"Questa montapa è tale,
Che sempre al cominciar di sotto è grave,
E quanto uom più va su e men fa male."
--DANTE: Il Purgatorio.*
IT was not many days after her mother's arrival that Gwendolen would consent to remain at Genoa. Her desire to get away from that gem of the sea, helped to rally her strength and courage. For what place, though it were the flowery vale of Enna,* may not the inward sense turn into a circle of punishment where the flowers are no better than a crop of flame-tongues burning the soles of our feet?
"I shall never like to see the Mediterranean again," said Gwendolen to her mother, who thought that she quite understood her child's feeling--even in her tacit prohibition of any express reference to her late husband.
Mrs Davilow, indeed, though compelled formally to regard this time as one of severe calamity, was virtually enjoying her life more than she had ever done since her daughter's marriage. It seemed that her darling was brought back to her not merely with all the old affection, but with a conscious cherishing of her mother's nearness, such as we give to a possession that we have been on the brink of losing.
"Are you there, mamma?" cried Gwendolen in the middle of the night (a bed had been made for her mother in the same room with hers), very much as she would have done in her early girlhood, if she had felt frightened in lying awake.
"Yes, dear; can I do anything for you?"
"No, thank you; only I like so to know you are there. Do you mind my waking you?" (This question would hardly have been Gwendolen's in her early girlhood.)
"I was not asleep, darling."
"It seemed not real that you were with me. I wanted to make it real. I can bear things if you are with me. But you must not he awake being anxious about me. You must be happy now. You must let me make you happy now at last--else what shall I do?"
"God bless you, dear; I have the best happiness I can have, when you make much of me."
But the next night, hearing that she was sighing and restless, Mrs Davilow said, "Let me give you your sleeping-draught, Gwendolen."
"No, mamma, thank you; I don't want to sleep."