American primary culture was already corrupting our speech. He would put his finger at once on these laborious inaccuracies, growling: “For God’s sake, translate it into English—” but when he had to write, or worse still dictate, a letter his friendly forehead and big hands grew damp, and he would mutter, half to himself and half to me: “How the devil shall I say: ‘Your letter of the blankth came yesterday, and after thinking over what you propose I don’t like the looks of it’?”—“Why, say just that,” I would answer; but he would shake his head and object: “My dear fellow, you’re as bad as I am. You don’t know how to write good English.” In his mind there was a gulf fixed between speaking and writing the language. I could never get his imagination to bridge this gulf, or to see that the phrases which fell from his lips were
The next day we made a closer acquaintance with our fellow-passengers, most of whom were but fearful sailors with but little stomach for anything off an even keel. In the cabin with us and Mr. O'Rourke were an Italian Count and his lady, some priests, and a Spaniard named Don Diego, with whom we soon made friends, though he was ignorant of both English and French, and had no Gaelic; but we could get in a Latin word or two, and we laughed much and made signs for the rest. Mr. O'Rourke we found to be of the same family as the gallant Major O'Rourke who was killed at Alcoy, in Spain, under the Count O'Mahony, which I knew of through my Uncle Scottos, who was an ensign there at the time; this made us fast friends, and I told him much of the Regiment Irlandia and the Irish Brigade of which he was ignorant.
“Ah, that may be true; but English girls are not like American girls. I assure you they are taken a great deal more care of. If you ever go home——”
The flush died away from Rafella's cheeks; she twisted her fingers together, and her voice shook as she answered defiantly: "He should be the last person to misjudge me, or to put a wrong construction on my friendships."
I do not think that the general reader at all appreciates the steady development of Socialist thought during the past two decades. Directly one comes into close contact with contemporary Socialists one discovers in all sorts of ways the evidence of the synthetic work that has been and still is in process, the clearing and growth of guiding ideas, the qualification of primitive statements, the consideration, the adaptation to meet this or that adequate criticism. A quarter of a century ago Socialism was still to a very large extent a doctrine of negative, a passionate criticism and denial of the theories that sustained and excused the injustices of contemporary life, a repudiation of social and economic methods then held to be indispensable and in the very nature of things. Its positive proposals were as sketchy
After lunch Elgar took me a quick walk along the river-bank. For the first half-hour I found him rather reserved and non-committal, and I soon recognised that if I were to succeed in obtaining his views on any matter of interest I must rigidly abstain from direct questions. But when he did commit himself to any opinion, he did so in the manner of one who is sure of his own ground and cannot consider, even temporarily, any change in the attitude he has already assumed.
He had made a deliberate bid for inclusion into their secret counsels by that last sentence, and he had at least succeeded in stimulating their interest.
Mrs Clarendon received it, so to speak, full in the face, as she leaned forward, eagerly waiting for what Frances had to say. She looked at the girl aghast, the colour changing in her face, a sudden exclamation dying away in her throat. But after the first keen sensation, she drew herself together and regained her self-control. “Yes, yes,” she cried; “I understand. He could not enter into anything about us without telling you of—others. He was always full of good feeling—and so just! No doubt, he thought if you heard our side, you should hear the other. But when you were coming away—when he knew you must hear everything, what message did he give you for me?”
CHAPTER XXIII NEXT DAY
Copyright © 2020