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A Resurrection

By H. B. Marriott Watson


The book slid gently from Gregory's fingers, and closed with a rustle upon the table. He was not conscious of the movement, for in a moment he was rapt among high and tender memories. The verses sang in the current of his blood, and pulsed to the beating of his arteries. They resounded from distant years with the full rhythm of an immediate echo. These instant reverberations in a heart long silent startled him with their unexpectedness. It was so long since he had provoked that pale wraith and image of his old passion. And now of a sudden his fibres were quick with a soft and melancholy yearning. With that passage in the poem, long since forgotten, the resurrection of this untimely ghost was charged with delicate and private meaning. His eyes fell again upon the closed volume, and he repeated the verses in a soothing whisper to himself.

He could see Dorothea's lips move to the phrases, her hand flutter unawares about her heart, according to a habit which had always affected him. He saw her bend and lean to touch him with her pretty air of assurance; soft fingers rested upon his arm. He sighed, and dropping slowly in his chair smiled very plaintively at his own fancies.

He was conscious of a certain penitence for the long omission of this memorial respect. The appeal of those lines allured him; he smarted and stung to reflect upon that oblivion in which so long she had been buried. Dorothea's eyes solicited him with their soft radiance; they seemed to intercede with him for an interval of silent communion. That ghostly visitant in his mind tremulously pleaded her cause. Was it so much, she seemed to urge, to snatch a little space, a fragmentary hour, from out a life dedicated to another, a meagre alms to that poor soul he once had loved? It seemed odd to him that the voice he once had heard ring so clearly in those rooms had been so persistently mute. The echoes of those familiar tones had died out with the years. What brought them from the silent corners at so irretrievable a time as this evening? He had foregone his lealty. He sighed and directed his glance upon the wall of his study where hung a slight water-colour sketch. It formed but a dash of colour, with no discernible proportions of a woman, but still a faithful transcription of the model. Dorothea had stood and posed for that dainty sketch, and she it was in a manner that still inhabited the coarse cloth and looked forth upon him from blurred eyes. Gregory slowly unlocked a drawer in his bureau, and withdrew a photograph, carefully enwrapped between covers. He held it before him, scrutinising it with attention, and the light of the reading-lamp streamed thickly upon the face.

There was just such a look in those poor eyes as had fulfilled them many a time in life. She watched him with that grave patience that had so sweetly mingled with her pretty playfulness. The head to Gregory wore an aureole, in its stream of bright hair. As he regarded the picture from under the arch of his hand, the facts and tenants of that room lost their importunate reality. At a stroke the winter was gone, and across the budding English meadows he walked with Dorothea in the spring. It was not so very long ago, but the ten years had spanned a tragedy for him. Was it possible, he wondered, that love should pass quite away, should change and commute like the fashions of a generation ? His eyes suffused. Ah no, he thought, not such a passionate whole love as theirs. He had not forgotten, only not remembered these six years. Somewhere under the sweet earth Dorothea's gracious heart throbbed to his pulses, her pleading eyes were lit with thoughts of him. The photograph dropped from his fingers, as the book had done, and the curtains swung in a mist before him. His memories provoked a warm and happy past; a sense, as it were, of physical pleasure filled him in the recollection of those fine days, now gathered into forgotten Time. The sadness of his reveries filled him with a positive delight. He sighed again, and his glance fell newly upon the picture. Reinformed by his sensitive imagination the bright flesh sparkled with life; the image reproached him with its immeasurable eyes. It seemed that those six years which sounded in his ears so desolately long, which had worn so wearily, inadequately marked his supreme sorrow. The grass was ancient over Dorothea in those six miserable years. The world might well attribute to him a remarkable fidelity. At nights he had sat and thought upon her, those long and terrible nights when her d...

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