Two on a Tower
At the station Lady Constantine appeared, standing expectant; he saw her face
from the window of the carriage long before she saw him. He no sooner saw her
than he was satisfied to his heart's content with his prize. If his great-uncle had
offered him from the grave a kingdom instead of her, he would not have accepted
Swithin jumped out, and nature never painted in a woman's face more devotion
than appeared in my lady's at that moment. To both the situation seemed like a
beautiful allegory, not to be examined too closely, lest its defects of
correspondence with real life should be apparent.
They almost feared to shake hands in public, so much depended upon their
passing that morning without molestation. A fly was called and they drove away.
'Take this,' she said, handing him a folded paper. 'It belongs to you rather than to
At crossings, and other occasional pauses, pedestrians turned their faces and
looked at the pair (for no reason but that, among so many, there were naturally a
few of the sort who have eyes to note what incidents come in their way as they
plod on); but the two in the vehicle could not but fear that these innocent
beholders had special detective designs on them.
'You look so dreadfully young!' she said with humorous fretfulness, as they drove
along (Swithin's cheeks being amazingly fresh from the morning air). 'Do try to
appear a little haggard, that the parson mayn't ask us awkward questions!'
Nothing further happened, and they were set down opposite a shop about fifty
yards from the church door, at five minutes to eleven.
'We will dismiss the fly,' she said. 'It will only attract idlers.'
On turning the corner and reaching the church they found the door ajar; but the
building contained only two persons, a man and a woman,--the clerk and his
wife, as they learnt. Swithin asked when the clergyman would arrive.
The clerk looked at his watch, and said, 'At just on eleven o'clock.'
'He ought to be here,' said Swithin.
'Yes,' replied the clerk, as the hour struck. 'The fact is, sir, he is a deppity, and
apt to be rather wandering in his wits as regards time and such like, which hev
stood in the way of the man's getting a benefit. But no doubt he'll come.'
'The regular incumbent is away, then?'
'He's gone for his bare pa'son's fortnight,--that's all; and we was forced to put up
with a weak-talented man or none. The best men goes into the brewing, or into
the shipping now-a-days, you see, sir; doctrines being rather shaddery at
present, and your money's worth not sure in our line. So we church officers be
left poorly provided with men for odd jobs. I'll tell ye what, sir; I think I'd better run
round to the gentleman's lodgings, and try to find him?'
'Pray do,' said Lady Constantine.
The clerk left the church; his wife busied herself with dusting at the further end,
and Swithin and Viviette were left to themselves. The imagination travels so
rapidly, and a woman's forethought is so assumptive, that the clerk's departure