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Over The Hills, and Far Away: A Story of New Zealand

Chapter XXXIII. Forgiven

page 331

Chapter XXXIII. Forgiven.

“Through the night-time, while thou sleepest,
Still I watch the shrouded east.”

Beatrice waited until she could bear her solitude no longer, then she set off alone on her horse to Maungarewa.

Louis was standing in the verandah. He made no effort to help her to dismount, and the face he turned towards her was hard as stone.

Beatrice's heart died within her. She tried to speak, but the words would not come.

At last she said, “Will nothing soften you? Is page 332 Dacre always to stand between you and me, now that I am sorry for the past?”

Louis looked at her sternly. She noticed, for the first time, that he was dressed in mourning. “Be as sorry as you like,” he answered; “that won't bring him back to life again.”

Beatrice sprang off her horse, perfectly awestruck.

“He is not dead?” she gasped out.

“He was buried yesterday,” said Louis, and turned away.

He would have left her quite alone, but Lucy came from somewhere behind him, and took Beatrice's hand and led her into the house.

Had not Dacre told her to forgive, and must she not keep her word?

Once within the house, the two women stood and looked at one another in silence. As they confronted each other in the first chapter of the story so they once more met, after each had gained some bitter experience, and learnt to know the other perhaps only too well.

page 333

Lucy's face had much pity in it; Beatrice's was almost transformed by an unwonted expression of humility 242 . She clung to Lucy's hand like a child.

“Louis,” said his sister, “come here!”

Louis, who was not far off, followed them into the drawing-room. At that time his reverence for his sister's sorrow would have made him do anything she asked.

“I only wanted to say one thing to you,” Lucy went on, with the weary intonation she could never at times quite banish from her voice again. “Beatrice was left to my charge … and I think you can fulfil the trust better than I can.”

“Did Dacre forgive me?” asked Beatrice softly.

“He forgave you entirely,” Lucy said; and she saw that great tears were running down the other woman's cheeks. “He was very sorry for you when he lay dying.”

“How I injured him!” Beatrice replied. “Never was greater injustice done than mine to Rylston Dacre.”

She sank softly to the ground, and hid her face page 334 in the dark folds of her riding-habit. But Louis was conquered at last. There were tears in his eyes too; and he lifted his wife once more to her feet.

* * * * *

The surf of the Pacific 243 roars and thunders not far from Dacre's grave; but it only serves to enhance the peace of the little valley where he lies.

Standing by his grave, Lucy can now look forward and feel nothing but a solemn joy at the remembrance of her lost love; for “He is gone,” she thinks; “He is happy; he is singing ‘Hosanna in the Highest!’”

The End

242 Seen as a desirable quality by Victorians.

[Note added by A. Brown as annotator]

243 By the mention of 'surf' and the 'Pacific' Evans places a 19th century Romantic theme of untimely or tragic death for the first time in the colonial 'exotic'.

[Note added by A. Brown as annotator]