“For Ever and Ever”
By C. S.
IN the cold grey dawn I sit up and look at the woman by my
side. One soft little white hand peeps out from the dainty
lace, and on one ringer is a gold ring. There is just such another
upon my own finger ; and these two rings bind us to one another
for ever and ever. And I am tired already.
She moves in her sleep, and buries her face deeper in the heavy
folds of the bed-clothes. The little hand is still out, and lies so
near me (so temptingly near, as I should have thought only a little
while ago) that I can trace the faint blue lines in it as I have done
many a time before. But now . . . how horrible it all seems !
She stirs again, and draws the hand into the lace so that it is
almost hidden. How pretty she looks ! . . . with her silky
brown hair. Ah, why do I find it so difficult to think of her,
even when she is before my eyes thus ? Why do I never think of
her when she is absent ? Why do great masses of tumbling black
hair come into my mind, while I watch this soft brown tangle on
the pillow before me ? I have tried to beat down these thoughts
—but they will come . . . and how can I help myself?
Look at her neck—how white it is ! And yet—and yet, why
does a warm brown something continually haunt me ? A living
something which brings with it the sun, the sky, and the sea ?
Our boy sleeps in a little room adjoining. I creep in and look
at him. He is asleep, and has curled himself up almost into a ball,
with one tiny fist in his mouth. I dare not move it to give him
more air, lest he should wake and cry out. As I look a horrible
feeling of loneliness comes over me. . . . He is her child . . .
our child … I creep back to bed. Thank Heaven her eyes are
shut ! . . . Those eyes so solemn and blue.
And in the morning she tells me a curious dream she had last
night. And this is it :
” I dreamed that a dark woman with wonderful black hair came
and stood by our bed ; and stooping, put her arms about you and
kissed you passionately many times, smoothing your forehead with
her hand. And I tried to cry out, but could not from fear. And
suddenly looking up, she saw me watching her ; and her face
grew hard and cruel. And she came round, and stood and looked
at me ; and I trembled. And presently taking hold of me, she
tried to pull me out of bed, but something held me down : and
she gave up, and went and sat by the dull cold grate, and wept
bitterly. And I felt sorry for her in spite of all, because she had
no one to comfort her as I have : and I got up to go to her. But
the cruel hard look crept back into her face—and then I woke,
and saw you, and the empty chair, and the bright sunlight darting
round the edges of the blinds, and found it was only a dream.”
And what can I say ? . . . What can I do ? … How can I
help myself? . . .
C. S. [Arthur Cosslett Smith]. “‘For Ever and Ever.’” The Yellow Book, vol. 5, April 1895, pp. 172-173. Yellow Book Digital Edition, edited by Dennis Denisoff and Lorraine Janzen Kooistra, 2010-2014. Yellow Nineties 2.0, Ryerson University Centre for Digital Humanities, 2019. https://1890s.ca/YBV5_cs_for/