The doves' nest, and other stories

The doll's house.--Honeymoon.--A cup of tea.--Taking the veil.--The fly.--The canary.--Unfinished stories: A married man's story.--The doves' nest.--S...

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Digitized by the Internet Archive in

2012 with funding from

Brigham Young University-Idaho

http://archive.org/details/dovesnestotherstOOmans

THE DOVES' NEST AND OTHER STORIES

BOOKS OF STORIES BY KATHERINE MAN S FIELD BLISS

THE GARDEN PARTY

THE DOVES' NEST

NEW

YORK: ALFRED -A 'KNOPF

'

THE DOVES' NEST AND OTHER

STORIES

BY KATHERINE MANSFIELD

"Reverence, that angel of the world.

'

NEW YORK ALFRED A KNOPF .

.

MCMXXIII

COPYRIGHT, 1923, BY ALFRED

A.

KNOPF, INC.

Published, August, 19i3

Second Printing, August,

1923

Third Printing, October, 1923 Fourth Printing. November, 1923

Set up, electrotyped, and printed by the Vail-Ballou Press, Inc., Binghamton, N. Y.

& Co., New York. New York, N. Y.

Paper furnished by W. F. Etherington

Bound by

the H. Wolff Estate,

MANUFACTURED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

TO

WALTER DE LA MARE

CONTENTS Introductory Note

The

Doll's

House

9 25

Honeymoon A Cup of Tea

39

Taking the Veil

65

The Fly The Canary

74

50

85

Unfinished Stories:

A

Married Man's Story

The

Doves' Nest

92 117

Six Years After

147

Daphne

156

Father and the Girls

166

All Serene!

177

A

186

Bad Idea

A Man

and His Dog

191

Contents

Such a Sweet Old Lady

197

Honesty

202

Susannah

20 9

Second Violin

2I 4

Mr. and Mrs. Williams

22 °

Weak Heart

22 7

Widowed

2 34

INTRODUCTORY NOTE

KATHERINE

MANSFIELD

died

at

Fontainebleau on January 9th 1923, at the age of thirty-four.

This volume contains

the complete stories,

all

and several fragments of stories, which she wrote at the same time as, or after, those published in

"The Garden Party and Other earlier first

Stories."

Her

work, belonging to the period between her

book, "In a

German

Pension," and her sec-

ond, "Bliss and Other Stories," will be published in

one or two separate volumes

in

collected

a

Thus

the continuity of her

writing will be preserved,

and an opportunity

edition of her work.

given to those

who

care for such things to follow

the development of a talent

nised as

The Other

among

title

"The Doves' Nest and

the

is

title

Mansfield intended to give ries

which compose

finally

generally recog-

the rarest of her generation.

of this volume,

Stories,"

now

it

have included

it.

which

Katherine

Whether

the sto-

are those which she

would

cannot say.

Her

in

9

it,

I

Introductory Note standard of self-criticism was continually chang-

and changing always

ing,

greater rigour. fect

with

she,

In writings which I thought per-

to

me

my own

that there

keener

her

unworthy elements.

pend upon

the direction of a

in

is

Now

insight,

that I

am

sole judgment,

discerned

forced to de-

has seemed

it

not a scrap of her writing

not even the tiniest fragment

— during

this final pe-

riod which does not bear the visible impress of her

and her creative power. On October 27, 1921, soon after she had finished and sent to her publisher the stories which exquisite

individuality

compose "The Garden Party," she wrote the following plan of her new book in her journal. (The letters L. and N. Z. mean that the stories were to have London or New Zealand for their setting.)

MY NEW BOOK

STORIES FOR N. Z. Honesty:

The Doctor, Arnold Cullen and

wife

his

and

Lydia,

Archie the friend.

Alexander and

L. Second Violin:

N. Z.

in

the

wet

lilac

Six Years After:

board 10

Spring

train. .

.

A wife

.

his friend .

.

.

spouting rain.

and husband on

a steamer.

They

see

Introductory Note some one who reminds them. The cold buttons. Logs of Driftwood:

L. Lives Like

wants

to be a long, very well

The men

are

important, especially the

les-

written story.

man.

ser

paper Z,

A Weak

It

wants a great

of working

deal

N.

This

.

.

.

news-

office.

Heart:

Roddie on

his bike in

the evening, with his hands in his pockets,

doing marvels by

that dark tree at the corner of

May L.

Widowed:

Street.

Geraldine

house

and

Jimmie,

overlooking

Street and Square.

those

buds

at

a

Sloane

Wearing

her

breast.

"Married or not married" autumn to From

.

.

.

spring.

N. Z. Our Maude:

Husband and wife play

duets:

And

a

one a two a

three a one a two three one! His white waistcoats. Wifeling girl

and Mahubl you are

II

What

a

N. Z.

Introductory Note At Karori: The little lamp.

N. Z.

And then Aunt Anne: Her life

I

they were

seen

it.

silent.

with the Tannhaii-

ser overture.

Of

At Karori and subsequently entitled The Doll's House was finished, three days later, on October 30. Of these stories only the one called

some of

the remaining stories there are consider-

able fragments, of three of

them

discovered no trace at

All the fragments I

all.

I

have so far

have found which indubitably belong to any of these stories I have included in this volume.

I

have also included other fragments which seemed to possess a separate existence, but

I

have

re-

served most of the shorter pieces for publication

with her Journal.

Between October 1921, when the original plan of this volume was sketched, and the end of January 1922, she finished other stories which she had not foreseen. These were A Cup of Tea,

Honeymoon, Taking the Veil, and the long, unfinished, yet somehow complete piece, A Married Man's Story. In January she also began The Doves' Nest, a story which was particularly important to her, and with the writing of which least at the beginning

wrote

in



her Journal on

she

New 12

was

satisfied.



at

She

Year's Day, 1922

:

Introductory Note Wrote The Doves' Nest in

no

when

mood I

right!'

to write;

had

it

this afternoon.

I

seemed impossible.

was Yet,

finished three pages, they 'were all

This

is

a proof (never to be too often

proved) that when one has thought out a story nothing remains but the labour.

She worked on and ing the following I is

can find no trace

off at

The Doves' Nest

dur-

summer also. Unfortunately of her own manuscript. There

a fair, clean copy, typewritten

by herself, of the

portion printed in this book, but nothing more.

In February 1922 began three months of an exacting medical treatment in Paris, during which

work became more and more

a physical impossi-

Nevertheless,

beginning of this

bility.

time,

at

the

Oh

on February 20th, she wrote The Fly.

her return to Switzerland

in

June she tried to

re-

sume work on The Doves' Nest and she wrote the scenario of a play; but again physical weakness

made work

in the

mountains impossible.

To

ease

the strain on her heart she descended into the

At Sierre Doves' Nest, much more, valley in June.

also

she wrote alas,

more of The

than remains; she

began the unfinished piece called Father and

the Girls and finished the short story called

Canary.

These were the 13

last

of

the

The

stories

Introductory Note written by her which can be exactly dated. is

There

reason, however, to believe that the passage of

the story called Six Years After which ends with

"Can one do nothing

the words:

And

for the dead?

had been

for a long time the answer

—Noth-

ing!" was actually the last piece written by her. It

seems to belong to the autumn of 1922, when

she

had,

for

a

time,

abandoned

practically

writing. It

was

not,

however, because of her physical

weakness that she stopped writing

summer

of 1922.

triumph over the

The power

the late

of her spirit to

frailty of her

proved over and over again.

in

body had been

She stopped writ-

ing deliberately, not under compulsion.

She

felt

that her whole attitude to life needed to be re-

newed, and she determined that she would write

no more

until

it

had been renewed.

Perhaps an idea of the way her mind rather her whole being

—was

moving,

—or

may

gleaned from some extracts from her journal. first,

her dissatisfaction with her

in a feeling that she

be

At

work took shape

was not exerting the whole

of her powers or expressing the whole of her

knowledge

when stories

in

her writings.

As

early as July 1921,

was still engaged on the last of for "The Garden Party," she wrote:

she

the

July

Introductory Note I finished Mr. and Mrs. Dove 192 1.

terday.

am

I

not altogether pleased with

made

It's a little bit

meant



that that

which a young I

up.

I

two may not be happy

the kind of reason for

is

But have

girl marries.

Besides

don't think so.

it.

not inevitable.

It's

to imply that those

together

yes-

it's

I

done so?

not strong enough.



want to be nearer far nearer than that. want to use all my force, even when I am taking I

And

fine line.

have a sneaking notion that

I

I

a I

have, at the end, used the doves unwarrantably.

Tu

sais ce

que

something

off

No,



not.

it's

veux

dire.

I

used them to round

Is that quite

didn't I ?

It's

Now

after.

je

my game ?

not quite the kind of truth I'm All must be deeply

for Susannah.

felt.

And

a

few days later she wrote Finished

July 23.

seems to

It

me

An

Ideal Family yesterday.

better than the Doves, but

worked

not good enough.

I

God

I didn't get the

knows, and yet

feel again that this

easy for so

;

it's

much more.

but



me

I

it.

hard enough,

is

deepest truth this feeling?

kind of knowledge

even a kind of trickery.

and smells

It looks

wouldn't buy

to live with

it

What

out of the idea, even once. I

at

it.

No.

still it's

I

don't

want

Once

I

15

is

I

too

know

like a story,

to possess

it

have written two

Introductory Note more,

I shall tackle

something different

story

At

ships.

That's the whole problem.

Yet

own

more

the Bay, with



difficult

a long

relation-

a little later her vision of the cause of her

and she began

dissatisfaction deepened,

terms

fine it in

—of

to de-

the insufficient clarity of her

own spirit, and of the ward life which were

incompleteness of her



in-

become more and more

to

familiar.

Well,

I

must confess

God knows why. just didn't write

me

in

to

it.

pursue me. I

There at

do is

the

would, but

I

I

Is

it

I felt

good or

have a sense of

I

know

that to rest

guilt, is

so

still

And for some reason booming in my head which is



stories

not crystal clear.

lack application.

much

the

can do.

am

I

threshold.

place

day

But marks of earthly degradation

horrid.

else,

I

kind of

a

is

thought

I

behave so?

very best thing

idle

All was to be written, but I

but at the same time

there

have had an

and rested instead.

tired after tea,

bad

I

to do,

and

I

It's

do so

still

Above

all

not right.

little.

Look

that wait and wait, just at the

Why

don't I let

them in?

And

their

would be taken by others who are lurking

beyond, just out there

Next day.

—waiting

Yet take

this

16

for the chance.

morning, for instance.

Introductory Note want

I don't

heavy and

to write anything.

And

dull.

to live.

What

is

I

All this that

21.

I

want

somehow

And

mean by

I

that?

It's

But there you are

on the border of the

ing.

don't want to write?

does one

not too easy to say.

Aug.

it's

short stories seem unreal,

and not worth doing.

want

grey;

It's

sea.

to put all

am,

I write, all that I It's a

my

kind of play-

force behind

but

it,

I cannot.

again in the autumn of the year her

in-

—who but lacked —

cessant effort towards an inward purity

dreamed that she

she would have

it?

as

a condition of soul essential to writing as she pur-

posed to write, becomes Oct.

1

still

more manifest.

Another radiant day.

6.

my

last story,

on

my

is

J.

The Garden Party, which

birthday.

It

took

me

nearly a

typing

I finished

month

to

from At the Bay. I made at least four But I could not get away from the false starts. sound of the sea and Beryl fanning her hair at the window. These things would not die down. But 'recover'

now

I

am

seems to

not at

me

is

it

might have been. is

sure about that story.

all

a

little

The

'wispy'

G. P.

not good enough, either

days,

what one

notices

better.

is .

—not

.

.

The

what

it

But that last

more than anything 17

It

is

few the

Introductory Note Blue sky, blue mountains

blue.

blueness

And

!

clouds of

all

white clouds, almost hard

In

But

the

fact,

in

kinds



heavenly

wings, soft

golden islands,

little

sober fact,

evening

late

all is a

The gold deepens on

great mock-mountains. slopes.



it

perfection.

time

the

is

is

the

of

times.

Then, with that unearthly beauty before one, is

how

not hard to realize

far one has to go.

it

To

write something that will be worthy of that rising

moon, that pale

To

light.

be 'simple' enough as

one would be simple before God.

Nov. 21. Since then I have only written The Doll's House, A bad spell has been on me. I have begun two stories, but then told them and they

felt

way

to this temptation

betrayed.

write, seriously,

me

fascinates

peculiarly

is

It

absolutely fatal to give

is .

.

.

Today

The Weak Heart

What

deeply.

I



I begin to

a story

feel

it

which

needs so

a very subtle variation of tense

— and

soft-

all is in

bud,

the present to the past and back again ness, lightness,

and the feeling that

from

with a play of humour over the character of Roddie.

And

the feeling of the

the wet, moist, oozy

.

.

.

no,

Thorndon Baths, I know how it must

be done.

May me

I

be found worthy to do

it

!

Lord, make

crystal clear for thy light to shine through.

18

Introductory Note The two

stories

which she told and then was

forced to abandon "because they

There

main.

is

it,

betrayed"

Of Weak Heart,

were Honesty and All Serene. as she subsequently called

felt

only fragments re-

the opening copied in careful

few hurriedly written sentences from

writing, a

the middle

—themes,

as

it

were, hastily noted

and then, obviously written

and de-

at top speed

cipherable only with great difficulty, the end.

The two

following passages from her journal

belong to the same months, October and ber

1

92

1.

But they were written

in

Novemanother

book, and one of them should be placed in point of

between

time

Katherine

two

the

previous

attempts

Mansfield's

regular journal were intermittent.

entries.

keeping

at

Nearly

all

a

the

passages quoted here as from her "journal" were

random pages of the little copy-books which she composed her stories. In order to

written on in

appreciate fully

it

the

first

of the

following passages

should be remembered that

it

was written

immediately after she had finished At the Bay. Oct.

1

92 1.

difficult to

writer;

I

wonder why

be humble.

I realise

my

could realise them.

I

it

should be so

do not think

faults better than I

know 19

exactly

I

am

a

good

any one

when

else

I fail.

And I

Introductory Note when I have finished a story and

yet,

have begun another,

my

some bad old pride

to be

catch myself preening

I

There seems

It is disheartening.

feathers.

before

in

my

heart; a root of

it

that puts out a thick shoot on the slightest provocation

.

.

This

.

One

work.

be, while

can't be calm, clear,

goes on.

it

try to pray It's

— and

kind

a

And

self.

be no good; well, I

Calm

anything that

to forget oneself.

unless

I

I

I

am

which

mood

write in this

If I

will

were

learn, one

am

bad,

sit

must practice

free to enter into her life

Oh, God!

I fail in

my

I

am

personal

dilife.

lapse into impatience, temper, vanity, and so I

fail as I

to

still,

one

can't tell the truth about

I I

I

Clear your-

yourself.

without self-consciousness. vided

must

by myself somewhere and

off

One must

tree.

Aunt Anne

within

will be full of sediment.

it

would go

under a

as one

think of something clever.

I

shouldn't be there.

good

with

look at the mountains,

I

excitement

of

much

very

interferes

have

my

it is

thy priest.

will help.

thoroughly cleaned and attended

fountain pen.

If after this

it

leaks, then

no gentleman

Nov. nal.

just

Perhaps poetry

13, 1921.

Come my

together.

It

time

is

unseen,

I

started a

my unknown,

new

let

jour-

us talk

Yes, for the last two weeks I have

20

Introductory Note written

have

I

anything.

scarcely

Why?

failed.

have been

I

Many

has been a kind of confusion

There

reasons.

my

in

idle;

consciousness.

seemed as though there was no time

It has

The mornings,

write.

they are

if

sunny,

to

are

taken up with sun-treatment; the post eats away

And

the afternoon.

am

at night I

Yes, you are right.

goes deeper.

But

tired.

haven't felt

I

able to yield to the kind of contemplation that necessary.

haven't

I

humble, not good. sediment.

I

.

.

pure

heart,

in

is

not

There's been a stirring up of

look at the mountains and

Be frank!

ing but mountains. .

felt

it

Out of hand?

I

I see

read rubbish.

Yes, that describes

sipated, vague, not positive,

noth-

and above

it.

Dis-

all,

above

everything, not working as I should be working

—wasting

time.

Wasting time cry.

Why

!

of work" done

— and

stories wait for

how I

will not

the

me, grow

tired, wilt,

fade, be-

eager and fresh they are

to be

done? 21

My

there the

When

acknowledge them, and

last

is,

still

first

And

!

I

they knock, I

go on

hear and sitting at

the window, playing with the ball of wool. is

and

have "a body

work

there the

come.

first

Ah, why indeed?

to be a writer, to

is

I

old cry

do ye tarry?

deepest desire

cause



The

What

I

Introductory Note must make another effort at once.

begin

over again.

all

simply,

fully,

must

must try and write

I

from my

freely,

I

heart.

Quietly,

caring nothing for success or failure, but just going on.

.

.

.

But now to resolve touch with

in

And

!

With

life.

especially to keep

the

sky,

this

moon,

these stars, these cold candid peaks.

During the following summer

at

Sierre

in

Switzerland one could have believed that Katherine Mansfield

had

finally

accomplished the task

of inward purification she had set herself, and to

me

it

seems that there

is

a halcyon clarity

calm diffused through the unfinished ten there.

But she was

still

and

stories writ-

secretly dissatisfied

with herself and her work, and

in the

autumn,

London, she deliberately

after a brief return to

decided to risk everything, to abandon the writing that

was dearer than

all else

to her, in order

to achieve that newness of heart without which

her work and her

At

life

seemed

to her unprofitable.

the end of October she retired, by herself, to

a settlement at Fontainebleau,

where she found

what she sought.

A few days after she had taken

this final step, she

wrote

"No

in a letter

treatment on earth

22

is

:

any good to

me

really.

It's

and

ier

Introductory Note all pretence. M. did make me The

I really face the facts.

near happening. spirit

But that was

a trifle stronger.



And

stopped being a writer.

I

had gone on with

my

The

when one

wish,

didn't dramatize

be

.

.

But

all this



life, I

writes

them

so.

And

it's

If

never would have

about things,

one

awfully happy

I feel all

life.

as simple as can

.

in

any case

three months, and fore the spring.

And

old

Fly.

was dying of poverty of

written again, for I

about

my

have only

I

written long or short scraps since

I

for

as

well as a result of that life at the Victoria-

Palace

I

if

all,

miracle never came

couldn't.

It

heav-

I

shan't write any stories for

I'll

not have a book ready be-

It doesn't matter.

again, in reply to a friend

.

."

.

who pleaded

with her not to abandon writing, she wrote, on

October 26:

"As

one's gift



here, even.

time.

writing

for I

stories

and being true to

could not write them I

am

at an

Life has brought

write, but differently,



if I

end of

my

me no

flow.

far

more

were not

source for a I

want

to

steadily."

She believed that she could not express the

23

Introductory Note change that had taken place

though indeed her

letters

in

her even

in letters,

were radiant with hap-

piness:

"And

An

yet I realize as I write,

old personality

and observe, and

all.

What

not express myself

"I she

isn't

new.

trol the

am

"though

I

In fact

mine any longer and have to talk

in the

mood

know

this

I can-

The

old

I can't con-

baby

talk."

for books at present,"

shortly

finally,

write them

not true to the facts at

writing just now.

in

I just

not

wrote

it's

write seems so petty.

I

no use.

trying to get back to the out-

is

side

mechanism

all this is

before

Christmas,

that in future I shall

more than anything

else.

want to But dif-

ferent books."

What we

those "different books"

shall never

would have been

She was seized by a sud-

know.

den and fatal haemorrhage on the evening of

January 9th. cemetery of

She

buried

is

Avon near

gravestone are

in

the

Fontainebleau.

inscribed

the

communal

On

her

words of Shake-

speare she chose for the title-page of "Bliss,"

words which had long been cherished by her and were to prove prophetic: "But

I tell you,

my lord

danger,

we pluck

this flower, safety."

24

fool, out of this nettle,

THE

DOLL'S HOUSE

WHEN

dear

old

Mrs.

Hay went

back to town after staying with the Burnells

doll's house.

Pat carried

It it

she

was

sent

the

children

so big that the carter

and

courtyard, and there

into the

a

it

propped up on two wooden boxes bethe feed-room door. No harm could come

stayed, side

was summer. And perhaps the smell of paint would have gone off by the time it had to

it;

it

to be taken

in.

For, really, the smell of paint

coming from that

doll's

house

("Sweet of old

Mrs. Hay, of course; most sweet and generous!") but the smell of paint was quite enough



make any one seriously ill, in Aunt Beryl's opinion. Even before the sacking was taken off. And when it was. to

.

There stood spinach

green,

the

.

doll's

picked

.

house,

a

dark,

oily,

out with bright yellow.

two solid little chimneys, glued on to the roof, were painted red and white, and the door, Its

gleaming with yellow varnish, was

25

like

a little

The

House

Doll's

Four windows, real windows, were divided into panes by a broad streak of green. There was actually a tiny porch, too, of

slab

toffee.

painted yellow, with big lumps of congealed paint

hanging along the edge.

But perfect, perfect possibly

house

little

mind the smell?

It

Who

!

could

was part of the

joy,

part of the newness.

"Open it quickly, some one !" The hook at the side was stuck pried

it

open with

his penknife,

house-front swung back, and



fast.

Pat

and the whole

there you were,

gazing at one and the same moment into the

drawing-room and dining-room, the kitchen and two bedrooms. That is the way for a house to

Why

open!

How the

don't

much more

slit

houses open like that?

all

exciting than peering through

mean

of a door into a

hatstand and two umbrellas

—what you long

to

That

1

know about

is

at

The



isn't it?

when you

Perhaps

it is

the

dead of night when

He

taking a quiet turn with an angel.

"O-oh!"

is

a house

put your hand on the knocker.

way God opens houses

hall with a

little

Burnell

children

.

.

.

sounded as

was too marvellous; it was too much for them. They had never seen anything like it in their lives. All the rooms though they were

in despair.

26

It

The

Doll's

There were

were papered.

House pictures on the walls,

painted on the paper, with gold frames complete.

Red

carpet

covered

the

all

floors

except

the

kitchen; red plush chairs in the drawing-room,

green

in the

dining-room; tables, beds with real

bedclothes, a cradle, a stove, a dresser with tiny

and one big

plates

But what Kezia liked

jug.

more than anything, what she liked frightfully, was the lamp. It stood in the middle of the dining-room table, an exquisite little amber lamp It was even filled all ready with a white globe. for lighting, though, of course, you couldn't light

But there was something

it.

and that moved when you shook

like oil,

The very

father and mother dolls,

stiff

ing-room, and their two

in the

draw-

children asleep up-

were really too big for the

stairs,

They

little

it.

who sprawled

though they had fainted

as

looked

inside that

doll's house.

But

didn't look as though they belonged.

the lamp

Kezia,

was

to

perfect.

It

seemed

"I live here."

say,

to

smile

at

The lamp was

real.

The school

Burnell fast

burned to



to boast

children

enough tell

the

could hardly walk to

next

morning.

everybody, to describe, to

They



well

about their doll's house before the

school-bell rang.

27

The "I'm eldest.

I'm to

to

tell,"

Doll's House said Isabel,

And you two

"because I'm the

can join

in

But

after.

tell first."

There was nothing to answer. Isabel was bossy, but she was always right, and Lottie and Kezia knew too well the powers that went with

They brushed through

being eldest.

the thick

buttercups at the road edge and said nothing. u

And I'm

who's to come and see

to choose

Mother said I might." For it had been arranged that while

it

first.

house stood

in the

two

girls at school,

Not

the doll's

courtyard they might ask the

come and look. or to come traipsing

at a time, to

to stay to tea, of course,

through the house.

But

just to stand quietly in

the courtyard while Isabel pointed out the beauties,

and Lottie and Kezia looked pleased.

But hurry

as they might,

.

.

.

by the time they had

reached the tarred palings of the boys' play-

had begun to jangle. They only had time to whip off their hats and fall into before the roll was called. Never mind.

ground the just line

bell

Isabel tried to

make up

for

it

by looking very im-

portant and mysterious and by whispering behind

her hand to the

girls

near her, "Got something

to tell you at playtime."

Playtime

came and Isabel was surrounded. 28

The The

girls

House

Doll's

of her class nearly fought to put their

arms round

her, to

flatteringly,

to be her special friend.

walk away with

her, to

beam

She held

quite a court under the huge pine trees at the side of the playground.

gether, the

only two

little girls

who

Nudging, giggling

to-

And

the

pressed up close.

stayed outside the ring were the two

who were always They knew better

outside,

the

Kelveys.

little

than to come anywhere near

the Burnells.

For the fact was, the school the Burnell children went to was not at all the kind of place their parents would have chosen if there had been any choice. But there was none. It was the only school for miles. And the consequence was all the children in the neighbourhood, the Judge's little

girls,

the

doctor's

daughters,

the

store-

keeper's children, the milkman's, were forced to

mix together.

Not

to speak of there being an

number of rude, rough little boys as well. But the line had to be drawn somewhere. It was drawn at the Kelveys. Many of the chilequal

dren,

including the Burnells, were not allowed

even to speak to them.

They walked

Kelveys with their heads

in the air,

set the fashion in all

past the

and

as they

matters of behaviour, the

Kelveys were shunned by everybody.

29

Even

the

The

Doll's House

teacher had a special voice for them, and a special smile

came up to her desk with common-looking flowers.

They were

when

other children

for the

a

Lil

Kelvey

bunch of dreadfully

the daughters of a spry, hardwork-

washerwoman, who went about from house to house by the day. This was awful enough. But where was Mr. Kelvey? Nobody knew for certain. But everybody said he was in ing

little

prison.

So they were the daughters of a washer-

woman and other

Very

a gaolbird.

people's

children!

nice

And

company for

they looked

it.

Why

Mrs. Kelvey made them so conspicuous was hard to understand. The truth was they were dressed in "bits" given to her by the people for

whom

she worked.

Lil,

for instance,

a stout, plain child, with big freckles,

school in a dress

made from

who was came to

a green art-serge

table-cloth of the Burnells', with red plush sleeves

from the Logans'

curtains.

Her

hat, perched

top of her high forehead, was a grown-up an's hat, once the property of

postmistress.

It

was turned up

trimmed with a large tle guy she looked! laugh.

And

her

little

on

wom-

Miss Lecky, the at the

scarlet quill.

back and

What

a

lit-

was impossible not to sister, our Else, wore a

It

long white dress, rather

30

like

a nightgown,

and

The

Doll's House

a pair of little boy's boots.

But whatever our She

Else wore she would have looked strange.

was a tiny wishbone of a child, with cropped hair and enormous solemn eyes a little white owl. Nobody had ever seen her smile; she scarcely



She went through

ever spoke. Lil,

life

holding on to

with a piece of Lil's skirt screwed up

Where

in

her

went our Else followed. In the playground, on the road going to and from hand.

school, there

Lil

was

Lil

marching

when

and our

Only when she wanted

Else holding on behind. anything, or

in front

was out of breath, our

she

Else gave Lil a tug, a twitch, and Lil stopped

and turned round.

The Kelveys never

failed to

understand each other.

Now

they hovered at the edge; you couldn't

them listening. When the little girls turned round and sneered, Lil, as usual, gave her silly, shamefaced smile, but our Else only looked. stop

And

Isabel's voice,

telling.

The

carpet

so very proud,

made

went on

a great sensation, but

so did the beds with real bedclothes, and the stove

with an oven door.

When

she finished Kezia broke

in.

"You've

forgotten the lamp, Isabel." u

Oh, yes," said Isabel, u and there's

little

lamp,

all

made

a teeny

of yellow glass, with a white

3

1

The

House

Doll's

You

globe that stands on the dining-room table. couldn't

from

tell it

"The lamp's

a real one."

She

best of all," cried Kezia.

thought Isabel wasn't making half enough of the

nobody paid any attention. Isabel was choosing the two who were to come She back with them that afternoon and see it. chose Emmie Cole and Lena Logan. But when the others knew they were all to have a chance, they couldn't be nice enough to Isabel. One by one they put their arms round Isabel's waist and walked her off. They had something to whisper little

lamp.

But

to her, a secret.

Only the there

my friend." moved away forgotten;

"Isabel's

little

Kelveys

was nothing more for them

Days

passed, and as

doll's house, the

more

fame of

ain't

it

seen

lovely!"

children saw the

spread.

The one

the one subject, the rage.

"Have you

it

to hear.

Burnells'

doll's

It

became

question was,

Oh,

house?

"Haven't you seen

it?

Oh,

I

say!"

Even about

it.

the dinner hour

The

was given up

little girls

sat

to talking

under the pines

eat-

ing their thick mutton sandwiches and big slabs of

johnny cake spread with butter.

32

While always,

The

Doll's

House

as near as they could get, sat the Kelveys, our

Else holding on to Lil, listening too, while they

chewed

their

jam sandwiches out of

soaked with large red blobs.

.

.

"Mother," said Kezia, "can't

newspaper

a

.

ask the Kel-

I

veys just once?" ''Certainly not,

Kezia."

"But why not?" quite well

why

except them.

On

"Run away, Kezia; you know not."

At

last

everybody had seen

it

that day the subject rather flagged.

dinner hour.

The

the pine trees, the

was the

children stood together under

and suddenly,

as they looked at

Kelveys eating out of their paper, always

by themselves, always

listening, they

Emmie

horrid to them.

be

It

wanted

to

Cole started the

whisper. "Lil Kelvey's going to be a servant

when

she

grows up." "O-oh, she

made

how awful!" eyes at

Emmie.

Emmie swallowed nodded

said Isabel Burnell, and

in a

very meaning

to Isabel as she'd seen her

those occasions.

33

way and

mother do on

The "It's true

Then "Shall

I



true

it's

Lena

House

Doll's it's

Logan's

true," she said.

snapped.

eyes

little

ask her?" she whispered.

"Bet you don't," said Jessie May. "Pooh, I'm not frightened," said Lena. denly she gave a

of

little

other

the

girls.

Watch me now!" ing,

Sud-

squeal and danced in front

Watch

"Watch!

said Lena.

And

me!

sliding, glid-

dragging one foot, giggling behind her hand,

Lena went over

to the Kelveys.

Lil looked up

from her

She wrapped

dinner.

Our Else stopped chewing. What was coming now? "Is it true you're going to be a servant when you grow up, Lil Kelvey?" shrilled Lena. Dead silence. But instead of answering, Lil the rest quickly away.

only gave her

silly,

shamefaced

smile.

She didn't

seem to mind the question at all. What a sell for Lena The girls began to titter. Lena couldn't stand that. She put her hands "Yah, yer faon her hips; she shot forward. !

ther's in prison!" she hissed, spitefully.

This was such that the

a

little girls

marvellous thing to have said

rushed away

deeply excited, wild with joy. a

long

rope,

in a

body, deeply,

Some one found

and they began skipping.

never did they skip so high, run

34

in

And

and out so

The fast,

House

Doll's

or do such daring things as on that morning.

In the afternoon Pat called for the Burnell children with the buggy and they drove home.

There were liked visitors,

went upstairs to change

But Kezia thieved out

fores.

who

Isabel and Lottie,

visitors.

body was about; she began

their pina-

No-

at the back.

to

swing on the big

white gates of the courtyard.

Presently, look-

ing along the road, she saw two

grew

Now

bigger,

Now

off

away.

Then

if

she

she hesitated.

nearer, and beside

in front

stopped

the gate as

slipped

was

and one

she could see that they were

Kezia

Kelveys.

They

dots.

coming towards her.

she could see that one

close behind.

the

they were

little

swinging.

was going

She

to run

The Kelveys came

them walked

their shadows,

very long, stretching right across the road with their heads in the buttercups.

Kezia clambered

back on the gate; she had made up her mind; she

swung

out.

"Hullo," she said to the passing Kelveys.

They were

so

astounded that they stopped.

Lil gave her silly smile.

"You can come and want

Our Else

stared.

see our doll's house if

you

and she dragged one toe

to/' said Kezia,

on the ground.

But

shook her head

quickly.

at that Lil turned red

3S

and

The "Why

Doll's House

not?" asked Kezia.

"Your ma

Lil gasped, then she said,

told our

ma

you wasn't to speak to us." "Oh, well," said Kezia. She didn't know what "It doesn't matter.

reply.

to

and

see

our

doll's

house

You

can come

Come

the same.

all

Nobody's looking." But Lil shook her head still harder. "Don't you want to?" asked Kezia. Suddenly there was a twitch, a tug

on.

Our Else was looking

She turned round.

skirt.

at her with big, imploring eyes

she wanted to go.

For

a

twitched her skirt again.

;

she

moment

was frowning; Lil looked at

But then our Else

our Else very doubtfully.

Kezia led the way.

at Lil's

She started forward.

Like two

little

stray cats

they followed across the courtyard to where the doll's

house stood.

"There it is," said Kezia. There was a pause. Lil breathed most snorted; our Else was still as a "I'll

open

it

room, and

the

She

inside.

drawing-room and the dining-

that's the



"Kezia!"

Oh, what

stone.

for you," said Kezia kindly.

undid the hook and they looked "There's

loudly, al-

a start they

gave

36

The

Doll's House

"Kezia!"

Aunt

was

It

At

round. ing as

Beryl's

voice.

"How

Aunt Beryl, starwhat she saw.

the back door stood

she couldn't believe

if

They turned

dare you ask the

little

Kelveys into the

courtyard?" said her cold, furious voice.

know

as well as

I

"You

do, you're not allowed to talk

Run away,

away at once. And don't come back again," said Aunt Beryl. And she stepped into the yard and shooed them to

them.

out as

if

children, run

they were chickens.

"Off you go immediately!" she called, cold and

proud.

They

did not need telling twice.

Burning with

shame, shrinking together, Lil huddling along like

her mother, our Else dazed,

somehow they

crossed the big courtyard and squeezed through the white gate.

"Wicked, disobedient

little

Beryl bitterly to Kezia, and she doll's

house

to.

The afternoon had been come from Willie Brent, ing letter, saying

evening

in

Aunt slammed the said

girl!"

if

awful.

A

letter

had

a terrifying, threaten-

she did not meet

him that

Pulman's Bush, he'd come to the front

door and ask the reason why!

had frightened those

little

37

But now that she

rats of Kelveys

and

The given

Kezia

a

Doll's House

good

scolding,

her

heart

That ghastly pressure was gone. went back to the house humming. lighter.

When

down

to rest

pipe by the side of the road.

burning; she took

and held

She

the Kelveys were well out of sight of

Burnells', they sat

still

felt

it

off

on her knee.

on a big red drainLiFs cheeks were

the hat with the quill

Dreamily they looked

over the hay paddocks, past the creek, to the

group of wattles where Logan's cows stood wait-

What were

ing to be milked.

Presently our sister.

lady.

their thoughts?

Else nudged up close

to her

But now she had forgotten the cross She put out a finger and stroked her

quill; she

sister's

smiled her rare smile.

"I seen the

little

Then both were

lamp," she silent

38

said, softly.

once more.

HONEYMOON

AND

when they came out of the lace shop there was their own driver and the cab

they called their

own

cab waiting for

them under a plane tree. What luck! Wasn't Fanny pressed her husband's arm. it luck? These things seemed always to be happening to them ever since they came abroad. Didn't he think so too? But George stood on the pavement edge, lifted his stick, and gave a loud "Hi !" Fanny sometimes felt a little uncomfortable about the way George summoned cabs, but the drivers didn't seem to mind, so it must have been all right. Fat, good-natured, and smiling, they stuffed away the little newspaper they were reading, whipped the cotton cover off the horse, and were ready to obey. "I say," George said as he helped Fanny in, "suppose we go and have tea at the place where



the lobsters grow.

"Most

Would you

to?"

awfully," said Fanny, fervently, as she

leaned back, wondering things

like

why

made them sound 39

the

way George put

so very nice.

Honeymoon bien" He was beside

"R-right,

lay" he cried

gaily,

and

"Al-

her.

they went.

off

Off they went, spanking along lightly, under

and gold shade of the plane

the green

trees,

through the small streets that smelled of lemons

and fresh

fountain square where

coffee, past the

women, with water-pots

lifted,

stopped talking to

gaze after them, round the corner past the cafe, with its pink and white umbrellas, green tables,

and blue siphons, and so to the sea

front.

There

warm, came flowing over the boundless sea. It touched George, and Fanny it seemed to linger over while they gazed at the dazzling water. And George said, "Jolly, isn't a wind, light,

it?"

And

Fanny, looking dreamy,

said at least twenty times

came abroad: that here

we

"Isn't

it

tell

since

as she

they

extraordinary to think

are quite alone,

body, with nobody to

day

a

said,

away from

us to go

every-

home, or

to

to order us about except ourselves?"

George had long traordinary

!"

As

since given

up answering "Ex-

a rule he merely kissed her.

But now he caught hold of her hand, stuffed it into his pocket, pressed her fingers, and said, "I used to keep a white mouse I

was

in

my

pocket when

a kid."

"Did you?"

said Fanny,

40

who was

intensely in-

Honeymoon terested in u

Were you

everything George had ever done.

very fond of white mice?"

"Fairly," said George, without conviction.

He

was looking at something, bobbing out there beyond the bathing steps. Suddenly he almost jumped in his seat. "Fanny!" he cried. "There's a

Do

chap out there bathing.

I'd no

you see?

had begun. I've been missing it all these days." George glared at the reddened idea people

face, the

reddened arm, as though he could not

look away.

"At any

horses won't keep

rate," he muttered, "wild

me from

Fanny's heart sank.

going

in

to-morrow."

She had heard for years

of the frightful dangers of the Mediterranean.

was an absolute death-trap. Beautiful, treacherous Mediterranean. There it lay curled before them, its white, silky paws touching the stones and gone again. But she'd made up her mind long before she was married that never would she be the kind of woman who interfered It

.

.

.

with her husband's pleasures, so airily,

all

she said was,

"I suppose one has to be very up in the

currents, doesn't

"Oh,

I

one?"

don't know," said George.

"People

talk an awful lot of rot about the danger."

But now they were passing

a high wall

on the

land side, covered with flowering heliotrope, and

41

Honeymoon Fanny's

little

nose

"Oh, George," she

lifted.

." "The smell! The most divine "Topping villa," said George. "Look, you

breathed.

can see

it

rather large?" said Fanny,

who some-

could not look at any villa except as a pos-

sible habitation for herself

and George.

"Well, you'd need a crowd of people stayed there long,"

replied George.

otherwise.

is

it

.

through the palms."

it

"Isn't

how

.

I say, it

belongs to."

And

ripping.

I

if

you

"Deadly,

wonder who

he prodded the driver

in

the back.

The

lazy, smiling driver,

plied, as

who had no

idea, re-

he always did on these occasions, that

was the property of a wealthy Spanish family. "Masses of Spaniards on this coast," commented George, leaning back again, and they were silent until, as they rounded a bend, the big, bone-white hotel-restaurant came into view. Before it there was a small terrace built up it

against the sea, planted with umbrella palms, set

out with tables, and at their approach, from the terrace,

from the

receive,

to welcome,

them

off

hotel, waiters

from any

came running

Fanny and George,

possible kind of escape.

"Outside?"

42

to

to cut

Honeymoon Oh, but of course they would sit outside. The sleek manager, who was marvellously like a fish frock coat, skimmed forward.

in a

"Dis way, nice

Dis way,

sir.

he gasped.

table,"

little

table for you,

over

sir,

in

have a very

I

sir.

u

Just the

little

Dis way."

de corner.

So George, looking most dreadfully bored, and Fanny, trying to look as though she'd spent years of

threading her

life

lowed

way through

strangers, fol-

after.

"Here you nice,"

are,

Here you

sir.

will

be very

coaxed the manager, taking the vase

the table, and putting a fresh

little

refused

to

it

down

bouquet out of the sit

down

again as air.

immediately.

if it

off

were

But George

He

saw

through these fellows; he wasn't going to be

These chaps were always out to rush you. So he put his hands in his pockets, and said to Fanny, very calmly, "This all right for you?

done.

Anywhere there?"

else

And

you'd prefer?

How

about over

he nodded to a table right over

the other side.

What

was to be a man of the world! Fanny admired him deeply, but all she wanted to do was to sit down and look like everybody else. "I



it

I like this,"

said she.

43

Honeymoon "Right," said George, hastily, and he sat

down

almost before Fanny, and said quickly, "Tea for

two and chocolate

eclairs."

"Very good, sir," said the manager, and his mouth opened and shut as though he was ready for another dive under the water.

"You

We

not 'ave toasts to start with?

will

'ave very

nice toasts, sir."

"No," toast,

"You

said George, shortly.

don't

want

do you, Fanny?"

"Oh, no, thank you, George,"

said

Fanny,

praying the manager would go.

"Or perhaps de lady might live lobsters in

And

de tank while de tea

is

coming?"

he grimaced and smirked and flicked his ser-

viette like a

George's again, and

fin.

face

grew

He

stony.

Fanny bent over the

When

ing her gloves.

was gone. on

look at de

like to

to a chair,

table,

unbutton-

she looked up the

George took

off

and pressed back

"Thank God,"

"No"

said

said he,

his

hat,

man

tossed

it

his hair.

"that's

chap's gone.

These foreign fellows bore me stiff. The only way to get rid of them is simply to shut up as you saw I did. Thank Heaven!" sighed George again, with so

much emotion 44

that

if

it

hadn't

Honeymoon been ridiculous Fanny might have imagined that he had been as frightened of the manager as she.

was she felt a rush of love for George. His hands were on the table, brown, large hands that she knew so well. She longed to take one of them and squeeze it hard. But, to her astonishment, George did just that thing, leaning across the

As

it

table,

put his hand over hers, and said, without

looking at her, "Fanny, darling Fanny."

"Oh, George!" It was in that heavenly moment that Fanny heard a twing-twing-tootle-tootle, and sic,

just

a light

she

There's going to be mu-

strumming.

thought,

but the

Nothing

then.

music didn't matter

mattered

except

love.

Faintly smiling she gazed into that faintly smiling face, and the feeling felt inclined to



at this little table.

perfect.

grew

"I promise,"

But

in-

serious.

fearfully

you'll answer.

It's perfect,

Let us stay."

"Darling," said Fanny.

something

so blissful that she

say to George, "Let us stay here

where we are and the sea is stead her eyes

was

want to ask you Promise me important. "I

Promise." said George,

too solemn to be

quite as serious as she. "It's this."

Fanny paused 45

a

moment, looked

Honeymoon down, looked up said, softly, "that

"Do you feel," she you really know me now? But again.

know me?" was too much for George.

really, really It

He

Fanny?

gave a broad, childish

should jolly well think

I

Know

his

grin.

"I

do," he said, emphati-

"Why, what's up?" Fanny felt he hadn't quite understood. She went on quickly: "What I mean is this. So often people, even when they love each other, don't seem to to it's so hard to say know They don't seem to want each other perfectly. And I think that's awful. They misunderto. cally.





stand each other about the most important things of

Fanny looked

all."

we?

couldn't do that, could

"George, we

horrified.

We

never could."

"Couldn't be done," laughed George, and he

was little

just going to tell her

when

nose,

how much

he liked her

the waiter arrived with the tea

and the band struck up. It was a flute, a guitar, and a violin, and it played so gaily that Fanny felt if she

cers

wasn't careful even the cups and sau-

might

grow

little

wings

George absorbed three chocolate two.

The

kettle,"

funny-tasting tea

and

fly

away.

eclairs,

Fanny

— "Lobster

in

shouted George above the music

nice all the same,

the

—was

and when the tray was pushed

46

Honeymoon and George was smoking, Fanny felt bold enough to look at the other people. But it was aside

the

band grouped under one of the dark

trees that

The fat man stroking the picture. The dark man playing

fascinated her most.

was

guitar

like a

the flute kept raising his eyebrows as though he

was astonished at the sounds that came from it. The fiddler was in shadow. The music stopped as suddenly as it had begun. It was then she noticed a tall old man with white hair standing beside the musicians.

Strange

wore

and

seams,

Was

boots.

look

hadn't

noticed

very high, glazed

a

the

at

she

like a

him before.

shamefully

coat green

a

collar,

He

shabby button

he another manager?

He

did not

manager, and yet he stood there gaz-

ing over the table as though thinking of some-

thing

Who

and

different

away

far

from

all

this.

could he be?

Fanny watched him, he touched

Presently, as

the points of his collar with his fingers, coughed slightly,

to full air, its

and half-turned

Something boisterous,

play again.

of

fire,

full

was tossed hands, and

gan to

to the band.

It

began

reckless,

of passion, was tossed into the

to that quiet figure, still

which clasped

with that far-away look, be-

sing.

47

Honeymoon "Good Lord!"

said George.

seemed that

It

everybody was equally astonished.

Even

the

lit-

tle

children eating ices stared, with their spoons

in

the

air.

.

.

Nothing was heard except

.

memory

thin, faint voice, the

something

Spanish.

It

touched the high notes,

fell

in

plore, to entreat, to

it

knew

of a voice, singing

wavered,

beat

on,

seemed to im-

again,

beg for something, and then

the tune changed, and

down,

a

was resigned,

it

bowed

it

was denied.

it

Almost before the end

a

little

child gave

a

squeak of laughter, but everybody was smiling

Fanny and George. Is life like this too? thought Fanny. There are people like this. There is suffering. And she looked at that gorexcept

geous it,

lapping the land as though

sea,

and the

evening.

sky, bright

Had

happy?

so

it

loved

with the brightness before

she and George the right to be

Wasn't

cruel?

it

There must be

something

else in life

which made

possible.

What was

it?

all

these things

She turned to George.

But George had been feeling

differently

from

The poor old boy's voice was funny in way, but, God, how it made you realize what

Fanny. a

a terrific thing

it

was

to be at the beginning of

everything, as they were, he and Fanny! too,

gazed

at the bright, breathing water,

48

George,

and

his

Honeymoon lips

opened

as if he could drink

There was nothing

it

was!

a

chap feel

fit.

And

it.

How

like the sea for

fine

mak-

there sat Fanny, his Fanny,

leaning forward, breathing so gently.

"Fanny!" George called to her. As she turned to him something in her soft, wondering look made George feel that for two pins he would jump over the table and carry her off.

"I say," said George, rapidly, "let's go, shall

we?

Let's go back to the hotel.

Fanny

darling.

Come.

Let's go now."

The band began groaned George.

to play.

"Oh, God!" almost

"Let's go before the old cod-

ger begins squawking again."

And

a

Do,

moment

later they

49

were gone.

A CUP OF TEA

ROSEMARY

FELL

was

not

exactly

No, you couldn't have

beautiful.

her beautiful.

Pretty?

Well,

called

you

if

But why be so cruel as She was young, brilto take anyone to pieces? took her to pieces

.

.

.

extremely modern, exquisitely well dressed,

liant,

amazingly well read

in the

newest of the new

books, and her parties were the most delicious

mixture of the really important people and artists



quaint

creatures,

discoveries

of

.

.

.

hers,

some of them too

terrifying for words, but others

quite presentable

and amusing.

Rosemary had been married two years. She had a duck of a boy. No, not Peter Michael. And her husband absolutely adored her. They



were off,

rich, really rich,

which

is

odious and stuffy and sounds like

one's grandparents.

shop she would go to to

Bond

not just comfortably well

Street.

If

Rosemary wanted to Paris as you and I would go she wanted to buy flowers, But

if

the car pulled up at that perfect shop in Regent

So

A

and Rosemary

Street,

her dazzled,

in

Cup of Tea shop just gazed

inside the

rather

way, and said:

exotic

"I want those and those and those.

And

four bunches of those. Yes,

I'll

have

all

I

hate

lilac.

lilac.

attendant

though

Give

that jar of roses.

No, no

the roses in the jar. It's

bowed and put was only too

me

got no shape."

The

the lilac out of sight, as

was dreadfully shapeless. "Give me those stumpy little tulips. Those red and white ones." And she was followed to the car by a thin shopgirl staggering under an immense white paper armful that looked like a baby in long clothes. One winter afternoon she had been buying something in a little antique shop in Curzon Street. It was a shop she liked. For one thing, one usually had it to oneself. And then the man who kept it was ridiculously fond of serving her. He beamed whenever she came in. He clasped his hands; he was so gratified he could scarcely this

true

;

.

speak.

Flattery,

there

was something

"You

see,

low respectful

of

who

.

.

All

course. .

.

madam," he would tones, "I love

my

explain in his

things.

sell

is

5i

so rare.

I

them

does not appreciate them,

that fine feeling which

same,

the

.

rather not part with them than

one

lilac

to some-

who .

.

would

."

has not

And,

A

Cup of Tea

breathing deeply he unrolled a tiny square of blue velvet and pressed

on the glass counter

it

with his pale finger-tips.

Today keeping

was

it

it

cream.

On

it

to

been

nobody

enamel box with a

looked as though

it

under

had shown

exquisite little

glaze so fine in

He

He had

box.

little

for her.

An

as yet.

a

it

had been baked

the lid a minute creature stood

and

a flowery tree,

a

more minute creature

had her arms around his neck. Her hat, really no bigger than a geranium petal, hung from a branch; it had green ribbons. And there was a pink cloud like a watchful cherub floating Rosemary took her hands above their heads. still

She always took

out of her long gloves.

gloves to examine such things. it

very much.

She must have

She loved it.

it; it

off

her

Yes, she liked

was

a great duck.

And, turning the creamy box,

opening and shutting

she couldn't help noticing

it,

how charming her hands were against the blue velvet. The shopman, in some dim cavern of his mind, may have dared to think so too. For he took a

pencil, leant

over the counter, and his pale

bloodless fingers crept timidly towards those rosy, flashing ones,

may the

venture to point

little

murmured gently: "If I out to madam, the flowers on

as he

lady's bodice."

S2

A

Cup of Tea

Rosemary admired the flowers. But what was the price? For a moment the shopman did not seem to hear. Then a murmur reached her. "Twenty-eight guineas, madame." "Twenty-eight guineas." Rosemary gave no sign. She laid the little box down; she buttoned her gloves again. Twenty-eight guineas. Even ''Charming

if

one

I"

rich

is

.

.

plump

.

She

looked

vague.

She

plump hen above the shopman's head, and her voice was dreamy as she answered: "Well, keep it for ." me—will you? I'll But the shopman had already bowed as though keeping it for her was all any human being could ask. He would be willing, of course, to keep it stared at a

tea-kettle like

.

a

.

for her for ever.

The

discreet door shut with a click.

She was

outside on the step, gazing at the winter after-

noon.

Rain was

falling,

seemed the dark came ashes.

There was

and with the rain

too,

spinning

down

it

like

a cold bitter taste in the air,

and the new-lighted lamps looked sad.

Sad were

the lights in the houses opposite.

Dimly they

burned as

And

if

regretting something.

people

hurried by, hidden under their hateful umbrellas.

Rosemary

felt a

strange pang.

She pressed her

muff to her breast; she wished she had the

S3

little

A

Cup of Tea Of

box, too, to cling to. there.

was But

course, the car

She'd only to cross the pavement.

There are moments, horrible moments in life, when one emerges from shelter and looks out, and it's awful. One oughtn't to still

she waited.

give

way

have

an

One ought

to them.

extra-special

tea.

to go

But

home and very

the

at

young girl, thin, dark, she come from? was

instant of thinking that, a

shadowy

—where



had

standing at Rosemary's elbow and a voice

almost like a sob, breathed:

sigh,

may

I

like a

Madame,

speak to you a moment?"

"Speak little

u

to

me?" Rosemary

turned.

She saw a

battered creature with enormous eyes, some-

one quite young,

no older than

herself,

who

clutched at her coat-collar with reddened hands,

and shivered

as

though she had

just

come out of

the water.

"M-madame," stammered the voice. "Would you let me have the price of a cup of tea?"

"A

cup of tea?"

There was something sim-

ple, sincere in that voice;

voice of a beggar. at all?" asked

it

wasn't in the least the

"Then have you no money

Rosemary.

"None, madam," came the answer. "How extraordinary!" Rosemary peered through the dusk, and the girl gazed back at her. 54

A

Cup

of

Tea

How

more than extraordinary! And suddenly seemed to Rosemary such an adventure. It

it

was this

something out of a novel by Dostoevsky,

like

meeting

in

the dusk.

home?

the girl

Supposing she took

Supposing she did do one of

those things she was always reading about or

on the stage, what would happen?

seeing

would be

And

thrilling.

It

she heard herself saying

afterwards to the amazement of her friends: "I simply took her

home with me,"

as she stepped

forward and said to that dim person beside her: 1

"Come home to tea with me. The girl drew back startled. '

She

even

Rosemary put hand and touched her arm. "I mean it,"

stopped shivering for a moment. out a

she said, smiling.

And

she felt

how

simple and

"Why won't you? me now in my car and have

Do.

kind her smile was.

Come home "You girl,

—you

don't

mean

and there was pain

"But

To

with

I

girl

Come

me

"The

"Why

her voice. "I want you

put her fingers to her

"You're

lips



to the police station?" she

I

be so

to.

and her

you're not

stammered.

Rosemary laughed out. cruel? No, I only want to

police station!"

should

said the

along."

eyes devoured Rosemary.

taking

madam,"

do," cried Rosemary.

please me.

The

in

it,

tea."

55

A

Cup of Tea

make you warm and to tell

to hear

— anything you

care

me."

Hungry people

are easily led.

held the door of the car open,

The footman and a moment

were skimming through the dusk.

later they

"There!" said Rosemary.

She had a feeling

of triumph as she slipped her hand through the

She could have

velvet strap.

got you," as she gazed at the

little

But of course she meant

netted.

more than this

said,

kindly.

that

girl



captive she

had

kindly.

Oh,

it

things did happen in

godmothers were

life,

that

rich

people had hearts, and that

be

real,

After

frightened.

all,

why

that

women were

She turned impulsively, saying:

sisters.

"Don't

shouldn't

come back with me? We're both women. I'm the more fortunate, you ought to pect

.

.

I've

She was going to prove to

—wonderful

fairy

"Now

you If ex-

."

moment, for she didn't know how the sentence was going to end, the car The bell was rung, the door opened, stopped. and with a charming, protecting, almost embracing movement, Rosemary drew the other But happily

into the hall. scent,

all

at

that

Warmth,

those

things

softness, light, a sweet

so

familiar

to

her she

never even thought about them, she watched that

56

A other receive. the

Cup of Tea was

It

little rich girl in

boards to open,

all

"Come, come

her nursery with

And,

all

like

the cup-

the boxes to unpack.

Rosemary, long-

upstairs," said

"Come up

ing to begin to be generous.

room."

She was

fascinating.

besides, she

wanted

to

my

to spare this

from being stared at by the servants; she decided as they mounted the stairs she would not even ring for Jeanne, but take off her things by herself. The great thing was to poor

little

thing

be natural!

And "There!"

reached her beautiful tains

drawn, the

Rosemary again, big bedroom with

as they

cried

fire

the cur-

leaping on her wonderful

lacquer furniture, her gold cushions and the primrose and blue rugs.

The

stood

girl

But Rosemary didn't mind

seemed dazed.

"Come and

sit

down," she

her big chair up to the

Come and

door;

the

inside

just

fire,

"in this

You

warm.

get

cried,

she that.

dragging

comfy

chair.

look so dreadfully

cold."

"I

daren't,

madam,"

said the

girl,

and she

edged backwards.

"Oh, please,"

— Rosemary ran

forward

— "you

mustn't be frightened, you mustn't, really.

down, and when

I've taken off

57

my

things

we

Sit

shall

A

Cup of Tea

go into the next room and have tea and be cosy.

Why

are you

And

afraid?"

pushed the thin

figure into

its

But there was no answer.

had been and her mouth

gently

The

put, with her

sides

slightly open.

looked rather stupid.

she

half

deep cradle.

just as she

sincere,

she

girl

stayed

hands by her

To

be quite

But Rose-

mary wouldn't acknowledge it. She leant over her, saying: "Won't you take off your hat? Your pretty hair is all wet. And one is so much more comfortable without a hat, isn't one?" There was a whisper that sounded like "Very good, madam," and the crushed hat was taken off. "Let me help you

with your coat, too,"

off

said Rosemary.

The

girl

stood up.

chair with one

was

hand and

quite an effort.

her at

all.

But she held on let

The

Rosemary

to

the

pull.

It

other scarcely helped

She seemed to stagger

like a child,

and the thought came and went through Rosemary's mind, that

must respond

if

people wanted helping they

a little, just a little, otherwise

it

became very difficult indeed. And what was she She left it on the floor, to do with the coat now? and the hat too. She was just going to take a cigarette off the mantelpiece

58

when

the girl said

A

Cup

quickly, but so lightly

Tea

of

and strangely:

"I'm very

madam, but I'm going to faint. I shall go off, madam, if I don't have something." "Good heavens, how thoughtless I am!" Rosemary rushed to the bell. "Tea Tea at once And some brandy sorry,

1

!

immediately!"

The maid was gone "No,

cried out.

don't want no brandy.

I

never drink brandy.

madam."

And

was Rosemary

a

It

"Don't

again, but the girl almost

It's

a cup of tea I want,

she burst into tears.

terrible

and fascinating moment.

knelt beside her chair.

poor

cry,

And

"Don't cry."

little

thing,"

she

said.

she gave the other her lace

She really was touched beyond

handkerchief.

She put her arm round those

words.

I

thin, bird-

like shoulders.

Now

at last the other forgot to be shy, forgot

everything except that they were both women,

and gasped out:

"I can't go on no longer like

this.

I can't

bear

self.

I can't

bear no more."

"You

shan't

it.

have

Don't cry any more. thing

it

I

to.

shall

do away with my-

I'll

look after you.

Don't you see what

was that you met me? 59

a

good

We'll have tea

A and

you'll tell

Cup of Tea

me

range something. It's

to get

promise.

I

so exhausting.

The

everything.

And

Do

shall ar-

I

stop crying.

Please!"

other did stop just in time for Rosemary

up before the tea came.

She had the table

She plied the poor

placed between them.

creature with everything,

all

little

the sandwiches,

the bread and butter, and every time her cup

empty she

filled

it

with

tea,

away

was

cream and sugar.

People always said sugar was so nourishing. for herself she didn't eat; she

all

As

smoked and looked

tactfully so that the other should not be

shy.

And

really the effect of that slight

marvellous.

away

new

a

When being,

tangled hair, dark

back

a

light,

lips,

at

the

frail

creature with

kind of sweet langour,

Rosemary

blaze.

was time to begin. "And when did you have your

cigarette;

carried

deep, lighted eyes, lay

in the big chair in a

looking

was

tea-table

the

meal was

lit

fresh

a

it

last

meal?"

she asked softly.

moment the door-handle "Rosemary, may I come in?" It was "Of course."

But

He

at

that

came

in.

turned. Philip.

"Oh, I'm so sorry," he

and stopped and stared.

60

said,

A

Cup of Tea Rosemary

"It's quite all right," said

"This

is

my

friend,

madam,"

"Smith,

was strangely

still

Miss

said the languid figure,

who

and unafraid.

"We

"Smith," said Rosemary.

have

smiling.

"

are going to

a little talk."

"Oh, yes," said

Philip.

"Quite," and his eye

He

caught sight of the coat and hat on the

floor.

came over

back to

"It's still

to the

beastly

a

and turned

fire

said

listless figure,

isn't it?" said

it.

curiously,

looking at

its

Rosemary again. Rosemary enthusiastically.

hands and boots, and then "Yes,

he

afternoon,"

looking at that

his

at

"Vile."

smiled

Philip

his

matter of fact," said into

the

for

library

"As a he, "I wanted you to come Would you? a moment. charming

smile.

Will Miss Smith excuse us?"

The

big eyes were raised to him, but

Rosemary

"Of course she will." the room together. Philip, when they were

And

answered for her. they went out of "I say,"

said

Who

"Explain.

is

she?

What

does

alone. it

all

mean?" Rosemary, laughing, leaned against the door and said: Really.

"I picked her up

She's a real pick-up.

61

in

Curzon

She asked

Street.

me

for

A

Cup of Tea home

the price of a cup of tea, and I brought her

with me."

"But what on earth are you going her?" cried Philip.

"Be

Look

frightfully nice to her.

We

know how. her



treat her

"My

—make her

And

after her.

don't

I

But show

"

feel

darling girl," said Philip, "you're quite It

simply can't be done."

knew you'd say

"Why

"Be

quickly.

haven't talked yet.

mad, you know. "I

Rosemary

nice to her," said

do with

to

not?

besides,

things.

I

I

Rosemary.

that," retorted

want

Isn't that

to.

reason?

a

one's always reading about these "

decided

"But," said Philip slowly, and he cut the end of a cigar, " she's so astonishingly pretty."

"Pretty?"

Rosemary was

she blushed.

"Do you

thought about

it."

"Good

Lord!"

think so?

Look

was bowled over when

just

now.

However ...

a ghastly mistake.

and

all that.

But

let

came I

if

time for

Milliner's Gazette/'

62

match.

a

into

if

hadn't

I

my

child.

your room

think you're

me know in



again,

Sorry, darling,

going to dine with us

The

I

I

struck

Philip

"She's absolutely lovely. I

so surprised that

making

I'm crude

Miss Smith

me

to look

is

up

A "You absurd

Cup

of

Tea

1"

said Rosemary,

creature

and

she went out of the library, but not back to her

She went to her writing-room and

bedroom. sat

down

Her

book

cheque

heart beat like a

Lovely!

Pretty!

bell.

towards

Absolutely

Pretty!

desk.

Bowled over!

lovely!

heavy

her

at

her.

drew her

She

But

cheques

no,

would be no use, of course. She opened a drawer and took out five pound notes, looked two back, and holding the three her hand, she went back to her bed-

at them, put

squeezed

in

room.

Half an hour later Philip was library, when Rosemary came in. "I only wanted to tell you," said

in

still

she,

the

and she

leaned against the door again and looked at him with her dazzled exotic gaze, "Miss Smith won't dine with us tonight." Philip

put

happened?

down

the

down on

sat

"She insisted on going," said

gave the poor I

what's

Previous engagement?"

Rosemary came over and knee.

"Oh,

paper.

little

she,

his

"so

I

thing a present of money.

couldn't keep her against her will, could I?"

she added softly.

Rosemary had her eyes a

little,

just

done her

hair,

and put on her 63

darkened

pearls.

She

A

Cup of Tea

put up her hands and touched Philip's cheeks.

"Do you

like

me?"

said she,

and her tone,

sweet, husky, troubled him.

"I like you awfully," he said, and he held her

"Kiss me."

tighter.

There was a pause. Then Rosemary said dreamily, "I saw a fascinating little box today. It cost twenty-eight

May

guineas. Philip little

I

have it?"

jumped her on

his knee.

"You may,

wasteful one," said he.

But

wanted

that

was

not

what

really

Rosemary

to say.

"Philip," she whispered, and she pressed his

head against her bosom, "am

64

I

pretty?"

TAKING THE VEIL seemed impossible that anyone should be

ITunhappy

on such

a beautiful

No-

morning.

body was, decided Edna, except herself. The windows were flung wide in the houses. From within there came the sound of pianos, little

hands chased after each other and ran away

from each fluttered

The

other, practising scales.

the sunny gardens,

in

bright with

all

Street boys whistled, a

spring flowers.

barked; people passed by, walking so swiftly,

trees

little

dog

lightly, so

they looked as though they wanted to

break into

Now

a run.

she actually

distance a parasol, peach-coloured, the

saw

in the

first

para-

sol of the year.

Perhaps even Edna did not look quite as un-

happy

as she felt.

at eighteen,

It

when you

is

not easy to look tragic

are extremely pretty, with

the cheeks and lips and shining eyes of perfect health.

French

Above blue

all,

frock

when you and

your

trimmed with cornflowers. 65

are

wearing

a

new spring hat

True,

she

carried

Taking the Veil under her arm a book bound

horrid black

in

Perhaps the book provided a gloomy

leather.

was the ordinary For Edna had made going to

note, but only by accident;

Library binding. the Library an

excuse

for

it

getting

out of the

house to think, to realise what had happened, to

somehow what was to be done now. An awful thing had happened. Quite suddenly, at the theatre last night, when she and Jimmy were seated side by side in the dressdecide

circle,

had the



without a moment's warning

in fact, she

almond and passed she had fallen in love with

just finished a chocolate

box to him again

an actor.

The

But





fallen

— — in

love.

.

.

.

was unlike anything she had ever

feeling

imagined before.

It

wasn't in the least pleasant.

was hardly thrilling. Unless you can call the most dreadful sensation of hopeless misery, de-

It

spair,

agony and wretchedness,

thrilling.

Com-

met her on the pavement after, while Jimmy was fetching their cab, she would follow him to the

bined with the certainty that

if

that actor

ends of the earth, at a nod, at a sign, without

and mother or

Jimmy or her father her happy home and countless

friends again.

.

giving another thought to

The

.

.

play had begun fairly cheerfully.

66

That

Taking the Veil was

Terrible

Then the Edna moment

she had to

borrow Jimmy's

at the chocolate

hero had gone blind.

had

much

cried so

that crying mattered.

Even

tears.

!

as

well.

Whole rows were

in

their noses with

a

men blew

the

stage.

handkerchief

smooth-feeling

folded,

Not

almond

loud trumpeting noise and tried to peer at the

program

of

instead

looking

the

at

stage.



Jimmy, most mercifully dry-eyed for what would she have done without his handkerchief? squeezed her free hand, and whispered "Cheer



darling girl !"

And

was then she had taken a last chocolate almond to please him and Then, there had been passed the box again. up,

it

that ghastly scene with the hero alone on the

room

band playing outside and the sound of cheering coming from the street. He had tried ah! how stage in a deserted

painfully,

how

window.

He had

pitifully



at twilight, with a



to

grope his way to the

succeeded at

last.

stood holding the curtain while one light,

just

one beam, shone

sightless face,

distance. It



it

.

.



that life

on

beam his

and the band faded away

of

raised

into the

.

was really, was simply

knew

full

There he



was absolutely oh, the most in fact, from that moment Edna could never be the same. She drew it



67

Taking the Veil her hand away from Jimmy's, leaned back, and shut the chocolate box for ever.

This

at last

was

love

Edna and Jimmy were engaged.

She had had

her hair up for a year and a half; they had been publicly

engaged for

But they had known

a year.

they were going to marry each other ever since

they walked in the Botanical Gardens with their nurses,

and

sat

on the grass with a wine

and a piece of barley-sugar each for

biscuit

their tea.

was so much an accepted thing that Edna had worn a wonderfully good imitation of an engageIt

ment-ring out of a cracker

And

school.

up

till

all

now

the time she

was

at

they had been devoted

to each other.

But now over that

Jimmy

it

was

over.

Edna found

did not realize

It

so completely

that

difficult to believe

it

it

was

She smiled wisely,

too.

sadly, as she turned into the gardens of the

Con-

vent of the Sacred Heart and mounted the path that

led

much

through them to Hill Street.

better to

know

it

now than

after they were married!

that

Jimmy would

get over

Now

How

to wait until

was possible No, it was no use

it.

it

deceiving herself; he would never get over

His

life

table.

it!

was wrecked, was ruined; that was ineviBut he was young. Time, people .

68

.

.

Taking the Veil Time might make

said,

a little, just a little dif-

In forty years when he was an old man,

ference.

he might be able to think of her calmly

But

she,

—what did

the future hold for her?

Edna had reached under

a

—perhaps. There

the top of the path.

new-leafed tree, hung with

of white flowers, she sat

down on

little

bunches

a green

bench

and looked over the Convent flower-beds. the one nearest to her there

grew tender

In

stocks,

with a border of blue, shell-like pansies, with at

one corner a clump of creamy freezias, their light spears of green criss-crossed over

The Convent air,

flowers.

pigeons were tumbling high in the

and she could hear the voice of

who was

the

Sister

Agnes

Ah-me, sounded the deep tones of the nun, and Ah-me, they were

echoed.

giving a singing lesson.

.

If she

.

.

did not marry Jimmy, of course she

would marry nobody. The man she was in love with, the famous actor Edna had far too much common-sense not to realize that would never be. It was very odd. She didn't even want it to be. Her love was too intense for that. It had to be



endured, silently;

it

had

to

torment her.

It was,

she supposed, simply that kind of love.

"But, Edna!" cried Jimmy.

change?

Can

I

"Can you never

never hope again?"

69

Taking the Veil Oh, what sorrow to have

to say

it,

but

it

must

u

No, Jimmy, I will never change." Edna bowed her head; and a little flower fell on her lap, and the voice of Sister Agnes cried suddenly Ah-no and the echo came, Ah-no. At that moment the future was revealed. Edna saw it all. She was astonished; it took But, after all, what her breath away at first. She would go into a concould be more natural? Her father and mother do everyvent.

be said.

.

.

.

}

.

.

.

thing to dissuade her, in vain. his

state of

Why

to her suffering like this?

After

!

away her jewellery and

a last

How

she

evening of her going

He

so on to her best friends

no name, no card. roses, last

wrapped



in a

into a con-

The very

the actor's last evening at

receives

It is full of

a box.

is

about.

can they add

No, one moment.

goes.

Port Willin.

Jimmy,

The world is cruel, scene when she gives

she so calm, they so broken-hearted

vent

for

mind hardly bears thinking

can't they understand?

terribly cruel

As

by

a strange

white flowers.

Nothing?

messenger

But there

is

Yes, under the

white handkerchief, Edna's

photograph with, written underneath,

The world

Edna

sat very

forgetting, by the still

world

forgot.

under the trees; she clasped

70

Taking the Veil her fingers as though

were her

the black

book

missal.

She takes the name of Sister Angela.

Snip

Snip

!

in

All her lovely hair

!

is

it

cut

Will

off.

Jimmy? It is blue gown with a

she be allowed to send one curl to

And

contrived somehow.

in a

white head-band Sister Angela goes from the convent to the chapel, from the chapel to the convent

with something unearthly in her look,

rowful

and

eyes,

they greet the

little

She hears

saint! chill,

in the gentle smile

children

it

wax-smelling

who

is

with which

whispered as she paces the corridors.

A

saint

a

A

And

!

nun whose

heard above the other voices, of her youth,

"There

her beauty, of her tragic, tragic love. is

A

run to her.

visitors to the chapel are told of the

voice

her sor-

in

man

in this

town whose

ruined.

life is

.

."

.

big bee, a golden furry fellow, crept into a

freezia,

and the

delicate

leaned

flower

over,

swung, shook; and when the bee flew away fluttered

Happy, Sister is

still

as

though

were

laughing.

careless flower!

Angela looked

winter."

hears a cry.

at

little

it

and

said,

One night, lying in her icy Some stray animal is out

the garden, a kitten or a

ever

it

it

lamb or

animal might be there.

sleepless nun.

All

in



"Now cell

she

there in

well,

Up

it

what-

rises the

white, shivering but fear-

71

Taking the Veil she goes and brings

less,

ing,

when

it

But next morn-

in.

the bell rings for matins, she

tossing in high fever

...

she never recovers.

In three days

The is

delirium

in

found

is .

.

all

and

.

over.

is

service has been said in the chapel, and she

buried in the corner of the cemetery reserved

for the nuns, where there are plain

of wood.

Now

Rest

Peace, Sister Angela.

Two

evening.

is

it

in

on each other come slowly

down

sobbing,

ter!"

Now

Our

!

.

.

and kneel

only daugh-

He

is

all in

But when he

is

there

there comes another.

black; he comes slowly.

.

old people leaning

to the grave

"Our daughter

crosses

little

Edna sees to her horror his hair is snow-white. Jimmy! Too late, too late! The tears are running down his face; he The wind Too late, too late is crying now. and

lifts his

black hat,

!

shakes the leafless trees

in the

churchyard.

He

gives one awful bitter cry.

Edna's black book

My darling! mistake,

hair

!

done She

is

with a thud to the gar-

She jumped up, her heart beating.

den path.

a

fell

No, a

it's

not too

terrible

dream.

How could she have it.

Oh, heavens!

free,

Everything

late.

done

It's ail

been

Oh, that white it ?

She has not

Oh, what happiness!

young, and nobody knows her secret. is

still

possible for her

72

and Jimmy.

!

Taking the Veil The house the

little

they have planned

may

be

still

built,

solemn boy with his hands behind his

back watching them plant the standard roses still

be born.

Edna got

His baby

as far as his

sister

baby

out her arms as though the

through the

air to her,

at the white sprays

.

sister,

little

on the

she stretched

love

and gazing tree, at

But when

.

.

may

came

flying

at the garden,

those darling

pigeons blue against the blue, and the Convent

with

its

narrow windows, she realized that now

— had never before — knew but — —

at last for the first time in her life

imagined any feeling

what

it

was

like

to be in love,

73

she

she

it

in

love

THE FLY 1

Y

'"^

"^"'ARE very snug in here," piped old Mr. Woodifield, and he peered out of the great, green leather armchair

by

his friend the boss's

of

its

him

pram.

to be

off.

desk as a baby peers out

His talk was over; it was time for Since But he did not want to go.

he had retired, since his

and the

girls

.

.

.

the wife

stroke,

kept him boxed up in the house

every day of the week except Tuesday.

On

Tues-

day he was dressed up and brushed and allowed to cut back to the City for the day.

Though

what he did there

couldn't

Made

imagine. friends,

a

the wife

and

nuisance

of himself to

his

Well, perhaps

so.

they supposed.

All the same,

we

the tree clings to

.

.

.

girls

cling to our last pleasures as

its last

leaves.

So there sat old

Woodifield, smoking a cigar and staring almost greedily at the boss,

who

rolled in his office chair,

stout, rosy, five years older

ing strong,

still

at the helm.

see him.

74

than he, and It did

still

go-

one good to

— The Fly Wistfully, admiringly, the old voice added, "It's

snug

"Yes, boss,

upon

in here,

my word!"

comfortable

it's

enough,"

agreed the

and he flipped the Financial Times with

As

paper-knife.

a

matter of fact he was proud

of his room; he liked to have cially

a

by old Woodifield.

It

admired, espe-

it

gave him a feeling

of deep, solid satisfaction to be planted there in the midst of

in full

it

view of that

old figure

frail

in the muffler.

had

"I've

done up

it

he had explained for the past

"New

weeks.

he explained, as

lately,"

carpet,"

—how

many?

and he pointed to the

bright red carpet with a pattern of large white

"New

rings.

furniture,"

and he nodded towards

the massive bookcase and the table with legs like

twisted treacle.

He waved

"Electric heating!"

almost exultantly towards the

five

transparent,

pearly sausages glowing so softly in the tilted

copper pan.

But he did not draw old Woodifield's attention

photograph over the table of

to the

looking boy

in

uniform standing

in

photographers'

raphers'

storm-clouds behind him.

parks

grave-

one of those

with

spectral

a

It

photog-

was not

had been there for over six years. 'There was something I wanted to tell you,"

new.

It

75

The Fly grew dim remembering. "Now what was it? I had it in my mind when I started out this morning." His hands began to tremble, and patches of red showed above his beard. Poor old chap, he's on his last pins, thought And, feeling kindly, he winked at the boss. the old man, and said jokingly, "I tell you what. I've got a little drop of something here that'll do you good before you go out into the cold again. said old Woodifield, and his eyes

It's

beautiful

He

took a key

stuff.

cupboard below

off

wouldn't hurt a child."

It

his watch-chain,

and drew forth

his desk,

man from whom

the

strict

QT.

a dark,

"That's the medicine," said he.

squat bottle.

"And

unlocked a

it

I

got

came from the

it

told

cellars at

me on

the

Windsor

Cassel."

Old Woodifield's mouth

He

couldn't have looked

fell

open

at the sight.

more surprised

the

if

boss had produced a rabbit. "It's whisky, ain't it?" he piped, feebly.

The

boss turned the bottle and lovingly showed

him the label. Whisky "D'you know," said

it

was.

he,

peering up

boss wonderingly, "they won't at

home."

going to

And

let

me

at

the

touch

it

he looked as though he was

cry.

76

The Fly "Ah,

where we know a bit more than cried the boss, swooping across for

that's

the ladies,"

two tumblers that stood on the table with the water-bottle, and pouring a generous finger into

"Drink

each.

And

down.

It'll

don't put any water with

tamper with

stuff

like

it.

you

do

It's sacrilege to

He

Ah!"

this.

good.

tossed

pulled out his handkerchief, hastily wiped

off his,

his

it

moustaches, and cocked an eye at old Woodi-

who was rolling his in his chaps. The old man swallowed, was silent

field,

and then said faintly, "It's nutty!" But it warmed him; it crept into brain

moment,

his chill old

—he remembered.

"That was of his chair.

The

a

it,"

he said, heaving himself out

"I thought you'd like to know.

week having a look at poor Reggie's grave, and they happened to come across your boy's. They're quite near each were

girls

other,

in

Belgium

last

seems."

it

Old Woodifield paused, but the boss made no reply. Only a quiver in his eyelids showed that he heard.

"The place

is

looked at

girls

were delighted with the way the

kept," piped the old voice. after.

home.

Couldn't be better

You've not been

77

across,

"Beautifully if

they were

have yer?"

The Fly "No, no!"

For various reasons the boss had

not been across.

"There's miles of

quavered old Woodi-

it,"

"and it's all as neat as a garden. Flowers growing on all the graves. Nice broad paths." It was plain from his voice how much he liked a field,

nice

broad path.

The pause came

again.

Then

the old

man

brightened wonderfully.

"D'you know what the hotel made the girls pay for a pot of jam?" he piped. "Ten francs! Robbery, I call it. It was a little pot, so Gertrude says, no bigger than a half-crown. And she hadn't taken more than a spoonful when they charged her ten francs.

Gertrude brought the

pot away with her to teach 'em a lesson.

Quite

trading on our feelings.

They

right,

too;

it's

think because we're

over there having a look

around we're ready

what

it

And

is."

"Quite right,

pay anything.

to

That's

he turned towards the door.

quite

right!"

cried

the

though what was quite right he hadn't the idea.

He came

round by

his desk,

shuffling footsteps to the door,

fellow out.

For

boss, least

followed the

and saw the old

Woodifield was gone.

a long

moment

the boss stayed, staring at

nothing, while the grey-haired

78

office

messenger,

The Fly watching him, dodged

and out of

in

his cubby-

hole like a dog that expects to be taken for a run.

Then: "I'll see nobody for half an hour, Macey," said the boss. "Understand? Nobody at all." "Very good, sir." i

The door

heavy steps recrossed

shut, the firm

body plumped down

the bright carpet, the fat

in

the spring chair, and leaning forward, the boss

He

covered his face with his hands. intended, he

had arranged

to weep.

.

wanted, he .

.

him when old Woodifield sprang that remark upon him about the boy's grave. It was exactly as though the earth had opened and he had seen the boy lying It

had been

a terrible shock to

there with Woodifield's

him.

For

it

girls

was strange.

staring

down

Although over

at six

years had passed away, the boss never thought of the boy except as lying unchanged, unblemished in

his

uniform,

asleep

groaned the boss.

for

ever.

"My

But no tears came

son!"

yet.

In

months and even years after the boy's death, he had only to say those words to be overcome by such grief that nothing short of the past, in the

a violent

fit

first

of weeping could relieve him.

Time,

he had declared then, he had told everybody, could

make no

difference.

79

Other men perhaps

The Fly might recover, might

live their loss

down, but not

How

was it possible? His boy was an only son. Ever since his birth the boss had worked at building up this business for him; it had no other meaning if it was not for the boy. Life itself had come to have no other meaning. How on he.

earth could he have slaved, denied himself, kept

going

all

those years without the promise for ever

before him of the boy's stepping into his shoes

and carrying on where he

And filled.

the

that promise

left off?

had been so near being

The boy had been

ful-

learning

in the office

ropes for a year before the war.

Every

morning they had started off together; they had come back by the same train. And what congratulations he had received as the boy's father!

No

wonder; he had taken to

it

marvellously.

As

man

jack

to his popularity with the staff, every

them down to old Macey couldn't make enough of the boy. And he wasn't in the least spoilt. No, he was just his bright, natural self, of

with the right word for everybody, with that boyish look and his habit of saying,

"Simply

splendid!"

was over and done with as though The day had come when it never had been. Macey had handed him the telegram that brought But

all

that

80

!

The Fly whole

the

"Deeply regret

had

about

crashing

place

inform you

to

left the office a

.

And

."

.

head.

his

broken man, with

he

his life in

ruins.

Six years

ago,

time passed!

The

day.

years

six

.

.

.

How

quickly

might have happened yester-

It

boss took his hands from his face;

he was puzzled.

Something seemed to be wrong

He

wasn't feeling as he wanted to

with him. feel.

He

boy's

photograph.

decided to get up and have a look at the

photograph of It

was

At

that

it

wasn't

favorite

a

was unnatural. even stern-looking. The boy had

cold,

never looked

But

his; the expression

like that.

moment

fallen into his

the boss noticed that a

!

said those struggling legs.

again and began to swim. pen, picked the

on to

it

oozed round

it.

lay

still

Then

and, pulling

it

fell

back

boss took up a

out of the ink, and shook

a piece of blotting-paper.

of a second

hold,

fly

The

Help

But the sides of

were wet and slippery;

the inkpot

had

broad inkpot, and was trying feebly

but desperately to clamber out again. help

fly

its

For

it

a fraction

on the dark patch that

the front legs waved, took

small sodden body up

it

began the immense task of cleaning the ink from its

wings.

Over and under, over and under, went 81

The Fly a leg along a wing, as the stone goes over

under the scythe. the

expand

first

succeeded at

last,

like

there

was

seeming to stand on the

fly,

tried to It

Then

a pause, while

tips of its toes,

one wing and then the other. and, sitting down,

a minute cat, to clean

could imagine that the

its

little

face.

danger was over;

ready for

But

life

plunged

his

Now The

had escaped;

the

had an

boss

pen back into the

ink,

little

it

one

hor-

was

make of

that?

What

He

leaned his thick

wings down came a great heavy

would

it

idea.

wrist on the blotting paper, and as the its

began,

again.

then

just

it

it

front legs rubbed

against each other lightly, joyfully. rible

and

fly

blot.

indeed!

tried

What The

beggar seemed absolutely cowed, stunned,

and afraid to move because of what would happen next. But then, as if painfully, it dragged The front legs waved, caught itself forward.

more slowly

hold, and,

this time, the task

began

from the beginning. He's a plucky little devil, thought the boss, and he felt a real admiration for the fly's courage. That was the way to tackle things; that was the Never say die; it was only a quesright spirit. But the fly had again finished its tion of laborious task, and the boss had just time to .

.

.

82

The Fly his pen,

refill

to shake

and square on the

fair

What

new-cleaned body yet another dark drop.

about

A

time?

this

it

were again waving; the boss leaned over the

"You

artful little b

of

But behold, the front legs

suspense followed.

He

moment

painful

and said

fly .

And

."

.

rush of

felt a

to

it

relief.

tenderly,

he actually had

the brilliant notion of breathing on

to help the

it

All the same, there was some-

drying process.

weak about

thing timid and

its efforts

now, and

the boss decided that this time should be the last, as he It

dipped the pen into the inkpot.

The

was.

paper, and the draggled stir.

on the soaked blotting-

last blot

The back

legs

fly

lay in

were stuck

it

and did not

to the

body; the

front legs were not to be seen.

"Come on," And he stirred

said

with his pen

it

ing happened or

the boss.

was



likely to

"Look sharp!" in vain.

happen.

Noth-

The

fly

was dead.

The

boss lifted the corpse on the end of the

paper-knife basket.

and flung

But such

it

into

the

waste-paper

a grinding feeling of

wretched-

him that he felt positively frightened. He started forward and pressed the bell for Macey. "Bring me some fresh blotting-paper," he said,

ness seized

83

The Fly "and look sharp about it. And while the old dog padded away he fell to wondering what it was he had been thinking about before. He took out his What was it? It was handkerchief and passed it inside his collar. For the life of him he could not remember. 5

sternly,

'

.

84

.

.

THE CANARY

YOU

see that big nail to the right of

look at not bear to take

door?

front

the

it

I

was there always even

can

now and

even

out.

it

I

scarcely

yet I could

should like to think

my

after

time.

it

some-

I

times hear the next people saying, "There must

And

have been a cage hanging from there. " comforts me; .

.

he

I feel

is

it

not quite forgotten.

You cannot imagine how wonderfully

.

was not

he sang.

It

canaries.

And

like

the singing of other

that isn't just

from the window,

my

Often,

fancy.

used to see people stop at

I

the gate to listen, or they

would lean over the

fence by the mock-orange for quite a long time



carried away.

you



it

really

wouldn't

seemed

to

sounds absurd to

I

suppose

if

you had heard him

me

it



but

it

that he sang whole songs

with a beginning and an end to them.

For the

instance,

afternoon,

brought

my

when and

I'd finished the

changed

my

house

blouse

in

and

sewing on to the veranda here, he

8s

The Canary used to hop, hop, hop from one perch to another, tap against the bars as sip

a

little

my

to attract

if

attention,

water just as a professional singer

might, and then break into a song so exquisite that I

had

to put

my

down

needle

wish

I can't describe it; I

I

to listen to him.

always the same, every afternoon, and I

understood every note of

... haps is

I

it

was

I felt

that

it.

How

loved him.

it

But

could.

I

loved him!

Per-

does not matter so very much what

one loves

Of

one must.

world.

in this

it

But love something

my

course there was always

little

house and the garden, but for some reason they

were never enough. fully,

Flowers respond wonder-

but they don't sympathize.

Does

the evening star.

Then

loved

I

that sound foolish?

I

used to go into the backyard, after sunset, and

gum tree. I used to whisper "There you are, my darling." And just in that first moment it seemed to be shining for me alone. It seemed

wait for

it

until

shone above the dark

it

to understand this

.

longing, and yet

is

it

.

.

something which

not longing.

Or

is

like

regret

more like regret. And yet regret for what? have much to be thankful for. But after he came into my life I forgot

it is

I

.

.

.

the evening star; I did not need

86

it

any more.

The Canary But

was

it

When

strange.

Chinaman who to sell held him

the

came to the door with birds up in his tiny cage, and instead of fluttering,

gave a

poor

goldfinches,

little

he

small chirp, I found myself saying,

faint,

just as I

the

like

fluttering,

had

said to the star over the

"There you are, my darling." ment he was mine.

From

gum that

tree,

mo-

... It surprises me even now to remember how he and I shared each other's lives. The moment I came down in the morning and took the cloth off his cage he greeted me with a drowsy little

Then

my

knew it meant "Missus! Missus!" hung him on the nail outside while I got

note. I

I

young men their breakfasts, and I never brought him in until we had the house to ourselves again. Then, when the washing-up was done, it was quite a little entertainment. I spread a newspaper over a corner of the table and three

when

put the cage on

I

wings despairingly, as coming.

if

he used to beat with his

he didn't

"You're a regular

to scold him.

fresh sand,

I

And

filled his

I

am

little

know what was actor," I used

scraped the tray, dusted

a piece of chickweed

bars.

it

it

with

seed and water

tins,

and half

between the

a chili

tucked

perfectly certain he understood

and appreciated every item of

87

this

little

per-

The Canary You

formance.

There was never

neat.

And

by nature he was exquisitely

see

a

speck on his perch.

you'd only to see him enjoy his bath to

had a real small passion for cleanliness. His bath was put in last. And the moment it was in he positively leapt into it. First he flutrealize he

tered one wing, then the other, then he ducked

head and dabbled

his

of water were scattered

all

he would not get out.

still

that's quite enough.

off."

And

on one

leg,

at last out

his throat

over the kitchen, but I

"Now

used to say to him,

You're only showing

he hopped and, standing

he began to peck himself dry.

he gave a shake, a

—Oh,

I

Drops

his breast feathers.

flick,

a twitter

Finally

and he

lifted

can hardly bear to recall

it.

was always cleaning the knives at the time. And it almost seemed to me the knives sang too, as I rubbed them bright on the board. Company, you see that was what he If you Perfect company. have lived was. alone you will realize how precious that is. Of course there were my three young men who came in to supper every evening, and sometimes stayed I

.

.



.

in the

dining-room afterwards reading the paper.

But

could not expect them to be interested

the

I

little

they be?

things that I

made my

was nothing 88

day.

to them.

Why

in

should

In fact, I

The Canary me on

overheard them one evening talking about

No

the stairs as "the Scarecrow."

Not in the They are young.

matter.

doesn't

understand.

matter.

least.

Why

It

quite

I

should

I

remember feeling so especially thankful that I was not quite alone that evening. I said "Do I told him, after they had gone out. you know what they call Missus?" And he put

mind?

But

head on one

his

seemed .

.

this

side

and looked

at

me

with his

bright eye until I could not help laughing.

little

It

I

to

amuse him.

Have you

.

kept birds?

If

you haven't

must sound, perhaps, exaggerated.

People

have the idea that birds are heartless, cold creatures,

woman dered

used to say on

why

My

not like dogs or cats.

I

Mondays when

didn't keep

all

little

washershe won-

"a nice fox terrier,"

"There's no comfort, Miss,

in a

canary."

Un-

remember one night. I had had a very awful dream dreams can be dreadfully cruel even after I had woken up I

true.

Dreadfully untrue.

I





could not get over

it.

gown and went down

So

I

put on

my

dressing-

to the kitchen for a glass

was a winter night and raining hard. I suppose I was still half asleep, but through the kitchen window, that hadn't a blind, it seemed to me the dark was staring in, spying. And sudof water.

It

89

The Canary was unbearable that I had no one to whom I could say "I've had such a dreadful dream," or or "Hide me from the dark." I

denly

I felt it



even covered

my

And

face for a minute.

then

came a little "Sweet! Sweet!" His cage was on the table, and the cloth had slipped so that there

chink

a

!"

Sweet

of

light

shone

said the darling

little

"Sweet!

through.

fellow again, softly,

much as to say, "I'm here, Missus That was so beautifully comforting as

I

I'm here

!"

that I nearly

cried. .

.

And now

.

he's gone.

I shall

never have

How

another bird, another pet of any kind. could

I ?

When

I

found him, lying on his back,

with his eye dim and his claws wrung, when realised that never again should I hear

something seemed to die

sing, felt

hollow, as

Of

it.

if it

course.

I

was

cheerful disposition.

thank .

.

my God I .

his cage.

must.

And

thing in time.

in

my

me.

One can

heart

get over

get over any-

people always say

They

darling

My

I shall

I

I

have a

are quite right.

I

have.

All the same, without being morbid, and



memories and so on, I must confess that there does seem to me something I don't It is hard to say what it is. sad in life. mean the sorrow that we all know, like illness and giving

way

to

to

90

The Canary No,

poverty and death. It

is

it is

something

different.

deep down, deep down, part of one,

there,

However hard I work and have only to stop to know it is there,

like one's breathing. tire

myself

waiting.

I

I

often wonder

if

everybody

One can never know.

same.

But

traordinary that under his sweet, singing



was just heard?

it

that I

this sadness

91



ah,

feels the

isn't

joyful

what

it

ex-

little is

it?

A MARRIED MAN'S STORY over.

We have left

the small, cold dining-room,

we have come

IT

is

Supper

evening.

is

back to the sitting-room where there All

as usual.

is

which hind

is

am

it

is

...

all

boy on her

fire.

She

clears

away

am

be-

The

have before

the paraphernalia, in fact, of

is

lap,

is

in a

My

quiet,

clasping the

them up in the to-morrow morning. and the sleepy baby,

One

have made her dreamy. off,

low chair before the

the dishes and piles

But the warmth, the

is

wife, with her

about to put him to bed before she

kitchen for the servant girl

and

writing table

alight; I

an extremely occupied man.

boots

fire.

large books of reference, both open, a pile

of papers

little

a

were, and facing the room.

lamp with the green shade

me two

my

sitting at

placed across a corner so that I as

it,

I

is

one little

is

on.

She

of his red woollen

bent forward,

sits,

bare foot, staring into the glow,

as the fire quickens, falls, flares again, her



shadow an immense Mother and Child and gone again upon the wall. .

92

.

.



is

here

A Outside

Married Man's Story

it is

cold drenched

raining.

I like

window behind

to think of that

the blind, and be-

yond, the dark bushes in the garden, their broad leaves bright with rain, and beyond the fence, the gleaming road with the two hoarse ters singing against each other,

little

and the wavering

reflections of the lamps, like fishes' tails. I

am

sky,

here, I

and

it

the world

am

there, lifting

seems to



me

it

gut-

my

face to

must be raining

that the whole earth

is

While the dim all

over

drenched,

is

sounding with a soft quick patter or hard steady

drumming, or gurgling and something that is like sobbing and laughing mingled together, and that light playful splashing that still

lakes and flowing rivers.

and the same moment city,

of water falling into

is

I

slipping under the

am off

all

at

one

arriving in a strange

hood of

driver whips the cover

And

the cab while the

the breathing horse,

running from shelter to shelter, dodging someone, swerving by

of

tall

someone

else.

I

am

conscious

houses, their doors and shutters sealed

against the night, of dripping balconies and sod-

den

flower-pots.

1

am

brushing

through

de-

serted gardens and falling into moist smelling

summer-houses (you know how soft and almost crumbling the rain), I

am

wood

of a summer-house

is

in the

standing on the dark quayside, giving

93

A my in

Married Man's Story wet red hand of the old

ticket into the

an

How strong the

oilskin.

sea smells

sailor

How

!

loudly the tied-up boats knock against one an-

other? in

I

am

hooded

crossing the wet stackyard,

an old sack, carrying a lantern, while the house-

dog, like a soaking doormat, springs, shakes himself

And now

over me.

serted road

and the



it is

I

am walking

along a de-

impossible to miss the puddles,



trees are stirring

stirring.

But one could go on with such a catalogue for ever on and on until one lifted the single arum



lily



leaf

until

and discovered the

one counted

.

.

.

tiny snails clinging,

and what then?

Aren't

my

feeling?

those just the signs, the traces of

The

made by someone who dewy grass? Not the feeling it-

bright green streaks

walks over the

And

self.

as I think that, a

voice begins to sing in that

What power

What

velvety

What softness

voice

a

Mar-

I

!

Suddenly

knows

I

Yes, perhaps

bosom.

nearer what I mean.

is

vellous

my

mournful glorious

my

—how

wife turns round quickly.

— with her — and

long has she known?

not "working."

It

is

strange that

that I

open gaze, she should smile so timidly

she should say in such a hesitating voice, are you thinking?"

94

She

am full,

that

"What

— A

and draw two

I smile

head

Married Man's Story way

in the

"Nothing,"

have.

I

my

fingers across

I

fore-

answer

softly.

At

that she

stirs,

and

still

trying not to u

make

Oh, but you must have been thinking of something I" Then I really meet her gaze, meet it fully, and it

sound important, she

I

fancy her face quivers.

says,

Will she never grow

accustomed to these simple everyday

little lies?

expose herself

"Truly,

There

!

I

—or

— one

might say

Will she never learn not to

to build

up defences?

was thinking of nothing." I

seem to

see

it

dart at her.

turns away, pulls the other red sock

him up, and begins wonder if that little

off

She

the baby,

him behind.

sits

to unbutton

I

soft rolling bundle sees

Now

him over on her knee, and in this light, his soft arms and legs waving, he is extraordinarily like a young crab. A queer thing is I can't connect him with my wife and myself; I've never accepted him as Each time when I come into the hall and ours. anything, feels anything?

she turns

see the perambulator, I catch myself thinking:

"H'm, someone has brought his crying

blame

from

my

wakes me

a

baby!"

Or, when

at night, I feel inclined to

wife for having brought the baby in

outside.

The

truth

95

is,

th?t though one

A

Married Man's Story

might suspect her of strong maternal

feelings,

my

me the type of woman who her own body. There's an imanimal Where is that

wife doesn't seem to bears children

mense

in

difference

I

.

.

.

ease and playfulness, that quick kissing and cuddling one has been taught to expect of

mothers?

when

She hasn't a sign of

she ties

bonnet she

its

may

be passionately

so.

At any

like this

that

an aunt and

may be wrong she devoted ... I don't think

rate, isn't

about one's

I believe

feels like

But of course

not a mother.

it.

young

it

I

;

a trifle indecent to feel

own wife?

Indecent or not,

And one other thing. expect my wife, a broken'

one has these feelings.

How

can

reasonably

I

hearted woman, to spend her time tossing the

baby?

But

that

beside

is

the

She

mark.

never even began to toss when her heart was whole.

And now hear her

she has carried the baby to bed.

soft,

deliberate steps

I

moving between

the dining-room and the kitchen, there and back again, to the tune of the clattering dishes.

Aid

What

Oh,

now all I know is

is

quiet.

in the

rainy window. is

happening now?

just as surely as if I'd

standing

she

is

gone to see



she

middle of the kitchen facing the

Her head

tracing something

is

bent, with one finger

—nothing—on

96

the table.

— A

Married Man's Story gas jumps; the tap

It is cold in the kitchen; the

drips;

ing to

it's

And nobody

a forlorn picture.

come behind

her, to take her in his arms, to

and

kiss her soft hair, to lead her to the fire

rub her hands

warm

Nobody

again.

her or to wonder what she

call

And

knows

she

go-

is

And yet,

it.

down, deep down, she

is

to

going to

is

doing out there.

being a woman, deep

does expect the

really

miracle to happen; she really could embrace that dark, dark deceit, rather than live

To

live like this.

...

I



write those words,

For some

very carefully, very beautifully. son

I feel inclined to sign

derneath isn't

—Trying

New

a

in

one innocent-looking

me



tempts

it

My

table. stir

it,

lift

me

But

Pen.

little

terribly.

rea-

them, or to write un-

staggering to think what

it

like this.

may

be contained

phrase? Scene.

wife has just handed

seriously,

It

tempts

The

supper-

me my

tea.

I

the spoon, idly chase and then carefully

capture a speck of tea-leaf, and having brought ashore,

we

I

murmur,

continue to live

ately there

is

deafening roar. say

I like

quite gently,



that

like

"How

this?"

long shall

And immedi-

famous "blinding

Huge

flash

debris) are flung into the air

.

.

and must

pieces of debris (I

97

it

.

and

A when away

.

never

know

ov t



dark clouds of smoke have drifted

the

never happen;

this will

I shall

found upon me "intact"

It will be

it.

"Open my heart and you

say.





But

."

.

they

as

Married Man's Story

will



Why?

Ah, there you have mei

most difficult question of Why do people stay together? the

There to

all

is

answer.

Putting aside

"for the sake of the children," and "the habit of years" and "economic reasons" as lawyers' nonsense



not much more

it's

try to find out

why

it



if

one really does

that people don't leave

is

each other, one discovers a mystery.

It

is

be-

And nobody

cause they can't; they are bound.

on earth knows what are the bonds that bind

Am

them except those two. Well, the thing clear,

itself isn't so frightfully crystal

Let me put

it?

is

there

into

to

is

ing given

hers.

know about

it

Supposing

like this.

it

you are taken, absolutely,

and then

being obscure?

I

into his confidence

first

Supposing you know

And

the situation.

all

hav-

not only your deepest sympathy but

your most honest impartial

criticism,

you declare,

very calmly, (but not without the slightest suggestion of relish



in the

up and



for there

very best of us

cries

is



I

swear there

— something

"A-ahh!" for joy 98

is

that leaps

at the thought of

— A destroying),

Married Man's Story "Well, my opinion is that you two You'll do no earthly

people ought to part. Indeed,

together.

seems to me,

it

He

— and

viction too.

You

then?

been thinking to

she



agree.

You

gether.

their

is

they want

— and to.

.

.

And to-

still

reckoned without the is

their secret relation

that they can't disclose even

Thus

far

you may

tell

Oh, don't misunderstand me

further.

.

them they are

—you've —which

unknown quantity to each other

con-

what they have And away they go

night.

all last

see

happens

are only saying

the next time you hear of

if

It

on your advice, immediately.

act

the duty

it's

What

of either to set the other free."

good

and no It

!

need

not necessarily have anything to do with their sleeping together. a

.

.

But

.

thought I've often half entertained.

that

human

beings, as

each other at self inhabiting

his

own

we know them,

It

all.

them,

is

has seemed to

me

it's

—we

So that, what

the

it

realize this, at any rate

trying to escape. if

self in the

so

we



this

the

to the extent that

is

the choice for

— may sound second Dimly— dimly— or

particular purposes, and

other which responds.

don't choose

the owner, the second

who makes

absurdly far-fetched

me to Which is

this brings

realize the hopelessness of

impermanent

selves of

99

it

all

my

amounts to

wife and

mc





A are



Married Man's Story

happy

tant

tant mieux

pis.

.

And

But

.

.

pour nous I



miserable

if

know,

don't

don't

I

may be that it's something entirely individual in me this sensation (yes, it is even a sensation) of how extraordinarily shell-

know.

like

we

it

we

are as

— —

are

creatures, peering

little

out of the sentry-box at the gate, ogling through

our glass case at the entry, wan

who

never can say for certain, even,

out or

is

in.

.

The door "I

little if

servants,

the master

.

.

opens.

.

.

.

My

am going to bed." And I look up va-guely, and

She says,

wife.

vaguely say, "You

are going to bed."

"Yes."

you?



A

"Don't forget



will

to turn out the gas in the hall."

And

again

I repeat,

"The gas

in the hall."

— time before—when — now has become wasn't one then—was one of our sweetest

There was habit of mine it

tiny pause.

a time it

the

really

this

a habit

jokes

together.

occasions I really hear.

I

Why ing?

several

was deeply engaged and

I didn't

emerged only

and laughing

"No.

when on

began, of course,

It

at

to see her shaking her

head

me, "You haven't heard a word

What

!"

did you say?"

should she think that so funny and charm-

She did;

it

delighted her.

IOO

"Oh,

my

darling,

— A

it's

she

Married Man's Story so like you! so It's so " And I knew loved me for it. I knew she positively looked

forward

— —

coming

to



and disturbing me, and so

in

was guaranteed to be wrapped away every evening at 10.30 p. m. But now? For some reason I feel it would be as one does

my

crude to stop

It's

simplest to

she waiting for to-night?

is

go? Why prolong this? She No, her hand on the door-knob, she

doesn't she

going.

is

I

performance.

But what

play on.

Why

played up.

I

turns round again, and she says in the most curious, small, breathless voice,

Oh,

"You're not cold?"

not fair to be as pathetic as that!

it's

That was simply damnable. I shuddered all over before I managed to bring out a slow "No-o!" while

She night.

my is

hand

left

ruffles

the reference pages.

gone; she will not come back again

It

not only

is

who

I

to-

recognize that; the

room changes too. It relaxes, like an old actor. Slowly the mask is rubbed off; the look of strained attention changes to an air of heavy sullen brood-

Every

ing.

The mirror sly

line, is

haps other.

be

fold breathes

fatigue.

quenched; the ash whitens; only

lamp burns

difference to

every

on.

me

it

.

all

flattered?

You know

.

.

But what

shows!

Or

my

a cynical in-

should

I

per-

No, we understand each

those stories of

IOI

little

children

— A who

Married Man's Story

are suckled by wolves and accepted by the

and how for ever after they move freely

tribe,

among

their fleet, grey brothers ?

has happened

that

me.

to

wrote

down, while

it

was delighted with

Curious

like

That

But wait!

about the wolves won't do. I

Something

Before

!

was still in my head, I It seemed to express, and what I wanted to say.

it

it.

more, to suggest, just

But written,

I

can smell the falseness immediately

and the

.

source of the smell

.

.

Don't you agree?

fleet.

is in

that

word

Fleet, grey brothers!

A

word I never use. When I wrote "wolves" it skimmed across mv mind like a shadow and I couldn't resist it. Tell me! Tell "Fleet."

me

Why

!

is it

so difficult to write simply

not only simply but sotto voce, I

mean?

effects

That

—no

is

how

bravura.

as only a liar can tell

I

if

you know what

Or

find is

No

long to write.

But just the plain

fine

truth,

it.

I light a cigarette, lean back, inhale

and

— and

myself wondering

if

my

wife

deeply is

asleep.

she lying in her cold bed, staring into the

dark, with those trustful, bewildered eyes? eyes are like the eyes of a

driven along a road.

cow that

"Why am 102

I

is

Her being

being driven

!

A

Married Man's Story

what harm have

responsible for that look;

One

sion.

day,

when

board, she found a self,

But

done?"

I

she

little

it's

I really

am

her natural expres-

was turning out a cupold photograph of her-

taken when she was a girl at school.

confirmation

were the

dress,

eyes,

even then.

"Did you always look

over

my

sad?

I

there

remember saying

I

her,

In her

And

explained.

she

waited for

me

was marvelling

it's

just

.

.

.

"Do I me." And

to say something about at

to

Leaning

so sad?"

shoulder, she laughed lightly,

think

not

look she

But

it.

her courage at having shown

I it

me at all. It was a hideous photograph And I wondered again if she realized how plain to

she was, and comforted herself with the idea that

people

who

loved each other didn't

accepted everything, or

if

criticize

but

she really rather liked

her appearance and expected

me

to say

something

complimentary.

Oh, that was base of me forgotten

known her

all

could

I

How

the numberless times

to turn

her face into

!

my

away

could

when

I

have

I

have

to avoid the light, press

shoulders.

And, above

all,

how

have forgotten the afternoon of our wed-

ding day when we sat on the green bench

in the

Botanical Gardens and listened to the band, how, in

an interval between two pieces, she suddenly

103

A turned to

Married Man's Story

me and

"Do you

says,

you think

it's

said in the voice in which one

think the grass

time for tea?

you think physical beauty

is

is .

.

damp?" .,

or

"Do

"Tell me, do

so very important?"

how often she had rehearsed that question. And do you know what I answered? At that moment, as if at my command I don't like to think

came

there

a great gush of hard, bright

from the band, and cheerfully, "I didn't

Wasn't

ish!

looked

geon

not

wholly.

poor patient who hears the

like the

She sur-

say, "It will certainly be necessary to per-

—but not now!"

form the operation

But

this

all

wife and

Not

managed to shout above it hear what you said." DevilI

Perhaps

it?

sound

true

I !

conveys the impression that

my

were never really happy together. Not true We were marvellously, !

radiantly happy.

We

were

a

model couple.

If

you had seen us together, any time, any place, if you had followed us, tracked us down, spied, taken us off our guard, you still would have been forced to confess, "I have never seen a more ideally suited pair."

But

Until last autumn.

what happened then I go back and back, I should have

really to explain

should have to

104

A

Married Man's Story to dwindle until my two hands clutched the banisters, the stair-rail was higher than my head, and I peered through to watch my father padding There were coloured windows on the landings. As he came up, first his bald head was scarlet; then it was yellow. How frightened I was! And when they put me to bed, it was to dream that we were living inside one of my father's big coloured bottles. For he was a chemist. I was born nine years after my parents were married. I was an only child, and softly

up and down.

the effect to produce even

bud

I

must have been

strength.

She never

me



— sapped

left the

small, withered

all

room

my

mother's

again.

Bed,

moved between the three. Well I can see her, on the window days, sitting, her cheek in her hand, staring out. Her room sofa,

window,

she

looked over the

Opposite there was a

street.

wall plastered with advertisements for travelling

shows and

circuses

and we gaze a

and so on.

I

stand beside her,

at the slim lady in a red dress hitting

dark gentleman over the head with a parasol, or

at the tiger peering

through the jungle while the

clown, close by, balances a bottle on his nose, or at a little golden-haired girl sitting

an old black

man

She says nothing.

on the knee of

broad cotton

in

a

On

sofa days there

105

hat. is

.

.

.

a flannel

A dressing

Married Man's Story

gown

that I loathe,

keeps on slipping It

off

and

a cushion that

the hard sofa.

I

has flowers and writing sewn on.

pick

it

up.

ask what

I

the writing says, and she whispers, "Sweet Re-

In bed her fingers plait, in tight

pose!" plaits,

the fringe of the quilt,

thin.

And

that

is all

there

and her

my

of

is

little

are

lips

mother, ex-

cept the last queer "episode" that comes later.

My

father.

.

.

Curled up

.

in the

corner on

the lid of a round box that held sponges, I stared at

my

off

father so long,

as

though

his image, cut

the waist by the counter, has remained

at

solid

it's

my memory.

in

Perfectly bald, polished

head, shaped like a thin egg, creased, creamy cheeks,

bags under his eyes, large pale ears

little

handles.

like

His

manner was

discreet,

sly,

amused and tinged with impudence. Long before I could appreciate it, I knew the mixture. ... I even used to copy him in my corner, faintly

bending forward, with a small reproduction of his

faint

In the evening his customers

sneer.

young women; some of them came in every day for his famous five-penny pick-me-up. Their gaudy looks, their voices, their free ways,

were,

chiefly,

fascinated me. ing

them across

bluish

stuff

I

longed to be

my

the counter the

they tossed 1

off

06

so

father, hand-

little

glass of

greedily.

God

A

Married Man's Story

was made of. Years after I drank some, just to see what it tasted like, and I felt as though someone had given me a terrific blow on the head; I felt stunned. One of those evenings I remember vividly. It was cold; it must have been autumn, for the flaring gas was lighted after my tea. I sat in my corner and my father was mixing something; the Suddenly the bell jangled and shop was empty. a young woman rushed in, crying so loud, sobbing She wore a so hard, that it didn't sound real. green cape trimmed with fur and a hat with My father came from behind cherries dangling.

knows what

the screen.

She stood

it

But she didn't stop herself in the

at first.

middle of the shop and wrung

her hands and moaned; I've never heard such cry-

managed to gasp out, "Give me a pick-me-up I" Then she drew a long breath, trembled away from him and quavered, ing since.

Presently she

had bad news!" And in the flaring gaslight I saw the whole side of her face was puffed up and purple; her lip was cut, and her eyelid looked as though it was gummed fast over the wet eye. "I've

My

father pushed the glass across the counter,

and she took the purse out of her stocking and paid him.

But she couldn't drink; clutching the

glass, she stared in front of her as if she could not

107

A

Married Man's Story Each time she put her

what she saw.

believe

head back the tears spurted out again. Finally she put the glass down. It was no use. Holding the cape with one hand, she ran in the same way

My

out of the shop again.

father gave no sign.

But long after she had gone corner, and

my

when

think back

I

whole body vibrating

outside," I thought.

crouched

I it's

— "So

though

as

"That's what

I felt

what

that's

my

in

it

like

it's

is

out

there."

Do

you remember your childhood?

I

am

al-

ways coming across these marvellous accounts by writers who declare that they remember "everything." the

I

certainly don't.

blanks,

glimpses.

much bigger than

are I

seem

to

stretches,

the

have spent most of

cupboard.

like a plant in a

The dark

Now

bright

my

time

and again, when

hand thrust me out on the window-sill, and a careless hand whipped me in again and that was all. But what happened Did one grow? I wonder? in the darkness the sun shone, a careless



pale



stem

.

.

No

.

timid leaves

wonder

.

.

.

white

reluc-

was hated at school. Even the masters shrank from me. I somehow tant bud.

knew

that

my

I

soft hesitating voice disgusted them. 1

08

A

Married Man's Story knew, too, how they turned away from my

I

was small and thin, and I smelled of the shop; my nickname was Gregory Powder. School was a tin building, stuck on the raw hillside. There were dark red streaks like shocked, staring eyes.

blood I

in the

I

oozing clay banks of the playground.

hide in the dark passage, where the coats hang,

and am discovered there by one of the masters. "What are you doing there in the dark?" His

me;

terrible voice kills

am

standing

are grinning,

And

is

it

in a

I die

before his eyes.

ring of thrust-out heads;

some look greedy, some are

always cold.

I

some

spitting.

Big crushed-up clouds

press across the sky; the rusty water in the school

tank

they put a dead bird in

found

One day

frozen; the bell sounds numb.

is

it

just

when

I

my

overcoat pocket.

Oh, what a

reached home.

strange flutter there was at

my

out that terribly soft, cold

heart

little

when

I

drew

body, with the

and the claws wrung.

legs thin as pins

I

I sat

on

the back door step in the yard and put the bird in

my

cap.

The

wet, and there

feathers round the neck looked

was

a tiny tuft just

above the

How

tightly the

closed eyes that stood up too.

beak was shut! it

was divided.

touched the

I I

could not see the

mark where

stretched out one wing

soft, secret

down underneath; 109

and

I tried

A

Married Man's Story make the claws curl round my little

to

But

sorry for

I didn't feel

The smoke from our downwards,

and

it

I

!

wondered.

kitchen chimney poured of

flakes

Through

light in the air.

—no

finger.

soot

floated



soft,

a big crack in the ce-

ment yard a poor-looking plant with dull, reddish flowers had pushed its way. I looked at the dead bird again. I

.

.

And

.

that

is

— rather

remember singing

silent voice inside a little

But what has

Why— to

me?

— do run Past—what shaped plant,

my

tell

all this

I

is

can

.

all this affect

what happened

the Past?

I

my married my wife and last

autumn

The

into the Past?

might say the

star-

on a leaf of the poor-looking

and the bird lying on the quilted lining of

cap,

and

my

father's pestle

cushion belong to

But that

it.

and is

are any less mine than they were

upon them with with these

my

fingers.

a living part of

am

mother's

not to say they

when

I

looked

No, they are more; they are

Who am

me.

nothing.

my

very eyes, and touched them

I,

in fact, as I sit

my own past? And if I were to

here at this table, but that, I

time that

listening to a

do with

way back

flake of soot

.

first

cage that was me.

all this to

How

happiness?

.

the

UO

If I

deny

try to di-

A my

vide

life

hood and I

Married Man's Story

so on,

know

should

youth, early man-

into childhood, it

I

would be

was doing

a kind of affectation;

just because of the

it

pleasantly important sensation

and

rule lines,

it

one to

gives

to use green ink for childhood, red

for the next stage, and purple for the period of

For one thing I have learnt, one do believe is, Nothing Happens Suddenly.

adolescence.

thing

I

Yes, that

My

my

is

religion, I suppose.

mother's death, for instance.

from me today than

Is

more

it

just as close, as strange, as

was then? puzzling, and in

of

have recalled the

distant

all

the countless times

cumstances,

I

I

it

know no more now than

I

It

is

spite cir-

did then,

dreamed them, or whether they really occurred. It happened when I was thirteen and I slept in a little strip of a room on what was called the half-landing. One night I woke up whether

I

with a start to see

my

mother,

in

her night-gown,

without even the hated flannel dressing-gown, sitting

on

frightened

my

bed.

me

Her head was lay

between

But the strange thing which

was, she wasn't looking at me. bent; the short, thin

her

shoulders;

her

pressed between her knees, and she

was

shivering.

was

It

ever seen her out of her

the

of hair

hands

my bed first

own room.

ill

tail

were shook; I

had

I said,

or I

time

— A

Married Man's Story think I said, "Is that you, Mother?" And as she turned round, I saw in the moonlight how queer Her face looked small quite differshe looked.



She looked

ent.

who

school baths,

'Are opened;

me.

to

go

a step, shivering just

in

awake?"

you

and yet

she

been

Then, before

I

thought

I

couldn't move,

I

me."

For

to happen.

Her

eyes

she

whispered.

And

she nodded.

could say a word, she was gone;

heard the door

I

frightened.

said.

poisoned,"

father's poisoned

is

She leaned towards

think she smiled.

I

"I've

"Your

on

sits

and wants

like that,

one of the boys at the

like

think

I

a

I

shut.

I sat quite still,

expected something else

long time

I

listened for some-

The

thing; there wasn't a sound.

candle was by

my bed, but my hand for

was too frightened to stretch out the matches. But even while I won-

dered what

I

thumped

I

ought to do, even while

— everything

my

heart

became confused. I lay down and pulled the blankets round me. I fell asleep, and the next morning my mother was found dead of failure of the heart. Did that visit happen? Was it a dream? Why did she come to tell me? Or why, if she came, did she go away so quickly? pression



And

her ex-

so joyous under the frightened look

was that real?

I

believed

112

it

fully the

afternoon

— A

Married Man's Story funeral, when I saw my father dressed up

of the

for his part, hat and

That

all.

tall

hat so gleam-

was like a cork covered with black sealing-wax, and the rest of my father was ing black and round

awfully like a bottle, with his face for the label

Deadly Poison.

It

flashed into

stood opposite him

in

the

Poison, or old D. P., was

him from

Late, to

hall.

my

my mind as I And Deadly

private

name

for

that day.

it

grows

feel the

late.

I

love the night.

I

love

of darkness rising, slowly and

tide

slowly washing, turning over and over, lifting, floating, all that lies all

strewn upon the dark beach,

that lies hid in rocky hollows.

this strange feeling of drifting

my

mother's death

to sit sky.

I

love

After I

used

on the window-sill, folded up, and watch the It

seemed to me the moon moved much

star I chose for

thought of

it

merrily for

my



—whither?

hated to go to bed.

faster than the sun.

did

I love, I

it

burned

my

And

own.

one big, bright green

My star!

beckoning to me, sake. in

But or

I

never

twinkling

Cruel, indifferent, splen-

the airy night.

No

matter

was mine! But, growing close up against the window, there was a creeper with small, bunchedit

"3'

— A

Married Man's Story These did know me. touched them at night, welcomed

up pink and purple flowers. These, when

my

I

fingers; the little tendrils, so

weak, so delicate,

knew I would not hurt them. When the wind moved the leaves I felt I understood their shak-

When

ing.

me is

I

came

the flowers said

to the

among

window,

seemed

it

themselves,

to

"The boy

here."

As

months passed, there was often a light in my father's room below. And I heard voices and laughter. "He's got some woman with him," I thought. But it meant nothing to me. Then the

me

the

come

to

the gay voice, the sound of laughter, gave

idea

it

was one of

the girls

the shop in the evenings to imagine in the

which

girl

red coat and

a penny.

A merry

breath tickled

my

it

who used

— and gradually

began

It

face stooped over



I

was the dark one who once had given me

was.

skirt,

neck

to

there were

little

when

black on her long lashes, and

me

—warm

beads of

she opened

her arms to kiss me, there came a marvellous

wave of scent! Yes, that was Time passed, and I forgot green star and

window dow,

my

the one. the

shy creeper

to wait for the light in



moon and my I

my

came

to the

father's win-

to listen for the laughing voice, until

night I dozed and

I

one

dreamed she came again 114



!

A

Married Man's Story again she drew me to her, something soft, scented, warm and merry hung over me like a cloud. But when her red

I

lips

tried to see, her eyes only

opened and she hissed, "Little sneak!

But not

Little sneak!"

as

as

she were angry,

if

somehow was

she understood, and her smile

if

like a rat



mocked me,

hateful

The night down at the

after, I lighted the candle

table instead.

By and

and

sat

by, as the

flame steadied, there was a small lake of liquid

wax, surrounded by a white, smooth wall. a pin

and made

sealed

them up

After a time

I

little

holes in this

took

wall and then

wax

faster than the

I

could escape.

fancied the candle flame joined in

game; it leapt up, quivered, wagged; it even seemed to laugh. But while I played with the candle and smiled and broke off the tiny white peaks of wax that rose above the wall and floated the

them on my fastened on

my

up from ached that

all I

lake, a feeling of awful dreariness

me



yes, that's the

knees to

move.

there by the table I



I

a

I

It crept

my

arms;

I

strangely

felt so

Something bound

me

couldn't even let the pin

held between

moment I came Then the shrivelled

For

thighs, into

And

with misery.

couldn't

drop that

my

word.

my

finger

to a stop, as

case of the

and thumb. it

were.

bud

split

and

!

A

the plant in the cupboard

fell,

"Who am And the

man

velope. fore.

I?"

called

my I

.

.

.

my

room,

it

down between

at the

I

us

broken bust of

was equally



it



had seen

I

alive

be-

But

and



it's

the barriers were

had come

I

an en-

like

everything.

lived,

can express

this?"

all

is

top of the cup-

but not as

all,

all.

I

"What

into flower.

bed with the pillow

Everything

way

came

Hahnemann on

little

saw

was not

the only

thought.

I

looked at

I

board, at

that

Married Man's Story

into

my own

world

The life

a

barriers were down. little

—or

had been

outcast; but until that

one had "accepted" me;

board

I

the

cave

I

had

forlorn.

all

my

moment no

lain in the cup-

But now

I

was

was accepted, claimed. I did not consciously turn away from the world of human beings; I had never known it; but I from that night did beyond words consciously turn towards taken, I

my

silent brothers.

.

.

.

116

THE DOVES' NEST

AFTER

lunch Milly and her mother were

on the balcony beyond

sitting as usual

the

dredth

time

salon,

the

admiring for the the

stocks,

the

roses,

hun-

five

small,

bright grass beneath the palms, and the oranges against a

wavy

line

of blue,

brought them by Marie.

Martin

were

very

when

card was

a

Visitors at the Villa

True,

rare.

English

the

clergyman, Mr. Sandiman, had called, and he had

come

a second time with his wife to tea.

But an

awful thing had happened on that second oc-

Mother had made a mistake. She had "More tea, Mr. Sandybags?" Oh, what

casion.

said

frightful

a

thing

to

have

could she have done it? the

thought.

given

And

How

happened!

Milly

flamed at

still

he had evidently not

them; he'd never come again.

card put them both into a

Mr. Walter Prodgcr,

So

forthis

flutter.

And

they read.

then

an American address, so very much abbreviated that

neither

of

them

understood

117

it.

Walter

The Prodger?

But

Doves' Nest

Mother looked from

heard

never

they'd

of

him.

the card to Milly.

"Prodger, dear?" she asked mildly, as though helping Milly to a

of a never-before-tasted

slice

pudding.

And

Milly seemed to be holding her plate back

way

the

in

answered

she

"I



don't

—know,

Mother." "These are the occasions," said Mother, coming a little flustered, "when one does so the need of our dear English servants. if I

could just say,

'What

is

he

like,

befeel

Now

Annie?'

I

know whether to see him or not. But he may be some common man, selling something should

— one

of those American inventions for peeling

Or he may even be some kind of foreign sharper." Mother winced at the hard, bright little word as though she had things,

you know, dear.

given herself a dig with her embroidery scissors.

But here Marie smiled

mured "C'est un

"What

tres

Milly and mur-

beau Monsieur."

does she say, dear?"

"She says he looks very

we'd

"Well,

"Where

at

is

he

"

better

now

I

Marie answered "In

nice,

Mother." began

Mother.

wonder." the vestibule,

118

Madame."

The In

the

Mother jumped

hall!

In the hall, with

alarmed. little

Doves' Nest all

up,

seriously

those valuable

foreign things that didn't belong to them

scattered over the tables.

"Show him

We

dear.

Come, Milly, come

Marie.

him in the Anderson here?"

will see

Miss

isn't

in,

Oh, why

salon.

almost

wailed

Mother. But Miss Anderson, Mother's new companion, never was on the spot when she was wanted.

She had been engaged to be a comfort, a support

them both.

to

Fond of

travelling,

a

cheerful

good packer and so on. And then, when they had come all this way and taken the Villa Martin and moved in, she had turned out to be a Roman Catholic. Half her time, more than half, was spent wearing out the knees of her skirts in cold churches. It was really disposition, a

too

.

The

.

.

door

opened.

A

middle-aged

clean-

shaven, very well dressed stranger stood bowing

His bow was stately. Milly saw pleased Mother very much; she bowed her

before them. it

Queen Alexandra bow never could bow.

back.

As

for Milly, she

She smiled, feeling shy, but

deeply interested.

119

— The "Have

Doves' Nest

I the pleasure," said the

American

courteously, with a strong

speaking with Mrs. "I

am Mrs.

ciously,

"and

Wyndham

Fawcett,"

this

is

my

stranger very accent, "of

Fawcett?"

Mother,

said

daughter, Mildred."

And

"Pleased to meet you, Miss Fawcett." the stranger shot a

who grasped

fresh,

chill

hand

just in time before

it

gra-

it

at Milly,

was gone

again.

"Won't you sit down?" said Mother, and she waved faintly at all the gilt chairs. "Thank you, I will," said the stranger.

Down

he

sat,

solemn, crossing his legs,

still

and, most surprisingly, his arms as well. face looked at

them over

his

His

dark arms as over

a gate.

"Milly,

So

sit

Milly

down, dear." sat

down,

Recamier couch, and traced with her finger.

on the

too,

There was

a

Madame flower

lace

filet

a little pause.

She

saw the stranger swallow; Mother's fan opened and shut.

Then he

said "I took the liberty of calling,

Mrs. Fawcett, because had the pleasure of your husband's acquaintance

in

the

States

was lecturing there some years ago. like

very much to renoo our 1

20



well

I

when he I

should

venture to

The hope we might you

Doves' Nest

call

friendship.

it

Is

he with

Are you expecting him out? I name was not mentioned in the local

at present?

noticed his

But

paper.

perhaps

And



put that

I

to a foreign custom,

giving precedence to the lady."

here the stranger looked as though he

might be going to But

down

smile.

matter of fact

as a

was extremely awk-

it

Mother's mouth shook.

ward.

Milly squeezed

her hands between her knees, but she watched

hard from under her eyebrows.

Mummy!

little

heard

am

her

How

say,

sorry to

Good, noble Milly admired her as she and

gently

my

say

quite

simply,

"I

husband died two years

ago."

Mr. Prodger gave

He "I I

a great start.

thrust out his under

am hope

idea your husband

"Of

frowned, pondered.

lip,

truly sorry to hear that, you'll believe

course."

me when

had

.

Mother

.

"Did he?"

.

I

Mrs. Fawcett. say I had no

passed over." stroked

her

Mr. Prodger, more

seri-

softly

skirt.

"I do trust," said ously

still,

"that

much pain." "No, no.

my

inquiry didn't give you too

It's quite all right,"

voice.

121

said the gentle

The Mr.

But

Doves' Nest

Prodger

"You're

insisted.

sure?

You're positive?"

At

Mother

that

one of her

him

raised her head and gave bright,

still,

Milly knew so well.

exalted

"I'm not

she said, as one might say

that

glances

in the least hurt,"

from the midst of

it

the fiery furnace.

Mr. Prodger looked his

and continued.

attitude

He

relieved.

changed

hope

"I

this

re-

me

grettable circumstance will not deprive "

of

your

"Oh, certainly

We

always

are

We

not.

so

shall be

delighted.

know any one

pleased to

"

who

Mother gave a little bound, a little She flew from her shadowy branch on

flutter.

to a sunny one.

"Is this your

first

visit to the

Riviera?" "It

was

said

is,"

in

Mr. Prodger.

"The

Florence until recently.

But

fact I

is

I

took a

"

heavy cold there

"Florence so damp," cooed Mother.

"And

the doctor

recommended

here for the sunshine before

"The sun Mother, "Well, said

is

so

I

I

should come

started for home."

very lovely here,"

agreed

enthusiastically. I

don't think

Mr. Prodger,

we

get too

dubiously,

122

much of

and two

it,"

lines

The showed ting

Doves' Nest "I seem to have been

at his lips.

around

my

in

more days than

hotel

I

sit-

care

to count."

"Ah, hotels are so very trying," said Mother, and she drooped sympathetically of a lonely

man

an hotel.

in

at the thought

.

.

"You

.

alone here?" she asked, gently, just in case

...

one never knew

was better

it

are .

.

.

on the

to be

safe, the tactful side.

But her fears were groundless.

"Oh,

more

I'm

yes,

alone,"

had spoken

heartily than he

took a speck of thread leg.

Something

What was "Still,

Mother, "that one of friends.

going

and he

yet,

immaculate trouser puzzled

voice

Milly.

it?

the scenery

yesterday

off his

his

in

Mr. Prodger,

cried

I I

is

so very beautiful," said

really does not feel the need

was only saying garden

the

my

daughter

for years without

could live here

outside

to

gate.

It

all

is

so

beautiful."

"Is that so?" said

added,

"You have

a

Mr. Prodger,

very charming villa."

he glanced round the salon. furniture genuine,

may

I

"Is

it

was.

123

all this

He And

antique

ask?"

"I believe so," said Mother.

given to understand

soberly.

"I

Yes,

was

certainly

we

love our

The

But of course

villa.

that Is

to

is

is

Roman

a

very large for two,

is

it

say three,

Miss Anderson, she

Doves' Nest

My

ladies.

with

companion,

But unfortunately

us.

Catholic, and so she

is

out most

of the time."

Mr. Prodger bowed

Roman

who agreed

Catholics were very seldom

"But

am

I

so

Mother, "and so

rooms

large

as one

is

and

fond

my

of

We

them

of

plenty

in.

space,"

daughter.

that



continued

both love don't

we,

Milly?"

This time Mr. Prodger looked at Milly quite

and remarked, "Yes, young people

cordially

plenty of

He

room

like

to run about."

got up, put one hand behind his back,

slapped the other upon

it

and went over

to the

balcony.

"You've

a

view of the sea from here," he

observed.

The the

ladies

whole

might

well

Mediterranean

have

noticed

swung

before

it;

the

windows.

"We

are so fond of the sea," said Mother,

getting up, too.

Mr. Prodger looked towards

Milly.

you see those yachts, Miss Fawcett?" Milly saw them.

124

"Do

The "Do you happen

Doves' Nest to

know what

they're doing?"

asked Mr. Prodger.

What

were

they

question

Milly stared and

!

What

doing?

her

bit

a

funny

lip.

"They're racing!" said Mr. Prodger, and

this

time he did actually smile at her.

"Oh,

yes, of course,"

stammered Milly.

"Of

She knew that.

course they are."

"Well, they're not always at

And

Prodger, good-humouredly.

Mother and began

it,"

said

Mr.

he turned to

to take a ceremonious fare-

well.

"I little

wonder," hesitated Mother, hands and eyeing him,

to lunch with us

with two ladies.



if

We

seemed

I

"That

dull

should be so very pleased." intensely serious again.

to brace himself to

meet the luncheon

"Thank you very much, Mrs. Faw-

invitation. cett.

her

you would care

you would not be too

Mr. Prodger became

He

"if

folding

should be delighted." will be

very nice," said Mother, warmly.



me see. Today Ls Monday isn't it, Milly? Would Wednesday suit you?" "Mr. Prodger replied, "It would suit me

"Let

excellently

to

Mrs. Fawcett. call

it

lunch

with

you on

At mee-dee,

here."

125

I

Wednesday,

presume, as they

"Oh, no

The Doves' Nest We keep our English

!

times.

At

one o'clock," said Mother.

And

Mr. Prodger became more and more ceremonious and bowed that being arranged,

himself out of the room.

a

Mother rang moment later

Marie

for

to look after him,

and

the big glass hall-door shut.

"Well!" said Mother.

She was

Little smiles like butterflies, alighting

smiles.

all

on her

lips

"That was an adventure, Milly, wasn't it, dear? And I thought he was such a very charming man, didn't you?" Milly made a little face at Mother and rubbed and gone again.

her eye.

"Of course you did. You must have, dear. And his appearance was so satisfactory wasn't it?" Mother was obviously enraptured. "I mean he looked so very well kept. Did you



Every nail shone like a ." diamond. I must say I do like to see She broke off. She came over to Milly and notice

his

hands?

.

.

patted her big collar straight.

"You do to

lunch

think

—don't

it

was

right of

dear?"

you,

me

him Mother

to ask

said

pathetically.

Mother made her she was

tall.

feel

so big,

so

She could pick Mother up

126

But

tall.

in

her

-

The

Doves' Nest

Sometimes, rare moods came when she

arms.

Swooped on Mother who squeaked

did.

mouse and even seldom now. "It

.

.

But not

kicked. .

bright,

still,

There

exalted glance again.

suddenly seemed to hear Father say to

him

to

And

lunch.'

warning.

...

But that

then

think

I

me

"I

'Ask

was some

there



was about the wine.

it

catch

didn't

I

Very

lately.

was so strange," said Mother.

was the

like a

—very

unfortunately,"

She put her hand on

she added, mournfully.

her breast; she bowed her head.

"Father

is still

so near," she whispered.

Milly looked out of the window.

Mother going on

like

couldn't say anything.

this.

She hated

But of course she

Out of

the

window

there

was the sea and the sunlight silver on the palms, like water dripping from silver oars. Milly felt a yearning what was it? it was like a yearn-





ing to

fly.

But Mother's voice brought her back to the salon, to the gilt chairs, the gilt couches, sconces, cabinets, the tables with the heavy-sweet flowers,

the

faded

brocade,

the

pink-spotted

Chinese

dragons on the mantelpiece and the two Turks' heads in the fireplace that supported the broad logs.

127

The

Doves' Nest

"I think a leg of lamb would be nice, don't you,

dear?"

said

and

small

"The lamb

Mother.

delicate

And men

now.

just

nothing so much as plain roast meat. prepares

it

so nicely, too, with that

paper lace round the top of the

me

reminds

But

of something

makes

certainly

it

it



I

very

so

is

like

Yvonne

little frill

It

leg.

of

always

can't think what.

look very attractive

in-

deed."

Wednesday came. And the Mother and Milly had felt over the extended to the whole too

much

villa.

to say that the

whole

flat-footed

a piece of

perfect a condition that

villa

man

to lunch.

kitchen she flung

gorgonzola

in

so

when she found Marie down her great basket,

snatched the morsel up and held its

was not thrilled and it

Yvonne came waddling back

from market with in the

that

visiting card

Yes,

fluttered at the idea of having a

Old,

flutter

it,

rustling in

paper, to her quivering bosom. "J'ai trouve

un morceau de gorgonzola," she

panted, rolling up her eyes as though she invited the heavens themselves to look "J'ai

un morceau

prince,

ma

fille."

de

down upon

gorgonzola

And 128

hissing

ici

it.

pour un

the

word

The

Doves' Nest

"prr-ince" like lightning, she thrust the morsel

creature, almost

"Do you

who was

Marie,

under Marie's nose.

swooned

think,"

a delicate

at the shock.

cried

Yvonne,

scornfully,

would ever buy such cheese pour ces dames? Never. Never. Jamais de ma vie." Her sausage finger wagged before her nose, and she minced in a dreadful imitation of Mother's "that

I

French,

"We

have none of us large appetites,

Yvonne.

We

are very fond of boiled eggs and

mashed potatoes and a nice, plain salad. AhBah !" With a snort of contempt she flung away her shawl, rolled up her sleeves, and began unpacking the basket. At the bottom there was a flat bottle which, sighing, she laid aside.

"De quoi pour mes cors," said she. And Marie, seizing a bottle of Sauterne and murmured, as she shut the kitchen door behind her, "Et voila pour les cors de Monsieur!" The dining-room was a large room panelled in dark wood. It had a massive mantelpiece and carved chairs covered in crimson damask. bearing

On

it

off

to the dining-room

the heavy, polished table stood an oval glass

dish decorated with

which

it

was Marie's duty

fresh flowers,

swags.

little gilt

to

fascinated her.

129

keep

The

This

dish,

filled

with

sight of

it

The

Doves' Nest

gave her a frisson. it

reminded her always, as

It

lay solitary on the dark expanse, of a

And

tomb.

windows on

little

one day, passing through the long to the stone terrace

steps into the garden she

and down the

had the happy thought

of so arranging the flowers that they would be of the ladies on

appropriate to one tragic

Her

occasion.

Tomb

terrible.

had been

creation

first

future

a

of Mademoiselle Anderson

and

in

black pansies,

lily-of-the-valley,

heliotrope.

gave her a most intense, curious

It

a

of

frill

pleasure to hand Miss Anderson the potatoes at lunch,

and

same time

at the

at her triumph.

It

handing potatoes to

The Tomb almost gay.

of

was

to gaze

(0

like

ciel!)

beyond her ,

was

it

like

a corpse.

Madame was

Foolish

on the contrary

flowers, half yellow,

little

half blue, hung over the edge, wisps of green trailed

across,

and

large scarlet rose. called

it.

But

a cceur saignant. like

it

in

middle there was a

the

Cceur saignant,

Marie had

did not look in the least like It

looked flushed and cheerful,

Mother emerging from

the luxury of a

warm

bath. Milly's,

of

was

course,

all

white.

White

stocks, little white rose-buds, with a sprig or

of dark box edging.

It

was Mother's

130

two

favorite.

The to

Doves' Nest

Poor innocent! Marie, at the sideboard, had turn her back when she heard Mother exclaim,

"Isn't

pretty, Milly?

it

Most

tres

it

sweetly pretty?

And

So original."

artistic.

Marie, "C'est

to

Isn't

she

said

Tres orig-

Marie.

joli,

had

inal."

Marie's smile was so remarkable that Milly, peeling

a

tangerine,

remarked

to

Mother,

don't think she likes you to admire them.

"I It

makes her uncomfortable." But



today

made Marie

glory

the

quite

feel

her

opportunity

faint as she

Tombeau

flower scissors.

of

seized her

d'un beau Monsieur.

She was forbidden to cut the orchids that grew

round the fountain basin. chids for

if

But what were

or-

Her

fin-

not for such an occasion?

trembled

snipped

away.

They were enough; Marie added two

small

gers

sprays of palm. she

the

as

scissors

And back

in

the dining-room

had the happy idea of binding the palm

together with a twist of gold thread deftly torn off

the fringe of the dining-room curtains.

effect

was superb.

Marie almost seemed

The to see

her beau Monsieur, very small, very small, at the

bottom of the bowl,

in

full

evening dress with a

ribbon across his chest and his ears white as wax.

What

surprised Milly, however,

131

was that Miss

The

Doves' Nest

Anderson should pay any attention ger's coming.

to

Mr. Prod-

She rustled to breakfast

in

her

Sunday blouse, with

best black silk blouse, her

the large, painful-looking crucifix dangling over the front.

Milly was alone when Miss Ander-

son entered the dining-room.

This was unfor-

tunate, for she always tried to avoid being left

alone with Miss Anderson.

She could not say

why; it was a feeling. She had the feeling that Miss Anderson might say something about God, or something fearfully intimate. Oh, she would sink through the floor if such a thing happened; she would expire. Supposing she were to say "Milly, do you believe in our Lord?" Heavens! It simply didn't bear thinkexactly

ing about.

"Good-morning, son,

and her

candles,

fingers,

dear," said Miss Andercold,

pale,

church

like

touched Milly's cheeks.

"Good-morning, give you

my

Miss

Anderson.

May

some coffee?" said Milly, trying

I

to be

natural.

"Thank son,

you,

dear child," said Miss Ander-

and laughing her

light,

nervous laugh, she

hooked on her eyeglasses and stared at the basket of rolls. "And is it today that you expect your guest?" she asked.

132

The Now why when

she

Doves' Nest

Why

did she ask that?

knew

That was

perfectly well?

Or was

part of her strangeness.

pretend

it

all

because she

wanted to be friendly? Miss Anderson was more than friendly; she was genial. But there

was always People

something.

Was

school

Roman

this

said

at

that

spying?

she

Catholics

Anderson rustled, rustled about the house like a dead leaf. Now she was on the stairs, now in the upstairs passage. Somespied.

times,

.

.

at

Miss

.

night,

when Milly was

she

feverish,

woke up and heard that rustle outside her door. Was Miss Anderson looking through the keyhole?

And

one night she actually had the idea

Anderson had bored two holes in the wall above her head and was watching her from The feeling was so strong that next time there. she went into Miss Anderson's room her eyes that Miss

To

flew to the spot.

Had

hung there. "Guest?"

The

it

her horror a large picture

been there before?

crisp breakfast roll

.

.

.

broke

in

half at the word. 'Yes, I think

it

said Milly, vaguely,

is,"

her blue, flower-like eyes were raised to

Anderson "It little

will

in

a

vague

make

party,"

said

and

Miss

stare.

quite

a

little

change

in

our

much-too-pleasant voice.

the J

33

The "I confess I

I

much

miss very

have had such

the society of men.

a great deal of

I think that ladies

a little

Doves' Nest

—h'm—h'm

it

in

my

life.

by themselves are apt to get .

.

to cherry jam, she spilt

."

And

it

on the

helping herself cloth.

Milly took a large, childish bite out of her

There was nothing to reply to this. But She how young Miss Anderson made her feel made her want to be naughty, to pour milk over her head or make a noise with a spoon. "Ladies by themselves," went on Miss Anderroll.

!

son,

who

realized none of this, "are very apt to

find their interests limited."

"Why?"

said Milly,

ple always said that;

it

goaded to reply. Peosounded most unfair.

"I think," said Miss Anderson, taking eyeglasses and looking a

little

dim,

off

her

is

the

"it

absence of political discussion."

"Oh, politics.

cried Milly,

politics!"

Father

always

she pulled up short.

said

airily.

"

She crimsoned.

"I hate

But

here

She didn't

want to talk about Father to Miss Anderson. "Oh! Look! Look! A butterfly!" cried Miss Anderson, softly and hastily. "Look, what a darling!" Her own cheeks flushed a slow red at the sight of the darling butterfly fluttering so softly over the glittering table.

134

The That was very

Doves' Nest Miss Anderson

nice of



fear-

She must have realized that

fully nice of her.

Milly didn't want to talk about Father and so

had mentioned the butterfly on purpose. Milly smiled at Miss Anderson as she never had smiled at her before. And she said in her warm, youthful voice, " He is a duck, isn't he? I love she

butterflies.

I

think they are great lambs."

The morning whisked away as foreign mornMother had half decided to wear her ings do. hat at lunch.

"What do you

as head of the house

On

the other

thing at

all

Do

Milly?

think,

you think

might be appropriate?

it

hand one does not want

to

do any-

extreme."

"Which do you mean, Mother? room or the jampot?"

Mother was "I somehow

"Oh, not the jampot, dear."

name

quite used to Milly's

for

Your mush-

it.

And

don't feel myself in a hat without a brim. to tell

you the truth

whether

I

was wise

am

I

in

it

he would be a

not quite certain

buying the jampot.

not help the feeling that in

still

if I

little

were

to

I

can-

meet Father

too surprised.

More

than once lately," went on Mother quickly, "I

135

The

Doves' Nest

have thought of taking in

off

the trimming, turning

upside down, and making

What

workbag.

must not go into

moment

for

balcony.

I

with the

Men

it

such

now, Milly.

This

not the

is

Come on

schemes.

to

the

coftee

about bringing out that big chair

Mr. Prodger? substantial No,

nice, substantial legs for

are so fond of nice,

not by yourself, love

When

But we

do you think, dear?

have told Marie we shall have

What

there.

into a nice little

it

!

.

Let

me

.

.

help you."

was carried out Milly thought it looked exactly like Mr. Prodger. It was Mr. Prodger admiring the view. "No, don't sit down on it. You mustn't," she She cried hastily, as Mother began to subside. put her arm through Mother's and drew her back the chair

into the salon.

Happily, at that

moment

there

and Miss Anderson was upon them. time, for once.

was

a

rustle

In excellent

She carried a copy of the Morn-

ing Post.

"I have been trying to find out from this," said she, lightly tapping the eyeglasses, ent.

newspaper with her

"whether Congress

is

sitting at pres-

But unfortunately, after reading

right through, I

happened

ing and discovered

it

was 136

my

copy

to glance at the headfive

weeks' old."

The

Doves' Nest

Would Mr. Prodger expect them The idea terrified to talk about Congress? American parliaMother. Congress! The Congress

!



composed of senators greybearded old men in frock coats and turn-down collars, rather like missionaries. But she did ment,

of course,

not feel at "I think

all

competent to discuss them.

we had

better not be too intellectual,"

she suggested, timidly, fearful of disappointing

Miss Anderson, but more fearful

of the

still

alternative. "Still,

one likes to be prepared," said Miss

And

Anderson.

added

after a pause she

softly,

"One never knows." Ah, how true that is! One never does. Miss Anderson and Mother seemed both to ponder

They

this truth.

head bent, as

sat silent, with

though listening to the whisper of the words.

"One never knows," dragons

on

the

heads pondered.

said

the

pink-spotted

mantelpiece

and

Nothing

known

is

the

Turks'



nothing.

Everybody just waits for things to happen as they were waiting there for the stranger who came walking towards them through the sun and shadow under the budding plane trees, or driving, perhaps, cabs.

.

.

in .

one

An

of

the

small,

cotton-covered

angel passed over the Villa

137

Mar-

The

moment

In that

tin.

Doves' Nest of hovering silence some-

thing beseeching seemed to itself,

lift,

seemed

to offer

as the flowers in the salon, uplifted,

themselves to the

Then Mother

gave

light.

said, "I

hope Mr. Prodger

will

not find the scent of the mimosa too powerful.

Men I

are not fond of flowers in a

have heard

cases.

it

"

hall door.

you think, Milly?

long firm

It

was

trill

a trill so

and unlike the tentative the bell that

Ought we

But there was no time

A

anything.

as a rule.

causes actual hay-fever in some

What do

perhaps

room

it

to

do

sounded from the calm and composed

little

push they gave

brought them back to the serious-

moment. They heard a man's voice; the door clicked and shut again. He was inside. A stick rattled on the table. There was a pause, and then the door handle of the salon turned and Marie, in frilled muslin cuffs and an apron shaped like a heart, ushered in Mr. Prodger. Only Mr. Prodger after all? But whom had Milly expected to see? The feeling was there and gone again that she would not have been surprised to see somebody quite different, before she realized this wasn't quite the same Mr. ness of the

Prodger all

as before.

brushed,

He was

combed,

smarter than ever;

shining.

138

The

ears

that

The

Doves' Nest

Marie had seen white as wax flashed as if they had been pink enamelled. Mother fluttered up in her pretty little way, so hoping he had not found the heat of the day too trying to be out

was a little early in the Then Miss Anderson was introyear for dust. duced. Milly was ready this time for that fresh hand, but she almost gasped; it was so very chill. It was like a hand stretched out to you from Then together they all sat down. the water. in

.

.

but happily

.

"Is this your

it

first visit

to the Riviera?" asked

Miss Anderson, graciously, dropping her handkerchief.

"It is,"

answered Mr. Prodger composedly,

and he folded

his

arms

as before.

Florence until recently, but

I

"I

caught a

"Florence so

"

heavy

began Mother, when the

beautiful brass gong, that burned like a

fallen

shadows of the hall, began to throb. was a low muttering, then it swelled, it

in the

First

it

quickened,

Marie's

been

in

"

cold

sun

was

it

burst into a clash of triumph under

sympathetic fingers.

treated

to

Mr. Prodger was "That's a very

such all

fine

a

Never had they

performance

before.

attention.

gong," he remarked ap-

provingly.

139

The "We "It

think

it is

our

gives

Doves' Nest

so very Oriental," said Mother.

meals

little

quite

an

Eastern

." we Their guest was at the door bowing. "So many gentlemen and only one lady," fluttered Mother. "What I mean is the boot is That is to say come, Milly, on the other shoe. come, dear." And she led the way to the dining-

Shall

flavour.

.

.



room. Well, there they were.

The

cold,

fresh nap-

kins were shaken out of their charming shapes

and Marie handed the omelette. Mr. Prodger sat on Mother's right, facing Milly, and Miss

Anderson had her back after

man it

all

—why should

to the long

windows.

the fact of their having a

with them make such a difference?

made

all

the difference.

Why

should

It did;

should they feel

so stirred at the sight of that large

spread,

hand

moving among the wine glasses? the

sound

But

of

that

loud,

out-

Why

confident

"Ah-hm!" change the very look of the diningroom? It was not a favourite room of theirs as They bobbed una rule; it was overpowering. certainly at the pale table with a curious feeling

of exposure.

who

They were

like those

meek

guests

arrive unexpectedly at the fashionable hotel,

140

The

Doves' Nest

and are served with whatever may be ready, while the real luncheon, the real guests lurk important

and contemptuous in the background. And although it was impossible for Marie to be other than deft, nimble and

have

what heart could she

silent,

ministering to that most uninspiring of

in

spectacles

Now



three ladies dining alone?

was changed. Marie filled their glasses to the brim as if to reward them for some marvellous feat of courage. These timid Engall

had captured

lish ladies

a live lion, a real one,

smelling faintly of eau de cologne, and with a tip

of handkerchief showing, white as a flake of snow.

"He

is

worthy of

it,"

decided Marie, eyeing

her orchids and palms.

Mr. Prodger touched

his

hot plate with appre-

ciative fingers.

Mrs. Fawcett," he Mother, "but this is the

"You'll hardly believe

remarked, turning to first

it,

hot plate I've happened on since

States.

I

had begun

to believe there

things that just weren't to be

One was

a hot plate

cold water.

I

had

were two

in

and the other was

left the

Europe.

a glass

of

Well, the cold water one can do

without; but a hot plate

is

more

difficult.

I'd got

so discouraged with the cold wet ones I encoun-

141

The

Doves' Nest

when I was arranging with Cook's Agency about my room here I explained to them 'I don't care what the expense may be. tered everywhere that

But for mercy's sake

me

find

an hotel where I "

can get a hot plate by ringing for

Mother, though outwardly

Mr. Prodger be brought to him at want

things to

in

sympathy, found

She had a momentary

this a little bewildering.

vision of

all

it.'

ringing for hot plates to hours.

all

Such strange

any numbers.

"I have always heard the American hotels are

very well

so

"Telephones

equipped," in

all

the

said

Miss Anderson.

rooms and even tape

machines.'

Milly could see Miss Anderson reading that tape machine.

"I should like to go to America awfully," she

Marie brought before Mother. cried,

as

in the

lamb and

set

it

"There's certainly nothing wrong with America,"

said

Mr. Prodger,

great country. I'll

What

just take a few.

No, no

salad,

soberly.

are they? I

"America's a

Peas?

Well,

don't eat peas as a rule.

thank you.

Not with

the

hot

meat." a:

what makes you want to go to America?" Miss Anderson ducked forward, smiling at Milly, 'But

142

The and her eyeglasses

Doves' Nest fell into

her plate, just escap-

ing the gravy.

Because one wants to go everywhere, was the

But Milly's flower-blue gaze rested

real answer.

thoughtfully on Miss Anderson as she said, ice-cream.

I

"Do you?"

adore ice-cream." said

Mr. Prodger, and he put down

he seemed moved.

his fork;

"The

ice-cream, are you,

"So you're fond of

Miss Fawcett?"

Milly transferred her dazzling gaze to him. It said she was.

"Well," said Mr. Prodger quite playfully, and he began eating again, "I'd like to see you get

it.

I'm sorry we can't manage to ship some across. I like

to see

want.

It

young people have

seems

Kind man!

right,

Would

just

what they

somehow." he have any more lamb?

Lunch passed so pleasantly, so quickly, that the famous piece of gorgonzola was on the table in all its fatness and richness before there had been an awkward moment. The truth was that Mr. Prodger proved most easy to entertain, most

men were not fond of Mother understood it. They did not

ready to chat. chat as

seem

As

a rule

to understand that

much what one

it

does not matter very

says; the important thing

to let the conversation drop.

H3

Strange

!

is

not

Even

The the Dest

Doves' Nest

men ignored

fused to realize that conversation little

baby that

You must if

be

is

rock

you want

brought

it,

it

to

But

simpler?

They

that simple rule.

nurse

in to

on the move

it

What

keep smiling.

Father

even

dear

be handed round.

keep

it,

like a

is

re-

.

.

.

could

Mother

winced away from memories that were not as sweet as memories ought to be. All the same she could not help hoping that

Father saw what a successful it

was.

He

little

lunch party

did so love to see Milly happy, and

more animated than she had done for weeks. She had lost that dreamy expression, which, though very sweet, did not seem natural at her age. Perhaps what she wanted was not so much Easton's Syrup as taking out of the child looked

herself.

"I have been very selfish," thought Mother,

She put her hand on

blaming herself as usual. Milly's arm; she pressed

from the

table.

And Marie

for the white and grey figure

who peered

;

held the door open for

Miss Anderson,

shortsightedly, as though looking for

something; for Mr. Prodger rear,

gently as they rose

it

walking

stately,

who brought up

the

with the benign air of a

Monsieur who had eaten

well.

144

The Beyond

Doves' Nest

the balcony, the garden, the palms

Not

the sea lay bathed in quivering brightness. a leaf

moved;

the oranges were

little

and

worlds of

There was the sound of grasshoppers ringing their tiny tambourines, and the hum of bees as they hovered, as though to taste burning

light.

their joy in advance, before

the

warm

burrowing close into

wide-open stocks and roses.

The sound

of the sea was like a breath, was like a sigh.

Did

the

Mother's

little

group on the balcony hear

moved among

fingers

the black

it?

and

gold coffee-cups; Miss Anderson brought the most

uncomfortable chair out of the salon and sat

Mr. Prodger put

hand on to the yellow stone ledge of the balcony and remarked down.

his large

gravely, "This balcony rail

is

just as hot as

it

can be."

"They

say," said

heat of the day

is

it's

about half-past two.

at

have certainly noticed "Yes,

Mother, "that the greatest

it is

very hot then."

lovely then,"

she stretched out her

We

murmured

hand

to

the

Milly, and sun.

"It's

simply baking!"

"Then

you're not afraid of the sunshine?" said

145

The

Doves' Nest

Mr. Prodger, taking his "No, thank you. I won't one lump of sugar." the

little,

And

from Mother.

coffee

take any cream.

Just

down balancing

he sat

chattering cup on his broad knee.

"No, I adore it," answered Milly, and she gan to nibble the lump of sugar. .

146

.

.

be-

YEARS AFTER

SIX

IT

was not the afternoon

the contrary.

when

there

warm

cabin, a

It

is

was

to be

on deck

exactly the afternoon

no snugger place than

bunk.

—on

Tucked up with

a

warm

a rug, a

hot-water bottle and a piping hot cup of tea she

would not have minded the weather in the least. But he hated cabins, hated to be inside anywhere more than was absolutely necessary. He



had

a passion for keeping, as

board, especially it

it,

above

travelling.

And

he called

when he was

wasn't surprising, considering the enormous

amount of time he spent cooped up in the office. So, when he rushed away from her as soon as they got on board and came back five minutes later to say he had secured two deck chairs on the lee side and the steward was undoing the rugs, her voice through

"Good"

the ;

high

sealskin

murmured

collar

and because he was looking

at her, she

smiled with bright eyes and blinked quickly, as to

say,

"Yes, perfectly

and she meant

all

it.

H7

right



if

absolutely."

Six Years After " said he, and he tucked "Then we'd better her hand inside his arm and began to rush her off to where the two chairs stood. But she just had time to breathe, "Not so fast, Daddy, please," when he remembered too and slowed down. Strange They had been married twenty-eight years, and it was still an effort to him, each time, !

to

adapt his pace to hers.

"Not ways

at

you?" he asked, glancing

cold, are

Her

her.

above the dark

of

my He

nose,

geranium pink

was answer enough. But hand into the velvet pocket of

fur,

she thrust her free

her jacket and

little

side-

murmured

gaily, "I shall

be glad



a quick,

rug."

pressed her tighter to his side

nervous pressure.

ought to be down

He in

knew, of course, that she

the cabin; he

knew

that

it

was no afternoon for her to be sitting on deck, in this cold and raw mist, lee side or no lee side, rugs or no rugs, and he realized how she must be hating it. But he had come to believe that it really was easier for her to make these sacrifices Take their present case, than it was for him. for instance. If he had gone down to the cabin with her, he would have been miserable the whole time, and he couldn't have helped showing it. At any rate, she would have found him out. 148

Six Years

After

Whereas, having made up her mind to fall in with his ideas, he would have betted anybody she

would even go

Not

so far as to enjoy the experience.

because she was without personality of her

Good Lord!

own.

ming with

She was absolutely brim-

But because

it.

.

were.

it

but here his

.

Here they always

thoughts always stopped. the need of a cigar, as

.

And, looking

the cigar-tip, his fine blue eyes narrowed. a

law of marriage, he supposed.

same, he always sacrifices

of her.

sure meant.

felt guilty

felt

.

.

.

It

was

All the

when he asked

That was what

at

these

the quick pres-

His being said to her being:

"You

do understand, don't you?" and there was an answering tremor of her fingers, "I understand." Certainly, the steward

done

all in his

power

He

—good

little

chap

—had

make them comfortable. chairs in whatever warmth to

had put up their there was and out of the smell. She did hope he would be tipped adequately. It was on occasions like these (and her life seemed to be full of such occasions) that she wished it was the woman who controlled the purse.

"Thank

you, steward.

That

will

do beauti-

fully."

"Why

are stewards so often delicate-looking?"

she wondered, as her feet were tucked under.

149

Six Years "This poor chest,

little

After

chap looks as though he'd got a

and yet one would have thought

sea air.

.

.

.

.

the

."

.

The button of the pigskin purse was undone. The tray was tilted. She saw sixpences, shillings, half-crowns.

"I should give him

"and

tell

him

to

she decided,

five shillings,"

buy himself

a

good nourish-

"

ing

He was

given a shilling, and he touched his cap

and seemed genuinely grateful. Well, it might have been worse. have been sixpence. that

It

might

It

might, indeed.

For

moment Father turned towards her and

half-apologetically,

gave him a

stuffing

shilling.

I

think

said,

purse back,

the it

at

was worth

"I it,

don't you?"

"Oh, quite!

Every

It is extraordinary

bit!" said she.

how

peaceful

it

feels

on a

steamer once the bustle of leaving port

little

over.

is

In a quarter of an hour one might have

been at sea for days.

There

is

something almost

way people submit themnew conditions. They go to bed in

touching, childish, in the selves to the

the early afternoon, they shut their eyes and "it's

night" like side

little

children

who

turn the table up-

down and cover themselves with 150

the table-

After

Six Years

And

cloth.

—they

who remain on deck

those

seem

to be always the same, those

men

travellers



pause, light their pipes, stamp

gaze out to

softly,

dued legged

and

sea,

they walk up

as

little girl

few hardened

their voices are sub-

The

and down.

long-

chases after the red-cheeked boy,

but soon both are captured; and the old sailor,

swinging an unlighted lantern, passes and disappears.

He

.

.

.

lay back, the rug

up to

he was breathing deeply. believed in sea est

faith

in

air, it

its

was

tonic

his chin

Sea air!

the sheer strength of a chill.

.

.

fill

the strong-

the lungs with

Otherwise,

board.

was enough

it

anyone

But the great

qualities.

moment you came on

the

If

He had

he.

thing was, according to him, to it

and she saw

to give

you

.

She gave a small chuckle, and he turned to her

"What

quickly. "It's

is

it?"

your cap," she

used to you

in a cap.

said.

You

"I never can get

look such a thorough

burglar."

"Well, what the deuce

am

I

to

wear?"

He

shot up one grey eyebrow and wrinkled his nose. "It's a

of

its

ing."

very good cap, too.

Very

fine

specimen

got a very rich white ^atin

kind.

It's

He

paused.

He 151

declaimed,

as

lin-

he had

Six Years After hundreds of times before

"Rich and

at this stage,

gems she wore." But she was thinking he really was childishly proud of the white satin lining. He would like to have taken off his cap and made her feel it. u Feel the quality!" How often had she rubbed between finger and thumb his coat, his shirt cuff, rare were the

tie,

sock, linen handkerchief, while he said that.

She slipped down more deeply into her chair.

And gently,

the

little

steamer pressed on, pitching

over the grey, unbroken, gently-moving

water, that was veiled with slanting rain.

Far

out, as

Now

flying.

though

idly, listlessly,

now

they settled on the waves,

beat up into the rainy

air,

when we have passed

How

will be

by,

they

and shone against the

pale sky like the lights within a pearl.

looked cold and lonely.

were

gulls

lonely

it

she thought.

They will

be

There

nothing but the waves and those birds and

rain falling.

She

gazed through the rust-spotted

railing

along which big drops trembled, until suddenly she shut her inside her

"No, pressing,

I

lips.

had

said,

won't,"

much too

was as if a warning voice "Don't look!" It

she

decided.

"It's

too de-

depressing."

But immediately, she opened her eyes and 152

Six Years After Lonely

looked again. pale sky

And

water

birds,

white

lifting,

—how were they changed?

was a presence far out there, between the sky and the water; someone very desolate and longing watched them pass and cried as if to stop them but cried to her seemed

it

to her there



alone.

"Mother!" "Don't leave me," sounded the forget

me

you are

"Don't

cry.

You are forgetting me, you know And it was as though from her own

1

!"

breast there

came the sound of

—my

"My

son

Shf

How

was

childish weeping.

precious child it



it

possible that she

isn't

true!"

was

sitting

there on that quiet steamer beside Father and at

same time she was hushing and holding a little slender boy so pale who had just waked out of a dreadful dream? the



"I dreamed



I

was

in a

wood

— somewhere

far

down — and was and blackberry grew over me. And and you — and you wouldn't come — you wouldn't come — had away from everybody, a great

I

called

lying

I

vine

called to

so

to

I

lie

there

for ever."

What terrible

a terrible

dreams.

dream!

How

he was small, she had

He

had always had

often, years ago,

made some 153

when

excuse and es-

— Six Years After caped from their friends

dining-room or

in the

come to the foot of the stairs and listen. "Mother!" And when he was asleep, his dream had journeyed with her back into the circle of lamplight; it had taken its place the drawing-room to

And now

there like a ghost.

Far more often

at all times

now, for instance

like

was never

she

off

He

heard him.





wanted

in all places

she never settled down,

her guard for a

As

fast as I can!

moment

am coming

"I

her.

but she

the one that

is

always the same

as

But the dark

fast as I can!"

have no ending, and the worst dream of

stairs





—goes

all

for ever

and ever uncomforted. This Still,

is is

it

unbearable

dead?

the

been

.

anguish!

to

it

be borne?

not the idea of her suffering which



is

it

And

.

is

Can one do nothing

for

for a long time the answer

had

his.

But softly without

tain has rolled

That it's

is

—Nothing! .

that

How

is



down.

There

the end of the play.

so suddenly.

cold,

it's still.

a

sound the dark curis

no more to come.

But

it

can't

end

like

There must be more. No, There is nothing to be gained

by waiting.

But

—did he

go back again? 154

Or, when the

!

After

Six Years

war was

come home for good?

did he

over,

—not remember one day grandchild — ding and my morning— haired boy born morning— Surely, he will

years.

marry



Surely,

on

later

for several

I shall

his

wed-

a beautiful dark-

first

in the early

a lovely

spring

"Oh, Mother, ideas into I

it's

my head

think of

all I

not fair to

have missed, She

"I can't bear it!"

words and

I can't

now

the dusk

is

bear

1

When

it."

up breathing the

sits

tosses the dark rug away.

than ever, and

to put these

Mother, stop

Stop,

!

me

It

is

colder

falling, falling like

ash upon the pallid water.

And

the

little

steamer, growing determined,

throbbed on, pressed on, as journey there waited.

.

.

.

155

if at

the end of the



DAPHNE HAD

I

been

in

Port Willin

six

months when

decided to give a one-man show.

I

that I

was

particularly keen, but

little



had just started begged me, rather

He was

a decent little chap

the picture-shop man,

and he wanted me off

for him.

And besides,

the heart to refuse.

as

it

Not Field,

a gallery

— ;

I

to kick

hadn't

happened,

good deal of stuff that I felt it would be rather fun to palm off on any one who was fool enough to buy it. So with these high aims I had the cards printed, the pictures framed in plain white frames, and God knows how many cups and I

had

a

saucers ordered for the Private View.

What was why not? spot, but as I

am,

trick

I

doing

I'll

own

when you it's

Port Willin?

in it

Oh

well

does sound an unlikely

are an impermanent movable,

just those unlikely spots that

of holding you.

I

arrived,

have a

intending to

week and go on to Fiji. But I had letters one or two people, and the morning of my

stay a to

arrival,

hanging over the side of fhe ship while

156

Daphne we were

waiting in the stream, with nothing on

earth to do but stare,

fancy to the shape

to the look of the place.

a small town,

It's

edge of a it,



fine

took an extraordinary

I

you know, planted

deep harbour

on either side there are

The houses are They have iron

hills.

And

roofs coloured red.

plumy

Behind

like a lake.

of light painted wood.

built

at the

are big

there

dark

massed together, breaking up those shapes, giving a depth warmth making

light

trees

a composition of

Well,

we

it

well

— — worth looking — But had me at.

needn't go into that

that fine morning.

And

the

I

.

.

it

days after

first

arrival, walking, or driving out in

swinging, rocking cabs,

.

my

one of the big

took an equal fancy to

the people.

Not Yes,

I

quite all of them.

must

say, colonial

specimens.

But

I

The men men are not

left

me

cold.

the brightest

never struck a place where the

average of female attractiveness was so high.

You

can't help noticing

Port Willin

is

the

it,

number of

for a peculiarity of its

teashops and the

vast quantity of tea absorbed by

Not

tea only

— sandwiches, cream

salad with fresh pineapples.

its

inhabitants.

cakes, ices, fruit

From

eleven o'clock

morning you meet with couples, and groups, of girls and young married women hurrying off

in the

iS7

!

Daphne to their

first

Even

function.

went

tea.

was

It

a real eleven o'clock

the business

men knocked

in the afternoon.

Which

the streets were gay as a garden.

was early spring when

it

and

And the same thing happened From four until half-past six

to a cafe.

minds me,

off

I

re-

arrived and

town smelled of moist earth and the first flowers. In fact, wherever one went one got a the

strong whiff, like the whiff of violets

which was enough lingering.

.

.

There was

in itself to

make one

a theatre too, a big

an oriental look

bills

in that blue air,

The

fully exciting.



which gave

and I

a strong

reason, fear-

was

now and

girls in

little

again the

a glimpse of a pair

But what

of large feet walking rapidly away.

vet sashes and

my

wind among the orchestra

curtain blew out and there

What

went

inside smelled of gas, of glue

kept the palms trembling, and

!

a touring

Whistling draughts cut along

and burnt paper.

women

feel like

bare building

company was playing "San Toy." first evening. I found it, for some

the corridors

wood,

.

plastered over with red and blue it

in a

muslin dresses with vel-

caps edged with

swansdown

In the intervals long ripples of laughter sounded

And

I

leaned against a pillar that looked as though

it

from the

stalls,

from the

i

58

dress-circle.

— Daphne was made of wedding-cake

— and

icing

with whole rows at a time.

Then

presented

I

my

.

.

love

fell in

.

letters, I

was asked out

to

and I met these charmers in their own homes. That decided it. They were somedine,

thing

I

had never known before



so

gay,

so

friendly, so impressed with the idea of one's be-

ing an artist! in the

It

was rather

like finding oneself

playground of an extremely attractive

girls'

school.

painted

I

the

Premier's

daughter,

dark

a

beauty, against a tree hung with long bell-like flowers, as white as wax.

I

painted a girl with

a pig-tail curled up on a white sofa playing with a pale-red fan

.

.

.

and

a little

jacket with pearl-grey gloves.

blonde

in a

...

I

black

painted

like fury.

As

I'm fond of women.

a matter of fact

women

a great deal

more

with men.

Because I've cultivated them,

pose.

You

at ease with

with me.

see, it's like this

ways had enough money

than

to live

I

I'm

am

I sup-

I've al-

on and the con-

is

I

have never had to mix with people

more than had well,

I

wished.

sequence





I

And

I've equally always

suppose you might

for painting.

Painting

most important thing

in life

iS9

is



call

it

far and as I see

a passion

away the it.

But

Daphne my

work's

my own

partment which I

is

affair.

It's

No

me.

the separate com-

strangers allowed

haven't the smallest desire to explain what

I'm after

is

like

my work was

I

if

—or

to hear other

I'm pleased.

men.

sounds arrogant.

If they don't

know my

It isn't; I

it

If people



shrugging person, I'd shrug.

a

in.

well,

This

limitations.

But the truth about oneself always sounds arrogant, as no doubt you've observed.

But



women



well, I can only

speak for myself

presence of women, the consciousness

I find the

of women, an absolute necessity.

I

know

they

are considered a distraction, that the very Big

Pots seal themselves can say

All

I

me

like

hives to keep away.

in their

work without women would be

is

dancing without music or food without

wine or a sailing boat without a breeze. just give

me

that

.

what

.

.

not enough; inspiration



knew what

well, if I

a bigger

problem than

aren't in

my

I

got

too.

.

is

it is,

is

it?

Stimulus

far too much. I

They is

That

should have solved

my own!

And

problems

line.

mob

expected a it,

to

.

.

at

What

my I

Private View, and I

hadn't reckoned on was

would be no men. It was one thing to ask a painter fellow to knock you up something to the tune of fifty guineas or so, but it was

that there

1

60

Daphne make an ass of yourself staring. The Port Willin men would as soon have gazed into shops. True, when you came to Europe, you quite another to

visited

the

galleries,

matter what you did

It didn't

too.

You

but then you shop-gazed in

Europe.

could walk about for a week without being

recognized.

So there were alone

among

out of his

all

little

Field and

that loveliness;

but

life,

I

absolutely

I

frightened him

it

didn't mind,

I

thought

it

rather fun, especially as the sightseers didn't hesitate

to

find

my

pictures

I'm by no

amusing.

means an out-and-out modern, as they say; people like violins and landscapes of telegraph poles leave

me

But Port Willin

cold.

swallow Rossetti, and

is still

Hope by Watts

trying to is

looked

was natural my pictures should surprise them. The fat old Lady Mayoress became quite hysterical. She drew me over to one drawing, she patted my arm with her

upon

as very advanced.

It

fan.

"I don't

wonder you drew her

she gurgled.

u

And how

The poor dear never It's

much too

small.

slipping out,"

depressed she looks!

could have sat

There ought

cake of Pear's Soap on the floor."

come by her own

down

in

it.

to be a little

And

over-

joke, she flopped on the little

161

Daphne down

double bench that ran

the middle of the

room, and even her fan seemed to laugh.

At

One

us.

moment two

that

knew, a big

I

her

pulled

Pollock,

girls

"Daphne!"

she

passed in front of

fair

companion by the

sleeve.

And

"Daphne!"

said.

May

called

girl

the

other turned towards her, then towards us, smiled

and was born, christened part of that

my

moment.

"Daphne swered.

.

Her

I"

.

quick

beautiful

smile

an-

.

Saturday morning was gloriously I

world from

woke up and saw

When

fine.

the sun streaming over the

boy who has been promised a picnic. It was all I could do not to telephone to Daphne. Was she feeling the same? It seemed somehow such a terrific lark that we polished floor

I felt like a little

should be going

off

together like

this, just

couple of rucksacks and our bathing

with a

suits.

I

thought of other week-ends, the preparation, the emotional tension, the amount of managing they'd

But

needed.

I

couldn't really think of them; I

couldn't be bothered, they belonged to another life.

It

.

.

.

seemed

to

me

suddenly so preposterous that

162

Daphne not be happier.

we were and Here we were, alone, miles away

from everybody,

free as air,

two people should be

other.

I

as

happy and

as

in

love with each

looked again at Daphne, at her slender

shoulders, her throat, her bosom, and, passion-

Wouldn't

ately in love, I decided, with fervour: it

be rather absurd, then, to behave like a couple

Wouldn't she even,

in spite

said,

be disappointed

we did?

went

off at a

of children? she

had

And cause

I

I

if

call,

or

I

.

all .

.

tremendous pace, not be-

thought she'd run after me, but

she might

of

might look round.

I

did think

.

.

.

was one of those still, hushed days when the sea and the sky seem to melt into one another, and It

it

is

long before the moisture dries on the leaves

and grasses.

One

of those days

when

the sea

smells strong and there are gulls standing in a

row on the sand. The smoke from our wood fire hung in the air and the smoke of my pipe mingled with felt

it.

dull

I

caught myself staring at nothing.

and angry.

ridiculous affair.

You

I

couldn't get

see,

my amour

I

over the

propre was

wounded.

Monday morning was 163

grey,

cloudy,

one of

Daphne mornings peculiar to the sea-side when

those

everything, the sea most of

all,

seems exhausted

There had been a very high tide, the road was wet on the beach there stood a and

sullen.



long line of sickly-looking

When we

gulls.

.

.

.

got on board she sat

down on one

of the green benches and, muttering something

about a pipe,

I

tolerable that

walked quickly away.

we should

what had happened. asked



of this

I

creature

in-

be together after

was

indecent.

unsmiling and pitiful



it

was

still



only longed for one thing

still,

worst of

It

It



I

only

to be free

that

who had been my

was the playful

Daphne.

For answer I telephoned her at once and aoked Her if I might come and see her that evening. voice sounded grave, unlike the voice I rememThere was bered, and she seemed to deliberate. perhaps that a long pause before she said, "Yes would be best." "Then I shall come at half-past six." "Very well." And we went into a room full of flowers and very large art photographs of the Harbour by Night, A Misty Day, Moonrise over the Water, and I know I wondered if she admired them.



164

Daphne "Why

did you send

"Oh, but

had

I

every word of to

.

.

.

No,

I

it.

me

that letter?"

Daphne.

to," said I

know

let

I

shall all

shan't be able to live up to

it.

for you.

you come to-night

only

I'm wiser than you are for

Really I'm not!"

165

"I meant

disappoint

you.

your experience.

I

I'm not the person .

.

.

FATHER AND THE GIRLS

AT

midday, Ernestine,

who had come down

from the mountains with her mother

work train

from

far-away chuf-chuf of the

Trains were a novelty to Er-

were fascinating, unknown,

terrible.

they like as they came tearing their

way through mountains as

them?

faint,

Italy.

nestine; they

What were

vineyards belonging to the

in the

heard the

hotel,

to

the valley, plunging between the if

When

not even the mountains could stop she

saw the dark,

flat

breast of the

engine, so bare, so powerful, hurled as

towards her, she

were

weakness; she could have

felt a

sunk to the earth.

it

And

yet she must look.

So

she straightened up, stopped pulling at the blue-

green leaves, tugging at the long, bright-green, curly suckers, and, with eyes like a bird, stared.

The

vines were very

tall.

There was nothing

to

be seen of Ernestine but her beautiful, youthful

bosom buttoned small, dark

into a blue cotton jacket

head covered with

coloured handkerchief. 1

66

a

and her

faded cherry-

Father and the Girls C hi ff-chuff-chaff, sounded Chiff-chuff -chaff. train.

melted.

Now a wisp Now there

ster itself

drew up

came

of white smoke shone and

was another, and the monsight and snorting horribly

into

at the little, toy-like station five

The

away.

minutes

railway ran at the bottom of the

hotel garden which

rounded by

the

was perched high and

a stone wall.

sur-

Steps cut in the stone

led to the terraces where the vines were planted.

from the leaves like a saw the terrible engine and looked be-

Ernestine, looking out

bright bird,

yond

it

at doors swinging open, at strangers step-

who they were A moment ago

She would never know

ping down.

or where they had come from.

they were not here; perhaps tomorrow they would

And

be gone again.

looking like a bird herself,

remembered how, at home, in the late autumn, she had sometimes seen strange birds in the fir tree that were there one day and gone the next. Where from? Where to? She felt an ache she

in

Wings were

her bosom.

Why

tight-folded there.

could she not stretch them out and

and away?

From

.

.

away

fly

.

the first-class carriage

alighted and gave her

hand 167

to

tall,

thin

Emily

Father whose

brit-

Father and the Girls seemed to wave

tie legs

the iron step.

in the air as

they

felt

for

Taller, thinner Edith followed,

carrying Father's light overcoat, his field-glasses

on

a strap,

and

his

new Baedeker.

The blond

hotel porter came forward.

Wasn't that nice? He could speak as good English as you and me. So Edith had no trouble at all in explaining how, as they were going on by the morning train tomorrow, they would only need their suit-cases, and

what was

left in the

if

Was

there

Yes, a carriage was there.

a carriage outside?

But

compartment.

they cared to walk there was a private

entrance

through the hotel gardens.

.

.

.

No,

they wouldn't walk.

''You wouldn't care to walk, would you, Father

dear?" a

No, Edith, wanna walk?"

"Why no, And

I

won't walk.

Do

you

girls

Father, not without you, dear."

the blond hotel porter leading, they passed

through the

little

station gate to

knot of sturdy peasants at the

where the carriage waited under

a

group of limes.

"Did you ever

see anything as big as that horse,

She was always the

Edith!" cried Emily.

first

to exclaim about things.

"It

is

a very big horse," 1

68

sang Edith, more

Father and the Girls sober.

"It's a

and

it's

had

so

his

sides

farm horse, from the look of

been working.

much

See

observation.

it

how hot it is." Edith The big, brown horse,

streaked with dark sweat, tossed his

head and the

bells

on

his collar set

up a loud

jangling. !"

"Hu-yup

young peasant driver

the

called

warningly, from his seat on the high box. Father, back, a

who was

little

"You

about to get

just

drew

in,

scared.

don't think that horse will run

away with

do you, Edith?" he quavered.

us,

"Why horse

just as

is

the

got,

three

tame of

bounded forward

as

you or me."

them.

his

And

So

as

Father and the

They might have been sticks, three

girls

the

Call that a

three bones, three broom-

umbrellas bouncing up and

was

horse

weighed nothing.

the hard seats of the carriage. the hotel

they

in

ears seemed to twitch in

surprise at his friend the driver.

load?

"That

no, Father dear," coaxed Edith.

It

was

down on a

mercy

Father could never have

so close.

stood that for more than a minute, especially at

the end of a journey.

as

it

was

his

green when Emily helped him

face

was

out,

straightened

quite

Even

him,

and gave him

pull.

169

a

little

Father and the Girls "Ti.V 'It's

shaken you, dear, hasn't it?" she said

tenderly.

But he refused her arm into the hotel. would create a wrong impression.

"No, no, Emily.

I'm

all

That

right.

All right,"

little

he followed

said Father, as staggering a

them through big glass doors into a hall as dim as a church and as chill and as deserted. My Wasn't that hall cold The cold seemed to come leaping at them from the floor. It clasped the peaked knees of Edith and Emily; it For leapt high as the fluttering heart of Father. a moment they hesitated, drew together, almost gasped. But then out from the Bureau a cheerful young person, her smiling face spotted with mosquito bites, ran to meet them, and welcomed them with such real enthusiasm (in English too) that the chill first moment was forgotten. "Aw-yes. Aw-yes. I can let you ave very naice rooms on de firs floor wid a lif. Two rooms !

!

and bart and dressing-room for de chentleman. Very Beautiful rooms wid sun but nort too hot. naice.

Till

please.

churney?

worter?

It

tomorrow. is

dis

Launch Aw-yes.

I

You

way. is

It

taike

is

wid de

please."

170

you

If

are tired wid the

half-pas

at

you.

tvelf.

bart.

Hort If

you

Father and the Girls Father and the ful smiles

were drawn by her cheer-

girls

and becks and nods along a

like corridor, into the lift

open

a heavy,

and up,

cloister-

until she flung

dark door and stood aside for them

to enter.

"It

gaw

when your luggage

to see

And

is

and

a hall

"Now

Quickly she opened them.

tree doors." I

"Wid

a suite," she explained.

is

gum."

she went.

"Well!" cried Emily. Edith stared. Father craned

"Did you Emily,

And

his thin, old neck, looking, too.

—ever

the like,

see

Edith?" cried

in a little rush.

Edith softly clasped her hands.

she sang "No, I never did, Emily.

Softly

Eve never

seen anything just like this before."

"Sims to me a still

Sit

girls

"Why, Father

it!

loveliest thing

Emily?

room," quavered Father,

"Do you

hovering.

Change

nice

wanna change dear,

it's

we've ever set eyes on,

down, Father dear,

sit

it?"

just the isn't

down

in

it,

the

armchair." Father's pale claws gripped the velvet arms.

He

lowered himself, he sank with an old man's

quick sigh.

Edith

still

stood, as

if

bewitched, at the door.

171

!

Father and the Girls But Emily ran over to the window and leaned quite girlish.

For

.

.

.

long time

a

countless ages

out,

now



for

— Father and

how long?

the girls



for

had been on

Montreux, Biarritz, Naples, Mentone, Lake Maggiore, they had seen them wing.

the

Nice,

And

and many, many more.

all

if

anywhere for long.

But the truth

what

they beat

unwearied, never stopping

on, beat on, flying as

ter not enquire

still

was— Oh,

the truth was.

bet-

Better not

was that kept them going. Or why the only word that daunted Father was the word home.

ask what

it



.

Home

!

.

.

To

sit

around, doing nothing,

listen-

ing to the clock, counting up the years, thinking

back

.

.

.

thinking!

as if waiting for

no

!

To

stay fixed in one place

something or somebody.

No

Better far to be blown over the earth like

pod that the wind

the husk, like the withered carries

and drops and bears

"Are you ready,

off

again.

girls?"

"Yes, Father dear."

"Then we'd

better be off

if

we're to

make

that

train."

But oh,

it

was

able weariness.

age;

he was

a weariness,

it

was an unspeak-

Father made no secret of eighty-four.

172

As

for

Edith

his

and

Father and the Girls Emily



An

brother.

old,

But

up.

its

shaded brightness,

its

beauty,

creamy stone windows

to whisper "Rest!

Edith looked

elder

their

like

room might have summed

the flutter of leaves at the

seemed only

now

old brother and two ancient

so the lovely

sisters,

them

looked

he

well,

Stay!"

at the pale, green-panelled walls,

had lozenges and squares of green picked out in gold. She made the amazing discovery that the floor had the same pattern in wood that was traced on the high, painted ceiling. But the colour of the shining floor was at the doors that

marvellous;

it

was

In one cor-

like tortoiseshell.

ner there was a huge, tilted stove, milky white

and

The low wooden

blue.

bed, with

its

cover

of quilted yellow satin, had sheaves of corn carved

on the bed posts.

Edith ing,

— — yes,

softly,

looked to fanciful, tired

It

that bed looked as

if it

were breath-

Outside the nar-

gently breathing.

row, deep-set windows, beyond their wreaths of green,

she

could

see

a

bright as a jewel in the

"Rest!

Stay!"

leaves outside?

room

itself that

felt so

summer

Was

No,

whole,

it

tiny

landscape

heat.

the

sound

of

the

it

was the

whispered joyfully, shyly.

Edith

it

was

in the air;

strange that she could keep quiet no longer.

"This

is

a very old

room, Emily," she war173

Father and the Girls bled softly.

"I

know what

not always been a hotel. I feel as

It's

been an old chateau.

sure of that as that I'm standing here."

Perhaps she wanted

to convince herself that she

was standing there. "Do you She walked over to the stove. on

Emily," she warbled

it.

This hotel has

it is.

see that stove?" "It's got figures

1623."

faintly, "It's

"Isn't that too wonderful !" cried Emily.

Even Father was deeply moved. "1623? Nearly three hundred years

And

old."

suddenly, in spite of his tiredness, he gave a

thin, airy, old

man's chuckle.

"Makes

yer feel

quite a chicken, don't it?" said Father.

Emily's breathless it

laugh answered him;

little

too was gay.

"I'm going she cried.

to see what's behind that door,"

And

half running to the door in the

middle wall she lifted the slender It led into a larger

bedroom.

catch.

steel

room, into Edith's and her

But the walls were the same and the

and there were the same deep-set windows.

floor,

Only two beds instead of one stood with blue

silk quilts instead

of yellow.

a beautiful old chest there

dows "Oh,"

side

by side

And what

was under the win-

!

cried Emily, in rapture.

!74

"Isn't

it

all

Father and the Girls for words,

too perfectly historical

makes me

"

feel

Edith!

It

She stopped, she looked

Edith who had followed her and whose thin

at

shadow

Emily, trying to put

word.

"I don't

Perhaps she

if

sounded

she felt into that one

all

know what

it

is."

Edith, the discoverer, had had time,

might have

And

"Queer!" said

lay on the sunny floor.

at the outer

from downstairs

was the luggage boy. their suitcases there came

door;

while he brought in

But a knock

Emily.

satisfied

it

the ringing of the luncheon bell.

Father mustn't be kept waiting.

gone he liked to follow

it

Once

a bell

had

So with-

up right then.

—they had reached avoid mirrors them when one young— Edith

out even a glance at the mirror the age it is

when

it is

to peer into

as natural to

as

is

and Emily were ready.

"Are you ready,

girls?"

"Yes, Father dear."

And right,

off

down

they went again, to the

left,

worn their way

a stone staircase with a broad,

balustrade, to the left again, finding as if

Emily

by

to the

instinct

—Edith

first,

then Father, and

close behind.

But when they reached the

salle

which was as big as a ball-room,

175

a it

manger,

was

still

Father and the Girls empty.

All gay,

all glittering,

the long French

windows open on to the green and gold garden, the salle a manger stretched before them. And the fifty

little

looked as

if

tables with the fifty pots of dahlias

they might begin dancing with.

176

.

.

.



ALL SERENE

AT

breakfast that morning they were in

wonderfully good sponsible

made

—he or she?

it

was

part of her duty to him

wear charming

love, even, to little coats,

fastidious pair!

so

tributed

little

re-

true she

morning;



to their

funny

caps,

coloured mules at breakfast time, and

to see that the table

first,

It

a point of looking her best in the

she thought

too,

Who was

spirits.

—understood

as he

and she But

the word.

he,

well-groomed and content, con-

fresh,

share.

his

was perfect

.

She had been down

.

.

sitting at her place

when he came

in.

He

leaned over the back of her chair, his hands on

her shoulders; he bent his

down and

lightly

rubbed

cheek against hers, murmuring gently but with

just flush

enough pride of proprietorship to make her with delight, "Give

me my

tea, love."

And

she lifted the silver teapot that had a silver pear

modelled on the

"Thanks.

.

.

lid .

and gave him

his tea.

You know you look

well this morning!"

177

awfully

All Serene "Do u It's

I?"

Do

Yes.

your

never

Look

that again.

They're

eyes.

a

like

known anyone have

at

me

again. I've

child's.

such shining eyes as

you."

"Oh, dear!"

She sighed for joy.

having sweet things said to "Yes, you do



me

spoilt child!

some of this?" "No, thank you.

.

flew across the table

Shall I give you

Darling!"

.

.

"I do love

!"

and clasped

Her hand

his hand.

"Yes?" But she said nothing, only "Darling!" again.

There was the look on

his face she loved



a

kind

He

was pretending he didn't know what she meant, and yet of course he did know. He was pretending to be feeling "Here of sweet jesting.

she

is



trust a

woman



all

ready for a passionate

love scene over the breakfast table at nine o'clock in the

morning."

But she wasn't deceived.

knew he felt just the same amused tolerance, that mock the ways of men no more.



"May to put

it

I

as she

despair

did.

She

That

was part of

be allowed to use this knife please, or

down?"

Mona had

never yet got accustomed

to her husband's smile.

They had been married

Really!

i

78

All Serene She was

for three years.

countless reasons, but apart

in

love with

from them

him for

all,

a spe-

was because of his smile. If it hadn't sounded nonsense she would have said she fell in love at first sight over and over again when he smiled. Other people felt the charm of it, too. Other women, she was certain. Sometimes she thought that even the servants

cial

reason

to itself,

all

watched for

it.

.

.

.

"Don't forget we're going to the theatre

to-

night."

"Oh, good egg! since

we went

"Yes,

had forgotten.

I

It's

ages

to a show."

isn't it?

I feel

quite thrilled."

"Don't you think we might have

("Tiny small" was one

celebration at dinner?"

of her expressions.

a tiny small

But why did

it

sound so

sweet when he used it?) "Yes,

let's.

You mean champagne?"

And

she looked into the distance, and said in a far-

away At

"Then I must revise moment the maid came

voice:

the sweet."

that

in

There were four for him, three for

letters.

No, one of hers belonged grimy

with the

little

her.

to him, too, rather a

envelope with a dab of sealing

wax

on the back.

"Why

do you get

all

the letters?" she wailed,

179

— All Serene handing

and

letters

"Well,

you

I

do

morning.

tell

such awful bangers?

me

always you

It's

mysterious epistles from

with or faded aunts.

girls

It's

to get a letter in

who

get those

you were

Here, have half

The Rutherfords never shared It

can

at college

my

pear

She held out her plate.

a beauty."

it's

"How

that!" said he.

like

the rarest thing on earth for

the

I love

never get any."

I

there and

sit

"It's awfully unfair.

across.

it

was her idea that they should

been violently opposed to

their letters.

had

She couldn't

at first.

it

He

not.

help laughing; he had so absolutely misunder-

stood her reason.

"Good God! my come

to

open any

the house

may you

be .

"Oh I

on



letters of

lying

about.

I

promise

can

I

no, no, darling, that's not

And

and kissed him

old friends write to

you know?



tell a

tell

me

man.

what

I

mean.

she put her hands quickly.

He

looked

"But so many of Mother's

an offended boy.

them.

think

."

.

his cheeks

world

mine that come to

or to read any letters of mine that

don't suspect you."

like

You're perfectly wel-

dear.

me



confide in

me



don't

things they wouldn't for the I feel it

Don't you see?" 1

8a

wouldn't be fair to

All Serene

He

gave way

at

But "I'm old fash-

last.

ioned," he said, and his smile was a

my

"I like to feel

"My

read

She

about

quite

"No, no slit

"Of

what.

That's

!

course

all right.

And

un-

know

love

to

It's

understood.

they had kept

He

it.

began

said and thrust out his

lip.

"Why, what

it?

is

Something horrid?"



A

you

I'd

open the grimy envelope.

"Damn!" he

to read.

under

made

I've

repentant; she didn't

felt so

We'll keep the bond."

He

letters."

."

.

.

dear!

precious

happy."

my

wife reads

rueful.

little

"No annoying. I shall man wants to meet me

be late this evening. at the

at

office

six

o'clock."

"Was

She sounded

that a business letter?"

surprised.

"Yes, "It

why?"

looked

so

awfully

unbusinesslike.

The

—much

more

sealing-wax and the funny writing like a

He

woman's than laughed.

his pocket

he said, noticed.

a man's."

He

folded the

put

letter,

and picked up the envelope.

"it

is

How

exactly like a

queer, isn't

quick you are

woman's hand. 181

I

it. 1

it

in

"Yes,"

shouldn't have

But

The

it

does look

capital R, for

— All Serene instance"

—he

flipped the envelope across to her.

"Yes, and that squiggle underneath.

I

have said a rather uneducated female.

"As

a matter of fact,"

mining engineer." stretch

and

then

glorious morning office

!

And

said

Why

instead of staying at

Hugh,

he got up,

stopped.

do

"I I

.

say,

should .

."

"he's

a

began to

what

a

have to go to the

home and

playing with

you?" And he came over to her and locked his arms round her neck. "Tell me that, little lovely one."

"Oh," she leaned against him, "I wish you Life's arranged badly for people like you could. and me.

And now

you're going to be late this

evening."

"Never mind," said he. "All the rest of the Every single bit of it. We shan't time's ours. " come back from the theatre to find "Our porch black with mining engineers." She laughed. Did other people could other people was it possible that any one before had She squeezed her head ever loved as they loved? she heard his watch ticking against him







precious watch!

"What

are those purple floppy flowers in

bedroom?" he murmured. "Petunias."

182

my

!

All Serene "You

smell exactly like a petunia."

And

he

raised her

She drew towards

up.

"Kiss me," said he.

him.

was her habit to sit on the bottom stair and watch his final preparations. Strange it should be so fascinating to see someone brush his hat, choose a pair of gloves, and give a last quick look in the round mirror. But it was the same when he was shaving. Then she loved to curl up on the hard little couch in his dressing room; she was as absorbed, as intent as he. How fantastic It

he looked,

like a pierrot, like a

mask, with those

dark eyebrows, liquid eyes and the brush of colour

on

But that was not her chief

what she this

is

felt

my

above

cheek-bones

his

on the

too.

stairs,

is

the stranger

is

lather

was was, "So

No,

feeling.

husband, so this

married, this

the

It

it

man

the

flesh

who walked

I've

across

the lawn that afternoon swinging his tennis racket

and bowed, not

rolling

up

his shirt-sleeves.

This

is

my lover and my husband, but my my dearest friend, my playmate, even at kind of very perfect father too. And

only

brother,

times a

here

is

here

is

where we

live.

our hall."

their house

and him

Here

is

his

room

— and

She seemed to be showing to her other self, the self she

183

All Serene had been before she had met him. Deeply admiring, almost awed by so much happiness, that other self looked on.

"Will

on

stroking

He

do?"

I

.

.

stood

there

But

gloves.

his

.

smiling,

although

he

wouldn't like her to say the things she often

longed to say about

his appearance, she did think

she detected that morning just the very faintest

boyish showing

who know

Children

off.

they

are admired look like that at their mother.

"Yes, you'll do.

.

.

."

Perhaps

at

that

mo-

ment she was proud of him as a mother is proud; she could have blessed him before he went his way.

Instead she stood in the porch thinking,

"There he stranger

The man

goes.

who came

The

I've married.

across the lawn."

The

fact

was never less wonderful. It was It was never less wonderful, never. even more wonderful if anything and the reason .

.

.



was Mona ran back into the house, into the drawing-room and sat down to the piano. Oh, She began to sing, why bother about reasons



See, love, I bring thee flowers

To But joy in

charm thy pain!

—joy

breathless and exulting thrilled

her voice, on the word "pain" her

184

lips

parted

All Serene happy

in such a

— dreadfully unsympathetic

that she felt quite ashamed. ing, she

She stopped play-

turned round on the piano stool facing

How

the room. ing,

smile

how

different

in the

morn-

The grey

chairs

looked

it

severe and remote.

with the fuchsia-coloured cushions, the black and

gold carpet, the bright green

have belonged to anybody. setting with the curtain

still

silk curtains

might

was like a stage down. She had no It

right to be there, and as she thought that a queer

caught her;

little chill

that anything,

it

seemed so extraordinary

even a chair, should turn away

from, should not respond to her happiness. "I don't like this like

it

in the

at all," she decided,

to finish dressing.

bedroom tunias.

room

.

.

.

.

.

Ran

morning,

I

don't

and she ran upstairs

into their big

shadowy

and leaned over the starry pe-

.

185

A BAD IDEA

SOMETHING'S And

thing bad.

about life

The worst

of me.

thing into focus just feel in a It



if

know what to do any way out for the

of

it

I can't get this

is,

you know what

muddle



me—some-

don't

I

don't see

I

it.

happened to

I

mean.

I

of a muddle.

in the hell

ought to be plain to anyone that I'm not the

kind of

man

to get

mixed up

in a

thing like

this.

I'm not one of your actor Johnnies, or a chap I'm

a book.



well, I

until yesterday.

knew what

But now

was

right

all

I feel helpless, yes,

Here

word, helpless.

that's the



I

I

sit,

chucking

stones at the sea like a child that's missed

mother.

And

everybody

else

has cut along

hours ago and tea's over and time to light the lamp. too, sooner or later. fact,

would you believe

wish

I

was there

she doing?

away?

Or

My wife,

it's

I shall

it? at this

I

home

getting on for

of course.

very

of everything.

mean.

its

have to go home

I see that,

in spite

in

Has

In

moment

I

What's

she cleared

has she stayed there staring at the 1

86

!

A

Bad Idea

when I think that I could howl know what I mean. .

I

My

pushed back?

table with the plates

.

like a



dog

God! you

if

.

should have realized

it

was

all

U.P.

this

morning when she didn't get up for breakfast. I did, in a way. But I couldn't face it. I had the feeling that

treated

went

the

off to

by the time

office,

That was

got back this

I felt a bit like

it.

What was

do now, "helpless."

I

would have blown over

affair

No, that wasn't

somehow. go on.

bad headache days and

as one of her

it

evening the whole

I

said nothing special and just

if I

I to

do? So

could think of.

all I

her up a cup of tea and a couple of

slices

Just I

took

of thin

bread and butter as per usual on her headache days.

The

blind

on her back.

I

said in a

was

It

you?"

I

voice,

put

snatched

me.

my

and dashed

I

a

wet handkerchief

it

I

couldn't

And

she

"Put the jug on the

down.

she said,

I said,

"No.

I'll

"Can be

all

But her voice, you know

right in half an hour." It did for

had

She was lying

a beastly feeling.

And

do anything?"

down.

I'm not sure, for

weak kind of

table, will I

still

think she

on her forehead. look at her.

was

barged out

as quick as I could,

hat and stick from the hall-stand

off

for the tram.

—you

Here's a queer thing

187

needn't believe

me

I

A if

Bad Idea

you don't want to



moment

the

my

I

got out of

was a splendid morning, soft, with the sun making silver ducks on the sea. The kind of morning when you know it's going to keep hot and fine all Even the tram bell sounded different, and day. the house

the

forgot that about

I

knees had bunches of flowers.

why

understand

can't

happy

way

in a



just

I

strong the

That wind night before was

It felt like

her

beat the band!

it

Brought

did.

told you felt

how

reckless

office



I

One

little

picked

.

happy, but

felt

happy

wanted

so

a bit.

— touching me.

Yes,

if

to

little

to

blowing

still

took me, you'd say

I

had been

that

back, every bit of

didn't care



I

I

If I

it.

was mad.

was

I

late for the

do every one

a kind-

kids out of the tram.

chap dropped his cap, and when

up

it

sonny!"

it

helped the

ness.

to

it

or not and

make At

the other

people's

know

don't

I

I'd never been before,



It

crammed between

school kids

little

wife.

.

.

for

well,

it

him was

and all I

said,

I

"Here,

could do not to

a fool of myself.

the office

me

before.

it

I'd never

When

and put down

was

just the same.

known

It

seemed

the fellows at the office

old Fisher came over to

my

desk

a couple of giant sweet peas as per

usual with his "Beat 'em, old man, beat 'em"

188



— A

Bad Idea

didn't feel annoyed.

didn't care that he

I

riddled with conceit about his garden.

looked at them and

done

this

it

make of

I

Came back

it.

just

I

said quietly, "Yes, you've

He

time."

was

didn't

in

about

me if I had a headache. And so it went on all day.

know what five

to

minutes and

asked

In the evening

I

dashed home with the home-going crowd, pushed open the gate, saw the hall-door open as is

and

take

sat

my

off

the

little

My

boots.

boots into the rack

a

in the

always

chair just inside to

slippers

This seemed to me

course.

my

down on

it

were

good

there, of

sign.

I

put

cupboard under the

my office coat and made for the kitchen. I knew my wife was there. Wait a bit. The only thing I couldn't manage was my stairs,

changed

whistling as per usual, "I often think,

had a opened

What

a dreadful thing

try,

but nothing came

the

kitchen-door

is

and

lie

awake and

work.

of

it.

said,

..."

1

Well,

I

"Hullo!

How's everybody?" But as soon as I'd said that even before I knew the worst had happened.





She was standing at the table beating the salad dressing.

And when

she looked up and gave a

kind of smile and said "Hullo!" you could have

knocked me down! there's

My

no other word for

wife looked dreadful it.

189

She must have been

— A crying

all

Bad Idea

She'd put some white flour

day.

on her face to take away the marks

made her look worse.

—but

it

stuff

only

She must have seen

I

spotted something, for she caught up the cup of

cream and poured some her

— and

own way

said, "Is

began beating again.

your head better?"

to hear.

She

"Are you going

said,

"After," and went

I said,

I

But she didn't seem to

water the

What

garden before or after supper?" say?

bowl

always does, you know, so quick, so neat,

like she in

into the salad

off to

could I

the dining-

room, opened the evening paper and sat by the

open window



well, hiding behind that paper, I

suppose. shall

I

never

I



I

Then I

sitting

People

there.

going down the road, sounded so

passing by, peaceful.

forget

And

a

man

My

envied him. she called

passed with some cows.

me

wife came in and out.

to supper

and we

sat

down.

suppose we ate some cold meat and salad.

We

don't remember.

of us spoke.

must have.

It's like a

dream now.

I

But neither

Then

she

got up, changed the plates, and went to the larder

Do

for the pudding.

ding was?

you know what the pud-

Well, of course,

it

wouldn't mean



the kind was my favorite honeyshe only made me on special occasions comb cream.

anything to you.

.

.

It

.

190





A MAN AND HIS DOG

TO

look at Mr.

one would have

Potts

thought that there at least went someone

who had nothing was tie,

a little insignificant

to boast about.

fellow with a crooked

him and

a hat too small for

He

a coat too large.

The brown canvas

portfolio that he carried to

and from the Post

Office every

a business man's portfolio.

school satchel;

it

an apple core inside. thing

funny

Through

What

about

the dickens

there were crumbs and

And his

then there was some-

boots,

wasn't

buried 'em

had the chap done with the

"More likely Under his arm he

Poor old Potts!

in his

garden."

clasped an umbrella.

And

in

wet weather when

up, he disappeared completely.

He

was a walking umbrella the umbrella became his shell.

not.

there?

"Fried 'em," suggested the wit of the

Chesney bus.

it

like a child's

the laces his coloured socks peeped out.

tongues?

he put

was

like

did up even with a round-eyed

One imagined

button.

It

day was not

191

—no

He was more

A Man

and His Dog

Mr. Potts lived in a little bungalow on Chesney Flat. The bulge of the water tank to one side

gave

mournful

a

it

air, like a little

bungalow

There was no garden. A path had been cut in the paddock turf from the gate to the front door, and two beds, one round, one oblong, had been cut in what was going to be the front lawn. Down that path went Potts every morning at half-past eight and was picked up by the Chesney bus; up that path walked Potts with the toothache.

every evening while the great kettle of a bus

droned

when he crept smoke a pipe he

In the late evening,

on.

as far as the gate, eager to



wasn't allowed to smoke any nearer to the house



his

that the big, merrily-shining stars

was seemed

to

wink

at each other, to laugh, to say,

"Look

at

him!

than that

so humble,

so modest

air,

Let's throw something!"

When

Potts got out of the tram at the Fire

Station to change into the Chesney bus he

The

saw

was there all right, but the driver was off his perch; he was flat on his face half under the engine, and the conthat something

ductor, his cap

was

off,

sat

and looking dreamy.

men and

a

woman

up.

on

A

car

a step rolling a cigarette little

clerk or

192

group of business

two stood staring

at

A Man

and His Dog

the empty car; there was something mournful,

shivered faintly It

was

someone who'd had an accident and "Don't touch me! Don't come say:

like

to

tries

way it leaned to one side and when the driver shook something.

about the

pitiful

near me!

Don't hurt me!"



But

all this

was

so familiar

thing.

They

just

waited on the

had only been running to Chesney the last few months that nobody said anything, nobody asked anythe cars



off

chance.

In

two or three decided to walk it as Potts came up. But Potts didn't want to walk unless He was tired. He'd been up half he had to. fact,

the night rubbing his wife's chest

her mysterious pains

vant

girl

and make



she

— and helping

had one of

the sleepy ser-

heat compresses and hot-water bottles

The window was

tea.

blue and the

had started crowing before he lay down And all this was with feet like ice.

roosters finally

familiar, too.

Standing at the edge of the pavement and

and again changing

from one hand over

the

shadowy.

down

brown canvas portfolio

to the other Potts

night

He

his

now

before.

But

began to

it

saw himself moving

was

vague,

like

a crab,

the passage to the cold kitchen

193

live

and back

A Man again.

The two

and His Dog

candles quivered on the dark

chest of drawers, and as he bent over his wife her

big eyes suddenly flashed and she cried: "I get no sympathy

do I

it

—no sympathy.

because you have

Trying

only

Don't contradict me.

to.

can see you grudge doing

You

it."

to soothe her only

made matters worse.

There had been an awful scene ending with her sitting up and saying solemnly with her hand raised: "Never mind, it will not be for long now." But the sound of these words frightened her so terribly that she flung back on the pillow

and sobbed, "Robert! Robert!" Robert was the name of the young man to whom she had been

engaged years ago, before she met Potts.

And

Potts was very glad to hear him invoked.

He

had come to know that meant the crisis was over and she'd begin to quieten down. By this time Potts had wheeled round; he had walked across the pavement to the paling fence .

that ran beside.

A

.

.

pushed

piece of light grass

through the fence and some slender

silky daisies.

Suddenly he saw a bee alight on one of the daisies

and the flower leaned over, swayed, shook, while And as it flew the little bee clung and rocked.

away

the petals fluttered as

if

joyfully.

.

.

.

Just

for an instant Potts dropped into the world where

194

A Man He

happened.

this

and His Dog brought from

it

the timid

smile with which he walked back to the car.

But

now everybody had disappeared except one young girl who stood beside the empty car reading. At

came Potts in a cassock so much too large for him that it looked like a night-shirt and you felt that he ought to be carrying not a hymn and a prayer book but a candle. His voice was a very light plaintive the tail of the procession

tenor.

It

surprised

But

surprise him, too.

when he

everybody. it

was so

It

seemed

to

plaintive that

cried "for the wings, for the wings of a

dove" the ladies club together

in the

congregation wanted to

and buy him

a pair.

Lino's nose quivered so pitifully,

was

there

such a wistful, timid look in his eyes, that Potts'

heart was wrung.

show

But of course he would not

"Well," he said sternly, "I suppose

it.

you'd better come home." the bench.

And

he got up

Lino got up, too, but stood

still,

off

hold-

ing up a paw.

"But

there's

one thing," said Potts, turning

and facing him squarely, "that we'd better be clear about before

He

And it's this." Lino who started as

you do come.

pointed his finger at

195

A Man

and His Dog

though he expected to be shot.

But he kept

bewildered wistful eyes upon his master. sternly than ever.

are.

"You're not a fighting

You're a watch dog.

dog.

Very

"Stop

being a fighting dog," said Potts

this pretence of

more

his

Stick to

well.

it.

fernal boasting I can't stand.

That's what you

But It's

it's

this in-

that that gets

me." In the moment's pause that followed while

Lino and curious

them.

his

master looked at each other

how strong Then Potts

it

was

was between turned again and made for a resemblance

home.

And

timidly,

though falling over

as

paws, Lino followed after the humble of his master.

.

.

.

196

his

own

little figure

SUCH A SWEET OLD LADY

WHY

wake so She would like to

did old Mrs. Travers

early

nowadays?

have

slept for another three

at least.

But no, every morning

cisely the

same time,

hours

at almost pre-

at half-past four, she

was





For nowadays, again she woke always in the same way, with a slight start, a small shock, lifting her head from the pillow with a quick glance as if she fancied someone had called her, or as if she were trying to remember for certain whether this was the same wallpaper, the same window she had seen last night before wide awake.

Warner switched small, silvery

off

the light.

.

.

.

Then

the

head pressed the white pillow again

moment, before the agony of lying awake began, old Mrs. Travers was happy. Her heart quietened down, she breathed deeply, she even smiled. Yet once more the tide of darkness had risen, had floated her, had carried her away; and once more it had ebbed, it had withdrawn, casting her up where it had found her, shut in by and

just for a

197

Such a Sweet Old Lady the

same wallpaper, stared

dow



still

Now

safe



still

by the same win-

there!

the church clock sounded

slow, languid, faint, as

She

in its sleep.

watch;

at

yes,

Three and with her

it

under the pillow for her

felt

a half hours before

Oh

She

outside,

chimed the half hour

said the same.

tea.

stand it?

if it

from

dear,

Half-past four.

Warner came

in

would she be able

moved her

to

And,

legs restlessly.

staring at the prim, severe face of the watch,

seemed

—knew held back—

hands

the

that

just a

Very

— minute hand she was watching them and very — on purpose.

to her that the

especially

it

little

.

.

.

had never got over the feeling It had been Henry's. that watch hated her. Twenty years ago, when standing by poor Henry's bed, she had taken it into her hands for the first time and wound it, it had felt cold and heavy. And two days later, when she undid a hook of her crape bodice and thrust it inside, it had lain in her bosom like a stone. ... It had never ing, ribs.

strange, she

felt at

home

Its place

was



tick-

keeping perfect time, against Henry's firm It

had never trusted

never trusted her occasions

had

there.

felt

in

her, just as he

those ways.

And on

had

the rare

when she had forgotten to wind it, she a pang of almost terror, and she had 198

Such a Sweet Old Lady murmured as me, Henry!"

she fitted the

Old Mrs. Travers

little

and pushed the

sighed,

watch under the pillow again. that lately this feeling that

come more

definite.

cause she looked at that she

.

it

It

They

minutes to two.

to her

hated her had be-

so often, especially

was away from home.

never go.

seemed

Perhaps that was be-

.

.

it

key: "Forgive

now

Foreign clocks

are always stopped at twenty

Twenty minutes

to

two

!

Such

an unpleasant time, neither one thing nor the

and

it

anywhere lunch was over

If one arrived

other.

was too early

to expect a cup of tea.

.

.

.

Old Mrs. Travers pulled herself up in the bed, and like a tired baby, she lifted her arms and let them But she mustn't begin thinking about

fall

tea.

on the eiderdown.

The room was gay with morning light. The big French window on to the balcony was open and the palm outside flung like

shadow over

the

its

bedroom

quivering spiderwalls.

Although

their hotel did not face the front, at this early

hour you could smell the it

breathing,

sea-gulls

and

skimmed



you could hear

flying

high on golden wings

past.

How

peaceful the sky

was tenderly smiling! Far far away from this satin-stripe wallpaper,

looked, as though

away

sea,

it

199

!

Such a Sweet Old Lady the glass-covered table, the yellow brocade sofa

and

chairs,

your

side

and the mirrors that showed you view,

your back view, your three-

quarters view as well.

had been

Ernestine

about

enthusiastic

this

room.

and

So bright

With can

Mother

for you,

and non-depressing!

attractive

a balcony, too, so that

on wet days you

have your chair outside and look

still

And Gladys

those lovely palms. little

room

the very

just

"It's

room

adjoining, which

at

can have the

makes

it

so beauti-

Warner to keep her eye on you You couldn't have a nicer room, could Mother? I can't get over that sweet

fully easy for

both.

you,

.

.

.

So

balcony!

haven't got one at

But

all

Gladys!

for

nice

all.

.

Cecil

and

I

."

.

the same, in spite of Ernestine, she

never sat on that balcony.

For some strange

reason that she couldn't explain she hated looking at palms. in

Nasty foreign

her mind.

When

things, she called

they were

still

them

they drooped,

they looked draggled like immense untidy birds,

and when they moved, they reminded her always of

spiders.

natural

Why

did

they

never

and peaceful and shady

200

look

like

just

English

Such a Sweet Old Lady

Why

trees?

were they forever writhing and

twisting or standing sullen?

think eign.

of .

.

them,

or

in

.

20I

fact

It tired

of

her even to

anything

for-

HONESTY

THEREwaswas

an expression Rupert Hender-

very fond of using.

son

want my honest opinion

.

.

"If you

."

He had

an honest opinion on every subject under the sun,

and nothing short of a passion for delivering it. But Archie Cullen's pet phrase was "I cannot honestly say

not really

made up

made up

his

Why? plus?

his

He

mind.

mind on any

proud of the go so far as

had not

matter. It

fact.

to say

He



He

was not depressed him

in the least

—one might

terribly at times.

to say, Archie lived in Rupert's rooms.

paid his share, his half

rangement.

had



really



Rupert and Archie lived together.

rangement was

had

was unlike was minus something or was

He

No

that he

subject whatsoever.

Because he could not.

other men. it

Which meant

."

.

.

a

in

purely,

But perhaps

is

Oh, he

everything; the arstrictly

it

That

business

ar-

was because Rupert

invited Archie that Archie remained always

his guest.

They each had 202

a be'droom,

there

Honesty was

a

common

sitting-room, and a largeish bath-

room which Rupert used as a dressing-room as The first morning after his arrival Archie well. had left his sponge in the bath-room, and a moment after there was a knock at his door and Rupert said, kindly but firmly, "Your sponge, I The first evening Archie had brought fancy." his tobacco jar into the sitting room and placed Rupert was it on a corner of the mantelpiece. reading the newspaper. It was a round china jar, the surface painted and roughened to repOn the lid was a spray of resent a sea-urchin. china seaweed with two berries for a knob. Ar-

was excessively fond of it. But after dinner, when Rupert took out his pipe and pouch, he suddenly fixed his eyes on this object, blew through his moustaches, gasped, and said in a

chie

wondering,

astonished voice,

yours or Mrs. Head's?"

say!

Is

that

Mrs. Head was

their

"I

landlady. "It's

mine," said Archie, and he blushed and

smiled just a "I say/"

trifle

timidly.

said

Rupert again



this

time very

meaningly.

"Would you rather he moved in his chair "No, no!

I

.

.

."

said Archie, and

to get up.

Certainly not!

203

On no

account!"

Honesty answered Rupert, and he actually raised

"But perhaps"

—— and here he smiled

gazed about him

at

his hand.

Archie and

"perhaps we might

some

find

was a trifle less conspicuous." The spot was not decided on, however, and

spot for

it

that

Archie nipped his sole personal possession into his

bedroom

as soon as

Rupert was out of the

chiefly at

meals that the attitude

way.

But

was

it

of host and guest was most marked.

down Rupert

they sat

said,

cutting the bread, Archie?"

such a point of

moment

the

it,

Archie

Again,

is

it

"Would you mind Had he not made

possible that Archie in

of abstractedness might have grasped

bread knife.

Even

in-

on each separate occasion, even before

stance,

a

For

.

.

was

An

.

unpleasant thought!

never

allowed

at breakfast, the hot dishes

both were dispensed by Rupert.

to

serve.

and the

tea,

True, he half

apologized about the tea he seemed to feel the ne;

some

cessity of

"I'm rather

"Some

people,

milk

first.

one.

In

just

so

slight explanation, there. a

fad about

my

tea,"

said he.

females especially, pour

in

the

Fatal habit, for more reasons than

my and

the cup

opinion,

the

tea

then

Archie?"

204

should be

coloured.

filled

Sugar,

Honesty "Oh, please," said Archie, almost bowing over Rupert was so very impressive. the table. "But I suppose," said his friend, "you don't notice any of these

And I

things."

little

Archie answered vaguely,

"No,

stirring,

don't suppose I do."

Rupert

down and unfolded

sat

his napkin.

would be very inconsistent with your character and disposition," said he genially, "if you Kidneys and bacon? Scrambled eggs? did! Both? Which?" Either? "It

Poor alas

Archie

scrambled

hated

eggs,

but,

he was practically certain that scrambled

!

eggs were expected of him too. logical

awareness,'

This 'psycho-

Rupert called

as

which

it,

make

existed between them, might after a time

things ject

he

as

a

trifle

he

saw by

chosen

murmured, Rupert's

right.

He

difficult.

felt

"Eggs, helped

little

he

that

him

ab-

And

please."

expression

Rupert

a

had eggs

to

largely.

Psychological awareness

.

.

.

perhaps

that which explained their intimacy.

have been tempted to say fascination.

it

was

it

was

One might

a case of

mutual

But whereas Archie's reply to the

205

— Honesty suggestion would have been a slow "Possibly!"

Rupert would have flouted

What

this connection.

even

my

habit of being fascinated by

am

certainly

I

deeply interested.

I

preposterous

if

confess

I

was

in the

fellow-creatures;

No,

not.

I'll

my belief

stand him better than anybody

own is,

And

else.

— —

if



what you

I

am

under-

I

want my honest opinion, I am certain that my h'm influence over sympathy for



in

on earth would there be

me

Cullen to fascinate

which

at once.

The word's

"Fascination!

in

it

you

my

—him

There is a psychological awareness. Moreover, as a companion, instinctively I find him extremely agreeable. He stimulates some part of my mind which is less active without him. But fascination call it

like, is all to .

—wide of But

the mark,

supposing

Supposing one it

possible

to

my

one

dear

the good. .

.

—wide!"

remained

unconvinced?

Wasn't

played with the idea.

still

see

Rupert and Archie

the

as

python and the rabbit keeping house together?

Rupert that handsome, well-fed python with

his

moustaches, his glare, his habit of uncoiling before the

pipe

fire

and swaying against the mantelpiece,

and pouch

in

hand.

hunched, timid, sitting

in

And

Archie,

the lesser

soft,

armchair,

there and not there, flicking back into the dark-

206

— Honesty ness at a

word but emerging again

look

at a

with sudden wholly unexpected starts of playful-

Of

(instantly suppressed by the python).

ness

was no question of anything so

there

course,

crude and dreadful as the rabbit being eaten by his

housemate.

fact,



Nevertheless,

was

it

a strange

after a typical evening the one looked im-

mensely swelled, benign and refreshed and the other, pale, small

and exhausted.

often than not,

Rupert's

ominous

this



as he

final

doused

his

.

.

.

And more

comment was

whisky with soda:

"This has been very absorbing, Archie."

And

Archie gasped out, "Oh, very/"

Archie Cullen was a journalist and the son of a journalist.

He had

no private money, no

influential connections, scarcely

any friends.

His

father had been one of those weak, disappointed, unsuccessful

men who

for themselves. life

He

through Archie.



see in their sons a

would get

his

weapon

own back on

Archie would show them

was made of. Just you wait till my son comes along! This, though highly consoling to Mr. Cullen pere, was terribly poor fun for Archie. At two and a half his infant nose was put to the grindstone and even on the stuff he

his father

207

Honesty was not taken off. Then his father took him out walking and improved the occasion by making him spell the shop signs, count the yachts racing in the harbour, divide them by four and multiply the result by three. But the experiment was an amazing success. Archie turned away from the distractions of life, Sundays

it

shut his ears, folded his feet, sat over the table

with his book and when the holidays came he didn't like them; they

made him uneasy;

went on reading for himself.

On

boy.

prize-giving

He was

days his

a

father

panied him to school, carried the great stiff

so he

model accom-

wad

of

books home for him and, flinging them on

the dining-room table, he surveyed

My

exultant smile.

prizes!

The

them with an little sacrifice

stared at them, too, through his spectacles, as

other

little

boys stared at puddings.

He

ought,

of course, at this juncture to have been rescued

by a doting mother who, though cowed herself, rose on the

.

.

.

208

SUSANNAH

OF

course there would have been no ques-

tion of their going to the exhibition

Father had not had the him.

Little

girls

cannot

treats that cost extra

if

tickets given to

expect

money when

to

be

given

only to feed

them, buy them clothes, pay for their lessons and the house they live in takes their kind generous

Father

day and every day working hard from

all

morning

night

till

— "except Saturday afternoons

and Sundays," said Susannah. "Susannah!" Mother was

very

shocked.

"But do you know what would happen to your poor Father if he didn't have a holiday on Saturday afternoons and Sundays?"

"No,"

said Susannah.

She looked interested.

"What?"

"He would

die," said their

"Would he?"

mother impressively.

said Susannah, opening her eyes.

She seemed astounded, and Sylvia and Phyllis,

who were chimed

four and

in with,

"Of

five

years older than she,

course," in a very superior

209

Susannah What

was not to know that They sounded so convinced and cheerful that their mother felt a little shaken and tone.

a

she

silly-billy

little

!

hastened to change the subject.

"So that

is

why," she said

.

.

.

a little vaguely,

"you

must each thank Father separately before you go."

"And

then he will give us the money?" asked

Phyllis.

"And

then I shall ask him for whatever

necessary," said their mother firmly.

"Run

suddenly and got up.

Miss Wade herself and then ask

room.

come

And now,

She sighed

along, children, and

dress you

to

is

down

Susannah,

and get ready to

the

dining-

you

are

not

to

go Miss Wade's hand from the moment

let

you are through the gates

until

you are out

again."

"Well

—what

if

I

Susannah.

"Go on

a

horse

much too young

go on a horse?" inquired



nonsense,

for horses

!

You're

child!

Only big

girls

and

boys can ride."

"There's roosters

Susannah undaunted.

Heywood went on fell

for

small

children,"

"I know, because

one and when she got

over."

210

said

Irene off

she

1

Susannah "All the more reason

why you

shouldn't go

on," said her mother.

But Susannah looked

as

though falling over

had no terrors for her. On the contrary. About the exhibition, however, Sylvia and It was the Phyllis knew as little as Susannah. One first that had ever come to their town. morning, as Miss Wade, their lady help, rushed them along to the Heywoods', whose governess they shared, they had seen carts piled with great long planks of wood, sacks, what looked like whole doors, and white flagstaffs, passing through And the wide gate of the Recreation Ground. by the time they were bowled home to their dinners, there were the beginnings of a high thin fence, dotted with flagstaffs, built all round the railings. From inside, came a tremendous noise of hammering, shouting, clanging; a little engine, hidden away, went Chuff -chuff -chuff. Chuff! And round, woolly balls of smoke were tossed over the palings. First

it

was

the day after the day after tomor-

row, then plain day after tomorrow, then tomorrow, and at

woke up

last, the

in the

day

itself.

When

morning, there was a

Susannah little

gold

spot of sunlight watching her from the wall;

looked as though

it

had been there for 21

it

a long

Susannah remind her

time, waiting to



going today

:



today

"It's

Here

this afternoon.

she

you're

is !"

(Second Version)

That afternoon they were allowed

to cut jugs

and basins out of a draper's catalogue, and tea-time they

had

on the

This was a very nice

table.

at

real tea in the doll's tea set treat, indeed,

except that the doll's tea-pot wouldn't pour out

even after you'd poked a pin

blown

into

down

the spout and

it.

But the next afternoon, which was Saturday, Father came home

high feather.

in

The

front

door banged so hard that the whole house shook,

Mother from the hall. "Oh, how more than good of you, darling!"

and he shouted

to

Mother,

u

cried

how

but

course, they'll simply love all

Daddy about cried

You

money!

that

dear! it.

Mother.

Down Susannah

totally

to

have spent

u

to

forgotten

it,

all

Half-a-crown?"

this!

Two

"No!

Children!

But

shouldn't have done

is

she corrected quickly,

dren!

it.

They've

And what

Of

unnecessary too.

shillings,

spend as well.

Come down,

I

see,"

Chil-

downstairs!"

they came, Phyllis and Sylvia leading,

holding

Father's done?"

on.

"Do you know what

And Mother 212

held up her hand.

Susannah What was and

she holding?

tickets

"He's bought you

green one.

a

Three cherry

You're to go to the

circus, this

of you, with Miss

Wade.

tickets.

very afternoon,

What do you

all

say to

that?"

Mummy!

"Oh,

and

Phyllis

"Isn't

Run and

Wade

you go

flew Phyllis

"Run

Mother.

said

ask Miss

Up

Away

cried

Sylvia.

it?"

dawdle.

Lovely!"

Lovely!

to get

upstairs.

you ready.

Don't

All of you."

!

and Sylvia, but

still

Susannah

stayed where she was at the bottom of the stairs,

hanging her head.

"Go

And

along," said Mother.

sharply,

"What

Father said

the devil's the matter with the

child?" "I don't want to

Susannah's face quivered. go," she whispered.

"What! After child!

Don't want to go to the Exhibition!

You

Father's

Either you

go

to

naughty, the

sannah, or you will be packed

ungrateful

Exhibition,

off to

Susannah's head bent low, lower

Su-

bed

at once."

still.

All her

body bent forward. She looked as though she was going to bow down, to bow down to the

little

ground, before her kind generous Father and beg for his forgiveness.

.

.

.

213

SECOND VIOLIN

A

FEBRUARY morning, windy,

chill-looking clouds hurrying over a pale

sky and

grey streets. they

flit

cold, with

chill

snowdrops for

sale in the

People look small and shrunken as

by; they look scared as

if

they were try-

ing to hide inside their coats

from something big

The shop doors

are closed, the awn-

and

brutal.

ings are furled,

and the policemen

policemen.

are lead

at the crossings

Huge empty vans

past with a hollow sound; and there

is

shake a smell

of soot and wet stone staircases, a raw, grimy smell.

.

.

.

Flinging her small scarf over her shoulder

Miss Bray darts along

again, clasping her violin,

She

to orchestra practice.

is

conscious of her

cold hands, her cold nose and her colder feet.

She can't feel her toes little

at all.

Her

feet are just

slabs of cold, all of a piece, like the feet of

china dolls.

people



Winter

terrible

!

is

Why

a terrible time for thin

should

it

hound them

down, fasten on them, worry them so ?

214

Why not,

!

Second Violin for a change, fat is

fat

who wouldn't

ones

sleek,

warm,

one's

bones.

.

take a nip, take a snap at the

.

summer

cat-like

a

life

But

notice ?

that

Winter

misery.

no

It

!

makes the for

all

is

.

Threading her way,

and out

like a needle, in

and along, went Miss Bray, and she thought of She had just come out of

nothing but the cold.

her kitchen, which was pleasantly snug

morning, with her fast

going for her break-

gas-fire

and the window closed.

She had just drunk

three large cilps of really boiling tea.

in

books of

warmed and

Surely,

One always people going on their way

they ought to have

read

the

in

warmed

her.

invigorated by even one cup.

And

had had three How she loved her tea StirShe was getting fonder and fonder of it. ring the cup, Miss Bray looked down. A little fond smile parted her lips, and she breathed tenshe

!

derly, "I love

But

all

my

tea."

the same, in spite of the books,

keep her warm.

Cold!

Cold!

it

didn't

And now

as

she turned the corner she took such a gulp of

damp, cold little

hurt.

air

that her eyes

dog yelped; he looked

as

filled.

Yt-yi-yi,

a

though he'd been

She hadn't time to look round, but that

high, sharp yelping soothed her,

215

was

a

comfort

even.

Second Violin She could have made just

that sound her-

self.

And

here

pressed with

was all

Academy.

the

Miss

her might against the

stiff,

Bray sulky

door, squeezed through into the vestibule hung

with pallid notices and concert programmes, and

stumbled up the dusty

stairs

Through

sage to the dressing-room.

door there came such

shrill

high, indifferent voices that

going on

in there.

It

and along the pas-

it

loud laughter, such

sounded

was hard

were not laughing and talking purpose.

"Excuse

me

the open

like a

play

to believe people

like that

—pardon—

... on

sorry,"

said

Miss Bray, nudging her way in and looking Her two quickly round the dingy little room. friends

The

had not yet come. First Violins

were there; a dreamy, broad-

faced girl leaned against her 'cello; two Violas sat

on a bench, bent over a music book, and the

Harp,

who

a small grey little person,

and looked

occasionally, leaned against a bench

for her pocket in her underskirt.

.

.

only came

.

"I've a run of three twice, ducky," said

Ma,

"a pair of queens make eight, and one for his nob

makes

nine."

With an awful hollow groan Alexander, 216

curl-

Second Violin ing his

finger high,

little

pegged nine for Ma.

And "Wait now,

wait now," said she, and her

quick short

hands snatched at the other

little

"My

cards.

young man!"

crib,

She

spread

them out, leaned back, twitched her shawl, put "H'm, not so bad! A her head on one side. flush of four

and a pair!"

"Betrayed!

bowing

his

"and by

a

Betrayed!" moaned Alexander,

dark head over the cribbage board,

He

woo-man."

the cards and said to

sighed deeply, shuffled

Ma, "Cut

for me,

my love !"

Although of course he was only having his joke like all professional young gentlemen, something in the

tone in which he said

quite a turn.

Her

love !" gave

Ma

trembled as she cut the

lips

pang

cards, she felt a sudden

"my

as she

watched those

long slim fingers dealing.

Ma

and Alexander were playing cribbage

the basement kitchen of It

was

too

late, it

— shocking!

that

was on

number

was covered with

at the

sat

a

worn

spotted with candle grease. it

On

kitchen table

art serge cloth

one corner of

stood three glasses, three spoons, a saucer of

sugar lumps and a bottle of gin. still

to

9 Bolton Street.

and Sunday night,

eleven,

They

in

alight,

lift,

and the

lid

The

stove

was

of the kettle had just begun

cautiously, stealthily, as

217

though there was

someone inside pop back again.

Second Violin who wanted to have

On

a

peep and

the horse-hair sofa against

owner of the third glass gently snoring. Perhaps because he

the wall by the door, the

lay asleep,

had his back to them, perhaps because his feet poked out from the short overcoat covering him, he looked forlorn, pathetic, and the long fair hair covering his collar looked forlorn and pathetic, too.

"Well, well," said

Ma,

sighing as she put out

two cards and arranged the others is

life.

you

this

I little

thought when

I

in a fan,

saw the

morning that we'd be playing

a

"such

last of

game

to-

gether tonight."

"The ander.

matter.

caprice

of

destiny,"

murmured Alex-

was no joking mischance that morn-

But, as a matter of fact,

By some

infernal

it

ing he and Rinaldo had missed the train that the

company

all

That was bad enough. was no other train until

travelled by.

But being Sunday, there midnight, and as they had a full rehearsal at 10 o'clock on Monday it meant going by that, or get-

what the company called the beetroot. But God what a day it had been. They had left the luggage at the station and come back to Ma's, back to Alexander's frowsy bedroom with the ting

!

bed unmade and water standing about.

218

Rinaldo

Second Violin had spent

the whole

day

sitting

on the side of

the bed swinging his leg, dropping ash on the

and saying, "I wonder what made us lose that train. Strange we should have lost it. I floor

what made us

bet the others are wondering it,

And Alexander had

too."

dow gazing

into the small

stayed by the win-

garden that was so

black with grime even the old lean cat

and scraped seemed revolted by only after visitors.

.

Ma .

had seen the

.

219

lose

it,

who came

too.

last of

It

was

her Sunday

MR.

AND

THAT The

MRS. WILLIAMS

Mr. and Mrs. Williams of Rowans, Wickenham, Surrey, astonwinter

ished their friends by announcing that

they were going for a three weeks' holiday to

Switzerland!

Switzerland. prising

and

exciting!

How

There was

very

enter-

quite a flutter

Wickenham households at the news. Husbands coming home from the city in the evening in

were greeted immediately with: "My dear, have you heard the news about the Williams?"

"No!

What's up now?"

"They're

off to

"Switzerland

!

Switzerland."

What

the dickens are they go-

ing there for?"

That, of course, was only the extravagance of the moment.

people went.

plunged so far year.

It

One knew

perfectly well

Wickenham ever away from home at that time of

But nobody

in

was not considered "necessary"

golf, bridge, a

why

summer holiday 220



as

at the sea, an ac-

Mr. and Mrs. Williams count at Harrods' and a small car as soon as one could afford

were considered necessary.

it,

"Won't you

find

.

Prean, meeting

Mrs. Williams quite by chance

And

at

nice

their

she brushed the crumbs

of a sample cheese biscuit

"Oh, we

.

the initial expenditure very

heavy?'' asked stout old Mrs.

obliging grocer's.

.

off

her broad bosom.

shall get our kit over there," said

Mrs.

Williams.

"Kit" was a word

Wickenham war,

of

ladies.

high favour

in

It

was

with

course,

left

among

the

over from the

"cheery,"

"wash-out,"

"Hun," "Boche," and "Bolshy." As a matter of fact, Bolshy was post-war. But it belonged to the same mood. ("My dear, my housemaid is an absolute little Hun, and I'm afraid the cook .") is turning Bolshy. There was a fascination in those words. To use them was like opening one's Red Cross cupboard again, and gazing .

.

at the remains of the bandages, body-belts, tins of anti-insectide

and so on.

got a far-away distant band.

thrill, like

It

stirred,

of course

when

the whole of

anxious,

one

the thrill of hearing a

reminded you of those

busy,

family.

One was

but

exciting,

tremendous days

Wickenham was one

united

And, although one's husband was away,

one had for a substitute three large photographs

221

— Mr. and Mrs. Williams of him table

One

uniform.

in

by the bed, one

in a silver

in the

frame on the

regimental colours on

the piano, and one in leather to match the dining-

room chairs. "Cook strongly advised

us

to

buy nothing

here," went on Mrs. Williams.

"Cook!"

"What "Oh

can

cried "

Mrs. Prean, greatly astounded.

Thomas Cook,

of course I mean," said

Mrs. Williams, smiling

brightly.

Mrs. Prean

subsided.

"But you sources of a persisted,

will surely not little

depend upon the

re-

Swiss village for clothes?" she

deeply interested,

as

usual,

in

other

people's affairs.

"Oh,

no, certainly not."

"We

quite shocked.

Mrs. Williams was

shall get all

we need

in the

way of clothes from Harrods'." That was what Mrs. Prean had wished

to

That was as it should be. "The great secret my dear" (she always knew

hear.

the great secret), "the great secret,"

— and

she

put her hand on Mrs. Williams' arm and spoke

very distinctly



"is plenty

of long-sleeved woven

combies!"

"Thank Both

you,

m'm."

ladies started.

There

222

at their side

was

Mr. and Mrs. Williams Mr. Wick,

Mrs. Prean's Dear me how

the nice grocer, holding

parcel by a loop of pink string.

awkward

very

!

He

must have ... he couldn't

...

possibly not have.

moment Mrs. Prean, nodded

tactfully,

and I

In the emotion of the

thinking to gloss

significantly at

said, accepting the parcel,

always

tell

my



over

Mrs. Williams

"And

dear son!"

it

that

But

this

what was too is

Mrs. Williams to follow. Her embarrassment continued, and ordering the sardines, she just stopped herself from sayswift for

u

Three large pairs, Mr. Wick, please," stead of "Three large tins."

ing

in-

2

As

a matter of fact

it

happy release

Aggie's

scheme possible.

was Mrs. Williams' Aunt which had made their

Happy

release

it

fifteen years in a wheel-chair passing in

of the

little

and out

house at Ealing she had, to use the

nurse's expression, "just glided

Glided away

...

it

away

at the last."

sounded as though Aunt

Aggie had taken the wheel chair with

saw

After

was!

her.

One

her, in her absurd purple velvet, steering care-

fully

among

was her

the stars

and whimpering

terrestrial wont,

when

over a particularly large one.

223

faintly, as

the wheel jolted

— Mr. and Mrs. Williams Aunt Aggie had left her dear niece Gwendolen two hundred and fifty pounds. Not a vast sum by any means, but quite

Gwendolen,

in

women know, part of

only

that

rest

it

on a treat for

the lawyer's letter happening to

at tea-time full

mood

dashing

decided immediately to spend

And

Sphere

nice little windfall.

on the house and the

it

Gerald.

come

that

a

together with a copy of the

of the

most

fascinating,

photographs of holiday-makers

at

thrilling

Miirren and

St.

Moritz and Montana, the question of the treat was settled. "You would like to go to Switzerland, wouldn't you, Gerald?" "Very much."

— awfully good you?" kind of thing— "You're

at skating

and

that

all

aren't

"Fairly."

"You do

feel it's a thing to

be done



don't

you?"

"How

do you mean?"

But Gwendolen only laughed. like

Gerald.

was every horror

She knew,

bit as

of

in his

his

so

heart of hearts he

keen as she was.

showing

That was

feelings

But he had like

all

this

men.

Gwendolen understood it perfectly and wouldn't have had him different for the world. .

224

.

.

— Mr. and Mrs. Williams "I'll

them we very fashionable place, and

write to Cook's at once and

don't want to go to a

tell

we don't want one of those big jazzy hotels I'd much prefer a really small out-of-the-way place where we could really go in for the sports !

This was quite untrue, but,

seriously."

many

of Gwendolen's statements,

please Gerald.

Gerald

lit

it

like so

was made

to

"Don't you agree?"

his pipe for reply.

As you have gathered, the Christian names of Mr. and Mrs. Williams were Gwendolen and Gerald. How well they went together They sounded married. Gwendolen-Gerald. Gwen1

dolen wrote them, bracketed, on bits of blotting paper,

on the backs of old envelopes, on

the

catalogue.

Stores'

Gerald,

They looked married.

when they were on

their

honeymoon,

had made an awfully good joke about them. He had said one morning, "I say, has it ever struck you that both our names begin with G? Gwendolen-Gerald. You're a G," and he had pointed he was shaving his razor at her "and I'm a G.





Two

Gs.

Gee-Gee.

See?"

Gwendolen saw immediately. It was really most witty. Quite brilliant! And so sweet and unexpected of him to have thought of Gee-Gee. She wished she Oh, very good it. Oh,

!

225

— Mr. and Mrs. Williams could have told

it

She had an idea

to people.

some people thought Gerald had not a very strong sense of humour. All the more precious that

for that reason, however.

"My I

mean

dear, did you think of



did you just

make

it

at this

up on the spot?"

it

Gerald rubbing the lather with a "Flashed into

my mind

face," he said seriously.

me len.

"I've noticed

ideas." .

.

It

did,

it

finger,

nodded.

while I was soaping "It's a

and he dipped the razor

— water

moment?

into

before.

indeed,

.

226

my

queer thing," the pot

of hot

Shaving gives

thought Gwendo-

WEAK HEART

ALTHOUGH

it

sounded

round, although

it

all

rang out sometimes

as early as half-past six in the

sometimes as

year

the

morning,

late as half-past ten at night,

was

it

when Bengel's violet patch just ingate was blue with flowers that that made the passers-by not only stop

in the spring,

side

the

piano

.

.

.

talking, but slow

down, pause, look suddenly



men grave, even stern, and were women dreamy, even sorrowful. they were



if



if

they

Tarana Street was beautiful in the spring; there was not a single house without its garden trees and a plot of grass big enough to be u called the lawn." Over the low painted fences,

and

you ran by, whose daffys were whose wild snowdrop border was over and

you could out,

who had the

see, as

the biggest hyacinths, so pink and white,

colour

of

cocoanut

ice.

But nobody had

violets that grew, that smelled in the spring sun like Bengel's.

Did they

really smell like that?

227

Weak Heart Or

did you shut your eyes and lean over the fence

because of Edie Bengel's piano?

A

little

wind

ruffles

among

hand looking for the

joyful

the leaves like a

Now

the piano sounds gay, tender, laughing. cloud, like a swan,

flies

and

finest flowers;

a

across the sun, the violets

shine cold, Ike water, and a sudden questioning

from Edie Bengel's piano. Ah, if life must pass so quickly, why

is

What

is

cry rings .

.

.

the breath of these flowers so sweet?

meaning of

the

— of

sweet

this feeling of longing, of

Goodbye! Farewell! The young bees lie half awake on the slender dandelions, silver are the pink tipped arrowy

trouble

flying

joy?

petals of the daisies; the

Everything

light.

is

new

grass shakes in the

beginning again, marvellous

as ever, heavenly fair.

Let me

"Let me stay!

stay!" pleads Edie Bengel's piano. It

are

is

the afternoon, sunny

down

Mrs. Bengel

open and is

the square bonnet box.

with

is

in the

She

is

blinds

but up-

golden light

feeling under her

timid, excited, like a girl.

paper

The

still.

in the front to save the carpets,

stairs the slats are little

and

flushed.

And now

bed for She

feels

the tissue

parted, her best bonnet, the one trimmed

a jet

lifted out

butterfly,

which reposes on top,

and solemnly blown upon.

228

is

Weak Heart Dipping down to the glass she

tries

with

it

She twitches her dolman

fingers that tremble.

round her slender shoulders, clasps her purse

and before leaving the bedroom kneels down

moment

ask God's blessing on her "goings

to

And

out."

a

as she kneels there quivering, she

is

rather like a butterfly herself, fanning her wings

When

before the Lord.

the door

is

open the

sound of the piano coming up through the house

is

reckless

and

is

Edie

almost frightening, so bold, so defiant, so rolls

it

moment

for a

under Edie's

the thought

—— a

a stranger

is

villain.

with

very absurd.

It's

her flushed daughter.

her knees, her head

forward.

Edie's hands

She squeezes them between

drop from the keys.

bent, her curls are fallen

is

She gazes at her mother with brilliant

There

is

something painful

something very strange.

It

is

ing-room, the top of the piano

been playing from memory; still

just

across the hall, turns the door handle and

confronts

eyes.

And

drawing-room, but a fantastic person,

in the

flits

fingers.

comes to Mrs. Bengel

gone again, that there

out of a book, a

She

silent

in

dusky is

it's

that glance, in the

open. as

draw-

Edie has

though the

air

tingles.

"I'm going, dear," said Mrs. Bengel softly

it is

like a sigh.

229

softly, so

Weak Heart "Yes, Mother," came from Edie. "I don't expect

Mrs. Bengel

be long."

I shall

She would very much

lingers.

word, of sympathy, of understanding,

like just a

even from Edie, to cheer her on her way.

But Edie murmurs,

"I'll

put the kettle on in

half an hour."

"Do, dear!" even.

A

"I expect

But to

Mrs. Bengel grasped

nervous

little

at

that

smile touched her

lips.

want my tea." that Edie makes no reply; she frowns, I shall

she stretches out a hand, quickly unscrews one of the piano candle-sticks,

and screws

all

As

rattling.

pink china ring

lifts off a

tight again.

The

ring has been

the front door bangs softly after

her mother Edie and the piano seem to plunge together into deep dark water, into waves that

She plays on desper-

flow over both, relentless. ately until her nose It

is

her

way

her

way

Would

is

white and her heart beats.

of getting over her nervousness and

Would

too of praying.

she be allowed to go?

that in a week's time she

Farmer's

girls,

wearing

a

they accept her?

Was

it

possible

would be one of Miss red and blue hat band,

running up the broad steps leading to the big grey painted house that buzzed, that

went by?

Their pew

in

230

hummed

as

you

Church faced Miss

Weak Heart Would

Farmer's boarders.

names of the

The

girls she

had looked

all

know

at so

the

often?

pretty pale one with red hair, the dark one

with a fringe, the fair one

hand during

er's

she at last

.

It

the

who

sermon?

held Miss Farm.

.

But after

.

.

.

was

fourteenth

Edie's

birthday.

Her

father gave her a silver brooch with a bar of

minim headed by a very twisted treble clef. Her mother gave her blue satin gloves and two boxes for music, two crotchets,

two quavers and

a

gloves and handkerchiefs, hand-painted the glove

box with

a sprig of gold roses tying

up the capital

G. and the handkerchief box with a marvellously butterfly

lifelike

From

the aunts in

quivering .

.

on the

capital

H.

.

There was a tree at the corner of Tarana Street and May Street. It grew so close to the pavement that the heavy boughs stretched over, and on that part of the pavement there was al-

ways But

a fine sifting of

in

minute twigs.

came into its There, however long they

the dusk, lovers parading

shade as into

a tent.

had been together, they greeted each other again 231

Weak Heart with long kisses, with embraces that were sweet torture,

agony

to bear,

agony to end.

Edie never knew that

Roddie never knew that

Roddie

"loved"

it,

meant anything to

it

Edie.

Roddie, spruce, sleek with water, bumped his

new

He was

gate. tree,

down

bike

dark

the off

in the

wooden

He

to astonish, to shock, to

A

casion.

through the

for a spin, and looking at that

glow of evening, he

was watching him. Roddie had

steps,

wanted to do marvels, amaze it.

a complete

black serge

felt the tree

new

suit,

outfit for the oc-

a black

tie,

a straw

was almost silver, a dazzling white straw hat with a broad black band. Attached to the hat there was a thick guard that somehow reminded one of a fishing line and the little clasp He stood at on the brim was like a fly.

hat so white

it

.

.

.

the graveside, his legs apart, his hands loosely clasped, and watched Edie being lowered into the

grave



man

at

as a half-grown

boy watches anything,

work, or a bicycle accident, or a chap

cleaning a spring-carriage wheel as the

turned,

a

men drew back

—but

suddenly

he gave a violent start,

muttered something to

232

his

father and

Weak Heart dashed away, so fast that people looked positively through

frightened,

down

cemetery,

the

the

avenue of dripping clay banks into Tarana Road,

His

and started pelting for home. tight his

and

hot.

was

It

head down and

like a

the

tops

of

the

was very

He

dream.

his fists clenched,

look up, nothing could have than

suit

kept

he couldn't

made him look higher

fences

—What

thinking of as he pressed along?

was he

On, on

until

was reached, up the steps, in at the front door, through the hall, up to the drawing-room. the gate

"Edie!" called Roddie.

And "Edie

But

"Edie, old girl!"

he gave a low strange squawk and cried

!"

and stared across

cold,

solemn,

as

at Edie's piano.

frozen,

if

piano stared back at Roddie. but on

its

own

Then

heavily the it

answered,

behalf, on behalf of the house and

the violet patch, the garden, the velvet tree at the corner of

May

"There young man!" lightful:

is

Street,

and

all

that

was

de-

nobody here of that name,

233

WIDOWED

THEY

came down

to breakfast next

own

ing absolutely their fresh,

air

and

just chilled

mornRosy,

selves.

enough by the cold

blowing through the bedroom windows to be

very ready for hot

coffee.

That was Geraldine's word

"Nippy."

as she

buttoned on her orange coat with pink-washed

"Don't you

fingers.

And

her voice,

so

find

it

decidedly nippy?"

matter-of-fact,

so

natural,

sounded as though they had been married for years.

Parting his hair with two brushes (marvellous

woman

feat for a

mirror,

had

he

brushes together,

on?" and

knew from

he,

watch)

to

replied,

round

clapping

lightly

"My dear,

too,

in the little

the

have you got enough

sounded

as

though well he

the experience of years her habit of

clothing herself underneath in wisps of chiffon

and two

satin bows.

.

.

.

Then

to breakfast, laughing together tling the shy

they ran

and

down

terribly star-

parlour-maid who, after talking

234

it

Widowed over with Cook, had decided to be invisible until she

was rung

for.

"Good-morning, Nellie,

more

I

think

we

want

shall

toast than that," said the smiling Geraldine

hung over the breakfast table. She de"Ask Cook to make us four more liberated as she



pieces, please."

Marvellous, the parlour-maid thought

it

was.

And

as she closed the

say,

"I do so hate to be short of toast, don't

door she heard the voice

you?"

He

was standing in the sunny window. Geraldine went up to him. She put her hand on his arm and gave it a gentle squeeze. How pleasant it was to feel that rough man's tweed again. Ah, how pleasant! She rubbed her hand against

it,

touched

it

with her cheek, sniffed the

smell.

The window looked

out on to flower beds, a

tangle of michaelmas daisies, late dahlias, hanging heavy, and shaggy

little asters.

Then

there

came a lawn strewn with yellow leaves with a broad path beyond and a row of gold-fluttering trees. An old gardener, in woollen mitts, was sweeping the path, brushing the leaves into a neat

little

heap.

arm, he fumbled

Now, in his

the

broom tucked

in his

coat pocket, brought out

235

Widowed some matches, and scooping he set

fire to

a hole in the leaves

them.

Such lovely blue smoke came breathing into the air through those dry leaves; there

thing so calm and orderly in the

was some-

way

the pile

was a pleasure to watch. The old gardener stumped away and came back with a handful of withered twigs. He flung them on and stood by, and little light flames began to

burned that

it

flicker.

"I do think," said Geraldine, "I do think there is

nothing nicer than a real satisfactory "Jolly, isn't it," he

went

murmured

fire."

back, and they

to their first breakfast.

Just over a year ago, thirteen months, to be exact, she

had been standing before the

room window of It

the

little

house

in

dining-

Sloane Street.

looked over the railed gardens.

Breakfast

she was over, cleared away and done with had a fat bunch of letters in her hand that she meant to answer, snugly, over the fire. But before settling down, the autumn sun, the freshness had drawn her to the window. Such a perfect morning for the Row. Jimmie had gone riding. "Goodbye, dear thing." .

"Goodbye, Gerry mine." ing kiss, quick and firm.

236

And

He

.

.

then the morn-

looked so hand-

— Widowed some

She imagined him as she

in his riding kit.

stood

there

.

.

.

thud of hooves and Jimmie's moustache

From

was damp.

the garden there sounded the

An

creak of a gardener's barrow. into sight with a load of leaves

He

ing across.

man came

old

and

broom

a

ly-

stopped; he began to sweep.

"What enormous

tufts

of

irises

don gardens," mused Geraldine.

now

not

But there was

very good at imagining things. mist, a

was

Geraldine

riding.

grew

in

Lon-

"Why?" And

smoke of a real fire ascended. "There is nothing nicer," she thought, "than the

a

really satisfactory fire."

moment the telephone bell rang. Geraldine sat down at Jimmie's desk to answer it. It was Major Hunter. "Good morning, Major. You're a very early Just at that

bird!"

"Good morning, Mrs. Howard. Yes. I am." (Geraldine made a little surprised face at herself. How odd he sounded!) "Mrs. Howard, I'm coming round to see you I'm now .

taking a

— and

taxi.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Please don't go out.

.

.

And

" the voice stammered, "p-please don't let

the servants go out."

"P^r-don?" though the

was so very peculiar, whole thing had been peculiar enough, This

last

237

— Widowed what she heard. had rung off. What on

that Geraldine couldn't believe

But he was gone.

He

earth

down

up

— and

a pencil

putting

and drew what she always drew when

down before

she sat

the receiver, she took

the behind of a

a piece of blotting-paper

little

cat with whiskers

and

Geraldine must have drawn that

complete.

cat hundreds of times,

all

tail

little

over the world,

in

hotels, in clubs, at steamer desks, waiting at the

The

was her sign, her mark. She had copied it from a little girl at school when she thought it most wonderful. And she never tried anything else. She was not very good at drawing. This particular cat was drawn Bank.

little

cat

.

with an extra firm pen and even

.

.

its

whiskers

looked surprised.

"Not

to let the servants

go out!"

But she

had never heard anything so peculiar in her life. Geraldine She must have made a mistake. i^nd couldn't help a little giggle of amusement,

why should he tell her he was taking a taxi? And why above all should he be coming to

— — morning? hour of her Then — came over her —

see

at that

the

like a flash she re-

it

membered Major Hunter's mania They had been discussing it ture. the last time they lunched together.

238

for old furniat the

Carlton

And

he had

Widowed said something to

or Queen these

Anne

things

Jimmie about some

—Geraldine knew nothing about

—something

possibly be bringing

He

must

be.

And

about the servants. getting

it

it

or

it

Could he

other.

But of course.

round?

that explained the

He

remark

wanted them to help

What

into the house.

dine did hope

—Jacobean

would tone

in.

a bore

And

!

Geral-

really, she

must say she thought Major Hunter was taking a

good deal for granted

size at that

to

produce a thing that

hour of the day without

for that.

But she had heard

Geraldine hated mysteries.

head was rather troublesome

since the

word of

They hardly knew him well enough Why make such a mystery of it too?

warning.

his

a

Somme

of his bad days.

at times ever

Perhaps

affair.

In that case, a

was one pity Jimmie

this

was not back. She rang. Mullins answered. "Oh, Mullins, I'm expecting Major Hunter in a few moments. He's bringing something rather heavy. He may want you to help with it. And

Cook

better be ready, too."

Geraldine's manner was slightly lofty with her servants. a

She enjoyed carrying things

high hand.

surprised.

before

she

All the same

out.

It

239

with

Mullins did look

She seemed to hover for a

went

off

annoyed

moment

Geraldine

Widowed What was

greatly.

What ting

there to be surprised at?

could have been simpler? she thought,

down

to her batch of letters,

and the

and the clock and her pen began to whisper

sitfire,

to-

gether.

There was the noise at the door.

—making

enormous She thought she heard the

taxi

driver's voice, too, arguing.

moment

It

The

and to get up

bell rang.

straight to the dining-room

And

took her a long

to clasp her writing case

out of the low chair.

an

She went

door

was Major Hunter in his riding kit, coming quickly towards her, and behind him, through the open door at the bottom of the steps It was she saw something big, something grey. there

an ambulance.

"There's been an accident," cried Geraldine sharply.

"Mrs. Howard."

He

put out his icy

Major Hunter ran forward. cold hand and wrung hers.

"You'll be brave, won't you?" he said, he pleaded.

But of course she would be brave. "Is

it

serious?"

Major Hunter nodded one word "Yes."

gravely.

"Very serious?"

240

He

said the

Widowed

Now the

in

he raised his head. eyes.

moment

never

She'd

He

looked her

realized

until

full

that

was extraordinarily handsome though in a melodrama kind of way. "It's as bad as it can be, Mrs. Howard," said Major Hunter simply. "But go in there," he said hastily and he almost pushed her into her own dining-room. "We must bring him in where that he





"

we "Can he be taken

can

upstairs?" asked Geraldine.

Major Hunter looked

"Yes, yes of course." at her so strangely



so painfully.

"There's his dressing-room," said Geraldine. "It's

on the

first floor.

I'll

lead the way," and

hand on the Major's arm. "It's quite all right, Major," she said, "I'm not going " and she actually smiled, a to break down she put her



confident brilliant smile.

To

her amazement as

away he burst out

with,

Major Hunter turned "Ah, my God! I'm so

sorry."

Poor man.

He was

quite overcome.

afterwards," thought Geraldine.

"Brandy

"Not now,

of

course."

was a painful moment when she heard those measured deliberate steps in the hall. But It

241

Widowed Geraldine, realizing this was not the moment,

and there was nothing

to be gained by

it,

re-

frained from looking.

"This way, Major."

She skimmed on

in front,

up the stairs, along the passage; she flung open the door of Jimmie's gay living breathing, dressing-room and stood to

one

side



Hunter, for the two stretcher-bearers.

for

Major

Only then



must be a scalp wound some For there was nothing to be injury to the head. seen of Jimmie; the sheet was pulled right

she realized that

over

.

.

it

.

THE END

242

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