Lewis Rand
By Mary Johnston

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Public Domain Books

Chapter XXXI: Husband and Wife

As he rode up the drive, he saw Jacqueline waiting for him, a gleam of white upon the grey doorstone, beyond the wind-tossed beech. He dismounted, sent Young Isham around with the horses, and walked across the burned grass. She met him with outstretched arms, beneath the beech tree. “Lewis, Lewis!”

He held her to him, bent back her face, kissed her brow and eyes and mouth. There was a wild energy in clasp and touch. “You love me still?" he cried. “That’s true–that’s true, Jacqueline?”

“You know–you know it’s true! I was born only to love you–and I thought that you would never come!”

The thunder crashed above them, and the advance of the rain was heard upon the beech leaves. “Come indoors–come out of the storm!” She drew his hand that she held to her and laid it on her bosom. “Oh, welcome home, my dear!”

They went together into the house and into their own chamber. The windows were dark with the now furious rain, but a light fire burned upon the hearth. Rand stood looking down upon it. His wife watched him, her arms resting upon the back of a great flowered chair. Suddenly she spoke. “Lewis, what is the matter?”

He half turned toward her. “I believed that you would see. And yet you were blind to that earlier course of mine.”

“Something dreadful is the matter. Tell me at once.”

After a moment he repeated sombrely, “’At once.’ How can I tell you at once? There are things that are slowly brought about by all time, and to show them as they truly are would require all time again. How can I tell you at all? My God!”

“I feel,” she answered, “years older than I did two weeks ago. If there was something then to forgive, I have forgiven it. Our souls did not come together to share only the lit paths, the honey in the cup. Tell me, Lewis.”

“It is black and bitter–there is no light, and it will kill the sweetness. If I could live with you and you never know it, I would try to do so–try to keep it secret from you as I did that lesser thing. I cannot–even now, without a word, you know in part.”

“Tell me all–that lesser thing.”

Rand turned from the fire and, coming to the great chair against whose back she leaned, knelt in its flowered lap and bowed his forehead upon her hands. “I am glad,” he said, in a voice so low that she bent to hear it,–"I am glad now that I have no son.”

There was a silence while the rain dashed against the window-panes and the thunder rolled overhead; then Jacqueline pressed her cheek against his bowed head. “What have you done?” she whispered. “Tell me–oh, tell me!”

After a moment he told her. “I have killed a man.”

“Killed–It was by accident!”

“No. It was not accident. I came upon him by accident–I’ll claim no more than that. The black rage was there to blind me, make me deaf–mole and adder! But it was not accident, what I did. I’ll not cheat you here, and I’ll not cheat myself. The name of it is murder.”

He felt her hands quiver beneath his forehead, and he put up his own and clasped her wrist. “Are you thinking, ’I should have left him in the tobacco-fields’? As for me, I know that I ought never to have spoken to you there beneath the apple tree.”

“Lewis, who was the man?”

He made no answer, and after a moment or two, numbed and grey, had passed, she needed none. The truth fell like a stroke from glowing iron. With a cry she dragged her hands from Rand’s, left the chair, and, crossing the room, flung herself down beside the chintz-covered couch and cowered there with a hidden face. Rand arose and, walking to the window, stared at the veil of rain and the stabbing lightning. The clock ticked, a log upon the hearth parted with a soft sound, from the back of the house came faintly the homely cheer of the servants’ voices. How deadly, how solemnly still, how wet and cold, was now a rocky strand upon the river road! He left the window and, coming to the couch, looked down upon the crouching figure of his wife. His brain was not numbed; it was pitilessly awake, and he suffered. The name of his star was Wormwood.

At last she stirred, lifted her head from her arm, and arose, moving stiffly and slowly as though she had grown old. Her face was drawn and colorless. She moved, mechanically, to the fire, laid fresh wood upon it, and, taking a small broom from the corner, made the hearth clean; then, returning, sat down upon the couch that was printed with bright roses and held out her hands. “Come,” she said, in her low, musical voice. “Come, tell me–”

He sank upon his knees beside her and bowed his head upon her lap. “Jacqueline, Jacqueline! I rode away from Richmond, in black anger–”

He told her all, now speaking with a forced and hard deliberation, now with a broken and strangled voice, short words and short sentences–at the last, monosyllables.

When the tale was done, they stayed for a little, motionless. There was yet bright lightning with long peals of thunder, and the rain beat with passion against the panes. Jacqueline moistened her ups, tried to speak, at last found a broken and uncertain voice. “You left him–lying there?”

“The horse broke away–ran on through the wood. It will have been caught ere now, or it will make its way to Greenwood. Is Fairfax Cary at home?”

“He came last night. He was at Fontenoy this morning.”

Rand stood up. “It is done, and all the rueing in the world will not make the breath alight again.” With a gesture, singular and decided, he walked to the window and again looked out at the rain and lightning. “If I know–if I know Fairfax Cary–Has the horse been captured–and where? It may be known now, and it may not be known for hours.” He stood, reviewing chances, and the shaken soul began to settle to its ancient base. At last he turned. “There’s danger enough, but the struggle must be made. If you love me still, I’ll find the heart to make it; ay, and to succeed!” Coming back to her, he took her in his arms. “You do love me? That isn’t dead?”

“I love you, Lewis.”

“Then, by God, I’ll fight it out! Jacqueline, Jacqueline–”

She presently freed herself. “What are you going to do–what are you going to do now, Lewis?”

“I will tell you what I have done, and where the danger’s greatest–”

“The danger?”

“The danger of discovery.”

“Lewis–will you not tell them?”

“Tell them–”

“Is it not–oh, Lewis, is it not the only thing to do? Sin and suffering–yes, yes, the whole world sins and suffers! But oh, ignoble to sin and to reject the suffering!”

He stared at her incredulously. “Do you know, Jacqueline,–do you know what you are saying?”

“Will it be so hard?” she asked, and put out her arms to him. “It is right.”

“Let me understand,” he said. “When the mist cleared and I saw him lying there, I sat down upon a stone, and I said to myself, ’This is a strange land, and I am to eat the fruits thereof.’ For a while I did not think of moving. You would have had me stay there as he stayed, watch there beside him until men came?”

She answered almost inaudibly, “It had been nobler.”

“And then and there to have given myself up?”

“Lewis, if it was right–I would have said to God and the world and him, ’It is the least that I can do!’”

He stared at her. “By God, the amende honorable!

There came blinding lightning, followed by thunder which seemed to shake the room. Rand crossed to the hearth and, with his booted foot upon the iron dogs, rested his arm upon the mantel-shelf and his head upon his hand. “I’ll think of that awhile,” he said harshly. “That means disgrace and may mean death.”

He heard the drawing of her breath. There was a knock at the door followed by Mammy Chloe’s voice. “De bread an’ meat an’ wine on de table, marster.”

“Very well, Mammy, I’ll come presently,” the master answered; then, when she was gone, “This is the earth, Jacqueline. It was long while I sat there upon the stone and saw matters as they might be upon another plane, but that appearance passed. Because for those moments I saw its shape, I know the aspect that is before your eyes. But it is not reality that you see; it is an appearance, thin and unsubstantial as the mist upon the hills. Expiation, purgation, aided retribution, the criminal to spare Justice the search, and the offender against Society to turn and throw his weight into the proper scale!–that is a dream of the world as it may become. This is the present earth,–earth of the tobacco-fields, earth of the struggle, earth of the fight for standing-room! I have fought–and I have fought–I cannot cease to fight.”

With his foot he pushed back the burning wood. “I did not kill him in self-defence. I killed him in anger. That is murder. Say, for argument, that it is confessed murder. I will tell you, as a lawyer, what that means. It means a full stop. Life stopped, work stopped, fame stopped–a period black as ink, and never to be erased! A stop deep as the grave and sharp as the hangman’s drop, and the record that it closes empty, vile, read at the best with horror and pity, read at the worst with a glance aside at every man and woman whom the stained hand had ever touched! That is what would come if I followed this appearance.” He struck the hand at which he looked against the mantel-shelf. “And if he says, ’Ay, Lewis Rand, it is so that I would do,’ I will answer, ’Yes! being you!–but what, Ludwell Cary, had you lain in my cradle?” His face worked and he turned from the mantel to the great chair. “Oh, mother!“ he said beneath his breath.

Jacqueline came and knelt beside him. “Lewis, Lewis, is it all so dark?”

He touched her hair with his fingers. “Dark! I feel as though I were in a bare, light place. Underground, you know, but bare and flooded with light. Well, Jacqueline, well–”

She clung to him without speech, and he went on. “There is enough to create suspicion. We were travelling at the same hour, and it is known that we were opponents. The crossroads where I slept last night–there was nothing, I think, said at the inn. Then the forge, and the mill. At the mill they will swear to telling me that he took the main road, and since they could not see the ford, they must suppose that I, too, went that way. The main road. There’s the insistence. I kept to the main road. As for Young Isham, I can manage him. That old Frenchman is more difficult. Danger there–unless he holds his tongue. There’s a witness indeed lying at the bottom of some pool below the strand, but the strand may sink into the sea before that witness is found! There is this and there is that, but they’ll serve no warrant on the this and that the world can see. I have won more difficult cases.”

“You propose,” she cried, “to lie–and lie–and lie!”

After a moment he answered, with bitterness, “I am not unreasonable. I do not match white with black. The dyer’s hand accepts the hue it works in. I’ll not win rest, forgiveness, sleep! But, by God, I’ll keep what men care for. I’ll keep strength and reputation, name, and room to work a lever in! Ay, and I’ll not endure the world to say, ’This was his friend, and that his lover; look how they are stained!’ O God, O God!”

She put her arms around him. “There is no stain! I will forever love you. Love casts off soil as it casts out fear. Will you not come with me–and tell them?”

He sat for some minutes, still in her clasp, then, leaning forward, took her face in his hands and kissed her on the brow. “No!” he said, with finality.

Another moment and he arose. “I am hungry. I have not eaten since daybreak. As for sleep–I don’t know when I slept. It is not only the darkness of the storm; it is growing late. I think that we will hear nothing to-night. We will sleep, and I need it.” He moved to a table and took up the pair of holsters which, on entering, he had laid there In a corner of the room stood a heavy chest of drawers. He placed the holsters in one of these, locked the drawer, and withdrew the key. “I’ll think that out,” he muttered, “just as soon as may be,” then turned again to his wife. “I’ll go now and get some meat and wine. Stay here by the fire, Jacqueline, and try to see that all this must be fought, and fought as I have said! Think of yourself, and think of Deb, Unity, your uncles–at last you will come to see that there is no other way.”

He was gone. Jacqueline dragged herself from the chair to the hearth, sank down before the glowing logs, and saw at once a picture of the river road.


She had been lying throughout the night almost without motion, but toward three o’clock he was aware that she had left the bed. A moment, and he heard the tap of her slippers across the polished floor of the chamber, the hail, and the dining-room. She paused, he could tell, at the sideboard; when, presently, she slipped again into bed, she was trembling violently. He turned and put his arms about her. “I am so cold,” she said. “It is cold indoors and out-of-doors.”

“I have brought you misery,” he answered, and then lay in silence.

They heard the clock ticking, and the sighing of the branches after the storm. For awhile she was quiet within his clasp, then the shuddering recommenced. He arose, put on his dressing-gown, and, going to the fireplace where the logs yet smouldered, threw on light wood and built a cheerful fire, then took her in his arms and carried her to the great chair of flowered chintz, set in the light of the dancing flames. “The wine will warm you. Look, too, what a fire I have made!”

She still shuddered, staring over her shoulder. “Draw the blinds closer. There’s a sound as of some one sighing.”

“It is the wind in the beech leaves.”

She put an arm across her eyes. “How long is he to lie there, stretched out upon the wet rocks, beside the stream? Oh, heartless!”

“The storm and darkness have made it long. He will be found this morning.”

“He never was your enemy, Lewis. You thought him that, but he never was, he never was!”

“I want to tell you,” he said, “that all rage is dead. I feel as though I had left anger far behind, and why there was in my mind so great venom and rancour I no longer know. Envy and jealousy, too, are gone. They have been struck out of life, and other things have come to take their place.”

“Ay,” she cried, “what other things! O God, O God!”

There was a long silence, while the wind sighed in the beech tree and the fire muttered on the hearth. Jacqueline sat in the flowered chair, her raised arms resting upon its back, her head buried in her arms. Rand, leaning against the mantel, gazed with sombre eyes at her strained and motionless form. As he stood there, his mind began to move through the galleries where she was painted. He saw her, a child, beneath the apple tree, and in her blue gown that day in the Fontenoy garden, and then again beneath the apple tree, a child no longer, but the woman whom he loved. He saw her face above him the afternoon they laid him in the blue room, and he saw her singing to her harp in the Fontenoy drawing-room,–

“The thirst that from the soul doth rise–”

He saw the next morning–the summer-house, the box, the mockingbird in the poplar tree, the Seven Sisters rose–and then their marriage eve, and that fair first summer on the Three-Notched Road, and all the three years of their wedded life. The picture of her was everywhere, and not least in the house on Shockoe Hill. He saw her as she had been one snowy evening in February, and he saw her as she had looked the hour of his return from Williamsburgh–the pleading, the passion, and the beauty. And now–now–

The wind sighed again without the windows, and Jacqueline drew a shuddering breath. He spoke. “Jacqueline!”

She moved slightly. “Yes, Lewis.”

“The night is quiet, after the storm. He lies at rest beside the stream. This morning he will be found, lifted tenderly, lamented, mourned. It is not a gruesome place. I remember trees and fluttering birds. He sleeps–he sleeps–like Duncan he sleeps well at last. Is he to be so pitied?”

She moaned, “Yes–but you also, you also! Oh, break, break!”

“Listen, Jacqueline. It lacks but an hour of dawn. When it is day, you may give me up. Rouse Joab and send for the sheriff and your uncles and for Fairfax Cary. I will dress and await them in the library. Indeed, you may do it now–there’s no need to wait for dawn.”

She rose from her chair and went the length of the room, resting at last, with raised arms and covered face, against the farthest window. He spoke on. “If all thought alike, Jacqueline, if all saw action and consequence with one vision–but we do not so, no, not on this earth! You and I are sundered there. Perhaps it is to my shame that it is so,–I cannot tell. What you asked for this afternoon, that confession, that decision, that accord with justice and acceptance of penalty, I cannot give freely and of conviction, Jacqueline. Why did you think I had that exaltation of mind? I have it not; no, nor one man in five hundred thousand! The man I–murdered–perhaps possessed it; indeed, I think that he did. But I–I do not own it, nor can I see matters with another’s vision. I see a struggle to prevent disgrace and disaster, to retrieve and hold an endangered standing-room–a struggle determined and legitimate. I am capable of making it. But though I’ll avow that another man’s vision transcends mine, I’ll dispute with him the power of loving! I love you with a passion as deep, strong, and abiding as if I, too, walked in that rarer air. I am of the earth and rooted in the earth, but I love you utterly. If you want this thing, I will give it to you. It was unmanly of me to say but now, ’You may do this, you may do that, and I will not lift a finger to prevent you.’ I will not leave it to you, Jacqueline. I will awaken Joab and send him with a note to your uncles.”

He moved toward the door, but before he could reach it his wife was before him, her weight thrown against him, her raised hands thrusting him back to the hearth. She shook her head, and her long hair shadowed her; she strove for utterance, but could find only a strangled “No–no"; then, still clinging to him, she slipped to her knees and so to her face, and lay there in a swoon in the red zone of the firelight.


Chapter I: The Road to Richmond  •  Chapter II: Mr. Jefferson  •  Chapter III: Fontenoy  •  Chapter IV: The Two Candidates  •  Chapter V: Monticello  •  Chapter VI: Rand Comes to Fontenoy  •  Chapter VII: The Blue Room  •  Chapter VIII: Cary and Jacqueline  •  Chapter IX: Expostulation  •  Chapter X: To Althea  •  Chapter XI: In the Garden  •  Chapter XII: A Marriage At Saint Margaret’s  •  Chapter XIII: The Three-Notched Road  •  Chapter XIV: The Law Office  •  Chapter XV: Company to Supper  •  Chapter XVI: At Lynch’s  •  Chapter XVII: Fairfax and Unity  •  Chapter XVIII: The Green Door  •  Chapter XIX: Monticello Again  •  Chapter XX: The Nineteenth of February  •  Chapter XXI: The Cedar Wood  •  Chapter XXII: Major Edward  •  Chapter XXIII: A Challenge  •  Chapter XXIV: The Duel  •  Chapter XXV: Old Saint John’s  •  Chapter XXVI: The Trial of Aaron Burr  •  Chapter XXVII: The Letter  •  Chapter XXVIII: Rand and Mocket  •  Chapter XXIX: The River Road  •  Chapter XXX: Homeward  •  Chapter XXXI: Husband and Wife  •  Chapter XXXII: The Brothers  •  Chapter XXXIII: Greenwood  •  Chapter XXXIV: Fairfax Cary  •  Chapter XXXV: The Image  •  Chapter XXXVI: In Pursuit  •  Chapter XXXVII: The Simple Right  •  Chapter XXXVIII: M. De Pincornet  •  Chapter XXXIX: Unity and Jacqueline  •  Chapter XI: The Way of the Transgressor

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Lewis Rand
By Mary Johnston
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