The New Days Come
The Maid of Maiden Lane
Author:Amelia E. Barr

One afternoon in the late autumn Annie was sitting watching Hyde playing with his dog, a big mastiff of noble birth and character. The creature sat erect with his head leaning against Hyde, and Hyde's arm was thrown around his neck as he talked to him of their adventures on the Broad that day. Annie's small face, though delicate and fragile looking was full of peace, and her eyes, soft, deep and heavenly, held thoughts that linked her with heaven.

Outside there was in the air that November feeling which chills like the passing breath of death, the deserted garden looked sad and closed-in, and everywhere there was a sense of the languishing end of the year, of the fading and dropping of all living things. But in the house Annie and Hyde and the dog sat within the circle of warmth and light made by the blazing ash logs, and in that circle there was at least an atmosphere of sweet content. Suddenly George looked up and his eyes caught those of Annie watching him. "What have you been reading, Annie?" he asked, as he stooped forward and took a thin volume from her lap. "Why!" he cried, "'tis Paul and Virginia. Do you indeed read love stories?"

"Yes. The mystery of a love affair pleases every one; and I think we shall not tire of love stories till we tire of the mystery of spring, or of primroses and daffodils. Every one I know takes their tale of love to be quite a new tale."

"Love has been cruel to me. It has made a cloud on my life that will help to cover me in my grave."

"You still love Cornelia?"

"I cannot cure myself of a passion so hopeless. However, as I see no end to my unhappiness, I try to submit to what I cannot avoid. What is the use of longing for that which I have no hope to get?"

"My uncle grows anxious for you to marry. He would be glad to see the succession of Hyde as**sured."

"Oh, indeed, I have no mind to take a wife. I hear every day that some of my acquaintance have married, I hear of none that have done worse."

"You believe nothing of what you say. My uncle was much pleased with Sarah Capel. What did you think of the beauty?"

"Cornelia has made all other women so indifferent to me, that if I cannot marry her, my father may dispose of me as he chooses."

"Cannot you forget Cornelia?"

"It is impossible. Every day I resolve to think of her no more, and then I continue thinking; and every day I am more and more in love with her. Her very name moves me beyond words."

"There is no name, George, however sweet and dear, however lovingly spoken, whose echo does not at last grow faint."

"Cornelia will echo in my heart as long as my heart beats."

Then they were silent, and Hyde drew his dog closer and watched the blaze among some lighter branches, which a servant had just brought in. At his entrance he had also given Annie a letter, which she was eagerly reading. Hyde had no speculation about it; and even when he found Annie regarding him with her whole soul in her face, he failed to understand, as he always had done, the noble love which had been so long and so faithfully his--a love holding itself above endearments; self-repressed, self-sacrificing, kept down in the inmost heart-chamber a dignified prisoner behind very real bars. Yet he was conscious that the letter was of more than usual interest, and when the servant had closed the door behind him, he asked, "Whom is your letter from, Annie? It seems to please you very much."

She leaned forward to him with the paper in her little trembling hand, and said, "It is from Cornelia."

"My God!" he ejaculated; and the words were fraught with such feeling, as could have found no other vehicle of expression.

"She has sent you, dear George, a copy of the letter you ought to have received more than two years ago. Read it."

His eyes ran rapidly over the sweet words, his face flamed, his hands trembled, he cried out impetuously-"But what does it mean? Am I quite in my senses? How has this letter been delayed? Why do I get only a copy ?"

"Because Mr. Van Ariens has the original."

"It is all incredible. What do you mean, Annie? Do not keep me in such torturing suspense."

"It means that Mr. Van Ariens asked Cornelia to marry him on the same day that you wrote to her about your marriage. She answered both letters in the same hour, and misdirected them."

"GOD'S DEATH! How can I punish so mean a scoundrel? I will have my letter from him, if I follow him round the world for it."

"You have your letter now. I asked Cornelia to write it again for you; and you see she has done it gladly."

"Angel of goodness! But I will have my first letter."

"It has been in that man's keeping for more than two years. I would not touch it. 'Twould infect a gentleman, and make of him a rascal just as base."

"He shall write me then an apology in his own blood. I will make him do it, at the point of my sword."

"If I were you, I would scorn to wet my sword in blood so base."

"Remember, Annie, what this darling girl suffered. For his treachery she nearly died. I speak not of my own wrong--it is as nothing to hers."

"However, she might have been more careful."

"Annie, she was in the happy hurry of love. Your calm soul knows not what a confusing thing that is--she made a mistake, and that sneaking villain turned her mistake into a crime. By a God's mercy, it is found out--but how? Annie! Annie, how much I owe you! What can I say? What can I do?"

"Be reasonable. Mary Damer really found it out. His guilty restless conscience forced him to tell her the story, though to be sure he put the wrong on people he did not name. But I knew so much of the mystery of your love sorrow, as to put the two stories together, and find them fit. Then I wrote to Cornelia."

"How long ago?"

"About two months."

"Why then did you not give me hope ere this?"

"I would not give you hope, till hope was certain. Two years is a long time in a girl's life. It was a possible thing for Cornelia to have forgotten--to have changed."

"Impossible! Quite impossible! She could not forget. She could not change. Why did you not tell me? I should have known her heart by mine own."

"I wished to be sure," repeated Annie, a little sadly.

"Forgive me, dear Annie. But this news throws me into an unspeakable condition. You see that I must leave for America at once."

"No. I do not see that, George."

"But if you consider--"

"I have been considering for two months. Let me decide for you now, for you are not able to do so wisely. Write at once to Cornelia, that is your duty as well as your pleasure. But before you go to her, there are things indispensable to be done. Will you ask Doctor Moran for his child, and not be able to show him that you can care for her as she deserves to be cared for? Lawyers will not be hurried, there will be consultations, and engrossings, and signings, and love--in your case-- will have to wait upon law."

"'Tis hard for love, and harder perhaps for anger to wait. For I am in a passion of wrath at Van Ariens. I long to be near him. Oh what suffering his envy and hatred have caused others!"

"And himself also. Be sure of that, or he had not tried to find some ease in a kind of confession. Doctor Roslyn will tell you that it is an eternal law, that wherever sin is, sorrow will answer it."

"The man is hateful to me."

"He has done a thing that makes him hateful; but perhaps for all that, he has been so miserable about it, as to have the pity of the Uncondemning One. I hear your father coming. I am sure you will have his sympathy in all things."

She left the room as the Earl entered it. He was in unusually high spirits. Some political news had delighted him, and without noticing his son's excitement he said-"The Commons have taken things in their own hands, George. I said they would. They listen to the King and the Lords very respectfully, and then obey themselves. Most of the men in the Lower House are unfit to enter it."

"Well, sir, the Lords as a rule send them there--you have sent three of them yourself--and unfit men in public places, suppose prior unfitness in those who have the places to dispose of. But the government is not interesting. I have something else, father, to think about."

"Indeed, I think the government is extremely interesting. It is very like three horses arranged in tandem fashion--first, you know, the King, a little out of the reach of the whip; then the Lords follow the King, and the Commons are in the shafts, a more ignoble position, but yet--as we see to-day, possessing a special power of upsetting the coach."

"Father, I have very important news from America. Will you listen to it?"

"Yes, if you will tell it to me straight, and not blunder about your meaning." "Sir, I have just discovered that a letter sent to me more than two years ago, has been knowingly and purposely detained from me."

"By whom?"

"A man into whose hands it fell by misdirection."

"Did the letter contain means of identifying it, as belonging to you?"

"Ample means."

"Then the man is outside your recognition. You might as well go to the Bridewell, and seek a second among its riff-raff of scoundrels. Tell me shortly whom it concerns."

"Miss Moran."

"Oh indeed! Are we to have that subject opened again?"

His face darkened, and George, with an impetuosity that permitted no interruption, told the whole story. As he proceeded the Earl became interested, then sympathetic. He looked with moist eyes at the youth so dear to him, and saw that his heart was filled with the energy and tenderness of his love. His handsome face, his piercingly bright eyes, his courteous, but obstinately masterful manner, his almost boyish passion of anger and impatience, his tall, serious figure, erect, as if ready for opposition; even that sentiment of deadly steel, of being impatient to toss his sheath from his sword, pleased very much the elder man; and won both his respect and his admiration. He felt that his son had rights all his own, and that he must cheerfully and generously allow them.

"George," he answered, "you have won my approval. You have shown me that you can suffer and be faithful, and the girl able to inspire such an affection, must be worthy of it. What do you wish to do?"

"I am going to America by the next packet."

"Sit down, then we can talk without feeling that every word is a last word, and full of hurry and therefore of unreason. You desire to see Miss Moran without delay, that is very natural."

"Yes, sir. I am impatient also to get my letter."

"I think that of no importance."

"What would you have done in my case, and at my age, father?"

"Something extremely foolish. I should have killed the man, or been killed by him. I hope that you have more sense. Society does not now compel you to answer insult with murder. The noble not caring of the spirit, is beyond the mere passion of the animal. What does Annie say?"

"Annie is an angel. I walk far below her--and I hate the man who has so wronged--Cornelia. I think, sir, you must also hate him."

"I hate nobody. God send, that I may be treated the same. George, you have flashed your sword only in a noble quarrel, will you now stain it with the blood of a man below your anger or consideration? You have had your follies, and I have smiled at them; knowing well, that a man who has no follies in his youth, will have in his maturity no power. But now you have come of age, not only in years but in suffering cheerfully endured and well outlived; so I may talk to you as a man, and not command you as a father."

"What do you wish me to do, sir?"

"I advise you to write to Miss Moran at once. Tell her you are more anxious now to redeem your promise, than ever you were before. Say to her that I already look upon her as a dear daughter, and am taking immediate steps to settle upon you the American Manor, and also such New York property as will provide for the maintenance of your family in the state becoming your order and your expectations. Tell her that my lawyers will go to this business to-morrow, and that as soon as the deeds are in your hand, you will come and ask for the interview with Doctor Moran, so long and cruelly delayed."

"My dear father! How wise and kind you are!"

"It is my desire to be so, George. You cannot, after this unfortunate delay, go to Doctor Moran without the proofs of your ability to take care of his daughter's future."

"How soon can this business be accomplished?"

"In about three weeks, I should think. But wait your full time, and do not go without the credentials of your position. This three or four weeks is necessary to bring to perfection the waiting of two years."

"I will take your advice, sir. I thank you for your generosity."

"All that I have is yours, George. And you can write to this dear girl every day in the interim. Go now and tell her what I say. I had other dreams for you as you know--they are over now--I have awakened."

"Dear Annie!" ejaculated George.

"Dear Annie!" replied the Earl with a sigh. "She is one of the daughters of God, I am not worthy to call her mine; but I have sat at her feet, and learned how to love, and how to forgive, and how to bear disappointment. I will tell you, that when Colonel Saye insulted me last year, and I felt for my sword and would have sent him a letter on its point--Annie stepped before him. 'Forget, and go on, dear uncle,' she said; and I did so with a proud, sore heart at first, but quite cheerfully in a week or two; and at the last Hunt dinner he came to me with open hand, and we ate and drank together, and are now firm friends. Yet, but for Annie, one of us might be dead; and the other flying like Cain exiled and miserable. Think of these things, George. The good of being a son, is to be able to profit from your father's mistakes."

They parted with a handclasp that went to both hearts, and as Hyde passed his mother's loom, he went in, and told her all that happened to him, She listened with a smile and a heartache. She knew now that the time had come to say "farewell" to the boy who had made her life for twenty-seven years. "He must marry like the rest of the world, and go away from her," and only mothers know what supreme self-sacrifice a pleasant acquiescence in this event implies. But she bravely put down all the clamouring selfishness of her long sweet care and affection, and said cheerfully-"Very much to my liking is Cornelia Moran, She is world-like and heaven- like, and her good heart and sweet nature every one knows. A loving wife and a noble mother she will make, and if I must lose thee, my Joris, there is no girl in America that I like better to have thee."

"Never will you lose me, mother."

"Ah then! that is what all sons say. The common lot, I look for nothing better. But see now! I give thee up cheerfully. If God please, I shall see thy sons and daughters; and thy father has been anxious about the Hydes. He would not have a stranger here--nor would I. Our hope is in thee and thy sweet wife, and very glad am I that thy wife is to be Cornelia Moran."

And even after Joris had left her she smiled, though the tears dropped down upon her work. She thought of the presents she would send her daughter, and she told herself that Cornelia was an American, and that she had made for her, with her own hands and brain, a lovely home wherein HER memory must always dwell. Indeed she let her thoughts go far forward to see, and to listen to the happy boys and girls who might run and shout gleefully through the fair large rooms, and the sweet shady gardens her skill and taste had ordered and planted. Thus her generosity made her a partaker of her children's happiness, and whoever partakes of a pleasure has his share of it, and comes into contact--not only with the happiness--but with the other partakers of that happiness--a divine kind of interest for generous deeds, which we may all appropriate.

Nothing is more contagious than joy, and Hyde was now a living joy through all the house. His voice had caught a new tone, his feet a more buoyant step, he carried himself like a man expectant of some glorious heritage. So eager, so ardent, so ready to be happy, he inspired every one with his buoyant gladness of heart. He could at least talk to Cornelia with his pen every day, yes, every hour if he desired; and if it had been possible to transfer in a letter his own light-heartedness, the words he wrote would have shone upon the paper.

The next morning Mary Damer called. She knew that a letter from Cornelia was possible, and she knew also that it would really be as fateful to herself, as to Hyde. If, as she suspected, it was Rem Van Ariens who had detained the misdirected letter, there was only one conceivable result as regarded herself. She, an upright, honourable English girl, loving truth with all her heart, and despising whatever was underhand and disloyal, had but one course to take--she must break off her engagement with a man so far below her standard of simple morality. She could not trust his honour, and what security has love in a heart without honour?

So she looked anxiously at Annie as she entered, and Annie would not keep her in suspense. "There was a letter from Miss Moran last night," she said. "She loves George yet. She re-wrote the unfortunate letter, and this time it found its owner. I think he has it next his heart at this very moment."

"I am glad of that, Annie. But who has the first letter?"

"I think you know, Mary."

"You mean Mr. Van Ariens?"

"Yes."

"Then there is no more to be said. I shall write to him as soon as possible."

"I am sorry--"

"No, no! Be content, Annie. The right must always come right. Neither you nor I could desire any other end, even to our own love story."

"But you must suffer."

"Not much. None of us weep if we lose what is of no value. And I have noticed that the happiness of any one is always conditioned by the unhappiness of some one else. Love usually builds his home out of the wrecks of other homes. Your cousin and Cornelia will be happy, but there are others that must suffer, that they may be so. I will go now, Annie, because until I have written to Mr. Van Ariens, I shall not feel free. And also, I do not wish him to come here, and in his last letter he spoke of such an intention."

So the two letters--that of Hyde to Cornelia, and that of Mary Darner to Van Ariens, left England for America in the same packet; and though Mary Darner undoubtedly had some suffering and disappointment to conquer, the fight was all within her. To her friends at the Manor she was just the same bright, courageous girl; ready for every emergency, and equally ready to make the most of every pleasure.

And the tone of the Manor House was now set to a key of the highest joy and expectation. Hyde unconsciously struck the note, for he was happily busy from morning to night about affairs relating either to his marriage, or to his future as the head of a great household. All his old exigent, extravagant liking for rich clothing returned to him. He had constant visits from his London tailor, a dapper little artist, who brought with him a profusion of rich cloth, silk and satin, and who firmly believed that the tailor made the man. There were also endless interviews with the family lawyer, endless readings of law papers, and endless consultations about rights and successions, which Hyde was glad and grateful to leave very much to his father's wisdom and generosity.

At the beginning of this happy period, Hyde had been sure that the business of his preparations would be arranged in three weeks; a month had appeared to be a quite unreasonable and impossible delay; but the month passed, and it was nearly the middle of November when all things were ready for his voyage. His mother would then have urged a postponement until spring, but she knew that George would brook no further delay; and she was wise enough to accept the inevitable cheerfully. And thus by letting her will lead her, in the very road necessity drove her, she preserved not only her liberty, but her desire.

Some of these last days were occupied in selecting from her jewels presents for Cornelia, with webs of gold and silver tissues, and Spitalfields silks so rich and heavy, that no mortal woman might hope to outwear them. To these Annie added from her own store of lace, many very valuable pieces; and the happy bridegroom was proud to see that love was going to send him away, with both arms full for the beloved.

The best gift however came last, and it was from the Earl. It was not gold or land, though he gave generously of both these; but one which Hyde felt made his way straight before him, and which he knew must have cost his father much self-abnegation. It was the following letter to Dr. John Moran.

MY DEAR SIR: It seems then, that our dear children love each other so well, that it is beyond our right, even as parents, to forbid their marriage. I ask from you, for my son, who is a humble and ardent suitor for Miss Moran's hand, all the favour his sincere devotion to her deserves, We have both been young, we have both loved, accept then his affection as some atonement for any grievance or injustice you remember against myself. Had we known each other better, we should doubtless have loved each other better; but now that marriage will make us kin, I offer you my hand, with all it implies of regret for the past, and of respect for the future. Your servant to command, RICHARD HYDE.

"It is the greatest proof of my love I can give you, George," said the Earl, when the letter had been read; "and it is Annie you must thank for it. She dropped the thought into my heart, and if the thought has silently grown to these written words, it is because she had put many other good thoughts there, and that these helped this one to come to perfection."

"Have you noticed, father, how small and fragile-looking she is? Can she really be slowly dying?"

"No, she is not dying; she is only going a little further away--a little further away, every hour. Some hour she will be called, and she will answer, and we shall see her no more--HERE. But I do not call that dying, and if it be dying, Annie will go as calmly and simply, as if she were fulfilling some religious rite or duty. She loves God, and she will go to Him."

The next morning Hyde left his father's home forever. It was impossible that such a parting should be happy. No hopes, no dreams of future joy, could make him forget the wealth of love he was leaving. Nor did he wish to forget. And woe to the man or woman who would buy composure and contentment by forgetting!--by really forfeiting a portion of their existence--by being a suicide of their own moral nature.

The day was a black winter day, with a monotonous rain and a dark sky troubled by a ghostly wind. Inside the house the silence fell on the heart like a weight. The Earl and Countess watched their son's carriage turn from the door, and then looked silently into each other's face. The Earl's lips were firmly set, and his eyes full of tears; the Countess was weeping bitterly. He went with her to her room, and with all his old charm and tenderness comforted her for her great loss.

At that moment Annie was forgotten, yet no one was suffering more than she was. Hyde had knelt by her sofa, and taken her in his arms, and covered her face with tears and kisses, and she had not been able to oppose a parting so heart-breaking and so final. The last tears she was ever to shed dropped from her closed eyes, as she listened to his departing steps; and the roll of the carriage carrying him away forever, seemed to roll over her shrinking heart. She cried out feebly--a pitiful little shrill cry, that she hushed with a sob still more full of anguish. Then she began to cast over her suffering soul the balm of prayer, and prostrate with closed eyes, and hands feebly hanging down, Doctor Roslyn found her. He did not need to ask a question, he had long known the brave self-sacrifice that was consecrating the child-heart suffering so sharply that day; and he said only-"We are made perfect through suffering, Annie."

"I know, dear father."

"And you have found before this, that the sorrow well borne is full of strange joys--joys, whose long lasting perfumes, show that they were grown in heaven and not on earth."

"This is the last sorrow that can come to me, father."

"And my dear Annie, you would have been a loser without it. Every grief has its meaning, and the web of life could not be better woven, if only love touched it."

"I have been praying, father."

"Nay, but God Himself prayed in you, while your soul waited in deep resignation. God gave you both the resignation and the answer."

"My heart failed me at the last--then I prayed as well as I could."

"And then, visited by the NOT YOURSELF in you, your head was lifted up. Do not be frightened at what you want. Strive for it little by little. All that is bitter in outward things, or in interior things, all that befalls you in the course of a day, is YOUR DAILY BREAD if you will take it from His hand."

Then she was silent and quite still, and he sat and watched the gradual lifting of the spirit's cloud--watched, until the pallor of her face grew luminous with the inner light, and her wide open eyes saw, as in a vision, things, invisible to mortal sight; but open to the spirit on that dazzling line where mortal and immortal verge.

And as he went home, stepping slowly through the misty world, he himself hardly knew whether he was in the body or out of it. He felt not the dripping rain, he was not conscious of the encompassing earthly vapours, he had passed within the veil and was worshipping "In dazzling temples opened straight to Him, Where One who had great lightnings for His crown Was suddenly made present; vast and dim Through crowded pinions of the Cherubim."

And his feet stumbled not, nor was he aware of anything around, until the Earl met him at the park gates and touching him said reverently-"Father, you are close to the highway. Have you seen Annie?"

"I have just left her."

"She is further from us than ever."

"Richard Hyde," he answered," she is on her way to God, and she can rest nothing short of that."