« PreviousContinue »
THE GREEN DOOR.
BY MARGUERITE CURTIS.
THIS story is as pretty as not so long to look back upon it is sad, and as sad as it is as they took to pass. happy, and by the time you “Is it a green or
a black have mastered that paradoxical door?” saying you will be quite ready Amy the dwarf looked up to hear all about the Green with slow smile at the Door.
questioner's ignorance. I cannot tell you all about
green door!” she it—the history is too long and said with a grin; “'tis allays too intimate, and not even the called the green door.” Green Door itself could be “It looks black," said Mary brought to divulge all the Wethered. secrets and the passionate “ 'Tid'n, then ; 'tis green! vows to love for ever which 'Tis aʼmost like moss when have been whispered within the zun shines on 'en." its shadow.
seen the Nevertheless the part about shine it,”
said Mary the Rector of West Mendip Wethered. and Mary Wethered is what “Huh! you haven't been I say — pretty and sad and here long enough. There's happy.
days," Amy swept her arm in You shall judge for your- a comprehensive circle, “when selves.
the zun do start froliczome like It began long before the up there beyond the church, Rector made rector of and come round with the wind anywhere, before even he was and strike full against the ordained, and Mary Wethered green door. Us do get some in those days had no streaks o' they days in January to of grey in her curly hair. times, but they're most cerNeither was she, perhaps, as tain to begin after the day beautiful, although her face o' Valentine ; not o' nights was unlined and smooth, and tho'.” Amy rocked herself to her eyes shone only with the and fro in grotesque, inaudible radiance of youth and not mirth, the steady flame of a tried “Why?” said Mary curiand matured soul.
ously. Nevertheless, the story be- “That 'ud be tellin'," said gan with inexperience and Amy mysteriously. youth - lovers' meeting and “Yes?” said Mary. parting - and that brings us Nonplussed, Amy looked up to Mary's grey hairs and the at her sideways.
“'Tis at thin, ascetic figure of the the green door,” she said, Rector.
“that they do all meet!" The intervening years are “Who are they'?"
“Why, all the courting which was visible from the couples," said Amy. "You opposite side.
see them in the daytime No view there of a noble often enough, but then they're avenue of trees, and she looked single : 'tis à maid at that upward at the high stone wall end,” her finger pointed past -no opportunity here either the quadrangle enclosing the of seeing. village on up the slope of “How did you manage to highroad leading to the black- see?” she repeated. smith's shop, " and a man down “I scrambled to the top of here,” she nodded her head at the wall; round there by the the door; “but when the zun school-house ut do sort of hang do cease shinin' on the green over, and you can come out door,” she smiled a little wist- on the top-you couldn't, of ful smile of pleasure, “and the course," eyeing the town lady's night do fall down peaceful, attenuated form with scorn, they meet close to it fast “but I did.” enough, and then they do “And what did you see?” wander off down one o' the said Mary. lanes.”
“A thin windey path, some see,” said Mary re- gurt beech - trees and primflectively.
roses, and another little green She looked up at the door- door, and something else too,' way, in front of which they and her voice dropped to the sat on the pile of stones mysterious. marking the cross roads.
In her week's stay in West “But what is the door really Mendip Mary had learned the there for? Where does it way to manage the girl with lead?”
whom she talked: now she “Up to the Rect'ry,” said said nothing, just stayed with Amy indifferently. “'Tis the inquiring, candid eyes on her Rector's private entrance. I face. ha'in't never been through ut, “I stayed up there until but Mary Simonds what lived evenin'," said Amy, “when I to the
the Rector parlour- saw the Rector come down; maid told me there was an- he walks exactly,”-she rose other door and a long stately lumberingly from her seat and
of trees up above marched along the bit of road, & little path; so I thought holding up an imaginary casI'd look and
'Tisn't sock from before nervous, hurmuch of it,” she said discon- ried feet, and mincing from tentedly.
side to side in an exaggera“How did you manage to tion of a walk Mary had once see?” said Mary with amuse- known,—“exactly, she went ment. Into her mind there on, “like Mary Ann Bridport sprang with the question the when she goes round with the memory of the gaunt and tracts. He didn't know I seed grim grey stone house stand- un,” she added daringly. ing like a barracks on a little "I should think not,” Mary eminence among the pine-trees, said severely.
She, too, rose from her pile “Not a very ordinary name,' of stones and turned to walk said Mary, with a little gasp. down the village street. In- “No, Miss, he b’aint an terest had suddenly gone from ordinary man
neither— very the conversation for her, a little kind and pitiful and lovin' to pin-prick of memory—the un- all young folks and children, conscious reminiscence, she told but just a hater, Miss, of herself, of what had once been women! I zed to un' once,engraved so indelibly on her he did come and stand inside heart—had whitened her cheek so friendly - like when Amy and darkened her eyes. When hurt her foot, inquiring for she reached the cottage where her, tho Libby she's his she lodged, her landlady met fav'rite, as you might say,-her with a concerned face. I zed to un': Mr Holmes,' I
“Amy, what have you bin zed, ‘Amy and Libby they'll be doin' with Miss Wethered ? growin' up one of these days, Her do look completely worn and what'll you do then, zur ? out. Now then, Miss, what Be you goin' to drop 'em like will 'ee have to take?” & hot coal?' He didn't say
She bustled into the sitting- much, you know, Miss; just room after her lodger, and saw wrinkled up his eyes and kind her comfortably settled in a o' laughed, and then he said big arm-chair.
politely, 'No need to talk “The wind's nippy yet,” she about that yet, Mrs Shore. said, "you ought never to have Good day!' An''e went shakin' gone out; you must wait till off down the road laughin'. the zun do come.”
“He still has that funny, Mary smiled.
shaky walk, then," said Mary. “ Amy tells me it is certain The next instant she could to be out after February 14th; have bitten out her tongue for it shines then on the green using that word “still,” but door. I've been teasing her Mrs Shore passed it unnoticed. -telling her 'twas black.' “He do tremble when he's
A spot of colour burnt on movin', Miss, like as if his feet Mrs Shore's cheeks.
was hung on wires ; spite o' “'Tis green, right enough,” that, he's
that, he's a fine, upstandin' she said seriously. “I mind gentleman.' when 'twere painted,'bout three Mrs Shore withdrew, and years back; the Rector's mighty Mary was left by herself. She partic'lar 'bout havin' his place noticed, half unconsciously, yet kep' in order.”
with that intensity with which “What is his name?” said one does notice minor details in Mary.
any time of stress, that the un“Lor, Miss ! you bin here a der part of the currant-bushes week an'never 'eard that? Mr in the little garden was covHolmes we do call 'un— the ered with green lichen, while the Rev. Jonathan Holmes." tops pointed upward with a cer
She rolled the full title round tain gallant erectness, as if preher tongue with unction. paring for the coming of spring. VOL CLXXXVI.-NO. MCXXVI.
The carrier's cart went the shrubs outside & cottage lumbering by on the turnpike- throw a black and purple patch road, and after it the sound of shadow on to the road. of a bicycle-bell
, muffled on the Mary's eyes sought hungrily misty, dank air, was carried to for these darkened patches. her faintly.
When she came to them she On other days, with the paused and walked slowly, delightful and petty curiosity then sped onward, a frail, to which she had given herself black - garbed shadow herself, up on first coming to West through the moonlight. She Mendip, she would have gone walked quickly, passing the to the little window and looked green door almost at a run, down the road to see the rider, but with heightened senses but now the sound drew her she was aware of a blotch back to the thoughts she had of deeper darkness within its unconsciously evaded.
overhanging shadow. Some She had come in sanctuary village lovers already occupied from the first stages of a its friendly shade. She walked mortal illness to the very on and on down the winding village over which her old lane, her heart beating quickly, lover was spiritual president. but not more quickly than it She had half guessed it in had beaten all the afternoon, that moment when Amy had as her daring plan had been imitated the Rector's walk, but thought of, deliberated, resolved who would have imagined that upon. When she retraced her Jonathan would end his days steps, her light and delicate in a house of the appearance footsteps ringing out with a of Rectory!
subtle difference from those of In the old days they had other wayfarers, the lovers near planned either a city living, the green door shrank back a house outwardly gloomy and breathlessly, then once grimy, within full of colour continued their low-toned conand delight-or some sweet old versation as she passed from rectory away in the country, sight and mind. Perhaps the under the brow of a hill swept ears of love are slightly deafby gentle winds, covered with ened; had the two listened creepers coloured by the sun. they would have known that No great, grim house on & she had paused just twenty wind-swept hill-top.
yards beyond them and walked She sighed : perhaps here he on tiptoe to the bit of wall of had merged their two ideals, which Amy had spoken. gloom without, gaiety within. It overhung the corner by Then she remembered that, al- the school - house, and somethough his eyes still twinkled, where Amy had said she Jonathan hated women,
had climbed it. What had
been done could be done again. The road glimmered white Mary searched anxiously for in the moonlight, threading some foothold in the wall, and upward like a ribbon to the finding a loosened stone com
Here and there menced the ascent with in
trepid courage. When she denly the church bells rang reached the top, breathless, out. What for? She had been more bruised and
and battered in West Mendip less than a than she would have consid- week, she did not know if the ered possible, she sat still for bell-ringers were practising or an instant and looked with ringing for a week-night sertroubled eyes down the road. vice. She huddled herself a Lights gleamed from the win- little closer together trying to dows. A man crossed the keep the wind from her chest. green carrying buckets of And as she did so she was water. One of them clinked aware of another sound, against the hard ground as rasping and scraping and he put it down to talk to grinding in the wall beneath a friend. The oilman's voice, her feet. Some one else was loud and raucous, filled the coming up, that was certain. neighbourhood with noise as It was equally certain that it he advertised his wares. But was impossible for her to hide. up here all was quiet. Mary She turned apprehensive eyes realised that in the shade of upon the determined face of the trees, uncovered now and Amy the dwarf. bare, but still drooping over “Í zee'd you,” said Amy the top of the wall on which briefly, and she too huddled she sat, she could not be seen. down watching beside her She drew a long breath of mother's lodger. relief and looked about her Mary regarded her coolly. with interest. A few yards Of course in an unenviable away on her right the wall position it was well she was ended in the green door which ready to take the upper hand. had had so much to do with "Why did you follow me ?” village history. Beneath her she said. a broad path, little more than “Because I thought you'd a path, but yet giving the fall off,” said Amy. impression somehow of stateli- But Mary probed the inconness and dignity, ran up a sistency of the speech with gentle slope between the trees sharpness. that sheltered her to another “That was not the reason, wall. She could see nothing she said; "you wanted to know but that, and the roof-tops of why I came. Well, I came to the Rectory. Beyond the wall watch, to see what you saw.” she could imagine trim lawns, "Hush !” said Amy. sloping banks, flower - beds, What appeared to be a hole empty now, but in the spring in the wall at the other end filled to overflowing. Around opened. Mary saw now that the house a low verandah per- it was a door, that second hape, on to which uncurtained green door of which Amy had windows threw a ruddy light, spoken; and for a moment but none of this could she see. she had a glimpse of those Now that she was on the top things which she had imagof the wall she almost repented ined, - lighted windows, slopher temerity; and then sud- ing lawns. Then the light was