Two on a Tower
The laboured resistance which Lady Constantine's judgment had offered to her
rebellious affection ere she learnt that she was a widow, now passed into a
bashfulness that rendered her almost as unstable of mood as before. But she
was one of that mettle--fervid, cordial, and spontaneous--who had not the heart
to spoil a passion; and her affairs having gone to rack and ruin by no fault of her
own she was left to a painfully narrowed existence which lent even something of
rationality to her attachment. Thus it was that her tender and unambitious soul
found comfort in her reverses.
As for St. Cleeve, the tardiness of his awakening was the natural result of
inexperience combined with devotion to a hobby. But, like a spring bud hard in
bursting, the delay was compensated by after speed. At once breathlessly
recognizing in this fellow-watcher of the skies a woman who loved him, in
addition to the patroness and friend, he truly translated the nearly forgotten kiss
she had given him in her moment of despair.
Lady Constantine, in being eight or nine years his senior, was an object even
better calculated to nourish a youth's first passion than a girl of his own age,
superiority of experience and ripeness of emotion exercising the same peculiar
fascination over him as over other young men in their first ventures in this kind.
The alchemy which thus transmuted an abstracted astronomer into an eager
lover--and, must it be said, spoilt a promising young physicist to produce a
common-place inamorato--may be almost described as working its change in one
short night. Next morning he was so fascinated with the novel sensation that he
wanted to rush off at once to Lady Constantine, and say, 'I love you true!' in the
intensest tones of his mental condition, to register his assertion in her heart
before any of those accidents which 'creep in 'twixt vows, and change decrees of
kings,' should occur to hinder him. But his embarrassment at standing in a new
position towards her would not allow him to present himself at her door in any
such hurry. He waited on, as helplessly as a girl, for a chance of encountering
But though she had tacitly agreed to see him on any reasonable occasion, Lady
Constantine did not put herself in his way. She even kept herself out of his way.
Now that for the first time he had learnt to feel a strong impatience for their
meeting, her shyness for the first time led her to delay it. But given two people
living in one parish, who long from the depths of their hearts to be in each other's
company, what resolves of modesty, policy, pride, or apprehension will keep
them for any length of time apart?
One afternoon he was watching the sun from his tower, half echoing the Greek
astronomer's wish that he might be set close to that luminary for the wonder of
beholding it in all its glory, under the slight penalty of being consumed the next
instant. He glanced over the high-road between the field and the park (which
sublunary features now too often distracted his attention from his telescope), and
saw her passing along that way.
She was seated in the donkey-carriage that had now taken the place of her
landau, the white animal looking no larger than a cat at that distance. The