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    Book 5 - Chapter 1

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    Chapter 33
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    In the Red Deeps

    The family sitting-room was a long room with a window at each end; one
    looking toward the croft and along the Ripple to the banks of the
    Floss, the other into the mill-yard. Maggie was sitting with her work
    against the latter window when she saw Mr. Wakem entering the yard, as
    usual, on his fine black horse; but not alone, as usual. Some one was
    with him,--a figure in a cloak, on a handsome pony. Maggie had hardly
    time to feel that it was Philip come back, before they were in front
    of the window, and he was raising his hat to her; while his father,
    catching the movement by a side-glance, looked sharply round at them
    both.

    Maggie hurried away from the window and carried her work upstairs; for
    Mr. Wakem sometimes came in and inspected the books, and Maggie felt
    that the meeting with Philip would be robbed of all pleasure in the
    presence of the two fathers. Some day, perhaps, she could see him when
    they could just shake hands, and she could tell him that she
    remembered his goodness to Tom, and the things he had said to her in
    the old days, though they could never be friends any more. It was not
    at all agitating to Maggie to see Philip again; she retained her
    childish gratitude and pity toward him, and remembered his cleverness;
    and in the early weeks of her loneliness she had continually recalled
    the image of him among the people who had been kind to her in life,
    often wishing she had him for a brother and a teacher, as they had
    fancied it might have been, in their talk together. But that sort of
    wishing had been banished along with other dreams that savored of
    seeking her own will; and she thought, besides, that Philip might be
    altered by his life abroad,--he might have become worldly, and really
    not care about her saying anything to him now. And yet his face was
    wonderfully little altered,--it was only a larger, more manly copy of
    the pale, small-featured boy's face, with the gray eyes, and the
    boyish waving brown hair; there was the old deformity to awaken the
    old pity; and after all her meditations, Maggie felt that she really
    _should_ like to say a few words to him. He might still be melancholy,
    as he always used to be, and like her to look at him kindly. She
    wondered if he remembered how he used to like her eyes; with that
    thought Maggie glanced toward the square looking-glass which was
    condemned to hang with its face toward the wall, and she half started
    from her seat to reach it down; but she checked herself and snatched
    up her work, trying to repress the rising wishes by forcing her memory
    to recall snatches of hymns, until she saw Philip and his father
    returning along the road, and she could go down again.

    It was far on in June now, and Maggie was inclined to lengthen the
    daily walk which was her one indulgence; but this day and the
    following she was so busy with work which must be finished that she
    never went beyond the gate, and satisfied her need of the open air by
    sitting out of doors. One of her frequent walks, when she was not
    obliged to go to St. Ogg's, was to a spot that lay beyond what was
    called the "Hill,"--an insignificant rise of ground crowned by trees,
    lying along the side of the road which ran by the gates of Dorlcote
    Mill. Insignificant I call it, because in height it was hardly more
    than a bank; but there may come moments when Nature makes a mere bank
    a means toward a fateful result; and that is why I ask you to imagine
    this high bank crowned with trees, making an uneven wall for some
    quarter of a mile along the left side of Dorlcote Mill and the
    pleasant fields behind it, bounded by the murmuring Ripple. Just where
    this line of bank sloped down again to the level, a by-road turned off
    and led to the other side of the rise, where it was broken into very
    capricious hollows and mounds by the working of an exhausted
    stone-quarry, so long exhausted that both mounds and hollows were now
    clothed with brambles and trees, and here and there by a stretch of
    grass which a few sheep kept close-nibbled. In her childish days
    Maggie held this place, called the Red Deeps, in very great awe, and
    needed all her confidence in Tom's bravery to reconcile her to an
    excursion thither,--visions of robbers and fierce animals haunting
    every hollow. But now it had the charm for her which any broken
    ground, any mimic rock and ravine, have for the eyes that rest
    habitually on the level; especially in summer, when she could sit on a
    grassy hollow under the shadow of a branching ash, stooping aslant
    from the steep above her, and listen to the hum of insects, like
    tiniest bells on the garment of Silence, or see the sunlight piercing
    the distant boughs, as if to chase and drive home the truant heavenly
    blue of the wild hyacinths. In this June time, too, the dog-roses were
    in their glory, and that was an additional reason why Maggie should
    direct her walk to the Red Deeps, rather than to any other spot, on
    the first day she was free to wander at her will,--a pleasure she
    loved so well, that sometimes, in her ardors of renunciation, she
    thought she ought to deny herself the frequent indulgence in it.

    You may see her now, as she walks down the favorite turning and enters
    the Deeps by a narrow path through a group of Scotch firs, her tall
    figure and old lavender gown visible through an hereditary black silk
    shawl of some wide-meshed net-like material; and now she is sure of
    being unseen she takes off her bonnet and ties it over her arm. One
    would certainly suppose her to be farther on in life than her
    seventeenth year--perhaps because of the slow resigned sadness of the
    glance from which all search and unrest seem to have departed; perhaps
    because her broad-chested figure has the mould of early womanhood.
    Youth and health have withstood well the involuntary and voluntary
    hardships of her lot, and the nights in which she has lain on the hard
    floor for a penance have left no obvious trace; the eyes are liquid,
    the brown cheek is firm and round, the full lips are red. With her
    dark coloring and jet crown surmounting her tall figure, she seems to
    have a sort of kinship with the grand Scotch firs, at which she is
    looking up as if she loved them well. Yet one has a sense of
    uneasiness in looking at her,--a sense of opposing elements, of which
    a fierce collision is imminent; surely there is a hushed expression,
    such as one often sees in older faces under borderless caps, out of
    keeping with the resistant youth, which one expects to flash out in a
    sudden, passionate glance, that will dissipate all the quietude, like
    a damp fire leaping out again when all seemed safe.

    But Maggie herself was not uneasy at this moment. She was clamly
    enjoying the free air, while she looked up at the old fir-trees, and
    thought that those broken ends of branches were the records of past
    storms, which had only made the red stems soar higher. But while her
    eyes were still turned upward, she became conscious of a moving shadow
    cast by the evening sun on the grassy path before her, and looked down
    with a startled gesture to see Philip Wakem, who first raised his hat,
    and then, blushing deeply, came forward to her and put out his hand.
    Maggie, too, colored with surprise, which soon gave way to pleasure.
    She put out her hand and looked down at the deformed figure before her
    with frank eyes, filled for the moment with nothing but the memory of
    her child's feelings,--a memory that was always strong in her. She was
    the first to speak.

    "You startled me," she said, smiling faintly; "I never meet any one
    here. How came you to be walking here? Did you come to meet _me?_"

    It was impossible not to perceive that Maggie felt herself a child
    again.

    "Yes, I did," said Philip, still embarrassed; "I wished to see you
    very much. I watched a long while yesterday on the bank near your
    house to see if you would come out, but you never came. Then I watched
    again to-day, and when I saw the way you took, I kept you in sight and
    came down the bank, behind there. I hope you will not be displeased
    with me."

    "No," said Maggie, with simple seriousness, walking on as if she meant
    Philip to accompany her, "I'm very glad you came, for I wished very
    much to have an opportunity of speaking to you. I've never forgotten
    how good you were long ago to Tom, and me too; but I was not sure that
    you would remember us so well. Tom and I have had a great deal of
    trouble since then, and I think _that_ makes one think more of what
    happened before the trouble came."

    "I can't believe that you have thought of me so much as I have thought
    of you," said Philip, timidly. "Do you know, when I was away, I made a
    picture of you as you looked that morning in the study when you said
    you would not forget me."

    Philip drew a large miniature-case from his pocket, and opened it.
    Maggie saw her old self leaning on a table, with her black locks
    hanging down behind her ears, looking into space, with strange, dreamy
    eyes. It was a water-color sketch, of real merit as a portrait.

    "Oh dear," said Maggie, smiling, and flushed with pleasure, "what a
    queer little girl I was! I remember myself with my hair in that way,
    in that pink frock. I really _was_ like a gypsy. I dare say I am now,"
    she added, after a little pause; "am I like what you expected me to
    be?"

    The words might have been those of a coquette, but the full, bright
    glance Maggie turned on Philip was not that of a coquette. She really
    did hope he liked her face as it was now, but it was simply the rising
    again of her innate delight in admiration and love. Philip met her
    eyes and looked at her in silence for a long moment, before he said
    quietly, "No, Maggie."

    The light died out a little from Maggie's face, and there was a slight
    trembling of the lip. Her eyelids fell lower, but she did not turn
    away her head, and Philip continued to look at her. Then he said
    slowly:

    "You are very much more beautiful than I thought you would be."

    "Am I?" said Maggie, the pleasure returning in a deeper flush. She
    turned her face away from him and took some steps, looking straight
    before her in silence, as if she were adjusting her consciousness to
    this new idea. Girls are so accustomed to think of dress as the main
    ground of vanity, that, in abstaining from the looking-glass, Maggie
    had thought more of abandoning all care for adornment than of
    renouncing the contemplation of her face. Comparing herself with
    elegant, wealthy young ladies, it had not occurred to her that she
    could produce any effect with her person. Philip seemed to like the
    silence well. He walked by her side, watching her face, as if that
    sight left no room for any other wish. They had passed from among the
    fir-trees, and had now come to a green hollow almost surrounded by an
    amphitheatre of the pale pink dog-roses. But as the light about them
    had brightened, Maggie's face had lost its glow.

    She stood still when they were in the hollows, and looking at Philip
    again, she said in a serious, sad voice:

    "I wish we could have been friends,--I mean, if it would have been
    good and right for us. But that is the trial I have to bear in
    everything; I may not keep anything I used to love when I was little.
    The old books went; and Tom is different, and my father. It is like
    death. I must part with everything I cared for when I was a child. And
    I must part with you; we must never take any notice of each other
    again. That was what I wanted to speak to you for. I wanted to let you
    know that Tom and I can't do as we like about such things, and that if
    I behave as if I had forgotten all about you, it is not out of envy or
    pride--or--or any bad feeling."

    Maggie spoke with more and more sorrowful gentleness as she went on,
    and her eyes began to fill with tears. The deepening expression of
    pain on Philip's face gave him a stronger resemblance to his boyish
    self, and made the deformity appeal more strongly to her pity.

    "I know; I see all that you mean," he said, in a voice that had become
    feebler from discouragement; "I know what there is to keep us apart on
    both sides. But it is not right, Maggie,--don't you be angry with me,
    I am so used to call you Maggie in my thoughts,--it is not right to
    sacrifice everything to other people's unreasonable feelings. I would
    give up a great deal for _my_ father; but I would not give up a
    friendship or--or an attachment of any sort, in obedience to any wish
    of his that I didn't recognize as right."

    "I don't know," said Maggie, musingly. "Often, when I have been angry
    and discontented, it has seemed to me that I was not bound to give up
    anything; and I have gone on thinking till it has seemed to me that I
    could think away all my duty. But no good has ever come of that; it
    was an evil state of mind. I'm quite sure that whatever I might do, I
    should wish in the end that I had gone without anything for myself,
    rather than have made my father's life harder to him."

    "But would it make his life harder if we were to see each other
    sometimes?" said Philip. He was going to say something else, but
    checked himself.

    "Oh, I'm sure he wouldn't like it. Don't ask me why, or anything about
    it," said Maggie, in a distressed tone. "My father feels so strongly
    about some things. He is not at all happy."

    "No more am I," said Philip, impetuously; "I am not happy."

    "Why?" said Maggie, gently. "At least--I ought not to ask--but I'm
    very, very sorry."

    Philip turned to walk on, as if he had not patience to stand still any
    longer, and they went out of the hollow, winding amongst the trees and
    bushes in silence. After that last word of Philip's, Maggie could not
    bear to insist immediately on their parting.

    "I've been a great deal happier," she said at last, timidly, "since I
    have given up thinking about what is easy and pleasant, and being
    discontented because I couldn't have my own will. Our life is
    determined for us; and it makes the mind very free when we give up
    wishing, and only think of bearing what is laid upon us, and doing
    what is given us to do."

    "But I can't give up wishing," said Philip, impatiently. "It seems to
    me we can never give up longing and wishing while we are thoroughly
    alive. There are certain things we feel to be beautiful and good, and
    we _must_ hunger after them. How can we ever be satisfied without them
    until our feelings are deadened? I delight in fine pictures; I long to
    be able to paint such. I strive and strive, and can't produce what I
    want. That is pain to me, and always _will_ be pain, until my
    faculties lose their keenness, like aged eyes. Then there are many
    other things I long for,"--here Philip hesitated a little, and then
    said,--"things that other men have, and that will always be denied me.
    My life will have nothing great or beautiful in it; I would rather not
    have lived."

    "Oh, Philip," said Maggie, "I wish you didn't feel so." But her heart
    began to beat with something of Philip's discontent.

    "Well, then," said he, turning quickly round and fixing his gray eyes
    entreatingly on her face, "I should be contented to live, if you would
    let me see you sometimes." Then, checked by a fear which her face
    suggested, he looked away again and said more calmly, "I have no
    friend to whom I can tell everything, no one who cares enough about
    me; and if I could only see you now and then, and you would let me
    talk to you a little, and show me that you cared for me, and that we
    may always be friends in heart, and help each other, then I might come
    to be glad of life."

    "But how can I see you, Philip?" said Maggie, falteringly. (Could she
    really do him good? It would be very hard to say "good-by" this day,
    and not speak to him again. Here was a new interest to vary the days;
    it was so much easier to renounce the interest before it came.)

    "If you would let me see you here sometimes,--walk with you here,--I
    would be contented if it were only once or twice in a month. _That_
    could injure no one's happiness, and it would sweeten my life.
    Besides," Philip went on, with all the inventive astuteness of love at
    one-and-twenty, "if there is any enmity between those who belong to
    us, we ought all the more to try and quench it by our friendship; I
    mean, that by our influence on both sides we might bring about a
    healing of the wounds that have been made in the past, if I could know
    everything about them. And I don't believe there is any enmity in my
    own father's mind; I think he has proved the contrary."

    Maggie shook her head slowly, and was silent, under conflicting
    thoughts. It seemed to her inclination, that to see Philip now and
    then, and keep up the bond of friendship with him, was something not
    only innocent, but good; perhaps she might really help him to find
    contentment as she had found it. The voice that said this made sweet
    music to Maggie; but athwart it there came an urgent, monotonous
    warning from another voice which she had been learning to obey,--the
    warning that such interviews implied secrecy; implied doing something
    she would dread to be discovered in, something that, if discovered,
    must cause anger and pain; and that the admission of anything so near
    doubleness would act as a spiritual blight. Yet the music would swell
    out again, like chimes borne onward by a recurrent breeze, persuading
    her that the wrong lay all in the faults and weaknesses of others, and
    that there was such a thing as futile sacrifice for one to the injury
    of another. It was very cruel for Philip that he should be shrunk
    from, because of an unjustifiable vindictiveness toward his
    father,--poor Philip, whom some people would shrink from only because
    he was deformed. The idea that he might become her lover or that her
    meeting him could cause disapproval in that light, had not occurred to
    her; and Philip saw the absence of this idea clearly enough, saw it
    with a certain pang, although it made her consent to his request the
    less unlikely. There was bitterness to him in the perception that
    Maggie was almost as frank and unconstrained toward him as when she
    was a child.

    "I can't say either yes or no," she said at last, turning round and
    walking toward the way she come; "I must wait, lest I should decide
    wrongly. I must seek for guidance."

    "May I come again, then, to-morrow, or the next day, or next week?"

    "I think I had better write," said Maggie, faltering again. "I have to
    go to St. Ogg's sometimes, and I can put the letter in the post."

    "Oh no," said Philip eagerly; "that would not be so well. My father
    might see the letter--and--he has not any enmity, I believe, but he
    views things differently from me; he thinks a great deal about wealth
    and position. Pray let me come here once more. _Tell_ me when it shall
    be; or if you can't tell me, I will come as often as I can till I do
    see you."

    "I think it must be so, then," said Maggie, "for I can't be quite
    certain of coming here any particular evening."

    Maggie felt a great relief in adjourning the decision. She was free
    now to enjoy the minutes of companionship; she almost thought she
    might linger a little; the next time they met she should have to pain
    Philip by telling him her determination.

    "I can't help thinking," she said, looking smilingly at him, after a
    few moments of silence, "how strange it is that we should have met and
    talked to each other, just as if it had been only yesterday when we
    parted at Lorton. And yet we must both be very much altered in those
    five years,--I think it is five years. How was it you seemed to have a
    sort of feeling that I was the same Maggie? I was not quite so sure
    that you would be the same; I know you are so clever, and you must
    have seen and learnt so much to fill your mind; I was not quite sure
    you would care about me now."

    "I have never had any doubt that you would be the same, whenever I
    migh see you," said Philip,--"I mean, the same in everything that made
    me like you better than any one else. I don't want to explain that; I
    don't think any of the strongest effects our natures are susceptible
    of can ever be explained. We can neither detect the process by which
    they are arrived at, nor the mode in which they act on us. The
    greatest of painters only once painted a mysteriously divine child; he
    couldn't have told how he did it, and we can't tell why we feel it to
    be divine. I think there are stores laid up in our human nature that
    our understandings can make no complete inventory of. Certain strains
    of music affect me so strangely; I can never hear them without their
    changing my whole attitude of mind for a time, and if the effect would
    last, I might be capable of heroisms."

    "Ah! I know what you mean about music; _I_ feel so," said Maggie,
    clasping her hands with her old impetuosity. "At least," she added, in
    a saddened tone, "I used to feel so when I had any music; I never have
    any now except the organ at church."

    "And you long for it, Maggie?" said Philip, looking at her with
    affectionate pity. "Ah, you can have very little that is beautiful in
    your life. Have you many books? You were so fond of them when you were
    a little girl."

    They were come back to the hollow, round which the dog-roses grew, and
    they both paused under the charm of the faëry evening light, reflected
    from the pale pink clusters.

    "No, I have given up books," said Maggie, quietly, "except a very,
    very few."

    Philip had already taken from his pocket a small volume, and was
    looking at the back as he said:

    "Ah, this is the second volume, I see, else you might have liked to
    take it home with you. I put it in my pocket because I am studying a
    scene for a picture."

    Maggie had looked at the back too, and saw the title; it revived an
    old impression with overmastering force.

    "'The Pirate,'" she said, taking the book from Philip's hands. "Oh, I
    began that once; I read to where Minna is walking with Cleveland, and
    I could never get to read the rest. I went on with it in my own head,
    and I made several endings; but they were all unhappy. I could never
    make a happy ending out of that beginning. Poor Minna! I wonder what
    is the real end. For a long while I couldn't get my mind away from the
    Shetland Isles,--I used to feel the wind blowing on me from the rough
    sea."

    Maggie spoke rapidly, with glistening eyes.

    "Take that volume home with you, Maggie," said Philip, watching her
    with delight. "I don't want it now. I shall make a picture of you
    instead,--you, among the Scotch firs and the slanting shadows."

    Maggie had not heard a word he had said; she was absorbed in a page at
    which she had opened. But suddenly she closed the book, and gave it
    back to Philip, shaking her head with a backward movement, as if to
    say "avaunt" to floating visions.

    "Do keep it, Maggie," said Philip, entreatingly; "it will give you
    pleasure."

    "No, thank you," said Maggie, putting it aside with her hand and
    walking on. "It would make me in love with this world again, as I used
    to be; it would make me long to see and know many things; it would
    make me long for a full life."

    "But you will not always be shut up in your present lot; why should
    you starve your mind in that way? It is narrow asceticism; I don't
    like to see you persisting in it, Maggie. Poetry and art and knowledge
    are sacred and pure."

    "But not for me, not for me," said Maggie, walking more hurriedly;
    "because I should want too much. I must wait; this life will not last
    long."

    "Don't hurry away from me without saying 'good-by,' Maggie," said
    Philip, as they reached the group of Scotch firs, and she continued
    still to walk along without speaking. "I must not go any farther, I
    think, must I?"

    "Oh no, I forgot; good-by," said Maggie, pausing, and putting out her
    hand to him. The action brought her feeling back in a strong current
    to Philip; and after they had stood looking at each other in silence
    for a few moments, with their hands clasped, she said, withdrawing her
    hand:

    "I'm very grateful to you for thinking of me all those years. It is
    very sweet to have people love us. What a wonderful, beautiful thing
    it seems that God should have made your heart so that you could care
    about a queer little girl whom you only knew for a few weeks! I
    remember saying to you that I thought you cared for me more than Tom
    did."

    "Ah, Maggie," said Philip, almost fretfully, "you would never love me
    so well as you love your brother."

    "Perhaps not," said Maggie, simply; "but then, you know, the first
    thing I ever remember in my life is standing with Tom by the side of
    the Floss, while he held my hand; everything before that is dark to
    me. But I shall never forget you, though we must keep apart."

    "Don't say so, Maggie," said Philip. "If I kept that little girl in my
    mind for five years, didn't I earn some part in her? She ought not to
    take herself quite away from me."

    "Not if I were free," said Maggie; "but I am not, I must submit." She
    hesitated a moment, and then added, "And I wanted to say to you, that
    you had better not take more notice of my brother than just bowing to
    him. He once told me not to speak to you again, and he doesn't change
    his mind--Oh dear, the sun is set. I am too long away. Good-by." She
    gave him her hand once more.

    "I shall come here as often as I can till I see you again, Maggie.
    Have some feeling for _me_ as well as for others."

    "Yes, yes, I have," said Maggie, hurrying away, and quickly
    disappearing behind the last fir-tree; though Philip's gaze after her
    remained immovable for minutes as if he saw her still.

    Maggie went home, with an inward conflict already begun; Philip went
    home to do nothing but remember and hope. You can hardly help blaming
    him severely. He was four or five years older than Maggie, and had a
    full consciousness of his feeling toward her to aid him in foreseeing
    the character his contemplated interviews with her would bear in the
    opinion of a third person. But you must not suppose that he was
    capable of a gross selfishness, or that he could have been satisfied
    without persuading himself that he was seeking to infuse some
    happiness into Maggie's life,--seeking this even more than any direct
    ends for himself. He could give her sympathy; he could give her help.
    There was not the slightest promise of love toward him in her manner;
    it was nothing more than the sweet girlish tenderness she had shown
    him when she was twelve. Perhaps she would never love him; perhaps no
    woman ever _could_ love him. Well, then, he would endure that; he
    should at least have the happiness of seeing her, of feeling some
    nearness to her. And he clutched passionately the possibility that she
    _might_ love him; perhaps the feeling would grow, if she could come to
    associate him with that watchful tenderness which her nature would be
    so keenly alive to. If any woman could love him, surely Maggie was
    that woman; there was such wealth of love in her, and there was no one
    to claim it all. Then, the pity of it, that a mind like hers should be
    withering in its very youth, like a young forest-tree, for want of the
    light and space it was formed to flourish in! Could he not hinder
    that, by persuading her out of her system of privation? He would be
    her guardian angel; he would do anything, bear anything, for her
    sake--except not seeing her.
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