, getting up and thrusting her face close to the drawing-room window. It was barely possible to see a portion of the road from the drawing-room; but Sophia's eyes had been sharp enough to see that portion.

"A groom has probably come over with a note," said Mrs. Arbuthnot.

"Very likely," said Sophia. But they all knew from her voice that the rider was no groom, and that she did not intend it to be thought that he was a groom. Madeline said not a word, and kept her countenance marvellously; but she knew well enough that Peregrine had been with her mother; and guessed also why he had been there.

Madeline had asked herself some serious questions, and had answered them also, since that conversation which she had had with her father. He had assured her that he desired only her happiness; and though in so saying he had spoken nothing of marriage, she had well understood that he had referred to her future happiness,--at that time when by her own choice she should be leaving her father's house. And now she asked herself boldly in what way might that happiness be best secured. Hitherto she had refrained from any such home questions. Latterly, within the last week or two, ideas of what love meant had forced themselves upon her mind. How could it have been otherwise? But she had never dared to tell herself either that she did love, or that she did not. Mr. Orme had come to her with his offer, plainly asking her for the gift of her heart, and she had immediately been aware that any such gift on her part was impossible,--any such gift in his favour. She had known without a moment's thought that there was no room for hesitation. Had he asked her to take wings and fly away with him over the woods, the feat would not have been to her more impossible than that of loving him as his wife. Yet she liked him,--liked him much in these latter days, because he had been so good to Felix Graham. When she felt that she liked him as she refused him, she felt also that it was for this reason that she liked him. On the day of Graham's accident she had thought nothing of him,--had hardly spoken to him. But now she loved him--with a sort of love, because he had been so good to Graham. Though in her heart she knew all this, she asked herself no questions till her father had spoken to her of her future happiness.

Then, as she wandered about the house alone,--for she still went on wandering,--she did ask herself a question or two. What was it that had changed her thus, and made her gay quick step so slow? what had altered the happy silver tone of her voice? what had created that load within her which seemed to weigh her down during every hour of the day? She knew that there had been a change; that she was not as she had been; and now she asked herself the question. Not on the first asking nor on the second did the answer come; not perhaps on the twentieth. But the answer did come at last, and she told herself that her heart was no longer her own. She knew and acknowledged to herself that Felix Graham was its master and owner.

And then came the second question. Under those circumstances what had she better do? Her mother had told her,--and the words had fallen deep into her ears,--that it would be a great misfortune if she loved any man before she had reason to know that that man loved her. She had no such knowledge as regarded Felix Graham. A suspicion that it might be so she did feel,--a suspicion which would grow into a hope let her struggle against it as she might. Baker, that injudicious Baker, had dropped in her hearing a word or two, which assisted this suspicion. And then the open frank question put to her by her father when he demanded whether Graham had addressed her as a lover, had tended towards the same result. What had she better do? Of one thing she now felt perfectly certain. Let the world go as it might in other respects, she could never leave her father's house as a bride unless the bridegroom were Felix Graham. A marriage with him might probably be impracticable, but any other marriage would be absolutely impossible. If her father or her mother told her not to think of Felix Graham, as a matter of course she would obey them; but not even in obedience to father or mother could she say that she loved any one else.

And now, all these matters having been considered, what should she do? Her father had invited her to tell everything to him, and she was possessed by a feeling that in this matter she might possibly find more indulgence with her father than with her mother; but yet it was more natural that her mother should be her confidante and adviser. She could speak to her mother, also, with a better courage, even though she felt less certain of sympathy. Peregrine Orme had now been there again, and had been closeted With Lady Staveley. On that ground she would speak, and having so resolved she lost no time in carrying out her purpose.

"Mamma, Mr. Orme was here to-day; was he not?"

"Yes, my love." Lady Staveley was sorry rather than otherwise that her daughter had asked her, but would have been puzzled to explain why such should have been the case.

"I thought so," said Madeline.

"He rode over, and told me among other things that the match between his grandfather and Lady Mason is at an end. I was very glad to hear it, for I thought that Sir Peregrine was going to do a very foolish thing." And then there were a few further remarks on that subject, made probably by Lady Staveley with some undefined intention of inducing her daughter to think that Peregrine Orme had come over chiefly on that matter.

"But, mamma--"

"Well, my love."

"Did he say anything about--about what he was speaking to me about?"

"Well, Madeline; he did. He did say something on that subject; but I had not intended to tell you unless you had asked."

"I hope, mamma, he understands that what he wants can never happen;--that is if he does want it now?"

"He does want it certainly, my dear."

"Then I hope you told him that it can never be? I hope you did, mamma!"

"But why should you be so certain about it, my love? He does not intend to trouble you with his suit,--nor do I. Why not leave that to time? There can be no reason why you should not see him again on a friendly footing when this embarrassment between you shall have passed away."

"There would be no reason, mamma, if he were quite sure that there could never be any other footing."

"Never is a very long word."

"But it is the only true word, mamma. It would be wrong in you, it would indeed, if you were to tell him to come again. I like Mr. Orme very much as a friend, and I should be very glad to know him,--that is if he chose to know me." And Madeline as she made this little proviso was thinking what her own worldly position might be as the wife of Felix Graham. "But as it is quite impossible that he and I should ever be anything else to each other, he should not be asked to come here with any other intention."

"But Madeline, I do not see that it is so impossible."

"Mamma, it is impossible; quite impossible!" To this assertion Lady Staveley made no answer in words, but there was that in her countenance which made her daughter understand that she did not quite agree in this assertion, or understand this impossibility.

"Mamma, it is quite, quite impossible!" Madeline repeated.

"But why so?" said Lady Staveley, frightened by her daughter's manner, and almost fearing that something further was to come which had by far better be left unsaid.

"Because, mamma, I have no love to give him. Oh, mamma, do not be angry with me; do not push me away. You know who it is that I love. You knew it before." And then she threw herself on her knees, and hid her face on her mother's lap.

Lady Staveley had known it, but up to that moment she had hoped that that knowledge might have remained hidden as though it were unknown.

If you like this book please share to your friends :
NEXT BOOKS

Orley Farm - Volume 2 - Chapter 51. Mrs. Furnival's Journey To Hamworth Orley Farm - Volume 2 - Chapter 51. Mrs. Furnival's Journey To Hamworth

Orley Farm - Volume 2 - Chapter 51. Mrs. Furnival's Journey To Hamworth
VOLUME II CHAPTER LI. MRS. FURNIVAL'S JOURNEY TO HAMWORTHWhen Peregrine got back to The Cleeve he learned that there was a lady with his mother. He had by this time partially succeeded in reasoning himself out of his despondency. He had learned at any rate that his proposition to marry into the Staveley family had been regarded with favour by all that family except the one whose views on that subject were by far the most important to him; and he had learned, as he thought, that Lady Staveley had no suspicion that her daughter's heart was preoccupied. But in this
PREVIOUS BOOKS

Orley Farm - Volume 2 - Chapter 49. Mrs. Furnival Can't Put Up With It Orley Farm - Volume 2 - Chapter 49. Mrs. Furnival Can't Put Up With It

Orley Farm - Volume 2 - Chapter 49. Mrs. Furnival Can't Put Up With It
VOLUME II CHAPTER XLIX. MRS. FURNIVAL CAN'T PUT UP WITH ITWhen Lady Mason last left the chambers of her lawyer in Lincoln's Inn, she was watched by a stout lady as she passed through the narrow passage leading from the Old to the New Square. That fact will I trust be remembered, and I need hardly say that the stout lady was Mrs. Furnival. She had heard betimes of the arrival of that letter with the Hamworth post-mark, had felt assured that it was written by the hands of her hated rival, and had at once prepared for action. "I shall
NEXT 10 BOOKS | PREVIOUS 10 BOOKS | RANDOM 10 BOOKS
LEAVE A COMMENT