Page:Littell's Living Age - Volume 132.djvu/289

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"Purity in the arms a man holds out to her," answered Malcolm.

"Certainly," replied Lenorme, with a sort of mechanical absoluteness.

"And according to your picture every woman whom a man loves is a goddess — the goddess of nature?"

"Certainly. But what are you driving at? I can't paint for you. There you stand," he went on, half angrily, "as if you were Socrates himself driving some poor Athenian nob into the corner of his deserts! I don't deserve any such insinuations, I would have you know."

"I am making none, sir. I dare never insinuate except I were prepared to charge. But I have told you I was bred up a fisher-lad, and partly among the fishers, to begin with, I half learned, half discovered, things that tended to give me what some would count severe notions: I count them common sense. Then, as you know, I went into service, and in that position it is easy enough to gather that many people hold very loose and very nasty notions about some things; so I just wanted to see how you felt about such. If I had a sister now, and saw a man coming to woo her all beclotted with puddle-filth, or if I knew that he had just left some woman as good as she crying eyes and heart out over his child, I don't know that I could keep my hands off him — at least if I feared she might take him. What do you think now? Mightn't it be a righteous thing to throttle the scum and be hanged for it?"

"Well," said Lenorme, "I don't know why I should justify myself, especially where no charge is made, MacPhail — and I don't know why to you any more than another man — but at this moment I am weak or egotistic or sympathetic enough to wish you to understand that, so far as the poor matter of one virtue goes, I might without remorse act Sir Galahad in a play."

"Now you are beyond me," said Malcolm. "I don't know what you mean."

So Lenorme had to tell him the old armoric tale which Tennyson has since rendered so lovelily, for, amongst artists at least, he was one of the earlier burrowers in the British legends. And as he told it, in a half-sullen kind of way, the heart of the young marquis glowed within him, and he vowed to himself that Lenorme and no other should marry his sister. But, lest he should reveal more emotion than the obvious occasion justified, he restrained speech, and again silence fell, during which Lenorme was painting furiously.

"Confound it!" he cried at last, and sprang to his feet, but without taking his eyes from his picture. "What have I been doing all this time but making a portrait of you, MacPhail, and forgetting what you were there for! And yet," he went on, hesitating and catching up the miniature, "I have got a certain likeness! Yes, it must be so, for I see in it also a certain look of Lady Lossie. Well, I suppose a man can't altogether help what he paints any more than what he dreams. — That will do for this morning, anyhow, I think, MacPhail. Make haste and put on your own clothes, and come into the next room to breakfast. You must be tired with standing so long."

"It is about the hardest work I ever tried," answered Malcolm, "but I doubt if I am as tired as Kelpie. I've been listening for the last half hour to hear the stalls flying.

From Fraser's Magazine.


The presidency of Madras contained within the long angle of the peninsula is divided, exclusive of native states, into twenty districts, analogous in size and importance rather to French departments, or the English kingdoms of Saxon times, than counties. Most of them fringe the eastern and western seaboards, but three or four occupy the interior between the Madras and Malabar coasts, abutting at no point upon the sea. They would be accounted considerable states in Europe; Coimbatore and Salem amongst them, for example, each comprising more than eight thousand square miles. Broad undulating plains, far-stretching alternations of upland and hollow, characterize their surface; and though mountain masses and long ranges rise up here and there, and generally close up the horizon, and hills, single or in clusters, are dotted like islands over the great champaign, the general aspect of a level country is maintained, and the Great Peninsular Railway runs across from sea to sea, four hundred miles, without a single tunnel.

In these inland districts the old country life of India has been least changed, and the primitive gods survive undisturbed. The plains, like moorlands at home, usually lie high, and extend for miles, their rugged surface strewn with stones and disjointed rock; a low yellow-flowered bush grows here and there, and a thin