Kenmure was motionless at first: then, looking over his shoulder, said merely, "What?"
"Janet said," continued Marian, in her clear and methodical way, "that my mother was up in heaven, and would help God hear my prayers at any rate; but if I pleased, I could come and say them by you."
A shudder passed over Kenmure; then he turned away, and put his hands over his eyes. She waited for no answer, but, putting down the candlestick, in her wonted careful manner, upon a chair, she began to climb upon the bed, lifting laboriously one little rosy foot, then another, still dragging after her, with great effort, the doll. Nestling at her father's breast, I saw her kneel.
"Once my mother put her arm round me, when I said my prayers." She made this remark, under her breath, less as a suggestion, it seemed, than as the simple statement of a fact.
Instantly I saw Kenmure's arm move, and grasp her with that strong and gentle touch of his which I had so often noticed in the studio,--a touch that seemed quiet as the approach of fate, and equally resistless. I knew him well enough to understand that iron adoption.
He drew her toward him, her soft hair was on his breast, she looked fearlessly into his eyes, and I could hear the little prayer proceeding, yet in so low a whisper that I could not catch one word. She was infinitely solemn at such times, the darling; and there was always something in her low, clear tone, through all her prayings and philosophizings, which was strangely like her mother's voice. Sometimes she paused, as if to ask a question, and at every answer I could see her father's arm tighten.
The moments passed, the voices grew lower yet, the candle flickered and went out, the doll slid to the ground. Marian had drifted away upon. a vaster ocean than that whose music lulled her from without,--upon that sea whose waves are dreams. The night was wearing on, the lights gleamed from the anchored vessels, the water rippled serenely against the low sea-wall, the breeze blew gently in. Marian's baby breathing grew deeper and more tranquil; and as all the sorrows of the weary earth might be imagined to exhale themselves in spring through the breath of violets, so I prayed that it might be with Kenmure's burdened heart, through hers. By degrees the strong man's deeper respirations mingled with those of the child, and their two separate beings seemed merged and solved into identity, as they slumbered, breast to breast, beneath the golden and quiet stars. I passed by without awaking them, and I knew that the artist had attained his dream.
We have a phrase in Oldport, "What New-Yorkers call poverty: to be reduced to a pony phaeton." In consequence of a November gale, I am reduced To a similar state of destitution, from a sail-boat to a wherry; and, like others of the deserving poor, I have found many compensations in my humbler condition. Which is the more enjoyable, rowing or sailing? If you sail before the wind, there is the glorious vigor of the breeze that fills your sails; you get all of it you have room for, and a ship of the line could do no more; indeed, your very nearness to the water increases the excitement, since the water swirls and boils up, as it unites in your wake, and seems to clutch at the low stern of your sail-boat, and to menace the hand that guides the helm. Or if you beat to windward, it is as if your boat climbed a liquid hill, but did it with bounding and dancing, like a child; there is the plash of the lighter ripples against the bow, and the thud of the heavier waves, while the same blue water is now transformed to a cool jet of white foam over your face, and now to a dark whirlpool in your lee. Sailing gives a sense of prompt command, since by a single movement of the tiller you effect so great a change of direction or transform motion into rest; there is, therefore, a certain magic in it: but, on the other hand, there is in rowing a more direct appeal to your physical powers; you do not evade or cajole the elements by a cunning device of keel and canvas, you meet them man-fashion and subdue them. The motion of the oars is like the strong motion of a bird's wings; to sail a boat is to ride upon an eagle, but to row is to be an eagle. I prefer rowing,--at least till I can afford another sail-boat.
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