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MAY 10 1887
LIBRARY

MACMILLAN'S MAGAZINE.

MAY, 1887.

WITH THE IMMORTALS.1

BY F. MARION CRAWFORD.

up to them out of the depths; and the CHAPTER I.

rough men tell each other how, long THE southern shore of the Sorrentine ago, on that very night of the year, peninsula offers a striking contrast St. Nicholas raised a fierce storm to the northern side. Towards the in the Bocca di Crape, and forced the north the mountain opens into a broad heathen pirates to lighten their craft basin filled to the brim with soft tufo by heaving overboard the bell and the rock, upon which the vegetation of rest of the booty they had carried off. ages has deposited a deep and fertile Round the point, and along the soil. The hills slope gently to the southern shore of the little peninsula, cliffs which overhang the Bay of Naples the scene changes. The rocks, which and they seem to bear in their out on the other side slope gently down, stretched arms a rich offering of here rise precipitously from the dark Nature's fairest gifts for the Queen-city water, throwing up great rugged of the south, The orange and the friezes of hacked stone against the lemon, the olive and the walnut elbow sky, casting black shadows under each other for a footing in the fat, dark every sharpened peak and seeming to earth; and where there is not room defy the foot of man and beast. Here for them, the holes and crannies of the and there a little town hangs like the walls shoot out streamers of roses and nest of a sea-bird in a cranny

of the thrust forth nosegays of white-flowered cliffs : poised on the brink, as you may myrtle. Westward from the enchanted

fancy a sea-nymph drawing up her feet garden of Sorrento the rocky promon out of reach of the waves, facing the tory juts far into the sea, so that only fierce hot south-west, whence the a narrow channel, scarcely three miles storms sweep in, black and melancholy wide, separates the mainland from and wrathfully thundering. A mile sea-girt Capri, towering up from the

away, but seemingly within a stone's blue water and rearing his rocky crest throw of the cliffs, lie three tiny to heaven like some enormous dragon- islands, green in the short spring beast of fable. Far down in the deep months, but parched and brown in mid-channel, lies the watch-tower bell summer, dark and dangerous in the stolen by the Saracen corsairs from the stormy winter. They are the Isles of little fort upon the shore. On St. the Sirens : past them once sailed the John's Eve the fishermen, casting mighty Wanderer, bound to the mast their nets in the twilight, hear the of his long black ship, listening tones of the long lost bronze ringing with delight and dread to the song * Copyright, 1887, by F. Marion Crawford. of the sea-women, his heart beat

No. 331.–VOL. LVI.

B

four persons.

ing fast and his blood on fire with Three of the settlers were young.
the wild strains of their music. The fourth was older by some years
Ligeia and Leucosia and Parthenope than any of the rest, but possessed
are not dead, though they plucked the that quality of youth which defies
flowers with Persephone, and though time, and, especially, that little moiety
the Muses outrivalled them in harmony, of time which we call age. The party
and Orpheus vanquished them in song. then, consisted of a man and his wife,
Still, on calm nights, when the waning of his mother-in-law and his sister. By
moon climbs slowly over the distant the silly calculations of social humanity
hills of the Basilicata, her trembling they ought to have quarrelled. As a
light falls on the marble limbs and matter of fact they did not. This was
the snowy feathers, the rich wet hair the first step towards eccentricity, and
and the passionate dark eyes of the it can only be explained by an honest
three maidens; and across the lapping and dispassionate description of the
waves their voices ring out in a wild
despairing harmony of long-drawn Lady Brenda was five and forty
complaint. But when the storm rises years of age-with extenuating cir-
and the hot south wind dashes the cumstances. A German wit once
water into whirlpools, and drives clouds remarked that money alone does not
of warm spray into the crevices of the constitute happiness, but that it is also
islets, the sisters slip from the wet necessary to possess some of it. So
rocks and hide themselves in the cool years alone do not make age, unless
depths below, where is perpetual calm one has some of the ills which age
and a dwelling not fathomed by man. brings. No woman has any right to

For man visits the shore and the be old at five-and-forty, but it may be islands too, from time to time, though questioned whether at five-and-forty he rarely stays long. It is too unlike any woman has a right to be taken what man is accustomed to, too far for her daughter's sister. Lady Brenda removed from the sphere of the niodern was in some respects the youngest of world's life, to be a sympathetic the party; for she had been young resting place for most of our kind. when youth was regarded as an agreeHither people come in yachts, or upon able period of life, and she had brought skinny donkeys from Sorrento, or in

her traditions with her. In appearlittle open boats, rowed by lazy fisher ance she was of middle height, but of men ; and they gaze and

say

faultless figure, slender and rounded classic, and they go away with their as a girl. Her complexion was of the cheap impressions and tell their friends kind produced by avoiding cosmetics. that it is hardly worth while after all. Her thick brown hair

grew
low

upon That is what everybody does. My her forehead, and was not suppletale is of a little party, not absolutely

mented by any artful arrangement of like every one else, who one day said other women's tresses among her own. to each other that it would be possible Her features were very straight; and to live among those wild rocks, and her large bright blue eyes, rather that they believed themselves suffi- deep-set but wide apart, meteverything ciently interesting to each other to frankly and surveyed the world with live a life of temporary exile in an an air of radiant satisfaction which inaccessible region. Such a resolution was contagious as her own humour. must at once brand those who entered Lady Brenda's only daughter had upon it with the stamp of eccentricity, been married to Augustus Chard two with the Cain's mark which society years before this time, and had preabhors; and it is necessary to say sented her husband with a baby which something of the circumstances which was universally declared to be at all led those four persons to determine points the most extraordinary baby upon so desperate a course.

ever born, seen, or heard of. Mrs.

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Chard's name was Gwendoline. Lady life never seemed dull when she could Brenda, in the secrecy of her own discuss the immortality of the soul heart, knew that the combination of with an unbeliever, or the existence names, Gwendoline Chard, made her of the supernatural with a well-trained think of a race-horse charging into a and thoroughly prejudiced materialist. brick wall. Otherwise she liked her She was, moreover, a musician, and an son-in-law very much. The Chards accomplished one, like her sister-inadored each other when they were law; but her playing differed so married, which is usual ; but they entirely from Gwendoline's that no continued to adore each other after one thought of comparing the two. marriage, which is not.

Each was perfect in her own way; but Gwendoline's principal taste was for each raised entirely different trains of music, an art in which she attained to thought in her hearers. great excellence, for her playing was Of Augustus Chard it is only necesoriginal, passionate, and artistic. As sary to say that he had considerable has been said, she worshipped her hus- powers of organisation, in spite of some band, who in his turn adored her. She eccentricities of mind, and that he could not deny that he held highly generally succeeded in what he underoriginal views upon most points, and took. When, therefore, he suggested that his ideas about things in general to his wife, his sister and his motherwere a trifle startling; but he had a in-law, that it would be very amusing way of making himself appear to be to buy a half-ruined castle perched right which was very convincing to upon the wild rocks overlooking the any one who was already disposed to isles of the Sirens, to furnish the be of his opinion. Lady Brenda was place luxuriously, and to pass the very fond of Augustus Chard, but summer in a pleasant round of discuseonsidered him more than half a sion, music, and semi-mystic literary visionary. Gwendoline, on the other amusement, varied by a few experihand, was willing to spend her time ments upon the electric phenomena of in helping him to demonstrate that all the Mediterranean, it did not strike existing things and conditions of things, those amiable ladies that the scheme with the exception of domestic felicity, was wholly mad. They agreed that it were arrant humbug.

would be very novel and interesting, Augustus used to say that the taste and that if they did not like it they for the visionary ran in his family. could go away—which is the peculiar His sister, who had joined the party, blessing of the rich. illustrated the truth of his statement. Augustus proposed his plan in Diana Chard had the temperament of January. Before the end of April a poet with the mind of a lawyer. the castle was bought, repaired and Philosophy may be defined to mean luxuriously furnished : the beds were the poetry of logic, and accordingly made: the French cook had ordered Diana's nature had led her to the the kitchen fires to be lighted, and had study of philosophy. She had read established a donkey post over the enormously, and she argued keenly mountains to the market in Castellawith a profound knowledge of her sub mare: the great halls and drawingject. But the hypothesis generally rooms looked thoroughly habitable, belonged to the transcendental region and everything was ready for the new of thought, where, as the problems owners who were to arrive in the proposed are beyond the sphere of all evening. Augustus Chard congratupossible experience, the discussion lated himself with the reflection that also may be prolonged beyond the his whim had been gratified at a bounds of all possible time. She en trilling cost of ten thousand pounds, joyed much more the pleasure of argu and he subsequently discovered that a ment than the hope of solution; and ducal title had been thrown into the

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