LOVE AND NO LEASING.
Their eyes met in the flashes of a double sunrise. Their hands met,
but the hand of each grasped the heart of the other. Two honester
purer souls never looked out of their windows with meeting gaze. Had
there been no bodies to divide them, they would have mingled in a
rapture of faith and high content.
The desolation was gone; the desert bloomed and blossomed as the
rose. To Dorothy it was for a moment as if Raglan were rebuilt; the
ruin and the winter had vanished before the creative, therefore
prophetic throb of the heart of love; then her eyes fell, not
defeated by those of the youth, for Dorothy's faith gave her a
boldness that was lovely even against the foil of maidenly reserve,
but beaten down by conscience: the words of the marquis shot like an
arrow into her memory: 'Love outlives all but leasing,' and her eyes
fell before Richard's.
But Richard imagined that something in his look had displeased her,
and was ashamed, for he had ever been, and ever would be, sensitive
as a child to rebuke. Even when it was mistaken or unjust he would
always find within him some ground whereon it MIGHT have alighted.
'Forgive me, Dorothy,' he said, supposing she had found his look
'Nay, Richard,' returned Dorothy, with her eyes fast on the ground,
whence it seemed rosy mists came rising through her, 'I know no
cause wherefore thou shouldst ask me to forgive thee, but I do know,
although thou knowest not, good cause wherefore I should ask thee to
forgive me. Richard, I will tell thee the truth, and thou wilt tell
me again how I might have shunned doing amiss, and how far my lie
was an evil thing.'
'Lie, Dorothy! Thou hast never lied!'
'Hear me, Richard, first, and then judge. Thou rememberest I did
tell thee that night as we talked in the field, that I had about me
no missives: the word was true, but its purport was false. When I
said that, thou didst hold in thy hand my comb, wherein were
concealed certain papers in cipher.'
'Oh thou cunning one!' cried Richard, half reproachfully, half
humorously, but the amusement overtopped the seriousness.
'My heart did reproach me; but Richard, what WAS I to do?'
'Wherefore did thy heart reproach thee, Dorothy?'
'That I told a falsehood--that I told THEE a falsehood, Richard.'
'Then had it been Upstill, thou wouldst not have minded?'
'Upstill! I would never have told Upstill a falsehood. I would have
beaten him first.'
'Then thou didst think it better to tell a falsehood to me than to
'I would rather sin against thee, an' it were a sin, Richard. Were
it wrong to think I would rather be in thy hands, sin or none, or
sin and all, than in those of a mean-spirited knave whom I despised?
Besides I might one day, somehow or other, make it up to thee--but I
could not to him. But was it sin, Richard?--tell me that. I have
thought and thought over the matter until my mind is maze. Thou
seest it was my lord marquis's business, not mine, and thou hadst no
right in the matter.'
'Prithee, Dorothy, ask not me to judge.'
'Art thou then so angry with me that thou will not help me to judge
'Not so, Dorothy, but there is one command in the New Testament for
the which I am often more thankful than for any other.'
'What is that, Richard.'
'JUDGE NOT. Prythee, between whom lieth the quarrel, Dorothy?
'Between thee and me, Richard.'
'No, verily, Dorothy. I accuse thee not.'
Dorothy was silent for a moment, thinking.
'I see, Richard,' she said. 'It lieth between me and my own
'Then who am I, Dorothy, that I should dare step betwixt thee and
thy conscience? God forbid. That were a presumption deserving indeed
the pains of hell.'
'But if my conscience and I seek a daysman betwixt us?'
'Mortal man can never be that daysman, Dorothy. Nay, an' thou need
an umpire, thou must seek to him who brought thee and thy conscience
together and told thee to agree. Let God, over all and in all, tell
thee whether or no thou wert wrong. For me, I dare not. Believe me,
Dorothy, it is sheer presumption for one man to intermeddle with the
things that belong to the spirit of another man.'
'But these are only the things of a woman,' said Dorothy, in pure
childish humility born of love.
'Sure, Dorothy, thou wouldst not jest in such sober matters.'
'God forbid, Richard! I but spoke that which was in me. I see now it
'All a man can do in this matter of judgment,' said Richard, 'is to
lead his fellow man, if so be he can, up to the judgment of God. He
must never dare judge him for himself. An' thou cannot tell whether
thou did well or ill in what thou didst, thou shouldst not vex thy
soul. God is thy refuge--even from the wrongs of thine own judgment.
Pray to him to let thee know the truth, that if needful thou mayst
repent. Be patient and not sorrowful until he show thee. Nor fear
that he will judge thee harshly because he must judge thee truly.
That were to wrong God. Trust in him even when thou fearest wrong in
thyself, for he will deliver thee therefrom.'
'Ah! how good and kind art thou, Richard.'
'How should I be other to thee, beloved Dorothy?'
'Thou art not then angry with me that I did deceive thee?'
'If thou didst right, wherefore should I be angry? If thou didst
wrong, I am well content to know that thou wilt be sorry therefor as
soon as thou seest it, and before that thou canst not, thou must
not, be sorry. I am sure that what thou knowest to be right that
thou will do, and it seemeth as if God himself were content with
that for the time. What the very right thing is, concerning which we
may now differ, we must come to see together one day--the same, and
not another, to both, and this doing of what we see, is to each of
us the path thither. Let God judge us, Dorothy, for his judgment is
light in the inward parts, showing the truth and enabling us to
judge ourselves. For me to judge thee and thee me, Dorothy, would
with it bear no light. Why, Dorothy, knowest thou not--yet how
shouldst thou know? that this is the very matter for the which we,
my father and his party, contend--that each man, namely, in matters
of conscience, shall be left to his God, and remain unjudged of his
brother? And if I fight for this on mine own part, unto whom should
I accord it if not to thee, Dorothy, who art the highest in soul and
purest in mind and bravest in heart of all women I have known?
Therefore I love thee with all the power of a heart that loves that
which is true before that which is beautiful, and that which is
honest before that which is of good report.'
What followed I leave to the imagination of such of my readers as
are capable of understanding that the truer the nature the deeper
must be the passion, and of hoping that the human soul will yet
burst into grander blossoms of love than ever poet has dreamed, not
to say sung. I leave it also to the hearts of those who understand
that love is greater than knowledge. For those who have neither
heart nor imagination--only brains--to them I presume to leave
nothing, knowing what self-satisfying resources they possess of
The pair wandered all over the ruins together, and Dorothy had a
hundred places to take Richard to, and tell him what they had been
and how they had looked in their wholeness and use--amongst the rest
her own chamber, whither Marquis had brought her the letter which
mistress Upstill had found so badly concealed.
Then Richard's turn came, and he gave Dorothy a sadly vivid account
of what he had seen of the destruction of the place; how, as if with
whole republics of ants, it had swarmed all over with men paid to
destroy it; how in every direction the walls were falling at once;
how they dug and drained at fish-ponds and moat in the wild hope of
finding hidden treasure, and had found in the former nothing but mud
and a bunch of huge old keys, the last of some lost story of ancient
days,--and in the latter nothing but a pair of silver-gilt spurs,
which he had himself bought of the fellow who found them. He told
her what a terrible shell the Tower of towers had been to break--how
after throwing its battlemented crown into the moat, they had in
vain attacked the walls, might almost as well have sought with
pickaxes and crowbars to tear asunder the living rock, and at
last--but this was hearsay, he had not seen it--had undermined the
wall, propped it up with timber, set the timber on fire, and so
succeeded in bringing down a portion of the hard, tough massy
'What became of the wild beasts in the base of the kitchen-tower,
dost know, Richard?'
'I saw their cages,' answered Richard, 'but they were empty. I asked
what they were, and what had become of the animals, of which all the
country had heard, but no one could tell me. I asked them questions
until they began to puzzle themselves to answer them, and now I
believe all Gwent is divided between two opinions as to their
fate--one, that they are roaming the country, the other that lord
Herbert, as they still call him, has by his magic conveyed them away
to Ireland to assist him in a general massacre of the Protestants.'
Mighty in mutual faith, neither politics, nor morals, nor even
theology was any more able to part those whose plain truth had
begotten absolute confidence. Strive they might, sin they could not,
against each other. They talked, wandering about, a long time,
forgetting, I am sorry to say, even their poor shivering horses,
which, after trying to console themselves with the renewal of a
friendship which a broad white line across Lady's face had for a
moment, on Dick's part, somewhat impeded, had become very restless.
At length an expostulatory whinny from Lady called Richard to his
duty, and with compunctions of heart the pair hurried to mount. They
rode home together in a bliss that would have been too deep almost
for conscious delight but that their animals were eager after
motion, and as now the surface of the fields had grown soft, they
turned into them, and a tremendous gallop soon brought their
gladness to the surface in great fountain throbs of joy.