The Two Destinies
13. Not Cured Yet
WE visited France, Germany, and Italy; and we were absent from England nearly two
Had time and change justified my confidence in them? Was the image of Mrs. Van
Brandt an image long since dismissed from my mind?
No! Do what I might, I was still (in the prophetic language of Dame Dermody) taking the
way to reunion with my kindred spirit in the time to come. For the first two or three
months of our travels I was haunted by dreams of the woman who had so resolutely left
me. Seeing her in my sleep, always graceful, always charming, always modestly tender
toward me, I waited in the ardent hope of again beholding the apparition of her in my
waking hours--of again being summoned to meet her at a given place and time. My
anticipations were not fulfilled; no apparition showed itself. The dreams themselves grew
less frequent and less vivid and then ceased altogether. Was this a sign that the days of
her adversity were at an end? Having no further need of help, had she no further
remembrance of the man who had tried to help her? Were we never to meet again?
I said to myself: "I am unworthy of the name of man if I don't forget her now!" She still
kept her place in my memory, say what I might.
I saw all the wonders of Nature and Art which foreign countries could show me. I lived in
the dazzling light of the best society that Paris, Rome, Vienna could assemble. I passed
hours on hours in the company of the most accomplished and most beautiful women
whom Europe could produce--and still that solitary figure at Saint Anthony's Well, those
grand gray eyes that had rested on me so sadly at parting, held their place in my memory,
stamped their image on my heart.
Whether I resisted my infatuation, or whether I submitted to it, I still longed for her. I did
all I could to conceal the state of my mind from my mother. But her loving eyes
discovered the secret: she saw that I suffered, and suffered with me. More than once she
said: "George, the good end is not to be gained by traveling; let us go home." More than
once I answered, with the bitter and obstinate resolution of despair: "No. Let us try more
new people and more new scenes." It was only when I found her health and strength
beginning to fail under the stress of continual traveling that I consented to abandon the
hopeless search after oblivion, and to turn homeward at last.
I prevailed on my mother to wait and rest at my house in London before she returned to
her favorite abode at the country-seat in Perthshire. It is needless to say that I remained in
town with her. My mother now represented the one interest that held me nobly and
endearingly to life. Politics, literature, agriculture--the customary pursuits of a man in my
position--had none of them the slightest attraction for me.