Page:Out of due time, Ward, 1906.djvu/12

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OUT OF DUE TIME.

features, which were a little negative in expression. She did all her duties very carefully and somewhat emphatically, and I think her dependants were always afraid of her. She took short—very short—walks in the sunshine and she read a novel in the afternoon. There were fortunately a few poor people to visit in the neighbourhood, and our priest was a man of culture, a Conservative with whom she could occasionally talk politics and condemn Mr. Gladstone. Through this dim shaded life we children never lost sight of the presence of the strong, brilliant personality we had never known. Our father's handsome face, its noble features and ethereal eyes looked down upon us from over the drawing-room fireplace; a young old man full of life and the power of enjoying all things pure, true, and of good report. We had another picture of him out hunting, a miniature in court dress, a bust in bronze: of these things we never spoke, but they made their impression. I used to feel wicked when I reflected, as we passed our monotonous days, on how good a time our mother must have had when she first married. What journeys abroad, what company at home! It seemed as if they had known everybody and seen everything! They did Italy in driving tours; they went to Greece and Constantinople; they loved Paris in the winter and saw much of its varying worlds. They had heard Lacordaire and Ravignan in the pulpit of Notre Dame: they had dined with Madame Swetchine and Lord Granville. I must stop, I must stop—all the old rebellious feeling will even now wake up if I don't. And yet I know now that my poor mother could by no means have revived that past for us. But if only she had told us something of her difficulties, and taken us a little more into her confidence, I should never have known those temptations to revolt.

It was on a moss-grown wooden bench with an outlook over a wide view of a domestic English landscape lying in the spring sunshine, farms and cottages, hayricks, little