But he was stainlessly unselfish and sincere, and he was the politician above all others in Washington with whom Lincoln most gladly and most successfully maintained easy social intercourse.
This material seems to have been created specially for the use of the sculptor as that in which he can express most clearly and beautifully his ideal conceptions; and the surpassing excellence of ancient Greek sculpture was largely due to the suitability for high art of the marble of the country, which was so stainlessly pure, delicate, and uniform as Ruskin remarks, so soft as to allow the sculptor to work it without force, and trace on it his finest lines, and yet so hard as never to betray the touch or moulder away beneath the chisel.
For some moments neither spoke. A flood of innumerable memories choked thought or word in both. They knew each other all was said in that. Cecil was the first to break the silence. He moved nearer with a rapid movement, and his hand fell heavily on the other's shoulder. "Have you lived stainlessly since?" The question was stern as the demand of a judge.
The waters looked black as they rolled in vast smooth masses downward, till, meeting the projecting rocks, they were tossed high into the air in clouds of dazzling foam so pure, so stainlessly white, when contrasted with the darkness, that they looked as if belonging to heaven rather than to earth. Anon, that dancing feathery tumult of foam catches a rosy gleam from the coming day.
Surely a woman that had loved a man well enough to kiss him must have been stabbed with pity for the ardent vigorous life thrust out into the dark. Then he felt a quick resentment that anything so stainlessly statuesque as this girl for all her trim tailoring and large black hat should have been even superficially possessed by any man. "Did that Johnny ever kiss you?" he asked, abruptly.
It would have been foolish to doubt these things, for we all know that the air is full of devils and angels that are visible to traffickers in magic on the one hand and to the stainlessly holy on the other; but what many and perhaps most did doubt was, that Joan's visions, Voices, and miracles came from God. It was hoped that in time they could be proven to have been of satanic origin.
"I think," said Nathanael breaking the dreary silence "I think there never was one of the Harper line who lived a long life so stainlessly, so honourably, as my father." And somehow, as he tied up the packets, his finger slightly trembled. Agatha came and stood by him. "Let me help you; I have ready hands." "But why should I make use of them?" "Have you not a right?" she said, smiling.
You might well have imagined he was a descendant of the Cid Campeador, only to look at him lying there without a quiver of a feature, his face stainlessly white, a little bluish in extreme lack of blood, with all the nobility of death upon it, like an alabaster effigy of an old knight in a cathedral.
We may suppose that to a man whose whole private life was stainlessly dedicated to a noble rectitude of conduct, and whose every act was sternly subjected to the judgment of an unbending conscience, some circumstances of the private life of Nelson must have been distasteful and open to censure; but no such reservations dimmed the splendour of Southey's tribute to the public hero who gave his life in the act of establishing, beyond reach of dispute or cavil, the throne of England as Queen of the Sea.
"Have you lived stainlessly since?" were Cecil's only words, stern as the demand of a judge. "God is my witness, yes! But you they said you were dead. That was my first disgrace, and my last; you bore the weight of my shame. What can I say? Such nobility, such sacrifice " It was for himself that Berkeley trembled. "I have kept your secret twelve years; I will keep it still," said Cecil gravely.