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deliberately offered him, to have done with the matter for ever, that advantage for which I felt he had long been looking.
“As an older acquaintance of your late wife's than even you were," I began, “you must let me say to you something I have on my mind. I shall be glad to make any terms with you that you see fit to name for the information she had from George Corvick--the information, you know, that he, poor fellow, in one of the happiest hours of his life, had straight from Hugh Vereker."
He looked at me like a dim phrenological bust. “The information - ?"
“Vereker's secret, my dear man--the general intention of his books : the string the pearls were strung on, the buried treasure, the figure in the carpet."
He began to flush--the numbers on his bumps to come out. “Vereker's books had a general intention ?”
I stared in my turn. “You don't mean to say you don't know it ?" I thought for a moment he was playing with me. “Mrs. Deane knew it; she had it, as I say, straight from Corvick, who had, after infinite search, and to Vereker's own delight, found the very mouth of the cave. Where is the mouth ? He told after their marriage--and told alone--the person who, when the circumstances were reproduced, must have told you. Have I been wrong in taking for granted that she admitted you, as one of the highest privileges of the relation in which you stood to her, to the knowledge of which, after Corvick's death, she was the sole depositary? All I know is that that knowledge is infinitely precious, and what I want you to understand is that if you, in your turn, will admit me to it, you will do me a kindness for which I shall be everlastingly grateful.”
He had turned at last very red; I daresay he had begun by thinking I had lost my wits. But he followed me little by little, while I, on my side, stared with a livelier surprise. “I don't know what you're thinking about,” he said.
He wasn't acting-it was the absurd truth. “She didn't tell
"Nothing about Hugh Vereker."
I was stupefied; the room went round. It had been too good even for that! “Upon your honour ?"
“ Upon my honour. What the devil's the matter with you ? he demanded.
" I'm astounded and I'm disappointed. I wanted to get it out of vou."
" It isn't in me!” he awkwardly laughed. “And even if it were
"If it were you'd let me have it, in common humanity. But I believe you. I see-. I see !" I went on, conscious, with the full turn of the wheel, of my great delusion, my false view of the poor man's attitude. What I saw, though I couldn't say it, was that his wife hadn't thought him worth enlightening. This struck me as strange for a woman who had thought him worth marrying, until I explained it by the reflection that she couldn't have married him for his understanding. She had married him for something else. He was to some extent enlightened now, but he was even more astonished, more disconcerted; he took a moment to compare my story with his own quickened memories. The result of his meditation was his saying presently, with a good deal of rather feeble form-
“This is the first I hear of what you allude to. I think you must be mistaken as to Mrs. Drayton Deane's having had any unmentioned, and still less any unmentionable, knowledge about Hugh Vereker. She would certainly have wished it-if it bore on his literary character--to be used."
" It was used. She used it herself. She told me with her own lips that she livéd on it."
I had no sooner spoken than I repented of my words; he grew so pale that I felt as if I had struck him. “Ah, "lived'--.!” he murmured, turning short away from me.
My compunction was real ; I laid my hand on his shoulder. “ I beg you to forgive me- I've made a mistake. You dont' know what I thought you knew. You could, if I had been right, have rendered me a service; and I had my reasons for assuming that you would be in a position to meet me."
“Your reasons ?” he asked. “What were your reasons ?”
I looked at him well; I hesitated; I considered. “Come and sit down with me here, and I'll tell you.” I drew him to a sofa, I lighted another cigarette, and, beginning with the
anecdote of Vereker's flash of light at Bridges, I gave him an account of the extraordinary chain of accidents that had, in spite of it, kept me till that hour in the dark. I told him, in a word, just what I've written out here. He listened with deepening attention, and I became aware, to my surprise, by his ejaculations, by his questions, that he would have been after all worthy to have been trusted by his wife. So abrupt an experience of her want of trust had an agitating effect on him, but I saw that immediate shock throb away little by little and then gather again into waves of wonder and curiosity—waves that promised (I could perfectly judge) to break eventually with the violence of my own highest tides. I may say that to-day, as victims of unappeased desire, there isn't a pin to choose between us. The poor man's state is almost my consolation ; there are indeed moments when I feel it to be almost my revenge.
JAMES DARMESTETER IN ENGLAND.*
Few Frenchmen, I believe, knew England so intimately as my husband. He had surprised the English character by a sort of happy guess-work before he set himself to study it. He looked at England from within. All that is serious, poetic, and unchangeably romantic in the heart of her was revealed to him by its deep reflection in her poetry. The England sprung from Shakespeare and the Bible, the England of the Border Ballads and of George Eliot's novels, this England of sincere romance and stringent moral value, was known to him no less than the vast, productive, outward England of industry, commerce, politics, and colonisation. He interpreted the soul of the one by the soul of the other, and understood them both. Nay, of the two races, so profoundly different, which divide the British Isles, he understood the enthusiastic“ "viewy" Englishwoman at least as well as the positive Englishman. In short, that which he grasped most firmly was just that which escapes us almost always in the analysis of a foreign nation : instinct, spirit, tradition ; all we take for granted, all we leave unsaid, all the secret impulse of our actions. This penetration of the subject handled is the characteristic of these “English Studies."
English poetry is like no other poetry. In the world's great orchestra it is the Eolian harp. Its airy delicate song, a bubble of light words, exquisitely blended of half-tints and semitones, intimately thrilled with the vibrations of the soul-all this rare and immaterial loveliness, such as no other literature possesses,
* Under this title, Mme. Darmesteter has given to COSMOPOLIS her Preface to a forthcoming volume of " English Studies " by the late Professor, which will be published simultaneously in the original French by MM. Calmann Lévy, and in Mme. Darmesteter's English by T. Fisher Unwin,
can, none the less, swell its diapason to the absolute cry of passion, or else fling up aloft a jet of clearest, highest, purest thought. The sob of Othello, the smile of the Lady of the Sensitive Plant; these represent the two poles of English poetry. Between these two extremities what an unspeakable world of visions and ideals, of passions and sensations, often improbable, disordered, or fantastic, but always sincere. Ay, there's the secret and the charm! Nowhere in Europe is there a literature where convention is less dominant than in the poetry of a people apparently in bondage to Mrs. Grundy, and weighed to earth by the tyranny of cant.
'Twas in 1877 that James Darmesteter first came to England. He already knew a little English. Despite his youth (he was twenty-eight years old) he was known and marked in the limited circles of Oriental scholars. Lately elected Professor of Zend and Pehlvi in the Ecole des Hautes Etudes of Paris, he had published some essays on points of the Avesta which had attracted considerable notice. 'Twas at this moment that Mr. Max Müller asked him to translate into English for the Clarendon Press, the Zend original of the Vendidad. James accepted with alacrity. And yet it is not easy to translate into a foreign tongue a dead language handed down to us in transcripts whose imperfection verges upon travesty. But that frail exterior, that sensitive delicate spirit, concealed a mainspring of indomitable will. And all is possible to him whose force of volition is equalled by the quality of his staying-power.
Ah, if he could have yielded, it would never have been because of the obstacles apparent in his path! The sirens sing of a far subtler seduction. And when in the middle of his long arid labour, James heard the unexpected voice of English poetry--then, ah then, there was indeed a moment when Zoroaster must have feared an instant apostasy. “I was once on the very point of hating science-I longed to interpret English literature to France”: so my dear one was to write to me one day.
But the temptation passed. James had too true a devotion to his ideal of science for any caprice (or any passion even) to dispel it. He did not sacrifice his rare delight in English books ; but, since all his actions converged towards one predeter