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Title:      Descent into Hell
Author:     Charles Williams (1886-1945)
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Language:   English
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A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook

Title:      Descent into Hell
Author:     Charles Williams (1886-1945)




                        Chapter One

                        THE MAGUS ZOROASTER

"It undoubtedly needs", Peter Stanhope said, "a final pulling
together, but there's hardly time for that before July, and if
you're willing to take it as it is, why-" He made a gesture of
presentation and dropped his eyes, thus missing the hasty
reciprocal gesture of gratitude with which Mrs. Parry immediately
replied on behalf of the dramatic culture of Battle Hill.  Behind
and beyond her the culture, some thirty faces, unessentially
exhibited to each other by the May sunlight, settled to
attention-naturally, efficiently, critically, solemnly,
reverently.  The grounds of the Manor House expanded beyond them;
the universal sky sustained the whole.  Peter Stanhope began to
read his play.

Battle Hill was one of the new estates which had been laid
out after the war.  It lay about thirty miles north of London and
took its title from the more ancient name of the broad rise of
ground which it covered.  It had a quiet ostentation of comfort
and culture.  The poor, who had created it, had been as far as
possible excluded, nor (except as hired servants) were they
permitted to experience the bitterness of others' stairs.  The
civil wars which existed there, however bitter, were conducted
with all bourgeois propriety.  Politics, religion, art, science,
grouped themselves, and courteously competed for numbers and
reputation.  This summer, however, had seen a spectacular triumph
of drama, for it had become known that Peter Stanhope had
consented to allow the restless talent of the Hill to produce his
latest play.

He was undoubtedly the most famous inhabitant.  He was a cadet of
that family which had owned the Manor House, and he had bought it
back from more recent occupiers, and himself settled in it before
the war.  He had been able to do this because he was something
more than a cadet of good family, being also a poet in the direct
English line, and so much after the style of his greatest
predecessor that he made money out of poetry.  His name was
admired by his contemporaries and respected by the young.  He had
even imposed modern plays in verse on the London theatre, and two
of them tragedies at that, with a farce or two, and histories for
variation and pleasure.  He was the kind of figure who might be
more profitable to his neighbourhood dead than alive; dead, he
would have given it a shrine; alive, he deprecated worshippers.
The young men at the estate office made a refined publicity out
of his privacy; the name of Peter Stanhope would be whispered
without comment.  He endured the growing invasion with a great
deal of good humour, and was content to see the hill of his birth
become a suburb of the City, as in another sense it would always
be.  There was, in that latest poetry, no contention between the
presences of life and of death; so little indeed that there had
been a contention in the Sunday Times whether Stanhope were a
pessimist or an optimist.  He himself said, in reply to an
interviewer's question, that he was an optimist and hated it.


Stanhope, though the most glorious, was not the only notorious
figure of the Hill.  There was Mr. Lawrence Wentworth, who was
the most distinguished living authority on military history
(perhaps excepting Mr. Aston Moffatt).  Mr. Wentworth was not in
the garden on that afternoon.  Mrs. Catherine Parry was; it was
she who would produce the play, as in many places and at many
times she had produced others.  She sat near Stanhope now, almost
as tall as he, and with more active though not brighter eyes.
They were part of that presence which was so necessary to her
profession.  Capacity which, in her nature, had reached the
extreme Of active life, seemed in him to have entered the
contemplative, so much had his art become a thing of his soul.
Where, in their own separate private affairs, he interfered so
little as almost to seem inefficient, she was so efficient as
almost to seem interfering.

In the curve of women and men beyond her, other figures, less
generally famous, sat or lay as the depth of their chairs induced
them.  There were rising young men, and a few risen and retired
old.  There were ambitious young women and sullen young women and
loquacious young women.  They were all attentive, though, as a
whole, a little disappointed.  They had understood that Mr.
Stanhope had been writing a comedy, and had hoped for a modern
comedy.  When he had been approached, however, he had been easy
but firm.  He had been playing with a pastoral; if they would
like a pastoral, it was very much at their service.  Hopes and
hints of modern comedies were unrealized: it was the pastoral or
nothing.  They had to be content.  He consented to read it to
them; he would not do more.  He declined to make suggestions for
the cast; he declined to produce.  He would like, for his own
enjoyment, to come to some of the rehearsals, but he made it
clear that he had otherwise no wish to interfere.  Nothing-given
the necessity of a pastoral-could be better; the production would
have all the advantage of his delayed death without losing any
advantage of his prolonged life.  As this became clear, the
company grew reconciled.  They gazed and listened, while from the
long lean figure, outstretched in its deck-chair, there issued
the complex intonation of great verse.  Never negligible,
Stanhope was often neglected; he was everyone's second thought,
but no one's first.  The convenience of all had determined this
afternoon that he should be the first, and his neat mass of grey
hair, his vivid glance, that rose sometimes from the manuscript,
and floated down the rows, and sank again, his occasional
friendly gesture that seemed about to deprecate, but always
stopped short, received the concentration of his visitors, and of
Mrs. Parry, the chief of his visitors.

It became clear to Mrs. Parry as the afternoon and the voice
went on, that the poet had been quite right when he had said that
the play needed Pulling together.  "It's all higgledy-piggledy,"
she said to herself, using a word which a friend had once applied
to a production of the Tempest, and, in fact to the Tempest
itself.  Mrs, Parry thought that this pastoral was in some Ways,
rather like the Tempest.  Mr. Stanhope, of course, was not as
good as Shakespeare, because Shakespeare was the greatest English
poet, so that Stanhope wasn't. But there was a something.  To
begin with, it had no title beyond A Pastoral.  That was
unsatisfactory.  Then the Plot was incredibly loose. it was of no
particular time and no particular place, and to any cultured
listener it seemed to have little bits of everything and
everybody put in at odd moments.  The verse was undoubtedly
Stanhope's own, of his latest, most heightened, and most
epigrammatic style, but now and then all kinds of reminiscences
moved in it.  Once, during the second act, the word Pastiche
floated through Mrs. Parry's mind, but went away again on her
questioning whether a Pastiche would be worth the trouble of
Production.  There was a Grand Duke in it who had a beautiful
daughter, and this daughter either escaped from the palace or was
abducted--anyhow, she came into the power of a number of
brigands; and then there was a woodcutter's son who frequently
burned leaves, and he and the princess fell in love, and there
were two farmers who were at odds, and the Grand Duke turned up
in disguise, first in a village and then in the forest, through
which also wandered an escaped bear, who spoke the most Complex
verse, excepting the Chorus.  The Chorus had no kind of other
name; at first Mrs. Parry thought they might be villagers, then,
since they were generally present in the forest, she thought they
might be trees, or perhaps (with a vague reminiscence of Comus)
spirits.  Stanhope had not been very helpful; he had alluded to
them as an experiment.  By the end of the reading, it was clear
to Mrs. Parry that it was very necessary to decide what exactly
this Chorus was to be.

She had discouraged discussion of the play during the intervals
between the four acts, and as soon as it was over tea was served.
If, however, the poet hoped to get away from discussion by means
of tea he was mistaken.  There was a little hesitation over the
correct word; fantastic was dangerous, and poetic both unpopular
and supererogatory, though both served for variations on idyllic,
which was Mrs. Parry's choice and won by lengths.  As she took
her second cup of tea, however, she began to close.  She said:
"Yes, idyllic, Mr. Stanhope, and so significant!"

 "It's very good of you," Stanhope murmured.  "But you see I was
right about revision--the plot must seem very loose."

Mrs. Parry waved the plot up into benevolence.  "But there are a
few points," she went on.  "The Chorus now.  I don't think I
follow the Chorus."

"The Chorus could be omitted," Stanhope said.  "It's not
absolutely necessary to a presentation."

Before Mrs. Parry could answer, a young woman named Adela Hunt,
sitting close by, leant forward.  She was the leader of the
younger artistic party, who were not altogether happy about Mrs.
Parry.  Adela had some thoughts of taking up production herself
as her life-work, and it would have been a great advantage to
have started straight away with Peter Stanhope.  But her
following was not yet strong enough to deal with Mrs. Parry's
reputation.  She was determined, however, if possible, to achieve
a kind of collaboration by means of correction.  "O, we oughtn't
to omit anything, ought we?" she protested.  "A work of art can't
spare anything that's a part of it."

"My dear," Mrs. Parry said, "you must consider your audience.
What will the audience make of the Chorus?"

"It's for them to make what they can of it," Adela answered.  "We
can only give them a symbol.  Art's always symbolic, isn't it?"

Mrs. Parry pursed her lips.  "I wouldn't say symbolic exactly,"
she said slowly.  "It has a significance, of course, and you've
got to convey that significance to the audience.  We want to
present it--to interpret."

As she paused, distracted by the presentation by the poet of two
kinds of sandwiches, Adela broke in again.

"But, Mrs. Parry, how can one interpret a symbol? One can only
mass it.  It's all of a piece, and it's the total effect that
creates the symbolical force."

"Significant, not symbolical," said Mrs. Parry firmly.  "You
mustn't play down to your audience, but you mustn't play away
from them either.  You must"--she gesticulated "intertwine ...
harmonize.  So you must make it easy for them to get into
harmony.  That's what's wrong with a deal of modern art; it
refuses--it doesn't establish equilibrium with its audience or
what not.  In a pastoral play you must have equilibrium."

"But the equilibrium's in the play," Adela urged again, "a balance
of masses.  Surely that's what drama is-a symbolical contrast of
masses."

"Well," Mrs. Parry answered with infuriating tolerance, "I
suppose you might call it that.  But it's more effective to think
of it as significant equilibrium-especially for a pastoral.
However, don't let's be abstract.  The question is, what's to be
done about the Chorus? Had we better keep it in or leave it out?
Which would you prefer, Mr. Stanhope?"

"I should prefer it in, if you ask me," Stanhope said politely.
"But not to inconvenience the production."

"It seems to be in the forest so often," Mrs. Parry mused,
dismissing cake.  "There's the distant song in the first act,
when the princess goes away from the palace, and the choric
dialogue when. . . . It isn't Dryads, is it?"

A friend of Adela's, a massive and superb young man of
twenty-five, offered a remark.  "Dryads would rather wreck the
eighteenth century, wouldn't they?"

"Watteau," said a young lady near Adela.  "You could have them
period."

Mrs. Parry looked at her approvingly.  "Exactly, my dear,' she
said.  "A very charming fantasy it might be; we must take care it
isn't precious--only period.  But, Mr. Stanhope, you haven't told
us--are they Dryads?"

"Actually," Stanhope answered, "as I told you, it's more an
experiment than anything else.  The main thing is--was--
that they are non-human."

"Spirits?" said the Watteau young lady with a trill of pleasure.

"If you like," said Stanhope, "only not spiritual.  Alive, but
with a different life-even from the princess."

"Irony?" Adela exclaimed.  "It's a kind of comment, isn't it, Mr.
Stanhope, on futility? The forest and everything, and the
princess and her lover--so transitory."

Stanhope shook his head.  There was a story, invented by himself,
that The Times had once sent a representative to ask for
explanations about a new play, and that Stanhope, in his efforts
to explain it, had found after four hours that he had only
succeeded in reading it completely through aloud: "Which," he
maintained, "was the only way of explaining it."

"No," he said now, "not irony.  I think perhaps you'd better
cut them out."

There was a moment's pause.  "But we can't do that, Mr.
Stanhope," said a voice; "they're important to the poetry, aren't
they?" it was the voice of another young woman, sitting behind
Adela.  Her name was Pauline Anstruther, and, compared with
Adela, she was generally silent.  Now, after her quick question,
she added hastily, "I mean-they come in when the princess and the
wood-cutter come together, don't they?" Stanhope looked at her,
and she felt as if his eyes had opened suddenly.  He said, more
slowly:

"In a way, but they needn't.  We could just make it chance."

"I don't think that would be nearly as satisfactory," Mrs. Parry
said.  "I begin to see my way--the trees perhaps--leaves--to have
the leaves of the wood all so helpful to the young people--so
charming!"

"It's a terribly sweet idea," said the Watteau young lady.  "And
so true too!"

Pauline, who was sitting next her, said in an undertone: "True?"

"Don't you think so?" Watteau, whose actual name was Myrtle Fox,
asked.  "It's what I always feel-about trees and flowers and
leaves and so on--they're so friendly.  Perhaps you don't notice
it so much; I'm rather mystic about nature.  Like Wordsworth.  I
should love to spend days out with nothing but the trees and the
leaves and the wind.  Only somehow one never seems to have time.
But I do believe they're all breathing in with us, and it's such
a comfort-here, where there are so many trees.  Of course, we've
only to sink into ourselves to find peace--and trees and clouds
and so on all help us.  One never need be unhappy.  Nature's so
terribly good.  Don't you think so, Mr. Stanhope?"

Stanhope was standing by, silent, while Mrs. Parry communed with
her soul and with one or two of her neighbours on the
possibilities of dressing the Chorus.  He turned his head and
answered, "That Nature is terribly good? Yes, Miss Fox.  You do
mean 'terribly'?"

"Why, certainly," Miss Fox said.  "Terribly--dreadfully--very."

"Yes," Stanhope said again.  "Very.  Only--you must forgive me;
it comes from doing so much writing, but when I say 'terribly' I
think I mean 'full of terror'.  A dreadful goodness."

"I don't see how goodness can be dreadful," Miss Fox said, with a
shade of resentment in her voice.  "If things are good they're
not terrifying, are they?"

"It was you who said 'terribly',"  Stanhope reminded her with a
smile, "I only agreed."

"And if things are terrifying," Pauline put in, her eyes half
closed and her head turned away as if she asked a casual question
rather of the world than of him, "can they be good?"

He looked down on her.  "Yes, surely," he said, with more energy.
"Are our tremors to measure the Omnipotence?"

"We'll have them in shades of green then," Mrs. Parry broke in,
"light to darkg with rich gold sashes and embroidery running all
over like twigs, and each one carrying a conventionalized bough--
different lengths, I think.  Dark gold stockings."

"To suggest the trunks?" asked Adela's friend, Hugh Prescott. @

"Quite," Mrs. Parry said, and then hesitated.  "I'm not sure--
perhaps we'd better keep the leaf significances.  when they're
still--of course they could stand with their legs twined.. . ."

"What, with one another's?" Adela asked in a conscious
amazement.

"My dear child, don't be absurd," Mrs. Parry said. "Each pair of
legs just crossed, so."--she interlaced her own.

"I could never stand still like that," Miss Fox said, with great
conviction.

"You'd have your arms stretched out to People's shoulders on each
side," Mrs. Parry said dubiously, "and a little gentle swaying
wouldn't be inappropriate.  But perhaps we'd better not risk it.
Better have green stockings--we can manage some lovely groupings.
Could we call them 'Chorus of Leaf-Spirits', Mr. Stanhope?"

"Sweet!" said Miss Fox.  Adela, leaning back to Hugh Prescott,
said in a very low voice, "I told you, Hugh, she'll ruin the
whole thing.  She's got no idea of mass. she ought to block it
violently and leave it without a name.  I wouldn't even have
'Chorus'.  I hope he won't give way, but he's rather
weak."

However, Stanhope was, in the politest language, declining
to have anything of the sort.  "Call it the Chorus," he said, "or
if you like I'll try and find a name for the leader, and the rest
can just dance and sing.  But I'm afraid 'Leaf-Spirits' would be
misleading."

"What about'Chorus of Nature-Powers'?" asked Miss Fox, but
Stanhope only said, smiling, "You will try and make the trees
friendly," which no one quite understood, and shook his head
again.

Prescott asked: "Incidentally, I suppose they will be women?"

Mrs. Parry had said, "O, of course, Mr. Prescott," before the
question reached her brain.  When it did, she added, "At least...I
naturally took it for granted.... They are feminine, aren't
they?"

Still hankering after mass, Adela said, "It sounds to me more
like undifferentiated sex force," and ignored Hugh's murmur,
"There isn't much fun in that."

"I don't know that they were meant to be either male or
female," Stanhope said.  "I told you they were more of an
experiment in a different kind of existence.  But whether men or
women are most like that is another matter." He shed an
apologetic smile on Mrs. Parry.

"If they're going to be leaves," Miss Fox asked, "couldn't they
all wear huge green leaves, so that no one would know if they
were wearing knee-breeches or skirts?"

There was a pause while everyone took this in, then Mrs. Parry
said, very firmly, "I don't think that would answer," while Hugh
Prescott said to Adela, "Chorus of Figleaves!"

"Why not follow the old pantomime or the present musical comedy,"
Stanhope asked, "and dress your feminine chorus in exquisite
masculine costume? That's what Shakespeare did with his heroines,
as often as he could, and made a diagram of something more sharp
and wonderful than either.  I don't think you'll do better.
Masculine voices--except boys--would hardly do, nor feminine
appearances."

Mrs. Parry sighed, and everyone contemplated the problem again.
Adela Hunt and Hugh Prescott discussed modernity
between themselves.  Pauline, lying back, like Stanhope, in her
chair, was thinking of Stanhope's phrases, "a different
life", "a terrible good", and wondering if they were related, if
this Chorus over which they were spending so much trouble were
indeed an effort to shape in verse a good so alien as to be
terrifying.  She had never considered good as a thing of terror,
and certainly she had not supposed a certain thing of terror in
her own secret life as any possible good.  Nor now; yet there had
been an inhumanity in the great and moving lines of the Chorus.
She thought, with an anger generous in its origin but proud and
narrow in its conclusion, that not many of the audience really
cared for poetry or for Stanhope's poetry--perhaps none but she.
He was a great poet, one of a very few, but what would he do if
one evening he met himself coming up the drive? Doppelgaenger,
the learned called it, which was no comfort.  Another poet had
thought of it; she had had to learn the lines at school, as an
extra task because of undone work:

The Magus Zoroaster, my dead child,
Met his own image walking in the garden.

She had never done the imposition, for she had had nightmares
that night, after reading the lines, and had to go sick for days.
But she had always hated Shelley since for making it so lovely,
when it wasn't loveliness but black panic.  Shelley never seemed
to suggest that the good might be terrible.  What would Peter
Stanhope do? what could he?  if he met himself?

They were going: people were getting up and moving off.  Everyone
was being agreeably grateful to Stanhope for his lawn, his tea,
and his poetry.  In her fear of solitude she attached herself to
Adela and Hugh and Myrtle Fox, who were all saying good-bye at
once.  As he shook hands he said casually: "You don't think they
are?" and she did not immediately understand the reference to the
measurement of Omnipotence by mortal tremors.  Her mind was on
Myrtle, who lived near her.  She hated the pang of gratitude she
felt, and hated it more because she despised Miss Fox.  But at
least she wouldn't be alone, and the thing she hated most only
came, or had so far only come, when she was alone.  She stuck
close to Myrtle, listening to Adela as they went.

"Pure waste," Adela was saying.  "Of course, Stanhope's
dreadfully traditional"-how continually, Pauline thought, people
misused words like dreadful; if they knew what dread was!-"but
he's got a kind of weight, only he dissipates it.  He undermines
his mass.  Don't you think so, Pauline?"

"I don't know," Pauline said shortly, and then added with private
and lying malice: "I'm no judge of literature."

"Perhaps not," Adela said, "though I think it's more a question
of general sensitiveness.  Hugh, did you notice how the Parry
talked of significance? Why, no one with a really adult mind
could possibly--O, good-bye, Pauline; I may see you to-morrow."
Her voice passed away, accompanied by Hugh's temporary and lazy
silence, and Pauline was left to Myrtle's monologues on the
comforting friendliness of sunsets.

Even that had to stop when they reached the Foxes' hole.  Myrtle,
in a spasm of friendship for Messias, frequently called it that.
As they parted upon the easy joke, Pauline felt the rest of the
sentence pierce her.  She took it to her with a sincerity of pain
which almost excused the annexation-"the Son of Man hath not.
where to lay his head." It was the cry of her loneliness and
fear, and it meant nothing to her mind but the empty streets and
that fear itself.  She went on.

Not to think; to think of something else.  If she could.  It was
so hopeless.  She was trying not to look ahead for fear she saw
it, and also to look ahead for fear she was yielding to fear.
She walked down the road quickly and firmly, remembering the many
thousand times it had not come.  But the visitation was
increasing-growing nearer and clearer and more frequent.  In her
first twenty-four years she had seen it nine times; at first she
had tried to speak of it.  She had been told, when she was small,
not to be silly and not to be naughty.  Once, when she was
adolescent, she had actually told her mother.  Her mother was
understanding in most things, and knew it.  But at this the
understanding had disappeared.  Her eyes had become as sharp as
when her husband, by breaking his arm, had spoiled a holiday in
Spain which she--"for all their sakes"--had planned.  She had
refused to speak any more to Pauline that day, and neither of
them had ever quite forgiven the other.  But in those days the
comings--as she still called them--had been rare; since her
parents had died and she had been sent to live with and look
after her grandmother in Battle Hill they had been more frequent,
as if the Hill was fortunate and favourable to apparitions beyond
men; a haunt of alien life.  There had been nine in two years, as
many as in all the years before.  She could not speak of it to
her grandmother, who was too old, nor to anyone else, since she
had never discovered any closeness of friendship.  But what would
happen when the thing that was she came up to her, and spoke or
touched? So far it had always turned aside, down some turning, or
even apparently into some house; she might have been deceived
were it not for the chill in her blood.  But if some day it did
not....

A maid came out of a house a little farther down a road, and
crossed the pavement to a pillar-box.  Pauline, in the first
glance, felt the sickness at her heart.  Relieved, she reacted
into the admission that she was only twenty-three houses away
from her home.  She knew every one of them; she had not avoided
so much measurement of danger. it had never appeared to her
indoors; not even on the Hill, which seemed to be so convenient
for it.  Sometimes she longed always to stay indoors; it could
not be done, nor would she do it.  She drove herself out, but the
front door was still a goal and a protection.  She always seemed
to herself to crouch and cling before she left it, coveting the
peace which everyone but she had . . . twenty-one, twenty.... She
would not run; she would not keep her eyes on the pavement.  She
would walk steadily forward, head up and eyes before her ...
seventeen, sixteen.... She would think of something, of Peter
Stanhope's play-"a terrible good".  The whole world was for her a
canvas printed with unreal figures, a curtain apt to roll up at
any moment on one real figure.  But this afternoon, under the
stress of the verse, and then under the shock of Stanhope's
energetic speech, she had fractionally wondered: a play--was
there a play? a play even that was known by some? and then not
without peace... ten, nine ... the Magus Zoroaster; perhaps
Zoroaster had not been frightened.  Perhaps if any of the great--
if Caesar had met his own shape in Rome, or even Shelley.....
was there any tale of any who had? ... six, five, four....

Her heart sprang; there, a good way off-thanks to a merciful
God--it was, materialized from nowhere in a moment.  She knew it
at once, however far, her own young figure, her own walk, her own
dress and hat-had not her first sight of it been attracted so?
changing, growing.... It was coming up at her pace--doppelgaenger,
doppelgaenger--her control began to give ...  two... she
didn't run, lest it should, nor did it.  She reached her
gate, slipped through, went up the path.  If it should be running
very fast up the road behind her now? She was biting back the
scream and fumbling for her key.  Quiet, quiet! "A terrible
good." She got the key into the keyhole; she would not look back;
would it click the gate or not? The door opened; and she was in,
and the door banged behind her.  She all but leant against it,
only the doppelgaenger might be leaning similarly on the other
side.  She went forward, her hand at her throat, up the stairs to
her room, desiring (and every atom of energy left denying that
her desire could be vain) that there should be left to her still
this one refuge in which she might find shelter.




                           Chapter Two

                             VIA MORTIS

Mrs. Parry and her immediate circle, among whom Adela Hunt was
determinedly present, had come, during Pauline's private
meditations, to several minor decisions, one of which was to ask
Lawrence Wentworth to help with the costumes, especially the
costumes of the Grand Ducal Court and Guard.  Adela had said
immediately that she would call on Mr. Wentworth at once, and
Mrs. Parry, with a brief discontent, had agreed.  While,
therefore, Pauline was escaping from her ghostly twin, Adela and
Hugh went pleasantly along other roads of the Hill to Wentworth's
house.

It stood not very far from the Manor House, a little lower
than that but still near to the rounded summit of the rise of
ground which had given the place half its name.  Lawrence
Wentworth's tenancy was peculiarly suitable to the other half,
for his intellectual concern was with the history of battle, and
battles had continually broken over the Hill.  Their reality had
not been quite so neat as the diagrams into which he abstracted
and geometricized them.  The black lines and squares had swayed
and shifted and been broken; the crimson curves, which had lain
bloody under the moon, had been a mass of continuous tiny
movement, a mass noisy with moans and screams.  The Hill's
chronicle of anguish had been due, in temporalities, to its
strategic situation in regard to London, but a dreamer might have
had nightmares of a magnetic attraction habitually there
deflecting the life of man into death.  It had epitomized the
tale of the world.  Prehistoric legends, repeated in early
chronicles, told of massacres by revolting Britons and roaming
Saxons, mornings and evenings of hardly-human sport.  Later, when
permanent civilization arose, a medieval fortalice had been
built, and a score of civil feuds and pretended loyalties had
worn themselves out around it under kings who, though they were
called Stephen or John, were as remote as Shalmanezer or
Jeroboam.  The Roses had twined there, their roots living on the
blood shed by their thorns; the castle had gone up one night in
fire, as did Rome, and the Manor House that followed had been
raised in the midst of another order.  A new kind of human
civility entered; as consequence or cause of which, this Hill of
skulls seemed to become either weary or fastidious.  In the
village that had stood at the bottom of the rise a peasant
farmer, moved by some wandering gospeller, had, under Mary Tudor,
grown obstinately metaphysical, and fire had been lit between
houses and manor that he might depart through it in a roaring
anguish of joy.  Forty years later, under Elizabeth, the
whispering informers had watched an outlaw, a Jesuit priest, take
refuge in the manor, but when he was seized the Death of the Hill
had sent him to its Type in London for more prolonged ceremonies
of castration, as if it, like the men of the Renascence, seemed
to involve its brutal origin in complications of religion and
art.  The manor had been forfeited to the Crown, but granted
again to another branch of the family, so that, through all human
changes, the race of owners had still owned.  This endured, when
afterwards it was sold to richer men, and even when Peter
Stanhope had bought it back the house of his poetry remained
faintly touched by the dreadful ease that was given to it by the
labour and starvation of the poor.

The whole rise of ground therefore lay like a cape, a rounded
headland of earth, thrust into an ocean of death.  Men, the lords
of that small earth, dominated it.  The folklore of skies and
seasons belonged to it.  But if the past still lives in its own
present beside our present, then the momentary later inhabitants
were surrounded by a greater universe.  From other periods of its
time other creatures could crawl out of death, and invisibly
contemplate the houses and people of the rise.  The amphibia of
the past dwelt about, and sometimes crawled out on, the slope of
this world, awaiting the hour when they should either retire to
their own mists or more fully invade the place of the living.

There had been, while the workmen had been creating the houses of
the new estate, an incident which renewed the habit of the Hill,
as if that magnetism of death was quick to touch first the more
unfortunate of mortals.  The national margin of unemployment had
been reduced by the new engagement of labourers, and from the
work's point of view reduced, in one instance, unwisely.  A
certain unskilled assistant had been carelessly taken on; he was
hungry, he was ill, he was clumsy and slow.  His name no one
troubled to know.  He shambled among the rest, their humorous
butt.  He was used to that; all his life he had been the butt of
the world, generally of an unkind world.  He had been repeatedly
flung into the gutter by the turn of a hand in New York or Paris,
and had been always trying to scramble out of it again.  He had
lost his early habit of complaining, and it only added to his
passive wretchedness that his wife kept hers.  She made what
money she could by charing, at the market price, with Christmas
Day, St. Stephen, and such feasts deducted, and since she usually
kept her jobs, she could reasonably enjoy her one luxury of
nagging her husband because he lost his.  His life seemed to him
an endless gutter down which ran an endless voice.  The clerk of
the works and his foreman agreed that he was no good.

An accidental inspection by one of the directors decided his
discharge.  They were not unkind; they paid him, and gave him an
extra shilling to get a bus some way back towards London.  The
clerk added another shilling and the foreman sixpence.  They told
him to go; he was, on the whole, a nuisance.  He went; that night
he returned.

He went, towards the buses a mile off, tramping blindly away
through the lanes, coughing and sick.  He saw before him the
straight gutter, driven direct to London across the lanes and
fields.  At its long end was a miserable room that had a
perpetual shrill voice.

He longed to avoid them, and as if the Hill bade him a
placable farewell there came to him as he left it a quiet
thought.  He could simply reject the room and its voice; he could
simply stop walking down the gutter.  A fancy of it had grown in
him once or twice before.  Then it had been a fancy of a
difficult act; now the act had suddenly become simple.

Automatically eating a piece of bread that one of the men had
given him, he sat down by the roadside, looking round him to find
the easiest way to what had suddenly become a resolve.  Soft and
pitiless the country stretched away round him, unwilling that he
should die.  He considered.  There were brooks; he knew it was
impossible for him to hold himself down in them while he drowned.
There were motors, cars, or buses; apart from his unwillingness
to get other people into trouble, he feared lest he should be
merely hurt or maimed. He wanted to get himself completely out of
trouble.  There were the half-finished buildings away behind him.
A magical and ghostly finger touched his mind; in one of those
buildings he remembered to have seen a rope.  In a dim way, as he
sat gnawing his bread, he felt that this was the last trouble he
would give to his fellows.  Their care this time would be as
hasty and negligent as ever, but it would be final.  If the rope
were not there, he would find some other way, but he hoped for
the best.  He even believed in that best.

He got up, sometime in the early evening, and began to plod back.
It was not far and he was not old.  In covering the short
distance he covered age also, toiling doubly through space and
time.  The Republic, of which he knew nothing, had betrayed him;
all the nourishment that comes from friendship and common pain
was as much forbidden to him as the poor nourishment of his body.
The Republic had decided that it was better one man, or many men,
should perish, than the people in the dangerous chance of helping
those many.  It had, as always, denied supernatural justice.  He
went on, in that public but unspectacular abandonment, and the
sun went down on him.

Under the moon he came on the Hill to a place which might have
been an overthrown rather than an arising city.  The chaos of
that revolution which the Republic naturally refused had rolled
over it, or some greater disaster, the Vesuvian terror of
Pompeii, or an invisible lava of celestial anger, as that which
smote Thebes, or the self-adoring Cities of the Plain.
Unfinished walls, unfilled pits, roofless houses, gaping holes
where doors and windows were to be or had been spread before him.
His body was shaking, but he went on.  Here and there a ladder
stretched upward; here and there a brazier burned.  An occasional
footstep sounded.  The cold moon lit up the skeletons of houses,
and red fires flickered rarely among them.  He paused for a
moment at the edge of the town, but not in doubt, only to listen
if a watchman were near.  From mere physical stress he whimpered
a little now and then, but he did not change his purpose, nor did
the universe invite him to change.  It accepted the choice; no
more preventing him than it prevents a child playing with fire or
a fool destroying his love.  It has not our kindness or our
decency; if it is good, its goodness is of another kind than
ours.  It allowed him, moving from shadow to shadow, cautious and
rash, to approach the house where he remembered to have seen the
rope.  All the. afternoon the rope had been visible to his eyes.
He knew exactly where it was; and there indeed it was.  He slunk
in and touched it, shivering and senseless but for the simple
sense of life.  The air of that infected place suffered his
inhalations and filled his lungs as he dragged the rope, gently
and softly towards the nearest ladder beyond.
The ladder frightened him, lest it should be too much boarded, or
else, bone-white in the moon, should, while he climbed, expose
his yet living body to those universals who would have him live.
But it was open for him, and he crouched within the lower shell
of a room, holding the rope, peering, listening, waiting for he
did not guess what until it came.  He thought once he heard
hurrying feet at a distance, but they were going from him, and
presently all was again quiet.  The moonlight gently faded; the
white rungs grew shadowy; a cloud passed over the sky, and all
was obscured.  The heavens were kind, and the moon did not, like
the sun, wait for a divine sacrifice in order to be darkened.  A
man served it as well.  He rose, and slipped to the foot of his
ladder.  He went softly up, as the Jesuit priest had gone up his
those centuries earlier paying for a loftier cause by a longer
catastrophe.  He went up as if he mounted on the bones of his
body built so carefully for this; he clambered through his
skeleton to the place of his skull, and receded, as if almost in
a corporeal ingression, to the place of propinquent death.  He
went up his skeleton, past the skeleton frames of the ground
floor, of the first floor.  At the second the poles of the
scaffold stretched upward into the sky.  The roof was not on, nor
his life built up.  He dragged himself dizzily on to the topmost
landing, pulling the rope after him, and there his crouching mind
stayed.  The cloud passed from the moon; another was floating up.
His flesh, in which only his spirit now lived, was aware of the
light.  He still hoped for his best; he lay still.

Presently he peered over.  The world allowed him to be capable
and efficient at last; no one had seen him.  The long gutter of
his process was now coiled up into the rope he held; the room
with its voice was away in and looked on him from the silent
moon.  He breathed, and a cloud floated over it again.  There was
nothing more to happen; everything had already happened except
for one trifle which would be over soon.  He tiptoed to the
scaffold pole on his right hand, uncoiling the rope as he went;
he pulled and gently shook it.  It was slender, but it seemed
strong.  He took one end of the rope, began to fasten it to the
end of the pole, and suddenly hesitated.  It was a long rope;
suppose it was too long, so that when he jumped he fell to the
ground, not dead but broken.  Then all those people more
fortunate than he, who had governed him and shoved him into the
gutter, would come to him again--he could hear a footstep or two
of theirs upon the ground now, and lay still while they sounded
and ceased--they would come to him and mind him and turn him out
again, down a miry path under a perpetual talking moon that knew
no wane.  This was his one chance, for ever and ever, of avoiding
them.  He knew he must not miss it.

He measured out the rope to twice the length of his outstretched
arms, and when the ruined city was once more silent he peered
over, letting that measured section run through his hands.  The
end dangled much more than his height from the ground, and at
that he twisted and knotted the next yard or two around the pole,
straining against it, tugging it, making certain it could not
ease loose.  The moon emerged as he finished, and in a panic he
dragged up the loose end, and shrank back from the edge, well
back, so that no watcher should see him from the road.  There,
lying flat on his empty belly, he began his penultimate activity.
He knotted, as best he could, the end of the rope about his neck,
with a great and clumsy, but effective, slip knot.  He tried it
again and again, more fearful than ever lest its failure, because
of his own, should betray him back into a life which his frenzy
felt as already ghostly.  He felt that he could not bear that
last betrayal, for he would never have courage to repeat this
mighty act of decision.  The dreadful universe perhaps would
spare him that, if he were careful now.  He was very careful.

As, exhausted by the necessary labour, he lay flat on that stage
of the spectral ascent, amid the poles and unroofed walls, he did
not consider any future but unfortunate accident or fortunate
death.  He was almost shut up in his moment, and his hope was
only that the next moment might completely close him in.  No
dichotomy of flesh and spirit distressed or delighted him nor did
he know anything of the denial of that dichotomy by the creed of
Christendom.  The unity of that creed has proclaimed, against
experience, against intelligence, that for the achievement of
man's unity the body of his knowledge is to be raised; no other
fairer stuff, no alien matter, but this to be impregnated with
holiness and transmuted by lovely passion perhaps, but still
this.  Scars and prints may disseminate splendour, but the body
is to be the same, the very body of the very soul that are both
names of the single man.  This man was not even terrified by that
future, for he did not think of it.  He desired only the end of
the gutter and of the voice; to go no farther, to hear no more,
to be done.  Presently he remembered that time was passing; he
must be quick or they would catch him, on his platform or as he
fell, and if he fell into the safety of their hands he would fall
into his old utter insecurity.  All he knew of the comfort of the
world meant only more pain.  He got awkwardly to his feet; he
must be quick.

He was not very quick.  Something that was he dragged at him, and
as he crawled to the edge dragged more frantically at something
still in him.  He had supposed he had wanted to die, and only at
the last even he discovered that he wanted also not to die.
Unreasonably and implacably, he wanted not to die.  But also he
wanted not to live, and the two rejections blurred his brain and
shook his body.  He half struggled to his feet in his agony; he
twisted round and hung half over, his back to the abyss; he
clutched at the rope, meaning to hold it and release it as he
fell, to such an extreme of indecision pretending decision did
his distress drive him, and then as the circling movement of his
body ended, twining the rope once more round his neck, he swayed
and yelped and knew that he was lost, and fell.

He fell, and as he fell he thought for a moment he saw below him
a stir as of an infinite crowd, or perhaps, so sudden and
universal was it, the swift rush of a million insects toward
shelter, away from the shock that was he.  The movement, in the
crowd, in the insects, in the earth itself, passed outward
towards the unfinished houses, the gaps and holes in half-built
walls, and escaped.  When at last he knew in his dazed mind that
he was standing securely on the ground, he knew also, under the
pale light which feebly shone over the unfashioned town, that he
was still alone.

He stood for a moment in extreme fear that something would break
out upon him from its hiding-place, but nothing moved, and as his
fear subsided he was at leisure to begin to wonder what he had to
do there.  He recognized the place; it was the scene of his last
job, the job from which he had been dismissed, the place to
which, for a reason, he had returned.  The reason? He looked
round; all was quite still.  There were no footsteps; there were
no braziers, such as he had half expected, for he had thought a
watch was set at night.  There was no moon in the sky; perhaps it
was not night.  Indeed it was too light for night; perhaps it was
dawn, but there was not yet a sun.  As he thought of dawn and
another day, he remembered why he was there.  He had come there
to die, and the rope was on the platform above.  He did not quite
understand why he was standing at the foot of the ladder, for he
seemed to remember that he had mounted it, up to his head, unless
he had jumped down to frighten something that had vanished, but
it did not matter.  What mattered was that dawn was here and his
time was short.  Unless he acted, his chance and he would be
lost.  He went again, very quickly and anxiously, up the ladder.
At the top he got on to the platform and hurried to find the
rope.  He had had it ready; he must not waste it.  He looked
round for it.  The rope was not there.

At first he did not believe.  This was certainly the place,
though in the dawn which was less bright than the moon, and he
knew he had hated the moon because it watched him, the corners of
that stage between earth and sky were now in darkness.  But he
went and peered into them and felt.  Uselessly.  He knelt down,
staring round, unaware of any sickness or exhaustion, only of
anxiety.  He almost lay down, screwing up his eyes, dragging
himself round.  It was all useless.  The rope was not there.

By now, as he raised his head and looked out, the silence was
beginning to trouble him, and the pallid dawn.  It was good that
the light should not grow, but also it was terrifying.
There had not been much time, or had there? He could not attend
to it; the absence of the rope preoccupied him.  Could someone,
out of the world that was filled with his rich enemies, have
come, while he was down at the foot, doing something he could not
remember, and run up the ladder quietly, and stolen back his rope
as he himself had stolen it? Perhaps the men who had sent him off
that day, or even his wife, out of the room, stretching a lean
hand and snatching it, as she had snatched things before-but then
she would have snarled or shrilled at him; she always did.  He
forgot his caution.  He rose to his feet, and ran round and round
seeking for it.  He failed again; the rope was not there.

By the ladder he stood still, holding on to it, utterly defeated
at last, in a despair that even he had never felt before.  There
had always been present to him, unrecognized but secure, man's
last hope, the possibility of death.  It may be refused, but the
refusal, even the unrecognized refusal, admits hope.  Without the
knowledge of his capacity of death, however much he fear it, man
is desolate.  This had gone; he had no chance whatever.  The rope
was gone; he could not die.  He did not yet know that it was
because he was already dead.

The dead man stood there, a vast dead silence about him and
within him.  He turned his head this way and that.  He no longer
minded whether anyone came, and no one did come.  He looked back
over his shoulder at his platform and its dark corners.  Some
things were yet concealed.  There was shadow; his eyes looked at
it for a long while, some days or weeks, without interest or
intelligence.  Presently there was a stir in it, that presently
ceased.  He had been looking at it all that time, over his
shoulder, still standing there and holding his ladder; his body,
or what seemed to him to be his body, his whole consciousness of
distances and shapes that seemed not to be he, slowly conforming
itself to its intelligence of this other world.  The silence of
the dead was about him, the light of the dead was over him.  He
did not like the corners of darkness or the stir in the corners,
and presently as he stood there he began to feel that he could
get away from them.  He knew now that he would not find the rope,
that he would not take again the means he had once taken to
escape from pain and fear, but in that utter quiet his despair
began to discover itself to be more like contentment.  He slid on
to the ladder, vaguely determined to get as far as he could from
the platform of transition.  He went soundlessly down, and as he
came to ground and loosed his hold he sighed; he took a step or
two away and sighed again, and now for pure relief.  He felt.
through all his new world, the absence of men, the mere absence
therefore of evil.  The world which was to be represented, there,
by the grand culture of Battle Hill, could offer him, after his
whole life, no better thing than that it should keep away.
justice, so far, rescued him; what more there was had not yet
begun to work.  He wandered away over the Hill.




                          Chapter Three

                         QUEST OF HELL

It was in the house of the suicide that Lawrence Wentworth now
sat.  The dead man's corpse, discovered hanging in the morning,
had been hugger-mugger interred, the body that then existed being
then buried.  With such bodies of past time the estate had no
concern except to be silent about them, which it very
successfully was.  Wentworth, when he took the house, heard
nothing of the most unfortunate incident, nor had any idea of
what had happened in the space which now, properly closed and
ceilinged, he had taken for his bedroom, any more than he saw
through the window of his study the dead man occasionally. return
to the foot of the ladder which, in his world, still reached from
earth to scaffolding.  Neither of them was aware of the other.

Wentworth had at least one advantage over many other military
historians; he had known war.  He had served with some
distinction, partly from luck, and partly from his brain which
organized well.  He had held a minor position on an army staff,
and he had been alert at moving masses of men about and fitting
them in, and removing them again.  He could not win battles, but
he could devise occupation for armies.  He could always, when
necessary, find somewhere for them to go and something for them
to do, and he could deal with any objections to their going or
doing that were raised.  His mind reduced the world to diagrams,
and he saw to it that the diagrams fitted.  And as some such
capacity is half of all ordinary leadership in war, he really had
an insight into the technical side of the great military
campaigns of the past.  He could see what Caesar or Napoleon had
done, and why, and how; it was not to be expected that he could
have seen it, as they did, before it happened.  He had never had
a friend or a lover; he had never, in any possible sense of the
word, been "in love".

Yet, or perhaps therefore, his life had been pleasant to him,
partly by the Fortune which confirms or ruins the care of
generals, partly through his own instinctive tactical care.  Only
of late, especially since he had come to the Hill, the
pleasantness had seemed to waver.  He was not much over fifty,
but his body was beginning to feel that its future was
shortening, and that it had perhaps been too cautious in the
past.  His large opaque eyes, set widely in a squarish face, were
acquiring a new restlessness.  Also he had begun to dream.
Something moved more sharply in his sleep, as the apparition of
Pauline's terror moved more surely in the streets; the invisible
life of the Hill quickening its pressure upon mental awareness.

It was a little dream, of no significance, as Mrs. Parry would
have said; it was only a particular development of a common
dream-thing, the state of something going on.  He had no reason
for disliking it except that it recurred.  It was not complex; it
was remarkably simple-simple and remarkable.  He was climbing
down a rope; he did nothing but climb down a rope.  It was a
white rope, so white that it shone of its own clarity in the
pitch-black darkness where it and he existed, and it stretched up
high above him, infinitely high, so that as he looked he could
not see where or to what it was fastened.  But that it was
fastened both above and below was clear, for it was taut in his
hands and between his legs, twisted expertly round it.  He was
not sliding down it; he was descending by the aid of knots which,
though he could feel them against his hands and legs, he could
never actually see in the rope as it emerged from his hands past
his eyes.  The descent was perplexing, for he never felt himself
move and yet he knew he was continually farther down, down
towards the bottom of the rope, the point and the place where it
was secured beneath him.  Once or twice he looked down and saw
only the twined white strands stretching away in the black abyss.
He felt no fear; he climbed, if he climbed, securely, and all the
infinite black void did not terrify him; he would not fall.  Nor
did he fear the end--not fear; no monstrosity awaited him.  On the
other hand, he did, waking, remember to have felt the very
slightest distaste, as if for a dentist.  He remembered that he
wanted to remain on the rope, but though he saw neither top nor
bottom he was sure, in the dream, that that was impossible.  A
million yards or years of rope stretched above him; there might
be a million years or yards below him.  Or a hundred, or a score,
or indeed but two or three.  He climbed down, or else the rope
climbed up, and about them was everlasting silence and the black
night in which he and the rope only were visible, and only
visible to himself.

It was mildly disagreeable; the more, and perhaps, if he had
thought about it, only, because dreams, though negligible on
waking, are so entirely ineluctable in sleep.  Sleep had, all his
life, been a pleasant thing to Wentworth; he had made of it an
art.  He had used himself to a composure that had readily
accommodated itself to him.  He made it a rule to think of
pleasant things as he stretched himself in bed: his acquaintances
sometimes, or the reviews--most of the reviews of his last book,
or his financial security, or his intentions about his immediate
future work, or the permanent alterations he hoped he had caused
in universal thought concerning Caesar's employment of Balearic
slingers during the campaigns in Gaul.  Also, deliciously, his
fancies would widen and change, and Caesar would be drawing out
cheques to pay his London Library subscriptions, or the Balearic
slingers would be listening to him as he told them how they used
to use their slings, and the next thing he would know would be
either his housekeeper tapping at the door, or the light of
morning, or, sometimes, the dream.

For this assault in sleep there were at least two reasons in his
waking life, besides the nature of the haunter of his house; one
of them very much in front of his mind, the other secret and not
much admitted.  The first was Aston Moffatt; the second was Adela
Hunt.  Aston Moffatt was another military historian, perhaps the
only other worth mentioning, and Wentworth and he were engaged in
a long and complicated controversy on the problem of the least of
those skirmishes of the Roses which had been fought upon the
Hill.  The question itself was unimportant; it would never
seriously matter to anyone but the controversialists whether
Edward Plantagenet's cavalry had come across the river with the
dawn or over the meadows by the church at about noon.  But a
phrase, a doubt, a contradiction, had involved the two in
argument.  Aston Moffatt, who was by now almost seventy, derived
a great deal of intellectual joy from expounding his point of
view.  He was a pure scholar, a holy and beautiful soul who would
have sacrificed reputation, income, and life, if necessary, for
the discovery of one fact about the horse-boys of Edward
Plantagenet.  He had determined his nature.  Wentworth was
younger and at a more critical point, at that moment when a man's
real concern begins to separate itself from his pretended, and
almost to become independent of himself.  He raged secretly as he
wrote his letters and drew up his evidence; he identified
scholarship with himself, and asserted himself under the disguise
of a defence of scholarship.  He refused to admit that the exact
detail of Edward's march was not, in fact, worth to him the cost
of a single cigar.

As for Adela, he was very well aware of Adela, as he was aware of
cigars, but he did not yet know what he would give up for her, or
rather for the manner of life which included her.  As Aston
Moffatt was bound either to lessen or heighten Wentworth's
awareness of his own reputation, so Adela was bound either to
increase or abolish his awareness of his age.  He knew time was
beginning to hurry; he could at moments almost hear it scamper.
He did not very well know what he wanted to do about it.

He was sitting now in his study, his large body leaning forward
over the table, and his hands had paused in measuring the plan
that lay in front of him.  He was finding the answer to Aston
Moffatt's last published letter difficult, yet he was determined
that Moffatt could not be right.  He was beginning to twist the
intention of the sentences in his authorities, preferring strange
meanings and awkward constructions, adjusting evidence,
manipulating words.  In defence of his conclusion he was willing
to cheat in the evidence--a habit more usual to religious writers
than to historical.  But he was still innocent enough to be
irritated; he felt, as it were, a roughness in the rope of his
dream, and he was intensely awake to any other slights from any
quarter.  He looked sharply to see if there were more Moffatts in
the world.  At that inconvenient moment on that evening Adela
arrived with Hugh.  It was long since he had seen her in the
company of one young man: alone, or with one woman, or with
several young men and women, but not, as it happened, so.  He
stood up when they were announced, and as they came in, Adela's
short red-and-cream thickness overshadowed by Hugh's rather
flagrant masculinity, he felt something jerk in him, as if a knot
had been first tied and then suddenly pulled loose.  He had
written but that morning in an article on the return of Edward
IV, "the treachery of the Earl destroyed the balance".  Remote,
five hundred years away, he felt it in the room; a destruction of
balance.  Then they were sitting down and Adela was talking.

She explained, prettily, why they had come.  Hugh, watching,
decided that she must not behave quite so prettily.  Hugh had no
jerks or quavers.  He had decided some time since that Adela
should marry him when he was ready, and was giving himself the
pleasurable trouble of making this clear to her.  There was a
touch too much gusto in her manner towards Wentworth.  She had
been, as he had, and some others of the young, in the habit of
spending an evening, once a fortnight or so, at Wentworth's
house, talking about military history and the principles of art
and the nature of the gods.  During the summer these informal
gatherings were less frequent, because of tennis and motor-rides
and the nature of men and women.  Hugh meant that for Adela they
should stop altogether.  He observed an intimacy; he chose that
it should not continue, partly because he wished Adela to belong
to him and partly because the mere action of breaking it would
show how far Adela was prepared to go with him.  His mind made
arrangements.

Adela explained.  Wentworth said: "Very well, I'll do anything I
can.  What is it you want?" He felt ungracious; he blamed Aston
Moffatt.

"O, the costumes," Adela answered.  "The Guard especially.  The
Grand Duke has a guard, you see, though there didn't
seem to be much point in it.  But it has a fight with the
robbers, and if you'd see that it fought reasonably well."

She did not trouble to enlarge on her own view that the fight
ought to be quite unrealistic; she knew that Mr. Wentworth did
not much care for non-realistic art, and till recently she had
preferred her mild satisfaction with her invasion of Wentworth's
consciousness to any bigotry of artistic interpretation.

Hugh said: "It'd be frightfully good of you to give me a hand
with my Guard, Mr. Wentworth." He infused the "Mister" with an
air of courteous deference to age, and as he ended the sentence
he stretched and bent an arm in the lazy good humour of youth.
Neither of the others analysed stress and motion, yet their blood
was stirred, Adela faintly flushing with a new gratification,
Wentworth faintly flushing with a new anger.  He said, "Are you
to be the Grand Duke then, Prescott?"

"So Mrs. Parry seems to suggest," Hugh answered, and added, as if
a thought had struck him, "unless--Adela, d'you think Mr.
Wentworth would take the part himself? Isn't that an idea?"

Before Adela could answer Wentworth said: "Nonsense; I've never
acted in my life."

"I'm quite sure," Hugh said, leaning comfortably forward with his
elbows on his knees and his strong hands interlocked, "that you'd
be a better father for the princess than I should.  I think
there's no doubt Adela'll have to be the princess."

"O, I don't see that," said Adela, "though it's true Mrs. Parry... but
there are lots of others.  But, Mr. Wentworth, would you?
You'd give it a kind of..." she thought of "age" and
substituted "force".  "I was saying to Hugh as we came along that
all it needs is force."

"I certainly wouldn't take it away from Prescott," Wentworth
said.  "He's much better at these games than I could be." He had
tried to give to the words a genial and mature tolerance, but he
heard them as merely hostile; so did the others.

"Ah, but then," Hugh answered, "you know such a lot about battles
and history-battles long ago.  You'd certainly be more suitable
for Adela's father-sir."

Wentworth said: "I'll keep myself for the Guard.  What period did
you say?"

"They seem to think 1700," Adela said.  "I know Mrs. Parry said
something about eighteenth-century uniforms.  She's going to
write to you."

Hugh stood up.  "So we oughtn't to keep you," he added.  "Adela
and I are going back to talk to her now.  Come on, duchess-or
whatever it is they call you."

Adela obeyed.  Wentworth noted, with an interior irritation, that
she really did.  She moved to rise with something more than
consent.  It was what he had never had--consent, yes, but not
this obedience.  Hugh had given her his hand to pull her up, and
in that strained air the movement was a proclamation.  He added,
as she stood by his side: "Do change your mind, sir, and show us
all how to be a Grand Siécle father. I'll ask Mrs. Parry to put
it to you."

"You certainly won't," Wentworth said.  "I've no time to be a
father."

"Odd way of putting it," Hugh said when they were outside.  "I
don't know why your Mr. Wentworth should be so peeved at the
idea.  Personally, I rather like it."

Adela was silent.  She was well aware of the defiance--not even a
defiance, the rumour of a struggle long ago--that Hugh had
brought into the conversation.  Wentworth had been relegated, for
those few sentences, to his place in the shadowy past of Battle
Hill.  The notice he had taken of her had been a dim flattery;
now it was more dim and less flattering.  She had been
increasingly aware, since she had met Hugh, of her militant
blood; of contemporary raid and real contest, as of some battle
"where they charge on heaps the enemy flying".  But she did not
quite wish to lose Lawrence Wentworth; he had given her books, he
had friends in London, he could perhaps be useful.  She desired a
career.  She could be sensationally deferential on Thursday, if,
as she expected, she went to him on Thursday.  There had been, at
the last gathering, ten days before, an agreement on next
Thursday.  She had just accomplished this decision when Hugh
said: "By the way, I wanted to ask you something.  What about
next Thursday?"

"Next Thursday?" she said, startled.

"Couldn't you come out somewhere in the evening?"

"But . . ." Adela paused, and Hugh went on: "I thought we might
have dinner in town, and go to a show if you liked."

"I'd love it," Adela said.  "But it needn't be Thursday?"

"I'm afraid it must," Hugh answered.  "There's tennis at the
Foxes' on Monday, and Tuesday and Wednesday I shall
be late at work, and Friday we're to read the play, and the
Parry's almost certain to want us on the Saturday too."

Adela said again: "I'd love it, but I was going to Mr.
Wentworth's on Thursday.  I mean, we've been going rather
steadily, and last time I practically promised."

"I know you did," said Hugh.  "So did I, but we can't help it.

"Couldn't we go another week?" Adela asked.

"With this play about?" Hugh said sardonically.  "My dear, we're
going to be clutched by rehearsals every evening.  Of course, we
can leave it if you'd rather, but you said you'd like to see that
thing The Second Pylon-it's your style-and as it's only on till
Saturday . . . well, as a matter of fact, I got a couple of
tickets for Thursday on the chance.  I knew it'd be our only
night."

"Hugh!" Adela exclaimed.  "But I want frightfully to see it; they
say it's got the most marvellous example of this Surrealist
plastic cohesion. O, Hugh, how splendid of you! The only thing
is. . . ."

"Pauline'll be going to Wentworth's, won't she?" Hugh said.  "And
probably others.  He can talk to them."

They were both aware that this would be by no means the same
thing.  They were equally both aware that it was what was about
to happen; and that by Thursday evening it would have happened.
Adela found that her hesitation about the future had already
become a regret for the past: the thing had been done.  A willing
Calvinist, she said: "I hope he won't think it rude.  He's been
very nice."

"Naturally," Hugh answered.  "But now it's up to you to be nice.
Grand Dukes ought to be gratified, oughtn't they?"

"You asked him to be the Grand Duke," Adela pointed out.

"I asked him to be your father," Hugh said.  "I don't think I had
any notion of his being a Grand Duke."

He looked at her, laughing.  "Write him a note on Wednesday," he
said, "and I'll ring him up on Thursday evening from, London, and
ask him to make my excuses to you and Pauline and the rest."

"Hugh!" Adela exclaimed, "You couldn't!" Then, dimpling and
gurgling, she added: "He's been very kind to me.  I should hate
him to feel hurt."

"So should I," Hugh said gravely.  "Very well; that's settled."

Unfortunately for this delicate workmanship, the two or three
other young creatures who had shared, with Adela, Hugh, and
Pauline, the coffee and culture of Wentworth's house, were also
deflected from it on that Thursday by tennis or the play;
unfortunately, because the incidents of the Saturday had left him
more acutely conscious at once of his need for Adela and of his
need for flattery.  He did not fully admit either; he rather
defended himself mentally against Hugh's offensiveness that
surrendered to his knowledge of his desire.  Even so he refused
to admit that he was engaged in a battle.  He demanded at once
security and victory, a habit not common to those great masters
whose campaigns he studied.  He remembered the past-the few
intimate talks with Adela, the lingering hands, the exchanged
eyes.  Rather like Pompey, he refused to take measures against
the threat on the other side the Rubicon; he faintly admitted
that there was a Rubicon, but certainly not that there might be a
Caesar.  He assumed that the Rome which had, he thought, admired
him so much and so long, was still his, and he desired it to make
his ownership clear.  He was prepared to overlook that Saturday
as not being Adela's fault as soon as the Thursday should bring
him Adela's accustomed propinquity; perhaps, for compensation's
sake and for promise of a veiled conclusion, a little more than
propinquity.  It was the more shattering for him that her note
only reached him by the late post an hour or so before his guests
usually arrived.

She had had, she said, to go to town that day to see about the
stuff for her costume; things would be rushed, and she hadn't
liked to make difficulties.  She was dreadfully distressed; she
might well be, he thought, with a greater flush of anger than he
knew.  He glanced at another note of excuse almost with
indifference.  But he was still ruffled when Pauline arrived, and
it was with a certain abruptness that he told her he expected no
one else but Prescott.

When, ten minutes later, the telephone bell rang, and he heard
Prescott's voice offering his own regrets and explaining that
absolutely unavoidable work kept him at the office: would Mr.
Wentworth be so good as to apologize to Adela?--he was not sure
if he were glad or sorry.  It saved him from Prescott, but it
left him tiresomely alone with Pauline.  Pauline had a recurrent
tendency to lose the finer point of military strategy in. an
unnecessary discussion of the sufferings of the rank and file;
neither of them knew that it was the comfort of his house and his
chairs--not to reckon her companionship with men in grief--which
incited her.  He did not think he wanted to have to talk to
Pauline, but he was pleased to think he need not carry Hugh's
message to Adela.  He could not, of course, know that Adela was
then squeezed into the same telephone box as Hugh.  She had
objected at first, but Hugh had pleasantly overpersuaded her, and
it was true she did want to know exactly what he said-so as to
know.  And it was attractive to hear him telephone apologies to
her when she was close at his side, to listen to the cool
formality with which he dispatched ambassadorial messages to
phantom ears, so that her actual ears received the chill while
her actual eyes sparkled and kindled at his as he stood with the
receiver at his ear.  He said-as Wentworth only realized when he
had put down his own receiver-"and would you be kind enough to
make my apologies to Adela?" She mouthed "and the others" at him,
but he shook his head ever so little, and when, as he put back
the receiver, she said, "But you ought to have sent your message
to Pauline at least," he answered, "Wentworth'Il see to that; I
wasn't going to mix you up." She said, "But supposing he doesn't,
it'll look so rude," expecting him to answer that he didn't care.
Instead of which, as they emerged from the call-box, he said,
"Wentworth'll see to it; he won't like not to." She sat down to
dinner infinitely more his accomplice than she had been when she
had met him first that evening.

In effect he was right.  Wentworth had received a slight shock
when the single name reached his ears, but it was only on his way
back to the study that he realized that he was being invited to
assist Prescott's approach towards Adela.  He must, of course,
enlarge the apology, especially since Adela anyhow wasn't there,
as he hadn't troubled to explain.  Prescott could find that out
for himself.  Since he didn't know--a throb of new suspicion held
him rigid outside his study door.  It was incredible, because
Prescott wouldn't have sent the message, or any message, if he
and Adela had been together.  But they were both away, and that
(his startled nerves reported to his brain) meant that they were
together.  His brain properly reminded him that it meant nothing
of the sort.  But of that saving intelligence his now vibrating
nervous system took no notice whatever.  It had never had a
chance to disseminate anarchy before, and now it took its chance.
Fifty years of security dissolved before one minute of invasion;
Caesar was over the Rubicon and Pompey was flying from Rome.
Wentworth strode back into the study and looked at Pauline much
as Pompey might have looked at a peculiarly unattractive senator.

He said: "Prescott can't come either.  He sends you his
apologies," and with an extreme impatience waited to hear whether
she had any comment to make upon this, which might show what and
how much, if anything, she knew.  She only said, "I'm sorry.  Is
he working late?"

It was exactly what Wentworth wanted to know.  He went back to
his usual seat at the corner of his large table, and put down his
cigar.  He said, "So he says.  It's unfortunate, isn't it, just
the evening Adela couldn't come?" He then found himself pausing,
and added, "But we can go on talking, can't we? Though I'm afraid
it will be duller for you."

He hoped she would deny this at once; on the other hand he didn't
want her to stop.  He wanted her to want to stop, but to be
compelled to go by some necessary event; so that her longing and
disappointment could partly compensate him for Adela's apparently
volitional absence, but without forcing him to talk.  He wished
her grandmother could be taken worse suddenly.  But she made no
sign of going, nor did she offer him any vivid tribute.  She sat
for a minute with her eyes on the floor, then she looked at him
and said:

"There was something I thought of asking you."

"Yes?" Wentworth said.  After all, Prescott probably was at his
office, and Adela probably-wherever she had to be.

Pauline had not formally intended to speak.  But Lawrence
Wentworth was the only person she knew who might be aware of. . .
what these things were and what they demanded.  And since they
were thus left together, she consented to come so far as to ask.
She disdained herself a little, but she went on, her disdain
almost audible in her voice: "Did you ever come across"--she
found she had to pause to draw equable breath; it was difficult
even to hint--"did you ever read of any tale of people meeting
themselves?"

Momentarily distracted, Wentworth said: "Meeting themselves?
What, in dreams?"

"Not dreams," Pauline said, "meeting themselves . . . in the
street ... or anywhere." She wished now she hadn't begun, for to
speak seemed to invite its presence, as if it were likely to
hover outside, if not inside the house; and she would have to go
home by herself to-night the whole way.... Or, since she had
betrayed its privacy, supposing it followed up her betrayal and
came now....

"There's a picture of Rossetti's," Wentworth said; "were you
thinking of that?"

"Not a picture," Pauline said; "I mean, have you ever read of its
happening? Shelley says it happened to Zoroaster."

"Indeed," Wentworth said.  "I don't remember that.  Of course
I've heard of it as a superstition.  Where have you come across
it? Has anyone you know been seeing themselves?"

His mind was drifting back to Adela; the question rang hard.
Pauline felt the obstruction and stayed.  She said, "I knew a
girl who thought she did.  But don't let me bother you."

"You aren't bothering me," Wentworth said by force of habit.  "On
the contrary.  I never remember to have come across anything of
the sort, though I've a notion it was supposed to foretell death.
But then almost any unusual incident is supposed to foretell
death by the savage-or let's say the uncivilized-mind.  Death,
you see, is inevitably the most unusual incident, and so--by
correspondence--the lesser is related to the greater.
Anthropology is very instructive in that way.  The uneducated
mind is generally known by its haste to see likeness where no
likeness exists.  It evaluates its emotions in terms of
fortuitous circumstance.  It objectifies its concerns through its
imagination.  Probably your friend was a very self-centred.
individual."

Pauline said coldly, "I don't know that she was," while Wentworth
wondered if Adela and Prescott had finished the supper they were
not, of course, having together.  Their absence was a fortuitous
circumstance.  He evaluated his emotions in its terms, and (like
any barbarian chief) objectified his concerns by his imagination.
She could find out the difference between Prescott and himself.
But he didn't mind; he didn't mind.  He curvetted on that
particular horse for a while, and while curvetting he took no
notice of Pauline's remark until the silence startled his steed
into nearly throwing him.  Still just remaining seated, he said,
"O, she isn't, isn't she?" and thought how lank, compared to
Adela, Pauline was-lank and blank.  She had no capacity.  Exactly
what capacity she lacked he did not carefully consider, assuming
it to be intellectual: the look, not the eyes; the gesture, not
the hand.  It was Adela's mental alertness which he knew he would
have grudged Prescott, if he could grudge anybody anything.  This
conversation about people seeing themselves was the dullest he
had ever known; he looked covertly at the clock on the
mantelpiece; at the same moment Pauline, also covertly, looked at
her wrist-watch.  She had been a fool to say anything; the only
result was to expose her more consciously to that other approach.
She had better get home, somehow, before she did anything
sillier.  She said, "Thank you", and couldn't think of anything
else. $he got up therefore, and said the only thing left.

"My grandmother's not been so well to-day.  Would you forgive me
if I deserted you too? We're treating you shockingly, aren't we?"

Wentworth got up alertly.  "Not a bit," he said.  "I'm sorry.
I'm sorry you feel you ought to go." It occurred to him that,
later on, he might walk down toward the station.  If he met them
together, he would at least be justified.  They might have met at
Marylebone, of course, even if he did meet them; and if he
didn't, they might be coming by a later train.  He might wait for
the next.  Perhaps it would be wiser not to go; he couldn't, in
his position, hang about for ever and ever.  People chattered.
But he would decide about that when this superfluous being had
been dismissed.  He went with her to the door, was genial and
bright, said good night, snarled at the time she took getting to
the gate, and at last was free to make up his mind.

He could not do it.  He was driven by his hunger as the dead man
who had come to that unbuilt house had been driven by his, and
for some time he wandered about his rooms as that other shape had
gone through the streets, seeking peace and finding none.  At
last he found himself in his bedroom, looking out of the window,
as the dead man had stood there looking over the ruins of
history, from the place of his skull.  Wentworth stood there now
for some seconds, exercising a no more conscious but a still more
deliberate choice. He also yielded--to the chaos within rather
than the chaos without.  The dead man had had reason to suppose
that to throw himself down would mean freedom from tyranny, but
Wentworth was not so much of a fool as to think that to thrust
himself into the way of possible discovery would mean any such
freedom.  A remnant of intelligence cried to him that this was
the road of mania, and self-indulgence leading to mania.
Self-preservation itself urged him to remain; lucidity urged him,
if not love.  He stood and looked and listened, as the dead man
had looked and listened.  He heard faint hurrying footsteps
somewhere on the Hill; the moon was covered by a cloud.  The
shadow provoked him; in it they might be, now, passing the end of
his road.  He must act before it was too late.  He would not go
to spy; he would go for a walk.  He went out of the room, down
the soft swift stairs of his mind, into the streets of his mind,
to find the phantoms of his mind.  He desired hell.

He strode out on his evening walk.  He walked down the length of
his road; if that led towards the station it could not be helped,
nor if at a point it joined the road which Adela would take from
the station.  He was a man, and he had a right to his walk.  He
was not a child, neither the child that had lost its toy and
cried for it, nor the child that had lost its toy and would not
let itself care, nor the child that had lost its toy and tried to
recover it by pretending it never did care.  It may be a movement
towards becoming like little children to admit that we are
generally nothing else.  But he was; he was a man, he was going
for his walk.

At the junction of roads, as at a junction of his mind, he
stopped and waited-to enjoy the night air.  His enjoyment
strained intently and viciously to hear the sounds of the night,
or such as were not of too remote and piercing a quality to reach
him.  The wind among the hills was fresh.  He heard at a distance
a train come in, and the whistle of its departure.  One or two
travellers went by; one, a woman, hurrying, said something to him
as she passed--good night or good morning; it sounded, in his
strained joy, like both.  He became aware that he was visible in
the moon; he moved back into shadow.  If he saw them coming he
could walk away or walk on without seeming to be in ambush.  He
was not in ambush; he was out for a walk.

An hour and more went by.  He walked back, and returned.  His
physical nature, which sometimes by its mere exhaustion postpones
our more complete damnation, did not save him.  He was not
overtired by his vigil, nor in that extreme weariness was the
vision of a hopeless honour renewed.  He paced and repaced,
cannibal of his heart.  Midnight passed; the great tower clock
struck one.  He heard the last train come in.  A little up the
road, concealed in the shadow, he waited.  He heard the light
patter of quick feet; he saw, again, a woman go hurrying by.  He
thought for a moment she was Adela, and then knew she was not.
Other feet came, slower and double.  The moon was bright; he
stood at the edge of his own skull's platform; desire to hate and
desire not to hate struggled in him.  In the moonlight, visible,
audible, arm in arm, talking and laughing, they came.  He saw
them pass; his eyes grew blind.  Presently he turned and went
home.  That night when at last he slept he dreamed, more clearly
than ever before, of his steady descent of the moon-bright rope.




                           Chapter Four

                        VISION OF DEATH

Pauline's parents had both died a few years before; she had been
put in Battle Hill to live with her grandmother for two reasons.
The first was that she had no money.  The second was that her
uncle refused "to leave his mother to strangers".  Since
Pauline's mother had never liked her husband's parents, the girl
had practically never seen the old lady.  But the blood
relationship, in her uncle's mind connoted intimacy, and he found
an occupation for an orphan and a companion for a widow at one
stroke of mercy.  Pauline was furious at the decisive kindness
which regulated her life, but she had not, at the time when it
interfered, found a job, and she had been so involved with the
getting to Battle Hill that she discovered herself left there, at
last, with her grandmother, a nurse, and a maid.  Even so, it was
the latent fear in her life that paralysed initiative; she could
respond but she could not act.  Since they had been on the Hill
and the visitations had grown more frequent, she felt that deep
paralysis increasing, and she kept her hold on social things
almost desperately tight.  Her alternative was to stop in
altogether, to bury herself in the house, and even so to endure,
day by day, the fear that her twin might resolve out of the air
somewhere in the hall or the corridor outside her own room.  She
hated to go out, but she hated still more to stop in, and her
intelligence told her that the alternative might save her nothing
in the end.  Rigid and high-headed she fled, with a subdued fury
of pace, from house to gathering, and back from gathering to house,
and waited for her grandmother to die.

Her grandmother, ignoring the possible needs of the young, went
on living, keeping her room in the morning, coming down to lunch,
and after a light early dinner retiring again to her room.  She
made no great demands on her granddaughter, towards whom indeed
she showed a delicate social courtesy; and Pauline in turn,
though in a harsher manner, maintained towards her a steady
deference and patience.  The girl was in fact so patient with the
old lady that she had not yet noticed that she was never given an
opportunity to be patient.  She endured her own nature and
supposed it to be the burden of another's.

On an afternoon in early June they were both in the garden at the
back of the house; the walls that shut it in made it a part of
the girl's security.  Pauline was learning her part, turning the
typescript on her knees, and shaping the words with silent lips.
The trouble about some of them was that they were so simple as to
be almost bathos.  Her fibres told her that they were not bathos
until she tried to say them, and then, it was no good denying,
they sounded flat.  She put the stress here and there; she tried
slowness and speed.  She invoked her conscious love to vocalize
her natural passion, and the lines made the effort ridiculous.
She grew hot as she heard herself say them, even though she did
not say them aloud.  Her unheard melody was less sweet than her
memory of Stanhope's heard, but she did not then think of him
reading, only of the lines he had read.  They were simple with
him; with her they were pretentious and therefore defiled.
She looked up at Mrs. Anstruther, who was sitting with her eyes
closed, and her hands in her lap.  Small, thin, wrinkled, she was
almost an ideal phenomenon of old age Some caller, a day or two
before, had murmured to Pauline on leaving: "She's very fragile,
isn't she?" Pauline, gazing, thought that fragile was precisely
not the word.  Quiet, gentle, but hardly passive and certainly
not fragile.  Even now, on that still afternoon, the shut eyes
left the face with a sense of preoccupation--translucent rock.
She was absent, not with the senility of a spirit wandering in
feeble memories, but with the attention of a worker engrossed.
Perhaps Stanhope looked so when he wrote verse.  Pauline felt
that she had never seen her grandmother before and did not quite
know what to make of her now.  A light sound came from the garden
beyond.  Mrs. Anstruther opened her eyes and met Pauline's.  She
smiled.  "My dear," she said, "I've been meaning to ask you
something for the last day or two." Pauline thought it might be
the hot afternoon that gave the voice that effect of distance; it
was clear, but small and from afar.  The words, the tone, were
affectionate with an impersonal love.  Pauline thought: "She
might be talking to Phoebe"--Phoebe being the maid--and at the
same time realized that Mrs. Anstruther did so talk to Phoebe,
and to everyone.  Her good will diffused itself in all
directions.  Her granddaughter lay in its way, with all things
besides, and it mingled with the warm sun in a general
benediction.

Pauline said: "Yes, grandmother?"

"If by any chance I should die during the next few weeks," Mrs.
Anstruther said, "you won't let it interfere with your taking
part in the play, will you? It would be so unnecessary."

Pauline began to speak, and hesitated.  She had been on the
point of beginning formally: "O, but", when she felt, under the
lucid gaze, compelled to intelligence.  She said slowly:
"Well, I suppose I should have. . . ."

"Quite unnecessary," Mrs. Anstruther went on, "and obviously
inconvenient, especially if it were in the last few days.  Or the
last.  I hoped you wouldn't think of it, but it was better to
make sure."

"It'll look very odd," said Pauline, and found herself smiling
back.  "And what will the rest of them think?"

"One of them will be disappointed, the rest will be shocked but
relieved," Mrs. Anstruther murmured.  "You've no proper
understudy?"

"None of us have," Pauline said.  "One of the others in the
Chorus would have to take my part ... if I were ill, I mean."

"Do any of them speak verse better than you?" Mrs. Anstruther
asked, with a mild truthfulness of inquiry.

Pauline considered the Chorus.  "No," she said at last,
sincerely.  "I don't think . . . I'm sure they don't.  Nor
Adela," she added with a slight animosity against the princess.
Her grandmother accepted the judgment.  "Then it would be better
for you to be there," she said.  "So you'll promise me? It will
very nearly be a relief."

"I'll promise certainly," Pauline said.  "But you don't feel
worse, do you, my dear? I thought you'd been stronger lately--since
the summer came in."

"'I have a journey, sir, shortly to go,'" Mrs. Anstruther
quoted.  "And a quieter starting-place than our ancestor."

"Our ancestor?" Pauline said, surprised.  "O, but I remember.  He
was martyred wasn't he?"

Mrs. Anstruther quoted again: "'Then the said Struther being
come to the stake, cried out very loudly: To him that hath shall
be given, and one of the friars that went with him struck at him
and said: Naughty heretic, and what of him that hath not? and he
shouted with a great laughter, pointing at the friar, and calling
out: He shall lose all that he hath, and again the Lord hath sent
away the rich with empty bellies.  Then they stripped him, and
when he was in his shirt he looked up and said: The ends of the
world be upon me; and so they set him at the stake and put the
fire to the wood, and as the fire got hold of him he gave a loud
cry--and said--I have seen the salvation of my God, and so many
times till he died.  Which was held for a testimony that the Lord
had done great things for him there in the midst of the fire, and
under the Lady Elizabeth the place was called Struther's
Salvation for many years.'"

Mrs. Anstruther stopped.  "perhaps the Lord did," she said,
"though I would not quite take Foxe's word for it."

Pauline shuddered.  "It was a terrible thing," she said. "How he
could shout for joy like that!"

"Salvation," Mrs. Anstruther said mildly, "is quite often a
terrible thing-a frightening good."

"A . . ." said Pauline, and paused.  "Mr. Stanhope said
something like that," she ended.

"Peter Stanhope is a great poet," her grandmother answered. "But
I don't think many of you can possibly understand his play.  You
may; I can't tell."

"Mrs. Parry understands it, all but the Chorus", Pauline said.
"And Adela and Myrtle Fox understand even that."

Mrs. Anstruther's look changed.  She had been contemplating the
fact of Stanhope's poetry with a gaze of awe; there entered into
that awe a delicate and extreme delight.  She said: "My dear, I
used to know Catherine Parry very well.  No one has destroyed
more plays by successful production.  I sometimes wonder--it's
wrong--whether she has done the same thing with her life.  It's
wrong; she is a good creature, and she has behaved very well in
all her unrehearsed effects.  But I feel she relies too much on
elocution and not enough on poetry."

Pauline meditated on this.  "I don't think I quite understand,"
she said.  "How the elocution?"

"You're a little inclined to it yourself, my dear," Mrs.
Anstruther answered.  "Your elocution is very just and very
effective, but a certain breath of the verse is lacking.  No one
could have been kinder to me than you have.  We've done very well
together--I as the patient and you as the keeper.  That's what I
mean by elocution."

She turned on her granddaughter eyes full of delight and
affection.  Pauline could only sit and stare.  Then slowly a
blush crept up her face, and she looked hastily away.

"Ah, don't be distressed," the old woman said.  "My dear, you've
been perfect.  You're in trouble over something, and yet you've
always been kind.  I wish I could have helped you."

"I'm not in any trouble," Pauline said with a slight harshness,
"except now.  Have I been stupid, grandmother?"

"That," Mrs. Anstruther said, "was perhaps a little less than
intelligent.  Why do you refuse to lean?"

"I don't," Pauline said bitterly, "but there's no--" She was on
the point of saying "no help in leaning"; she recovered herself,
and changed it to "no need to lean".

"O, my dear child," Mrs. Anstruther murmured gently, "that's
almost like the speech days at my school.  Ask Peter Stanhope to
tell you how to read verse."

Confused between metaphor, implication, and rebuke, and the voice
that disseminated sweetness through all, Pauline was about to
protest again when Phoebe came out into the garden.  She came up
to her mistress, and said: "Mrs. Lily Sammile has called, madam,
and wants to know if you are well enough to see her."

"Certainly," Mrs. Anstruther said.  "Ask Mrs. Sammile to come out
here." And as Phoebe disappeared: "Do you know her, Pauline?"

Pauline, standing up and folding her typescript with a precision
that was almost respect, said: "Hardly know.  She meets one
continually, and she's at things.  She calls.  I never met anyone
who'd called on her, now I come to think of it.  I don't even
know where she lives."

"There are all sorts of places to live on this hill," Mrs.
Anstruther said, and Pauline heard in the voice an undertone of
ambiguity.  For a moment her fear took her; she looked hastily
round.  There was no sign of her twin.  "All sorts of places to
live."

"Many habitations," she answered with forced lightness, and went
to meet the visitor who appeared from the house.

Mrs. Sammile was younger than Mrs. Anstruther, and much quicker
in movement.  She was much more restless.  Her feet pattered on
the path, her eyes glanced everywhere; she suggested by her whole
bearing that time was in a hurry, and there was very little time
for-something.  Perhaps the contrast of Mrs.
Anstruther's repose heightened this excitement.  She was shorter
than Pauline and her eyes looked up at the girl almost anxiously.
She said: "I've only just looked in.  But it was so long since
I'd seen you."

"We met yesterday, if you remember," Pauline answered, smiling.
"But it was good of you to come."

"I don't, I hope, intrude?" Mrs. Sammile went on, as she shook
hands with the old woman.  Mrs. Anstruther murmured something
vague, and Pauline said it more definitely: "Of course not, Mrs.
Sammile, we're delighted."

"Such glorious weather-but trying, isn't it?" the visitor
prattled nervously on, rather like a chicken fluttering round the
glass walls of a snake's cage.  "I always think any weather's
trying, heat or cold.  And it always seems to be one or other,
doesn't it?"

"So pleasant," said Mrs. Anstruther politely.  "Like sex, one
can't imagine anything not one or the other.  Or, of course, a
combination."

"If," Pauline added, valiant but aware of failure, "if we could
make our own weather. . . ."

Lily Sammile slewed round a little towards her.  "If we could!"
she said.  "I thought yesterday that you were looking a little
tired, my dear."

"Was I?" Pauline answered.  "Perhaps I was," and added
agonizingly, "It's the spring, I expect."

The other looked at her, turning still a little more away from
Mrs. Anstruther, and seeming to become a little quieter as she
did so.  She said: "I do think the world's rather trying, don't
you?"

"I do," Pauline said with a heartfelt throb of assent, more
earnestly than she knew.  "Very trying." It certainly hot.  She
felt that three in the garden were too many, and wondered if her
grandmother, in case she was feeling tired, ought to be offered
an opportunity of going indoors.  If June were so sultry, what
would July be? The time was still; no sound came.  A lifting
palpitation took her; she shuddered.  Her grave: who walked on, or
was it from, her grave?  The thing she had so often seen? into which
--she knew now she feared to be drawn, to be lost or not to be
lost, to be always herself as the enfeebled element in something
else.  Never yet within walls, but the heat crept round her, a
preliminary invasion; the heat came over or through walls, and after
the heat its centre.

The violent sensation receded.  She came to herself to find
herself staring rudely at Mrs. Sammile's face.  It was a face
that had been beautiful, rounded and precious with delight,
sustained just sufficiently by its bones to avoid, as for
instance Adela Hunt's hardly avoided, the reproach of plumpness;
and was still full in places, by the ears and round the jaw; only
the cheeks were a little macabre in their withdrawal, and the
eyes in their hint of hollows about them.  Pauline, stirred by
the sad recollection of her other self, thought that Mrs. Sammile
looked more like death than her grandmother, more like a living
death, than which, on this hill where her own ancestor and so
many others had died, what could be more likely?

Mrs. Sammile was saying softly: "Perhaps she's asleep; I don't
want to wake her. You look so tired. If I could be any use."

Pauline thought, as she looked back, that she had been unjust to
Mrs. Sammile's eyes. They were not restless, as she had thought.
They were soothing; they appealed and comforted at once. She
said: "I've had bad dreams."

Mrs. Sammile said: "I've had them too, sometimes," and Pauline
almost felt that even her dream, to call it that, was less
trouble than those other undescribed nightmares. But before she
could speak the visitor went on: "But there are cures, you know."

She had spoken, perhaps, a little more loudly, for Mrs.
Anstruther's voice answered equably: "There is, of course, sleep.
Or waking.  Is there anything else?"

Mrs. Sammile looked round and her answer held the suggestion of
hostility.  She said, defensively: "Pleasanter dreams.  On a hill
like this, one ought to have a choice.  There are so many."

Pauline said: "Can you change dreams, Mrs. Sammile?"

"O, everyone can," the other answered.  She leant toward Pauline
and went on: "There are all sorts of ways of changing dreams."
She put a hand on the girl's.  "All tales of the brain.  Why not
tell yourself a comforting tale?"

"Because I could never make up a satisfying end," Pauline said,
"and the tale wouldn't stop--no tale that I could think of. There
was always something more that had to happen, and I could never
feel--not in my best tale--that I was certainly telling it."

"You must let me tell you tales instead," Lily Sammile answered.
"Come and see me."

"I'd like to, but I don't think I know where you live Mrs.
Sammile," Pauline said, and paused on the implied question.

Mrs. Sammile said: "O, we shall meet.  And if we can't find a
tale we'll do as well.  Cross my hand with silver, and I'll not
only tell you a good fortune, I'll make you one.  Like the
Bible--wine and milk without money, or for so little it hardly
counts."

Pauline looked at Mrs. Anstruther.  "Mrs. Sammile is offering us
all we want without any trouble," she said.  "Shall we take it
and be grateful?"

"Exquisite rhetoric," her grandmother allusively answered but
faintly, and Pauline went on to the visitor: "And would one
always enjoy oneself then?"

"Why not?" Mrs. Sammile said.  "Everything lovely in you for a
perpetual companion, so that you'd never be frightened or
disappointed or ashamed any more.  There are tales that can give
you yourself completely and the world could never treat you so
badly then that you wouldn't neglect it.  One can get
everything by listening or looking in the right way: there are
all sorts of turns."

Phoebe reappeared by Mrs. Anstruther's chair.  "Miss Fox and Mr.
Stanhope, madam," she said, and retired with a message.

Pauline said, as she stood up, "It'd be too wonderful," and
then, "Aren't you rather tired, grandmother? Wouldn't you rather
go upstairs and let me see them indoors?"

"My dear," Mrs. Anstruther said, "as long as Peter Stanhope comes
to see me, I shall receive him.  At least, until Mrs. Sammile
gives us the effect of Shakespeare without Shakespeare.  Give me
your arm."  She stood up, and leaning on the girl took a step or
two forward, as Myrtle Fox, followed by Stanhope, came into the
garden, and hurried across to her.

"Dear Mrs. Anstruther, how nice to see you again," Myrtle said.
"It seems such a long time, but you know how rushed one is! But I
felt I must come to-day.  Do you know Mr. Stanhope? We met in the
street and came along together."

Mrs. Anstruther allowed herself to be embraced and kissed without
any further welcome than a smile; then she held out her hand.

"This is a great honour, Mr. Stanhope," she said.  "I'm very glad
to welcome you here."

He bowed over her hand.  "It's very kind of you, Mrs.
Anstruther."

"I've owed you a great deal for a long while now," she said, "and
I can do no more than acknowledge it.  But I'm grateful that I
can do that.  Do you know Mrs. Sammile?"

Stanhope bowed again; Myrtle let out a new gush of greeting and
they all sat down.

"I really came", Stanhope said after a little interchange, "to
ask Miss Anstruther if she had any preference in names."

"Me?" said Pauline.  "What sort of names?"

"As the leader of the Chorus," Stanhope explained. "I promised
Mrs. Parry I'd try and individualize so far--for the sake of the
audience--as to give her a name.  Myself, I don't think it'll
much help the audience, but as I promised, I wondered about
something French, as it's to be eighteenth century, La Lointaine
or something like that.  But Mrs. Parry was afraid that'd make it
more difficult.  No one would understand (she thought) why
leaves--if they are leaves--should be lointaine. . . ."

He was interrupted by Myrtle, who, leaning eagerly forward, said:
"O, Mr. Stanhope, that reminds me.  I was thinking about it
myself the other day, and I thought how beautiful and friendly it
would be to give all the Chorus tree-names.  It would look so
attractive on the programmes, Elm, Ash, Oak--the three sweet
trees--Hawthorn, Weeping Willow, Beech, Birch, Chestnut.  D'you
see? That would make it all quite clear.  And then Pauline could
be the Oak.  I mean, the Oak would have to be the leader of the
English trees, wouldn't he or she?"

"Do let Mr. Stanhope tell us, Myrtle," Mrs. Anstruther said; and
"You'd turn them into a cosy corner of trees, Myrtle," Pauline
interjected.

"But that's what we want," Myrtle pursued her dream, "we want to
realize that Nature can be consoling, like life.  And Art--even
Mr. Stanhope's play.  I think all art is so consoling, don't you,
Mrs. Sammile?"

Mrs. Anstruther had opened her mouth to interrupt Myrtle, but now
she shut it again, and waited for her guest to reply, who said in
a moment, with a slight touch of tartness, "I'm sure Mr. Stanhope
won't agree.  He'll tell you nightmares are significant."

"O, but we agreed that wasn't the right word," Myrtle exclaimed.
"Or was it! Pauline, was it significant or symbolical that we
agreed everything was?"

"I want to know my name," Pauline said, and Stanhope, smiling,
answered, "I was thinking of something like Periel.  Quite
insignificant."

"It sounds rather odd," said Myrtle.  "What about the others?"

"The others," Stanhope answered firmly, "will not be
named."

"O!" Myrtle looked disappointed.  "I thought we might have had a
song or speech or something with all the names in it. It would
sound beautiful.  And Art ought to be beautiful, don't you think?
Beautiful words in beautiful voices.  I do think elocution is so
important."

Pauline said, "Grandmother doesn't care for elocution."

"O, Mrs. Anstru--" Myrtle was beginning, when Mrs.
Anstruther cut her short.

"What does one need to say poetry, Mr. Stanhope?" she asked.

Stanhope laughed.  "What but the four virtues, clarity, speed,
humility, courage? Don't you agree?"

The old lady looked at Mrs. Sammile.  "Do you?" she asked.

Lily Sammile shrugged.  "O, if you're turning poems into
labours," she said.  "But we don't all want to speak poetry, and
enjoyment's a simple thing for the rest of us."

"We do all want to speak it," Stanhope protested.  "Or else verse
and plays and all art are more of dreams than they need be. They
must always be a little so, perhaps."

Mrs. Sammile shrugged again.  "You make such a business of
enjoying yourself," she said with almost a sneer.  "Now if I've a
nightmare I change it as soon as I can." She looked at Pauline.

"I've never had nightmares since I willed them away," Myrtle Fox
broke in.  "I say every night: 'Sleep is good, and sleep is here.
Sleep is good.' And I never dream.  I say the same thing every
morning, only I say Life then instead of Sleep.  'Life is good
and Life is here.  Life is good."'

Stanhope flashed a glance at Pauline.  "Terribly good, perhaps,"
he suggested.

"Terribly good, certainly," Myrtle assented happily.

Mrs. Sammile stood up.  "I must go," she said.  "But I don't see
why you don't enjoy yourselves."

"Because, sooner or later, there isn't anything to enjoy in
oneself," Stanhope murmured, as she departed.

Pauline took her to the gate, and said good-bye.

"Do let's meet," Mrs. Sammile said.  "I'm always about, and I
think I could be useful.  You've got to get back now, but
sometime you needn't get back......"  She trotted off, and as she
went the hard patter of her heels was the only sound that
broke, to Pauline's ears, the heavy silence of the Hill.

The girl lingered a little before returning.  A sense of what
Miss Fox called "significance" hung in her mind; she felt,
indeterminately, that something had happened, or, perhaps, was
beginning to happen.  The afternoon had been one of a hundred-the
garden, a little talk, visitors, tea--yet all that usualness had
been tinged with difference.  She wondered if it were merely the
play, and her concern with it, that had heightened her senses
into what was, no doubt, illusion.  Her hands lay on the top bar
of the gate, and idly she moved her fingers, separating and
closing them one by one for each recollected point.  Her promise
to her grandmother--death was not to interrupt verse; the memory
of her ancestor--death swallowed up in victory--Struther's
Salvation, Anstruther's salvation; elocution, rhetoric, poetry,
Peter Stanhope, Lily Sammile, the slight jar of their
half-philosophical dispute; her own silly phrase--"to make your
own weather"; tales of the brain, tales to be told, tales that
gave you yourself in quiet, tales or the speaking of verse, tales
or rhetoric or poetry; "clarity, speed, courage, humility".  Or
did they only prevent desirable enjoyment, as Lily Sammile had
hinted? One would have to be terribly good to achieve them.  And
terribly careful about the tales.  She looked down the street,
and for an instant felt that if she saw It coming--clarity, speed,
courage, humility--she might wait.  She belonged to the Chorus of a
great experiment; a thing not herself.

The Magus Zoroaster, my dead child,
Met his own image walking in the garden.

If those four great virtues were needed, as Peter Stanhope had
proposed, even to say the verse, might Shelley have possessed
them before he discovered the verse? If she were wrong in hating
them? if they had been offered her as a classification, a
hastening, a strengthening? if she had to discover them as
Shelley had done, and beyond them....

She must go back.  She pulled herself from the gate.  Mrs.
Sammile had just reached the corner.  She looked back; she waved.
The gesture beckoned.  Pauline waved back, reluctantly.  Before
she told herself tales, it was needful to know what there was in
verse.  She must hear more.

She was not offered more.  The visitors were on the point of
departure, and Mrs. Anstruther was certainly tired.  She roused
herself to beg Stanhope to come again, if he would, but no more
passed, except indeed that as Pauline herself said goodbye,
Stanhope delayed a moment behind Miss Fox to add: "The
substantive, of course, governs the adjective; not the other way
round."

"The substantive?" Pauline asked blankly.

"Good.  It contains terror, not terror good.  I'm keeping you.
Good-bye, Periel," and he was gone.

Later in the day, lying unsleeping but contented in her bed, Mrs.
Anstruther also reviewed the afternoon.  She was glad to have
seen Peter Stanhope; she was not particularly glad to have seen
Lily Sammile, but she freely acknowledged, in the words of a too
often despised poet, that since God suffered her to be she too
was God's minister, and laboured for some good by Margaret
Anstruther not understood.  She did not under-, stand clearly
what Mrs. Sammile conceived herself to be offering. it sounded so
much like Myrtle Fox: "tell yourself tales".

She looked out of the window.  There would be few more evenings
during which she could watch the departure of day, and the
promise of rarity gave a greater happiness to the experience.  So
did the knowledge of familiarity.  Rarity was one form of delight
and frequency another.  A thing could even be beautiful because
it did not happen, or rather the not-! happening could be
beautiful.  So long always as joy was not rashly pinned to the
happening; so long as you accepted what joys the universe offered
and did not seek to compel the universe to offer you joys of your
own definition.  She would die soon; she expected, with hope and
happiness, the discovery of the joy of death.

It was partly because Stanhope's later plays had in them
something of this purification and simplicity that she loved
them.  She knew that, since they were poetry, they must mean more
than her individual being knew, but at least they meant that.  He
discovered it in his style, in words and the manner of the, words
he used.  Whether his personal life could move to the sound of
his own lucid exaltation of verse she did not know.  It was not
her business; perhaps even it was not primarily his.  His affair
had been the powerful exploration of power after his own manner;
all minds that recognized power saluted him.  Power was in that
strange chorus over which the experts of Battle Hill culture
disputed, and it lay beyond them.  There was little human
approach in it, though it possessed human experience; like the
Dirge in Cymbeline or the songs of Ariel in the Tempest it
possessed only the pure perfection of fact, rising in rhythms of
sound that seemed inhuman because they were free from desire or
fear or distress.  She herself did not yet dare to repeat the
Chorus; it was beyond her courage.  Those who had less knowledge
or more courage might do so.  She dared only to recollect it; to
say it would need more courage than was required for death.  When
she was dead, she might be able to say Stanhope's poetry
properly.  Even if there were no other joy, that would be a
reason for dying well.

Here, more than in most places, it should be easy.  Here there
had, through the centuries, been a compression and
culmination of death as if the currents of mortality had been
drawn hither from long distances to some whirlpool of invisible
depth.  The distances might be very long indeed; from all places
of predestined sepulchre, scattered through the earth.  In those
places the movement of human life had closed-of human life or
human death, of the death in life which was an element in life,
and of those places the Hill on which she lived was one.  An
energy reposed in it, strong to affect all its people; an energy
of separation and an energy of knowledge.  If, as she believed,
the spirit of a man at death saw truly what he was and had been,
so that whether he desired it or not a lucid power of
intelligence manifested all himself to him--then that energy of
knowledge was especially urgent upon men and women here, though
through all the world it must press upon the world.  She felt, as
if by a communication of a woe not hers, how the neighbourhood of
the dead troubled the living; how the living were narrowed by the
return of the dead.  Therefore in savage regions the houses of
sepulchre were forbidden, were taboo, for the wisdom of the
barbarians set division between the dead and the living, and the
living were preserved.  The wisdom of other religions in
civilized lands had set sacramental ceremonies about the dying,
and dispatched the dead to their doom with prayers and rites
which were not meant for the benefit of the dead alone.  Rather,
they secured the living against ghostly oppression; they made
easy the way of the ghosts into their own world and hurried them
upon their way.  They were sped on with unction and requiem, with
intercessions and masses; and the sword of exorcism waved at the
portal of their exodus against the return of any whom those
salutations of departure did not ease.  But where superstition
and religion failed, where cemeteries were no longer forbidden
and no longer feared; where the convenient processes of cremation
encouraged a pretence of swift passage, where easy sentimentality
set up a pretence of friendship between the living and the dead--might
not that new propinquity turn to a fearful friendship in
the end? It was commonly accepted that the dead were anxious to
help the living, but what if the dead were only anxious for the
living to help them? or what if the infection of their experience
communicated itself across the too shallow grave? Men were
beginning to know, they were being compelled to know; at last the
living world was shaken by the millions of spirits who endured
that further permanent revelation.  Hysteria of self-knowledge,
monotony of self-analysis, introspection spreading like disease,
what was all this but the infection communicated over the
unpurified borders of death? The spirits of the living world were
never meant to be so neighbourly with the spirits of that other.
"Grant to them eternal rest, O Lord.  And let light eternal shine
upon them." Let them rest in their own places of light; far, far
from us be their discipline and their endeavour.  The phrases of
the prayers of intercession throb with something other than
charity for the departed; there is a fear for the living.  Grant
them, grant them rest; compel them to their rest.  Enlighten
them, perpetually enlighten them.  And let us still enjoy our
refuge from their intolerable knowledge.

As if in a last communion with the natural terrors of man,
Margaret Anstruther endured a recurrent shock of fear.  She
recalled herself.  To tolerate such knowledge with a joyous
welcome was meant, as the holy Doctors had taught her, to be the
best privilege of man, and so remained.  The best maxim towards
that knowledge was yet not the Know thyself of the Greek so much
as the Know Love of the Christian, though both in the end were
one.  It was not possible for man to know himself and the world,
except first after some mode of knowledge, some art of discovery.
The most perfect, since the most intimate and intelligent, art
was pure love.  The approach by love was the approach to fact; to
love anything but fact was not love.  Love was even more
mathematical than poetry; it was the pure mathematics of the
spirit.  It was applied also and active; it was the means as it
was the end.  The end lived everlastingly in the means; the means
eternally in the end.

The girl and the old woman who lay, both awake, in that house
under the midnight sky, were at different stages of that way.  To
the young mind of Pauline, by some twist of grace in the
operation of space and time, the Greek maxim had taken on a
horrible actuality; the older vision saw, while yet living,
almost into a world beyond the places of the dead. Pauline knew
nothing yet of the value of those night vigils, nor of the
fulfilment of the desire of truth.  But Margaret had, through a
long life, practised the distinction, not only between experience
and experience, but in each experience itself between dream and
fact.  It is not enough to say that some experiences are drugs to
the spirit; every experience, except the final, has a quality
which has to be cast out by its other quality of perfection,
expelled by healthy digestion into the sewers where the divine
scavengers labour.  By a natural law Margaret's spirit exercised
freely its supernatural functions and with increasing clearness
looked out on to the growing company of the Hill.

Lights in the houses opposite had long since been put out. The
whole rise of ground, lying like a headland, or indeed as itself
like some huge grave in which so many others had been dug, was
silent in the darkness, but for one sound; the sound of
footsteps.  Margaret knew it very well; she had heard it on many
nights.  Sometimes in the day as well, when the peace was deepest
within her and without, she could hear that faint
monotonous patter of feet reverberating from its surface.  Its
distance was not merely in space, though it seemed that also, but
in some other dimension.  Who it was that so walked for ever over
the Hill she did not know, though in her heart she did not
believe it to be good.  The harsh phrase would have been alien to
her.  She heard those feet not as sinister or dangerous, but
only--patter, patter--as the haste of a search for or a flight
from repose-perhaps both.  Ingress and regress, desire and
repulsion, contended there.  The contention was the only
equilibrium of that haunter of the Hill, and was pain.  Patter,
patter.  It sounded at a distance, like the hurrying feet of the
woman on her own garden path that afternoon.  She had heard, in
old tales of magic, of the guardian of the threshold.  She
wondered if the real secret of the terrible guardian were that he
was simply lost on the threshold.  His enmity to man and heaven
was only his yearning to enter one without loss.  It did not
matter, nor was it her affair.  Her way did not cross that
other's; only it was true she never sank into those circles of
other sensation and vision but what, far off, she heard--patter,
patter--the noise of the endless passage.

There moved within her the infinite business of the Hill into
which so much death had poured.  First there came the creation of
new images instead of those of every day.  Her active mind still
insisted on them; she allowed its due.  The Hill presented itself
before her with all its buildings and populace; she saw them,
small and vivid, hurrying.  She would even sometimes recognize
one or other, for the briefest second.  She had seen, in that
re-creation by night of the Hill by day, Pauline going into a
shop and Peter Stanhope talking in the street, and others.  She
remembered now, idly, that she had never seen the woman who had
called on her that day, though she had seen Myrtle Fox running,
running hard, down a long street.  Distinct though the vision was
it was but momentary. It was the equivalent of her worldly
affairs, and it lasted little longer; in a second it had gone.

It had enlarged rather.  It reduplicated itself on each side, and
its inhabitants faded from it as it did so, seeming themselves to
pass into other hills.  Presently there was no living form or
building on that original Hill, and it was no longer possible to
tell which had been the original, for a great range swept right
across the sky, and all those heights were only the upper slopes
of mountains, whose lower sides fell away beneath her vision.
The earth itself seemed to lie in each of those mountains, and on
each there was at first a populous region towards the summit, but
the summit itself rose individual and solitary.  Mountains or
modes of consciousness, peaks or perceptions, they stood; on the
slopes of each the world was carried; and the final height of
each was a separate consummation of the whole.  It was, as the
apprehended movement upon each of them died away, in the time
before the dawn that they rose there, nor had the sun risen,
though they were not in darkness.  Either a light emanated from
themselves or some greater sun drew towards them from its own
depth.

Then-it was not to say that they faded, but rather that she lost
them, becoming herself one of them and ignorant of the rest.  It
was very silent; only small sounds came up to her as if someone
was climbing below.  The noises were so faint that in the air of
earth they would have been lost.  Had she been woman she would
not have known them; now that she was not woman alone but
mountain, the mountain knew that it was not from its own nature
alone that the tiny disturbances came.  There was movement
within it certainly; rush of streams, fall of rocks, roar of
winds through its chasms, but these things were not sound to it
as was that alien human step.  Through all another single note
sounded once; a bell.  Minutely she knew that the public clock of the
Hill had struck one.  It was a remote translation of a thing, for the
dawn began.

It came from above, and as the light grew the mountain that was
she became aware again of its fellows, spread out around no longer
in a long range but in a great mass.  They stretched away on all sides.
At the increase of the sun there grew also an increase of fugitive
sound; and she became aware of a few wandering shapes on the heights
about her.  Some climbed on; others, instead of welcoming the light
as lost mountaineers should do, turned to escape it.  They hurried
into such caves or crevasses as they could find.  Here and there, on
a great open space, one lay fallen, twisting and dragging himself
along.  They seemed all, even those who climbed, grotesque
obtrusions into that place of rock and ice and thin air and growing
sun, a world different from theirs, hers and not hers.  A divided
consciousness lived in her, more intensely than ever before.

In the time of her novitiate it had seemed to her sometimes that,
though her brains and emotions acted this way or that, yet all
that activity went on along the sides of a slowly increasing mass
of existence made from herself and all others with whom she had
to do, and that strong and separate happiness-for she felt it as
happiness, though she herself might be sad; her sadness did but
move on it as the mountaineer on the side of a mountain-that
happiness was the life which she was utterly to become.  Now she
knew that only the smallest fragility of her being clung
somewhere to the great height that was she and others and all the
world under her separate kind, as she herself was part of all the
other peaks; and though the last fragility was still a little
terrified of the dawn which was breaking everywhere, she knew
that when the dawn reached the corner where she lay it would,
after one last throb of piercing change under its power, light
but the mountain side, and all her other mighty knowledge would
after its own manner rejoice in it.  She had not much strength in
these days-that she which was Margaret Anstruther and lay in her
bed on Battle Hill-but such as she had it was her business to
use.  She set herself to crawl out of that darkened corner
towards the light.  She turned from all the corner held--her
home, her memories, Stanhope's plays, Pauline; with effort she
began her last journey.  It might take hours, or days, or even
years, but it was certain; as she moved, crawling slowly over the
rock, she saw the light sweeping on to meet her. The moment of
death was accepted and accomplished in her first outward
movement; there remained only to die.

On her way and in her bed, she dozed a little, and in that light
sleep--dream within dream or vision within vision--she seemed to
be walking again in the streets of Battle Hill, as if, having
renounced it, it was restored to her.  It was still night there;
the lamps were lit in the streets; the rustle of the many trees
was substituted for the silence of the mountains.  But the great
mountains were there, and the light of them, and their
inhabitants; though the inhabitants did not know the soil on
which they lived.  In a foretaste of the acute senses of death
she walked among them, but they did not see her.  Outside her own
house she saw Pauline come out and look bitterly this way and the
other, and start to walk down the road, and presently as if from
the mountain side another Pauline had grown visible and came to
meet the first, her head high and bright as the summit, her eyes
bright with the supernatural dawn, her movements as free and yet
disposed as the winds that swept the chasms.  She came on, her
feet which at first made no noise, beginning to sound on the
pavement as she took on more and more of mortal appearance, and
the first Pauline saw her and turned and fled, and the second
pursued her, and far away, down the dark streets and round the
dark mountain, they vanished from sight.  And then again, and now
she was not by her own house but in another street towards the
top of the Hill, she saw a man walking hurriedly on, a man
strange to her, but after him followed a crowd of others, young
men and children, and all of them with his face.  They pursued
him, as the vision of Pauline had pursued the vision of Pauline,
but this time with angry or plaintive cries, and he hurried on
seeking something, for his restless eyes turned every way and
sometimes he peered at the gutter and sometimes he looked up at
the dark window, till presently he turned in at one of the gates,
and about the gate his company seemed to linger and watch and
whisper.  Presently she saw him at a window, looking down; and
there were at that window two forms who did not seem to see each
other, but the second she knew, for he had been at her house once
not so long ago, and it was Lawrence Wentworth.  He too was
looking down, and after a little he was coming out of the gate,
and after him also came a figure, but this time a woman, a young
woman, who pursued him in his turn, and for whom also he lay in
wait.

But the other man too had now come out into the street, only it
was no more the street of a town but a ruined stretch of
scaffolding or bone or rock, all heights and edges and bare
skeleton shapes. . He was walking there on the mountain though he
did not know it, any more than he noticed the light.  He walked
and looked up and round, and her eyes met his, and he made a
sudden movement of wonder and, she thought, of joy.  But as they
looked, the dream, which was becoming more and more a dream,
shifted again, and she heard quick and loud the patter-patter
of those footsteps with which, as if they marked a region
through or round which she passed such experiences always
began and ended.  She was on the Hill, and all the houses were
about her, and they stood all on graves and bones, and swayed
upon their foundations.  A great stench went up from them, and a
cry, and the feet came quicker, and down the street ran Lily
Sammile, waving and calling, and checked and stood.  She looked
at a gate; Pauline was standing there.  The two neared each
other, the gate still between them, and began to talk.  "No more
hurt, no more pain, no more bad dreams," a voice said.  Margaret
Anstruther put out a hand; it touched a projection in the rock on
which she was lying in her journey towards corporeal death.  She
clung to it, and pulled herself forward towards Pauline.  The
nurse in the room heard her and turned.  Mrs. Anstruther said: "I
should like to see Pauline; will you ask her-" and at that she woke,
and it was striking one.




                           Chapter Five

                          RETURN TO EDEN

Margaret Anstruther had seen, in her vision, a single house, with
two forms leaning from the same window.  Time there had
disappeared, and the dead man had been contemporaneous with the
living.  As if simultaneity approached the Hill, the experiences
of its inhabitants had there become co-eval; propinquity no
longer depended upon sequence.

The chance that brought Lawrence Wentworth into such close
spiritual contact with the dead was the mere manner of his ill
luck.  His was not worse than any other's, though the hastening of
time to its end made it more strange.  It grew in him, like all
judgment, through his negligence.  A thing of which he had
consistently refused to be aware, if action is the test of
awareness, drew close to him: that is, the nature of the Republic.
The outcast of the Republic had climbed a forlorn ladder to his
own death.  His death entered into the Republic, and into the
lives of its other members.  Wentworth had never acknowledged the
unity.  He had never acknowledged the victims of oppression nor
the presence of victimization.  It may be that such victimization
is inevitable, and that the Republic after its kind must be as
false to its own good as the lives of most of its children are to
theirs.  But Wentworth had neither admitted nor rejected this
necessity, nor even questioned and been hurt by it; he had merely
ignored it.  He had refused the agony of the res publica, and of
temporal justice.  Another justice sharpened the senses of his res
private.  He was doubly open to its approach-in his scholarship,
where the ignoring of others began to limit, colour, and falsify
his work, and in his awareness of supernatural neighbours, if any
should be near.  One was.

The dead man had stood in what was now Wentworth's bedroom, and
listened in fear lest he should hear the footsteps of his kind.
That past existed still in its own place, since all the past is in
the web of life nothing else than a part, of which we are not
sensationally conscious.  It was drawing closer now to
the present; it approached the senses of the present.  But between
them still there went-patter, patter-the hurrying footsteps which
Margaret Anstruther had heard in the first circle of the Hill.
The dead man had hardly heard them; his passion had carried him
through that circle into death.  But on the hither side were the
footsteps, and the echo and memory of the footsteps, of this
world.  It was these for which Wentworth listened.  He had come
back into his own room after he had heard those steady and mocking
footsteps of Hugh and Adela, and the voices and subdued laughter
accompanying them.  He had himself wandered up and down, and come
to a rest at last at the finished window where, with no wall
before him, the dead man had peered.  He also peered.  He
listened, and his fancy created for him the unheard melody of the
footsteps.  His body renewed and absorbed the fatal knowledge of
his desire.  He listened, in the false faith of desire.  It could
not be that he would not hear, out of those double footsteps, one
true pair separating themselves, coming up the street, approaching
the gate; that he would not see a true form coming up the drive,
approaching the door.  It must happen; his body told him it must
happen.  He must have what he wanted, because ... but still those
feet did not come.  The dead man stood by him, arm to arm, foot by
foot, and listened, the rope in his hand, and that night neither
of them heard anything at all.

The evening and the morning were the first day, of a few hours, or
a few months, or both at once.  Others followed.  The business of
the Hill progressed; the play went forward.  Pauline fled, and
Margaret died, or lived in process of death.  Hugh went up and
down to the City.  Adela went about the Hill.  Wentworth, now
possessed by his consciousness of her, and demanding her presence
and consent as its only fulfillment went about his own affairs.
"Blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in Me"; the maxim
applies to many stones of stumbling, and especially to all those
of which the nature is the demand for a presence instead of the
assent to an absence; the imposition of the self upon complacency.
Wentworth made his spiritual voice hoarse in issuing orders to
complacency, and stubbed his toes more angrily every day against
the unmovable stone.

Once or twice he met Adela-once at Mrs. Parry's, where they had no
chance to speak.  They smiled at each other-an odd smile; the
faintest hint of greed, springing from the invisible nature of
greed, was in it on both sides.  Their greeds smiled.  Again he
ran into her one evening at the post office with Hugh, and Hugh's
smile charged theirs with hostility.  It ordered and subdued
Adela's; it blocked and repulsed Wentworth's.  It forced on him
the fact that he was not only unsuccessful, but old; he contended
against both youth and a rival.  He said: "How's the play going?"

"We're all learning our parts," Adela said.  "There doesn't seem
to be time for anything but the play. Shall we ever get another
evening with you, Mr. Wentworth?"

He said: "I was sorry you could neither of you come." That, he
thought, would show that he hadn't been taken in.

"Yes," said Hugh; the word hung ambiguously.  Wentworth,
angered by it, went on rashly: "Did you have a pleasant time?"

He might have meant the question for either or both.  Adela said:
"O well, you know; it was rather a rush.  Choosing colours and all
that."

"But fortunately we ran into each other later," Hugh added, "and
we almost ran at each other--didn't we,
Adela? so we fed in a hurry and dashed to a theatre.  It might
have been much worse."

Wentworth heard the steps in his brain.  He saw Hugh take
Adela's arm; he saw her look up at him; he saw an exchanged
memory.  The steps went on through him; double steps.  He
wanted to get away to give himself up to them: life and death,
satisfaction of hate and satisfaction of lust, contending, and the
single approach of the contention's result--patter, patter, steps
on the Hill.  He knew they were laughing at him.  He made normal
noises, and abnormally fled.  He went home.

In his study he automatically turned over his papers, aware but
incapable of the organic life of the mind they represented.  He
found himself staring at his drawings of costumes for the play,
and had an impulse to tear them, to refuse to have anything
to do with the grotesque mummery, himself to reject the picture of
the rejection of himself.  But he did not trust his own capacity
to manage a more remote force than Adela--Mrs. Parry.  Mrs. Parry
meant nothing to him; she could never become to him the nervous
irritation, he obsession, which both Aston Moffatt and Adela now
were.  His intelligence warned him that she was, nevertheless,
one of the natural forces which, like time and space, he could not
overcome.  She wanted the designs, and she would have them.  He
could refuse, but not reject, Adela; he could reject, but he
certainly could not refuse, Mrs. Parry.  Irritated at his
knowledge of his own false strength, he flung down the rescued
designs.  Under them were his first drafts; he tore them instead.

The evening wore into night.  He could not bring himself to go to
bed.  He walked about the room; he worked a little and walked, and
walked a little and worked.  He thought of going to bed, but then
he thought also of his dream, and the smooth strange rope.  He had
never so much revolted against it as now; he had never, waking,
been so strongly aware of it as now.  It might have been
coiled in some corner of the room, were it not that he knew he was
on it, in the dream.  Physically and emotionally weary, he still
walked, and a somnambulism of scratched images closed on him.  His
body twitched jerkily; the back of his eyes ached as if he stared
interiorly from the rope into a backward abysm.  He stood
irritably still.

His eyes stared interiorly; exteriorly they glanced down and saw
the morning paper, which, by an accident, he had not opened.  His
hands took it up, and turned the pages.  In the middle he saw a
headline: "Birthday Honours", and a smaller headline: "Knighthood
for Historian".  His heart deserted him: his puppet-eyes stared.
They found the item by the name in black type for their
convenience: "Aston Moffatt".

There was presented to him at once and clearly an opportunity for
joy--casual, accidental joy, but joy.  If he could not manage joy,
at least he might have managed the intention of joy, or (if that
also were too much) an effort towards the intention of joy.  The
infinity of-grace could have been contented and invoked by a mere
mental refusal of anything but such an effort.  He knew his duty--he
was no fool--he knew that the fantastic recognition would please
and amuse the innocent soul of Sir Aston, not so much for himself
as in some unselfish way for the honour of history.  Such honours
meant nothing, but they were part of the absurd dance of the
world, and to be enjoyed as such.  Wentworth knew he could share
that pleasure.  He could enjoy; at least he could refuse not to
enjoy.  He could refuse and reject damnation.

With a perfectly clear, if instantaneous, knowledge of what he
did, he rejected joy instead.  He instantaneously preferred anger,
and at once it came; he invoked envy, and it obliged him.  He
crushed the paper in a rage, then he tore it open, and looked
again and again-there it still was.  He knew that his rival had
not only succeeded, but succeeded at his own expense; what chance
was there of another historical knighthood for years? Till that
moment he had never thought of such a thing.  The possibility had
been created and withdrawn simultaneously, leaving the present
fact to mock him.  The other possibility--of joy in that present
fact--receded as fast.  He had determined, then and for ever, for
ever, for ever, that he would hate the fact, and therefore facts.

He walked, unknowing, to the window, and stared out.  He loomed
behind the glass, a heavy bulk of monstrous greed.  His hate so
swelled that he felt it choking his throat, and by a swift act
transferred it; he felt his rival choking and staggering, he hoped
and willed it.  He stared passionately into death, and saw before
him a body twisting at the end of a rope.  Sir Aston Moffatt . . .
Sir Aston Moffatt. . . . He stared at the faint ghost of the dead
man's death, in that half-haunted house, and did not see it.  The
dead man walked on his own Hill, but that Hill was not to be
Wentworth's.  Wentworth preferred another death; he was offered
it.

As he stood there, imagining death, close to the world of the
first death, refusing all joy of facts, and having for long
refused all unselfish agony of facts, he heard at last the
footsteps for which he had listened.  It was the one thing which
could abolish his anger; it did.  He forgot, in his excitement,
all about Aston Moffatt; he lost sight, exteriorly and
interiorly, of the dangling figure.  He stood breathless,
listening.  Patter, patter; they were coming up the road.
Patter-patter; they stopped at the gate.  He heard the faint
clang.  The footsteps, softer now, came in.  He stared intently
down the drive.  A little way up it stood a woman's figure.  The
thing he had known must happen had happened.  She had come.

He pushed the window up--careful, even so, not to seem to go fast,
not to seem to want her.  He leaned out and spoke softly.  He
said: "Is that you?" The answer startled him, for it was Adela's
voice and yet something more than Adela's, fuller, richer, more
satisfying.  It said "I'm here." He could only just hear the
words, but that was right, for it was after midnight, and she was
beckoning with her hand.  The single pair of feet drawn from the
double, the hand waving to him.  He motioned to her to come, but
she did not stir, and at last, driven by his necessity, he climbed
through the window; it was easy enough, even for him-and went down
to meet her.  As he came nearer he was puzzled again, as he had
been by the voice.  It was Adela, yet it was not.  It was her
height, and had her movement.  The likeness appeased him, yet he
did not understand the faint unlikeness.  For a moment he thought
it was someone else, a woman of the Hill, someone he had seen,
whose name he did not remember.  He was up to her now, and he knew
it could not be Adela, for even Adela had never been so like Adela
as this.  That truth which is the vision of romantic love, in
which the beloved becomes supremely her own adorable and eternal
self, the glory and splendour of her own existence, and her own
existence no longer felt or thought as hers but of and from
another, that was aped for him then.  The thing could not astonish
him, nor could it be adored.  It perplexed.  He hesitated.

The woman said: "You've been so long."

He answered roughly: "Who are you? You're not Adela."

The voice said: "Adela!" and Wentworth understood that Adela was
not enough, that Adela must be something different. even from
Adela if she were to be satisfactory to him, something closer to
his own mind and farther from hers.  She had been in relation with
Hugh, and his Adela could never be in relation with Hugh.  He had
never understood that simplicity before.  It was so clear now.  He
looked at the woman opposite and felt a stirring of freedom in
him.

He said: "You waved?" and she: "Or didn't you wave to me?"

He said, under her eyes: "I didn't think you'd be any use to me."

She laughed: the laugh was a little like Adela's, only better.
Fuller; more amused.  Adela hardly ever laughed as if she were
really amused; she had always a small condescension.  He said:
"How could I know?"

"You don't think about yourself enough," she said; the words were
tender and grateful to him, and he knew they were true.  He had
never thought enough about himself.  He had wanted to be kind.  He
had wanted to be kind to Adela; it was Adela's obstinate folly
which now outraged him.  He had wanted to give himself to Adela
out of kindness.  He was greatly relieved by this woman's words,
almost as much as if he had given himself.  He went on giving.  He
said: "If I thought more of myself?"

"You wouldn't have much difficulty in finding it," she answered.
"Let's walk."

He didn't understand the first phrase, but he turned and went by
her side, silent while he heard the words.  Much difficulty in
finding what? in finding it? the it that could be found if he
thought of himself more; that was what he had said or she had
said, whichever had said that the thing was to be found, as if
Adela had said it, Adela in her real self, by no means the self
that went with Hugh; no, but the true, the true Adela who was
apart and his; for that was the difficulty all the while, that she
was truly his, and wouldn't be, but if he thought more of her
truly being, and not of her being untruly away, on whatever way,
for the way that went away was not the way she truly went, but if
they did away with the way she went away, then
Hugh could be untrue and she true, then he would know themselves,
two, true and two, on the way he was going, and the peace in
himself, and the scent of her in him, and the her, meant for him,
in him; that was the she he knew, and he must think the more of
himself.  A faint mist grew round them as they walked, and he was
under the broad boughs of trees, the trees of the Hill, going up
the Hill, up to the Adela he kept in himself, where the cunning
woman who walked by his side was taking him, and talking in
taking.  He had been slow, slow, very slow not to see that this
was true, that to get away from Hugh's Adela was to find somewhere
and somehow the true Adela, the Adela that was his, since what he
wanted was always and everywhere his; he had always known that,
yet that had been his hardship, for he must know it was so, and
yet it hadn't seemed so.  But here in the mists under the trees,
with this woman, it was all clear.  The mist made everything
clear.

She said: "In here." He went in; a wooden door swung before and
behind him.

It was quite dark.  He stood.  A hand slipped into his hand. and
pressed it gently.  It drew him forward, and a little to one side.
He said aloud: "Where are we?" but there was no answer, only he
thought he heard the sound of water running, gently, a lulling and
a lapping.  It was not worth while, against that sound, asking
again where he was.  The darkness was quiet; his heart ceased to
burn, though he could hear its beating, in time with the lapping
and lulling waters.  He had never heard his heart beating so
loudly; almost as if he were inside his own body, listening to it
there.  It would be louder then, he thought, unless his senses
were lulled and dulled.  Likely enough that if he were inside his
own body his senses would be lulled, though how he got there or
how he would get out.... If he wanted to get out.  Why? Why
fly from that shelter, the surest shelter of all, though he could
not be quite there yet because of the hand that guided him, round
and round in some twisting path.  He knew that there were hundreds
of yards, or was it millions, of tubes or pipes or paths or ropes
or something, coiled, many coils, in his body; he would not want
to catch his foot in them or be twisted up in them; that was why
the hand was leading him.  He pressed it, for acknowledgment; it
replied.  They were going downhill now, it seemed, he and his
guide, though he thought he could smell Adela, or if not Adela,
something like Adela, some growth like Adela, and the image of a
growth spread in his brain to trees and their great heavy boughs;
it was not a lapping but a rustling; he had come out of himself
into a wood, unless he was himself and a wood at the same time.
Could he be a wood? and yet walk in it? He looked at that question
for a long time while he walked, and presently found he was not
thinking of that but of something else; he was slipping his
fingers along a wrist, and up an arm-only a little way, for he
still wished to be led on the way, though everything was so quiet
he could hardly think there was any need.  He liked going on,
away, away, away, from somewhere behind, or indeed outside,
outside the wood, outside the body, outside the door.  The door
wouldn't open for anyone; it was his door, and though he hadn't
fastened it, it wouldn't open, because it knew his wish, and his
wish was to leave the two who had worried him outside the door.
It was fun to think they were playing games on him when he wasn't
there; running round under his windows, and he was quite away, and
they would never know, even if he saw them again, where and how
and why he had been.  It was good for him to be here, and great
fun; one day he would laugh, but laughter would be tiring here,
under trees and leaves, leaves-leaves and eaves-eaves and eves; a
word with two meanings, and again a word with two meanings, eves
and Eves.  Many Eves to many Adams; one Eve to one Adam; one Eve
to each, one Eve to all.  Eve....

They stopped.  In the faint green light, light of a forest, faint
mist in a forest, a river-mist creeping among the trees, moon in
the mist, he could just see the shape of the woman beside him.  He
might be back again in Eden, and she be Eve, the only man with all
that belonged to the only man.  Others, those whose names he need
not then remember, because they were the waking animals of the
world-others were inconsiderable to the grand life that walked now
in this glade.  They hardly belonged to it at all; they belonged
outside, they were outside, outside the sealed garden, no less
sealed for being so huge  through a secret gate of which he had
entered, getting back to himself He was inside and at peace.  He
said aloud: "I won't go back."

His companion answered: "You needn't go back really or you can
take it with you if you do.  Wouldn't you like to?"

It took a while for this to reach him.  He said, at last: "This?
all this, d'you mean?" He was a little disturbed by the idea that
he might have to go back among the shapes that ran about, harsh
and menacing, outside the glade or the garden or the forest,
outside the mist.  They betrayed and attacked him.  One had made
fun of him and exposed him to her paramour.  That was outside;
inside, he knew the truth, and the truth was that she was quite
subordinate to him.  He breathed on her hand, and it was turned
into stone, so that she couldn't carry it, but it sank to the
ground, slowly, in that misty air, and she was held there, crying
and sobbing, by the weight of her petrified hand.  He would go
away for a year or two, and perhaps when he came back he would
decide to set her free by blowing on the stone hand.  The whole
air of this place was his breath; if he took a very deep breath,
there would be no air left, outside himself.  He could stand in a
vacuum, and nothing outside himself could breathe at all, until he
chose to breathe again; which perhaps he wouldn't do, so that he
could infinitely prevent anything at all from existing merely by
infinitely holding his breath.  He held his breath for a century
or so, and all the beasts and shapes of the wilderness, a tall
young satyr and a plump young nymph among them, who were dancing
to the music of their own chuckles, fell slowly down and died.
The woman now beside him didn't die, but that was because she
could live without air, of which he was glad, for he wanted her to
go on living, and if she had needed air she would have died.  He
would have destroyed her without meaning to.

She was saying, eagerly: "Yes, yes, yes: better than Eve, dearer
than Eve, closer than Eve.  It's good for man to be alone.  Come
along, come along: farther in, farther in down under, down
under."

Down under what? down under where? down under the air that was or
wasn't? but he was there under the air, on the point of breathing
out everything that would be just right.  Why had he been so long
content to have things wrong? it all came out of that silly name
of Eve, which had prevented him realizing that he was what
counted.  Eve had never told him he had made her, and so he
wouldn't make her again, she should be left all a twisted rag of
skin in the vacuum,  and he would have a world in which no one
went to the City, because there was no city unless he--but no, he
wouldn't have a City.  Adela....

He found he had been holding his breath; he released it.  He found
he was lying down, and that the woman was not there.  He had
exhaled, with a deep permission to Adela to exist.  Now he was
sleeping after that decision and act.  He was awake in his sleep,
and the moon was pouring itself over him.  He wasn't on a rope
now.  The moon was pouring down, quite out of the sky; presently
there wouldn't be any moon, only a hole in the sky: down, down! He
felt hands moving over him, the moonlight changing to hands as it
reached him, moonhands, cool and thrilling.  The hands were
delighting in him; these were what he would take back to his own
world, if he went.  The moon would always be his, though all the
moonlight had poured down now, and there was a hole, a dark hole,
because the moon had emptied itself of its glory, and was not
there any more; he was at first in the smallest degree troubled,
for if odd things could disappear like this, could he be certain
that his own Adela would live? yes, because he was a god, and
sometime he would make another moon.  He forgot it now; he was
quite given up to the hands that caressed him.  He sank into
oblivion; he died to things other than himself; he woke to
himself.

He lay quiet; beyond heart and lungs he had come, in the depth of
the Hill, to the bottom of the body.  He saw before him, in the
disappearing moonlight, a place of cisterns and broad tanks, on
the watery surface of which the moon still shone and from which a
faint mist still arose.  Between them, covering acres of ground,
an enormous shape lay, something like a man's; it lay on its face,
its shoulders and buttocks rose in mounds and the head beyond; he
could not see the legs lower than the thighs, for that was where
he himself lay, and they could not be seen, for they were his own.
He and the Adam sprang from one source.  high over him he felt his
heart beat and his lungs draw breath.  His machinery operated far
away.  He had decided that.  He lay and waited
for the complete creation that was his own.

The Adam slept; the mist rose from the ground.  The son of Adam
waited.  He felt, coming over that vast form, that Hill of the
dead and of the living, but to him only the mass of matter from
which his perfect satisfaction was to approach, a road, a road up
which a shape, no longer vast, was now coming; a shape he
distrusted before he discerned it.  It was coming slowly, over the
mass of the Adam, a man, a poor ragged sick man.  The dead man,
walking in his own quiet world, knew nothing of the eyes to which
his death-day walk was shown, nor of the anger with which he was
seen.  Wentworth saw him, and grew demented; was he to miss and be
mocked again? what shape was this, and there?  He sprang forward
and up, to drive it away, to curse it lest it interpolated its
horrid need between himself and his perfection.  He would not have
it: no canvassers, no hawkers, no tramps.  He shouted angrily,
making gestures; it offended him; it belonged to the City, and he
would not have a City-no City, no circulars no beggars.  No; no;
no.  No people but his, no loves but his.

It still came on, slowly, ploddingly, wearily, but it came: on
down the road that was the Adam in the bottom of Eden determinedly
plodding as on the evening when it had trudged towards its death,
inexorably advancing as the glory of truth that broke out of the
very air itself upon the agonized Florentine in the Paradise of
Eden: "ben sem, ben sem, Beatrice" the other, the thing seen, the
thing known in every fibre to be not the self, woman or beggar,
the thing in the streets of the City.  No, no; no canvassers, no
beggars, no lovers; and away, away from the City into the wood and
the mist, by the path that runs between past and present, between
present and present, that slides through each moment of all
experience, twisting and twining, plunging from the City and earth
and Eve and all otherness, into the green mist that rises among
the trees; by the path up which she was coming, the she of his
longing, the she that was he, and all he in the she-patter-patter,
the she that went hurrying about the Hill and the world, of whom
it was said that they whom she overtook were found drained and
strangled in the morning, and a single hair tight about the neck,
so faint, so sure, so deathly, the clinging and twisting path of
the strangling hair.  She whose origin is with man's, kindred to
him as he to his beasts, alien from him as he from his beasts; to
whom a name was given in a myth, Lilith or a name and Eden for a
myth, and she a stirring more certain than name or myth, who in
one of her shapes went hurrying about the refuge of that Hill of
skulls, and pattered and chattered on the Hill, hurrying,
hurrying, for fear of time growing together, and squeezing her
out, out of the interstices, of time where she lived, locust in
the rock; time growing together into one, and squeezing her
out, squeezing her down, out of the pressure of the universal
present, down into depth, down into the opposite of that end, down
into the ever and ever of the void.

He was running down the path, the path that coiled round the edge
of Eden, and the mist swooped to meet him.  He had got right away
from the road which was the shape of the Adam outstretched in the
sleep precedent to the creation of fact, the separation of Eve,
the making of things other than the self.  He ran away into the
comforting mist, partly because he liked it better, partly because
there was nowhere else.  He ran from sight; he found sensation.
Arms met and embraced, a mouth kissed him, a@ sigh of content was
loosed to him and from him.  He was held, consoled, nourished,
satisfied.  Adela; he; sleep.

The door swung after him.  He was standing on Battle Hill, not far
from his house, but higher, towards the cemetery, towards the
height.  There, waiting for him, was a girl.  She exactly
resembled Adela.  She came towards him softly, reached her hand to
him, smiled at him, put up her mouth to him.  It was night on the
Hill.  They turned together and went down it; after the single
footsteps the double sounded again, his own and the magical
creature's drawn from his own recesses; she in him, he in him.  He
was complacent; they went home.




                          Chapter Six

                THE DOCTRINE OF SUBSTITUTED LOVE

Pauline sat back in her chair, and her arms lay along its arms.  A
rehearsal was taking place in the ground of the Manor House, and
she had ended her part in the first act.  She was free to watch
the other performers, and to consider the play once more.  By now they
had all got more or less accustomed to that speaking of verse
aloud which our uneducated mouths and ears find so difficult,
being less instructed than the more universal Elizabethan must have bee.
Pauline remembered again, with a queer sense of inferiority, that no
Elizabethan audience, gods or groundlings, can have felt any shock
of surprise or awkwardness at a play opening with a high rhodomontade
of sound. No modern audience would put up with going to the first
night of a new play to hear the curtain sweep up on such an absurd
and superb invocation as:

    Hung be the heavens with black; yield, day, to night;
    Comets, importing change . . .

and so on.  On the other hand, they accepted plays beginning with
the most ordinary prose.  Even  rhodomontade demands a peculiar
capacity, and to lose its bravery perhaps hampers some other
bravery of the spirit; to lose even one felicity is to be robbed
of more than we have a right to spare.  Certainly Stanhope had
spared them any overwhelming magniloquence; his verse was subdued
almost to
conversation, though as she listened and read and studied and
spoke it, she became aware that the rhythm of these conversations
was a great deal more speedy and vital than any she could ever
remember taking part in.  All Mrs. Parry's efforts to introduce a
stateliness of manner into the Grand Ducal court, and a humorous
but slow--O so slow--realism into the village, and an enigmatic
meandering meditativeness into
the Chorus could not sufficiently delay the celerity of the line.
Once or twice Stanhope, having been consulted, had hinted that he
would rather have the meaning lost than too firmly explained, and
that
speed was an element, but after a great deal of enthusiastic
agreement they had all gone on as before.  She herself had been
pleasantly ticked off by Mrs. Parry that very afternoon for
hurrying, and as
Stanhope hadn't interfered she had done her best to be adequately
slow.  It was some recompense to sit now and listen to Adela and
Mrs. Parry arguing with, or at least explaining to, each other.
Adela,
true to her principles of massing and blocking, arranged whole
groups of words in chunks irrespective of line and meaning, but
according to her own views of the emotional quality to be
stressed.  She had unexpectedly broken one line with a terrific
symbolical pause.

"I am," she said to her Woodcutter, and pausing as if she had
invoked the Name itself and waited for its Day of Judgment to
appear, added in one
breath, "only the perception in a flash of love."

Pauline encouraged in herself a twinge of wonder whether there
were anything Adela Hunt were less only; then she felt ashamed of
having tried to modify the line into her own judgment, especially
into a quite
unnecessary kind of judgment.  She knew little enough of Adela,
and the result was that she lost the sound of the woodcutter's
answer--"A peremptory phenomenon of love".  She thought, a little
gloomily, malice could create a fair number of peremptory
phenomena for itself, not perhaps of love, but easily enjoyable,
like Myrtle Fox's trees.
Malice was a much cosier thing than love.  She was rather glad
they were not doing the last act to-day; that act in which Periel--male
or female, no matter!--spirit, but not spiritual--she--began
and led the Chorus; and everyone came in, on the most inadequate
excuses, the Princess and her lover and the Grand Duke and the
farmers and the banditti and the bear; and through the woods went
a high medley of wandering beauty and rejoicing love and courtly
intelligence and rural laughter and bloody clamour and growling
animalism, in mounting complexities of verse, and over all,
gathering, opposing, tossing over it, the naughting cry of the
all-surrounding and overarching trees.

It troubled her now, as it had not done when she first read it, as
it did not the others.  She wondered whether it would have
troubled her if, since the day of his first call, she had not
sometimes heard her grandmother and Peter Stanhope talking in the
garden.  It was two or three weeks ago, since he had first called,
and she could not remember that they had said anything memorable
since except a few dicta about poetry-but everything they said was
full and simple and unafraid.  She herself had rather avoided him;
she was not yet altogether prepared in so many words to accept the
terror of good.  It had occurred to her to imagine those two-the
old woman and the poet-watching the last act, themselves its only
audience, as if it were presented by the
    imagined persons themselves, and by no planned actors.  But
what would happen when the act came to an end she could not think,
unless those two went up into the forest and away into the sounds
that they had heard, into the medley of which the only unity was
the life of
    the great poetry that made it, and was sufficient unity.
Under the influence of one of those garden conversations she had
looked up in her old school Shelley the lines that had haunted
her, and seen the next line to them.  It ran:

     That apparition, solo of men, he saw;

and it referred, of course, to Zoroaster. But she couldn't,
watching the play, refrain from applying it to Stanhope. This
apparition, sole of men--so far as she had then discovered--he had
seen; and she went back to wonder again if in those three lines
Shelley, instead of frightening her, was not nourishing her.
Supposing--supposing--that in this last act Peter Stanhope had seen
and imagined something more awful even than a vision of himself;
supposing he had contemplated the nature of the world in which
such visions could be, and that the entwined loveliness of his
verse was a mirror of its being.  She looked at the hale and
hearty young man who was acting the bear, and she wondered whether
perhaps her real bear, if she had courage to meet it, would be as
friendly as he.  If only the woodcutter's son had not learned the
language of the leaves while they, burned in the fire! There was
no doubt about that speech: the very smell and noise of the fire
was in it, and the conviction of the alien song that broke out
within the red flames.  So perhaps the phoenix cried while it
burned.

Someone sat down in the next chair.  She looked; it was Stanhope.
Mrs. Parry and Adela concluded their discussion.  Adela seemed to
be
modifying her chunks of words--sharpening ends and pushing them
nearer till they almost met.  Presumably Mrs. Parry was relying on
later rehearsals to get them quite in touch, and even, if she were
fortunate, to tie them together.  The rehearsal began again.
Stanhope said "You were, of course, quite right."

She turned her head towards him, gravely.  "You meant like that
then?" she asked.

"Certainly I meant it like that," he said, "more like that,
anyhow.  Do you suppose I want each line I made to march so many
paces to the right, with a meditation between each?  But even if I
could interfere it'd only get more mixed than ever.  Better keep
it all of a
piece."

"But you don't mind," she asked, "if I'm a little quicker than
some of them?"

"I should love to hear it," he answered.  "Only I think it is
probably our business--yours and mine--to make our feelings
agreeable to the company, as it were.  This isn't a play; it's a
pleasant entertainment.  Let's all be pleasantly entertaining
together.

"But the poetry?" she said.

He looked at her, laughing.  "And even that shall be Mrs.
Parry's," he said.  "For this kind of thing is not worth the
fretfulness of dispute; let's save all that till we are among the
doctors, who aren't fretful."

She said suddenly, "Would you read it to me again one day? is it
too absurd to ask you?"

"Of course I'll read it," he said.  "Why not? If you'd like it.
And now in exchange tell me what's bothering you."

Taken aback, she stared at him, and stammered on her answer.
"But-but--" she began.

He looked at the performers.  "Miss Hunt is determined to turn me
into the solid geometry of the emotions," he said.  "But--but-tell
me why you always look so about you and what you are looking for."

"Do I?" she asked hesitatingly.  He turned a serious gaze on her
and her own eyes turned away before it.  He said, "There's nothing
worth quite so much vigilance or anxiety.  Watchfulness, but not
anxiety, not fear.  You let it in to yourself when you fear it so;
and whatever it is, it's less than your life."

"You talk as if life were good," she said.

"It's either good or evil," he answered, "and you can't t,  decide
that by counting incidents on your fingers.  The decision is of
another kind.  But don't let's be abstract.  Will you tell me what
it is bothers you?"

She said, "It sounds too silly."

Stanhope paused, and in the silence there came to them Mrs.
Parry's voice carefully enunciating a grand ducal speech to Hugh
Prescott.  The measured syllables fell in globed detachment at
their feet, and Stanhope waved a hand outwards.

"Well," he said, "if you think it sounds sillier than that.
 God is good; if I hadn't been here they might have done the
Tempest.  Consider--'Yea--all which--it inherit--shall dis--solve.
And--like this--insub--stantial pag--eant fa--ded.'  O certainly
God is good.  So what about telling me?"

"I have a trick," she said steadily, "of meeting an exact likeness
of myself in the street." And as if she hated herself for saying
it, she turned sharply on him. "There!" she exclaimed.  "Now you
know.  You know exactly.  And what will you say?"

Her eyes burned at him; he received their fury undisturbed,
saying, "You mean exactly that?" and she nodded.  "Well," he went
on mildly, "it's not unknown.  Goethe met himself once--on the
road to Weimar,
I think.  But he didn't make it a habit.  How long has this been
happening?"

"All my life," she answered.  "At intervals--long intervals, I
know.  Months and years sometimes, only it's quicker now. O, it's
insane--no one could believe it, and yet it's there."

"It's your absolute likeness?" he asked.

"It's me," she repeated.  "It comes from a long way off, and@ it
comes up towards me, and I'm terrified--terrified-one day it'll
come on and meet me.  It hasn't so far; it's turned away or
disappeared.  But
it won't always; it'll come right up to me--and then I shall go
mad or die."

"Why?" he asked quickly, and she answered at once "Because I'm
afraid.  Dreadfully afraid."

"But," he said, "that I don't quite understand.  You have friends;
haven't you asked one of them to carry your fear?"

"Carry my fear!" she said, sitting rigid in her chair, so that her
arms, which had lain so lightly, pressed now into the basket-work
and her long firm hands gripped it as if they strangled her own
heart.  "How can anyone else carry my fear?  Can anyone else see
it and have to meet it?"

Still, in that public place, leaning back easily as if they talked
of casual things, he said, "You're mixing up two things.  Think a
moment, and you'll see.  The meeting it--that's one thing, and we
can leave it till you're rid of the other.  It's the fear we're
talking about.  Has no one ever relieved you of that? Haven't you
ever asked them to?"

She said "You haven't understood, of course.... I was a fool....
Let's forget it.  Isn't Mrs. Parry efficient?"

"Extremely," he answered.  "And God redeem her.  But nicely.  Will
you tell me whether you've any notion of what I'm talking about?
And if not, will you let me do it for you?"

She attended reluctantly, as if to attend were an unhappy duty she
owed him, as she had owed others to others and tried to fulfill
them.  She said politely, "Do it for me?"

"It can be done, you know," he went on.  "It's surprisingly
simple.  And if there's no one else you care to ask, why not use
me? I'm here at your disposal, and we could so easily settle it
that way.  Then you needn't fear it, at least, and then again for
the meeting--that might be a very different business if you
weren't distressed."

"But how can I not be afraid?" she asked.  "It's hellish nonsense
to talk like that.  I suppose that's rude, but--"

"It's no more nonsense than your own story," he said.  "That
isn't; very well, this isn't.  We all know what fear and trouble
are.  Very well-when you leave here you'll think of yourself that
I've taken this particular trouble over instead of you.  You'd do
as much for me if I needed it, or for any one.  And I will give
myself to it.  I'll think of what comes to
you, and imagine it, and know it, and be afraid of it.  And then,
you see, you won't."

She looked at him as if she were beginning to understand that at
any rate he thought he was talking about a reality, and as she did
so something of her feeling for him returned.  It was, after all,
Peter Stanhope who was talking to her like this.  Peter Stanhope
was a great poet.  Were great poets liars? No.  But they might be
mistaken.  Yes; so might she.  She said, very doubtfully: "But I
don't understand.  It isn't your--you haven't seen it.  How can
you--"

     He indicated the rehearsal before them.  "Come," he said, "if
you like that, will you tell me that I must see in order to know?
That's not pride, and if it were it wouldn't matter.  Listen-when
you go from here,
when you're alone, when you think you'll be afraid, let me put
myself in   your place, and be afraid instead of you." He sat up
and leaned towards her.

"It's so easy," he went on, "easy for both of us.  It needs only
the act.  For what can be simpler than for you to think to
yourself that since I am there to be troubled instead of you,
therefore you needn't be troubled? And what can be easier than for
me to carry a little while a burden that isn't mine?"

She said, still perplexed at a strange language: "But how can I
cease to be troubled? will it leave off coming because I pretend
it wants you? Is it your resemblance that hurries up the street?"

"It is not," he said, "and you shall not pretend at all.  The
thing itself you may one day meet-never mind that now, but you'll
be free from all distress because that you can pass on to me.
Haven't you heard it said that we ought to bear one another's
burdens?"

"But that means-" she began, and stopped.

"I know," Stanhope said.  "It means listening sympathetically, and
thinking unselfishly, and being anxious about, and so on.  Well, I
don't say a word against all that; no doubt it helps.  But I think
when
Christ or St. Paul, or whoever said bear, or whatever he
Aramaically said instead of bear, he meant something much more
like carrying a parcel instead of someone else.  To bear a burden
is precisely to carry it instead of.  If you're still carrying
yours, I'm not carrying it for you--however sympathetic I may be.
And anyhow there's no need to introduce Christ, unless you wish.
It's a fact of experience.  If you give
a weight to me, you can't be carrying it yourself; all I'm asking
you to do is to notice that blazing truth.  It doesn't sound very
difficult."

"And if I could," she said.  "If I could do--whatever it is you
mean, would I? Would I push my burden on to anybody else?"

"Not if you insist on making a universe for yourself," he
answered.  "If you want to disobey and refuse the laws that are
common to us all, if you want to live in pride and division and
anger, you can.  But if you
will be part of the best of us, and live and laugh and be ashamed
with us, then you must be content to be helped.  You must give
your burden up to someone else, and you must carry someone else's
burden.
I haven't made the universe and it isn't my fault.  But I'm sure
that this is a law of the universe, and not
to give up your parcel is as much to rebel as not to carry
another's.  You'll find it quite easy if you let
yourself do it."

"And what of my self-respect?" she said.

He laughed at her with a tender mockery.  "O, if we are of that
kind!" he exclaimed.  "If you want to respect yourself, if to
respect yourself you must go clean against the nature of things,
if you must refuse
the Omnipotence in order to respect yourself, though why you
should want so extremely to respect yourself is more than I can
guess, why, go on and respect.  Must I apologize for suggesting
anything else?"

He mocked her and was silent; for a while she stared back, still
irresolute.  He held her; presently he held her at command.  A
long silence had gone by before he spoke again.

"When you are alone," he said, "remember that I am afraid instead
of you, and that I have taken over every kind of worry.  Think
merely that; say to yourself-'he is being worried,' and go on.
Remember it is
mine.  If you do not see it, well; if you do, you will not be
afraid.  And since you are not afraid. . . ."

She stood up.  "I can't imagine not being afraid," she said.

"But you will not be," he answered, also
rising, certainty in his voice, "because you will leave all that
to me.  Will you please me by remembering that absolutely?"

"I am to remember," she said, and almost broke into a little
trembling laugh, "that you are being worried and terrified instead
of me?"

"That I have taken it all over," he said, "so there is nothing
left for you."

"And if I see it after all?" she asked.

"But not 'after all'," he said.  "The fact remains-but see how
different a fact, if it can't be dreaded! As of course it can't--
by you.  Go now, if you choose, and keep it in your mind till--
shall I see you to-morrow?  Or ring me up to-night, say about nine,
and tell me you are being obedient to the whole fixed nature of things."

"I'll ring up," she said.  "But I ... it sounds so silly."

"It is silly sooth," he answered, "and dallies with the innocence
of love.  Real sooth, real innocence, real love.  Go with God."
They shook hands, and slowly, looking back once, just before she
reached the lane, she went out of his sight.

Stanhope, turning his eyes from her parting figure, looked at the
rehearsal and then settled himself more comfortably in his chair.
A certain superficial attention, alert and effective in its
degree, lay at the disposal of anyone who might need it, exactly
as his body was prepared to draw in its long outstretched legs if
anyone wanted to pass.  Meanwhile he disposed the rest of his
attention according to his promise.  He recollected Pauline; he
visualized her going along a road, any road; he visualized another
Pauline coming to meet her.  And as he did so his mind
contemplated not the first but the second Pauline; he took trouble
to apprehend the vision, he summoned through all his sensations an
approaching fear.  Deliberately he opened himself to that
    fear, laying aside for awhile every thought of why he was
doing it, forgetting every principle and law, absorbing only the
strangeness and the terror of that separate spiritual identity.
His more
    active mind reflected it in an imagination of himself going
into his house and seeing himself, but he dismissed that, for he
desired to subdue himself not to his own natural sensations, but
to hers first, and then to let hers, if so it should happen, be
drawn back into his own.  But it was
    necessary first intensely to receive all her spirit's
conflict.  He sat on, imagining to himself the long walk with its
sinister possibility, the ogreish world lying around, the air with
its treachery to all sane appearance.  His own eyes began to seek
and strain and shrink, his own feet, quiet though actually they
were, began to weaken with the necessity of advance upon the road
down which the girl was passing.  The body of his flesh received
her alien terror, his mind carried the burden of
    her world.  The burden was inevitably lighter for him than for
her, for the rage of a personal resentment was lacking.  He
endured her sensitiveness, but not her sin; the substitution
there, if indeed there is a substitution, is hidden in the central
mystery of Christendom which Christendom itself has never
understood, nor can. Since he could not take, nor would have
admitted, her hate and rejection, her passion was
    received into the lucidity of his own spirit.  The experience
itself, sharply as his body took it, was less sharp for him; not
that he willed it so, but because his senses received their
communication from within not from without, and there is in all
holy imagination from goodwill a
    quality of greatness which purifies and stabilizes experience.
His goodwill went to its utmost, and utmost goodwill can go very
far.  It went to all but actual vision, and it excluded his
intellectual judgment of that vision.  Had he been asked, at that
moment, for his judgment, he would have answered that he believed
sincerely that Pauline believed sincerely that she saw, but
whether the sight was actual or not he could not tell. He would
have admitted that it might be but a fantastic obsession of her
brain.  That made no difference to his action.
If a man seems to himself to endure the horrors of shipwreck,
though he walks on dry land and breathes clear air, the business
of his friend is more likely to be to accept those horrors, as he
feels them, carrying the burden, than to explain that the burden
cannot, as a matter of fact, exist.  Given all reasonable talk as
well, wherever there is intelligence enough for exchange and
substitution to exist, there is place
enough for action.  Only when the desire of an obsession has
carried its subject beyond the interchanges of love can the power
of substituted love itself cease.  It would have been small use
for any adept, however much greater than Peter Stanhope, to have
offered his service to Wentworth, where he sat in his own room
with the secret creature of substantial illusion at his feet
caressing his hand; for from that haunting, even while it was but
an unmaterialized anguish within his blood, Wentworth had had no
desire, more than the desire of maddened pride, to be exquisitely
free.

So devoted to the action of his spirit, Stanhope sat on among the
sounds of laughter and gaiety and half-serious wrangles that rose
around him.  It was not a long while that he was left to sit
alone; perhaps Pauline had not more than partly advanced on her
return when someone came across to interrupt and consult him.  He
gave a full attention, for that other concern is not measured by
time but by will.  To give freedom to both, he would return to his
task when opportunity next offered; afterwards, when they had all
gone away, and he was alone.  But that was rather for the sake-of
his own integrity of spirit than that more
was needed.  The act of substitution was fully made; and if it had
been necessarily delayed for years (could that have been), but not
by his fault, still its result would have preceded it.  In the
place of the
Omnipotence there is neither before nor after; there is only act.

Pauline went out through the open door of the house, for the Manor
was now almost a public building of happiness, and began to make
her way towards her home. just as she left, one of the other
girls, who was only then arriving for her part, had delayed her with a
question, a minute matter about a borrowed pattern for a dress,
and possible alterations.  Pauline also had given her attention,
and now, walking down the road, went on thinking of it--and whether
Mary Frobisher would really be well advised to move the left
seam an eighth of an inch back, considering Mary Frobisher's
figure.  It was another thing for her, and the hang of the frock
had been as satisfactory as could be hoped.  But Mary--she
stopped to smell the pinks in a garden she was passing.  Pinks
were not very showy flowers, but they had a fragrance.  It was
perhaps a pity they had so few in their own garden; she had
once or twice thought Of asking her grandmother to order the
gardener to get some more, since the gardener certainly
wouldn't otherwise do it.  But Mrs. Anstruther was always so
content with immediate existence that it seemed a shame to
bother her about proximate existence.  Pauline wondered
if she, when she was ninety-seven, would be as little disturbed by
the proximate existence of death as her grandmother seemed to be.
Or would she be sorry to be compelled to abandon the pleasant
wonder of this world, which, when all allowances were made,
was a lovely place, and had--

She nearly came to a full stop; then, with slackened steps, she
went on, blinking at the sunlight.  She realized she had been
walking along quite gaily.  It was very curious.  She looked down
the road.  Nothing was in sight--except a postman.  She wondered
whether anything would come into sight.  But why was she so careless
about it? Her mind leapt back to Stanhope's promise, and she knew that,
whatever the explanation might be, she had been less bothered for the
past ten minutes than ever before in any solitude of twenty years.  But
supposing the thing came? Well, then it came, but till it came why
suppose it? If Peter Stanhope was taking trouble, as he was, because
he said he would, there was no conceivable reason for her to get into
trouble.  She had promised to leave it to him; very well, she would.
Let him--with all high blessing and gratitude--get on with it.  She had
promised, she had only to keep her promise.

So she put it to herself, but within herself she knew that, except
just to ratify her promise, even that act of her mind was
superfluous. it was an act purely of extra delight, an occasion of
obedience.  She wouldn't worry; no, because she couldn't worry.
That was the mere truth-she couldn't worry.  She was, then and
there, whatever happened later,
entirely free.  She was, then and there incapable of distress.
The world was beautiful about her, and she walked in it, enjoying.
He had been quite right; he had simply picked up her parcel.  God
knew how he had done it, but he had.  A thing had, everywhere and
all at once, happened.  A violent convulsion of the laws of the
universe took place in her
mind; if this was one of the laws, the universe might be better or
worse, but it was certainly quite different from anything she had
ever supposed it to be.  It was a place whose very fundamentals
she had suddenly discovered to be changed.  She hadn't any clear
idea of what Stanhope was doing, and that didn't matter, except
that she ought,
as soon as possible, to find out and try to understand.  That was
merely her duty, and might--the thought crossed her  mind and was
gone--be her very great happiness.  Meanwhile, she would go on
walking.  And if, she came to her self, well she came to her self.
No doubt Peter Stanhope would be doing something about it.  A
kitten on a wall caught her eye; it put its head down; she
stretched her arm and stood on tiptoe to stroke it, and so doing
for a while she forgot Stanhope and the universe and Pauline.

The rehearsal had long been over, and the Manor left again to its
owner.  Stanhope had returned to his own proper activity of work,
when, exactly as the clock in his study chimed nine, the telephone
bell rang.

He took up the receiver.

"Peter Stanhope speaking," he said.

"Pauline," said a voice.  "You told me to ring you up."

"I was waiting for you," he answered.  "Well?"

"Well ... there was a kitten and pinks and a pattern for a frock
and a postman who said the rain was holding off," said the voice,
and paused.

"Cautious man," said Stanhope, and waited.

"Well ... that was all," the voice explained.

"Really all?" Stanhope asked.

"Really all," the voice answered.  "I just went home.  It is real,
I suppose?"

"Entirely," said Stanhope.  "Aren't you sure of it?"

"Yes, O, yes," said the voice.  "It ... I ... I wanted to thank
you.  I don't know what you did--"

"But I've told you," he murmured, and was cut short.

"--but I did want to thank you.  Only-what happens now? I mean-do
I--" It stopped.

"I should think you did," said Stanhope, gravely.  "Don't you? It
seems a perfectly good idea."

"Ah, but do you mean that?" she protested.  "It looks so like
taking advantage."

"You'll be as involved morally as you are verbally, if you talk
like that," he said.  "Taking advantage! O
my dear girl! Don't be so silly! You've got your own job to do."

"What's that?" she asked.

"Being ready to meet it," he answered.  "It'll be quite simple, no
doubt, and even delightful.  But if I were you I'd keep my
faculties quiet for that.  If meeting is a pleasure, as we so
often tell people, you may as well enjoy the pleasure."

"I hadn't really thought of it being that," said the voice.

"But now?" he asked.

"Yes ... I ... I suppose it might," she said.

"Do you see any reason whatever why it shouldn't? Since we're
agreed you won't have any opportunity to be afraid," he added.

"It's funny," she said, after another pause, "but do you know I
feel as if I'd never really looked at it till now.  At least,
perhaps the first time, when I was quite small, but I was always
shut up when I talked about it, and then sometimes I saw it
when... when I didn't like it."

"I don't quite follow," Stanhope said.  "When you didn't like it?"

He couldn't see the blush that held Pauline as she sat by the
telephone table, but he heard the voice become smaller and softer
as she said, "When I wasn't being very good.  There wasn't much
money in the house, and once there was a shilling my mother lost,
and then there were sweets.  It was just after I'd bought the
sweets that I saw it coming once.  It was horrid to see it just
then, but it was beastly of me, I know."

"Well, that's as may be," Stanhope said.  "The limits of theft are
a high casuistical problem.  Read Pascal and the Jesuits--especially
the Jesuits, who were more ordinary and more sensible. The triumph
of the bourgeois."

"But I knew it was wrong," Pauline exclaimed.

"Still your knowledge may have been wrong," Stanhope demurred.
"However, don't let's argue that.  I see what you mean.  Self-respect
and all that.  Well, it won't do you any harm to feel it knows you.
Much the best thing, in fact."

"Y-yes," Pauline said.  "Yes-I do think so really.  And I'm not to
worry?"

"You are most emphatically to remember that I'll do the worrying,"
Stanhope said.  "Ring me up at any time-day or night; only if no
one answers at night remember that, as Miss, Fox so rightly told
us, sleep is
good, and sleep will undoubtedly be here.  But sleep isn't
separation in the Omnipotence.  Go in peace, and wish me the same,
for friendship's sake."

"O how can I?" she said, startled.  "How can I wish peace to you?
You are peace."

"M'm," Stanhope said.  "But the more if you will have it so. Try."

"Good night then," she answered slowly.  "Good night.  Thank you.
Go ... in peace."

Her voice had faltered so that she could hardly speak the words,
and when she rose from her seat she was on fire from head to foot.
Guilt or shame, servile fear or holy fear, adoration
or desperation of obedience, it burned through her to a point of
physical pain.  The blood rode in her face
and she panted a little in the heat.  She could not have answered,
had anyone spoken to her; her tongue seemed to have said its last
words on earth.  Never, never, her heart sang, let her speak
again, never let
the silence that followed her daring, her presumptuous invocation,
be broken.  It had been compelled, she had been commanded; a god
had been with her-not Peter Stanhope, but whatever answered him
from her depth.

She looked at her watch; it was not yet time for her evening visit
to her grandmother.

She looked round; a book lay on the table.  It was the volume of
Foxe with the account of her ancestor's martyrdom; Mrs. Anstruther
had been reading it again.  She walked to it, and with one hand,
the knuckles of the other pressed against her slowly cooling
cheek, turned the pages to find the place.  Something from it was
vaguely coming to her mind.  "They set him to the stake and put
the fire to the wood, and as the fire got
hold of him he gave a great cry and said, I have seen the
salvation of my God.... The Lord had done great things for him
there in the midst of the fire." The Lord, she thought, made a
habit of doing things in the midst of a fire; he had just brought
her to say "Go in peace" in another.  She glowed again to think of
it.
But it was the first phrase she had looked for; "I have seen the
salvation".  It had never occurred to her, any time she had read
or remembered the martyrdom, that Struther was anything but a
demented fanatic; a faint distaste that she should come of his
blood had touched her.  It now occurred to her that Struther might
have been talking flat realism.  She put the book down, and looked
out of the window.  It was-all of a sudden-remarkably easy to look
out of the window.  She might even walk down to the gate and look
at the street.  The parcel was completely in some one else's care,
and all she had to do was to leave it.  She hoped it was not
troublesome to Peter Stanhope, but it wouldn't be.  He and
whatever he meant by the Omnipotence would manage it quite well
between them. Perhaps, later on,
she could give the omnipotence a hand with some other burden;
everyone carrying everyone else's, like the Scilly Islanders
taking in each  other's washing.  Well, and at that, if it were
tiresome and horrible to wash your own clothes and easy and happy
to wash
someone else Is, the Scilly Islanders might be intelligent enough.
"Change here for Scilly," she said aloud as she came to the gate.

"My dear!" said a voice beside her.

Pauline jumped. it was a fairly high wall, and she had been
preoccupied; still, she ought to have seen the woman who was
standing outside, alone against the wall on her left.  For a
moment something jarred, but she recovered.  She said, "Oh, good
evening, Mrs. Sammile.  I didn't see you."

The other peered at her.  "How's your grandmother?" she asked.

"Rather weaker, I'm afraid," Pauline said.  "It's kind of you to
ask."

"And how are you?" Lily Sammile went on.  "I've been--" but
Pauline unintentionally cut through the sentence.

"Very well indeed," she murmured, with a deep breath of pleasure.
"Isn't it a lovely night?"

The other woman strained a little forward, as if, even in the June
evening, she could not see her clearly.  She said, "I haven't seen
you about lately: you haven't wanted to see me.  I thought perhaps
you might."

Pauline looked back smiling.  How, in this quietness of spirit,
could she have thought she wanted anything changed? But the old
lady had wanted to help, and though now she did not need the help,
the goodwill remained.  She said, leaning over the gate: "Oh, I'm
much better now."

"That's good," the other woman said.  "But take care of yourself.
Think of yourself; be careful of yourself.  I could make you
perfectly safe and perfectly happy at the same time.  You really
haven't any idea of how happy you could be."

Her voice was infinitely softer than Pauline could remember it. In
the full light of day, the other woman had seemed to her slightly
hard, her voice a light third hammer to her feet.  She pattered
everywhere, upstairs, downstairs, in my lady's chamber, in any
chamber; but now her figure was dim and her feet still, and her
voice soft.  As soft as the dust the evening wind was blowing down
the street.  Dust of the dead,
dust of the Struther who had died in flame.  Had he been happy?
happy? happy? Pauline was not sure whether she or her companion
had spoken the word again, but it hung in the air, floating
through it above, and the dust was stirred below, and a little
dizziness took her and passed.  Lazily she swung the gate.

She said, as if to draw down the floating mist: "Happy? I...  I
happy?"

The other murmured: "Happy, rich.  Insatiate, yet satisfied.  How
delicious everything would be! I could tell you tales that would
shut everything but yourself out.  Wouldn't you like to be happy?
If there's
anything that worries you, I can shut it away from you.  Think
what you might be missing."

Pauline said: "I don't understand."

The other went on: "My dear, it's so simple.  If you will come
with me, I can fill you, fill your body with any sense you choose.
I can make you feel whatever you'd choose to be.  I can give you
certainty of joy
for every moment of life.  Secretly, secretly; no other soul-no
other living soul."

Pauline tingled as she listened.  Shut up within herself--shut up
till that very day with fear and duty for only companions--with
silence and forbearance as only possibilities--she felt a vague
thrill of promised delight.  Against it her release that day began
already to seem  provisional and weak.  She had found calm,
certainly; only ten minutes earlier that calm had seemed to her
more than she could ever have hoped.  She loved it still; she owed
to it this interval of indulgent communion with something other
than calm.  The communion threatened the calm with a more
entrancing sensation of bliss; she felt almost that she had too
rashly abandoned her tribulation for a substitute that was but a
cold gift, when warm splendour had been waiting to enrapture her.
In the very strength of her new-found security she leaned from it,
as from the house itself; as within a tower of peace, with
deliberate purpose she swung
the gate more wide.  Inconceivably she all but regretted the fear
that would have been an excuse, even a just reason, for accepting
a promise of more excitement of satisfaction than peace and
freedom could
give or could excuse.  Peace had given her new judgment, and
judgment began to lament her peace.  If she opened the gate, if
the far vision of her returning vision gave her speed and strength
to leap from it to this more thrilling refuge! And while her heart
beat more quickly and her mind laboured at once to know and not to
know its desires, a voice slid into her ear, teasing her, speeding
her blood, provoking her
purpose.  It spoke of sights and sounds, touches and thrills, and
of entire oblivion of harm; nothing was to be that she did not
will, and everything that she willed, to the utmost fullness of
her heart, should be.  She would be enough for herself.  She could
dream for ever, and her dream should for ever be made real.  "Come
soon," it said, "come now.  I'll wait for you here.  In a few
minutes you'll be free, and then you'll
come; you shall be back soon.  Give me your hand and I'll give you
a foretaste now." A hand came into hers, a pulse against her wrist
beat with significance of breathless abandonment to delirious joy.
She
delayed in a tremulous and pleasurable longing.

"But how?" she murmured, "how can all this happen? how do I know
what I want? I've never thought ... I don't know anyone . . . and
to be alone. . . ."

"Give me your hand," the other said, "then come and dream, till
you discover, so soon, the ripeness of your dream."  She paused,
and added, "You'll never have to do anything for others any more."

It was the last touch, and false, false because of the habit
of her past and because of Stanhope's promise.  The fountain of
beauty had sprung upward in a last thrust; it broke against the
arched roof of his world, and the shock stung her into coldness.
Never have to do anything--and she had been promising herself that
she would carry someone's parcel as hers had been carried, that
she would be what he
said she could.  Like it or not, it had been an oath; rash or wise
it stood.

"An oath, an oath, I have an oath in heaven." She had been reading
more verse of late, since she had had to speak Stanhope's, and the
holy words engulfed her in the sound which was so much more than
she.  "An oath, an oath. . . . Shall I lay perjury upon my soul?"
The wind, rising as if to a storm, screamed "perjury" through the
sky that held the Hill and all; false, false! she perjured in that
last false gleam.  She was come; "false, fleeting, perjured Clarence!
Seize on him, Furies....  The word, Antaean, sprang hundred-voiced
around her, and held her by every gripping voice.  Perjury,
on her soul and in her blood, if now she slipped to buy sweets
with money that was not hers; never, till it was hers in all love
and princely good, by gift and gift and gift beyond excelling gift,
in no secrecy of greed but all glory of public exchange, law of the
universe and herself a child of the universe.  Never till he--not
Pascal nor the Jesuits nor the old chattering pattering woman but he;
not moonlight or mist or clouding dust but he; not any power in
earth or heaven but he or the peace she had been made bold to bid
him-till they bade her take with all her heart what nothing could
then forbid.  An oath, an oath, an oath in heaven, and heaven
known in the bright oath itself, where two loves struck together,
and the serene light of substitution shone, beyond her understanding
but not beyond her deed.  She flung the gate shut, and snatched
her hands away, and as it clanged she was standing upright, her
body a guard flung out on the frontier of her soul.  The other
woman was at the gate--of garden or world or soul--leaning to but
not over it, speaking hurriedly, wildly, and the voice rising on
the wind and torn and flung on the wind: "Everything, anything;
anything, everything; kindness to me . . . help to me ... nothing
to do for others, nothing to do with others ... everything,
everything. . ."

The door behind her was opened; the maid's voice said doubtfully:
"Miss Pauline?"

Pauline, rigid at her post, said, turning her head a little: "You
wanted me?"

Phoebe murmured: "Your grandmother's asking for you, Miss Pauline,
if you could come."

Pauline said, "I'm coming." She looked over the gate; she added in
a voice hard with an unreasoning hostility: "Good night." She ran in.




                           Chapter Seven

                       JUNCTION OF TRAVELLERS

The dead man walked in his dead town.  It was still, quiet and
deserted; he too was quiet in it.  He had now, for long, no need
to worry.  Nagging voice and niggling hunger were gone.  It was
heaven enough; he sought nothing else.  Dead or alive, or neither
dead nor alive, he was free from the sick fear which the Republic
had imposed on him.  The stigmata of his oppression burned and
ached no more.  His tired feet had lightness; his worn form
energy.  He did not know or care if he were in the body or out of
the body.  For the first time he needed nothing, and nothing
distressed him.  He walked, sat, stretched himself out.  He-did
not sleep, for he did not need sleep.  Sometimes he wondered a
little that he was never hungry or thirsty.  It was an odd place
he was in, but he did not grow tired of it any more than of
walking through it.  So much the better if he were not hungry or
thirsty or tired.  As for luxuries, he could not have missed them,
for he had never had them, nor, then and there, was it permitted
him to feel any want.

The faint light persisted.  Time had no measurement except by the
slow growth of his interior quiet, and to him none.  All the
capacities of satisfaction in one ordinary life, which have their
fulfillment in many ways, in him there were concentrated on that
quiet.  Monotony could not exist where all duration was a slow
encouragement of rest.  Presently he even found himself looking up
into the sky for the moon.  The moon in his mind was, since his
death, connected with the world he had known, with his single room
and his wife, his enemies and tyrants.  He felt, now safe, from
it; he seriously expected its appearance, knowing that he was
free.  If the big pale ball had floated up, a balloon in which
everything harmful was borne away, busy, but not with him, he
would have been mildly pleased.  He knew that that balloon was for
ever cut off from him.  Moon, balloon, it could not drop anyone
among these shells of houses.  If it did, whoever it dropped would
be caught in the shells.  He had been a good-tempered little
victim, but there were one or two in the past whom he could
placidly have borne to see scrabbling and thrusting at the
scaffolding and cage.  He did not exactly resent, in that quiet,
anything they had done-a foreman, a mate, a brother, a wife, but
perhaps, as the unmeasured time did pass, he felt a little more
strongly that he would enjoy his freedom more if he saw them
defeated.  In the past they had taken  everything from him.  It
would not be unpleasant now to see them raging with a wish to get
at him, and, in that air, defeated.

He sat opposite his ladder, after a long, long while, and let the
fancy grow.  It was then that he first noticed a change.  The
light was growing stronger.  It was, again, a long while between
the first faintest hint of it and any notice he took, and again
between his first faint wonder and his belief, and again between
belief and certainty.  At the end of all those long periods, there
was not much perceptible difference in the sky.  Centuries passed
before that difference grew more marked, but that too came.  He
had sat watching it, dimly, peacefully.  He rose then, not quickly
but more quickly than he had been used to move.  He stirred with a
hardly discernible unease.

It seemed as if the light were spreading steadily down, from
somewhere away in the height.  He did not positively see that any
patch of sky was whiter than the rest, but he was looking for such
a patch.  The increase must have a centre of expansion.  It must
come from somewhere.  No moon, no sun, no cause of illumination.
Only sometimes a kind of wave of movement passed down the sky, and
then it was lighter.  He did not like it.

If he had asked himself why, he could not have easily answered.
It did not disturb his quiet.  He was as lonely and peaceful as
before.  No sound was in his City, foot or voice.  But vaguely the
light distracted him from his dim pleasure of imagining, imagining
disappointment.  His imagination could hardly, by ordinary
standards, be said to be good or bad.  It was a pleasure in
others' anger, and bad; but the anger was that of tyrannical
malice, and the imagined disappointment of it was good.  Some such
austere knowledge the Divine John saw in heaven, where
disappointed hell is spread and smokes before the Lamb.  But the
Lamb and the angels do not imagine hell to satisfy their lust, nor
do he nor the angels determine it, but only those in hell; if it
is, it is a fact, and, therefore, a fact of joy.  In that peace
which had been heaven to the vagrant, he had begun to indulge a
fancy of his own; he went beyond the fact to colour the fact.

Light grew.  He began to walk.  He had done so, often enough,
through that great period of recreation, for pure pleasure of
change.  Now he had, for the first time, a purpose unacknowledged.
He wished to escape the light.  It was desirable that he should
still be left alone.  He did not trust the light to let him alone.
It was desirable that he should be free to make pictures for
himself and to tell himself tales.  He did not trust the light to
let him do it.  He moved gently; there was no need, here, to run.
The need that was not concealed from him, his first inclination to
run.  He had run often enough for others' pleasure, but this was
the first time    he had been tempted to run for his own.

The light still gently spread.  As gently he went away from it,
down the hill.  His choice was in this direction; it was
brightest, by a little, at the top.  As, through a still
unmeasured period, he went drifting, changes came on the hill.  He
did not at first notice them.  Long as he had wandered, he had not
marked detail of building there.  But, unnoticed, details had
altered.  It was now a town half-built, not ruined.  When he had
climbed that skeleton shape of a house, or of himself, he had done
so in the midst of a devastation.  As he went away from it towards
the bottom the devastation became incomplete erection. Houses were
unfinished, roads unmade, yet they were houses and roads.  Roofs
were on, scaffolding gone. The change was irregular, more as if
some plants had outgrown others than as if order had been
established by man. He went soundlessly down the slope of the
thickening vegetation, and as on the bare height the light was
fullest, so here instead of light, shadows grew thicker.  Between
them the pallid light of his experience grew stronger by contrast.
He would not look at the new light; there was increased for him by
opposition the presence of the old.  He had gone some way, and
some time, unnoticing, inclined to linger upon his tales and
dreams, when he was startled into knowledge.  He had turned his
back upon light and had not remarked erection. He saw suddenly, at
a distance in front of him, a flash. He stopped and stared. It was
no longer a flash but a gleam.  He was looking at, far off, the
reflection of light upon glass--of what he would, in lost days,
have called the sun upon a window.

A thrust of fear took him; he could not, for a moment, go on. He
stood blinking; after a while, he turned his head.  There was
behind him a long space of shadows and pale light, but beyond
that, away beyond the house where he had died, there was a broad
stretch of high ground, bare and rocky, rising higher than he had
ever thought, and all bright with, he supposed, the sun. A rich,
golden splendour, beyond all, at the height of all, played
flashing upon some other glittering surface; it was not glass
there, but ice. He stared back as he had stared forward. He could
not dare return to that, also he was unwilling to go on down
towards the gleaming window below.  That meant the world; he could
not, after so much peace, return to the world. Why could he not
sit and imagine a moon and thwarted creatures dropped from the
moon into a world that mocked them? It was not much to ask.

It was too much; he could not have it.  False as the Republic had
been to him, making his life dreadful, he had not deserved, or he
could not have, an infinity of recompense.  He could not have this
in utter exchange for that.  Exchange had been given; temporal
justice, for what it is worth, done.  Now incidents were no more
counted, on this side or the other.  He must take the whole--with
every swiftness of the Mercy, but the whole he must have.

He saw that the exhibition of light was moving towards him.  It
had reached the house where he had died.  He noticed, even in his
alarm, that the buildings now ended there.  In his earlier
wanderings he had gone among the ruins both above and below it,
but now the bare rock rose above--or ice, as he had first thought.
It went up, in blocks and irregularities of surface, until, some
distance beyond, it opened on one broad sweep, smooth and
glittering, rounding towards the top of the Hill; upon it, by some
trick of sight, the sunlight seemed active.  It was not changed,
but it ran.  It hastened in sudden charges of intensity, now
across, now down.  The unchanging rock beneath the unchanging sun
responded to that countermarching, evoked into apparent
reordination.  It was perhaps this which terrified him, for there
the earth was earth still and yet alive.  In the strict sense of
the words it was living stone.

He stood for some minutes staring, and entranced.  But at some
sudden charge downwards from the height towards the house, and him
beyond it, he broke.  He gave a little cry, and ran.  He ran down
towards the bottom of the Hill, among the houses, towards that
house where the glass was.  As he ran he saw, for the first time
since he had entered that world, other forms, inhabitants of a
state for which there were no doubt many names, scientific,
psychological, theological.  He did not know the names; he knew
the fact.

The return of time upon itself, which is in the nature of death,
had caught him.  Margaret Anstruther had, in a vision within a
dream, decided upon death, not merely in her own world but in that
other.  Her most interior heart had decided, and the choice was so
profound that her past experiences and opacities could only obey.
She had no work of her present union with herself to achieve; that
was done.  But this man had died from and in the body only.
Because he had had it all but forced on him, he had had
opportunity to recover.  His recovery had brought to him a chance
of love.  Because he had never chosen love, he did not choose it
then.  Because he had never had an opportunity to choose love, nor
effectively heard the intolerable gospel proclaimed, he was to be
offered it again, and now as salvation.  But first the faint hints
of damnation were permitted to appear.

He was running down a street.  It was a street that closed in on
him.  He did not notice, in his haste, that it was a street much
like those in which most of his life had been spent.  He saw, in
front of him, at a great distance, two living forms, a man and a
girl; at which he ran with increased speed.  Since he had begun to
go down the Hill he had lost his content in being alone; he smelt
solitude as if it were the odour of bare rock, and he hated it.
He heard, more vividly with every step, no sound.  He could not
hear those forms walking, but he saw them; it was enough; he ran.
He was catching them-up, running very fast through his old life to
do it.  When he was within a hundred yards the girl looked over
her shoulder.  He checked in midpace, his foot heavily thudding
down, and he almost falling.  He saw, with sharp clarity, the face
of the girl who had been his wife.  Her mouth was opening and
shutting on words, though the words were silent.  It had always
been opening and shutting.  At once, without looking round, the
figure arm in arm with hers released itself, stopped, and as if
moving by the direction of that busily talking mouth, took' a step
or two backwards.  Then it paused, and with a weary care began
slowly to turn itself round.  The dead man saw the movement.  It
became terribly important that he should escape before the youth
he had been caught him and dragged him in or make a third with
them, and to listen again to that hated and loathed voice--always
perhaps; the prisoner of those two arms, the result and victim of
his early desire.  He ran hastily back again up the street.

Presently he glanced behind him, and could not see them.  He
trotted a little farther, looked round again, saw the street
empty-the street that was recovering the appearance of a street
upon the Hill-and dropped to a walk.  Only he could not go on
right to the end, though he had come thence, for he could see
across it a beam of faint but growing sun, as the ocean beams at
the end of a road.  He did not think of the image, for he had not
seen the sea, since his childhood; and that time would not be
remembered until he reached it.  An instinct, none the less,
warned him; so he did not make his way to where, ready for him, in
that twisting maze of streets and times, a gutter child played on
his only seaside holiday, and cried because a bigger boy had
bullied him.  Sea or sun-sun to him-it was the light he wished to
avoid.  He hesitated, and took a side turning, where under the
eaves some darkness was left.

The image was growing more complex and more crowded, for, as if
the descending light, the spreading harshness of rock and ice,
crowded them and the streets grew shorter, more involved,
themselves more populous with figures.  Once it was a sneering
foreman, who drove his face-hidden shape towards him; once--how he
got there he did not know--it was someone's back on a ladder
carrying a rope, going up no doubt, but perhaps coming down to
throw the rope round him before he slipped away.  Once he turned
from a figure leaning against a lamp-post, quite still, with a
stealthy suspense, as if it might dodge round the lamp-post,
pretending that the post hid what it could not hide, and making to
play a game that was not a kind game.  And each time he slipped
away or turned away, it was more like running away, and
continually he would see, here and there in the distance, the beam
of light on icy rock and sniff the bitter smell of the place of no
return.

So presently he was running very quickly, with a sense that they
were now after him.  They had begun to be bolder, they were
leaning out of windows, stumbling out of streets, lurching,
shambling, toiling after him.  He had read somewhere Of a man
being trampled to death, and he thought of that now, only he could
not envisage death, any more than Pauline the end of luxurious
dream.  He could only think of trampling He ran faster then, for
he did not see how he would ever be able to get up, those
apparitions of his terror would be too many and too strong.  For
the first time in that world he began to feel exhausted; and now
the streets were slipping by, and the feet were coming up, and in
a central daze that dance of time and truth all round him, he felt
himself stopping.  He inwardly consented; he stood still.

As he did so, there came about him also a cessation.  The street
was still; the feet silent.  He drew a breath.  He saw in front of
him a house, and at a window, a window with glass, where no light
gleamed, he saw a face, the face of an old woman, whom never in
all his life had he seen before.  He saw her as a ghost in the
shadow, within the glass, but the glass was only a kind of faint
veil--of ceremony or of habit, though he
did not think of it so.  He felt it did not matter, for he and the
other were looking directly at each other.  He wanted to speak; he
could not find words to utter or control.  He broke into a cry, a
little wail, such as many legends have recorded and many jokes
mocked.  He said: "Ah! ah!" and did not think it could be heard.

The old face looked at him, and he was trembling violently,
shaking to see the apparitions of this world's living, as they
shake to see the phantasms of the dead.  He knew he was not
afraid, as they are often afraid; this was almost the first face
he had seen, in the body or out of the body, of which he was not
afraid.  Fear, which separates man from man, and drives some to be
hostile, and some tyrannical, and some even to be friendly, and so
with spirits of that state of deathly time, abandoned him.  Fear,
which never but in love deserts mortal man, deserted him there.
Only he could not do or say any more.  He stared, hungrily,
hopefully.  He waited, selfishly certain she would go, sweetly
sure she would stay.  She said, as he waited: "My dear, how tired
you look!"

To Margaret herself the images were becoming confused.  She did
not, for a good part of the time, know of any, being engaged
merely, beyond her own consciousness, in passing through that
experience which in her dream had meant crawling over the stretch
of open rock.  Some hint of memory of it recurred to her at
moments.  She had on this evening known nothing but a faint sense
of slow dragging in her limbs, an uneasiness in her body as if it
lay rough, a labouring in her breath as if she toiled.  Then she
had felt herself lying on rock, holding a spike of rock, and
instinctively knew she had to do something, and clasped the spike
with energy-it had to do with Pauline; and a bell--the great bell
of the dead, or the bell of the living on the Hill, or her own
little bell, or all at once--had rung; and as it did so, she saw a
strange face looking at her from a crevice of darkness below.
Then she knew it; it was the face of the strange man in her dream.
She was aware that Pauline was coming over the rock through a door
of great stones like Stonehenge, but Pauline was behind, and
across in front of a gleam of mountain light that pierced her room
was the shadow of the weary and frightened face.  She said with a
fresh spring of pure love, as if to Pauline or Phoebe or anyone:
"My dear, how tired you look!"

He tried to answer, to thank her, to tell her more, to learn
salvation from her.  His life, in and out of the body, had
forgotten the time when a woman's voice had last sounded with
friendship in his ears.  He wanted to explain.   his face was
neither light nor darkness but more tolerable and deeper than
either, as, he felt it, for it had leaned towards him in love.  He
made efforts to speak, and seemed to himself to do no more than
cry out again, wordlessly and wailingly.  The sound he made
communicated his fear, and she answered him from her withdrawn
experience of death, as from his less withdrawn spirit of poetry
Stanhope had answered Pauline--nothing could be worth such
distress.  Or nothing, at least, but one thing-the coming out of
it into tender joy.  She said: "But wait: wait for it."

Pauline had come in from the garden, and as she ran through the
hall she was furiously angry with herself.  She did not very well
know what the woman in the street had offered, beyond indefinable
sweet and thrilling excitements.  But she felt, her foot on the
first stair, that she had regretted, that she had grudged and been
aggrieved with, the new change in her life.  She had almost, if by
God's mercy not quite, wished that Peter Stanhope had not
interfered.  No range of invective--and she had a pretty, if
secret, range--sufficed her for herself.  She struck her hand
against the wall as she ran, and wished that it was her head, or
that someone--Stanhope for preference, but it didn't much matter;
anyone would do--would pick her up and throw her violently over the
banisters to the floor below, knocking the breath out of her body,
and leaving her bruised and gasping, looking like the fool she
was.  She put all herself into despising herself, and her scorn
rode triumphant through her: a good thing under direction, but
dangerous to the lonely soul.  So ambiguously repentant, she came
into her grandmother's room, and saw suddenly that the justice of
the universe had taken her earlier word, and abandoned her.

It was not so, but at the window there was a face; and she had, in
the first shock, supposed it was hers.  The obsession of her
visitation returned, through the double gate of her repining and
her rage.  It was coming, it was come, it was here.  Her wild
spirit sickened in her; and as she felt its power dissolve, she
sprang to the other power the knowledge of which, at least, her
anger had preserved.  Ashamed of betrayal, unashamed of repentance
and dependence, she sprang.  She knew with all her soul's consent
that Peter Stanhope had taken over her fear; was, now, one with
it; and it was not, for he was in power over it.  Among the leaves
of his eternal forest he set it, and turned it also to everlasting
verse.  Evading or not evading, repining or not repining, raging
or not raging, she was Periel; she was the least of the things he
had created new; ecce, omnia nova facio.  She was a line of his
verse, and beyond that-for the thought of him took that high
romantic self-annihilation and annihilated it in turn--she was
herself in all freedom and courage.  She was herself, for the
meeting with herself.  She stepped forward-lightly, almost with
laughter.  It was not yet she.

As she gazed, she heard her grandmother speak.  The room, for
those three spirits, had become a place on the unseen mountain.
they inhabited a steep.  The rock was in them, and they in it.  In
Margaret Anstruther it lived; it began to Put out its energy of
intellectual love.  At least to the dead man it was felt as love,
as love that loved him, as he longingly and unknowingly desired.
This holy and happy thing was all that could be meant by God: it
was love and power.  Tender to the least of its creatures, it
submitted itself to his need, but it is itself always that it
submits, and as he received it from those eyes and the sound of
that voice he knew that another thing awaited him-his wife, or the
light, or some renewal of his earlier
death.  Universal, it demanded universality.  The peace
communicated there was of a different kind from the earlier
revival of rest.  And the woman said: "It's done already; you've
only got to look for it."

As Pauline had moved forward, the face at the window disappeared
from her sight.  She drew breath; it had been an accident of
light; there had been no face.  She turned to look at her
grandmother, and saw her lying very still, her eyes on the window
as if she could still see something there.  Quiet as she lay, she
was in action.  Her look, her voice, showed it: her voice, for she
spoke, but very low, and Pauline could not hear
the words.  She caught the sound; lightly she threw herself on her
knees by the bed-and half fulfilled her earlier passionate desire
for subordination.  For the first time in her young distracted
life her energy leapt to a natural freedom of love.  She ran
swiftly down the way her master had laid open; she said, in words
almost identical with his: "Let me do something, let me carry it.
Darling, do let me help." Margaret gave her hand a small gentle
pressure, but kept her eyes beyond her still.

The silence in that place became positive with their energies, and
its own.  The three spirits were locked together, in the capacity
of Margaret's living stone.  The room about them, as if the
stillness expressed its nature in another mode, grew sharply and
suddenly cold, Pauline's mind took it as the occasional sharp
alteration of a summer evening; she moved to go and turn on the
electric fire, for fear her grandmother should feel the chill, and
that natural act, in her new good will, was no less than any high
offer of goodness and grace.  But Margaret knew the other natural
atmosphere of the icy mountain, where earthly air was thin in the
life of solitude and peak.  It was the sharp promise of fruition--her
prerogative was to enter that transforming chill.  The dead
man also felt it, and tried to speak, to be grateful, to adore, to
say he would wait for it and for the light.  He only moaned a
little, a moan not quite of pain, but of intention and the first
faint wellings of  recognized obedience and love.  All his past
efforts of good temper and kindness were in it; they had seemed to
be lost; and they lived.

But that moan was not only his.  As if the sound released
something greater than itself, another moan answered it.  The
silence groaned.  They heard it.  The supernatural mountain on
which they stood shook and there went through Battle Hill itself
the slightest vibration from that other quaking, so that all over
it china tinkled, and papers moved, and an occasional ill-balanced
ornament fell.  Pauline stood still and straight.  Margaret shut
her eyes and sank more deeply into her pillow.
@The dead man felt it and was drawn back away from that window
into his own world of being, where also something suffered and was
free.  The groan was at once dereliction of power and creation of
power.  In it, far off, beyond vision in the depths of all the
worlds, a god, unamenable to death, awhile endured and died.





                         Chapter Eight

                        DRESS REHEARSAL

Among the many individualized forms, dead or living, upon the Hill, there
was one neither dead nor living.  It was the creature which had lingered
outside the illusion of Eden for the man who had consented to its
company.  It had neither intellect nor imagination; it could not
criticize or create, for the life of its substance was only the magical
apparition of its father's desires.  It is said in the old tales that the
devil longs to become incarnate that he may challenge the Divine Word in
his own chosen house of flesh and that he therefore once desired and
overshadowed a maid.  But even at the moment of conception a mystical
baptism fell on the child, and the devil was cast out of his progeny at
the moment of entrance.  He who was born of that purified intercourse
with angelic sacrilege was Merlin, who, wisest of magicians, prophesied
and prefigured the Grail-quest, and built a chapel to serve the Table
till Logres came to an end, and the Merciful Child Galahad discovered the
union in a Mass of the Holy Ghost which was sung by Messias among a great
company of angels.  Since that frustrating transubstantiation the devil
has never come near to dominion over a mortal woman.  His incubi and
succubi which tempt and torment the piety of anchorites, are phantasms,
evoked from and clouded and thickened with the dust of the earth or the
sweat of the body or the shed seed of man or the water of ocean, so as to
bewilder and deceive longing eyes and eager hands.

The shape of Lawrence Wentworth's desire had emerged from the power of
his body. He had assented to that making, and again, outside the garden
of satisfied dreams, he had assented to the company of the shape which
could not be except by his will and was imperceptibly to possess his
will.  Image without incarnation, it was the delight of his incarnation
for it was without any of the things that troubled him in the incarnation
of the beloved.  He could exercise upon it all arts but one; he could not
ever discover by it or practise towards it the freedom of love.  A man
cannot love himself, he can only idolize it, and over the idol
delightfully tyrannize without purpose.  The great gift which this simple
idolatry of self gives is lack of further purpose; it is, the saints tell
us, a somewhat similar thing that exists in those wholly possessed by
their End; it is, human experience shows, the most exquisite delight in
the interchanges of romantic love.  But in all loves but one there are
counterpointing times of purposes; in this only there are none.

They had gone down the hill together, the man and that creature of
illusion which had grown like the flowers of Eastern magic between the
covering and uncovering of a seed.  The feminine offspring of his
masculinity clung to him, pressing her shoulder against him, turning eyes
of adoration on him, stroking his fingers with her own.  The seeming
trance prolonged itself in her in proportion as it passed from his own
senses; he could plunge again into its content whenever the creature
looked at or spoke to him.  Their betrothal had been celebrated thus
before they began to walk down the hill, and in that betrothal a fraction
of his intelligence had slept never to wake.  During the slow walk his
child dallied with his senses and had an exquisite perception of his
needs.  Adela walked by him and cajoled him-in the prettiest way-to love
her.  He was approached, appeased, flattered, entreated.  There flowed
into him from the creature by his side the sensation of his absolute
power to satisfy her.  It was what he had vehemently and in secret
desired-to have his own way under the pretext of giving her hers.  This
was the seed which grew in his spirit and from which in turn his spirit
grew-the core of the fruit and also the fruit of the core.  The vagrant
of matter murmured to him; it surrounded him with devotion, as very well
it could, seeing what the only reality of its devotion was.  He did not
need to say much, nor himself to initiate approach. It took all that
activity upon itself; and the sweet reproaches which its mouth offered
him for having misunderstood and neglected and hurt it were balm to his
mind.  He had hurt her--then he had not been hurt or she did not know
it.  He was wanted--then he need not trouble to want or to know he
wanted.  He was entreated by physical endearments-in languorous joy he
consented to gratify the awful ambiguity of his desire.

At his own gate they had paused.  There, for a little, he almost
recovered himself; his habitual caution leapt into action.  He thought
for himself. "Suppose anyone saw us?" and looked anxiously up at the
windows.  They were dark; his servants were asleep in their own rooms at
the back of the house.  He glanced up and down the road; no one was
about.  But his caution, having struck one note, passed to another; he
looked down at the creature who stood opposite him.  It was Adela in
every point, every member and article: its hair, its round ears, its full
face, its plump hands, its square nails, its pink palms, its gestures,
its glances.  Only that appealing softness was new, and by that same
appealing softness he knew clearly for an instant that it was not Adela
who had returned by his side.

He stared at it and a shudder seized him; he took a half-step away, and
the first chance of escape was offered.  He wondered, desperately,
perhaps in a little hope, if it would say good-night and go away.  His
hand was on the latch of the gate, yet he hesitated to do anything so
certain as to go sharply through.  He looked up and down the street;
perhaps someone would come.  He had never before wanted to see Hugh
Prescott; now he did.  If Hugh would come and slip his arm through
Adela's and take her away! But Hugh could not save him unless he wanted
the thing that was Hugh's, and not this other thing.  The thought of Hugh
had done all it could when it reminded him of the difference between the
real and the unreal Adela.  He must face jealousy, deprival, loss, if he
would be saved.  He fled from that offer, and with a sudden snarl
clutched his companion by the arm.  It leaned closer to him, and
otherwise circumstance lay still.  It yearned to him as @if it feared to
be disappointed, which indeed at the bottom of his heart he infinitely
did.  It put one hand upon his heart.  It said, in a breathless whisper:
"You won't send me away?"  Adela and his refusal to know Adela in
relation to Hugh rose in him; sensuality and jealousy twined.  He swung
open the gate.  It said: "Be kind to me, be whatever you want, but don't
send me away." He had never been able to dream of a voice so full of
passion and passion for him.  The hand that smoothed his heart was the
hand that had lain in Hugh's, yet it was not; he crushed it in his own,
relieved from agony and released to a pretended vengeance.  His mind
became giddy.  He caught the whole form tighter, lest indeed Hugh should
come striding out of the night, tall as a house, and stretch out a huge
animal hand, and pull her from his arm.  He moved to the threshold; as if
it swooned against him it drooped there with all its weight upon his
heart and side.  He muttered thickly: "Come on, come on," but it seemed
past movement.  Its voice still murmured incoherent passion, but its
limbs were without strength to take the step.  He said: "Must I carry
you?" and the head fell back, and the voice in a trance of abandonment
answered: "Carry me, carry me." He gathered it to his arms and lifted it;
it lay there, no more than an easy weight.

As he moved, his mind spoke, or more than his mind.  The whole air of the
Hill said in his ear, with a crisp intelligence: "You fool, that's not
Adela; you couldn't carry Adela.  What do you think you'll get out of
anything that isn't Adela?" He recognized well enough that the real Adela
might have given him considerable trouble to lift, but his whole
damnation was that he would not choose the trouble to lift the real
Adela.  This thing was light in his arms, though solid to his heart, and
his brain was dazed by its whispers.  He came over the threshold and
when they had entered the garden it found its feet again, and went along
with him to the complacency of his dream.

Since that night it had come to him often, as on that night it had been
all he could desire. it had been an ape of love's vitality, and a parody
also of its morality.  It possessed a semblance of initiative, and it had
appeased, as is all lovers' duty, the fantasies of his heart; it had
fawned on him and provoked him.  He had no need of the devices against
fertility which, wisely or unwisely, the terrible dilemmas of men drive
them to use, for he consummated a marriage whose infertility was assured.
 This, which it made clear to him for his satisfaction, a little troubled
him, for it reminded him, until he managed to forget, of its true nature.
 He was outraging his intelligence with this invited deceit, and he did
not wish to know it.  But it passed, for he was given good measure after
his kind.  There was no lack of invention and pleasure, for the other
forming of sterile growth from sterile root was far off, lying in the
necessity of the stir of distant leaves on the side of the mountain where
he had no thought to come.

The days went by, and still he was consoled.  In the mornings it had
gone; in the early summer dawns it wakened him to whisper farewells, and
his heavy drugged sleep only understood that here also it was fulfilling
his need.  He had not at first very clearly understood why or where it
was going, but he did not then care, for it promised him, leaning naked
over him, that it would always return.  Whether it were then Adela or a
being like Adela he was too full of slumber to care; it was going; he
need not trouble; for whenever he needed her, it would return.  If it
were Adela, she ought to get away; if it were not Adela, it ought still
to go away, because there would be the morning and the world.... So much
his drowsiness let through to him; and it went, showing him itself, in a
faithful copy of his half-realized wishes, to the end.  For contenting
him with its caution, it gathered up the articles of its apparent dress,
and presently all clothed it stole across the room, and by the door it
turned, and with one gesture promised him itself again.  In the dawn, at
once by that gesture clothed and unclothed, it had shone before him, a
pale light burning against the morning, the last flickering fire of the
corpse-candles of the insubstantial; then it had passed, and left him to
sleep.  So when later they brought him his early tea, he was alone; but
that day while he drank, he found the thought of the Adela of past days a
little disagreeable-no longer troublesome or joyous but merely
disagreeable.  He would have to meet her, no doubt, one day; meanwhile he
was entirely at peace, and he did not want to think of anything at all.
He lay and drank, and was still.

As the days went by, he found that his child kept her promise.  He could
not conceive a way of coming that, sooner or later, she did not take, nor
a manner of love that, sooner or later, she did not fulfil.  Since it was
more and more Adela, he was instinctively careful never to conceive a
meeting which conflicted with the possibilities of the actual Adela; he
asked of his nightly bedfellow nothing but secret advents or accidental
encounters.  But these gradually he multiplied; and always it answered.
By chance, in the street, at first by late night, but afterwards earlier.
 For once this Adela said to him, in a casual phrase, to which only his
own veiled knowledge gave a double meaning: "They won't remember if they
see me." So he dared to walk with it sometimes for variation, but then
they went always through the lower darker streets of the Hill, and at
first they met no one whom he knew, and presently no one at all. But
Adela Hunt wondered sometimes why she never seemed to run against
Lawrence Wentworth by chance in the streets of Battle Hill.

Yet, in the order of the single universe known to myriads of minds, the
time and place that belongs to each of those myriads has relation to
others; and though the measurement of their experiences may differ, there
is something common to them all in the end.  Sometimes where time varies
place is stable; or where places intermingle time is secure, and
sometimes the equilibrium of both, which is maintained in so many living
minds, swings into the place of the dead.  Sometimes the dead know it,
and sometimes the living; a single clock ticks or a single door opens in
two worlds at once.  The chamber of that dark fundamental incest had had
the dead man for its earliest inhabitant, though his ways and Wentworth's
had been far apart-as far as incest from murder, or as selfworship from
self-loathing, and either in essence false to all that is.  But the
self-worship of the one was the potential source of cruelty, as the
self-loathing of the other was the actual effect of cruelty; between them
lay all the irresolute vacillations of mankind, nourishing the one and
producing the other.  All who had lived, or did or could live, upon
Battle Hill, leaned to one or the other, save only those whom holy love
had freed by its revelation of something ever alien from and conjoined
with the self.

In Wentworth's old dream he had climbed down a rope securely and not
unpleasantly, much as the world of our culture sways on the rope from the
end of which the outcasts of civilization swing in a strangled life.
Since the phantom of Adela had come to him the dream had disappeared.  He
slept deeply.  If he woke she would be there by his side, petting or
crooning to him; until one night he thought how pleasant it would be to
wake and look on her asleep, and the next time he woke, there indeed she
was, disposed to his wish.  But he found it troubled him; as he looked at
her in the silence he began to wonder, and to think of the other Adela
sleeping in her own house.  For a little he tried to find pleasure in
considering how in effect he possessed her without her knowledge or will,
but the effort was too much for his already enfeebled mind. He found
himself disliking the life of the actual Adela; he could be so happy with
the substance by him if only the other were dead.  But to know that she
did not know ... and that perhaps one day Hugh. . . . He had forgotten
Hugh in these last weeks, and in a hasty retreat to oblivion he woke the
creature from its apparent slumber, and in its yearnings and embraces
lost actuality again and lost himself.  He whispered to her then that she
must never sleep when he woke, so drawing another veil between himself
and the truth.

It was some nights afterwards that the dream returned.  For the first
time it troubled him.  He was climbing in the darkness down that shining
rope of silver, even more peacefully than ever he had climbed before.  He
was descending, he now vaguely imagined, towards a companion who waited
for him f'ar below, where the rope was fastened to the side of a cave@ in
an unseen wall. The companion had waited, was waiting, would wait; it
would never grow tired either of him or of waiting for him; that was why
it was there, with its soft bare arms, and its sweet eyes closed in the
dream of his approach.  As he descended, in that warm expectation, a
terrible sound broke on him.  The abyss groaned.  From above and below,
from all sides, the rending grief of a hardly tolerable suffering caught
him; he clung horribly to his rope, and the rope shook in the sound.  The
void became vocal with agony; the hollow above and the hollow below came
together in that groan of the very air, and it echoed from unseen walls,
and re-echoed, and slowly died.  Only once it came.  It was succeeded by
the ancient silence.  He listened breathlessly, but it did not recur.  It
had turned the dream into a nightmare for him; he shook on his rope, and
struggled in his body, and so he awoke, and there by his side, waking
also, was the companion he sought.  He clutched it and hid himself
against it; he hid his ears between its breasts and its hands, lest the
night should groan again. in his haste to hide himself, as if like others
he bad@ the mountains fall on him and the hills cover him, and in the
darkness of the room, he did not see the inhuman countenance.  It had
grown haggard and old; its fullness fell away; its eyes were blurred.
The meaning which he had given it had departed; an imbecile face stared
blankly over him.  The movements its body made were sufficient to cover
his distress, but they had been jerky and inorganic, as if an automaton
repeated its mechanical motions, and as if the mechanism were running
down.  For less than the time it took him to find refuge with her the
creature that lay there was millions of years older than the dying woman
by whom Pauline watched, while the pain of a god passed outwards from the
mountain depths, as from those where Prometheus hung, or downwards from
the cross that stood upon a hill that also was of skulls.  It united
itself with all spiritual anguish that received and took part with it; it
fell away from the closed ears in the beds of Gomorrah.  The dead man
looked at Margaret, Pauline thought of Stanhope and was at peace as it
ceased.  The renewed phantasm of peace received again the desire that
sprang in the heart of its father and lover, and throve and grew
beautiful on it.  Her terrible and infinite senility receded; Lawrence
Wentworth's strong deceit forbade her to pass on to death and recalled
her to apparent life.  The suicide in the body had lost the vision of his
destruction; the suicide in the soul had not yet reached his own.  The
thing became lovely with Adela's youth, and its lover slept.

In the morning, however, alone as usual, Wentworth was less at peace than
had been his wont since the thing had come to him.  In those earlier
hours the night and his nightly companion were always indistinct.  He
preferred that indistinctness; he preferred, in the bright July mornings,
to think of his work--the books he was reading, the book he was writing.
He remembered that he had still a letter to write against Aston Moffatt,
and had already begun it.  But though he thought about his next unwritten
sentence he could not ever manage to write it down.  He would often go to
his study in his dressing gown to get his papers, refusing to remember
why they were not, as in the old days they used to be, lying by his
bedside, or remembering only that it was because of the pleasant
fantasies of his brain.  So long as he could, in those early hours,
pretend that it was only a mental fantasy he felt happier; he did not,
just for those hours, quite like to admit that it was physical, because
its actuality would have seemed in some way more immoral than a mental
indulgence. His mind was certainly losing power.  Afterwards as the day
grew on, and the strength of his masculinity returned and swelled in him,
he came to repose on his knowledge of its actual presence.  But that
morning he was troubled; he felt obscurely that something was attacking
his peace.  He moved restlessly; he got up and walked about; he tried to
find refuge in this or the other thought; he failed.  He would not go out
that day; he sat about the house.  And as the day went on he became aware
that he feared to go out lest he should meet Adela Hunt, the real Adela
Hunt on some real errand.  He could not bear that; he could not bear her.
What right had she to make his beloved a false image of her? It was
after a solitary lunch and a fretful hour of work that he allowed himself
at last to long for the succubus by day, and by day, knocking at his
door-and he guessed who knocked and hurried himself to open it-it came.
It sat in his room, and talked to him, with his own borrowed
intelligence.  It spoke of Caesar and Napoleon, of generals and
campaigns-traditions it could not know, history it could not recall,
humanity it could not share.  And still, though he was less unhappy, he
was unhappy, for all that day, till the sun began to go down, he was
haunted by a memory of another Adela.  Even when his hand was on her bare
arm, or hers caressing his, he was dimly troubled.  He wanted to pull the
curtains, to lock the doors, to bar out what was in his brain by barring
his house, to be with what was irreconcilably not the world.  He wanted
either to shut himself wholly away from the world in a sepulchre of
desire and satiety and renewed desire; or to destroy if not the world,
at least one form that walked in the world.

His trouble was increased by the likelihood of the intrusion of the world
of the other Adela.  He had, weeks since, sent to Mrs. Parry drawings and
descriptions for the Grand Ducal uniforms.  She had rung him up once or
twice about them, and she was beginning to insist on his going round to
her house to approve the result.  He did not want to go to her house.  He
would be expected to be at the play, the performance of which was
approaching, and he did not want to be at the play.  Adela would be
acting, and he didn't want to see her in her eighteenth-century costume,
or any more at all.  He would have to speak to her and he did not want to
speak to her.  He wanted to be alone with his fantasies.  It was all the
busy world, with Adela as its chief, that still hampered him.  He could,
of course, shut himself away, but if he were to enjoy the phantasm of
Adela as he wanted to, his servants must see her and bring her tea and
accept her as a visitor, and then what would they think if they heard of
the actual Adela being seen somewhere else at the same time? Or if, by
chance, the actual Adela should call?  It knew, with that accuracy with
which it always prevented his desires, that he was disturbed about
something it-could not, until night came, cure.  It spent on him a
lingering gaze of love, and said "I must go." It caught and kissed his
hand in a hungry fire, and it looked up at him fervently and said:
"Tonight? Dear Lawrence, to-night?" He said "To-night", and desired to
add the name.  But he had never yet been able to do so-as if the name
were indeed something actual, sacramental of reality.  He said
"To-night", and pressed it and kissed it and took it to the door, which
he shut quickly, as he always did, for he had an uneasy wonder whether it
ever went anywhere, once it had parted from him, and he did not wish to
see it fade be-fore his eyes into the air which, this summer, was growing
so intolerably bright.

The unusual brightness had been generally noticed.  It was not a
heat-wave; the weather was too gay and airy for that.  It was an increase
in luminous power; forms stood out more sharply, voices were heard more
clearly.  There seemed to be a heightening of capacity, within and
without.  The rehearsals of the play increased in effect, a kind of
swiftness moved in the air; all things hastened.  People said: "What a
beautiful summer!" and went on saying it.  One afternoon Pauline heard
Stanhope, who had replied to that phrase a score of times, vary the reply
by saying with some surprise: "O, the summer, do you think?" But his
interlocutor had already been wafted away.

It was two days since the promise of substituted love, and it was their
first meeting.  She took advantage of her precursor's remark to say, as
she shook hands, and their glances exchanged affection: "What then, if it
isn't the summer?"

He shrugged delicately.  "Only, does it seem like the summer?" he asked.

"Not very," she said.  "But what do you think?"

"The air within the air, perhaps," he answered, half-serious.  "The thing
that increases everything that is, and decreases everything that isn't."

Pauline said, not upon any impulse of conventional chatter, "And which am
I?"

"O is," he said, "is, decidedly.  Unfortunately, perhaps, in many ways,
but final.  You haven't had any meetings yet?"

She began to answer and was cut short by new arrivals.  It was the day of
the dress rehearsal, and even the sophisticated practitioners of Battle
Hill felt a new excitement.

Climax was at hand.  The young and more innocent actors triumphed in a
delight modified by fear of their incapacity; the more experienced feared
the incapacity of others.  Adela Hunt, for instance, was anxious that
Periel and the Chorus should be her adequate background, and that her
dramatic lover should adore her urgently.  He, a nice boy and shy, was
too conscious of the Chorus individually to rise quite to the height of
them in a mass.  His voice still faltered with the smallest vibration of
awareness upon the invocation of the fire.  Mrs. Parry had pointed out to
him that he must be used to burning leaves, and he had agreed; still, at
the height of the verse, he trembled a little with the stress. The Bear,
on the other hand, was distracted between his own wish to be ursine and
Mrs. Parry's to be period.  His two great moments, however, were in
action rather than speech.  One was a heavy pursuit of the Princess; at
the other he and Periel intertwined in a dance among all the personages,
drawing them into a complexity of union.  He was not a pantomime bear; no
assistant completed quadrupedicity; he walked bowed but upright, a bear's
head, high furred boots, furred coat and gauntlets, making up the design
which signified or symbolized the growling mass of animal life.  Nor,
though he and the spirit of the spirits danced together, did they ever
meet or speak; between them always moved the mortal figures and
harmonized their incommunicable utterances.

It was the reputation of Peter Stanhope which had so largely increased
the excitement of this year's drama.  Public attention was given to it;
articles appeared in New York and paragraphs in Paris.  Seats had to be
reserved for a few-a very fewvery distinguished visitors; many others
could be and had to be refused.  The Press would be there.  A palpitation
of publicity went through the cast; the world seemed to flow towards
Battle Hill.  There was no denying that it was an event, almost a moment
in the history of the imagination; recognized as such by, at least, a not
inconsiderable minority of those who cared for such things, and a quite
inconsiderable minority of those who did not, but who read everything in
their papers.  Even the cast were provided with tickets; and the
rehearsal itself was guarded by a policeman.  A popular member of the
Chorus also stood by the gate and scrutinized all arrivals, as if the
bear and the spirit purged creation by power and knowledge.

The pressure of this outer world had modulated and unified the producer,
the performers, and every one else concerned with the play.  Harmony
became so necessary that it was actually achieved, fate and free-will
coinciding. Stanhope became so desirable that he was compelled to promise
to say a few words at the end.  A deference towards him exhibited itself.
 Adela rebuked Pauline for speaking lightly of the great man.

"I didn't know that you admired him so much yourself," Pauline said.

Adela, with an unfailing grasp of the real values of the world, said:
"Even if I didn't, he is respected by some very fine judges.  But I've
come to see there is more in him than I'd thought.  He's got a number of
curiously modern streaks under his romanticism."

When Adela mentioned romanticism Pauline, and most other people, changed
the conversation.  Otherwise it was a prelude to a long and complete
denunciation of all romantics as the enemies of true art.  True art had
been recently defined, by a distinguished critic, as "the factual
oblique", and of the factual oblique romanticism, it seemed, was
incapable, being neither clear enough to be factual or clever enough to
be oblique.  The factual oblique, incidentally, had not yet revealed to
Adela the oblique fact that she never mentioned romanticism when she was
with Hugh; any conversation in which it seemed likely to appear was
deflected before it arrived.  Pauline, not having been able to  reflect,
merely altered.

"There's Mr. Wentworth," she said.  "I do hope he approves of the Guard."

"He ought to have looked at them before," Adela said severely.  "He's
been terribly slack.  I suppose you haven't seen him lately?"

"No, not with grandmother and the play and everything," Pauline answered.
 "Have you?"

Adela shook her head.  Wentworth was moving slowly across the lawn
towards them. His eyes were on the ground; he walked heavily, and it was
as if by accident that he at last drew level with them.  Pauline said:
"Good afternoon, Mr. Wentworth."

He looked up at her and blinked.  It was true the air was very clear and
the sun very bright, yet Pauline was astonished by the momentary
difficulty he seemed to find in focusing her.  When he had got her right,
he slowly smiled, and said: "Ah! Good afternoon, Miss Anstruther."

Adela Hunt abruptly said: "Mr. Wentworth!"  He jumped.  Slightly but
definitely he jerked, and only then looked round. He looked, and there
was perplexity in his eyes.  He stared at the surprised Adela; he seemed
taken aback at seeing her, and almost to resent it.  A disagreeable shock
showed in his face, and was gone, as he answered: "Oh, yes; Misss Hunt";
a statement, not a greeting: a piece of information offered to the
inquiring mind.  Adela could not help noticing it, and was almost too
astonished to smile.  She couldn't believe the look had been acted, yet
he couldn't really be surprised.  She wondered if he were indeed secretly
angry, if it were a poor mad insult of an outraged mind, and decided it
couldn't be.

 She said briskly: "I hope you've approved of the uniforms."  He took a
step back.  He said, in real distress: "Oh, hush, hush, not so loud,"
and in turn he blinked at her, as if, when he had taken in her words,
they surprised him more. Little though she could know it, they did.  He
had supposed, in the night and the morning, that he had hated the Adela
of the world; He had had her in his imagination as an enemy and a
threat.  He had overrated her.  She was, in fact, nothing like what he
had, and now he had met her he had hardly recognized her. There had been
a girl, talking to--to--the name had again escaped him--to the other girl,
whose shape had reminded him of his nightly mistress; she had turned her
head, and it had been his mistress, and then again it was not.  It could
not be, for this one was remote and a little hostile; it was not, for
this one was nothing like as delightful, as warm, as close-bewildering.
She spoke, and it was strange, for he expected love; he did not want
that voice except in love, and now it--at first--said strange things.
With relief he realized it was not his voice--so he called it, admirably
exact; this was not the voice of his mistress, and his mistress was most
particularly he.  This distressed him; it was loud, harsh, uncouth.  It
was like the rest of the tiresome world into which he had been compelled
to enter--violent, smashing, bewildering by its harsh clamour, and far
from the soft sweetness of his unheard melody.  It was not without
reason that Keats imagined the lover of unheard melody in reverie on
stone images; the real Greek dancers would have pleased him less.  But
though Wentworth was shocked by the clumsy tread and the loud voice,
they relieved him also.  He had hated once; but then he had not wanted
to hate-it disturbed him too much; and now he knew he did not.  He need
not resent the grossness of the world; enough if, by flight, he rejected
it.  He had his own living medicament for all trouble, and distaste and
oblivion for everything else-most of all for his noisome parody of his
peace.

Adela said, modulating her voice: "Have you got a headache? what a shame!
it's good of you to turn out, but we do want to be sure everything's all
right.  I mean, if we must have uniforms.  Personally . . ."

Wentworth said, in a voice of exhaustion: "Oh, please!" In this
stridency, as it seemed to him, there was a suggestion of another
disastrous noise-the nightmare of a groan, tearing up the abyss, setting
the rope swinging.  The dull, heavy, plain thing opposite him became
identified to his pained sense with that dreadful break-up of his
dream, and now he could not hide.  He could not say to the hills of those
comforting breasts: "Cover me".  The sound sang to his excruciated body,
as the sight oppressed it.  The two imprisoned and split him: they held
him and searched his entrails.  They wanted something of him.  He refused
to want anything but what he wanted.

While Adela stared, half offended by his curious moan, he withdrew
himself into his recesses, and refused to be wanted.  Like the dead man
on his flight down the hill, he declined communion.  But he, to whom more
room and beauty in life had been given, chances of clarity and devotion,
was not now made frightening to himself.  He had not known fear, nor did
he find fear, nor was fear the instrument of salvation.  He had what he
had.  There were  presented to him the uniforms of the Grand Ducal Guard.

A voice as loud but less devastating than Adela's, for it recalled no
unheard melodies, said behind him: "Mr. Wentworth! at last! we're all
ready for you. Pauline, the Guard are over by the beeches: take Mr.
Wentworth across.  I'll be there in a minute." Mrs. Parry, having said
this, did not trouble to watch them do it.  She went on.

Pauline smiled at Wentworth's dazed and Adela's irritated face.  She
said: "I suppose we'd better.  Would you, Mr. Wentworth?"

He turned to her with relief.  The sound of her voice was quieter than
the rest. He had never before thought so, but now certainly it was.  He
said, "Yes, yes; let's get away."

Pauline saw Adela as they turned from her, a Gorgon of incredulity.  Her
heart laughed, and they went.  As they passed over the grass, she said:
"I do hope you haven't a headache? They're so trying."

He answered, a little relieved to be away from the dull shouting
oppression of Adela: "People are so noisy.  Of course ... anything I can
do ... but I can't stop long."

"I shouldn't think it would take more than a few minutes," Pauline said.
"You'll only have to say yes or no--practically.  And," she added,
looking round at the whole chaos of glory, and instinctively discerning
Stanhope in the distance, "as it's far too late for anything else, you
might be so very kind as to enjoy us for what we are, and say yes."

Hugh Prescott, grand-ducally splendid and dramatically middle-aged, ran
after them.  He said, as he caught them up: "Hallo, Mr. Wentworth! I hope
my Guard'll be correct."

Wentworth had been soothed by Pauline's voice.  It had to his mind, after
Adela's, something of that quality he desired.  It mingled with him; it
attracted him; it carried him almost to that moment he knew so well,
when, as the desire that expressed his need awoke and grew in him, there
came a point of abandonment to his desire.  He did not exactly will, but
he refused to avoid.  Why, indeed, he had once asked himself, swiftly,
almost thoughtlessly, should he avoid? He asked himself no more; he
sighed, and as it were, nestled back into himself, and then it would
somehow be there-coming from behind, or speaking in his ear, or perhaps
not even that, but a breath mingling with his, almost dividing from his
to mingle with it, so that there were two where there had been one, and
then the breath seemed to wander away into his palm where his hand lay
half-closed, and became a hand in his own hand, and then a slow arm grew
against his, and so, a tender coil against him or a swift energy of
hunger, as his mood was, it was there, and when the form was felt, it
could at last be seen, and he sank into its deep inviting eyes.  As he
listened to Pauline he suddenly knew all this, as he had never known it
before; he almost saw it happen as a thing presented.  Her voice created,
but it separated.  It brought him almost to his moment, and coiled away,
with him in its toil.  It directed him to the Guard; it said, with an
intensity that Pauline had never uttered, but he in his crisis heard:
"Take us as we are, and say yes; say yes or no ... we are ... we are ...
say yes . . ." and another voice, "Is the Grand Duke's Guard correct?"
They became, as he paused before the displayed magnificence, a chorus
swinging and singing: "We are . . . we are . . . we are . . . . Is the
Guard correct? . . . Say, say, O say ... is the Guard, is the Guard
correct?"

It was not.  In one flash he saw it.  In spite of his diagrams and
descriptions, they had got the shoulder-knots all wrong.  The eighteenth
century had never known that sort of thing.  He looked at them, for the
first moment almost with the pure satisfaction of the specialist.  He
almost, somewhere in him, joined in that insane jangle: "No, no, no; the
Guard is wrong--O, wrong.  Say ... I say. . .  He looked, and he swung,
as if on his rope, as if at a point of decision--to go on or to climb up.
 He walked slowly along the line, round the back, negligent of remarks
and questions, outwardly gazing, inwardly swinging.  After that first
glance, he saw nothing else clearly.  "Say yes or no. The shoulder-knots
could be altered easily enough, all twelve, in an hour or so's work.  Or
pass them--"take us as we are ... say yes."  They could be defended, then
and there, with half a dozen reasons; they were no more of a jumble than
Stanhope's verse.  But he was something of a purist; he did not like
them.  His housekeeper, for that matter, could alter them that evening
under his direction, and save the costume-makers any further trouble.
"Is the Guard, is the Grand Duke's Guard, correct?"

A voice penetrated him.  Hugh was saying: "One must have one's
subordinates exact, mustn't one?"  There was the slightest stress on
"subordinates"-or was there? Wentworth looked askance at him; he was
strolling superb by his side. Pauline said: "We could alter some things,
of course." His silence had made her anxious.  He stood away, and
surveyed the backs of the Guard.  He could, if he chose, satisfy and
complete everything.  He could have the coats left at his house after the
rehearsal; he could do what the honour of his scholarship commanded; he
could have them returned.  It meant only his being busy with them that
one evening, and concerning himself with something different from his
closed garden.  He smelt the garden.

Mrs. Parry's voice said: "Is the Guard correct?" He said: "Yes." It was
over; he could go.

He had decided.  The jingle was in his ears no more.  Everything was
quite quiet.  The very colours were still.  Then from a distance movement
began again. His future was secure, both proximate and ultimate.  But his
present was decided for him; he was not allowed to go.  The devil, for
that afternoon, promptly swindled him.  He had cheated; he was at once
cheated.  Mrs. Parry expected him to stop for the rehearsal and oversee
the movement of the Guard wherever, in its odd progress about the play,
it marched on or marched off.  She made it clear.  He chattered a
protest, to which she paid no attention.  She took him to a chair, saw
him in it, and went off.  He had no energy to oppose her.  No one had.
Over all that field of actors and spectators-over Stanhope and Pauline,
over Adela and Hugh, over poetry and possession and sacred possession the
capacity of one really capable woman imposed itself.  The moment was
hers, and in view of her determination the moment became itself.  As
efficient in her kind as Margaret Anstruther in hers, Catherine Parry
mastered creation, and told it what to do.  She had taken on her job, and
the determination to fulfil her job controlled the utterance of the
poetry of Stanhope and delayed the operation of the drugs of Lilith.
Wentworth struggled and was defeated, Adela writhed but obeyed, Peter
Stanhope laughed and enjoyed and assented.  It was not perhaps the least
achievement of his art that it had given to his personal spirit the
willingness to fulfil the moment as the moment, so that, reserving his
own apprehension of all that his own particular business meant to him, he
willingly subordinated it to the business of others at their proper time.
 He seconded Mrs. Parry as far as and in every way that he could. He ran
errands, he took messages, he rehearsed odd speeches, he fastened hooks
and held weapons.  But he only seconded her.  The efficiency was hers;
and the Kingdom of God which fulfilled itself in the remote recesses of
his spacious universe fulfilled itself also in her effective supremacy.
She stood in the middle of the field and looked around her.  The few
spectators were seated; the actors were gathering.  Stanhope stood by her
side.  The Prologue, with his trumpet, ran hastily across the stage to
the trees which formed the background. Mrs. Parry said: "I think we're
ready?" Stanhope agreed.  They retired to their chairs, and Mrs. Parry
nodded vigorously to the Prologue.  The rehearsal began.

Wentworth, sitting near to Stanhope, secluded himself from it as much as
possible, reaching backward and forward with closed eyes into his own
secrecies. At the extreme other end of activity, Pauline, waiting with
the Chorus for the Woodcutter's Son's speech, upon which, as he fed the
flames, the first omnipotent song was to break, also gave herself up to
delight.  If the heavens had opened, it was not for her to deny them, or
even too closely to question or examine them.  She carried, in her
degree, Peter Stanhope and his fortunes-not for audience or other
publicity but for the achievement of the verse and the play itself.  It
was all very well for Stanhope to say it was an entertainment and not a
play, and to be charmingly and happily altruistic about her, and since he
preferred her to fall in with Mrs. Parry's instructions she did it, for
everyone's sake including her own.  But he was used, anyhow in his
imagination, to greater things; this was the greatest she had known or
perhaps was ever likely to know.  If the apparition she had so long
dreaded came across the field she would look at it with joy.  If it would
sit down till the rehearsal was over. . . . She smiled to herself at the
fantasy and laughed to think that she could smile.  The Woodcutter's Son
from beside her went forward, carrying his burden of twigs.  His voice
rose in the sublime speculations of fire and glory which the poet's
reckless generosity had given him.  He spoke and paused, and Pauline and
all the Chorus, moving so that their own verdure showed among the trees,
broke into an answering song.

She was not aware, as the rehearsal proceeded, of any other sensation
than delight.  But so clear and simple was that delight, and so
exquisitely shared by all the performers in their separate ways, that as
between the acts they talked and laughed together, and every one in the
field, with the exception of Lawrence Wentworth, joined in that universal
joy-so single and fundamental did it become that once, while again she
waited, it seemed to her as if the very words "dress rehearsal" took on
another meaning.  She saw the ceremonial dress of the actors, but it did
not seem to her stranger than Mrs. Parry's frock or Stanhope's light
suit.  All things at all times and everywhere, rehearsed; some great art
was in practice and the only business anyone had was to see that his part
was perfect. And this particular rehearsal mirrored the rest-only that
this was already perfected from within, and that other was not yet.  The
lumbering Bear danced; the Grand Duke uttered his gnomic wisdom; the
Princess and the Woodcutter's Son entered into the lucid beauty of first
love; the farmers counted their pence; and the bandits fell apart within.

It was in the pause before the last act that the dark thought came to
her.  She had walked a little away from the others to rest her soul, and,
turning, looked back.  Around the place where lately the fire had burned,
the Prologue and some of the Guard were talking.  She saw him lift his
trumpet; she saw them move, and the uniforms shone in the amazing
brightness of the sun, and suddenly there came to her mind another
picture; the woodcut in the old edition of the Book of Martyrs.  There
too was a trumpet, and guards, and a fire, and a man in it.  Here, the
tale said, and she had not remembered it till now, here where this stage,
perhaps where this fire lay, they had done him to death by fire.

She had had the last act in mind as she turned, the act in which physical
sensation, which is the play of love, and pardon, which is the speed of
love, and action, which is the fact of love, and almighty love itself,
all danced together: and now a shadow lay across it, the shadow of death
and cruelty, the living death.  The sun was still bright, colours vivid,
laughter gay, and the shadow was the centre of them all.  The shadow was
a hollow, filled with another, quite different, fact.  She felt the pang
of the last hopelessness.  If the living who walked in the gutters of
mind or spirit, if the present misery of the world, were healed, or could
be forgotten, still there sprang out of the hollow the knowledge of the
dead whose unrecompensed lives had gone before that joy.  The past
accused her, made terrible by the certain history of her hous@.  His
blood was in her and made demands on hers.  He had gone willingly to
death, chosen it, insisted on it; his judges had been willing enough to
spare him if he would commit himself to a phrase or two.  But still in
the end they had inflicted death, and agony in death; and the world that
had inflicted and enjoyed and nourished itself on agony was too like the
world in which she moved, too like Hugh and Adela and Catherine Parry and
the rest.  She had been lost in a high marvel, but if that joy were
seriously to live it must somehow be reconciled with the agony that had
been; unless hollow and shell were one, there was only hollow and shell.

She walked back, and as she did so Stanhope saw her and came across.

"Well," he said, "it all seems going very well."

She said, with a coldness in her voice that rose from the creeping hollow
of the darkness.  "You think so? ... did you know an ancestor of mine was
burnt alive just here?"

He turned to walk by her.  "I did," he said.  "I'd read it, of
course-after all, it's my house-and your grandmother spoke of it."

She said: "Well?" and then repentantly, "I'm sorry but ... we're all so
happy. The play, the fire-our fire, it's all so wonderful.  And yet we
can do that. How can we be happy, unless we forget? and how can we
forget? how can we dare forget?"

He said: "Forget nothing.  Unless everything's justifiable, nothing is.
But don't you forget, perhaps, something else?"

She looked at him with question.  He went on: "Mightn't his burden be
carried too?"

She stopped; she said staring: "But he's dead!"

"And so?" Stanhope asked mildly, and waited.

She said: "You mean . . . you can't mean . . . ?" As her voice hung
baffled, there arose gigantic before her the edge of a world of such
incredible dimensions that she was breathless at the faint hint.  Her
mouth opened; her eyes stared.  Her head was spinning.  She
said: "But ...."

Stanhope took her arm to propel her gently forward; then, letting it go,
he said: "A good deal of our conversation consists of saying but to each
other. However, who shall fail to follow when ... and so forth.  'But--'
Periel?"

"But he's dead," she repeated.  It was not what she meant to say.

"So you remarked," Stanhope said gently.  "And I asked you what that had
to do with it.  Or words to that effect.  You might as well say he had
red hair, as for all I know he may have had.  Yes, yes, Mrs. Parry."

He raised his voice and waved back.  "We shall be delaying the
rehearsal," he said.  "Come along-all things in their order."

She asked, inadvertently, as she quickened her steps to keep pace with
him: "Do you tell me to try and carry his fear?"

"Well," he answered, "you can't make contact; so far, it's true, death or
red hair or what not interferes.  But you might, in the Omnipotence,
offer him your--anything you've got.  Only I should intend to have it
first."

"Intend to have it?" she asked breathlessly.

"Intend to have joy to offer," he said.  "Be happy-take all the
happiness, if it's there, that you may not offer the Lord what costs
nothing.  You must have a small private income to try and help support
even a Marian martyr.  Heavens, they are waiting.  To your tent, O
Periel." As she ran he exclaimed after her. "Perhaps that's the
difference between Israel and Judah! they went to their own tents and
left David to his.  Hence the Dispersion ... and the Disappearance."

"What disappearance, Mr. Stanhope?" Mrs. Parry asked.

He had come level with her while he was still speaking, and he made a
small gesture.  "Nothing, Mrs. Parry.  Of the saviour of his own life.
How well this act opens, doesn't it?"

As Pauline, escaping Mrs. Parry's eye, ran across the stage, and threaded
her way between the persons to her position, her mind was more breathless
than she. She felt again, as in a low but immense arc rising above the
horizon of her world, or perhaps of the earth itself, the hint of new
organization of all things: a shape, of incredible difficulty in the
finding, of incredible simplicity found, an infinitely alien arrangement
of infinitely familiar things. The bottom had dropped out of her
universe, yet her astonished spirit floated and did not fall.  She was a
little sick with running, running into this other world.  She halted,
turned, addressed herself.  She turned to the play where martyrdom had
been--to the martyrdom.  "I have seen the salvation of my God." The
salvation throbbed in the air above her; it thrilled in the mortal light.
 "'Unto him that hath shall be given' . . . 'what of him that hath not?'"
 A voice, neither of the martyr nor his executioner, answered, singing,
With a terrible clarity of assured fact--fact, the only thing that can be
loved: "from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he
seemeth to have". A trumpet was crying, crying for the execution of the
justice of the Queen's Majesty on a convicted and impenitent heretic. His
blood was in her veins; dazed with her own will, she struggled to pay the
dues of her inheritance.  The sudden crowd of adorned figures thronged
before her.  He was not there; he was dead centuries since.  If centuries
meant anything; perhaps they didn't-perhaps everything was all at once,
and interchanged devotion; perhaps even now he burned, and she and her
friends danced, and her grandmother died and lived, and Peter Stanhope
wrote his verse, and all the past of the Hill was one with its present.
It lived; it intermingled; not among these living alone did the doctrine
of substituted love bear rule.  Her intention rose, and was clear, and
withdrew, as the stage opened for her advance.  About her the familiar
and transfigured personages moved; this was the condition and this the
air of supernatural life.  Ecce, omnia nova facio.  The incantation and
adoration of the true substance of experience sounded.  She fulfilled her
part in a grave joy, aspiring to become part of that substance.  All drew
to its close; the dress rehearsal ended. Remained only the performance of
the play.




                               Chapter Nine

                          THE TRYST OF THE WORLDS

As if the world of that other life to which this in which Margaret
Anstruther lay was but spectral, and it to this, renewed itself
with all its force in the groan he heard, as if that groan had
been but its own energy of freeing itself, the dead man found when
it ceased that he was standing alone among the houses.  He
remembered the vanished apparitions clearly enough, two images of
beauty.  He had seen an old woman and a young, though the younger
form had been faint with distance.  The colour which she hinted
was obscured; in the older there was no colour but softness of
light.  Now he was in the street.  His back was to the house.  He
was looking along the road, and he saw, beyond it at the point
where the light of the sun, whatever sun, lay halted, the house
and the ladder he knew.  He saw the light beyond it, softer than
before, as it were of one kind with that of the woman with whom he
had spoken.  The house itself was dark; the ladder was white with
a bony pallor against it, but it held no sun.  There it stood,
waiting for him to go back.

There had been an opening up within him.  He had run in his life
after other men, and in his second life away from other selves.
His unapt mind had been little use to him.  It had been trying to
please others or himself, naturally and for long properly.  He was
relieved of this necessity.  There was only one way to go,
and the only question if he should go.  He could move, or
not.  He knew this, yet, like Pauline when she kept her
promise to Stanhope, he knew that he had already chosen, had
come into obedience, and was no longer free.  He began to
walk.  He had not realized that the choice was there until
the choice had been made.  Wentworth, turning from the Grand
Ducal Guard, did not realize it even then; as Macbeth did not
know he had accepted his deed when he accepted the means, and
conceded his sin to his conviction of success.

In effect, the dead man's choice, like all choices of the kind,
had been less than it seemed.  He could go, or he could wait till
he was driven.  In the hastening or delaying of the end lies all
distinction in the knowledge of the end when at last it comes.  At
rare moments speed is determined; all else is something else.  He
went, and with more energy than he had ever known.  The lost power
of his missed youth awoke in him, and of his defrauded manhood.
It was needed.  He had not taken a dozen steps before the memory
of his latest experience became as faint as the old woman's voice
had been.  He did not again feel his old fear, but he was
intensely aware of ignorance.  There were now no shapes.  He was
alone, and  the pallid ladder of the dark house stood before him.
The light beyond was soft, but promised nothing.  As he went
soundlessly he had no thought but that it was better to do at once
what must be done, and that he had seen, if only in a fading
apparition, the tender eyes of love.

He passed the finished houses; he came among those which, by the
past or future, had been unbuilt.  As he reached them he heard a
faint sound.  He had come again into the peculiar territory of the
dead.  He heard behind him a small rustle, as if of dead leaves or
snakes creeping out from dry sticks.  He did not think of snakes
or leaves, nor of the dead leaves of a great forest, the
still-existent nothingness of life.  Those who had known the green
trees were tangled and torn in the dry.  The tragedies of Peter Stanhope
carried the image of that pain-piercing nothing.  The dead man,
like Pauline, had lived with thorns and hard wood, and at last
they had destroyed him as pitilessly as the Marian martyr.  He did
not therefore conceive them now as anything but a mere sound.  It
went with him along the road. and when he had come fully out at
the end into the space where the ladder of bone led again to a
darkness of the grave, it had become louder.  He heard it on all
sides.  He stopped and turned.

The shapes were standing in a great crowd watching him.  Mostly
they had his form and face, and they stood, in the infinite
division of past moments, but higgledy-piggledy, sombrely staring.
He saw in front, parodying earthly crowds, the children--different
ages, different sizes, all looking with his small pointed
hungry face.  In the massed multitude behind there were, at
points, different faces, faces of any few creatures who for one
reason or another had mattered to his mind.  He saw his wife in
several places; he saw the face of a youth who had been the
nearest he had known to a friend; he saw those he had disliked.
But, at most, these others were few.

The crowd did not move, except that sometimes other single forms
slipped out of the ruined houses, swelling it as crowds are
swelled in London streets.  It was useless, had he desired it, to
attempt to return.  He turned away from them again, but this time
not merely from them but towards something, towards the
ladder.  He laid a hand on it.  The long hard dry rustle came
again, as the whole crowd fell forward, bones shifting and
slipping as some moving vitality slid through them.  They closed
towards him, their thronged circles twisting round the house and
him as if they were the snake.  His mortal mind would have given
way, could it have apprehended such a strait between shadowy bone
and shining bone; his immortal, nourished by belief in the mother
of his soul, remained clear.  His seeming body remained capable.
He exercised his choice, and began to go up the ladder.  At once,
with a horrid outbreak of shifting leaves and snapping sticks and
rustling bodies, they were about its foot, looking up.  The living
death crowded round the ladder of bone, which it could not ascend.
White faces of unvitalized, unsubstantial, yet real,
existence, looked up at him mounting.  Nothingness stared and
panted, with false breath, terrible to those who live of choice in
its phantasmal world.  But for him, who rose above them to that
stage set in the sky, the expanded point and culminating area of
his last critical act, the place of skull and consciousness, of
life and death and life, for him there entered through the grasp
he had on the ladder shafts an energy.  He looked neither down nor
up; he went on.  A wind had risen about him, as if here the
movement of the leaves, if leaves, shook the
air, and not the air the leaves.  It was as if a last invisible
tentacle were sent up by the nothingness to draw him back into the
smooth undulations below, that its sterility might bury him in a
living sepulchre; the identities of the grave moving in a blind
instinct to overtake and seize him.  Now and then some of them
even began to mount a few rungs, but they could get and keep no
hold.  They fell again to their own level.

He did not see this, for his eyes were above.  In the same sense
of nothing but action he climbed the last rungs, and stood on the
stage from which he had been flung.  But he had hardly stepped on
to it before it changed.  He had come back from his own manner of
time to the point in the general world of time from which he had
fled, and he found it altered.  The point of his return was not
determined by himself, but by his salvation, by a direction not
yet formulated, by the economy of means of the Omnipotence, by the
moment of the death of Margaret Anstruther.  Therefore he came
into the built house, and the room where Wentworth slept.  The
open stage closed round him as he came upon it.  The walls rose;
there was a ceiling above.  He knew he stood in a room, though the
details were vague.  It was ghostly to him, like that other in
which, a short time before, he had stood.  There the old woman had
been a vivid centre to him.  Here he was not, at first, aware of a
centre.  In this other world he had not been astonished at the
manner in which things happened, but now he was a little
uncomfortable.  He thought at first it was because he could have
had no business in such a room during his earlier life.  So
perhaps it was, but if so, another cause had aroused the old
uneasiness--the fainthint of a slither of dry leaves, such as he
had heard behind him along the road@ but now within the room.  It
displeased and diseased him; he must remove himself.  It was
almost his first quiet decision ever; he was on the point to enter
into actions of peace.  The courtesy that rules the world of
spirits took him, and as the creature that lay in the room had not
entered except under Wentworth's compulsion, so this other made
haste to withdraw from its intrusion.  Also he was aware that,
having re-entered this place and point of time, this station of an
inhabited world, by the ladder of bone from the other side, he
must go now farther on the way.  He had the City in his mind; he
had his wife in mind.  He could not tell by what means or in what
shape he would find her, or if he would find her.  But she was his
chief point of knowledge, and to that he directed himself.  Of the
necessity of getting a living he did not think.  Living, whether
he liked it or not, was provided; he knew that he did like.  He
went carefully across the dim room and through the door; down the
stairs, and reached the front door.  It opened of itself before
him, so he thought, and he peered out into the road.  A great
blackness was there; it changed as he peered.  As if it fled from
him, it retreated.  He heard the wind again, but now blowing up
the street.  A shaft of light smote along with it.  Before wind
and light and himself he saw the night turn, but it was not the
mere night; it was alive, it was made of moving and twisting
shapes hurrying away of their own will.  Light did not drive them;
they revealed the light as they went.  They rose and rushed; as
they disappeared he saw the long drive before him, and at its end,
in the street proper, the figure of a girl.

In a different darkness, mortally illumined, Pauline, not far
away, had that previous evening been sitting by her grandmother's
bed.  It was, to her, the night after the rehearsal.  She had come
home to find Margaret awake, alert, inquiring, and after she had
spoken of the details of the afternoon, she had not been able, nor
wished, to keep from speaking of the other thing that filled and
threatened her mind.  Her grandmother's attention still seemed to
her acute, even if remote.  Indeed, all mortal things were now
remote to-Margaret unless they were vividly consistent with the
slope over which she moved.  She felt, at intervals, someone being
lifted and fed, someone hearing and speaking intelligible words.
Only sometimes did definiteness from that other casual state enter
her; then she and it were sharply present.  For the rest she only
saw vague images of a great good, and they faded, and at rarer
intervals in the other single consciousness of slow--but
slow!--movement over a surface, an intense sweetness pierced her.
She moaned then, for it was pain; she moaned happily, for it was only
the last inevitable sloth of her body that made its pain,
resisting, beyond her will, the translucent energy.  She always
assented.  She assented now to what Pauline was saying, sitting by
her bed, her fingers interlocked and pressed against her knee, her
body leaning forward, her breath drawn with a kind of slow
difficulty against the beating passion of her heart's presagements.
She was saying: "But how could one give backwards?"

Margaret could not, at that point of experience, explain
metaphysics.  She said: "If it's like that, my dear?"  Pauline
said: "But if he took it? I thought-there-I might: but now, I
daren't."

She saw Margaret's smile flash at her across rocks.  It went and
the voice said: "You think it's yours?"

Pauline answered, abruptly checking abruptness: "I don't.... Do
I?"

"You think one of the two's yours--joy or misery," Margaret said,
"or both.  Why, if you don't, should you mind?"

Pauline for a minute struggled with this in silence: then, evading
it, she returned to time.  "But four hundred years," she
exclaimed.

"Child," her grandmother said, "I can touch Adam with my hand; you
aren't as far off."

"But how could he take it before I'd given it?" Pauline cried, and
Margaret said: "Why do you talk of before? If you give, you give
to It, and what does It care about before?"

Pauline got up and walked to the window.  It was drawing towards
night, yet so translucent was the pale green sky that night and
day seemed alike unthinkable.  She heard in the distance a single
pair of hurrying feet; patter, patter.  She said, in a muffled
voice: "Even the edge frightens me."

"Peter Stanhope," Margaret said, "must have been frightened many
times."

"O-poetry!" Pauline exclaimed bitterly.  "That's different; you
know it is, grandmother."

"In seeing?" Margaret asked.  "And as for being, you must find out
for yourself.  He can carry your parcels, but not you."

"Couldn't he?" Pauline said.  "Not that I want him to."

"Perhaps," Margaret answered.  "But I think only when you don't
need it, and your parcels when you do."

Her voice grew faint as she spoke, and Pauline came quickly back
to the bed.

"I'm tiring you," she said hastily.  "I'm sorry: look, I'll go
now.  I didn't mean to talk so much."

Margaret glanced at her, and said in a whisper: "But I'd so much
rather die talking." All talk of the divine thing was pleasant to
her, even if this beating of wings in the net, wings so dear and
so close, was exhausting in the thin air.  Pauline, looking down
for a second after her good-night, thought that a change had taken
place.  The eyes had closed, though the girl was by no means sure
that they were not as alert now as they had been when they were
open and watching.

Yet a proportion between the old woman and external things had
been withdrawn;  another system of relations might have been
established, but if so it was unapprehensible by others.  But the
change in customary relations was definitely apprehensible.  She
looked small, and yet small was hardly the word; she was
different.  The body had been affected by a change of direction in
the spirit, and only when the spirit was removed would it regain
for a little while its measurable place amongst measurable things.
It could be served and aided; but the ceremonies of service were
now made to something strange that existed among them.  The
strangeness communicated itself, by a kind of opposition, to the
very bed in which that body was stretched; it became a mound of
earth lifted up to bear the visiting victim.  The woman who was
their companion had half-changed into a visitor from another
place, a visitor who knew nothing of the world to which she was
still half-native.  The unknown and the known mingled, as if those
two great parents of humanity allowed their mingled powers to be
evident to whoever watched.  The mound, in the soft light of the
room, presented itself to Pauline as if its low height was the
crown and peak of a life; the longjourney had ended on this
cavity in the rounded summit of a hill.  She considered it gravely
so before she turned and, leaving the nurse in charge, went to her
own room.

She was not asleep when later in the night she was called.  Her
grandmother, the nurse said, needed her.  Pauline pulled a
dressing-gown on her and went across.  Mrs. Anstruther was sitting
in the bed, propped by pillows; her eyes looking away out of the
room.  As if she dared not turn her gaze away, she said, as
Pauline came up: "Is that you, darling?"

"Me," the girl answered.  "Did you want me?"

"Will you do something for me?" Mrs. Anstruther said.  "Something
rather odd?"

"Why, of course," the girl said.  "Anything.  What is it?"

"Would you be so very charming as to go out and see if anyone
wants you?" Mrs. Anstruther said, quite distinctly.  "Up by
Mr. Wentworth's."

"She's wandering," the nurse whispered.  Pauline, used to Mrs.
Anstruther's extremely unwandering habits, hesitated to
agree.  But it was certainly rather odd.  She said, with a
tenderness a little fractured by doubt, "Wants me, darling?
Now?"

"Of course, now," her grandmother answered.  "That's the point.  I
think perhaps he ought to get back to the City."  She looked round
with a little sigh.  "Will you?"

Pauline had been about to make the usual unfelicitous efforts of
the healthy to persuade the sick that they are being rightly
served.  But she could not do it.  No principle and no wisdom
directed her, nor any conscious thought of love.  She merely could
not do it.  She said: "By Mr. Wentworth's? Very well, darling."
She could have helped, but did not, adding: "I don't think it's
very likely."

"No," said Margaret, and Pauline was gripped by a complete sense
of folly.  "'I don't think it's . . . No.'" She said:
"I don't know a thing.  I'll go." And turned.  The nurse said as
she moved to the door: "Sweet of you to be so nice.  Come back in
ten minutes or so.  She won't realize the time."

"I'm going," Pauline said, distantly, and distinctly, "as far as
Mr. Wentworth's.  I shall be as quick as I can." She saw a protest
at the nurse's mouth, and added: "At once."

She dressed quickly.  Even so, in spite of her brave words to the
nurse, her doubts were quicker.  In spite of her intention, she
reasoned against her promise.  Three words dogmatized definition
at her: "Her mind's wandering; her mind's wandering." Why, obeying
that wandering mind, should she herself wander on the Hill? Why,
in a lonely street, under the pale shining sky, should she risk
the last dreadful meeting? The high clock struck one; time drew to
the night's nadir.  Why go? why go? Sit here, she said, almost
aloud, and say "Peace".  Is it peace, jehu? cry peace where there
is no peace; faciunt solitudinem et Pacem vocant.  She would make
a solitude round the dying woman and call it peace; the dying
woman would die and never know, or dying know and call it well;
the dying woman that would not die but see, or die
and see; and dead, see and know--know the solitude that her
granddaughter had called peace.  Up and up, the wind was rising,
and the shuffle of leaves under the moon, and nothing was there
for her to find, but to find nothing now was to be saved from
finding nothing in the place where whatever she now did was hid
and kept and saved.  The edge of the other world was running up
along the sky, the world where everyone carried themselves but
everyone carried someone else's grief--Alice in Wonderland, sweet
Alice, Alice sit by the fire, the fire burned: who sat by the fire
that burned a man in another's blood on the grass of a poet's
houses where things were given backward, and rules were against
rights and rights against rules, and a ghost in the fire was a
ghost in the street, and the thing that had been was the thing
that was to be and it was coming, was coming; what was coming;
what but herself? she was coming, she was coming, up the street
and the wind; herself--a terrible good, terror and error, but the
terror was error, and the error was in the terror, and now all
were in him, for he had taken them into himself, and he was
coming, down all the roads of Battle Hill, closing them in him,
making them straight: make straight the highways before our God,
and they were not for God took them, in the world that was running
through this, its wheel turning within this world's air, rolling
out of the air.  No peace but peace, no joy but joy, no love but
love.  Behold, I come quickly.  Amen, even so, come . . . .

She caught up a hat and flung herself at the door, her blood
burning within her, as the house burned around.  The air was fiery
to her sense; she breathed a mingled life, as if the flames of
poetry and martyrdom rose together in the air within the air, and
touched the outer atmosphere with their interior force.
She ran down the stairs, but already her excitement, being more
excitement than strength, flagged and was pain.  Action was not
yet so united with reaction as to become passion.  The doubt she
must have of what was to come took its old habitual form.  Her
past pretended to rule her, defacto sovereign, and her past was
fear.  It was midnight, the Hill was empty, she was alone.  It
could only be that her ghostly image lay, now, in wait for her to
emerge into its desolate kingdom.  She grit her teeth.  The thing
must be done.  She had promised her grandmother; more important
still, she had promised the nurse.  She might have confided to the
first what she would never concede to the second, It was then that
she saw the telephone.

At first, as she paused a minute in the hall, to settle herself--
to settle her determination that that woman who had talked of
wandering minds should not find her foolish expectation fulfilled--at
first she did not think of Stanhope; then inevitably, with her
grief stirring in her, she did.  To think of him was to think, at
once, of speaking to him.  The telephone.  She thought: "One
o'clock and he's asleep; don't be a fool." She thought: "'Any
hour of the day or night'." She thought: "I oughtn't to disturb
him," and then with the clarity of that world of perpetual
exchange: "I ought to disturb him." It was her moral duty to wake
him up, if he was asleep and she could.  She smiled, standing in
the hall where the new light of the summer sky dimly shone.
Reversal had reached its extreme; she who had made a duty of her
arrogance had found a duty in her need.  Her need retreated
beneath the shock.  At precisely the moment when she could have
done without him she went to ask for him; the glad and flagrant
mockery of the Omnipotence lay peaceful in her heart as she
dialled his number, her finger slowing a little on the last
figure, as if the very notion were a delight too sweet to lose by
haste.  The receiver at her ear, as if she leant to it, she
waited.  Presently she heard his voice.

She said, again grave: "Are you awake enough to hear me?"

"Complete with attention," he answered.  "Whatever it is, how
very, very right of you! That's abstract, not personal, Concede
the occasion."

"The occasion," she said, "is that I'm going out up the Hill
because my grandmother's asked me to, and I was a little afraid
just now ... I'm not."

"O blessed, blessed," Stanhope murmured, but whether he thought of
her or the Omnipotence she did not know.  He added, to her: "Go in
peace.  Would you like me to come?"

"No, of course not," she answered, and lingering still a minute
said: "I thought I wanted to ring you up, but when I did I didn't.
Forgive me."

"If it gives you any pleasure," he said, "but you might have
needed forgiveness in fact if you hadn't.  God's not mine.
Pardon, Periel, like love, is only ours for fun: essentially we
don't and can't.  But you want to go.... You'll remember?"

"For ever," she said, "and ever and ever.  Thank you." She put the
receiver firmly down, opened the door, and went out into the
street.  The pure night received her.  Darkness was thick round
the houses, but the streets lay clear.  She was aware,
immediately, of some unusualness, and presently she knew what
it was.  She was used to shadows lying across the pavements, but
now it was not so.  On either side of the street they gathered and
blocked and hid the buildings, climbing up them, creepers of
night, almost in visible movement.  Between those masses the roads
lay like the gullies of a mountain down which an army might
come--broad and empty, prepared for an army, passes already closed by
scouts and outposts, and watched by the dazzling flashes which now
and then and here and there lit the sky, as if silver machines of
air above the world moved in escort of expected power.  Apart from
those momentary dazzling flashes light was diffused through the
sky.  She could see no moon, only once or twice in her
walk, at some corner, between the cliffs of darkness, far away on
the horizon, she half-thought she saw a star-Hesper or Phosphor,
the planet that is both the end and the beginning, Venus, omega
and alpha, transliteration of speech.  Once, far behind her, she
thought she heard hurrying footsteps, but as she went on she lost
them.  She went quickly; for she had left behind her an
approaching point to which she desired to return, the point of
hastening death.  She went peacefully, but while, days before, it
had been Stanhope's intervention that had changed her mood, now
she had come, by the last submissive laughter of her telephone
call, into the ways of the world he had no more than opened.  She
went with a double watchfulness, for herself and for that other
being whom her grandmother had sent her to meet, but her
watchfulness did not check her speed, nor either disturb the
peace.  She turned, soon enough, into the street where Lawrence
Wentworth's house stood, not far from the top of the Hill in one
direction, from the Manor House in another, and, beyond all
buildings, from the silent crematorium in a third.  The street, as
she came into it, looked longer than she had remembered.  It had
something of the effect by which small suburban byways, far
inland, seem to dip towards the sea, though here it was no sea
but a mere distance of road which received it.  She slackened her
pace, and, flicking one hand with her gloves, walked towards the
house.

She reached it at last, and paused.  There was at first no sign of
any living creature.  She looked up at it; the shadows were thick
on it, seeming to expand and contract.  The small occasional wind
of the night, intermittently rising, caught them and flung them
against it; they were beaten and bruised, if shadows could take
the bruise, against its walls; they hid windows and doors; there
was only a rough shape of the house discernible below them.  She
thought, in a faint fancy, too indistinct to be a distress, of
herself flung in that steady recurrence against a bleak wall,
and somehow it seemed sad that she should not be bruised.  A
gratitude for material things came over her; she twisted her
gloves in her fingers and even struck her knuckles gently
together, that the sharp feel of them might assure her of firm
flesh and plotted bone.  As if that slight tap had been at a door,
to announce a visitor, she saw a man standing outside the shadow,
close by the house.

She could not, in the moon, see very clearly what he was.  She
thought, by something in his form, that she had seen him before;
then, that she had not.  She thought of her grandmother's errand,
and that perhaps here was its end.  She waited, in the road, while
he came down the drive, and then she saw him clearly.  He was
small and rather bent; obviously a working man and at that an
unsuccessful working man, for his clothes were miserably old, and
his boots gaped.  Yet he had presence; he advanced on her with
a quiet freedom, and when he came near she saw that he was
smiling.  He put up his hand to his tattered cap; the motion had
in it the nature of an act-it had conclusion, it began and ended.
He said, almost with a conscious deference such as she could have
imagined herself feeling for Stanhope had she known nothing of him
but his name: "Good evening, miss.  Could you tell me the way to
London?"

There was the faintest sound of the city's metal in his voice:
dimly she knew the screech of London gate.  She said: "Why, yes,
but-you don't mean to walk?"

He answered: "Yes, miss, if you'll be so kind as to tell me the
right road."

"But it's thirty miles," she cried, "and . . . hadn't you better.
. . ." She stopped, embarrassed by the difficulties of earth.  He
did not look inferior enough to be offered money; money being the
one thing that could not be offered to people of one's own class,
or to anybody one respected.  All the things that could
be bought by money, but not money.  Yet unless she offered this
man money he did not, from his clothes, look as if he would get to
London unless he walked.

He said: "I'd as soon walk, miss.  It isn't more than a step."

"It seems to be considerably more," she said, and thought of her
grandmother's errand, "Must you go now or could you wait till the
morning? I could offer you a bed to-night." It seemed to her that
this must be the reason why she was here.

He said: "I'd as soon not, though thank you for offering.  I'd
rather start now, if you'll tell me the way."

She hesitated before this self-possession; the idea that he needed
money still held her, and now she could not see any way to avoid
offering it.  She looked in his serene quiet eyes, and said, with
a gesture of her hand, "If it's a question of the fare?"

He shook his head, still smiling.  "It's only a matter of starting
right," he answered, and Pauline felt absurdly disappointed, as if
some one had refused a cup of coffee or of cold water that she had
wanted to bring.  She was also a little surprised to find how easy
it was to offer money when you tried--or indeed to take it;
celestially easy.  She answered his smile: "Well, if you won't. .
. ." she said.  "Look then, this is the best way."

They walked a few steps together, the girl and the dead man, till,
at a corner a little beyond Wentworth's house, she stopped.

"Down there," she said, pointing, "is the London road, you can
just see where it crosses this.  Are you sure you won't stay to-night
and go in the morning-fare and all?" So she might have asked
any of her friends, whether it had been a fare or a book or love
or something of no more and no less importance.

"Quite, miss," he said, lifting his hand to his cap again in an
archangelic salute to the Mother of God.  "It doesn't matter
perhaps, but I think I ought to get on.  They may be waiting for
me."

"I see," she said, and added with a conscious laughter, "One never
knows, does one?"

"O I wouldn't say never, miss," he answered.  "Thank you again.
Good night, miss."

"Good night," she said, and with a last touch of the cap he was
gone down the road, walking very quickly, lightly, and steadily.
He went softly; she was not sure that she could hear his tread,
though she knew she had not been listening for it.  She watched
him for a minute; then she turned her head and looked up the
cross-road on the other side of the street.  That way ran up
towards the Manor House; she thought of her telephone call and
wondered if Stanhope were asleep or awake.  She looked back at the
departing figure, and said after it aloud, in an act of remembered
goodwill: "Go in peace!"

The words were hardly formed when it seemed to her that he
stopped.  The figure surely stood still; it was swaying; it was
coming back-not coming back, only standing still, gesticulating.
Its arms went up toward heaven in entreaty; then they fell and it
bent and clutched its head with its hands.  An agony had fallen on
it.  She saw and began to run.  As she did so, she thought that
her ears caught for an instant a faint sound from behind her, as
of a trumpet, the echo of the trumpet of that day's rehearsal done
or of the next day's performance not yet begun, or of a siren that
called for the raising or lowering of a bridge.

So faintly shrill was the sound, coming to her between the cliffs
of a pass from a camp on the other side the height, that her
senses answered as sharply.  The sound was transmitted into her
and transmuted into sight or the fear of sight.  "The Magus ... my
dead child... his own image." She was running fast; the stranger
had gone an infinite distance in that time; she was running as she
had run from her own room, and now she knew she had been right
when she stopped, and it was a trap.  Everything--she was running,
for she could not stop--had been a part of the trap; even the
shelter she had sometimes found had been meant only to catch her
more surely in the end.  Ah, the Magus Zoroaster had set it for
her, all that time since, and her grandmother was part of its
infinitely complicated steel mechanism, which now shut her in,
and was going off-had gone off and was still going off, for ever
and ever going off, in the faint shrill sound that came from
behind her where Stanhope sat working it, for Zoroaster or Shelley
were busy in front, and in front was the spring of the death and
the delirium, and she had been tricked to run in that ingenious
plot of their invention, and now she could no more stop than she
could cease to hear the shrill whirr of the wheel that would start
the spring, and when it cracked at last there would be her twin
shape in the road.  It was for this that the inhuman torturer who
was Stanhope had pretended to save her, and the old creature who
was her grandmother and talked of God had driven her out into the
wild night, and the man who would not take her offer had fetched
her to the point and the instant.  Earth and sky were the climax
of her damnation; their rods pressed her in.  She ran; the trumpet
sounded; the shape before her lifted his head again and dropped
his hands and stood still.

She was coming near to him, and the only fact of peace to which
her outraged mind could cling was that so far it was still he and
not the other.  Every second that he so remained was a relief.
His back might open any moment and her own form leap hastily down
from its ambush now among his veins and canals or from his
interior back-throbbing heart.  It did not; it became more
definitely a man's back, as she neared it, but she saw it shaking
and jerking.  It was a great back, clothed in some kind of cloth
doublet, with breeches below, and a heavy head of thick hair
above; and the arms suddenly went up again, and a voice sounded.
It said, in a shout of torment: "Lord God! Lord God!"

She stopped running a dozen yards off and stood still.  It was not
her decision; she was brought to a stand.  The cry freed her from
fear and delirium, as if it took over its own from her.  She stood
still, suddenly alert.  The trap, if there had been a trap, had
opened, and she had come out beyond it.  But there was another
trap, and this man was in it.  He cried again: "Lord God!"

The trumpet had ceased blowing.  She said in a voice breathless
only from haste: "Can I help you?"

The man in front became rigid: he said: "Lord God, I cannot bear
the fear of the fire."

She said: "What fire?" and still with his back to her he answered:
"The fire they will burn me in to-day unless I say what they
choose.  Lord God, take away the fear if it be thy will.  Lord
God, be merciful to a sinner.  Lord God, make me believe."

She was here.  She had been taught what to do.  She had her offer
to make now and it would not be refused.  She herself was offered,
in a most certain fact, through four centuries, her place at the
table of exchange, The moment of goodwill in which she had
directed to the City the man who had but lately died had opened to
her the City itself, the place of the present and all the past.
He was afraid, this martyr of her house, and she knew what to do.
There was no doubt about it at all.  She knew that the horror of
the fire had overcome him.  He was in the trap in which she had
been but now; the universe had caught him.  His teacher, his
texts, his gospel had been its bars, and his judges and
executioners were springing it; and the Lord God himself was, in
that desperate hour, nothing but the spring that would press him
into the torment.  Once the Lord had been something else; perhaps
still.... He was praying passionately: "Make me believe; make me
believe." The choice was first in her; Omnipotence waited her
decision.

She knew what she must do.  But she felt, as she stood, that she
could no more do it than he.  She could never bear that fear.  The
knowledge of being burnt alive, of the flames, of the faces, of
the prolongation of pain.  She knew what she must do.  She opened
her mouth and could not speak.  In front of her, alone in his foul
Marian prison, unaware of the secret means the Lord he worshipped
was working swiftly for his peace, believing and unbelieving, her
ancestor stood centuries off in his spiritual desolation and
preluding agony of sweat.  He could not see beyond the years the
child of his house who strove with herself behind and before him.
The morning was coming; his heart was drained.  Another spasm
shook him; even now he might recant.  Pauline could not see the
prison, but she saw him.  She tried to choose and to speak.

Behind her, her own voice said: "Give it to me, John Struther." He
heard it, in his cell and chains, as the first dawn of the day of
his martyrdom broke beyond the prison.  It spoke and sprang in his
drained heart; and drove the riotous blood again through his
veins: "Give it to me, give it to me, John Struther." He stretched
out his arms again: he called: "Lord, Lord!" It was a devotion and
an adoration; it accepted and thanked.  Pauline heard it,
trembling, for she knew what stood behind her and spoke.  It said
again: "Give".  He fell on his knees, and in a great roar of
triumph he called out: "I have seen the salvation of my God."

Pauline sighed deeply with her joy.  This then, after so long, was
their meeting and their reconciliation: their perfect
reconciliation, for this other had done what she had desired, and
yet not the other, but she, for it was she who had all her life
carried a fear which was not her fear but another's, until in the
end it had become for her in turn not hers but another's.  Her
heart was warm, as if the very fire her ancestor had feared was
a comfort to her now.  The voice behind her sang, repeating the
voice in front, "I have seen the salvation of my God."

Pauline turned.  She thought afterwards that she had had no choice
then, but it was not so.  It was a movement as swift, as
instinctive, as that with which one hand flies to balance the
other, but it was deliberate.  She whirled on the thing she had so
long avoided, and the glorious creature looked past her at the
shouting martyr beyond.  She was giddy with the still violence of
this last evening; she shut her eyes and swayed, but she was
sustained by the air about her and did not fall.  She opened her
eyes again; there--as a thousand times in her looking-glass--
there! The ruffled brown hair, the long nose, the firm compressed
mouth, the taut body, the long arms, her dress, her gesture.  It
wore no supernatural splendour of aureole, but its rich nature
burned and glowed before her, bright as if mortal flesh had indeed
become what all lovers know it to be.  Its colour bewildered by
its beauty; its voice was Pauline's, as she had wished it to be
for pronouncing the imagination of the grand art.  But no verse,
not Stanhope's, not Shakespeare's, not Dante's, could rival the
original, and this was the original, and the verse was but the
best translation of a certain manner of its life.  The glory of
poetry could not outshine the clear glory of the certain fact, and
not any poetry could hold as many meanings as the fact.  One
element coordinated original and translation; that element was
joy. joy had filled her that afternoon, and it was in the power of
such joy that she had been brought to this closest propinquity to
herself.  It had been her incapacity for joy, nothing else, that
had till now turned the vision of herself aside; her incapacity
for joy had admitted fear, and fear had imposed separation.  She
knew now that all acts of love are the measure of capacity for
joy; its measure and its preparation, whether the joy comes or
delays.

Her manifested joy whirled on her with her own habitual movement.
She sprang back from that immortality; no fear but a moment's
truce of wonder and bodily tremor.  She looked in her own eyes and
laboured to speak; a shout was in her.  She wished to assent to
the choice her beatitude had made.  The shout sank within her and
rose without; she had assented, then or that afternoon or before
this life began.  She had offered her joy to her betrayed
ancestor; she heard now, though she saw nothing but those
brilliant and lucid eyes, the noise of his victorious going.  The
unseen crowd poured and roared past her.  Her debt was paid, and
now only she might know why and when she had incurred it.  The
sacrifice had been accepted.  His voice was shouting in her ears,
as Foxe said he had shouted, To him that hath shall be given.  He
had had; she had been given to him.  She had lived without joy
that he might die in joy, but when she lived she had not known and
when she offered she had not guessed that the sacrificial victim
had died before the sacrificial act was accomplished; that now the
act was for resurrection in death.  Receding voices called still;
they poured onwards to the martyrdom.  The confusion that was
round him was her own confusion of hostile horror at the fact of
glory: her world's order contending with distraction-what
distraction!

One called: What of him that hath not? but who could be that had
not? so universal, in itself and through its means, was the
sublime honour of substituted love; what wretch so poor that all
time and place would not yield a vicar for his distress, beyond
time and place the pure vicariate of salvation? She heard the
question, in that union of the centuries, with her mortal ears, as
she heard excited voices round her, and the noise of feet, and the
rattle at a distance of chains.  She saw nothing, except the
streets of the Hill and herself standing on the Hill.  She felt no
grief or fear; that was still to come or else it had been,
according to choice of chronology.  Her other self, or the image
in which she saw both those choices in one vision, still stood
opposite her, nor was its glory dimmed though and as her own
intensity absorbed it.

After the shouted question she did not hear a reply, other sounds
covered it.  The scuffling, the rattling, the harsh alien voices
went on; then the voice she had heard calling on the Lord cried:
The ends of the earth be upon me.  The roads had been doubled and
twisted so that she could meet him there; as wherever exchange was
needed.  She knew it now from the abundant grace of the Hill or
the hour: but exchange might be made between many mortal hearts
and none know what work was done in the moment's divine kingdom.
There was a pause, ominous down all the years; a suspense of
silence.  Then suddenly she smelt burning wood; the fire was lit,
he in it.  She heard the voice once more: I have seen the
salvation of my God.

He stood in the fire; he saw around him the uniforms--O uniforms
of the Grand Duke's Guard--the mounted gentlemen, the couple of
friars, the executioners--O the woodcutter's son singing in the
grand art!--the crowd, men and women of his village.  The heat
scorched and blinded and choked him.  He looked up through the
smoke and flame that closed upon him, and saw, after his manner,
as she after hers, what might be monstrous shapes of cherubim and
seraphim exchanging powers, and among them the face of his
daughter's aeviternity.  She only among all his children and
descendants had run by a sacrifice of heart to ease and carry his
agony.  He blessed her, thinking her some angel, and in his
blessing her aeviternity was released to her, and down his
blessing beatitude ran to greet her, a terrible good.  The ends of
the world were on them.  He dead and she living were made one with
peace.  Her way was haunted no more.

She heard the cry, and the sky over her was red with the glow of
fire, its smell in her nostrils.  It did not last.  Her beatitude
leant forward to her, as if to embrace.  The rich presence
enveloped her; out of a broken and contrite heart she sighed with
joy.  On the inhaled breath her splendour glowed again; on the
exhaled it passed.  She stood alone, at peace.  Dawn was in the
air; eccc omnia nova facio.

Soon after, as she came back to the house, she saw Stanhope
approaching.  She waited, outside her gate.  He came up, saying
with a smile: "Awake, lute and harp"--he made a gesture of
apology--"I myself will awake right early." She put out her hand.

"I owe you this," she said. "I owe you this for ever."

He looked at her.  "It's done then?" he asked, and she: "It's
done.  I can't tell you now, but it's done."

He was silent, studying her, then he answered slowly: "Arise,
shine; your light is come; the glory of the Lord is risen upon
you." His voice quickened: "And you'll do it well, taking prettily
and giving prettily, but the Lord's glory, Periel, will manage to
keep up with you, and I shall try."

"Oh, you!" she said, pressing and releasing his hand-.  "but
you've got such a start!"

He shook his head.  "No," he said, "our handicaps are all
different, and the race is equal.  The Pharisees can even catch up
the woman with the mites.  Those who do not insist on Gomorrah."
She said: "Gomorrah?" and 'the chill of the word struck even
through her contemplation.  She remembered the unanswered question
of her vision: What of them that have not? As if the answer had
been reserved for these lower circles, he gave it.  He said: "The
Lord's glory fell on the cities of the plain, of Sodom and
another.  We know all about Sodom nowadays, but perhaps we know
the other even better.  Men can be in love with men, and women
with women, and still be in love and make sounds and speeches, but
don't you know how quiet the streets of Gomorrah are? haven't you
seen the pools that everlastingly reflect the faces of those who
walk with their own phantasms, but the phantasms aren't reflected,
and can't be.  The lovers of Gomorrah are quite contented, Periel;
they don't have to put up with our difficulties.  They aren't
bothered by alteration, at least till the rain of the fire of the
Glory at the end, for they lose the capacity for change, except
for the fear of hell.  They're monogamous enough! and they've no
children-no cherubim breaking into being or babies as tiresome as
ours; there's no birth there, and only the second death.
There's no distinction between lover and beloved; they beget
themselves on their adoration of themselves, and they live and
feed and starve on themselves, and by themselves too, for
creation, as my predecessor said, is the mercy of God, and they
won't have the facts of creation.  No, we don't talk much of
Gomorrah, and perhaps it's as well and perhaps not."

"But where?" she cried.

"Where but here? When all's said and done there's only Zion or
Gomorrah," he answered.  "But don't think of that now; go and
sleep if you can, or you'll be nervous this afternoon.

"Never," she said.  "Not nervous."

"Well, that's as it may be," he said.  "Still, sleep.  The Sabbath
and all that, even for the cattle.  Be a lamb, and sleep."

She nodded, went obediently through the gate, and paused, saying:
"I shall see you presently?"

"Making my concluding appearance," he said.  "Unless the Lord
decides to take his own call.  The author has seemed to be out of
the house rather often, but he may have been brought in at last.
Till when, Periel, and with God."




                         Chapter Ten

                    THE SOUND OF THE TRUMPET

Mrs. Parry, rising that morning to control the grand occasion, and
excluding from her mind as often as possible the image of a
photograph in the papers of herself and Peter Stanhope side by
side, "author and producer", found a note from Lawrence Wentworth
waiting on her breakfast table.  It was short and frigid.  It said
only that he had caught a feverish chill and would not be at the
performance.  Even so, it had given him some trouble to write, for
it had demanded contact, and only a desire that he should not be,
by some maddening necessary inquiry, disturbed in his solitude,
had compelled him to write it.  He had sent it round very early,
and then had returned to sit in his study, with curtains drawn, to
help him in his sickness.

"Very odd weather to catch a feverish chill," Mrs. Parry thought,
looking through her window at the dancing sunlight.  "And he might
have returned his ticket, and he might have sent good wishes."
Good wishes were precisely what Wentworth was incapable of sending
anywhere, but Mrs. Parry could not know that.  It was difficult to
imagine what either Zion or Gomorrah would make of Mrs. Parry, but
of the two it was certainly Zion which would have to deal with
her, since mere efficiency, like mere being, is in itself
admirable, and must be coloured with definite evil before it can
be lost.  She made a note to tell the Seating Committee there was
a seat to spare.  If there were no other absentee, if none of the
cast were knocked down by a car, blown up by a geyser, or
otherwise incapacitated, she would think herself fortunate.  She
had had a private word with Pauline the day before, after the
rehearsal.  Rumours of Mrs. Anstruther's condition had reached
her, and she wanted, in effect, to know what Periel was going to
do about it.  She had always been a little worried about it, but
one couldn't refuse parts to suitable people because of elderly
grandmothers.  Periel, however, had been entirely sensible;
with the full consent, almost (Mrs.  Parry understood) under the
direction of the grandmother.  She would, under God, be there.
Mrs. Parry had not too much belief in God's punctuality, but she
was more or less satisfied, and left it at that.  If misadventure
must come, the person best spared to it would be Peter Stanhope
himself.  Mrs. Parry would willingly have immolated him on any
altar, had she had one, to ensure the presence of the rest, and
the success of the afternoon; it was why he admired her.  She
desired a public success, but more ardently she desired success--the
achievement.  She would have preferred to give a perfect
performance to empty seats rather than, to full, it should fall
from perfection.

She was given her desire.  Even the picture was supplied.
Stanhope, approached by photographers, saw to that.  He caused her
to be collected from her affairs at a distance; he posed by her
side; he directed a light conversation at her; and there they both
were: "Mr. Stanhope chatting with the producer (Mrs. Catherine
Parry)."  She took advantage of the moment to remind him that he
had promised to say something at the end of the play, "an informal
epilogue".  He assured her that he was ready-"quite informal.
The formal, perhaps, would need another speaker.  An archangel, or
something."

"It's angelic of you, Mr. Stanhope," she said, touched to a new
courtesy by his, but he only smiled and shook his head.

The photographs--of them, of the chief personages, of the Chorus--had
been taken in a secluded part of the grounds before the performance.
Stanhope lingered, watching, until they were done; then he joined
Pauline.

"How good Mrs. Parry is!" he said sincerely.  "Look how quiet and
well-arranged we all are! a first performance is apt to be much
more distracted, but it's as much as our lives are worth to be
upset now."

She said thoughtfully, "She is good, but I don't think it's
altogether her: it's the stillness.  Don't you feel it, Peter?"

"It doesn't weigh on us," he answered, smiling, "but-yes."

She said: "I wondered.  My grandmother died this morning--five
minutes after I got back.  I wondered if I was imagining the
stillness from that."

"No," he said thoughtfully, "but that may be in it.  It's as if
there were silence in heaven--a fortunate silence.  I almost wish
it were the Tempest and not me.  What a hope!

                       I'll deliver all;
And promise you calm seas, auspicious gales,
And sail so expeditious, that shall catch
Your royal fleet far off."

His voice became incantation; his hand stretched upward in the
air, as if he invoked the motion of the influences, and the hand
was magical to her sight.  The words sprang over her; auspicious
gales, sail so expeditious, and she away to the royal fleet far
off, delivered, all delivered, all on its way.  She answered:
"No; I'm glad it's you.  You can have your Tempest, but I'd rather
this."

He said, with a mild protest: "Yet he wrote your part for you too;
can you guess where?"

"I've been educated," she answered, brilliant in her pause before
they parted.  "Twice educated, Peter.  Shall I try?

Merrily, merrily, shall I live now
Under the blossom that hangs on the bough.

Bless me to it."

"Under the Mercy," he said, and watched her out of sight before he
went to find a way to his own seat.

The theatre was almost full; late-comers were hurrying in.  The
gate was on the point of being closed--two minutes, as the notices
had stated, before the beginning of the play when the last came.
It was Mrs. Sammile.  She hurried through, and as she came she saw
Stanhope.  As he bowed, she said breathlessly: "So nice,@ isn't
it? Have you got everything you want?"

"Or that we don't-" Stanhope began, but she chattered on: "But
it's a good thing not to have, isn't it?  Perfection would be so
dull, wouldn't it? It's better to think of it than to have it
isn't it? I mean, who was it said it's better to be always walking
than to get there?"

"No, thank you very much," he said, laughing outright.  "I'd
rather have perfection than think of it, though I don't see why we
shouldn't do both.  But we mustn't stop; you've only a minute and
a half.  Where's your ticket? This way." He took her round to her
seat--at the end of a row, towards the front--and as he showed it to
her he said, gravely: "You won't mind getting there for once, will
you? Rather than travelling hopefully about this place the whole
afternoon."

She threw a look at him, as he ran from her to his own seat, which
perplexed him, it seemed so full of bitterness and despair.  It
was almost as if she actually didn't want to sit down.  He
thought, as he sank into his chair, "But if one hated to arrive?
If one only lived by not arriving? if one preferred avoiding to
knowing? if unheard melodies were only sweet because they weren't
there at all? false, false . . . . and dismissed his thought, for
the Prologue stood out before the trees, and the moment of silence
before the trumpet sounded was already upon them.

It sounded annunciatory of a new thing.  It called its world
together, and prepared union.  It directed all attention forward,
as, his blasts done, the Prologue, actors ready behind and
audience expectant before, advanced slowly across the grass.  But
to one mind at least it did even more.  At the dress rehearsal it
had announced speech to Pauline, as to the rest; now it proclaimed
the stillness.  It sprang up out of the stillness.  She also was
aware of a new thing-of speech in relation to the silence in which
it lived.

The pause in which the Prologue silently advanced exhibited itself
to her as the fundamental thing.  The words she had so long
admired did not lose their force or beauty, but they were the mere
feel of the texture.  The harmony of motion and speech, now about
to begin, held and was composed by the pauses: foot to foot, line
to line, here a little and there a little.  She knew she had
always spoken poetry against the silence of this world; now she
knew it had to be spoken against--that perhaps, but also something
greater, some silence of its own.  She recognized the awful space
of separating stillness which all mighty art creates about itself,
or, uncreating, makes clear to mortal apprehension.  Such art, out
of "the mind's abyss", makes tolerable, at the first word or note
or instructed glance, the preluding presence of the abyss.
It creates in an instant its own past.  Then its significance
mingles with other significances; the stillness gives up kindred
meanings, each in its own orb, till by the subtlest graduations
they press into altogether other significances, and these again
into others, and so into one contemporaneous nature, as in that
gathering unity of time from which Lilith feverishly fled.  But
that nature is to us a darkness, a stillness, only felt by the
reverberations of the single speech.  About the song of the
Woodcutter's Son was the stillness of the forest.  That living
stillness had gathered the girl into her communion with the dead;
it had passed into her own spirit when the vision of herself had
closed with herself; it had surrounded her when she looked on the
dead face of Margaret; and now again it rose at the sound of the
trumpet--that which is before the trumpet and shall be after,
which is between all sentences and all words, which is between and
in all speech and all breath, which is itself the essential nature
of all, for all come from it and return to it.

She moved; she issued into the measured time of the play; she came
out of heaven and returned to heaven, speaking the nature of
heaven.  In her very duty the doctrine of exchange held true,
hierarchical and republican.  She owed the words to Stanhope; he
owed the utterance to her and the rest.  He was over her in the
sacred order, and yet in the sacred equality they ran level.  So
salvation lay everywhere in interchange: since, by an act only
possible in the whole, Stanhope had substituted himself for her,
and the moan of a God had carried the moan of the dead.  She
acted, and her acting was reality, for the stillness had taken it
over.  The sun was blazing, as if it would pierce all bodies
there, as if another sun radiated from another sky exploring
energies of brilliance.  But the air was fresh.

She was astonished in the interval to hear Myrtle Fox complaining
of the heat.  "It's quite intolerable," Miss Fox said, "and these
filthy trees.  Why doesn't Mr. Stanhope have them cut down? I do
think one's spirit needs air, don't you? I should die in a jungle,
and this feels like a jungle."

"I should have thought," Pauline said, but not with malice, "that
you'd have found jungles cosy."

"There's such a thing as being too cosy," Adela put in.  "Pauline,
I want to speak to you a minute."

Pauline allowed herself to be withdrawn.  Adela went on: "You're
very friendly with Mr. Stanhope, aren't you?"

"Yes," Pauline said, a little to her own surprise.  She had rather
meant to say: "O not very" or "Aren't you?", or the longer and
more idiotic "Well I don't know that you'd call it friendly".  But
it struck her that both they and every other living creature, from
the Four-by-the-Throne to the unseen insects in the air,
would call it friendly.  She therefore said, "Yes", and waited.

"O!" said Adela, also a little taken aback.  She recovered and
went on: "I've been thinking about this play.  We've done so much
with it-I and Mrs. Parry and the rest. . . ." She paused.

"Myrtle", Pauline said, "remarked yesterday that she felt
deeply that it was so much ours."

"O," said Adela again.  The heat was heavy on her too and she was
pinker than strictly the Princess should have been.  The
conversation hung as heavy as the heat.  A determination that had
hovered in her mind had got itself formulated when she saw the
deference exhibited towards him by the outer world that afternoon,
and now with a tardy selfishness she pursued it.  She said: "I
wonder if you'd ask him something."

"Certainly--if I can decently," Pauline answered, wondering, as
she heard herself use the word, where exactly the limits of
decency, if any, in the new world lay.  Peter, she thought, would
probably find room for several million universes within those
limits.

"It's like this," Adela said.  "I've always thought this a very
remarkable play."

Pauline's heavenly nature said to her other, without irritation but
with some relevance, "The hell you have!"

"And," Adela went on, "as we've all been in it here, I thought
it'd be jolly if we could keep it ours--I mean, if he'd let us."
She realized that she hated asking favours of Pauline, whom she
had patronized; she disliked subordinating herself.  The heat was
prickly in her skin, but she persevered.  "It's not for myself so
much," she said, "as for the general principle. . . ."

"O, Adela, be quick!" Pauline broke in.  "What do you want?"

Adela was not altogether unpractised in the gymnastics of
Gomorrah.  Her spirit had come near to the suburbs, and a time
might follow when the full freedom of the further City of the
Plain would be silently presented to her by the Prince of the City
and Lilith his daughter and wife.  She believed--with an effort,
but she believed-she was speaking the truth when she said: "I
don't want anything, but I think it would be only right of Mr.
Stanhope to let us have a hand in his London production."

"Us?" Pauline asked.

"Me then," Adela answered.  "He owes us something, doesn't he?
and", she hurried on, "if I could get hold of a theatre-a little
one--O, I think I could raise the money. . ."

"I should think you could", Pauline said, "for a play by Mr.
Stanhope."

"Anyhow, I thought you might sound him-or at least back me up,"
Adela went on.  "You do see there's nothing personal about it?"
She stopped, and Pauline allowed the living stillness to rise
again.

Nothing personal in, this desire to clothe immortality with a
career? Nothing unnatural perhaps; nothing improper perhaps; but
nothing personal? Nothing less general than the dark pause and the
trees and the measured movements of verse? nothing less free than
interchange of love? She said: "Adela, tell me it's for yourself,
only yourself, and I'll do it if I can."

Adela, extremely offended, and losing her balance said: "It isn't.
We shall be as good for him as he will be for us."

"A kind of mutual-profit system?" Pauline suggested.  "You'd
better get back; they'll be ready.  I'll do whatever you
want--to-morrow."

"But--" Adela began; however, Pauline had gone; where Adela did
not quite see.  It was the heat of the afternoon that so disjoined
movement, she thought.  She could not quite follow the passage of
people now-at least, off the stage.  They appeared and disappeared
by her, as if the air opened, and someone were seen in the midst
of it, and then the air closed up, and opened again, and there was
someone else.  She was getting fanciful.  Fortunately there was
only one more act, and on the stage it was all right; there people
were where she expected them.  Or, if not, you could find fault;
that refuge remained.  She hurried to the place, and found herself
glad to be there.  Lingering near was the Grand Duke.  He
contemplated her as she came up.

"You look a little done," he said, gravely and affectionately.

"It's the heat," said Adela automatically.

"It's not so frightfully hot," Hugh answered.  "Quite a good
afternoon.  A little thunder about somewhere, perhaps."

The thunder, if it was thunder, was echoing distantly in Adela's
ears; she looked at Hugh's equanimity with dislike.  He had
something of Mrs. Parry in him, and she resented it.  She said: "I
wish you were more sensitive, Hugh."

"So long as I'm sensitive to you," Hugh said, "it ought to be
enough.  You're tired, darling."

"Hugh, you'd tell me I was tired on the Day of judgment," Adela
exclaimed.  "I keep on saying it's the heat."

"Very well," Hugh assented; "it's the heat making you tired."

"I'm not tired at all," Adela said in a burst of exasperated rage,
"I'm hot and I'm sick of this play, and I've got a headache.  It's
very annoying to be so continually misunderstood.  After all, the
play does depend upon me a good deal, and all I have to do, and
when I ask for a little sympathy. . . ."

Hugh took her arm.  "Shut up," he said.

She stared back.  "Hugh--" she began, but he interrupted her.

"Shut up," he said again.  "You're getting above yourself, my
girl; you and your sympathy.  I'll talk to you when this is over.
You're the best actor in the place, and your figure's absolutely
thrilling in that dress, and there's a lot more to tell you like
that, and I'll tell you presently.  But it's time to begin now,
and go and do as I tell you."

Adela found herself pushed away.  There had been between them an
amount of half-pretended mastery and compulsion, but she was
conscious of a new sound in Hugh's voice.  It struck so near her
that she forgot about Pauline and the heat and Stanhope, for she
knew that she would have to make up her mind about it, whether to
reject or allow that authoritative assumption.  Serious commands
were a new thing in their experience.  Her immediate instinct was
to evade: the phrase which sprang to her mind was: "I shall have
to manage him--I can manage him." If she were going to marry
Hugh--and she supposed she was--she would either have to acquiesce
or pretend to acquiesce.  She saw quite clearly what she would do;
she would assent, but she would see to it that chance never
assented.  She knew that she would not revolt; she would never
admit that there was any power against which Adela Hunt could
possibly be in a state of revolt.  She had never admitted it of
Mrs. Parry.  It was always the other people who were in revolt
against her.  Athanasian in spirit, she knew she was right and the
world wrong.  Unathanasian in method, she intended to manage
the world ... Stanhope, Mrs. Parry, Hugh.  She would neither
revolt nor obey nor compromise; she would deceive.  Her admission
to the citizenship of Gomorrah depended on the moment at which, of
those four only possible alternatives for the human soul, she
refused to know which she had chosen.  Tell me it's for yourself,
only yourself..... No, no, it's not for myself; it's for the good
of others, her good, his good, everybody's good: is it my fault if
they don't see it? manage them, manage them, manage her, manage
him, and them. O, the Princess managing the Woodcutter's Son, and
the Chorus, the chorus of leaves, this way, that way; minds
twiddling them the right way; treachery better than truth, for
treachery was the only truth, there was no truth to be treacherous
to--and the last act beginning, and she in it, and the heat
crackling in the ground, in her head, in the air.  On then, on to
the stage, and Pauline was to ask Stanhope to-morrow.

Pauline watched her as she went, but she saw the Princess and not
Adela.  Now the process of the theatre was wholly reversed, for
stillness cast up the verse and the verse flung out the actors,
and though she knew sequence still, and took part in it, it was
not sequence that mattered, more than as a definition of the edge
of the circle, and that relation which was the exhibition of the
eternal.  Relation in the story, in the plot, was only an accident
of need: there had been a time when it mattered, but now it
mattered no longer, or for a while no longer.  Presently, perhaps,
it would define itself again as a need of daily life; she would
be older than her master, or younger, or contemporaneous; now they
were both no more than mutual perceptions in a flash of love.  She
had had relation with her ancestor and with that other man more
lately dead and with her grandmother--all the presently
disincarnate presences which lived burningly in the stillness,
through which the fire burned, and the stillness was the fire.
She danced out of it, a flame flung up, a leaf catching to a
flame.  They were rushing towards the end of the play, an end, an
end rushing towards the earth and the earth rushing to meet it.
The words were no longer separated from the living stillness, they
were themselves the life of the stillness, and though they sounded
in it they no more broke it than the infinite particles of
creation break the eternal contemplation of God in God.  The
stillness turned upon itself; the justice of the stillness drew
all the flames and leaves, the dead and living, the actors and
spectators, into its power-percipient and impercipient, that was
the only choice, and that was for their joy alone.  She sank
deeper into it.  The dance of herself and all the others
ceased, they drew aside, gathered up--O on how many rehearsals,
and now gathered!  "Behold, I come quickly! Amen, even so. . . ."
They were in the groups of the last royal declamations, and swept
aside, and the mighty stage was clear.  Suddenly again, from
somewhere in that great abyss of clarity, a trumpet sounded, and
then a great uproar, and then a single voice.  It was the
beginning of the end; the judgment of mortality was there.  She
was standing aside, and she heard the voice and knew it; from the
edge of eternity the poets were speaking to the world, and two
modes of experience were mingled in that sole utterance.  She knew
the voice, and heard it; all else was still.  Peter Stanhope, as
he had promised, was saying a few words at the close of the play.

There was but one small contretemps.  As, after moving to the
stage and turning to face the audience, Stanhope began to speak,
Mrs. Sammile slid down in, and finally completely off, her chair,
and lay in a heap.  She had been very bright all the afternoon; in
fact, she had been something of a nuisance to her immediate
neighbours by the whispered comments of admiration she had offered
upon the display of sound and colour before her.  As the crash of
applause broke out she had been observed to make an effort to join
in it.  But her hands had seemed to tremble and fail.  Stanhope
was to speak before the last calls, and the applause crashed
louder when he appeared.  It was in the midst of that enthusiasm
that Mrs. Sammile fainted.





                         Chapter Eleven

                      THE OPENING OF GRAVES

Whatever mystery had, to Pauline's exalted senses, taken its place
in the world on that afternoon, it seemed to make no difference to
the world.  Things proceeded.  Her uncle had arrived from London
during the performance, and had had to have his niece's absence
explained to him, first by the maid and later by the niece.  After
the explanation Pauline remembered without surprise in her shame
that she used to dislike her uncle.

Margaret Anstruther was buried on the next day but one, to the
sound of that apostolic trumpet which calls on all its hearers to
rise from the dead, and proclaims the creation on earth of
celestial bodies, "sown in corruption, raised in incorruption;
sown in dishonour, raised in glory; sown in weakness, raised in
power".  "Be steadfast, unmovable . . . your labour is not in vain
in the Lord." Pauline heard with a new attention; these were no
longer promises, but facts.  She dared not use the awful phrases
for herself; only, shyly, she hoped that perhaps, used by some
other heavenly knowledge, they might not be altogether
inapplicable to herself.  The epigram of experience which is in
all dogma hinted itself within her.  But more than these passages
another stranger imagination struck her heart: "Why are they then
baptized for the dead?" There, rooted in the heart of the Church
at its freshest, was the same strong thrust of interchange.
Bear for others; be baptized for others; and, rising as her new
vision of the world had done once and again, an even more fiery
mystery of exchange rolled through her horizons, turning and
glancing on her like the eyed and winged wheels of the prophet.
The central mystery of Christendom, the terrible fundamental
substitution on which so much learning had been spent and about
which so much blood had been shed, showed not as a miraculous
exception, but as the root of a universal rule ... "behold, I shew
you a mystery", as supernatural as that Sacrifice, as natural as
carrying a bag.  She flexed her fingers by her side as if she
thought of picking one up.

The funeral over, her uncle hastened action.  The moment for which
they had all been waiting had arrived; his mother was dead.  So
now they could clear things up.  The house could be sold, and most
of the furniture.  Pauline could have a room in a London hostel,
which he would find her, and a job in a London office, which he
had already found her.  They discussed her capacities; he hinted
that it was a pity she hadn't made more of the last few years.
She might have learned German while sitting with Margaret, and
Spanish instead of taking part in plays.  She would have to be
brisker and livelier.  Pauline, suppressing a tendency to point
out that for years he had wished her to be not brisk or lively,
but obedient and loving, said she would remember.  She added that
she would have a little money, enough to buy her bread.  Her uncle
said that a woman couldn't live on bread, and anyhow a job was a
good thing; he didn't wish his niece to waste her time and energy.
Pauline, thinking that Stanhope had said the same thing
differently, agreed.  Her uncle, having put everything he could
into somebody's hands, left her to live for a few days in the
house with the maid, and rushed back to London with his wife,
whose conversation had been confined to assuring Pauline that she
would get over it presently.

Pauline might have believed this if she had been clear what it was
that she was expected to get over.  Of one thing it was true; she
no longer expected to see the haunting figure of' her childhood's
acquaintance and youthful fear.  She remembered it now as one
remembers a dream, a vivid dream of separation and search.  She
had been, it seemed, looking for a long while for someone, or
perhaps some place, that was necessary to her.  She had been
looking for someone who was astray, and at the same time she had
been sought.  In the dream she had played hide-and-seek with
herself in a maze made up of the roads of Battle Hill, and the
roads were filled with many figures who hated--neither her nor any
other definite person, but hated.  They could not find anything
they could spend their hate on, for they slipped and slithered and
slid from and through each other, since it was their hate which
separated them.  It was no half-self-mocking hate, nor even an
immoral but half-justified hate, certainly not the terrible,
enjoyable, and angry hate of ordinary men and women.  It was the
hate of those men and women who had lost humanity in their extreme
love of themselves amongst humanity.  They had been found in their
streets by the icy air of those mountain peaks of which she
had once heard her grandmother speak, and their spirits had frozen
in them.  Among them she also had gone about, and the only thing
that had distinguished her from them was her fear lest they should
notice her.  And while she hurried she had changed, in her bygone
dream, and she was searching for some poor shadow of herself that
fled into the houses to escape her.  The dream had been long, for
the houses had opened up, as that shadow entered, into long
corridors and high empty rooms, and there was one dreadful room
which was all mirrors, or what was worse than mirrors, for the
reflections in those mirrors were living, though they hid for a
while and had no being till the shadow at last came speeding into
the room, but then they were seen, and came floating out of their
flickering cells, and danced the shadow into some unintelligible
dissolution among them. it was from that end that she sought to
save the miserable fugitive-.  When in her memory she reached that
point, when the shadow was fleeing deeper into Gomorrah, and she
fled after it on feet that were so much swifter than its own and
yet in those infinite halls and corridors could never overtake it
while it fled-when the moment of approach down the last long
corridor to the last utter manifestation of allusion drew near,
she heard far off a trumpet, and she could remember nothing more
but that she woke.  She remembered that she woke swiftly, as if a
voice called her, but however hard she tried she could not well
recollect whose voice it was; perhaps that also was part of the
dream, or perhaps it was the nurse's voice that had called her on
the morning her grandmother had died.  Perhaps; perhaps not.
Under all the ceremonies of the days, under the companionship of
her people, under her solitude, under her gradual preparations for
departure and her practice of studies which were to make her more
efficient in whatever job her uncle and the operation of the
Immortals should find her, under sun and moon alike, she waited.
She waited, and remembered only as a dream the division between
herself and the glorious image by which the other was to be
utterly ensouled.

It was observable, however, on the Hill, how many of the
inhabitants were unwell.  Mrs. Sammile had fainted, and had not
been seen about since.  Someone had offered to take her home in a
car, but she had declined, declaring that she was all right, and
had disappeared.  Myrtle Fox, though she had got through the
performance, had gone home crying, and had been in bed ever since.
She could not sleep; a doctor had been called in, but he did not
help her.  She took this and that, and nothing did good.  She
would doze a little, and wake crying and sobbing.  "It's all this
excitement," her mother said severely, and opinion began to blame
the play for Myrtle's illness.  Lawrence Wentworth remained shut
in his house; even his servants hardly saw him, and the curtains
of his study were generally drawn.  "It isn't human," his parlour-maid
said to next door's parlour-maid.  Some of the actors and
some of the audience were also affected by what was generally
called the local influenza epidemic.  The excitement of the play
or the brightness of the summer or the cold winds that even under
such a sun swept the Hill, or some infection more subtle than
these, struck the inhabitants down.

Neither Adela nor Hugh were among them.  Hugh, like Mrs. Parry,
went on efficiently dealing with the moment.  Adela suffered, from
the heat, from the thunder, from suppressed anxiety, but she did
not go to bed.  Pauline, even had she been free from her family,
could not have carried out her promise, for immediately after the
performance Stanhope disappeared for a few days; it was understood
he had gone away for a change.  Pauline could do no more than
assure Adela that, as soon as he returned, she would
look for an opportunity.  "But I can't," she said, "do more than
that.  I can't butt in on him with a club, Adela.  If it's for all
of us, why not do it yourself? If it was for you personally, of
course you might feel awkward, but as it isn't. . . ." Adela said
it certainly wasn't, and went off peevishly.

As a result the management of Hugh had to be postponed.  He had
not, in fact, made that formal proposal which was necessary if
Adela was to feel, as she wished, that she had a right and a duty
to manage him, In order not to thwart him, Adela controlled
herself more than was her habit when they were together.
Obedience and revolt being both out of the question, she
compromised temporarily that she might manage permanently.  It was
in such a compromise that they had been walking one evening on the
Hill two or three days after Margaret Anstruther's burial.  By
accident, on their return, they took a road which led past the
gates of the cemetery, and as they came by Hugh said idly: "I
suppose Pauline'll be going now her grandmother's dead."

Adela had not thought of this.  She said immediately: "O, I
shouldn't wonder if she stopped--moved to a smaller house or
something.  She can't go yet."

Hugh said: "You didn't go to the funeral, darling?"

"Of course not," Adela answered.  "I hate being morbid." As if to
prove it she lingered to look through the gates.  "There are so
many of them," she added.

"Yes," Hugh said, with what faintly struck Adela as unnecessary
obtuseness, "you can't get round death with any kind of adjective,
can you?"

"I don't want to get round anything with adjectives," Adela
almost snarled.  "Thank God we've got away from any pretence.
It's so unimportant when one doesn't pretend.  When one's dead,
one's dead, and that's all there is to it."

Hugh said, "Yes, but what's all there is to it? I'm that old-fashioned
thing, an agnostic; I don't know.  I like to be clear on what I know
and what I don't know, and I don't like day-dreams, either nice or
nasty, or neither."

"O, nor do I," said Adela.  "But you must sometimes think how nice
it would be if something particular happened.  I call that common
sense."

"Within limits," Hugh said, putting his arm over her shoulders.
"I sometimes let myself think, for a certain time, or a definite
distance-say, from here to your house-how pleasant something would
be-having fifty thousand pounds a year, say.  But when I come to
your house, or wherever it is, I stop."

"Do you?" said Adela, more impressed than she admitted to herself.

"Always," said Hugh.  "And then--O, concentrate on making another
fifty.  Day-dreaming without limits is silly."

Adela shook her head.  "I suppose I imagine rather intensely," she
said.  "I seem to see things obliquely, if you know what I mean.
They're alongside the actual thing, a sort of tangent.  I think
really that's what all art is-tangential." The word had hardly
left her lips when a voice, tangential to her ear, said: "Do let
me persuade you, Miss Hunt."

Adela, with a jump, looked round, and saw Lily Sammile.  There
was, at that part of the cemetery wall, a lean-to erection of
boards, a kind of narrow shelter, almost a man's height, and
having a rough swinging door at the nearer end.  It had been there
before anyone could remember, and it stayed there because no one
could remember to have it taken away.  It was very old and very
weather-stained.  It was almost a toolshed, but then the necessary
tools were, more conveniently, kept elsewhere.  Everyone supposed
that someone else used it.  At the door of this shed, close to the
cemetery railing, stood the woman who had spoken.  She was leaning
forward, towards Adela, and holding on to a bar of the gate.  Now
she put a hand on Adela's bare arm.  It was gritty to the skin,
which felt as if a handful of rough dust was pressed down, and
pricked and rubbed it.  The voice was rough too; it mumbled
through a mouthful of dust.  Adela pulled her arm away; she could
not answer; she thrust closer to Hugh.

The woman said, after a pause during which they stared at her, and
saw her dishevelled, hatless, hair of grey ashes, and cheeks
almost as grey--"Come and get away.  Dust--that's what you want;
dust."

Hugh said easily: "Not a bit, Mrs. Sammile.  We both want a great
deal more."

The woman answered: "You may, but she doesn't.  She's a--"

They could not catch the word, her voice so muffled it.  Adela
took two steps back, and said in a little squeak: "Hugh!"

Hugh slipped his arm round her.  He said firmly, though less
easily than before: "Well, we must be getting on.  Come along,
darling."

Lily Sammile began to cry.  The tears ran down her face and left
streaks in the greyness, as if they crept through and over grime.
She said miserably: "You'll wish you had; O, you'll wish you had."
She was standing with her back to the gate, leaning against it,
and as she ceased to speak she became rigid suddenly, as if she
listened.  Her eyes widened; her nose came out over an indrawn
lip; her cheeks hollowed in her effort.  There was no need for the
effort.  They could hear the sound that held her; a faint rustle,
a dry patter.  It came from beyond her, and she twisted her head
round-only her head and looked.  So, distracted by the movement,
did the other two.  They saw movement in the graves.

Most were quiet enough; their inhabitants had passed beyond any
recall or return, and what influence they had on the Hill was by
infection rather than by motion.  But the estate was still new,
and the neat ranks of sepulchres did not reach far into the
enclosure.  They lay along the middle path mostly; the farthest
away was the mound that covered Margaret Anstruther.  That too was
quiet: its spirit could not conceive return.  It was between the
earlier graves and hers that the disclosure began, as if the
enclosed space was turning itself over.  The earth heaved; they
felt, where they stood, no quiver.  It was local, but they saw-
there, and again there the mounds swell and sway and fall in a
cascade of mould, flung over the green grass.  Three or four in
all, dark slits in the ground, and beyond each a wide layer of
dust.  It did not stop there.  The earth was heaving out of the
dark openings; it came in bursts and rushes-in a spasmodic
momentum, soon exhausted, always renewed.  It hung sometimes in
the air, little clouds that threatened to fall back, and never
did, for they drifted slowly to one side, and sank again on what
had earlier dropped.  Gravitation was reversed; the slowness and
uncertainty of the movement exposed the earth's own initiation of
it.  The law of material things turned; somewhere in that walled
receptacle of the dead activity was twisted upon itself.  The
backward movement of things capable of backward movement had
begun.  The earth continued to rise in fountains, flung up from
below; and always at their height, their little height above the
ground, the tops of those fountains swayed, and hurled themselves
sideways, and dropped, and the rest fell back into the hidden
depth of the openings, until it flung itself up once more.
The gentle low patter of rough earth on gravel paths floated over
the gates to the ears of the three who were still standing there.

There was a more deathly silence without the gates than within.
The old woman, with twisted head, her body almost a pattern of
faintly covered bones against the iron bars, was rigid; so were
Adela and Hugh.  They stood staring; incredulous, they gazed at
the exhibited fact.  So incredible was it that they did not think
of the dead; ghosts and resurrections would have been easier to
their minds, if more horrible, than this obvious insanity,
insanity obvious in its definite existence.  They were held; then,
to instinctive terror, the frantic cause presented itself.  Adela
screamed, and as the dead man's moan had been answered in the
mountain her scream was caught and prolonged in the other woman's
wailing shriek.  The shriek was not human; it was the wind rushing
up a great hollow funnel in a mountain, and issuing in a wild
shrill yell.  It tore itself out of the muffled mouth, and swept
over the Hill, a rising portent of coming storm.  Myrtle Fox heard
it in her long night of wakefulness, and her body sickened.
Pauline heard it, and felt more intensely the peace that held her.
Stanhope heard it, and prayed.  Before the sound had died, Lily
Sammile had jerked from the gate, and thrown herself at the dark
shed, and disappeared within, and the swinging door fell to behind
her.

As she sprang, Adela sprang also.  She screamed again and ran.
She ran wildly up the road, so fast that Hugh, who followed, was
outdistanced.  He called after her.  He shouted: "Adela, it's
nothing.  The earth was loose and the wind was blowing.  Stop."
She did not stop.  He kept up the pursuit down a street or two,
but his own action offended him.  Much though the vision had for
the moment affected him, he was, as soon as he began to move, more
immediately affected and angered by his situation.  There might
be explanations enough of what he thought he had seen-he spared a
curse for Lily Sammile-but more certain than what he thought he
had seen was what he knew Adela was doing.  She was, faster than
he, running and screaming over Battle Hill.  He was angry; suppose
someone met her! He raised in his own mind no reasonable pretext
for abandoning her, nor did he disguise his intention from
himself, but after a corner or two he simply stopped running.
"Perfectly ridiculous!" he said angrily.  "The earth was loose,
and the wind was blowing." He was free as Pauline herself from
Lilith, but without joy.  There was, between the group to which
his soul belonged and hers, no difference, except only that of
love and joy, things which now were never to be separated in her
any more.

Adela ran.  She had soon no breath for screaming.  She ran.  She
did not know where she was going.  She ran.  She heard a voice
calling behind her: "The earth's loose and the wind's blowing",
and she ran more wildly.  Her flesh felt the touch of a gritty
hand; a voice kept calling after her and round her: "The earth's
loose; the wind's blowing." She ran wildly and absurdly, her
full mouth open, her plump arms spasmodically working, tears of
terror in her eyes.  She desired above all things immediate
safety-in some place and with someone she knew. Hugh had
disappeared. She ran over the Hill, and through a twisted blur of
tears and fear recognized by a mere instinct Lawrence Wentworth's
house. She rushed through the gate; here lived someone who could
restore her. to her own valuation of herself. Hugh's shouted
orders had been based on no assent of hers to authority; however
much she had played at sensual and sentimental imitations of
obedience, she hated the thing itself in any and every mode. She
wanted something to condone and console her fear. There was a
light in the study; she made for it; reached the window, and
hammered on the glass, hammered again and again, till Wentworth at
last heard and reluctantly drew himself from the stupor of his
preoccupation, came slowly across the room and drew back the
curtain.

They confronted each other through the glass. Wentworth
took a minute or two to recognize whose was the working and
mottled face that confronted him, and when he recognized it, he
made a motion to pull the curtain again and to go away.  But as
she saw the movement she struck so violently at the glass that
even in his obsession he was terrified of others hearing, and
slowly and almost painfully he pushed the window up and stood
staring at her.  She put her hands on the sill and leant inwards.
She said- "Lawrence, Lawrence, something's about!"

He still stood there, looking at her now with a heavy distaste,
but he said nothing, and when she tried to catch his hand he moved
it away.  She looked up at him, and a deeper fear struck at her-
that here was no refuge for her.  Gomorrah closed itself against
her; she stood in the outer wind of the plain.  It was cold
and frightful; she beat, literally, on the wall.  She sobbed;
"Lawrence, help me."

He said: "I don't know you," and she fell back, astounded.  She
cried out: "Lawrence, it's me, it's me, Adela.  You know me; of
course you do.  Here I am-I've come to you.  There's something
dreadful happening and I've come to you."

He said dully: "I don't want to know you.  Go away; you're
disturbing me." And he moved to shut the window down.

At this she leant right forward and stared up at his eyes, for her
fear desired very strongly to find that he was only defending
himself against her.  But his eyes did not change; they gazed
dully back, so dully and so long that she was driven to turn her
own away.  And as she did so, sending a wild glance around
the room, so urgently had she sought to find out his real desire
and so strong was, his rejection of her, and so fast were all
things drawing to their end, that she saw, away beyond the light
of the reading-lamp, a vague figure.  It was in the shadows, but,
as if to meet her, it thrust its head forward, and so again
fulfilled its master's wish.  For to Adela there appeared,
stretched forward in the light, her own face, infinitely perfected
in sensual grace and infinitely emptied of all meaning, even of
evil meaning.  Blank and dead in a spiritual death it stared
vacantly at her, but undoubtedly it was she.  She stood, staring
back, sick and giddy at the horror, and she heard Wentworth say:
"Go away; I don't want to help you; I don't know you.  Go away."

He closed the window; he began to draw the curtains; the creature
disappeared from her sight.  And by the wall of Gomorrah she
fainted and fell.

He saw her fall, and in his bemused mind he felt her as a danger
to his peace.  He stood looking down at her, until, slowly turning
a stiff head, he saw the reflection of his doubt in the eyes of
his mistress, the gleam of anxiety which reflected his own because
it was concerned with himself.  Reluctantly therefore he went out
and half-lifted, half-dragged the girl to the gate, and got her
through it, and then got her a little way down the road, and so
left her lying.  He mistily wondered, with a flat realism, if she
would awake while he laboured, but the stupor of her horror was
too deep.  She lay there prone and still, and he returned.

But, as if in that effort he had slid farther down the rope of his
dream, when he returned he was changed.  He sat down and his
creature crept up to him and took and nuzzled his hand.  As she
did so he became aware for the first time that he did not
altogether want her.  She was not less preferable than she had
been for long to the real Adela, but she was less preferable now
than his unimaged dream.  He wanted to want her; he did not want
her to go; but he could not-not as he had done.  Even she was a
betrayal, she was a thing outside.  It was very good, as it always
was, observant of his slightest wish.  It sat by him, blinking at
the fire.  This year, in his room curtained from the sun, it was
cold; he had had a fire kept up for the last few days, in spite of
his servants' astonishment.  He could not, as he sat, think
what he wanted, unless indeed to want her, for he feared somehow
to let her go: when he did he would be at the bottom of his rope.
He had been given rope enough, but there was a bottom, and a dark
hole, and him in the hole.  He saw this dimly and was unwilling to
slide lower, yet not to slide was to stop out where other things
and other images were, and he was unwilling to be there also.  He
looked round several times, thinking that he would see something
else.  He thought of a girl's body lying in the road, but he could
not get off his rope for that, not even if he wished, and most
certainly he did not wish. Something else: something connected
with his work, with the Grand Duke's Guard.  What Grand Duke? The
unbegotten Adela by his side said, in a low voice which stammered
now as it had not before, as if it were as much losing control as
was his own mind: "W-what Grand D-Duke, darling? w-what w-work?"
The Grand Duke's Guard--a white square--a printed card--yes, a
notice: a meaning and a message, a meeting.  He remembered now.
It was the annual dinner of a small historical society to which he
and a few others belonged.  He remembered that he had been looking
forward to it; he remembered that he would enjoy going, though he
could not remember for a few minutes who else came to it.  He did
not trouble to say anything, however; he was too tired-some drag,
some pulling and thrusting had exhausted him more than he knew; he
had to roll a body in the uniform of the Grand Duke's Guard, or
to protect himself from hitting against its dark mass as he swung
on his rope; but that was over now, and he could forget, and
presently the two of them stirred and went--mumblingly and
habitually-to bed.

It could not be supposed, when Adela was found soon after by a
young constable on his beat, that Mr. Wentworth had had anything
to do with her.  The constable found her name from letters in her
handbag, and presently he and others roused her people and she was
got to her own temporary place, her own room.  She remained
unconscious till the morning; then she woke.  Her temperature and
her pulse were at first normal, and at first she could not recall
the night.  But presently it returned to her.  She felt herself
running again from the opening graves to the sight of the
meaningless face; Hugh was running after her.  Hugh was running
out of the graves and driving her on to meet the face.  She too,
like Myrtle Fox, screamed and vomited.

Her mother rang up Hugh.  There was an acrimonious conversation.
Mrs. Hunt said that she had trusted Adela to Hugh's care.  Hugh
said that Adela had insisted on being alone, which, considering
the rate at which she had run away, he felt was approximately
true.  Mrs. Hunt said that Adela was actually at death's door.
Hugh said she would probably be wise enough not to ring the bell.
Mrs. Hunt said that she herself insisted on seeing him; Adela was
in no state to see anybody.  Hugh said he would give himself the
pleasure of leaving some flowers sometime.  He knew he was
behaving brutally, and that he was in fact more angry and less
detached than he made his voice sound.  He had left her to run,
but had presently gone round and had at last reached her home in
time to observe the confusion that attended her being brought
home.  He would have spoken, but he hated Mrs. Hunt, and he hated
scenes, especially scenes at two in the morning, when his always
equable passion for Adela was at ebb.  So he had gone home, and
indulged irritation.  Nevertheless he intended to be efficient to
the situation; the flowers should be taken and Adela seen that
evening.  He had no intention of leaving any duty unfulfilled-any
duty of exterior act.  He did not quite admit that there was any
other kind, except in so far as outer efficiency dictated the
interior.

Pursued by Hugh in her nightmares, Adela had no sense of ease or
peace in his image.  She ran in that recurrent flight from him
through an arch that was Wentworth towards the waiting face, and
as she was carried towards it, it vanished, and she was beginning
again.  As she ran she repeated lines and bits of lines of her
part in the play; the part she was continually trying and
continually failing to learn, the part that repeated to her a
muddle of words about perception and love which she could never
get in the right order.  Sometimes Mrs. Parry was running beside
her and sometimes Mrs. Sammile; at least, it had Mrs. Sammile's
head though the body was Peter Stanhope's, and it said as it ran:
What you want is perception in a flash of love; what you love is a
flash in a want of perception; what you flash is the want in a
love of perception; what you want is what you want . . ." and so
always.  Others of her acquaintance were sometimes about her in
the dream of chaos which had but one element of identity, and that
was the race she ran and the conditions of the race.  She came
again under the arch that was Wentworth, and this time there was a
change, for she found Pauline running beside her.  Pauline's hand
was in hers; she clutched it, and the speed of her running
dwindled, as if a steadiness entered it.  She said in a squeak:
"Pauline!"

Pauline, leaning over the bed, and feeling her hand so fiercely
held--she had called as soon as she heard Adela was ill--said:
"Yes, my dear?"

Her voice gave its full value to the last word: it rang in the air
of the dream, a billow of comprehensible sound.

Adela stopped running.  She said: "Will you help me?"  "Of
course," Pauline said, thinking rather ruefully of asking
Stanhope.  "What do you want me to do?"

Adela said breathlessly: "I want to stop.  I want to know my
part."

"But you did know your part," Pauline answered.  "You knew it
beautifully, and you did it beau ... you did it."

Adela said: "No, no; I've got to find it, and she can give it to
me."

"She?" Pauline asked.

"Lily, she ... Sammile, whatever she's called," Adela cried.  "In
the shed by the cemetery."

Pauline frowned.  She remembered Lily Sammile very well.  She
remembered her as something more than an old woman by a gate, or
if, then a very old woman indeed by a very great gate, where many
go in who choose themselves, the gate of Gomorrah in the Plain,
illusion and the end of illusion; the opposite of holy fact, and
the contradiction of sacred love.  She said, very quickly: "Let me
run for you, Adela; you can keep quiet.  I can run faster than
you," she added truthfully.  "I've got longer legs.  Let me run
instead of you.  Don't worry about Mrs. --" she could not say the
name; no name was enough for the spirit that lay in Gomorrah, in
the shed by the cemetery, till the graves were opened--above or
below, but opened.

Adela said: "No, no; no one can do anything.  She can make my head
better.  She can give me something.  You can't do anything; you
didn't see it in the house."

Pauline said: "But let's try at least.  Look, let me go and learn
your part."  She was not quite sure, as she said it, whether this
came under the head of permissible interchanges.  She had meant it
but for the part in the play, but this new fashion of identities
was too strong for her; the words were a definition of a
substitution beyond her.  Adela's past, Adela's identity, was
Adela's own.  A god rather than she, unless she were inhabited by
a god, must carry Adela herself; the god to whom baptism for the
dead was made, the lord of substitution, the origin and centre of
substitution, and in the sides of the mountain of the power of
substitution the hermitages of happy souls restored out of
substitution.  A fanfare of recovered identities surrounded her;
the single trumpet shrilled into diversities of music.

Adela said: "In the shed by the cemetery.  I shall know my part
there.  Go and ask her."

Her hand shook Pauline's in her agitation, and the movement was a
repulsion.  Pauline, flung off upon her errand, was by the same
energy repelled from her errand.  Her own body shook; she was
tossed away from the grand gate of Gomorrah where aged Lilith
incunabulates souls.  She sprang up, driven by necessity, and
Adela, opening her eyes which all this while had been shut, met
hers.  They gazed for a moment, and then Adela screamed.  "Go
away," she cried; "you won't, and if you do it'll be worse.
You're a devil; you want me not to know.  Go away; go away."

"Adela, darling," Pauline said, oblivious of repulsion in a
distressed tenderness, "it's Pauline.  Don't be unhappy; I'll
do all I can."

"You won't, you won't," Adela screamed.  "You'll spoil everything.
You're torturing me; you're tearing my bones out of me; you're
scraping my bones.  I hate you, I hate you; go away."

Pauline heard Mrs. Hunt running up the stairs, drawn by that
shriek of denial.  She exclaimed, torn herself by so much pain:
"I'll go, I promise.  If you want-"

"No," Adela screamed, throwing her arm over her eyes, "you'll hurt
us all.  You don't care about us; you don't love any of us.
You'll help Hugh to shut me up in the graves with it; he's got
something in his room . . . it isn't me . . . it isn't . . ."

Her mother was by her, murmuring and soothing; her single look
told Pauline to go, and she went.  She let herself out of the
house, and walked up the street, trying to settle her mind.  It
ought to be possible to determine what to do.  Was it good for
Adela, but who was to decide what was good for Adela? She-or
Adela? Or someone else? Peter? but she wouldn't ask Peter, only
what would he say if she did? "The Omnipotence"? Coming on the
word, she considered it, and it worked upward to her freeing.  She
would do what Adela wanted, for it was Adela's need, and she had
no reason against; she would do it in the Omnipotence, in the wood
where leaves sang.  Whoever was found there was subject to it, to
the law of exchanged good.  The Hill rose before her in the
sunshine, and on its farther side the place from which her twin,
now deeply one with her, had come.  The mountains of impersonality
have yet their hidden sides, and she was climbing towards them, in
the point which was one with the universe.  She knew herself going
towards a thing that must be done.  The growth of earth into
heaven and heaven into earth approached in time a point it had
already occupied in space.  She could see no one else in the
streets; she went lonely, and repeated to herself as she went
those lines in Which Peter's style individualized felicity.  Up,
and still up . . . where the brigands hid in a shelter and cave of
the wood, and shared but did not exchange.  Oh, happy and happy to
have attributions of property for convenience of grace; thrice-
happy that convenience of grace could dispose of property: tam
antiqua, tam nova, vita nova, nova creatura, a new creature, no
more in any sense but new, not opposed to the
old, but in union with the old; new without any trick of
undermeaning, new always, and now new.  Up, and  up, and presently
down again a little; she was looking out towards the City where
she was to be.  She saw, away over open ground, the smoke of a
train, it was carrying to the City some of those who lived or
had lived upon the Hill and were leaving it or flying from it.
Was the rest of the world shaken with entranced joy? Perhaps that
was not discoverable, for speech of such things came only when it
was permitted, and to one the world was new and to one not, to one
redeemed and to one not.  Yet beyond such differences there lay
some act, and this was so whether or not, known or not.  Perhaps
to Peter to-morrow--no, tonight, for she herself must leave the
Hill to-morrow, and never before had parting held such joy.
Parting was a fact; all facts are joyous; therefore parting was
joyous.  With that unnecessary syllogism delicately exhibiting
itself as a knowledge of truth, she found herself at the shed by
the hill.

There it was.  She had seen it a hundred times.  The rough door as
usual was swung to.  She looked at it.  This then was
where Lily Sammile lived? "I could live in a nutshell and count
myself king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad
dreams." Was the counting of oneself king of space when one lived
in a nutshell one of the bad dreams? Unheard melodies--the rigid
figures on the Grecian vase? To enjoy nutshell as nutshell, vase
as vase! She rapped at the door; there came no other sound.  She
rapped again; as if the wood thinned before her, she heard a quick
breathing from within.  She did not knock again; she laid a hand
on the door and gently pressed.

It swung.  She peered in.  It was dark inside and very long and
narrow and deep.  Its floor slid away, hundreds of yards downward.
There was no end to that floor.  A little distance within the shed
the woman was sitting on the earth, where the floor began to
slope.  She was not alone; the occupiers of the broken- up graves
were with her.  They were massed, mostly, about the doorway; in
the narrow space there was room for infinities.  They were
standing there, looking at their nurse, and they were hungry.  The
faces--those that were still faces--were bleak with a dreadful
starvation.  The hunger of years was in them, and also a
bewildered surprise, as if they had not known they were starved
till now.  The nourishment of the food of all their lives had
disappeared at once, and a great void was in their minds and a
great sickness.  They knew the void and the sickness.  The
nourishment drawn from full lives had carried Margaret Anstruther
and her peers over the bare mountain, and they had passed, but
when the sun of the mountain struck on the people of infinite
illusion it struck on all their past lives and they lived at last
in the starvation they had sought.  Religion or art, civic sense
or sensual desire, or whatever had drugged the spirit with its own
deceit, had been drawn from them; they stared famished at the dry
breasts of the ancient witch.  They had been freed from the grave,
and had come, in their own faint presences, back to the Hill they
knew, but they could not come farther on to the Hill, in the final
summer of mortality, than to this mere outbuilding.  Their
enchantress sat there, the last illusion still with her, the
illusion of love itself, she could not believe her breasts were
dry.  She desired infinitely to seem to give suck; she would be
kind and good, she who did not depend, on whom others had
depended.  They stood there, but she would not see them; she who
was the wife of Adam before Eve, and for salvation from whom Eve
was devised after the mist had covered the land of Eden.  She
would not see, and she would not go to the door because of that
unacknowledged crowd, but she sat there, cut off from the earth
she had in her genius so long universally inhabited, gazing,
waiting, longing for some of the living to enter, to ask her for
oblivion and the shapes with which she enchanted oblivion.  No one
came; oblivion had failed.  Her dead had returned to her; her
living were left without her.  The door swung.

Pauline saw her sitting, an old woman crouched on the ground.  As
the girl gazed the old woman stirred and tried to speak; there
issued from her lips a meaningless gabble, such gabble as Dante,
inspired, attributes to the guardian of all the circles of hell.
The angelic energy which had been united with Pauline's mortality
radiated from her; nature, and more than nature, abhors a vacuum.
Her mind and senses could not yet receive comprehensibly the
motions of the spirit, but that adoring centre dominated her, and
flashes of its great capacity passed through her, revealing, if
but in flashes, the single world of existence.  Otherwise, the
senses of her redeemed body were hardly capable yet of fruition;
they had to grow and strengthen till, in their perfection, they
should give to her and the universe added delight.  They now
failed from their beatitude, and lived neither with intuitive
angelic knowledge nor immediate angelic passage, but with the
slower movement of the ancient, and now dissolving, earth.

Lilith, checked in her monotonous gabble by the radiant vision who
let in the sun's new light, stared at it with old and
blinking eyes.  She saw the shape of the woman; and did not know
beatitude, however young.  She supposed this also to be in need of
something other than the Omnipotence.  She said, separating with
difficulty words hardly distinguishable from gabble: "I can help
you."

"That's kind of you," Pauline answered, "but I haven't come to you
for myself."

"I can help anyone," the old woman said, carefully enunciating the
lie.

Pauline answered again: "Adela Hunt wants you." She could and
would say no more and no less.  She recommended the words to the
Omnipotence (which, she thought, it was quite certain that Adela
Hunt did want, in one or both senses of the word).

The other said, in a little shriek of alarm, such as an old
woman pretending youth might have used for girlish fun, "I won't
go out, you know.  She must come here."

"She can't do that," Pauline said, "because she's ill."

"I can cure everyone," the other answered, "anyone and everyone.
You."

"Thank you very much, but I don't want anything," Pauline said.

The figure on the earth said: "You must.  Everyone wants
something.  Tell me what you want."

Pauline answered: "But I don't.  You can't think how I don't.  How
could I want anything but what is?"

The other made in the gloom a motion as if to crawl forward.
Illusion, more lasting than in any of her victims, was in her.  At
the moment of destruction she still pressed nostrums upon the
angelic visitor who confronted her.  She broke again into gabble,
in which Pauline could dimly make out promises, of health, of
money, of life, or their appearances, of good looks and good luck,
or a belief in them, of peace and content, or a substitute for
them.  She could almost have desired to find it in her to pretend
to be in need, to take pity, and herself to help the thing that
offered help, to indulge by her own goodwill the spiritual
necromancy of Gomorrah.  It was not possible.  The absolute and
entire sufficiency of existence rose in her.  She could no more
herself deny than herself abandon it.  She could ask for nothing
but what was-life in the instant mode of living.  She said: "O
don't, don't."

The woman seemed to have drawn nearer, through that wriggling upon
the ground; an arm poked out, and a hand clutched, too far off to
catch.  A voice rose: "Anything, everything; everything, anything;
anything, everything; every--"

"But I don't want anything," Pauline cried out; and as she heard
her own vain emphasis, added with a little despairing laugh: "How
can I tell you? I only want everything to be as it is-for myself,
I mean."

"Change," said the shape.  "I don't change."

Pauline cried out: "And if it changes, it shall change as it must,
and I shall want it as it is then." She laughed again at the
useless attempt to explain.

At the sound of that laugh Lilith stopped, in movement and speech,
and all the creatures that stood within vision turned their heads.
The sterile silence of the hidden cave exposed itself, and the
single laughter of the girl ran over it, and after the laughter
the silence itself awoke.  As if the very air emanated power, the
stillness became warm; a haze of infinite specks of gold filled
the darkness, as if the laughter had for a moment made its joy,
and more than its joy, visible.  The sombre air of the chill city
of the plain was pierced by the joy of the sons of God which
exists even there.  Lilith shrieked and flung up her arms; and a
sudden thin wail followed the shriek, the wail of all those dead
who cannot endure joy.  The advent of that pure content struck at
the foundations of the Hill and the wail went up from all the
mortal who writhed in sickness and all the immortal who are sick
for ever.

There was a noise of cracking and breaking wood.  A cloud of dust
rose.  Pauline threw her head back, involuntarily shutting her
eyes.  The dust was in her nostrils, she sneezed.  As she
recovered and opened her eyes, she saw that the old shed had
collapsed before her.  It lay, a mass of broken and discoloured
wood, upon the ground.  The thrust she had given to the door had
been too much for it, and it had fallen.




                         Chapter Twelve

                         BEYOND GOMORRAH

"Then this", Stanhope said, "is a last visit?"

"Yes," Pauline said.  "I'm going up to London tomorrow morning."

"You'll like the work," Stanhope went on.  "Odd-to know that when
you don't know what it is.  You do know that?"

"Under the Mercy," she said.  "I'm to see my uncle's man to-morrow
at twelve, and if he approves me I shall start work at once.  So
then, my uncle says, I can stay with them for a few days till I've
found rooms or a room."

"You'll send me the address?" he asked.

She answered: "Of course.  You'll stop here still?"

He nodded, and for the minute there was silence.  Then she added:
"Most people seem to be trying to move."

"Most," he said, "but some won't and some can't and some needn't.
You must, of course.  But I think I might as well stop.  There are
flowers, and fruit, and books, and if anyone wants me,
conversation, and so on-till the plague stops."

She asked, looking at him: "Do you know how long it will last?"

He shrugged a little: "If it's what my grandmother would have
called it," he said, "one of the vials of the Apocalypse--why,
perhaps a thousand years, those of the millennium before the
judgment.  On the other hand, since that kind of thousand years is
asserted to be a day, perhaps till to-morrow morning.  We're like
the Elizabethan drama, living in at least two time schemes."

She said: "It is that?"

"As a thief in the night'," he answered.  "Could you have a better
description? Something is stealing from us our dreams and
deceptions and everything but actuality."

"Will they die?" she asked.

"I don't think anyone will die," he said, "unless--and God redeem
us all!--into the second death.  But I think the plague will
spread.  The dead were very thick here; perhaps that was why it
began here."

"And Adela?" she asked, and Myrtle?"

"Why, that is for them," he answered.

But she opened on him a smile of serenity, saying: "And for you."

"I will talk Nature to Miss Fox," he said, "and Art to Miss Hunt.
If they wish.  But I think Prescott may be better for Miss Hunt; he's
an almost brutal realist, and I shall remain a little Augustan,
even in heaven."

"And I?" she asked, "I?"

"Incipit vita nova," he answered.  "You-by the way, what train are
you catching to-morrow? I'll come and see you off."

"Half-past ten," she said, and he nodded and went on: "You'll
find your job and do it and keep it-in the City of our God, even
in the City of the Great King, and . . . and how do I, any more
than you, know what the details of Salem will be like?"

She stood up, luxuriously stretching.  "No," she said, "perhaps
not.  I suppose poets are superfluous in Salem?"

"I have wondered myself," he admitted.  "But you needn't realize
it so quickly.  If the redeemed sing, presumably someone must
write the songs.  Well-I'll see you at the station to-morrow?"

"Yes, please," she said, as they moved to the door, and then
silently down the drive under a night blazing with stars.  At the
gate she gave him her hand.  "It seems so funny to be talking
about trains in the easier circles of . . ." As she hesitated
he laughed at her.

"Are you afraid to name it?" he asked, and with a blush she said
hastily: ". . . heaven. O good night."  "Till to-morrow and good
night," he said.  "Go with God."

She took two steps, paused and looked back.  "Thank you for
heaven," she said.  "Good night."

The next morning they were on the platform together, chatting of
her prospects and capacities, when as they turned in their walk
Pauline said: "Peter, look-there's Mr. Wentworth.  Is he coming to
London too?  He looks ill, doesn't he?"

"Very ill," Stanhope said gravely.  "Shall we speak?" They moved
down the platform, and as Wentworth turned his head in her
direction Pauline smiled and waved.  He looked at her vaguely,
waggled a hand, and ceased.  They came to him.

"Good morning, Mr. Wentworth," Pauline said.  "Are you going to
London too?"

He looked away from them with an action as deliberate as if he had
looked at them.  He said in a low mumble: "Must excuse me ... bad
chill ... bones feel it ... can't remember bones ... faces ...
bones of faces, I mean."

Stanhope said- "Wentworth! Wentworth! ... stop here."

The voice seemed to penetrate Wentworth's mind.  His eyes crawled
back along the platform, up to Stanhope's face; there they rested
on the mouth as if they could not get farther than the place of
the voice, they could not connect voice and eyes.  He said: "Can't
stop ... must get to . . ."  There," exhausted, he stopped.

Pauline heard their train coming.  She said: "May I travel with
you, Mr. Wentworth?"

At that he came awake; he looked at her, and then again away.  He
said in a tone of alarm: "No, no.  Told you Guard was right.
Travelling with a lady.  Good-bye, good-bye," and hastily and
clumsily made off up the platform as the train drew in.  He
scrambled into a distant compartment.  Pauline sprang into her
own, and turning looked at Stanhope.

"O Peter!" she said, "what's wrong

He had been gazing after Wentworth; he turned back to her.  "I
think he has seen the Gorgon's head that was hidden from Dante in
Dis," he said.  "Well.... Pray for him, and for me, and for all.
You will write?"

She stretched her hand from the window.  "Will I write?" she said.
"Good-bye.  But, Peter, ought I to do anything?"

"You can't do anything unless he chooses," he answered.  "If he
doesn't choose.... Pray.  Good-bye.  Go in peace,"

His eyes challenged her on the word; this time she did not pause.
"Go in peace," she said, "and thank you still." The train began to
move; he waved to her till she was out of sight, and then went out
of the station to walk in the streets and sit by the beds of
Battle Hill.

Wentworth sat in his corner.  He felt he had forgotten something,
and slowly and laboriously he went over in his mind all that he
ought to possess.  He found it difficult to remember why he had
left his house at all.  His servants had refused to stay; they had
all gone that morning; so he had had to go.  He couldn't take the
trouble to get others; he hadn't enough energy.  He would come to
London, to an hotel; there he would be quiet, and not see any
ghosts.  A horrible screaming ghost had looked in through his
window, a ghost that had fallen down in a fit, and he had had to
go out and drag it away so that other ghosts could find it.  He
had been afraid of them since, and of those two just now who had
made mouths at him, calling him by a strange word.  He was going
somewhere too.  He was going to a supper.  He had his evening
things with him in his bag.  It would be necessary to dress for
the supper, the supper of scholars, of historical scholars, and he
was an historical scholar.  He remembered what he was, if not who
he was.  It was true he had said the Grand Duke's Guard was
correct though it wasn't, but he was an historical
scholar, and he was going to his own kind of people, to Aston
Moffatt.

As the name came to him, Wentworth sat up in his corner and became
almost his own man again.  He hated Aston Moffatt.  Hate still
lived in him a little, and hate might almost have saved him,
though nothing else could, had he hated with a scholar's hate.
He did not; his hate and his grudge were personal and obscene.  In
its excitement nevertheless he remembered what he had left behind--his
watch.  He had over-wound it weeks ago, on some day when he
had seen a bad play, and had put it by to have it mended.  But it
was too much trouble, and now he had left it in his drawer, and
couldn't tell the time.  There would be clocks in London, clocks
all round him, all going very quickly, because time went very
quickly.  It went quickly because it was unending, and it was
always trying to get to its own end.  There was only one point in
it with which he had any concern-the time of the last supper.  It
would be the last supper; he would not go and meet Aston Moffatt
again.  But he would go to-night because he had accepted and had
his clothes, and to show he was not afraid of Moffatt.  That was
the only time he wanted to know, the time of his last supper.
Afterwards, everything would look after itself.  He slept in his
corner, his last sleep.

The train stopped at Marylebone, and he woke.  He muddled on, with
the help of a porter, to the Railway Hotel.  He had thought of
that in the train; it would save bother.  He usually went to some
other, but he couldn't remember which.  The ordinary habits of his
body carried him on, and the automatic habit of his mind,
including his historic automatic.  History was his hobby, his
habit; it had never been more.  Its austerity was as far from him
now as the Eucharists offered in the Church of St. Mary la Bonne,
or the duties of the dead, or the ceremonies of substituted love.
He automatically booked a room, ate some lunch, and then lay down.
This time he did not sleep; the noise of London kept him awake;
besides he was alone.  The creature that had been with him so long
was with him no more.  It had gone upstairs with him for the last
time two nights before, and had his former faculties lived he
would have seen how different it was.  After the passage of the
dead man it had never quite regained its own illusive apparition;
senility and youth had mingled in its face, and in their mingling
found a third degree of corruption.  At the hour of the falling in
of the shed of Lilith it had thinned to a shape of twilight.
Meaning and apparent power had gone out of it. it was a thing the
dead man might have met under his own pallid sky, and less even
than that.  In the ghostly night that fell on the ruins of
Gomorrah it had tottered round its father and paramour, who did
not yet know through what destruction they went.  His eyes were
dimmed.  Those who look, in Stanhope's Dantean phrase, on the head
of the Gorgon in Dis, do not know, until Virgil has left them, on
what they gaze.  In the night she was withdrawn; the substance of
illusion in her faded, and alongside his heavy sleep she changed
and changed, through all degrees of imbecile decay, till at last
she was quite dispelled.

He was alone.  He lay awake, and waking became aware of his
ancient dream.  Now he was near the end of his journey.  He saw
below him the rope drawn nearer and nearer to the wall, if it were
a wall.  He looked up; above him the rope seemed to end in the
moon, which shone so fully in the dark, millions of miles away.
Down all those miles he had slowly climbed.  It was almost over
now; he was always a little lower, and when he stood up he did not
lose the dream.  Through his bathing and dressing and going down
and finding a taxi he was still on his rope.  He felt once for his
watch, and remembered he had not got it, and looked up at the
shining silver orb above, and found that that was his watch.  It
was also a great public clock at which he was staring; but he
could not make it out--moon or watch or clock.  The time was up
there; but he could not see it.  He thought: "I shall be just in
time."  He was, and only just; as close to its end as to the end
of the rope.

He got into his taxi.  It went off along the High Street, and then
was held up behind a policeman's arm.  He was looking out of the
window, when he thought a creaking voice said in his ear, as if a
very old woman was in the seat beside him: "Madame Tussaud's." He
did not look round, because no one was ever there, but he stared
at the great building which seemed to glow out of the darkness of
the side of the abyss, and there rose in him the figure of what it
contained.  He had never been there, though in a humorous moment
he had once thought of taking Adela, but he knew what was in it-
wax images.  He saw them-exquisitely done, motionless, speechless,
thoughtless; and he saw them being shifted.  Hanging on his rope,
he looked out through the square of light in the darkness and saw
them all--Caesar, Gustavus, Cromwell, Napoleon, Foch, and saw
himself carrying them from one corner to another, and putting them
down and picking them up and bringing them somewhere else and
putting them down.  There were diagrams, squares and rectangles,
on the floor, to show where they should go; and as he ran across
the hall with a heavy waxen thing on his shoulder he knew it was
very important to put it down in the right diagram.  So he did,
but just as he went away the diagram under the figure changed and
no longer fitted, and he had to go back and lift the thing up and
take it off to another place where the real diagram was.  This was
always happening with each of them and all of them, so that six or
seven or more of him had to be about, carrying the images, and
hurrying past and after each other on their perpetual task.  He
could never get the details correct; there was always a little
thing wrong, a thing as tiny as the shoulder-knots on the uniforms
of the Grand Duke's Guard.  Then the rope vibrated as the taxi
started again, and he was caught away; the last vestige of the
history of men vanished for ever.  Vibration after vibration-he
was very near the bottom of his rope.  He himself was moving now;
he was hurrying.  The darkness rushed by.  He stopped.  His hand,
in habitual action, had gone to his pocket for silver, but his
brain did not follow it.  His feet stepped, in habitual action,
off the rope on to the flat ground.  Before him there was a tall
oblong opening in the dark, faintly lit.  He had something in his
hand-he turned, holding it out; there was a silver gleam as it
left his hand, and he saw the whole million-mile-long rope
vanishing upward and away from him with incredible rapidity
towards the silver moon which ought to have been in his waistcoat
pocket, because it was the watch he had overwound.  Seeing that
dazzling flight of the rope upwards into the very centre of the
shining circle, he thought again, "I'm just in time." He was
standing on the bottom of the abyss; there remained but a short
distance in any method of mortal reckoning for him to take before
he came to a more secret pit where there is no measurement because
there is no floor.  He turned towards the opening and began his
last journey.

He went a little way, and came into a wider place, where presently
there were hands taking off a coat he discovered himself to be
wearing.  He was looking at himself; for an instant he had not
recognized his own face, but he did now, over a wide shining oval
thing that reminded him of the moon.  He was wearing the moon in
front of him.  But he was in black otherwise; he had put on a neat
fantastic dress of darkness.  The moon, the darkness, and the--
only no rope, because that had gone away, and no watch, because he
had done something or other to it, and it had gone away too.  He
tried to think what a watch was and how it told him the time.
There were marks on it which meant something to do with time, but
he didn't know what.  Voices came to him out of the air and drove
him along another corridor into another open space.  And there
suddenly before him was Sir Aston Moffatt.

The shock almost restored him.  If he had ever hated Sir Aston
because of a passion for austere truth, he might even then have
laid hold on the thing that was abroad in the world and been
saved.  If he had been hopelessly wrong in his facts and yet
believed them so, and believed they were important in themselves,
he might have felt a touch of the fire in which the Marian martyr
had gone to his glory, and still been saved.  In the world of the
suicides, physical or spiritual, he might have heard another voice
than his and seen another face.  He looked at Sir Aston and
thought, not "He was wrong in his facts", but "I've been cheated".
It was his last consecutive thought.

Sir Aston was decidedly deaf and extremely talkative, and had a
sincere admiration for his rival.  He came straight across to
Wentworth, and began to talk.  The world, which Wentworth had
continuously and persistently denied in favour of himself, now
poured itself over him, and as if in a deluge from heaven drove
him into the depths.  Very marvellous is the glorious
condescension of the Omnipotence; the myth of the fire which was
rained over the plain now incarnated itself in Sir Aston Moffatt.
Softly and gently, perpetually and universally, the chatty
sentences descended on the doomed man, each sentence a little
prick of fire, because, as he stood there, he realized with a
sickness at heart that a voice was talking and he did not know
what it was saying.  He heard two sounds continually repeated:
"Went-worth, Went-worth."  He knew that those two noises meant
something, but he could not remember what.  If all the faces that
were about him would go away he might remember, but they did not
go.  They gathered round him, and carried him forward in the midst
of them, through a doorway.  As he went through it he saw in front
of him tables, and with a last flash of memory knew that he had
come there to eat and drink.  There was his chair, at the bottom
left corner, where he had always sat, his seat in the Republic.
He went to it with an eager trot.  It was waiting for him as it
had always waited, for ever and ever; all his life and from the
creation of the world he had sat there, he would sit there at the
end, looking towards the--he could not think what was the right
name for the tall man at the other end, who had been talking to
him just now.  He looked at him and tried to smile, but could not,
for the tall man's eyes were blank of any meaning, and gazed at
him emptily.  The Republic deserted him.  His smile ceased.  He
was at last by his chair; he would always sit there, always,
always.  He sat down.

As he did so, he knew he was lost.  He could not understand
anything about him.  He could just remember that there had been
one moment when a sudden bright flash had parted from him, fleeing
swiftly across the sky into its source, and he wanted that moment
back; he wanted desperately to hold on to the rope.  The rope was
not there.  He had believed that there would be for him a
companion at the bottom of the rope who would satisfy him for
ever, and now he was there at the bottom, and there was nothing
but noises and visions which meant nothing.  The rope was not
there.  There were faces, which ceased to be faces, and became
blobs of whitish red and yellow, working and twisting in a
horrible way that yet did not surprise him, because nothing could
surprise him.  They moved and leaned and bowed; and between them
were other things that were motionless now but might at any moment
begin to move and crawl.  Away over them was a huge round white
blotch, with black markings on it, and two long black lines going
round and round, one very fast and one very slow.  This was time,
too fast for his brain, too slow for his heart.  If he only had
hold of the rope still, he could perhaps climb out of this
meaningless horror; at least, he could find some meaning and
relation in it all.  He felt that the great blotch had somehow
slid up and obscured the shining silver radiance into which a
flash out of him had gone, and if he could get the rope he could
climb past, or, with great shuddering, even through the horrible
blotch, away out of this depth where anything might be anything,
and was anything, for he did not know what it was.  The rope was
not there.

He shrank into himself, trying to shut his eyes and lose sight of
this fearful opposite of the world he had known.  Quite easily he
succeeded.  But he could not close his ears, for he did not know
how to manage the more complex co-ordination of shoulders and arms
and hands.  So there entered into him still a small, steady,
meaningless flow of sound, which stung and tormented him with the
same lost knowledge of meaning; small burning flames flickered
down on his soul.  His eyes opened again in mere despair.  A
little hopeless voice came from his throat.  He said, and rather
gasped than spoke: "Ah! ah!" Then everything at which he was
looking rushed together and became a point, very far off, and he
also was a point opposite it; and both points were rushing
together, because in this place they drew towards each other
from the more awful repulsion of the void.  But fast as they went
they never reached one another, for out of the point that was not
he there expanded an anarchy of unintelligible shapes and hid it,
and he knew it had gone out, expiring in the emptiness before it
reached him.  The shapes turned themselves into alternate panels
of black and white.  He had forgotten the name of them, but
somewhere at some time he had thought he knew similar forms and
they had had names.  These had no names, and whether they were or
were not anything, and whether that anything was desirable or
hateful he did not know.  He had now no consciousness of himself
as such, for the magical mirrors of Gomorrah had been broken, and
the city itself had been blasted, and he was out beyond it in the
blankness of a living oblivion, tormented by oblivion.  The shapes
stretched out beyond him, all half turned away, all rigid and
silent.  He was sitting at the end, looking up an avenue of
nothingness, and the little flames licked his soul, but they did
not now come from without, for they were the power, and the only
power, his dead past had on him; the life, and the only life, of
his soul.  There was, at the end of the grand avenue, a bobbing
shape of black and white that hovered there and closed it.  As he
saw it there came on him a suspense; he waited for something to
happen.  The silence lasted; nothing happened.  In that pause
expectancy faded.  Presently then the shape went out and he was
drawn, steadily, everlastingly, inward and down through the
bottomless circles of the void.



THE END





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