Stephen and Henry at Elfie’s grave….trying to come to terms with the death of Elfie and reflecting the role she played in their lives.
E L F R I D E,
Wife of Spenser Hugo Luxellian,
Fifteenth Baron Luxellian:
Died February 10, 18–.
They read it, and read it, and read it again–Stephen and Knight–as if animated by one soul. Then Stephen put his hand upon Knight’s arm, and they retired from the yellow glow, further,further, till the chill darkness enclosed them round, and thequiet sky asserted its presence overhead as a dim grey sheet of blank monotony.
‘Where shall we go?’ said Stephen.
‘I don’t know.’
A long silence ensued….’Elfride married!’ said Stephen then in a thin whisper, as if he feared to let the assertion loose on theworld.
‘False,’ whispered Knight.
‘And dead. Denied us both. I hate “false”–I hate it!’
Knight made no answer.
Nothing was heard by them now save the slow measurement of time by their beating pulses, the soft touch of the dribbling rain upon their clothes, and the low purr of the blacksmith’s bellows hardby.
‘Shall we follow Elfie any further?’ Stephen said.
‘No: let us leave her alone. She is beyond our love, and let her be beyond our reproach. Since we don’t know half the reasons that made her do as she did, Stephen, how can we say, even now, that she was not pure and true in heart?’ Knight’s voice had now become mild and gentle as a child’s. He went on: ‘Can we call herambitious? No. Circumstance has, as usual, overpowered her purposes–fragile and delicate as she–liable to be overthrown in a moment by the coarse elements of accident. I know that’s it,–don’t you?’
‘It may be–it must be. Let us go on.’
Knight and Stephen had advanced to where they once stood beside Elfride on the day all three had met there, before she had herself gone down into silence like her ancestors, and shut her bright blue eyes for ever. Not until then did they see the kneeling figure in the dim light. Knight instantly recognized the mourneras Lord Luxellian, the bereaved husband of Elfride.
They felt themselves to be intruders. Knight pressed Stephenback, and they silently withdrew as they had entered.
‘Come away,’ he said, in a broken voice. ‘We have no right to bethere. Another stands before us–nearer to her than we!’
And side by side they both retraced their steps down the greystill valley to Castle Boterel.