Read CHAPTER VIII of Frida / The Lover's Leap‚ A Legend Of The West Country, free online book, by R. D. Blackmore, on

She had nothing now to do, and nobody to speak to; though her father did his utmost, in his kind and clumsy way, to draw his darling close to him. But she knew that all along he had disliked her idol, and she fancied, now and then, that this dislike had had something perhaps to do with what had befallen her. This, of course, was wrong on her part. But when youth and faith are wronged, the hurt is very apt to fly to all the tender places. Even the weather also seemed to have taken a turn against her. No wholesome frost set in to brace the slackened joints and make her walk until she began to tingle; neither was there any snow to spread a new cast on the rocks and gift the trees with airiness; nor even what mild winters, for the most part, bring in counterpoise soft, obedient skies, and trembling pleasure of the air and earth. But as over her own love over all the country hung just enough of mist and chill to shut out cheerful prospect, and not enough to shut folk in to the hearth of their own comfort.

In her dull, forlorn condition, Frida still, through force of habit or the love of solitude, made her daily round of wood and rock, seashore and moorland. Things seemed to come across her now, instead of her going to them, and her spirit failed at every rise of the hilly road against her. In that dreary way she lingered, hoping nothing, fearing nothing, showing neither sigh nor tear, only seeking to go somewhere and be lost from self and sorrow in the cloudy and dark day.

Often thus the soft, low moaning of the sea encompassed her, where she stood, in forgotten beauty, careless of the wind and wave. The short, uneasy heave of waters in among the kelpy rocks, flowing from no swell or furrow on the misty glass of sea, but like a pulse of discontent, and longing to go further; after the turn, the little rattle of invaded pebbles, the lithe relapse and soft, shampooing lambency of oarweed, then the lavered boulders pouring gritty runnels back again, and every basined outlet wavering toward another inlet; these, and every phase of each innumerable to-and-fro, made or met their impress in her fluctuating misery.

“It is the only rest,” she said; “the only chance of being quiet, after all that I have done, and all that people say of me.”

None had been dastard enough to say a syllable against her; neither had she, in the warmest faith of love, forgotten truth; but her own dejection drove her, not to revile the world (as sour natures do consistently), but to shrink from sight, and fancy that the world was reviling her.

While she fluttered thus and hovered over the cold verge of death, with her sore distempered spirit, scarcely sure of anything, tidings came of another trouble, and turned the scale against her. Albert de Wichehalse, her trusty cousin and true lover, had fallen in a duel with that recreant and miscreant Lord Auberley. The strictest orders were given that this should be kept for the present from Frida’s ears; but what is the use of the strictest orders when a widowed mother raves? Albert’s mother vowed that “the shameless jilt” should hear it out, and slipped her guards and waylaid Frida on the morn of Candlemas, and overbore her with such words as may be well imagined.

“Auntie!” said the poor thing at last, shaking her beautiful curls, and laying one little hand to her empty heart, “don’t be cross with me to-day. I am going home to be married, auntie. It is the day my Aubyn always fixed, and he never fails me.”

“Little fool!” her aunt exclaimed, as Frida kissed her hand and courtesied, and ran round the corner; “one comfort is to know that she is as mad as a mole, at any rate.”