The End Of A Coil - LightNovelsOnl.com
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But the excursions were made without Mr. Shubrick's social or material help. They went to Capri; they visited the grottoes; nay, they made a party to go up Vesuvius. All that was to be seen, they saw; and, as Christina declared, they left nothing undone that they could do. Then came the breaking up.
"Are you expecting to go back to that stuffy little place at Sorrento?"
Mr. Copley asked. It was the evening before their departure, and all the party were sitting, scattered about upon the verandah.
"Father!" cried Dolly. "It is the airiest, floweriest, sunniest, brightest, most delightful altogether house, that ever took lodgers in!"
"It certainly wasn't stuffy, Mr. Copley," said his wife.
"Dolly likes it because you couldn't get a glass of good wine in the house. Whatever the rest of humanity like, she makes war upon. I conclude you are reckoning upon going back there, my wife and daughter?"
"Are not you, Mr. Copley?" his wife asked.
"I must be excused."
"Then where are you going?"
"Home!" exclaimed Mrs. Copley. "Do you mean _home?_ Boston?"
"A Boston woman thinks Boston is the centre of the universe, you may notice," said Mr. Copley, turning to Mr. Thayer. "It's a curious peculiarity. No matter what other cities on the face of the earth you show her, her soul turns back to Boston."
"Don't say anything against Boston," said Mrs. Thayer; "it's a good little place. I know, when Mr. Thayer first carried me there, it took me a while to get accustomed to it;--things on a different scale, you know, and looked at from a different point of view; but I soon found admirers, and then friends. Oh, I assure you, Boston and I were very fond of each other in those days; and though I lost my claims to admiration a long time ago, I have kept my friends."
"I have no doubt the admirers are still there too," said Mr. Copley.
"Does Mrs. Thayer mean to say she has no admirers? I profess myself one!"
"Christina takes the admiration now-a-days. I am contented with that."
"And so you conquer by proxy."
"Mr. Copley," here put in his wife, "if you do not mean America by 'home,' what do you mean? and where are you going?"
"Where my home has been for a number of years. England--London."
"But you have given up your office?"
"I am half sorry, that is a fact."
"Then what should you do in London?"
"My dear, of the many hundred thousands who call London their home, very few have an office."
"But they have business of some kind?"
"That is a Boston notion. Did you ever observe, Thayer, that a Massachusetts man has no idea of life without business? It is the reason why he is in the world, to him; it never occurs to him that _play_ might be occasionally useful. I declare! I believe they don't know the meaning of the word in America; it has dropped out, like a forgotten art."
"But, father," Dolly spoke up now, "if you are going to London, mother and I cannot possibly go to Sorrento."
"I don't quite see the logic of that."
"Why, we cannot be here in Italy quite alone."
"I'll leave you St. Leger to take care of you and bring you back; as he took you away."
"I should be very happy to fall in with that plan," said Lawrence slowly; "but I fear I cannot make it out. I have been making arrangements to go into Greece, seeing that I am so near it. And I may quite possibly spend another winter in Rome."
There was a pause, and when Mr. Copley spoke again there was another sound in his voice. It was not his will to betray it, but Dolly heard the chagrin and disappointment.
"Well," said he, "such independent travellers as you two ladies can do pretty comfortably alone in that paragon of lodging-houses."
"But not make the journey home alone, father."
"When are you coming?"
"When you do, of course," said his wife.
Dolly knew it must be so and not otherwise. She sat still and down-hearted, looking abroad over the bay of Naples, over all the shores of which the moonlight was quivering or lying in still floods of calm beauty. From this, ay, and from everything that was like this, in either its fairness or its tranquillity, she must go. There had been a little lull in her cares since they came to Sorrento; the lull was over. Back to London!--And that meant, back to everything from which she had hoped to escape. How fondly she had hoped, once her father was away from the scene of his habits and temptations, he could be saved to himself and his family; and perhaps even lured back to America where he would be comparatively safe. Now where was that hope, or any other?
Suddenly Dolly changed her place and sat down close beside Mr. Copley.
"Father, I wish you would take us back to our real old home--back to Roxbury!"
"Can't do it, my pet."
"But, father, why not? What should keep you in England?"
"Now that you are out of the office?"
"Yes. Do you think all business is confined to the consuls' offices? A few other people have something to do."
Dolly heard no tone of hope-giving in her father's words. She ceased and sat silent, leaning upon his knee as she was and looking off into the moonlight. Mrs. Thayer and Mr. St. Leger were carrying on a lively discourse about people and things unknown to her; Mr. Thayer was smoking; Mrs. Copley was silent and sorry and cast-down, like herself, she knew. Dolly's eye went roving through the moonlight as if it were never going to see moonlight again; and her heart was taking up the old question, and feeling it too heavy to carry, how should she save her father from his temptation? Under the pressure Dolly's heart felt very low; until again those words came and lifted her up,--"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" After that the sweet moonbeams seemed to be full of those words. I am _not_ alone, thought Dolly, I am _not_ forgotten; and He does not mean that I should be crushed, or hurt, by this arrangement of things, which I strove so to hinder. I will not be one of the "little faith" people. I will just trust the Lord--my Lord. What I cannot do, He can; and His ways are wonderful and past finding out.
So she was quieted. And yet as she sat there it came over Dolly's mind, as things will, quite unbidden; it came over her to think how life would go on here, in Italy, with Christina, after she was gone. When the lovely Italian chapter of her own life was closed up and ended, when she would be far away out of sight of Vesuvius, in the fogs of London, the sun of Naples would still be shining on the Thayers' villa.
They would go sailing on blue water, or floating over the gold and purple reflections which sometimes seemed to fill both water and air; they would see the white shafts of Paestum, yes, it would be soon cool enough for that; or if they must wait for Paestum, there were enough old monasteries and ruined castles and beauties of the like sort to keep them busy for many a day. Beauties which Dolly and Mr. Thayer loved. Nobody else in the house loved them. Christina had hardly an eye for them; and St. Leger, if he looked, did not care for what he saw.
Nevertheless, they three would go picnicking through the wonderful old land, where every step was on monumental splendour or historical ashes, and the sights would be before them; whether they had eyes to see or no. For Dolly it was all done. She was glad she had had so much and enjoyed so much; and that enjoyment had given memory such a treasure of things to keep, that were hers for all time, and could be looked at in memory's chambers whenever she pleased. Yet she could not see the moonlight on the bay of Naples this evening for the last time, and remember towards what she was turning her face, without some tears coming that nobody saw--tears that were salt and hot.
The journey home was a contrast to the way by which they had come. It pleased Mr. Copley to go by sea from Naples to Marseilles, and from thence through France as fast as the ground could be passed over, till they reached Dover. And although those were not the days of lightning travel, yet travelling continually, the effect was of one swift, confused rush between Naples and London. Instead of the leisurely, winding course pursued to Dresden, and from Dresden to Venice, deviating at will from the shortest or the most obvious route, stopping at will at any point where the fancy took them, dawdling, speculating, enjoying, getting good out of every step of the way,--this journey was a sort of flash from the one end of it to the other, with nothing seen or remembered between but the one item of fatigue. So it came about, that when they found themselves in a London lodging-house, and Mrs.
Copley and Dolly sat down and looked at each other, they had the feeling of having left Sorrento last evening, and of being dazed with the sudden transition from Sorrento and sunshine to London and smoke.
"Well!" said Mr. Copley, rubbing his hands, "here we are!"
"I don't feel as if I was anywhere," said his wife. "My head's in a whirl. Is this the way you like to travel, Frank?"
"The purpose of travelling, my dear," said Mr. Copley, still rubbing his hands--it must have been with satisfaction, for it could not have been with cold--"the purpose of travel is--to get over the ground."
"It wasn't my purpose when I went away."