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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWhat Will He Do With It - Book 12 - Chapter 6
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What Will He Do With It - Book 12 - Chapter 6 Post by :Donna_Maher Category :Long Stories Author :Edward Bulwer-lytton Date :May 2012 Read :775

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What Will He Do With It - Book 12 - Chapter 6



Such a sweet voice in singing breaks out from yon leafless beeches! Waife hears it at noon from his window. Hark! Sophy has found song once more.

She is seated on a garden bench, looking across the lake towards the gloomy old Manor-house and the tall spectre palace beside it. Mrs. Morley is also on the bench, hard at work on her sketch; Fairthorn prowls through the thickets behind, wandering restless, and wretched, and wrathful beyond all words to describe. He hears that voice Singing; he stops short, perfectly rabid with indignation. "Singing," he muttered, "singing in triumph, and glowering at the very House she dooms to destruction. Worse than Nero striking his lyre amidst the conflagration of Rome!" By-and-by Sophy, who somehow or other cannot sit long in any place, and tires that day of any companion, wanders away from the lake and comes right upon Fairthorn. Hailing, in her unutterable secret bliss, the musician who had so often joined her rambles in the days of unuttered secret sadness, she sprang towards him, with welcome and mirth in a face that would have lured Diogenes out of his tub. Fairthorn recoiled sidelong, growling forth, "Don't--you had better not!"--grinned the most savage grin, showing all his teeth like a wolf; and as she stood, mute with wonder, perhaps with fright, he slunk edgeways off, as if aware of his own murderous inclinations, turning his head more than once, and shaking it at her; then, with the wonted mystery which enveloped his exits, he was gone! vanished behind a crag, or amidst a bush, or into a hole--Heaven knows; but, like the lady in the Siege of Corinth, who warned the renegade Alp of his approaching end, he was "gone."

Twice again that day Sophy encountered the enraged musician; each time the same menacing aspect and weird disappearance.

"Is Mr. Fairthorn ever a little-odd?" asked Sophy timidly of George Morley.

"Always," answered George, dryly.

Sophy felt relieved at that reply. Whatever is habitual in a man's manner, however unpleasant, is seldom formidable. Still Sophy could not help saying: "I wish poor Sir Isaac were here!"

"Do you?" said a soft voice behind her; "and pray, who is Sir Isaac?"

The speaker was Darrell, who had come forth with the resolute intent to see more of Sophy, and make himself as amiably social as he could. Guy Darrell could never be kind by halves.

"Sir Isaac is the wonderful dog you have heard me describe," replied George.

"Would he hurt my doe if he came here?" asked Darrell.

"Oh, no!" cried Sophy; "he never hurts anything. He once found a wounded hare, and he brought it in his mouth to us so tenderly, and seemed so anxious that we should cure it, which grandfather did, and the hare would sometimes hurt him, but he never hurt the hare."

Said George sonorously:

"Ingenuas didicisse fideliter artes
Emollit mores, nec sinit esse feros."

Darrell drew Sophy's arm into his own. "Will you walk back to the lake with me," said he, "and help me to feed the swans? George, send your servant express for Sir Isaac. I am impatient to make his acquaintance."

Sophy's hand involuntarily pressed Darrell's arm. She looked up into his face with innocent, joyous gratitude; feeling at once, and as by magic, that her awe of him was gone.

Darrell and Sophy rambled thus together for more than an hour. He sought to draw out her mind, unaware to herself; he succeeded. He was struck with a certain simple poetry of thought which pervaded her ideas--not artificial sentimentality, but a natural tendency to detect in all life a something of delicate or beautiful which lies hid from the ordinary sense. He found, thanks to Lady Montfort, that, though far from learned, she was more acquainted with literature than he had supposed. And sometimes he changed colour, or breathed his short quick sigh, when he recognised her familiarity with passages in his favourite authors which he himself had commended, or read aloud, to the Caroline of old.

The next day Waife, who seemed now recovered as by enchantment, walked forth with George, Darrell again with Sophy. Sir Isaac arrived--Immense joy; the doe butts Sir Isaac, who retreating, stands on his hind legs, and, having possessed himself of Waife's crutch, presents fire; the doe in her turn retreats;--half an hour afterwards doe and dog are friends.

Waife is induced, without much persuasion, to join the rest of the party at dinner. In the evening, all (Fairthorn excepted) draw round the fire. Waife is entreated by George to read a scene or two out of Shakespeare. He selects the latter portion of "King Lear." Darrell, who never was a playgoer, and who, to his shame be it said, had looked very little into Shakespeare since he left college, was wonderstruck. He himself read beautifully--all great orators, I suppose, do; but his talent was not mimetic--not imitative; he could never have been an actor--never thrown himself into existences wholly alien or repugnant to his own. Grave or gay, stern or kind, Guy Darrell, though often varying, was always Guy Darrell.

But when Waife was once in that magical world of art, Waife was gone--nothing left of him;--the part lived as if there were no actor to it;--it was the Fool--it was Lear.

For the first time Darrell felt what a grand creature a grand actor really is--what a luminous, unconscious critic bringing out beauties of which no commentator ever dreamed! When the reading was over, talk still flowed; the gloomy old hearth knew the charm of a home circle. All started incredulous when the clock struck one. Just as Sophy was passing to the door, out from behind the window curtain glared a vindictive, spiteful eye. Fairthorn made a move at her, which 'tis a pity Waife did not see--it would have been a study for Caliban. She uttered a little scream.

"What's the matter?" cried the host.

"Nothing," said she quickly--far too generous to betray the hostile oddities of the musician. "Sir Isaac was in my way--that was all."

"Another evening we must have Fairthorn's flute," said Darrell. "What a pity he was not here to-night!--he would have enjoyed such reading--no one more."

Said Mrs. Morley, "He was here once or twice during the evening; but he vanished!"

"Vanishing seems his forte," said George.

Darrell looked annoyed. It was his peculiarity to resent any jest, however slight, against an absent friend; and at that moment his heart was perhaps more warmed towards Dick Fairthorn than to any man living. If he had not determined to be as amiable and mild towards his guests as his nature would permit, probably George might have had the flip of a sarcasm which would have tingled for a month. But as it was, Darrell contented himself with saying gravely:

"No, George; Fairthorn's foible is vanishing; his forte is fidelity. If my fortune were to vanish, Fairthorn would never disappear; and that's more than I would say if I were a King, and Fairthorn--a Bishop!"

After that extraordinary figure of speech, "Good-nights" were somewhat hastily exchanged; and Fairthorn was left; behind the curtain with feelings towards all his master's guests as little, it is to be hoped, like those of a Christian Bishop towards his fellow-creatures, as they possibly could be.

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