4. JULY THE TWENTY-FIRST
A very popular local excursion by steamboat to Lulstead Cove was
announced through the streets of Budmouth one Thursday morning by
the weak-voiced town-crier, to start at six o'clock the same day.
The weather was lovely, and the opportunity being the first of the
kind offered to them, Owen and Cytherea went with the rest.
They had reached the Cove, and had walked landward for nearly an
hour over the hill which rose beside the strand, when Graye
recollected that two or three miles yet further inland from this
spot was an interesting mediaeval ruin. He was already familiar
with its characteristics through the medium of an archaeological
work, and now finding himself so close to the reality, felt
inclined to verify some theory he had formed respecting it.
Concluding that there would be just sufficient time for him to go
there and return before the boat had left the shore, he parted from
Cytherea on the hill, struck downwards, and then up a heathery
She remained on the summit where he had left her till the time
of his expected return, scanning the details of the prospect
around. Placidly spread out before her on the south was the open
Channel, reflecting a blue intenser by many shades than that of the
sky overhead, and dotted in the foreground by half-a-dozen small
craft of contrasting rig, their sails graduating in hue from
extreme whiteness to reddish brown, the varying actual colours
varied again in a double degree by the rays of the declining
Presently the distant bell from the boat was heard, warning the
passengers to embark. This was followed by a lively air from the
harps and violins on board, their tones, as they arose, becoming
intermingled with, though not marred by, the brush of the waves
when their crests rolled over—at the point where the check of the
shallows was first felt—and then thinned away up the slope of
pebbles and sand.
She turned her face landward and strained her eyes to discern,
if possible, some sign of Owen's return. Nothing was visible save
the strikingly brilliant, still landscape. The wide concave which
lay at the back of the hill in this direction was blazing with the
western light, adding an orange tint to the vivid purple of the
heather, now at the very climax of bloom, and free from the
slightest touch of the invidious brown that so soon creeps into its
shades. The light so intensified the colours that they seemed to
stand above the surface of the earth and float in mid-air like an
exhalation of red. In the minor valleys, between the hillocks and
ridges which diversified the contour of the basin, but did not
disturb its general sweep, she marked brakes of tall, heavy-stemmed
ferns, five or six feet high, in a brilliant light-green dress—a
broad riband of them with the path in their midst winding like a
stream along the little ravine that reached to the foot of the
hill, and delivered up the path to its grassy area. Among the ferns
grew holly bushes deeper in tint than any shadow about them, whilst
the whole surface of the scene was dimpled with small conical pits,
and here and there were round ponds, now dry, and half overgrown
The last bell of the steamer rang. Cytherea had forgotten
herself, and what she was looking for. In a fever of distress lest
Owen should be left behind, she gathered up in her hand the corners
of her handkerchief, containing specimens of the shells, plants,
and fossils which the locality produced, started off to the sands,
and mingled with the knots of visitors there congregated from other
interesting points around; from the inn, the cottages, and hired
conveyances that had returned from short drives inland. They all
went aboard by the primitive plan of a narrow plank on two
wheels—the women being assisted by a rope. Cytherea lingered till
the very last, reluctant to follow, and looking alternately at the
boat and the valley behind. Her delay provoked a remark from
Captain Jacobs, a thickset man of hybrid stains, resulting from the
mixed effects of fire and water, peculiar to sailors where engines
are the propelling power.
'Now then, missy, if you please. I am sorry to tell 'ee our
time's up. Who are you looking for, miss?'
'My brother—he has walked a short distance inland; he must be
here directly. Could you wait for him—just a minute?'
'Really, I am afraid not, m'm.' Cytherea looked at the stout,
round-faced man, and at the vessel, with a light in her eyes so
expressive of her own opinion being the same, on reflection, as
his, and with such resignation, too, that, from an instinctive
feeling of pride at being able to prove himself more humane than he
was thought to be—works of supererogation are the only sacrifices
that entice in this way—and that at a very small cost, he delayed
the boat till some among the passengers began to murmur.
'There, never mind,' said Cytherea decisively. 'Go on without
me—I shall wait for him.'
'Well, 'tis a very awkward thing to leave you here all alone,'
said the captain. 'I certainly advise you not to wait.'
'He's gone across to the railway station, for certain,' said
'No—here he is!' Cytherea said, regarding, as she spoke, the
half hidden figure of a man who was seen advancing at a headlong
pace down the ravine which lay between the heath and the shore.
'He can't get here in less than five minutes,' a passenger said.
'People should know what they are about, and keep time. Really,
'You see, sir,' said the captain, in an apologetic undertone,
'since 'tis her brother, and she's all alone, 'tis only nater to
wait a minute, now he's in sight. Suppose, now, you were a young
woman, as might be, and had a brother, like this one, and you stood
of an evening upon this here wild lonely shore, like her, why you'd
want us to wait, too, wouldn't you, sir? I think you would.'
The person so hastily approaching had been lost to view during
this remark by reason of a hollow in the ground, and the projecting
cliff immediately at hand covered the path in its rise. His
footsteps were now heard striking sharply upon the flinty road at a
distance of about twenty or thirty yards, but still behind the
escarpment. To save time, Cytherea prepared to ascend the
'Let me give you my hand, miss,' said Captain Jacobs.
'No—please don't touch me,' said she, ascending cautiously by
sliding one foot forward two or three inches, bringing up the other
behind it, and so on alternately—her lips compressed by
concentration on the feat, her eyes glued to the plank, her hand to
the rope, and her immediate thought to the fact of the distressing
narrowness of her footing. Steps now shook the lower end of the
board, and in an instant were up to her heels with a bound.
'O, Owen, I am so glad you are come!' she said without turning.
'Don't, don't shake the plank or touch me, whatever you do… .
There, I am up. Where have you been so long?' she continued, in a
lower tone, turning round to him as she reached the top.
Raising her eyes from her feet, which, standing on the firm
deck, demanded her attention no longer, she acquired perceptions of
the new-comer in the following order: unknown trousers; unknown
waistcoat; unknown face. The man was not her brother, but a total
Off went the plank; the paddles started, stopped, backed,
pattered in confusion, then revolved decisively, and the boat
passed out into deep water.
One or two persons had said, 'How d'ye do, Mr. Springrove?' and
looked at Cytherea, to see how she bore her disappointment. Her
ears had but just caught the name of the head draughtsman, when she
saw him advancing directly to address her.
'Miss Graye, I believe?' he said, lifting his hat.
'Yes,' said Cytherea, colouring, and trying not to look guilty
of a surreptitious knowledge of him.
'I am Mr. Springrove. I passed Corvsgate Castle about an hour
ago, and soon afterwards met your brother going that way. He had
been deceived in the distance, and was about to turn without seeing
the ruin, on account of a lameness that had come on in his leg or
foot. I proposed that he should go on, since he had got so near;
and afterwards, instead of walking back to the boat, get across to
Anglebury Station—a shorter walk for him—where he could catch the
late train, and go directly home. I could let you know what he had
done, and allay any uneasiness.'
'Is the lameness serious, do you know?'
'O no; simply from over-walking himself. Still, it was just as
well to ride home.'
Relieved from her apprehensions on Owen's score, she was able
slightly to examine the appearance of her informant—Edward
Springrove—who now removed his hat for a while, to cool himself. He
was rather above her brother's height. Although the upper part of
his face and head was handsomely formed, and bounded by lines of
sufficiently masculine regularity, his brows were somewhat too
softly arched, and finely pencilled for one of his sex; without
prejudice, however, to the belief which the sum total of his
features inspired—that though they did not prove that the man who
thought inside them would do much in the world, men who had done
most of all had had no better ones. Across his forehead, otherwise
perfectly smooth, ran one thin line, the healthy freshness of his
remaining features expressing that it had come there
Though some years short of the age at which the clear spirit
bids good-bye to the last infirmity of noble mind, and takes to
house-hunting and investments, he had reached the period in a young
man's life when episodic periods, with a hopeful birth and a
disappointing death, have begun to accumulate, and to bear a fruit
of generalities; his glance sometimes seeming to state, 'I have
already thought out the issue of such conditions as these we are
experiencing.' At other times he wore an abstracted look: 'I seem
to have lived through this moment before.'
He was carelessly dressed in dark grey, wearing a rolled-up
black kerchief as a neck-cloth; the knot of which was disarranged,
and stood obliquely—a deposit of white dust having lodged in the
'I am sorry for your disappointment,' he continued, glancing
into her face. Their eyes having met, became, as it were, mutually
locked together, and the single instant only which good breeding
allows as the length of such a look, became trebled: a clear
penetrating ray of intelligence had shot from each into each,
giving birth to one of those unaccountable sensations which carry
home to the heart before the hand has been touched or the merest
compliment passed, by something stronger than mathematical proof,
the conviction, 'A tie has begun to unite us.'
Both faces also unconsciously stated that their owners had been
much in each other's thoughts of late. Owen had talked to the young
architect of his sister as freely as to Cytherea of the young
A conversation began, which was none the less interesting to the
parties engaged because it consisted only of the most trivial and
commonplace remarks. Then the band of harps and violins struck up a
lively melody, and the deck was cleared for dancing; the sun
dipping beneath the horizon during the proceeding, and the moon
showing herself at their stern. The sea was so calm, that the soft
hiss produced by the bursting of the innumerable bubbles of foam
behind the paddles could be distinctly heard. The passengers who
did not dance, including Cytherea and Springrove, lapsed into
silence, leaning against the paddle-boxes, or standing
aloof—noticing the trembling of the deck to the steps of the
dance—watching the waves from the paddles as they slid thinly and
easily under each other's edges.
Night had quite closed in by the time they reached Budmouth
harbour, sparkling with its white, red, and green lights in
opposition to the shimmering path of the moon's reflection on the
other side, which reached away to the horizon till the flecked
ripples reduced themselves to sparkles as fine as gold dust.
'I will walk to the station and find out the exact time the
train arrives,' said Springrove, rather eagerly, when they had
She thanked him much.
'Perhaps we might walk together,' he suggested hesitatingly. She
looked as if she did not quite know, and he settled the question by
showing the way.
They found, on arriving there, that on the first day of that
month the particular train selected for Graye's return had ceased
to stop at Anglebury station.
'I am very sorry I misled him,' said Springrove.
'O, I am not alarmed at all,' replied Cytherea.
'Well, it's sure to be all right—he will sleep there, and come
by the first in the morning. But what will you do, alone?'
'I am quite easy on that point; the landlady is very friendly. I
must go indoors now. Good-night, Mr. Springrove.'
'Let me go round to your door with you?' he pleaded.
'No, thank you; we live close by.'
He looked at her as a waiter looks at the change he brings back.
But she was inexorable.
'Don't—forget me,' he murmured. She did not answer.
'Let me see you sometimes,' he said.
'Perhaps you never will again—I am going away,' she replied in
lingering tones; and turning into Cross Street, ran indoors and
The sudden withdrawal of what was superfluous at first, is often
felt as an essential loss. It was felt now with regard to the
maiden. More, too, after a meeting so pleasant and so enkindling,
she had seemed to imply that they would never come together
The young man softly followed her, stood opposite the house and
watched her come into the upper room with the light. Presently his
gaze was cut short by her approaching the window and pulling down
the blind—Edward dwelling upon her vanishing figure with a hopeless
sense of loss akin to that which Adam is said by logicians to have
felt when he first saw the sun set, and thought, in his
inexperience, that it would return no more.
He waited till her shadow had twice crossed the window, when,
finding the charming outline was not to be expected again, he left
the street, crossed the harbour-bridge, and entered his own
solitary chamber on the other side, vaguely thinking as he went
(for undefined reasons),
'One hope is too like despair
For prudence to smother.'