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Title:      Many Dimensions (1931)
Author:     Charles Williams
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Language:   English
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A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook

Title:      Many Dimensions (1931)
Author:     Charles Williams





CONTENTS



THE STONE
THE PUPIL OF ORGANIC LAW
THE TALE OF THE END OF DESIRE 38
VISION IN THE STONE 52
THE LOSS OF A TYPE 65
THE PROBLEM OF TIME 87
THE MIRACLES AT RICH 103
THE CONFERENCE 116
THE ACTION OF LORD ARGLAY 127
THE APPEAL OF THE MAYOR OF RICH 144
THE FIRST REFUSAL OF CHLOE BURNETT 159
NATIONAL TRANSPORT 174
THE REFUSAL OF LORD ARGLAY 189
THE SECOND REFUSAL OF CHLOE BURNETT 209
THE POSSESSIVENESS OF MR. FRANK LINDSAY 221
THE DISCOVERY OF SIR GILES TUMULTY 235
THE JUDGEMENT OF LORD ARGLAY 247
THE PROCESS OF ORGANIC LAW 263




                           Chapter One

                             THE STONE

"Do you mean," Sir Giles said, "that the thing never gets
smaller?"

"Never," the Prince answered.  "So much of its virtue has entered into
its outward form that whatever may happen to it there is no change.
From the beginning it was as    it is now."

"Then by God, sir," Reginald Montague exclaimed, "you've got the
transport of the world in your hands."

Neither of the two men made any answer.  The Persian, sitting back in
his chair, and Sir Giles, sitting forward on the edge of his, were both
gazing at the thing which lay on the table.  It was a circlet of old,
tarnished, and twisted gold, in the centre of which was set a cubical
stone measuring about half an inch every way, and having apparently
engraved on it certain Hebrew letters.  Sir Giles picked it up, rather
cautiously, and concentrated his gaze on them.  The motion awoke a
doubt
in Montague's mind.

"But supposing you chipped one of the letters off?" he asked.  "Aren't
they awfully important? Wouldn't that destroy the-the effect?"

"They are the letters of the Tetragrammaton," the Persian said drily,
"if you call that important. But they are not engraved on the Stone;
they are in the centre-they are, in fact, the Stone."

"O!" Mr. Montague said vaguely, and looked at his uncle Sir Giles, who
said nothing at all.  This, after a few minutes, seemed to compel
Montague to a fresh attempt.

"You see, sir?" he said, leaning forward almost excitedly. "If what the
Prince says is true, and we've proved that it is, a child could use
it."

"You are not, I suppose," the Persian asked, "proposing to limit it to
children? A child could use it, but in adult hands it may be more
dangerous."

"Dangerous be damned," Montague said more excitedly than before, "It's
a marvellous chance-it's ... it's a miracle.  The thing's as simple as
pie. Circlets like this with the smallest fraction of the Stone in
each.  We could ask what we liked for them-thousands of pounds each, if
we like.  No trains, no tubes, no aeroplanes. Just the thing on your
forehead, a minute's concentration, and whoosh!"

The Prince made a sudden violent movement, and then again a silence
fell.

It was late at night.  The three were sitting in Sir Giles Tumulty's
house at Ealing-Sir Giles himself, the traveller and archaeologist;
Reginald Montague, his nephew and a stockbroker; and the Prince Ali
Mirza Khan, First Secretary to the Persian Ambassador at the court of
St. James. At the gate of the house stood the Prince's car; Montague
was
playing with a fountain-pen; all the useful tricks of modern
civilization were at hand.  And on the table, as Sir Giles put it
slowly down, lay all that was left of the Crown of Suleiman ben Daood,
King in Jerusalem,

Sir Giles looked across at the Prince.  "Can you move other people with
it, or is it like season-tickets?"

"I do not know," the Persian said gravely.  "Since the time of Suleiman
(may the Peace be upon him!) no one has sought to make profit from it."

"Ha!" said Mr. Montague, surprised.  "O come now, Prince!"

"Or if they have," the Prince went on, "they and their names and all
that they did have utterly perished from the earth."

"Ha!" said Mr. Montague again, a little blankly. "O well, we can see.
But you take my advice and get out of Rails.  Look here, uncle, we want
to keep this thing quiet."

"Eh?" Sir Giles said.  "Quiet? No, I don't particularly want to keep it
quiet. I want to talk to Palliser about it-after me he knows more about
these things than anyone.  And I want to see Van Eilendorf-and perhaps
Cobham, though his nonsense about the double pillars at Baghdad was the
kind of tripe that nobody but a broken-down Houndsditch sewer-rat would
talk."

The Prince stood up.  "I have shown you and told you these things," he
said, "because you knew too much already, and that you may see how very
precious is the Holy Thing which you have there.  I ask you again to
restore it to the guardians from whom you stole it.  I warn you that if
you do not-"

"I didn't steal it," Sir Giles broke in.  "I bought it.  Go and ask the
fellow who sold it to me."

"Whether you stole by bribery or by force is no matter," the Prince
went on.  "You very well know that he who betrayed it to you broke the
trust of generations.  I do not know what pleasure you find in it or
for
what you mean to use it, unless indeed you will make it a talisman for
travel.  But however that may be, I warn you that it is dangerous to
all
men and especially dangerous to such unbelievers as you.  There are
dangers within the Stone, and other dangers from those who were sworn
to guard the Stone.  I offer you again as much money as you can desire
if you will return it."

"O well, as to money," Reginald Montague said, "of course my uncle will
have a royalty-a considerable royalty-on all sales and that'll be a
nice
little bit in a few months.  Yours isn't a rich Government anyhow, is
it? How many millions do you owe us?"

The Prince took no notice.  He was staring fiercely and eagerly at Sir
Giles, who put out his hand again and picked up the circlet.

"No," he said, "no, I shan't part with it.  I want to experiment
a bit.  The bastard asylum attendant who sold it to me-"

The Prince interrupted in a shaking voice.  "Take care of your words,"
he said. "Outcast and accursed as that man now is, he comes of a great
and royal family. He shall writhe in hell for ever, but even there you
shall not be worthy to see his torment."

"-said there was hardly anything it wouldn't do," Sir Giles finished.
"No, I shan't ask Cobham.  Palliser and I will try it first.  It was
all perfectly legal, Prince, and all the Governments in the world can't
make it anything else."

"I do not think Governments will recover it," the Prince said. "But
death is not a monopoly of Governments.  If I had not sworn to my
uncle-"

"O it was your uncle, was it?" Sir Giles asked. "I wondered what it
was that made you coo so gently.  I rather expected you to be more
active about it to-night."

"You try me very hard," the Prince uttered. "But I know the Stone will
destroy you at last."

"Quite, quite," Sir Giles said, standing up. "Well, thank you for
coming.  If I could have pleased you, of course. . . . But I want to
know all about it first."

The Prince looked at the letters in the Stone. "I think you will know
a great deal then," he said, salaamed deeply to it, and without bowing
to the men turned and left the house.

Sir Giles went after him to the front door, though they exchanged no
more words, and, having watched him drive away returned to find his
nephew making hasty notes.

"I don't see why we need a company," he said. "Just you
and I, eh?"

"Why you?" Sir Giles asked. "What makes you think you're going to have
anything to do with it?"

"Why, you told me," Montague exclaimed. "You offered me a hand in the
game if I'd be about to-night when the Prince came in case he turned
nasty."

"So I did," his uncle answered. "Yes-well, on conditions.  If there is
any money in it, I shall want some of it. Not as much as you do, but
some.  It's always useful, and I had to pay pretty high to get the
Stone. And I don't want a fuss made about it-not yet."

"That's all right," Montague said.  "I was thinking it might be just as
well to have Uncle Christopher in with us."

"Whatever for?" Sir Giles asked.

"Well ... if there's any legal trouble, you know," Montague said
vaguely. "I mean-if it came to the Courts we might be gladf -of course,
I don't know if they could-but anyhow he'd probably notice it if I
began
to live on a million-and some of these swine will do anything if their
pockets are touched-all sorts of tricks they have-but a Chief Justice
is
a Chief Justice-that is, if you didn't mind-"

"I don't mind," Sir Giles said. "Arglay's got a flat-footed kind of
intellect; that's why he's Chief Justice, I expect.  But for what it's
worth, and if they did try any international law business. But they
can't; there was nothing to prevent that fellow selling it to me if
he chose, nor me buying.  I'll get Palliser here as soon as I can.  "

"I wonder how many we ought to make," Montague said. "Shall we say a
dozen to start with? It can't cost much to make a dozen bits of gold-
need it be gold? Better, better. Better keep it in the same stuff-and
it looks more for the money.  The money-why, we can ask a million for
each-for what'll only cost a guinea or two. . . ." He stopped, appalled
by the stupendous vision,

Then he went on anxiously, "The Prince did say a bit any size would
do, didn't he? and that this fellow"-he pointed a finger at the Stone-"
would keep the same size? It means a patent, of course; so if anybody
else ever did get hold of the original they couldn't use it.  Millions
. . . Millions. . . . "

"Blast your filthy gasbag of a mouth!" Sir Giles said.  "You've made me
forget to ask one thing.  Does it work in time as well as space? We
must try, we must try." He sat down, picked up the Crown, and sat
frowning at the Divine Letters.

"I don't see what you mean," Reginald said, arrested in his note-
taking.
"Time? Go back, do you mean?"

He considered, then, "I shouldn't think anyone would want to go back,"
he said.

"Forward then," Sir Giles answered.  "Wouldn't you like to go forward
to the time when you've got your millions?"

Reginald gaped at him.  "But ... I shouldn't have them," he began
slowly, "unless . . . eh? O if I'm going to . . . then I should be able
to jump to when ... but ... I don't see how I could get at them unless
I knew what account they were in.  I shouldn't be that me, should I ...
or should I?"

As his brain gave way, Sir Giles grinned.  "No," he said almost
cheerfully, "you'd have the money but with your present mind.  At least
I suppose so.  We don't know how it affects consciousness.  It might be
an easy way to suicide-ten minutes after death."

Reginald looked apprehensively at the Crown.  "I suppose it wouldn't
go wrong?" he ventured.

"That we don't know," Sir Giles answered cheerfully.  "I daresay
your first millionaire will hit the wrong spot, and be trampled
underfoot by wild elephants in Africa.  However, no one will know for a
good while."

Reginald went back to his notes.

Meanwhile the Prince Ali drove through the London streets till he
reached the Embassy, steering the car almost mechanically while he
surveyed in his mind the position in which he found himself He foresaw
some difficulty in persuading his chief, who concealed under a sedate
rationalism an almost intense scepticism, of the disastrous chance
which, it appeared to the Prince, had befallen the august Relic.  Yet
not to attempt to enlist on the side of the Faith such prestige and
power as lay in the Embassy would be to abandon it to the ungodly uses
of Western financiers.  Ali himself had been trained through his
childhood in the Koran and the traditions, and,
though the shifting policies of Persia had flung him for awhile into
the army and afterwards into the diplomatic service his mind moved
with most ease in the romantic regions of myth.  Suleiman ben Daood,
he knew, was a historic figurethe ruler of a small nation which, in the
momentary decrease of its two neighbours, Egypt and Assyria, had
attained an unstable pre-eminence.  But Suleiman was also one of the
four great world-shakers before the Prophet, a commander of the
Faithful, peculiarly favoured by Allah.  He had been a Jew, but the
Jews in those days were the only witnesses to the Unity.  "There is no
God but God," he murmured to himself, and cast a hostile glance at a
crucifix which stood as a war memorial in the grounds of a church near
the Embassy.  " 'Say: for those who believe not is the torment of hell:
an evil journey shall it be.' " With which quotation he delivered the
car to a servant and went in to find the Ambassador, whom he discovered
half-asleep over the latest volume of Memoirs.  He bowed and waited in
silence.

"My dear Ali," the Ambassador said, rousing himself.  "Did you have a
good evening?"

"No," the young man answered coldly.

"I didn't expect you would," his chief said.  "You orthodox young
water-drinkers can hardly expect to enjoy a dinner.  Was it, so to
speak, a dinner?"

"I was concerned, sir," the Prince said, "with the Crown of Suleiman,
on whom be the Peace."

"Really?" the Ambassador asked.  "You really saw it? And is it
authentic?"

"It is without doubt the Crown and the Stone," Ali answered.  The
Ambassador stared, but Ali went on.

"And it is in the hands of the infidel.  I have seen one of these dogs-
"

His chief frowned a little.  "I have asked you," he said, "even when
we are alone-to speak of these people without such phrases."

"I beg your Excellency's pardon," the Prince said. "I have seen one of
them use it-by the Permission: and return unharmed.  It is undoubtedly
the Crown."

"The Crown of a Jew?" the Ambassador murmured. "My friend, I do not say
I disbelieve you, but-have you told your uncle?"

"I reported first to you, sir," the Prince answered. "If you wish my
uncle-" He paused.

"O by all means, by all means," the Ambassador said, getting up. "Ask
him to come here." He stood stroking his beard while a servant was
dispatched on the errand, and until a very old man, with white hair,
bent and wrinkled, came into the room.

"The Peace be upon you, Hajji Ibrahim," he said in Persian, while the
Prince kissed his uncle's hand.  "Do me the honour to be seated.  I
desire you to know that your nephew is convinced of the authenticity
of that which Sir Giles Tumulty holds." He eyed the old man for a
moment.  "But I do not clearly know," he ended, "what you now wish me
to do."

Hajji Ibrahim looked at his nephew.  "And what will this Sir Giles
Tumulty do with the sacred Crown?" he asked.

"He himself," the Prince said carefully, "will examine it and
experiment
with it, may the dogs of the street devour him! But there was also
present a young man, his relation, who desires to make other crowns
from it and sell them for money.  For he sees that by the least of the
graces of the divine Stone those who wear it may pass at once from
place to place, and there are many who would buy such power at a great
price." The formal phrases with which he controlled his rage broke
suddenly and he closed in colloquial excitement, "He will form a
company
and put it on the market."

The old man nodded.  "And even though this destroy him -" he began.

"I implore you, my uncle," the young Prince broke in, "to urge upon his
Excellency the horrible sacrilege involved.  It is a very dreadful
thing
for us that by the fault of our house this thing should come into the
possession of the infidels.  It is not to be borne that they should put
it to these uses; it is against the interests of our country and the
sanctity of our Faith."

The Ambassador, his head on one side, was staring at his shoes.  "It
might perhaps be held that the Christians derive as much from Judah
as we," he said.

"It will not so be held in Tehran and in Delhi and in Cairo and in
Beyrout and in Mecca," the Prince answered.  "I will raise the East
against them before this thing shall be done."

"I direct your attention," the Ambassador said stiffly, "to the fact
that it is for me only to talk of what shall or shall not be done,
under the sanction of Reza Shah who governs Persia to-day."

"Sir," the Prince said, "in this case it is a crown greater than the
diadem of Reza Shah that is at stake."

"With submission," the old man broke in, "will not your Excellency
make representations to the English Government? This is not a matter
which any Government can consider without alarm."

"That is no doubt so," the Ambassador allowed.  "But, Hajji Ibrahim, if
I go to the English Government and say that one of their nationals, by
bribing a member of your house, has come into the possession of a very
sacred relic they will not be in the mind to take it from him; and if I
add that this gives men power to jump about like grasshoppers they will
ask me for proof." He paused.  "And if you could give them proof, or
if this Sir Giles would let them have it, do you think they would
restore it to us?"

"Will you at least try, sir?" Ali asked.

"Why, no," the Ambassador answered.  "No, I do not think I will even
try. It is but the word of Hajji Ibrahim here.  Had he not known of
the treachery of his kinsmen and come to England by the same boat as
Giles Tumulty we should have known very little of what had happened,
and that vaguely. But as it is, we were warned of what you call the
sacrilege, and now you have talked to him, and you are convinced.  But
what shall I say to the Foreign Minister? No; I do not think I will
try."

"You do not believe it," the Hajji said.  "You do not believe that
this is the Crown of Suleiman or that Allah put a mystery into it
when His Permission bestowed it on the King?"

The Ambassador considered.  "I have known you a long while," he said
thoughtfully, "and I will tell you what I believe.  I know that your
family, which has always been known for a very holy house, has held
for centuries certain relics, and has preserved them in great secrecy
and remoteness.  I know that among them tradition has said that there
is the Crown of the King, and that, but a few weeks since, one of the
keepers was bribed to part with this Crown-if such it be-to an
Englishman.  I believe that many curious powers exist in such things,
Lasting for a longer or shorter time.  And-because I believe Ali-I
believe that it has seemed to him that a man has been here and there
in a moment.  But how, or whether indeed, this has been I do not know,
and I do not desire to argue upon it with the English ministers." He
shook his head.  "I risked too much even when I permitted you
semi-officially to try and buy it back from Sir Giles."

"But he would not sell it," the Prince cried.

"A very natural feeling," the Ambassador said, and added rather
incautiously, "if I had it myself I don't suppose I should sell it."

"Then," the Prince insisted, "if your Excellency will do nothing, it is
for me to act.  There is a sin upon my house till I recover the Crown."

"And what will you do, my friend?" the Ambassador asked.

"I shall cause all my relatives and my acquaintances in Persia to know
of it, and I will take such an oath that they will certainly believe,"
the Prince answered.  "I will send the news of it through all the
palaces and bazaars.  I will cause this sacrilege to be known in every
mosque, and the cry against the English shall go from Adrianople to
Hong Kong.  I will see if I can do a little in all the places of
Islam."

"You will make the English Government curious, I believe," the
Ambassador said, "and you may kill a few soldiers.  But I do not think
you will recover the Crown.  Also you will do these things against
my will."

Hajji Ibrahim said suddenly, "By the Permission it was taken; by the
Permission it will return.  When the Unity deigned to bestow the Stone
upon the King it was not that he might go swiftly from place to place.
I think it shall return to the Keepers only when one shall use it for
the journey that is without space, and I do not think that shall be
you,
my nephew, nor any of us.  Let spies be set upon the infidels and let
us know what they do.  But do not let us wake the bazaars.  I do not
think that will help you at all."

"And the English Government?" the Ambassador asked.

"A soft word in the ear of a friend," the Hajji said.  "Be very
friendly
with them-and that your Excellency may well do, for you are almost as
one of them.  But speak only of a relic and not of the virtues of
the relic; seek peace and ensue it, as their scriptures say.  The
English will not have war for the sake of Giles Tumulty, unless their
pride is touched." He rose to his feet.  "The Peace be upon you," he
said and went to the door.



                           Chapter Two

                        THE PUPIL OF ORGANIC LAW

"You ought to know by now," Lord Arglay said into the telephone, "
that I can't possibly put any money into your companies.... Caesar's
wife.... No, I am.... 0 never mind ... Yes.... Certainly.... As much
as you like. . . . Lunch then." He put the receiver back.  "It's an
extraordinary thing," he went on to Chloe Burnett, as she lifted her
hands again to the typewriter, "that Reginald won't realize how careful
I have to be of what my money is in.  It's a wonder I have any private
income at all.  As it is, whenever I give a decision in a financial
case I expect to be left comparatively penniless in a month or two."

"Does Mr. Montague want you to invest?" Miss Burnett asked.

"He wants me to give him five hundred, so far as I can understand,"
Lord
Arglay said, "to put in the best thing that ever was.  What is the best
thing that ever was?"

Miss Burnett looked at her typewriter and offered no opinion.

"I suppose that I ought to think the Twelve Tables were," the Chief
Justice went on, "officially - or the Code Napoléon - but they're
rather specialist.  And anyhow when you say 'that ever was,' do you
mean
that it's stopped being? Or can it still be?. . . Miss Burnett," he
added after a pause, "I was asking you a question."

"I don't know, Lord Arglay," Chloe said patiently.  "I never can answer
that sort of question.  I suppose it depends on what you mean by 'was.'
But oughtn't we to get on with the rest of the chapter before lunch?"

Lord Arglay sighed and looked at his notes.  "I suppose so, but I'd
much rather talk.  Was there ever a best thing that ever was? Never
mind; you're right as usual.  Where were we? The judgement of Lord
Mansfield-" He began dictating.

There was, in fact, time for an hour's work before Mr. Montague arrived
for lunch.  Chloe Burnett had been engaged six months before by Lord
Arglay as general intellectual factotum when he had determined to begin
work on his Survey of Organic Law.  When the Chief justice was at the
Courts she spent her time reducing to typed order whatever material
Lord Arglay left ready for her the night before.  But during the
vacation, since he had remained in town, it had become a habit for them
to lunch together, and neither Chloe's intention of withdrawing or Mr.
Montague's obvious uneasiness caused Lord Arglay to break it.

"Of course you'll lunch here," he said to Chloe, and to Mr. Montague's
private explanations that the matter in hand was very secret, "That's
all right; two can spoil a secret but three make a conspiracy, which is
much safer."

"And now," he said to his nephew after they were settled, "what is it?
What do you want me to put my money in this time? I shan't, of course,
but what's it all about?"

     "Well, it's a kind of transport," Reginald said.  "It came to me
through Uncle Giles, who wanted me to help him in an experiment."

"Was it a dangerous experiment?" Lord Arglay asked.

"No I don't think dangerous," Montague answered.  "Unusual perhaps, but
not dangerous.  When he came back from Baghdad this time he brought
with
him a funny kind of a thing, something . . . well, something like a
crown and something ... something . . ."

"Something not," said Lord Arglay.  "Quite.  Well?"

"Made of gold," Reginald went on, "with a stone-that size ... in the
middle. Well, so he asked me over to help him experiment, and there was
a man from the Persian Embassy there too, who said it was what Sir
Giles
thought it was-at least, he'd bought it as beig-but that doesn't
matter.  Well now, this thing-I know you won't believe it-it sounds so
silly; only you know I did it.  Not Sir Giles-he said he wanted to
observe, but I did. The Persian fellow was rather upset about it, at
least not upset, but a bit high in the air, you know.  Rather frosty.
But I'm bound to say he met us quite fairly, said he was perfectly
willing to admit that we had it, and to make it clear to us what it
was;
only he must have it back.  But that would have been too silly."

As Mr.  Montague paused for a moment Lord Arglay looked at Chloe.
"It's
a fact I've continually observed in the witness box," he said
abstractedly, "that nine people out of ten, off their own subject, are
incapable of lucidity, whereas on their own subject they can be as
direct as a straight line before Einstein.  I had a fellow once who
couldn't put three words together sanely; we were all hopeless, till
counsel got him on his own business-which happened to be statistics of
the development of industry in the Central American Republics; and then
for about five minutes I understood exactly what had been happening
there for the last seventy years.  Curious.  You and I are either
silent or lucid.  Yes, Reginald' Never mind me, I've often been meaning
to tell Miss Burnett that, and it just came into my mind.  Yes?"

"O he was lucid enough," Reginald said.  "Well it seems this thing was
supposed to be the crown of King Suleiman, but of course as to that I
can't say.  But I can tell you this." He pointed a fork at the Chief
justice. "I put that thing on my head- " Chloe gave a small gasp-"and I
willed myself to be back in my rooms in Rowland Street, and there I
was." He stopped.

Lord Arglay and Chloe were both staring at him.  "There!" he repeated.
"And then I willed myself back at Ealing, and there I was."

Chloe went on staring.  Lord Arglay frowned a little.  "What
do you mean?" he said, with a sound of the Chief Justice in his voice.

"I mean that I just was," Reginald said victoriously.  "I don't know
how I got there.  I felt a little dizzy at the time, and I had a
headache of sorts afterwards.  But without any kind of doubt I was one
minute in Ealing and the next in Rowland Street, one minute in Rowland
Street and the next in Ealing."

The two listeners looked at each other, and were silent for two or
three minutes. Reginald leaned back and waited for more.

Lord Arglay said at last, "I won't ask you if you were drunk, Reginald,
because I don't think you'd tell me this extraordinary story if you
were drunk then unless you were drunk now, which you seem not to be.  I
wonder what exactly it was that Giles did.  Sir Giles Tumulty, Miss
Burnett, is one of the most cantankerously crooked birds I have
ever known. He is, unfortunately, my remote brother-in-law; his brother
was Reginald's mother's second husband-you know the kind of riddle-me-
ree relationship.  He's obscurely connected with diabolism in two
continents; he has written a classic work on the ritual of Priapus; he
is the first authority in the world on certain subjects, and the first
authority in hell on one or two more. Yet he never seems to do anything
himself, he's always in the background as an interested observer.  I
wonder what exactly it was that he did and still more I wonder why he
did it."

"But he didn't do anything," Reginald said indignantly.  "He just sat
and watched."

"Of two explanations," Lord Arglay said, "other things being equal,
one should prefer that most consonant with normal human experience.
That Giles should play some sort of trick on you is consonant with
human
experience; that you should fly through the air in ten minutes is not-
at least it doesn't seem so to me.  What do you think, Miss Burnett?"

"I don't seem to believe it somehow," Chloe said.  "Did you say it was
the Crown of Suleiman, Mr. Montague? I thought he went on a carpet."

Lord Arglay stopped a cigarette half way to his lips.  "Eh" he said.  "
What a treasure you are as a secretary, Miss Burnett! So he did, I
seem to remember.  You're sure it wasn't a carpet, Reginald?"

"Of course I'm sure," Reginald said irritably.  "Should I mistake a
carpet for a crown? And I never knew that Suleiman had either
particularly."

Lord Arglay, pursuing his own thoughts, shook his head.  "It would be
like Giles to have the details right, you know," he said.  "If there
was
a king who travelled so, that would be the king Giles would bring out
for whatever his wishes might be.  Look here, Reginald, what did he
want you to do?"

"Nothing," Reginald answered.  "But the point is this." Confirming
the Chief Justice's previous dictum he became suddenly lucid.  "The
Persian man told us that small fractions taken from the Stone-it's the
Stone in the Crown that does it-have the same power.  Now, if that's
so,
we can have circlets made-with a chip in each, and just think what any
man with money would give to have a thing like that.  Think of a fellow
in Throgmorton Street being able to be in Wall Street in two seconds!
Think of Foreign Secretaries! Think of the Secret Service! Think of
war!
Every Government will need them.  And we have the monopoly.  It means a
colossal fortune-colossal. O uncle, you must come in.  I want a
thousand: I can get six hundred or so quietly-not a word must leak out
or I could do more, of course.  Give me five hundred and I'll get you
fifty thousand times five hundred back."

Lord Arglay disregarded this appeal.  "Did you say the other man
belonged to the Persian Embassy?" he asked.  "What did he want anyway?"

"He wanted it back," Reginald said.  "Some sort of religious idea, I
fancy.  But really Sir Giles only needed him in order to make sure it
was authentic."

"If Giles thought it was authentic," Lord Arglay said, "I'( bet any
money he wanted to tantalize him with it. If there was an it, which of
course I don't believe."

"But I saw it, I touched it, I used it," Reginald cried out lyrically.
"I tell you, I did it."

"I know you do," the ChiefJjustice answered, "And though I shan't give
you the money I'm bound to say I feel extremely curious." He got up
slowly.  "I think," he said, "the telephone Excuse me a few minutes.  I
want to try and catch Giles if he's in."

When he had gone out of the room a sudden consciousness of their
respective positions fell on the other two.  Reginal, Montague became
acutely aware that he had been revealing an immense and incredible
secret to a girl in his uncle's employment.  Chloe became angrily
conscious that she could not interrogate this young man as she would
have done her own friends.  This annoyed her the more because, compared
with Lord Arglay's learning and amused observation, she knew him to be
trivial and greedy.  But she, though certain of greater affection for
the Chief Justice than he had, was a servant and he a relation.  She
thought of the phrase again-"the Crown of Suleiman." The crown of
Suleiman an Reginald Montague!

"Sounds awfully funny, doesn't it, Miss Burnett?" Mr. Montague asked,
coming carefully down to her level.

"Lord Arglay seemed to think Sir Giles was having a joke with you," she
answered coldly.  "A kind of mesmerism,
perhaps."

"O that's just my uncle's way," Reginald said sharply.  "He likes to
pull my leg a bit."

"So Lord Arglay seemed to think," Chloe said.

"No, I mean Lord Arglay," Reginald said more irritably than before.

"You mean Lord Arglay really believes it all?" Chloe said, surprised.
"O do you think so, Mr. Montague?"

"Lord Arglay and I understand one another," Reginald threw over
carelessly.

"One another?" Chloe said.  "Both of you? But how splendid! He's such
an able man, isn't he? It must be wonderful to understand him so well."
She frowned thoughtfully.  "Of course I don't know what to think."

"Ah, well, that doesn't so much matter, does it? I mean-" He hesitated.

     "O I know it isn't my money that comes in," Chloe hastened to say.
"I do realize that, Mr. Montague."

"It isn't a question of money-not first of all," Reginald protested.
"It's a matter of general interest."

     Chloe said nothing, chiefly because she was a little ashamed of
herself, but the result was almost worse than if she had made another
effort.  The commenting silence extended itself for some minutes and
was
broken at last by Lord Arglay's return.

"Well," he said, "I've been talking to Giles.  I'm bound to say he
swears it's quite right, and sticks to you in every par- ticular,
Reginald. However, he's asked us to go over to-night and see.  Miss
Burnett, can you come?"

"O but, Lord Arglay, ought I to. . . " Chloe said doubtfully; and
"I don't suppose Miss Burnett would find it very interesting," Reginald
hastily threw in.

"Civilized man," Lord Arglay said, "is known by the capacity of his
intellect to produce convincing reasons for his emotions.  Convincing,
Reginald.  Say anything you like, except to suggest that anyone
wouldn't
be interested in this new interstellar traffic of yours.  Besides, I
need my secretary.  I shall be out this afternoon and I officially
request her to spend her time looking up all the references to Suleiman
the son  of David that she can find.  We will all dine here at seven
and
then go to Ealing.  That suit you, Miss Burnett? You, Reginald? Right."

Reginald got up to go.  "Well, you won't finally decide against coming
in until to-night, will you, uncle?" he said. "Good-bye, Nliss Burnett.
Don't let my uncle persuade you to come if you don't want to."

"I won't," Chloe said politely, "as I shan't be able to have a
financial interest. Good-bye, Mr. Montague."

When Reginald had gone-"And why the scratch, Miss Burnett?" Lord
Arglay asked.  "Quite right, of course, but why to-day especially?
Generally you just let Reginald fleet by. Why this unwonted sharpness?"

"I beg your pardon," Chloe said.  "I don't quite know.  It was
impertinent of me.  I didn't mean to be rude to you."

"Not in the least impertinent," the Chief Justice answered.  "Quite
remarkably relevant.  But why to-day?"

"I think it was his talk of the Crown of Suleiman," Chloe said
reluctantly.  "Somehow . . ."

Arglay shook his head.  "I wouldn't pin much to that.  My belief is
still that Giles has been hocussing that young man.  But I'm curious to
know why; and anyhow it wouldn't do me any harm to know as much as you
about the son of David. I can't think of another fact about him at
present.  So you dig out what you can and then clear off and be back by
seven.  "

"Are you going out, Lord Arglay?" Chloe asked.

"Certainly not," the Chief justice said.  "I am going to lie in my
deepest armchair and read When Anarchy came to       an n, which has an
encouraging picture of the Law Courts being burnt on the cover.  Till
seven, then."

The dinner was largely occupied, much to Reginald's boredom, by Chloe's
account of what she had discovered about King Suleiman and Lord
Arglay's
comments on it.  It seemed she had been right in her remembrance that
the Majesty of the King made its journeys accompanied by the Djinn, the
doctors of the law, and the viziers, upon a carpet which accommodated
its size to the King's needs.  But there were also tales of the Crown
and the Stone in the Crown, and (more general) of the Ring by virtue of
which the King understood all languages of men and beasts and Djinn and
governed all created things' save only the great Archangels
themselves who exist in immediate cognition of the Holy One.  "For,"
said Chloe thrilling, "he was one of the four mighty ones-who were
Nimrod and Sheddad the Son of Ad, and Suleiman and Alexander; the first
two being infidels and the Second two True Believers."

"Alexander?" Arglay said in surprise.  "How jolly! Perhaps Giles will
produce the helmet of the divine Alexander too.  We shall have a
regular archaeological evening, I expect.  Well, come along, Malbrouck
s'en va t'en guerre......  He carried them off to the car.

Sir Giles received the party with an almost Christlike, "What went ye
out
for to see?" air, but he made no demur about producing the Crown for
their examination.  The Chief Justice, after examining it, showed it to
Chloe.

"And the markings?" he asked her.

Chloe said nervously, "O you know them, Lord Arglay."

"I know they are Hebrew," the Chief justice said, "and I know that Sir
Giles is sneering at me in his heart. But I haven't an idea what
they are."

"I suppose you've never had a Hebrew Rabbi before you?" Sir Giles said.
"That's how you judges become educated men, isn't it? The letters-"

"I asked Miss Burnett, Giles," Lord Arglay interrupted, and Sir Giles
with a shrug waited.

"They are the four letters of the Tetragrammaton, the Divine Name,"
Chloe said still more nervously. "Yod,
He, Vau, He.  I found it out this afternoon," she said suddenly to Sir
Giles, "in an encyclopedia."

"Some of us write encyclopedias," Arglay said, "-that's you, Giles;
some of us read them-that's you, Miss Burnett; some of us own them-
that's me; and some of us despise them -that's you, Reginald."

"Encyclopedias are like slums," Giles said, "the rotten homes of
diseased minds.  But even Hoxton has to pretend to live, it thinks, and
of course it doesn't know it stinks."

Arglay was looking at the letters.  "The Divine Name," he said
musingly.
"Yod, He, Vau, He.  Umph. Well.... We were going to experiment, weren't
we?" he added, almost as if recovering himself.  "Who begins? Reginald,
suppose you show us."

"Certainly," Montague said.  "Now look here, uncle, let's really show
you.  tell me something I can bring you from your study."

"Bring me the pages of manuscript on the small table by the window,"
Arglay answered at once.  "The top one is marked Chapter IV."

Montague nodded and taking the Crown put it on his head; he settled it
comfortably, then taking a step or two backwards sat down in the
nearest convenient chair.  Lord Arglay watched him attentively,
occasionally
darting his eyes sideways towards Sir Giles, who-as if bored with the
repetition of a concluded experiment-had turned to the papers on which
he had previously been working.  Chloe suddenly caught Arglay's arm;
he put up his other hand and pressed hers.  At once they found
themselves looking at an empty chair.  Chloe cried out; Arglay took a
step towards the chair.  Sir Giles, looking round, said casually; "I
shouldn't get in the way; he may be back at any moment, and you might
get a nasty knock."

"Well, I'm damned," Lord Arglay said.  "It's all--" he began, looking
at
Chloe, but, impressed by the vivid excitement that possessed her,
ceased
in the middle of the reassuring phrase he had begun.  They waited in
silence.

It was only about two or three minutes before, suddenly, they saw
Reginald Montague again in front of them.  He sat still for another
minute or two, then he stepped forward and gave the Chief Justice
several pages of manuscript.  "Well, uncle?" he asked triumphantly.

Arglay took the papers and looked at them.  They were those on which he
had been making notes that afternoon, and he had, he knew, left them on
his table.  He turned them over in silence.  Chloe released his arm
suddenly and sat down.  Sir Giles strolled back to them.  "Interesting
exhibit, what?" he said.

The Chief Justice's mind admitted the apparent fact.  It was
impossible, but it had happened.  In less than five minutes these
papers
had been brought from Lancaster Gate to Ealing.  He loosed the little
sigh which always preceded his giving judgement and nodded.  "I don't
know whether it's the Crown of Suleiman, Giles," he said, "or some
fantasia of our own.  But it certainly seems to work."

"What about trying it, uncle?" Reginald said invitingly, removing the
gold circlet from his head and holding it out.  "It's quite simple.
You
just put it on and wish firmly to gowherever you choose."

"Wishing firmly is a very difficult thing," Lord Arglay said.  "But
if you can I suppose I can." He took the Crown and looked at Chloe.
"Where shall I go, Miss Burnett?" he asked.

"Somewhere quiet," Sir Giles interjected.  "If you choose the House of
Commons or London Bridge or anything like that you'll cause a
sensation.
Try your-" he paused a moment, "dining-room," he added.

"I'd rather go somewhere I didn't know," Arglay said.

"Go to my sitting-room, Lord Arglay," Chloe put in swiftly.  "I don't
suppose you even remember what the address is.  Oh -let me think-on the
table is last week's New Statesman."

"There isn't likely to be any other fellow there?" Sir Giles asked.
"No? All right, Arglay.  Better sit down; it's apt to jar you, they
say.
Now-will yourself there."

Lord Arglay took the Crown in both hands and set it on his head.  Chloe
involuntarily compared the motion with Montague's. Reginald had put it
on with one hand as if he were settling a cap; against his thin form
the Chief Justice's assured  maturity stood like a dark magnificence.
He set on the Crown as if he were accepting a challenge, and sat down
as
if the Chief Justice of England were coming to some high trial, either
of another or of himself.  Chloe, used to seeing and hearing him when
his mind played easily with his surroundings, used to the light
courtesy
with which he had always treated her, had rarely seen in him that rich
plenitude of power which seemed to make his office right and natural
to him.  Once or twice, when, in dictating his book, he had framed
slowly some difficult and significant paragraph, she had caught a hint
of it, but her attention then had been on her work and his words rather
than his person.  She held her breath as she looked, and her eyes met
his.  They were fixed on her with a kind of abstract intimacy; she felt
at once more individual to him than ever before and yet as if the
individuality which he discerned was something of which she herself was
not yet conscious.  And while she looked back into them, thrilling to
that remote concentration, she found she was looking only at the chair,
and was brought back at once from that separate interaction to the
remembrance of their business.  She started with the shock, and both
the men in the room looked at her.

"Don't be frightened," Sir Giles said, with an effort controlling his
phrases, and "It's all right, you know," Montague added coldly.

"I'm not frightened, thank you," Chloe said, hating them both with a
sudden intensity, but she knew she lied. She was frightened; she was
frightened of them.  The Crown of Suleiman, the strange happenings,
Lord Arglay's movements -these were what had stirred her emotions and
shaken her, and those shaken emotions were loosed within her in a
sudden
horror, yet of what she did not know.  It seemed as if there were two
combinations; one had vanished, and the other she loathed, but to that
she was suddenly abandoned.  It -was ridiculous, it was insane.  "What
on earth are you afraid of?" she asked herself, "do you think either of
them is going to assault you?" And beyond and despite herself, and as
if
thinking of some assault she could not visualize or imagine she
answered, "Yes, I do."

Lord Arglay, as he sat down wearing the Crown, had directed his eyes
and
mind towards Chloe.  For the first few moments half a score of ordinary
irrelevant thoughts leapt in his mind.      She was efficient, she was
rather good-looking, she was, under the detached patience with which
she
took his dictation, avid of ideas and facts, she was desirous-but of
what Lord Arglay doubted if she knew and was quite certain he did not.
He put the irrelevancies aside, by mere habitual practice, held his
mind
empty and prepared, as if to receive some important answer which could
then be directed to its proper place in the particular order to which
it belonged, allowed the image of Chloe Burnett and the thought of her
home to enter, and shut his mind down on them.  The Crown pressed on
his forehead; he involuntarily united the physical consciousness and
the
mental; either received the other.  His interior purpose suddenly lost
hold; a dizziness caught him, through which he was aware only of a
dominating attraction-his being yearned, to some power above, around,
within him.  The dizziness increased and then was gone; his head ached;
the Stone pressed heavily on it, then more lightly.  He found himself
opening his eyes.

He opened them on a strange room, and realized that he was standing by
the door.  It was a not too well furnished roon -not, obviously, his
own kind.  There were two comfortable armchairs; there was a bookcase;
a
table; another chair; pictures; a little reproduction of the Victory of
Samothrace, a  poor Buddha, a vase or two.  On the table a box of
cigarettes and a matchbox; some sort of needlework; a book; the Neu
Statesman. Lord Arglay drew a deep breath.  So it worked. He walked to
the table, then he went over to the window and looked out.  It was the
ordinary suburban street, a few ordinary people-three men, a woman,
four
children.  He felt the curtains-they seemed actual.  He felt himself
with the same result.  He went back to the table and picked up the New
Statesman, then he sat down in one of the comfortable chairs as if to
consider.  But as he leant back against the cushions he remembered that
the experiment was only half done; he could consider afterwards.  The
immediate thing was to return with the paper; if that were done, all
was
done that could be at the moment. "I wish there were someone here to
speak to," he thought.  "I wonder-I suppose they would see me." He
thought of going down into the street and asking his way to some
imaginary road,  but the difficulty in passing anyone outside Chloe
Burnett's room occurred to him and he desisted.  Return, then.  He
gripped the New Statesman tightly, and began to think of Sir Giles
at Ealing.  But the notion of introducing Sir Giles offended him; so,
almost as much, did the thought of Reginald Montague, and he was
content at last to make an image, as near as possible, of the room from
which he had 'Come, with the thought of his secretary attached to it.
"My dear child," Lord Arglay said unconsciously, and shut his eyes.

When, after a similar play of feeling to that which he had experienced
before, he opened them to see Reginald Montague in front of him there
flashed across his mind the idea that the Crown had somehow muddled
things.  But it was gone as he came to himself and recognized that he
had indeed returned.  He looked at his watch; the whole episode had
taken exactly five minutes.  He sat for a minute, then he got up,
walked across to Chloe and gave her the paper.  "Yours, I think, Miss
Burnett? I'm sorry to give you the trouble of carrying it back," he
said, and wondered whether he had only imagined the look of relief in
her eyes.  "Well," he went on to the other two, "it seems you're quite
right.  I don't know what happens or how, but if this sort of thing can
go on indefinitely, space doesn't exist-for purposes of travel."

"You see it?" Reginald cried out.

"Certainly I see it," Lord Arglay answered.  "It's a little startling
at first and I want to know several more things, but they can wait.
At the moment I have enough to brood on.  But  We're forgetting our
duty.  Miss Burnett, wouldn't you like to try the ... to put on the
Crown of Suleiman?"

"No," said Chloe.  "No, thank you, Lord Arglay.  Thank you all very
much, but I think I had better go."

"Go-at once?" Arglay asked, "But give me a few more minutes and we'll
all go back together."

"I shouldn't press Miss Burnett to stop if she wants to go," Sir Giles
said.  "The station is about the fourth turning on the right."

"Thank you, Sir Giles," Chloe answered him.  "Thank you for showing me
the-the Crown.  Good night, Mr. Montague.  Good night, Lord Arglay."

"All right, Giles," Arglay stopped a movement Tumulty had not made.
"I'll see Miss Burnett out." As the room door closed behind them he
took her arm.  "Why the rush?" he asked gently.

"I don't ... I don't really know," Chloe said.  "I'm being rather silly
but I felt I couldn't stop there just now.  It is rather upsetting,
isn't it? And ... O I don't know. I'm sorry to seem a fool."

"You are not in the least like a fool," the Chief Justice said equably.
"And you will tell me to-morrow what the matter is.  Are you sure you
are all right now?"

"Quite all right," Chloe said as he opened the door for her "Yes,
really, Lord Arglay." She added with a sudden rush of temper, "I don't
like Sir Giles."

"I couldn't," Arglay smiled at her, "have much use for a secretary who
did like Sir Giles.  Or Reginald either, for that matter.  A vulture
and
a crow-but that's between ourselves, Well, if you will go, good night."

"Good night," Chloe said, took a step forward, and looked back
suddenly.
"You aren't going to try it again yourself.?"

"Not I," Lord Arglay said.  "I'm going to talk to them a little and
then
go.  No more aerial flights to-day.  Till to-morrow then." He watched
her out of the gate and well along the street before he returned to the
others.

He discovered then that Reginald had not been wasting his time.
Anxious to lay hands as soon as possible on some of the colossal
fortune
that seemed to be waiting, the young man had extracted permission from
Sir Giles to make an effort to remove a small chip from the Stone, and
had been away to bring a chisel and hammer from the tool-box.  Arglay
looked at Tumulty.

"You're sure it won't damage it?" he asked.

"They all say it won't," Sir Giles answered.  "The fellow I had it from
and Ali Khan who was here the other night and the manuscripts and all.
The manuscripts are rather hush-hush aboutit it-all damnably veiled
and hinting.  'The division is accomplished yet the Stone is unchanged,
and the virtues are neither here nor there but allwhere'-that kind
of thing. They rather suggest that people who get the bits had better
look out, but that's Reginald's business-and his covey of company-
promoters. He'd better have a clause in the agreement         about not
being responsible for any damage to life or limb, but it's not my
affair.  I don't care what happens to them."

"Who is this Ali Khan?" Arglay asked, watching Reginald arrange the
Stone conveniently.

"A fellow from the Persian Embassy," Sir Giles told him.  "He was on to
me almost as soon as I reached England, wanting to buy it back.  So I
had him out here to talk to him about it, but he couldn't tell me
anything I didn't know or guess already.  "

Reginald struck the chisel with the hammer, and almost fell forward
on to the table.  For, unexpectedly, since the Stone had been hard
enough to the touch, it yielded instantaneously to the blow, and, as
Reginald straightened himself with an oath, they saw, lying on the
table by the side of the Crown, a second Stone apparently the same in
all respects as the first.

"Good God!" Lord Arglay exclaimed, while Reginald gazed open-mouthed
at the result of his work, and Sir Giles broke into a cackle of high
laughter.  But they all gathered round the table to stare.

Except that one Stone was in the Crown and the other not they could not
find any difference.  There was the same milky colour, flaked here and
there with gold, the same jet-black markings which might be letters and
might be only accidental colouring, the same size, the same apparent
hardness.

"'The division is accomplished yet the Stone is unchanged'", Lord
Arglay
quoted at last, looking at his brother-in-law.  "It is, too.  This is
all very curious."

Tumulty had thrust Reginald aside and was peering at the two Stones.
After a minute, "Try it again, Reginald," he said -"the new one, not
the old.  Come round here, Arglay." He caught the Chief Justice by the
arm and brought him round the table.  "There," he said, "now watch."
He himself, while Lord Arglay leant forward over the table, moved a
step
or two off and squatted down on his heels, so that his eyes were on a
level with the Stone.  "Now slowly, Reginald, slowly."
Montague adjusted it, set the chisel on it, raised the hammer, and
struck, but this time with less force.  The watchers saw the chisel
move
down through the Stone which seemed to divide easily before it and fall
asunder on both sides.  Sir Giles scrambled to his feet and he and Lord
Arglay leaned breathlessly forward.  There on the table, exactly alike,
lay two Stones, each a faithful replica of its original in the Crown.

Montague put the chisel and hammer down and stepped back. "I say," he
said, ."I don't like this.  Stones don't grow out of one another in
this way. It's .. . it's uncanny."

"Stones don't carry you five miles through the air,usually," Arglay
said
drily. "I think you're straining at a gnat. Still      The perfect
ease with which the Stone had recreated itself, a ghastly feeling of
its capacity to go on producing copies of itself to infinity, the
insane simplicity, the grotesque finality, of the result, weighed on
his
mind, and he fell silent.

Sir Giles, alert and eager, picked them up.  "Just a moment," he said,
"let me weigh them."

He went to a corner of the room where a small balance stood in a glass
case, and put one of the Stones on the scales.  For a minute he
stared at it, then he looked over his shoulder at the Chief Justice.

"I say, Arglay," he cried, "it doesn't weigh anything."

"Doesn't weigh-" Lord Arglay went across to him.  The Stone lay in the
middle of the scale, which remained perfectly poised, balanced against
its fellow, apparently unweighted by what it bore.

"But-" Arglay said, "but- But it does weigh. . . . I mean I can feel
its pressure if I hold it.  Very light, but definite."

"Well, there you are," Giles said.  "Look at it." With the tweezers he
picked up a gramme weight and dropped it on the other scale, which
immediately sank gently under it.

"There," he said, "the balances are all right. ltjust doesn't weigh."
He
took up the Stone and they returned to the table, where all three stood
staring at the marvel, until Sir Giles grew impatient.

"We look like Hottentots staring at an aeroplane," he said. "Reginald,
you baboon-headed cockatoo, show a little gratitude.  Here instead of a
mere chip you can give every one of your degenerate Jew millionaires a
stone as big as the first one, and you stand gaping like a cow with the
foot-and-mouth disease."

Reginald made an effort at recovery. "Yes," he answered rather
quaveringly, "yes, of course I see that.  It made me feel funny
somehow.
But-yes, of course.  It'll save any difficulty about chipping the
original, and they'll look much better-much.  Can I leave them here
to-night?"

"Why, you're scared out of what wits you've got," Sir Giles said. "What
about you, Arglay? Will you have one?"

"No," Lord Arglay said soberly. "I think not; not to-night. I feel
rather
as if I'd been scared out of what wits I'd got, and was just getting
over
it. If I were you, Reginald, I should think a great many times before I
started that transport scheme of yours."

"Eh?" said Reginald. "But surely Sir Giles is right? This'll make it
even easier."

"Just as you like," Lord Arglay said. "I think I will go now, Tumulty.
I should like to come and see it again soon, if I may." Sir Giles
nodded casually, and as casually bade his visitors good-night.

On the way back to town Lord Arglay said very little, and ignored
Reginald's occasional outbreaks of mingled hope and nervousness. He
found himself wishing Chloe Burnett had not gone; he would have liked
to have
his own silence buttressed by another instead of harassed by a futile
and spasmodic volubility. His mind gazed blankly at the riddle of the
three Stones in an awe which he usually kept for Organic Law. There
must be some conclusion, he felt, but he couldn't think -not yet.
"-pay even more," he heard at his side and drove faster. "Is there no
intelligent creature about?" he thought. "I wish that girl hadn't-no,
perhaps it's as well. Damn it, I'm muddled."

He reached his house almost at the same time that Chloe by a slower and
longer method came to her own, full of similar half-conscious anxieties
and alarms. She found, opened, and read a couple of letters that
awaited
her, and realized when she had finished that she knew nothing of their
contents, and did not particularly want to know. She put down the New
Statesman in its place on the table, took off her things, and looked
vaguely round the room. It was here then that Lord Arglay had been
during
that unbelievable and terrifying disappearance; to this the Crown of
Suleiman had transported him. The Crown of Suleiman.... the Lord Chief
Justice. Chloe Burnett. It might have happened but she didn't believe
it; at least, except that she couldn't disbelieve in that sharp spasm
of fear. She moved towards a chair and noticed, with a slight
annoyance,
that she had forgotten to shake the cushions up when she left the house
that evening. Or had another visitor-? Chloe dropped into the chair
where Lord Arglay had sat and burst
into tears.





                            Chapter Three

                    THE TALE OF THE END OF DESIRE

When  Miss   Burnett arrived at the Chief Justice's house  the next
morning she found him reading his correspondence    in a perfectly
normal way. He
looked up to welcome her and considered her carefully. "No worse?" he
said. "Good night? Well, you missed something even more eerie."

"O Lord Arglay! Nothing happened?"

"Something happened all right," Arglay answered, and his face grew
grave.
"Up to last night," he went on, "I thought Giles was monkeying about
with something, and playing tricks on Reginald for some infernal reason
of his own. But I don't know now; I really don't. He didn't seem to
expect what did happen."

"But, Lord Arglay! What did?"

The Chief Justice told her. Chloe sat gazing at him. "It multiplies
itself?" she breathed. "But it must be somethingmagical, then.
Something
unnatural."

Arglay shook his head. "I wouldn't say that," he answered. "Atoms do
it, or electrons, or something. But I admit to having a nasty jar when
I
saw the three things all exactly alike. Somehow the sight of Reginald
producing stones of Suleiman ben Daood at the rate of two a minute with
a chisel-it didn't seem decent. "

"That," Chloe said with conviction, "is what I felt; that's why I ran
away. Lord Arglay, could                 she hesitated, "could those
letters be real?"

"If they are, if the Stone is," the ChiefJustice said, "it looks as if
it were real in another manner-more or less real than we are.  No,
that's absurd, of course.  There can't be degrees in Reality.  But we
know that  we can pass through space by its means-we both know that-and
I
have seen what was one become two, and then three, and lose nothing in
the process. And now this morning. .." He gave her a letter, and she
read-

"Foreign Office,
"May 10.

"My Dear Chief Justice,
"I wonder if you could spare me a few minutes to-day, and if so whether
you would mind ringing up and making an appointment.  Nothing to do
with  you directly, but the fact is we have been approached-very
tentatively-on a little matter relating to your brother-in-law Sir
Giles Tumulty.  And as, on the few occasions when I've met him, he
always seemed to me rather a difficult man to deal with, I thought my
way might be smoother if I could have a chat with you first.  Pray
forgive me for troubling you.

                             "Yours very truly,
                                  "J.  BRUCE CUMBERLAND."

Miss Burnett looked up.  "You think it's the same thing?" "

"I shouldn't wonder," Lord Arglay answered.  "Of course it may not be.
Giles always seems to be conducting several lines of research at once,
some perfectly harmless and one or two perfectly loathsome.  But the
F.O. has had trouble with him once or twice before-obscure troubles no
one seemed to know the rights of, except Giles who (it is said) was the
proximate cause of one Secretary's resignation.  I don't wonder Bruce
Cumberland hesitates to tackle him."

"Who is Mr. Cumberland?" Chloe asked.

"One of the smaller great guns there," Arglay told her.  "A Permanent
Official in many impermanent offices.  But I've rung up     already and
made an appointment for twelve.  I want-"

There was a tap at the door and a maid came in.  "Sir Giles Tumulty
would like to see you, my lord," she said.

"Sir Giles-? O bring him in, bring him in," Arglay said and met the
visitor at the door.  "Hallo, Tumulty, what brings you here so early?"
he asked.

Sir Giles came briskly in, threw Chloe a glance, and sat down.  "Three
things," he said.  "My house was burgled last night, I'm going to
Birmingham to-day, and I want to warn you, or rather other people
through you."

"Burgled?" Arglay said.  "Casually or deliberately? And by whom, or
don't you know?"

"Of course I know," Sir Giles said.  "It's the Embassy people; I
shouldn't be a bit surprised to find Ali Khan did it himself. I'm only
surprised they didn't try to tackle me.  They did it pretty well on the
whole, felt under my pillow while I was trying not to snigger, and went
all over the study, got what safe there is open, and made very little
noise.  I dare say I shouldn't have heard them if I hadn't been awake."

"Did they get what they wanted?" Arglay asked.

"Get it?" Sir Giles almost shrieked.  "Do you suppose, Argllay, that
any
set of half-caste earthworms would find anything I wanted to hide? No,
they didn't. Suleiman and I are going off to  see Palliser at
Birmingham
to-day. But I thought I'd leave one of those little fellows with you
and one with Reginald. I've dropped his in on him and here's yours." He
pulled one of the Stones from his pocket and threw it on to the table.
"
And now for the warning.  You're mixed up with a Whitehall crowd
of simians, Arglay, and for all I know, the Persians may be trying to
    pull the strings they dance to. if you hear anything about it, tell
them to be careful.  For if they try to get the Crown out of me they'll
get more than they want.  Tell them if they give me any trouble I'll
make enough Stones to build a wall round     London.  I'll sell them
at two penny to the children in the streets.  I'll set up a Woolworth's
to show nothing but Stones.      The whole population of this blasted
sink you call London shall be playing hop-scotch with them.  I'll give
them relics enough, and you tell them so.  I've written to Ali Khan
warning him and referring him to you for confirmation." He started to
go, and stopped.  "O and if they try and get me knocked on the head
that won't help.  For I'll leave it in proper keeping and I'll have a
mausoleum of relics built over@ me.  So they know."

With which Sir Giles flung out of the room, but he was back again
before
Lord Arglay could say more than "Cheery creature! "

"My own advice to both of you," he said, "is to say nothing at all
whatever leprous hooligan from the Foreign Office or the Embassy you
may be pestered with. You play your office, Arglay, and Miss Burnett
can play her sex. justice and innocence, that's your line, though I
                                  don't suppose either of you's ither."

He was gone again, this time for good, and they heard the front door
close.

"Giles always reminds me of the old riddle," Lord Arglay said in a
moment. "Would you rather be more abominable  than you sound or sound
more abominable than you are? The answer is I would rather be neither
but I am both. And now what do we do?" He looked at his watch. "I go to
the Foreign Office," he said, and considered. "I think, Miss Burnett,
if
anyone comes from the Persian Embassy you had better see them. Don't
know anything; just be obliging. I've asked you to take any message
that
comes, to interview any callers that sort of thing. Lord Arglay was
particularly anxious-you know. I'm not sure that I oughtn't to cut
adrift altogether, but there's Bruce Cumberland, and, as a matter of
fact, I'm horribly curious. Well, I'll go. I'll tell them to show
anyone from the Embassy in to you. Good-bye, and good luck. I shall be
back to lunch."

"They may want you to lunch at the Foreign Office," Chloe suggested.

"Then I shan't," Lord Arglay said firmly. "We must talk the whole thing
over. O and this?" He picked up the Stone. "I think this shall go in
my private safe upstairs. Good-bye. You might sort out the notes for
the next chapter of Organic Law. "

Chloe did her best, but even the thesis of law as a growing and
developing habit of the human mind, with its corollary of the
distinction between organic consciousness expressed in law and
inorganic rules imposed from without, failed to hold her. It might be
true that the whole body of criminal law was by its nature, inorganic,
which was the point the Chief Justice had reached, though whether in
agreement or opposition she had no idea, but she could not keep her
mind away from what seemed an organism of unexpected power. "It must be
alive," she found herself saying, and went on to ask herself, "But then
does it know? Does it know what it does and what we do to it? Who ever
heard of a living stone?" She went on, nevertheless, thinking along
that road. "Does it know what Mr. Montague is doing with it? What else
can it do? and can it do anything to us?"

The maid came in. "A gentleman from the Embassy is downstairs, Miss
Burnett," she said. "Lord Arglay told me to show him up. Will that be
all right?"

"Certainly," Chloe said nervously, "yes,please bringhimin." In a minute
the maid announced "Mr. Ibrahim", and vanished. A little old gentleman,
in Western dress but for his green turban, walked placidly into the
room.

"Do sit down," Chloe said, mastering her agitation. "Probably the maid
told you that Lord Arglay was so sorry he had had to go out, but he
hoped you would be good enough to leave any message with me. If
possible."

Haiji Ibrahim bowed and sat down. "You know, I think, what I have come
about?" he said.

"I'm sorry, but Lord Arglay didn't tell me---only that it might be
rather important," Chloe answered.

The Hajji smiled slightly. "I believe that Lord Arglay did not tell
you," he said, "but I think you must have seen something last nightwhen
you wentwith him to Sir Giles Tumulty's house."

"If you know that," Chloe answered, disagreeably surprised, "you will
know that I left before Lord Arglay and wasn't with him there-not for
long."

"Long enough," the Hajji nodded. "Do not let us dispute on that, Miss
Burnett-it was Miss Burnett your servant said? --or we shall waste our
time and our spirit. You know what it is we are seeking, though you may
not know all that it means. It is the End of Desire."

"The end of desire?"    Chloe repeated.                              s

"It is called the White Stone and the Stone of Suleiman ben Daood (on
whom be the Peace!)," the Hajji went on, "and it has other names also.
But that is its best name, as that is its best work. Now that it is at
large in the world it may bring much sorrow. I think Lord Arglay would
be wise to do what he can to bring it back. No," he added as he saw
Chloe about to make another effort at denial, "You are acting in good
faith but it is quite useless. I can see that you know the thing if not
the work.

"If you have any definite message," Chloe said, "I shall be most
careful to give it to Lord Arglay."

"I think you have a premonition of the message," Hajji Ibrahim
answered. "Tell me, have you not seen certain of the marvels of the
Stone and are you not afraid in your heart? Else why should you be so
shaken at speaking with me?"

"I am not shaken," Chloe said indignantly.

The other smiled. "Child," he said, "you have done what you can to be
loyal, but you cannot control your eyes, and there is fear at the back
of them now. Do not fear us who serve the Stone but fear those who
attempt to rule it."

"What is this Stone?" Chloe asked, hoping rather vainly that the
intensity of her feeling would sound like a mere business interest.

"I will tell you what is said of it," the Hajji said, "and you shall
tell Lord Arglay when he returns. It is said that in the Crown of
Suleiman ben Daood there was a strange and wonderful Stone, and it is
said also that this Stone had belonged of old to the giants, to Nimrod
the hunter and his children, and by its virtue Nimrod sought to build
Babel which was to reach to heaven. And something of this kind is
certainly possible to those who have the Stone. Before Nimrod, our
father Adam (the Peace be upon him!) had it, and this only he brought
with him out of Paradise when he fled before the swords of the great
ones-Michael and Gabriel and Raphael (blessed be they!). And there are
those who say that before then it was in the Crown of Iblis the
Accursed when he fell from heaven, and that his fall was not assured
until that Stone dropped from his head. For yet again it is told that,
when the Merciful One made the worlds, first of all He created that
Stone and gave it to the Divine One whom the Jews call Shekinah, and as
she gazed upon it the universes arose and had being. But afterwards it
passed from Iblis to Adam, and from Adam to Nimrod, and from Nimrod to
Suleiman, and after Suleiman it came into the sceptre of Octavianus who
was called Caesar and Augustus and was lord of Rome. But from Rome it
came with Constantine to New Rome, and thence eastward-only in hiding-
till our lord Muhammed (blessed be he!) arose to proclaim the Unity.
And after he was received into the Mercy it belonged to seven Khalifs,
and was taken into Spain when the Faith entered there, and some say
that in his wars Charlemagne the Emperor found it and set it under the
hilt of his sword, which was called joyeuse because of it, and from
that the Franks made a war-shout and cried Montjoy St. Denis. And
because of its virtue and his will the Emperor made himself lord of the
world. After him the world became very evil, and the Stone made for
itself a place of repose and remained therein until to-day. This is the
tale of the Stone of Suleiman, but its meaning is in the mind of him
who hears it."

Chloe Burnett said abruptly, "And they use it for--?"

The Persian smiled. "They use it as they will," he said. "But there are
those who know it -by its name which I have told you. "

"But can the end of desire be an evil?" Chloe said.

"If the End is reached too violently it may mean chaos and madness,"
Ibrahim told her. "Even in lesser things it is not everyone who can
bear to be carried hither and thither, in time or place or thought, and
so in the greater it is necessary to grow accustomed to the Repose of
the End. I think if you were to set it on your head now and offer your
soul to it, the strength of your nature would be overthrown and not
transformed by its own strength, and you would be destroyed. There is
measure and degree in all things, even upon the Way."

"The Way?" Chloe asked.

"The Way to the Stone, which is in the Stone," the old man said. "Yet
you have a hint of the holy letters on your forehead, and Allah shall
bring you to the Resignation. For you are of Islam at heart."

"1---of Islam?" Chloe cried. "Do you mean a Muhammedan?"

"There is no God but God and Muhammed is the Prophet of God," the old
man intoned gravely. "Yet the Resignation is within. Say what you will
of this to your master, but bid him if he is a wise judge assist us in
the restoration of the Stone."

"But if Sir Giles bought it-" Chloe began.

"He that sold it and he that bought it alike sinned," the Hajji
answered. "Tell your lord that at any time I will come to him to speak
of it if he will. For I do not wish my nephew to let war loose on the
world."

"War?" Chloe exclaimed.

"It is the least of the plagues, perhaps," Ibrahim said. "But tell your
master and bid him think what he will do." Gravely he took his leave,
with a murmured benediction, and left Chloe in a state of entire
upheaval to await Lord Arglay's return.

When he came she saw that he was himself perplexed and troubled. But
with the exception of asking whether she hhad had a visitor he said
nothing, either of information or inquiry, until after lunch. When they
were back in his study he gave her cigarettes and sat down opposite
her. "And now," he said, "let's talk. No-stop-let us have ... what
Giles left with us here too." He went for the Stone and set it, rather
seriously on the table by them. "Now for your visitor," he said.

Chloe went over the conversation as far as she could. When she had
finished-

"You didn't tell him about the division of the Stone?" Lord Arglay
asked.

"I didn't tell him anything at all," Chloe said. "I didn't have the
chance. He did all the talking."

"Well, that was the idea, after all. I did exactly the same, only less
tactfully," Arglay assured her. "Bruce Cumberlan was in the extreme
jumps, all nicely hidden of course, but there without a doubt. He was
so sorry-not at all-yes, but he was, only I was the only respectable
person in touch with Sir Giles. And they wanted, they very much wanted-
well, in short they wanted to know what Sir Giles had been up to.
Yesterday, it appears, at some conference on the finances of
Baluchistan or the reform of the gendarmerie in the suburbs of Erzerum,
the Persian Ambassador whispered in Birlesmere's ear-he's the Foreign
Secretary, you know. There was a matter of a relic, feloniously
abstracted, under cover of a payment which was really a bribe, by one
of our nationals. The Ambassador himself had no use for it, nor, he
thought, had Riza Khan-but the populace, the fanatical Muhammedan
populace . . . his lordship the Secretary would understand. Well,
Birlesmere's used to these unofficial hints, only it seems for the last
month things have been a bit more restive than usual all over the Near
East, in expanding circles. So he began to sit up. Could his Excellency
tell him at all ... ? His Excellency, most unofficially, had heard
rumours of Suleiman, and
a crown, and even-without any sort of accusation-of Sir Giles Tumulty.
He didn't press, he didn't even ask, for anything; he only remarked
that rumours were about. Pure friendship. Of course if his Britannic
Majesty's Government could reassure him, just in case the Imams (or
whatever) went to Riza Khan. There was even a young fellow at the
Embassy inclined to make trouble; he would be exchanged certainly-
Moscow perhaps. Still.... Birlesmere was pushed; he had to go off to
Sandringham last night, so he switched Cumberland on to it. Who did me
the honour to remember that I was Sir Giles's brother-in-law, and
begged me to sound him. Had I heard? Could I think? Would I
investigate-delicately? I promised I would, told him nothing, and came
away. So there we are."

They sat and looked at each other. Then Lord Arglay said, "I can only
think of one thing to be done at once, and that's to stop Reginald. He
won't want to run risks with the Government, at least I shouldn't think
so, though he's thinking'in millions. But he must keep quiet anyhow
till I can see Giles again. City five seven three eight," he added into
the telephone.                   S

"You'll see Sir Giles when he comes back?" Chloe asked.

"I shall see everybody," Lord Arglay said. "Giles and the Ambassador
and your HaJji and Cumberland again and so on. If I'm in the centre of
it I'm going to enjoy it. Is that Mr. Montague's? Is Mr. Montague in?
... Lord Arglay.... That you, Reginald? ... Look here, I'vejust been in
touch with the Foreign Office and I'm rather anxious about you. It's
most important you should do and say nothing, absolutely nothing, about
the Stone at present. You've got one, haven't you? Sir Giles left one
with you? ... Yes, well you mustn't even look at it yet. I'll tell you
... what?"

Chloe watched anxiously. In a minute, "O my dear God in heaven!" Lord
Arglay said. "No     ... O yes, keep it quiet now. ...  Who is Angus
M.. Sheldrake?    ... yes, who? Who? I don't
know his name.... Oh. Can we get at him? ... No, I don't think you'd
better; perhaps I will.... Good-bye."

He looked round. "Reginald has sold a Stone to a fellow who has made a
fortune in gallipots and other pottery ware and is called Angus M.
Sheldrake. He is an American and may have left London by now."

"But," Chloe cried, "do you mean he's sold his one Stone already?"

"No," Lord Arglay said. "He has divided it and sold the new one."

"But he was going to have it set!" Chloe said.

"But he had a chance of meeting Angus M. Sheldrake, who is the richest
man that ever motored across Idaho, and as Angus was leaving London,
Reginald scrapped the setting, took an hour to convince him, and did
it. While Bruce Cumberland was talking to me about the necessity of
caution. Caution! With Reginald being creative. Do you know I entirely
forgot he could do that? Ring up the Savoy and see if the unmentionable
Sheldrake is still there."

Chloe leapt to the telephone. After a few minutes-"He's left London
till Monday," she said.

"And to-day's Friday," Lord Arglay said. "I wish I had Reginald in the
dock on an embezzlement charge. Well-I don't want to see the Ambassador
till I've seen Giles; not after this morning. You know I'm terrified in
case he does start multiplying-either he or Reginald. But I can't bring
him back quicker; if I try he'll just stop away. I really don't see
what else we can do-till Monday. I can talk to Reginald of course, and
I will."

"Do you believe in it?" Chloe asked.

"In the Stone?" Arglay said. "I suppose I do-in a sense. I don't know
what your friend means by calling it the end of desire."

"What do you think he meant by saying that the way to the Stone was in
the Stone?" Chloe asked again. "And what is the way?'

"I do not know what he meant," Arglay answered, "though certainly the
way to any end is in that end itself For as you cannot know any study
but by learning it, or gain any virtue but by practising it, so you
cannot be anything but by becoming it. And that sounds obvious enough,
doesn't it? And yet," he went on as if to himself, "by becoming one
thing a man ceases to be that which he was, and no one but he can tell
how tragic that change may be. What do you want to be, Chloe?"

The use of her name was natural enough to pass outwardly unheeded, if
not unnoticed by some small function of her mind which made a sudden
movement of affection towards him. "I do not know," she said.

"Nor I," he said, "for myself any more than for you. I am what I am,
but it is not enough."

"You-the Chief Justice," she said.

"I am the Chief Justice," he answered, "but the way is in the end, and
how far have I become justice? Still"-he recovered lightness and
pointed to the typescript of Organic Law -"still we do what we can.
Well- Look here now, you can't do anything till Monday. If there are
any developments I will let you know."

"Are you sure I can't do anything?" she said doubtfully.

"Neither of us can," Arglay answered. "You may as well clear off now.
Would you like to use the Stone to go home by?"

"No, thank you," she said. "I think I'm afraid of the Stone."

"Don't think of it more than you can help between now and Monday,"
Arglay advised her. "Go to the theatre to-night if you can. If anything
happens messenger boys in a procession such as preceded the queen of
Sheba when she came to Suleiman shall be poured out to tell you all."

"I was going to the theatre," she said, "but I thought of postponing
it."

"Nonsense," said the ChiefJustice. "Come on Monday and we'll tackle Sir
Giles and the Ambassador and Angus M.
Sheldrake and Reginald and the HaJji and- Bruce Cumberland-and if there
are any more we will deal with them also. Run along."

By midnight however Chloe almost wished she had not followed Lord
Arglay's advice. For she was conscious that the evening had not been a
success, and that the young man who accompanied her was conscious of it
too. This annoyed her, for in matters of pleasure she had a high sense
of duty, and not to cause gaiety appeared to her as a failure in
morals. Besides, Frank Lindsay was working very hard-for some
examination in surveying and estate agency-working in an office all day
and then at home in the evening, and he ought to be made as happy as
possible. But all her efforts and permissions and responses had been
vain; she had said good night to her companion with an irritable sense
of futility which she just prevented herself expressing. He had, as a
matter of fact, been vainly contending all the evening, without knowing
it, against two preoccupations in Chloe's mind-the Stone and Lord
Arglay. Not only did the Stone lie there, a palpitating centre of
wonder and terror, but against the striving endeavour of Frank
Lindsay's rather pathetic culture moved the assured placidity of Lord
Arglay's. It did not make Frank less delightful in the exchanges
discoverable by him and her together, but it threw into high relief the
insufficiency of those exchanges as more than an occupation and a means
of oblivion; it managed to spoil them while providing no substitute and
no answer for the desires that thrilled her.

It seemed to her that all things did just so much and no more. As,
lying awake that night, she reviewed her activities and preoccupations,
there appeared nothing that consumed more than a little part of her
being, or brought her, by physical excitement or mental concentration,
more than forgetfulness. Nothing justified her existence. The immortal
sadness of youth possessed her, and a sorrow of which youth is not
always conscious, the lucid knowledge of her unsatisfied desires. There
was nothing, she thought, that could be trusted; the dearest delight
might betray, the gayest friendship open upon a treachery and a
martyrdom. Of her friends, of her young male friends especially,
pleasant as they were, , there was not one, she thought, who held that
friendship important for her sake rather than for his own enjoyment.
Even that again was but her own selfishness; what right had she to the
devotion of any other? And was there any devotion beyond the sudden
overwhelming madness of sex? And in that hot airless tunnel of emotion
what pleasure was there and what joy? Laughter died there, and
lucidity, and the clear intelligence she loved, and there was nothing
of the peace for which she hungered.

Her thought went off at a tangent to Reginald Montague's preoccupation
with the Stone.  If there could be an end to desire, was it thus that
it should be used? Was it only that men might hurry the more and hurl
themselves about as if the speed  of Chloe Burnett or Reginald
Montague were of moment to the universe? She hated Montague, she hated
Sir Giles, she  hated Frank Lindsay-poor dear!-- she
hated-no, she did not hate Lord Arglay, but she hated the old man who
had come to her and talked of kings and prophets and
heroes till she was dizzy with happiness and dread.  Most of all she
hated herself.  The dark mystery of being that possessed
her held no promise of light, but she turned to it and sank into it
content so to avoid the world.





                          Chapter Four

                        VISION IN THE STONE

Lord Arglay spent some part of the same. evening in trying to define
the process of his thought on organic law and a still larger part in
contemplation of the Stone in his possession. The phrase that had most
struck him in Chloe's account of her conversation with HaJji Ibrahim
was not, as with her, "the Way to the Stone which is in the Stone," but
the more definite "movement in time and place and thought." The same
question that had struck Sir Giles inevitably occurred to him; if in
place, then why not in time? He wondered whether Sir Giles and
Palliser, whoever Palliser might be, were making experiments with it
that very evening at Birmingham. The difficulty, he thought, was
absurdly simple, and consisted merely in the fact of the Stone itself.
Supposing you willed to return a year, and to be again in those exact
conditions, interior and exterior,in which you had been a year ago-why
then, either you would have the Stone with you or you would not. If you
had, you were not the same: if you had not, then how did you return,
short of living through the intervening period all over again? Lord
Arglay shuddered at the possibility. It would be delightful, he
thought, to know again the thrill which had gone through him when he
had heard of his appointment to the office he held. But to have to go
again through all those years of painful appeals, difficult judgements,
distressing decisions, which so often meant unhappiness to the
innocent-no. Besides-supposing you did. When you reached again this
moment you would again return by virtue of the Stone-and so for ever.
An infinite series of repetitions of those same few years, a being
compelled to grow
no older, a consciousness forbidden to expand or to die. So far as Lord
Arglay could see five minutes' return would be fatal; if, now, he
willed himself back at the beginning of his meditations necessity would
keep him thinking precisely those thoughts through an everlasting
sequence. For if you willed yourself back you willed yourself precisely
to be without the Stone; otherwise you were not back in the past as the
past had truly been. And Lord Arglay had a suspicion that the Stone
would be purely logical.

Yes, he thought, but what, in that sense, were the rules of its pure
logic? How could you exist in that past again except by virtue of the
Stone? if that were not there you yourself could not be there. The
thing was a contradiction in terms; you could not be in the past
without the Stone yet with the Stone you could not be in the past. Then
the Stone could not act in time. But Chloe's visitor had said it could.
And a Stone that could create itself out of itself and could deal as it
had dealt with space ought to be able to deal in some way or other with
time. For time was the same thing as space, or rather duration was a
method of extension-that was elementary. "Extension," he thought, "I
extend myself into-into what? Nothingness; the past is not; it doesn't
exist." He shook his head; so simple a solution had never appealed to
him. Every infinitesimal fraction of a second the whole universe peeled
off, so to speak, and passed out of consciousness, except for the
extremely blurred pictures of memory, whatever memory might be. Out of
existence? that was his difficulty; was it out of existence? He
remembered having read somewhere once a fantastic theory that whenever
a man made a choice, a real choice-whenever he definitely did one of
two things he also did at the same moment the other and brought an
entire new universe into being that he might do so. For otherwise an
infinite number of potentialities would exist for ever unfulfilled-
which, the writer had said, though Lord Arglay had forgotten his
reasons, was absurd. It had occasionally consoled him, or at least had
appeared
to him as a not disagreeable hope, when the Court had rejected an
appeal from a sentence of death, to think that at the same time, in a
new universe parting from this one as the Stone before him had parted
from its original, they had allowed it. In which case a number of
Christopher Arglays must exist; the thought almost reduced him to
idiocy. But in the same way the past might, even materially, exist;
only man was not aware of it, time being, whatever else it was, a
necessity of his consciousness. "But because I can only be sequentially
conscious," he argued, "must I hold that what is not communicated to
consciousness does not exist? I think in a line-but there is the
potentiality of the plane." This perhaps was what great art was-a
momentary apprehension of the plane at a point in the line. The Demeter
of Cnidos, the Praying Hands of Dürer, the Ode to a Nightingale, the
Ninth Symphony-the sense of vastness in those small things was the
vastness of all that had been felt in the present. Would one dare wish
to be the Demeter? to be-what? Stone? yes, presumably stone. But stone
of an intense significance-to others; but to itself? Agnosticism
checked him; no one knew. No one knew whether the Demeter had
consciousness, or if so of what kind. Lord Arglay abandoned art and
returned to the question of time.

Frankly he was not going to risk perpetual recurrence. He had no
intention-his mind chilled suddenly within him as he thought of Giles
Tumulty. Would that insane scientist mind risking recurrence-for
someone else? If he could find someone who didn't see the catch, he
would risk it quite happily, the Chief Justice thought, and stood up in
agitation. Some wretched laboratory assistant, some curator, some
charwoman even, anyone who would put that bit of gold on their heads
and try to will themselves back ten minutes. If his own thought was
right ... Giles would watch the fellow thinking, doing, being, the same
thing for ever. But no-that would involve Sir Giles being there to give
him, whoever it might be, the Stone. Only a past Giles though, not the
present. The Giles whom the victim knew-there needn't be a real Giles
at all. But then the victim would just disappear-he wouldn't be there
at all. Well, Giles, he knew, would sacrifice anyone in creation just
to prove that. And would look, with a grin of pleasure, at the placards
announcing a sensational disappearance. In the horror of approaching a
conception of real hell Lord Arglay for the first time since his
childhood found himself almost believing in God from sheer fright.

He walked about the room. He had meant to try and think out the future
but this agony was too much for him. Who was the Palliser Giles was
working with? He flung himself at such works of reference as he
possessed-a Whitaker, a Who's Who-and found him. Abel Timothy Palliser,
Professor of Relative Psychology at the University of Birmingham, born
1872, educated-and so on, unmarried. Career-and so on. Author of
Studies in Hypnotic Consciousness; The Mind as a Function of APproach;
the Discontinuous Integer. The titles, in his present state, seemed to
Lord Arglay merely sinister. He had a moment's vision of two men
playing with victim after victim. Well, they wouldn't succeed with him-
they didn't know of Sheldrake-they might trick Reginald, and though
Reginald was a besotted idiot, still even Reginald-"Ass," Lord Arglay
said, "they're in Birmingham," and immediately went on, "How do I know
they're in Birmingham? They may have taken a late train-but they
needn't take a train! Fool that I am, this thrice infernal Stone will
do it for them! O damn the day when that accursed Giles-"

In the middle of the imprecation he stopped and made himself sit down.
A small voice within him said "Something must be done about this."
After all, he might be wrong; the Stone might act in time in ways he
could not foresee. Or Chloe might have got HaJji Ibrahim's words wrong.
His first impulse was to go to Sir Giles and stop whatever devilry
might be taking place. But, short of violence, it would be difficult to
stop Tumulty doing whatever he wanted. An alternative was to find out,
if he could, exactly what the powers of the Stone were, and the only
person who could tell him, so far as he could see, was Hajji Ibrahim.
At the moment, Lord Arglay realized, he himself was the passive centre
of the whole affair; the Government, the Embassy, Sir Giles, Reginald,
all their activities were communicated to him. It might be possible to
lay Sir Giles out; on the other hand, Giles was an awkward enemy and
might lay him out, and then the confusion would, he thought more or
less impartially, be worse. It looked like the Embassy first, and in
something under five minutes he was speaking to Hajji Ibrahim on the
telephone.

"I am Lord Arglay," he said. "I wonder, Hajji, if you could spare me
ten minutes."

"I will come at once," the answer reached him. "You are willing to help
us, yes?"

"I am willing to talk to you," the Chief Justice answered. "You will be
round here immediately? Good."

It took him, however, when the Hajji arrived, more than ten minutes to
reach tactfully the two questions he was anxious to have answered. What
was the Stone? and what could it do?

"What is it in itself, I mean?" he urged. "Yes, Miss Burnett told me
its history-but what is it? Is it a new element?"

"I think it is the First Matter," the Hajji told him, "from which all
things are made-spirits and material things."

"Spirits?" Arglay said. "But this is matter"; he pressed a finger on
the Stone.

"Matter to matter," Ibrahim answered, "but perhaps mind to mind, and
soul to soul. That is why it will do anything you ask it-with all your
heart. But you must will truly and sincerely."

"In the matter of time," Arglay, after a moment's meditation, went on,
"can it transfer a man from one point to another?"

"Assuredly," the Hajji said. "But you must remember that the Keepers of
the Stone have not for centuries of generations
laid hands on it, far less used it for such things. It has been kept in
profound seclusion, and now that it is loose I fear greatly for the
world. I think this Giles Tumulty has little reverence and few
scruples."

"So do I," Lord Arglay said grimly. "He has told you that he will
multiply it?"

"He has threatened us with the most awful and obscene sacrilege," the
Hajji answered, trying to keep his voice calm. "He has sworn that he
will divide the Indivisible for his own ends."

"But time-" Arglay, returning to his point, laid the problem before the
Persian but he got no satisfaction.

"I tell you since the Shah Ismail laid hands on it five hundred years
ago no one has desecrated it so," Ibrahim insisted. "For he perished
miserably with all his house. How should I know in what manner the Holy
Thing permits itself to be used? Give me the Stone which you have and
let us seek the other."

"Others," Lord Arglay said. "The affair's gone farther than you think,
Hajji. And it won't be an easy thing to get it back from Giles without
worse trouble."

"Cannot your Government seize it?" the other asked, but Arglay shook
his head.

"To be perfectly frank," he answered, "I doubt if the Government would
go to extremes unless they realized something of its value. And then-I
hope for the best-but it's no use blinking the possibility-then, if
they knew its value, they mightn't very much want to give it back."

"Ali Khan will raise all the deserts and bazaars against them," Ibrahim
said-"Egypt and Arabia, Africa and Syria and Iraq and Iran and India
and beyond."

"I dare say," Arglay answered gloomily. "But Ali Khan won't have the
Stone. And if it comes to raising the Government can do a little.
Besides, what do you suppose the other Powers would be doing-if the
whole of Islam was at war? No,
Hajji, I wouldn't trust the Government so far as to tell them what it
can do."

"I know," the Hajji answered. "I did but seek for your thought. I have
told Ali Khan we shall never recover it by war."

"What is worrying me," the Chief justice went on, "is what devil's
tricks Giles may be playing all this while and what I ought to be doing
to stop them."

"Ask it if you will," Ibrahim said.

"Eh?" Lord Arglay stared.

"Ask it to illuminate your mind and show you what your brother is doing
at this moment. The manuscripts tell us that it moves in the world of
thought as in the world of action. Only take care that you are not
snared in his thought so that your mind cannot return to itself."

"If it can do all this," Arglay said, "cannot it reunite itself and
return of its own virtue, if you will it so?"

"No," the Hajji answered, "for it will do nothing for itself of itself,
neither divide nor reunite. One Stone has no power upon its Type unless
they are under the will of a single mind. Unless indeed-" He paused.

"Unless-?" Lord Arglay asked.

"Unless anyone should will that it and he should be with the
Transcendence," Ibrahim said in a very low voice. "But I do not know
who would dare that; and if he presumed and failed he would be
destroyed and the Stone he held would be left in the world where he
failed. For the Stone is he, and will go where he goes and no farther.
But if he came to the End. .  . . I do not know; these are very
terrible things."

"And can none of the house of the Keepers," the Chief justice asked,
"dare to will this thing to save the Stone from its enemies?"

"I have asked that," Ibrahim answered, "but we know too little and too
much. We know we are not worthy, and we do not know what is its will.
Ali Khan desires to redeem the Stone
for the sake of his Faith and I for the honour of my house, and my
brothers in Persia for their glory or their peace, but we dare not
bring these things into the Transcendence."

Lord Arglay was silent again. His mind told him the Persians meaning
but his being did not respond to it. Long since he had left these
questions aside, unless-as in rare moments he sometimes fantastically
hoped-the nature of law was also the nature of God. But if so it was
not in the Transcendence but in the order of created things. In a
minute or two he brought the talk back to the immediate necessities.

"Do you tell me," he said, "that I can know what Giles is doing or
purposing?"

"The Traditions say so," Ibrahim answered. "But it is a perilous thing
to undertake; for you must sink into the life of thought and you may
not easily return."

"I am a worm and no man," Lord Arglay said, "but if Giles can catch me
in his mental perversities-"

"Take care," the Hajji interrupted him. "I think it is not your
strength that shall save you."

The Chief Justice suppressed his words but he was conscious that a very
strong sense of pride was on tip-toe within him, anxious to defy Giles
and all his works. He waited till it had sunk down a little, and said:
"What shall I do then? For if any wretched charwoman is being trapped
to-night . . ." It was ridiculous, he thought at the same moment, how
his mind kept running on charwomen. Bat he had a vision of some thin,
rather harassed, grey-haired female being persuaded to take the Stone
and being caught in an everlasting cleaning of some stone corridor. All
wrong metaphysically, no doubt, he protested-but possible-no, not
possible: no more than sudden passage from place to place or a Stone
that divided itself and was yet unchanged.

Ibrahim answered, "You need but take it into your hand and will."

"And you?" Arglay said. "Will you do it with me?"

The Hajji hesitated. "It is almost sacrilege," he murmured,
"yet it is with a right desire. I dare not use my will, but I may sit
by you while you use your own. So much is perhaps not against my
oath.... Under the Protection." He stretched out his hand. "Take the
Stone and let it lay in your palm, and I will put my hand over it, and
set your desire to know what Giles Tumulty does and purposes."

"And for the return?" Arglay asked.

"That is with Allah," Ibrahim said. "Will you dare it now?"

For all answer the Chief justice pulled an armchair near and parallel
to his visitor's; then he sat down in it and laid his arm on the arm of
the chair. On his palm the Stone rested. Ibrahim laid his own hand
lightly over it and so they remained,

Arglay, as he leaned back, formed in his mind, out of the impulse of
distaste which grew in it, the image of Giles Tumulty. He suppressed,
as quickly as he could, the criticisms of his brother-in-law which he
was tempted to make to himself, he compelled them to define the central
idea more exactly. Then he released upon that image the anxiety which
had possessed him; he made a demand of it and sent it out to compel an
answer. The antipathy he always felt grew stronger but it was
controlled and directed by his intention; Giles's mind should lie open
to his, he was determined. He felt, but without attending to it,
Ibrahim's hand quiver upon his, as he was still vaguely aware of the
chair on which he was sitting. Slowly those details of sensation
vanished, and instead he became aware that he was holding, or seemed to
be holding, a living thing, a moving, pulsating something which he
hated. It was approaching him; he drove his detestation forward to meet
it. The sensation of enclosing it in his hand disappeared; physical
connection ceased, and he seemed to know as a mental experience alone.
Only that experience now existed; he was repelled, yet since nothing
but repulsion was to be felt it was that which passionately concerned
his whole being. He allowed that repulsion to enter him, but as his
spirit seemed to retire before it, so at the same time it overcame and
dominated it. There ensued a moment's balance between those contending
forces; they swung equal and then the effort ceased. His mind was aware
of an ordered arrangement, as if in the outer world it had been
considering the plan of a great city; he concentrated his attention
even more strongly, and found himself conscious of an overpowering
desire.

But it was a consciousness purely intellectual; the normal confusion of
the mind by the emotions was absent. He was not concerned to excuse,
justify, or condemn the desire he felt existing; rather he observed it
merely. Nor indeed was he at first clear what he was considering, until
there shaped itself against the darkness a face, a large, youthful,
eager face which was gazing at him with a docile attention. It had red
hair, a rather squab nose, a high colour, a weak mouth slightly open,
brown and expectant eyes. His mind remarked that it was a face hitherto
unseen; it reported at the same time a hatred of the face, combined
with a desire to see it hurt and damaged -yet not in mere uselessness
but in the process of extracting some personal profit out of its
existence and its pain. The face removed itself to a little distance
and developed into the whole figure of a young man, a lower middle-
class young man, who was speaking. A small, very distant voice floated
into his mind. "Yes," it was saying, "yes, sir; and then?" He heard
another strange voice-an older, sharper voice-say, "That's the whole
thing; you understand?" and the rest of his being underwent a sudden
spasm of delight.

"Christ Almighty," Lord Arglay thought suddenly, "this is happening,"
and with the momentary distraction the form flickered and seemed to
fade. But he made a desperate effort to hold it, and at once a strength
flowed out from him. The young man's figure no longer appeared alone;
it was in a room, a long room, with windows, instruments, books, and
there was another figure by it. A tall, lean, oldish man, with
a sharp anxious face, was standing there,playing with something in his
hand. It was one of the Stones-no, it was the Crown itself, and with
the sight his mind realized what and where it was. It was looking out,
his mind, through Giles Tumulty's eyes; it was Giles Tumulty's desire
that it knew; it was Giles Tumulty's experiment that was beginning-and
Christopher Arglay's mind that watched it.

But that mind was so detached that it seemed incapable of staying or
hastening the intention that flowed around it; as often as it turned
inwards to realize its own separate existence the appearances which it
beheld mingled and faded. It was suspended and observant.

Yet, as if on the outskirts of its own nature, it presently found
itself observing other thoughts. Much the same argument that Arglay had
already gone over flashed through it; scattered phrases-"if he just
disappears"-" time and place" -"I wonder what Arglay would say to
this"-struck it and passed. The figure of the young man put out its
hand and received something from the tall man. Lord Arglay's mind made
an effort forward. "Stop, you fool," it knew itself thinking, and heard
Giles's voice say, close and loud, "Calm now, quite calm. just make as
near an image of what you were doing as you can."

The alien mind that received those words shuddered with the horror. But
the mental habits of so many years befriended it then; it realized, as
it felt the pang, that it could do nothing then and there. It must act
in its own medium; on the crowd of diabolic curiosities that surged
around it, it could produce no effect. "I am here," Lord Arglay's mind
said to itself, "by my will and the virtue of the Stone. I can do
nothing here-nothing. I must return by virtue of the Stone." It sought
to shut out the vision in front of it; it sought to concentrate on
itself and to will to know again the vehicle that was natural to it.
And even as it did so Lord Arglay heard a voice saying to him: "Have
you seen? have you seen?"

He was lying back in his own chair. Beside him Hajji Ibrahim was
looking anxiously at him. The Stone? yes, the Stone still lay quietly
enough on his palm. Lord Arglay stared at it as if his eyes would never
shift. Then very slowly he got to his feet and laid it carefully on the
table. As he did so Ibrahim repeated: "Have you seen?"

"Yes," Lord Arglay said, again slowly. "Yes, I have seen. And if what I
have seen is true, and if it is as I fear it may be, I will choke Giles
Tumulty's life out of him myself. Have you seen?"

"I think I slept and dreamed. And in my dream-" the Hajji said, and
described the room and the two forms. But he went on--"Also I saw a
little brownish man standing by a table, and his eyes were all alight
with curiosity and desire. Also I saw," and he began to tremble, "that
they had again divided the Stone; for they did not give the Crown to
the youth, but only a Stone. I think they are very evil men."

"I believe you care more about the division of the Stone than about the
harm they may do with it," Arglay dispassionately said.

"Certainly I do," the Hajji answered, "for the one is an offence
against the Holy One, but the other only against man. He who divides
the Unity is a greater sinner than he who makes a mock of his brother."

"You may be right," Lord Arglay said, "but of the Unity I know nothing,
and of man I know something." He stamped suddenly with sheer rage. "Why
did I return?" he cried out.

"You did wisely," the Hajji said, "for you had not gone to fight his
will but to observe it. You will not find it easy, I know now, to break
Giles Tumulty's will, and you could not have done it in that way.
Consider that, if what you fear has happened, this young man's mind
will not perhaps suffer so much, for in the very nature of things he
will not know that he is living but that one period of past time over
and over again, until the day when the End of Desire shall come indeed;
nay, for all we know, he may be saved from many evils so."

"He may be saved from what you will," Lord Arglay said, and his face
set as he spoke, "but no human being shall be turned into an automaton
at the will of Giles Tumulty while I am living and sane."

There was a short silence, then Arglay went on. "But you are so far
right that we do not know what arrangements Giles has made, nor what
the end of this experiment of his may be. And till we know where the
Types of the Stone all are-if that is what you call them-we must move
slowly. To-morrow I will go to the Foreign Office again, and after that
we will talk with one another further."

The Hajji stood up. "The Peace be upon you," he said.

"It will be a peace that passeth all understanding then," the Chief
Justice answered, and took him to the door.






                           Chapter Five

                        THE LOSS OF A TYPE

Nor was Lord Arglay any nearer to an apprehension of that mystical
Peace when he discovered on the next morning, that everybody had taken
advantage of the week-end to vanish from London. Mr. Bruce Cumberland
was expected back on Monday; so was Mr. Reginald Montague; so was Mr.
Angus M. Sheldrake. As for Sir Giles he might be back any moment, but
so far as he was expected at all it was on Monday. The Persian
Ambassador even (not that he was wanted) had gone to Sandringham,-so
The Times saidwhere presumably he and Lord Birlesmere were being
diplomatic. London-to the Chief Justice's irritation-consisted of
himself, the Hajji, and Chloe, neither of whom seemed at    'the moment
to be much good to him. He thought of confronting Sir Giles, wherever
he might be, but he was unwilling to- -give his brother-in-law that
advantage of circumstances which he would then undeniably possess, and
at last he resigned himself to spending a day of enmity deferred which,
if it did not make his heart sick, made it at least extremely and
unusually sullen.

He would not have been any happier if he had known what was happening,
on that same Saturday morning, at a country house some fifty miles out
of London, the property of Mr. Sheldrake and his occasional retreat
from high finance and the complications of industry when he was in
England. The Chief Justice had done him some wrong in limiting him to
gallipots; actually there were few branches of production and
distribution in which he had not, somehow or other, a share. These had
mostly come to him from his father, as Rivington Court had
come to him from his mother, and Sheldrake's own addition, had
consisted of several large motor factories and the establishment of an
Atlantic Airways Company to the first, and an entirely unnecessary
though quite beautiful wing to the second. Neither it nor the Atlantic
Airways would probably have come into existence but for Cecilia
Sheldrake, who, having been forestalled in her desire to be the first
woman to fly the Atlantic, had determined that at least most of the
others who did so should do it by her permission. Her husband had
founded the company, as he had built the wing, in order that she might
have everything she wanted to play with, and when he had bought the
Stone from Reginald Montague he had done it with a similar intention in
his mind.

In actual fact it had taken a longer time to persuade Sheldrake to buy
than Reginald had admitted to his uncle. But the surprising chances of
that Friday-the coming of Sir Giles with the Stone, the meeting with
Sheldrake at an unexpected conference on the same morning, the
discovery that the richest man of Idaho, of the States, of the world
(report varied) was a young fellow not quite so old as he himself was-
all these had convinced Reginald that what, at a pinch, he would have
been driven to call Providence was on his side,.and had given him an
increased audacity. He had caught Sheldrake by mentioning, almost in
one breath, transport, the Lord Chief Justice, and a rare stone, thus
attacking at once through the American's sense of business, security,
and romance. Certainly there had been a few minutes' danger when the
Stone was discovered to be no jewel, as jewels are ordinarily known,;
indeed, Reginald had been driven to a rather hasty demonstration,
which, in its turn, startled Sheldrake so greatly as seriously to
endanger the negotiations. Two ideas, however, occurred to the
financier, though he spoke of neither to Reginald; one was motor-cars
and airways, the other was his wife. To protect the one and delight the
other made it the aim of his morning to procure the Stone, and the
eventual seventy-three thousand guineas at which it changed hands was a
lesser matter. Neither of them were ever quite clear how that
particular sum was reached; though Reginald flattered himself that the
guineas made it a far more reputable transaction than if it had been
merely pounds. He had pressed on Sheldrake the advisability of secrecy,
but he had been compelled to admit that a few other Stones of the kind
were in existence-not more than half a dozen. The American had
displayed some curiosity as to their owners, but here the mere facts
enabled Montague to be firm. He admitted that Sir Giles Tumulty had
one; he thought the Chiefjustice had; and he himself-well, of course,
he had kept one, that was reasonable. But he said nothing of his
intention to spend the afternoon creating a few more Stones nor of the
names of buyers which were already floating in his mind. On his side
Sheldrake said nothing of his intention to communicate the mystery at
least to his wife, nor of his anxiety to procure, if he anyhow could,
the other existing examples of it. Equally satisfied, equally
unsatisfied, they parted, and while Reginald went first to his office
and then to Brighton, Sheldrake went straight by car to Rivington
Court.

He waited however till the next day, and till he had, rather nervously,
at a very early hour the next morning, tried a few more minor
experiments, before he spoke of the new treasure. The experiments were
tried cautiously, in a small wood near the house, and were limited to
the crossing of a brook, the passage of a field, and so on, concluding
with the grand finale
of a return to his own room, where he contentedly locked the Stone away
and went to breakfast. It was some time later, not very long before
lunch, while Lord Arglay raged in London, that he took his wife across
the terraces and lawns to a hidden summer-house and revealed the secret
to her.

Cecilia took it with surprising calm-took, indeed, both the secret and
the Stone with a similar calm. She was delighted, she was thrilled, but
with an obscure and egoistical acceptance of things she was not wildly
surprised. If such treasures existed, they did so, both she and her
husband felt, chiefly for Cecilia Sheldrake. Her life had refused her
only one thing-to be the first woman to fly the Atlantic, and Cecilia,
like everyone else, felt that life owed her every sort of gratification
in return for that disappointment. Not that anything could really make
up for it, but other tributes might help her to forget. Even miracles
were reasonable since they happened for her, and Angus, in the depths
of his nature, though his brain moved more slowly, felt that a world
whose chief miracles were the existence of Cecilia and her existence as
his wife might easily throw in a few more to make things pleasant for
her. She did indeed open her eyes a little at the price, but that also
seemed reasonable since it was for her, and she was more ready to risk
extended experiments than her husband had been. Indeed it was she who
made what must up to then have been the longest journey yet taken by
those high means-at least for some centuries-in going direct to her
bedroom in London and returning with a dress she had left behind and
had changed her mind about on the way down the day before. When she had
safely returned--

"Darling, how sweet of you!" she cried to Angus. "I never had anything
like it before.."

"I don't suppose many people have, or will have," Angus said, with
justice. "Not many will have the chance."

"But will anybody?" Cecilia said, a little shocked. "Are there more of
them?"

"Oh, about half a dozen, I gathered," Angus told her. *'And I don't
know who's going to buy them."

Cecilia looked depressed. "Where did they come from?" she asked in a
moment.

"Sir Giles Tumulty brought them from the East, Montague said," Angus
answered. "He's a traveller and explorer."

His wife looked at him meditatively. "You don't think he'd sell them
all?" she asked, "O Angus, if somebody else got hold of them."

"Well, Sir Giles has," Sheldrake pointed out.

"O him!" Cecilia said. "I mean somebody else like us."She sat up
suddenly. "Angus! What about Airways?"

"I know," Angus said, "I thought the same thing. It might be awkward.
Of course, it's not so bad because you'd want to be pretty sure of
anyone before you lent them the Stone."

Cecilia shook her head. "We mayn't know everything," she said. "They
may have cheated you. This Mr. Montague didn't say it was the only
one?"

"Sweetheart, he said it wasn't," Angus pointed out.

"Then he has cheated you," Cecilia said impatiently. "O Angus, we must
put it right. After all, the Airways ought to have control, oughtn't
they?"

"It may be a little awkward," Angus answered. "I think one of them is
with the Lord Chief Justice."

Cecilia opened her eyes. "But I thought judges weren't supposed to have
financial interests," she exclaimed. "Isn't it corruption? ... Angus,
they can't make them, can they?"

"What!" said her husband, startled. "Make them? O no-at least I suppose
not. They came from the East."

"Yes, but do they make them in the East, or dig them up, or magnetize
them, or something?" Cecilia persisted. "Angus dear, you must see what
I mean. If there was a mine now, how dreadful it would be."

"Darling, I think you're getting unnecessarily alarmed," Sheldrake
protested. "There can't be a mine-not possibly -not of stones that do
this."

"Why not?" Cecilia asked.

"Well, could there? It isn't reasonable," her husband urged. "Stones
like this must be rare." But he looked uneasily at it as he spoke.

"Anyhow-it's near lunchtime-anyhow I think you ought to do something.
Get it forbidden by law or something."

"But then what about us?" Sheldrake asked.

Cecilia took his arm. "Darling," she said, "you're awfully slow. There
could always be a special licence to the Airways."

"It'd be very difficult to explain to the Home Secretary without
telling him everything, and I don't know that I want to tell him
everything," Angus murmured. "Besides, if one licence is granted others
could be, and suppose you got a Labour Government in again?"

Cecilia almost stamped. "I suppose you could buy a monopoly or a
charter or something of that sort for twenty-one years or so?" she
asked plaintively. "Darling Angus, we do want to stop it going further,
don't we?"

"O rather, yes," Angus agreed. "It's the explaining that will be
difficult."

"It won't be any more difficult for you than for me to explain to Elsie
how this frock came down here," his wife said. "Dearest, it's a lovely
present and I do thank you enormously. But if you could just prevent
anyone else having one, it would be too perfectly sweet! You will try,
won't you?"

"O I'll try," Angus answered, kissing her. "But it'll take some doing.
There'd have to be an Act, I'm afraid-and if the Lord Chief Justistice
was nasty-"

"He wouldn't have anything to do with politics though, would he?"
Cecilia asked. "And as a matter of fact he might, if you put it to him
nicely, be willing to sell."

They returned to the house to lunch.

About the same time a less elaborate lunch was being served in the inn
of the village close by to Chloe Burnett and Frank Lindsay. Chloe had
been half-unwilling to leave London, for fear the Chief Justice should
want her, but a sense of duty, a necessity to recompense Frank for the
unsatisfactory result of the Friday evening, had compelled her to
accept his suggestion; though, for some undefined reason, she had
caused him to take Lancaster Gate on the way. Lord Arglay's house had
offered no more information than she expected, but the sight of it
enabled her more freely to devote all her energies to making
the day's amusement a success. She had received with interest and
encouragement Frank's serious efforts towards culture, although a part
of her mind remotely insisted on comparing his careful answers with
Lord Arglay's casual completeness. Sir Giles's epigram on
encyclopedias-"the slums of the mind" -recurred to her, and she went so
far to meet it as to admit that Frank's information was rather like a
block of model dwellings compared with the tumultuous carelessness of a
country house. The contrast had been suddenly provoked by Frank's short
lecture in answer to her question-"O by the way, what is a Sufi?"

"It is a Muhammedan sect," he had answered. "Muhammed, you know, who
was a fanatical monotheist, wrote the Koran, or rather claimed that the
Koran had been delivered to him by Gabriel." He had gone on, with what
seemed a good many references to Muhammed. Chloe's intelligence
reminded her that by the phrase "Muhammed was a fanatical monotheist"-
he meant what Lord Arglay-or was it the Hajji?- had meant by saying
"Our lord the Prophet arose to proclaim the Unity," but she found the
one phrase unusually trying after the other. As penance and
compensation she allowed her hand, which lay lightly in Frank's, to
give it a small squeeze of thanks, and diverted his attention by
saying, "O what a jolly house! "

The lecture had taken place soon after lunch while they were wandering
in the lanes round the village. There was in fact very little of the
house to be seen-it was too far off and hidden by trees, but perhaps
sufficient to justify Chloe in saying, "Let's go through that gate and
get a bit nearer."

"You'll be trespassing," Frank said, looking at the obviously private
road on the other side.

Chloe laid her hand on the latch and gazed along the empty road.
"Frank, in two minutes," she said, "there will rush round that corner a
herd of maddened cows-look, there they are. I shall take refuge behind
this gate, and I pull you in too." She
did, and shut it after them. "Being here, don't you think we might just
go as far as that bend and see if we can see the house better?"

"Certainly," Frank said obligingly. "As a matter of fact, according to
English law, trespassers-"

"O don't talk about the law," Chloe said very hastily. "I don't want
anyone but Lord-the Chief Justice to talk to me about that."

"Poor dear, you must get enough of it. I forgot you live with it
perpetually," Lindsay answered. "You must be jolly glad to get away
from it a bit."

Chloe, with a certain throb of conscience, attended to the house, of
which a great deal more became visible as they reached the bend. The
private road ran on towards it, but both the trespassers lingered.

"It is rather jolly, isn't it?" Frank said, and stopped dead. Chloe
gave a cry of fear. For before the words had been well spoken or heard
the air in front of them seemed suddenly to quiver, a quick brightness
shone within it, and they found standing in front of them, where no one
had been, whither no one had come, a well-dressed young lady. She
seemed to be equally startled, and her gurgling cry caught up Chloe's
shriek. There was a minute's silence while they all gazed, then

"The Stone," Chloe cried out. "You've got the Stone." Rather shaken
still, the stranger looked at her, but hostilely. "What do you mean?
what stone?" she asked.

"You must have it," Chloe said breathlessly. "I know-I've seen. It was
exactly that; the wind, the light, the-you. You have got the Stone."

Her words sounded almost accusingly. Mrs. Sheldrake unconsciously
clenched her hand a little more tightly round what was, surely, her
property, and said: "I suppose you know you're trespassing?"

Frank re-acted to the commonplace remark, feeling that he
must have been day-dreaming a few moments. The new arrival had, of
course, walked up the road.

"We're so sorry," he said. "As a matter of fact we came in to shelter-"
He paused in a confused realization that he had been on the point of
repeating Chloe's preposterous tale about the cows.

"To shelter!" the lady said.

"Well, no, not to shelter," Frank stammered, feeling suddenly angry
with Chloe, who was still staring, almost combatively. "I'm so sorry-I
mean-we just came a step or two in to look at the house. From here, I
mean. We weren't going nearer. I do apologize, I-I-"

Cecilia looked at Chloe. "What did you mean by the Stone?" she asked
again.

"I mean the Stone," Chloe said with a clear vigour. "Is there another
then, or have you bought one?"                                  S

Cecilia came a step nearer. "What do you mean about the Stone?" she
asked, and made a mistake which in a less startled moment she would not
have made. "You had better tell me," she added.

Chloe flushed a little. "I shall certainly not-" she began, and stopped
as a confused dream of Lord Arglay, Charlemagne, Gabriel, the
Tetragrammaton, and the End of Desire swept across her. "I beg your
pardon," she went on. "It was only that I was so surprised."

"Is this Mr. Montague?" Cecilia asked, abruptly shifting her attack to
Frank, who was too taken aback to do more than begin a hasty denial
before Chloe interrupted him.

"No," she said, "he has nothing to do with it. Are you Mrs. Sheldrake?"

"I am Mrs. Sheldrake," the other said, "but what do you know?"

Chloe hesitated. "I know that you have one of the Stones," she said,
"but it ought not to have been bought or sold. It wasn't Mr. Montague's
and it can't be yours."

"Don't be absurd," Cecilia said sharply. "How many of these Stones are
there then?"

"I don't know," Chloe answered truthfully. "There was only one at
first, but that can't be yours for that was in the Crown."

"The Crown? what Crown?" Cecilia asked again, feeling that this was
intolerable. There were, it seemed, goodness knows how many of those
Stones-and now there was more talk of a Crown-as if seventy-three
thousand guineas oughtn't to have bought the whole thing. She was half-
inclined to throw the Stone in the girl's face-only that would be
silly; as a mere precaution she ought to keep it.

Chloe said anxiously, "You ought to see Lord Arglay; the Chief Justice,
I mean. He could tell you better than I can. He's Mr. Montague's uncle
and he warned him not to sell it."

"Is it Lord Arglay's property then?" Cecilia answered.

"I don't know whose property it is," Chloe admitted rather helplessly.
"But you ought to be very careful what you do with it."

"I should like very much to see Lord Arglay," Mrs. Sheldrake said, "if
he could make things any clearer." She lifted the hand that held the
Stone. "Can we reach him by this"'

"Certainly not.," Chloe said, with a return of firmness. "We can't use
the Stone of Suleiman for that."

"My good girl," Cecilia said contemptuously, "that's what it's for."

"It isn't," Chloe cried out, "and if you use it for that you've got no
business with it. Any more than Mr. Montague. It's for getting
somewhere."

"Well," said Mrs. Sheldrake, "I want to get to Lord Arglay. Will you
tell me how and where I can find him? Or must I do it myself?"

"O don't," Chloe said. "He's in London, I think." She gave the address.
"But he won't be pleased if you use the Stone."

"I shall go," Mrs. Sheldrake announced, "by car. And now ,t you think
you'd better get out of these grounds?"

Mr. Lindsay, who had been anxious to do so for the last five minutes,
flung her a vicious glance and started. Chloe, who wanted to say a good
deal without saying anything, gave her itelligence the victory and
accompanied him. But over at the gate she seized his hand and forced
him to run with her. "Quick," she said, "quick. We must get back to
London."

"London?" Frank protested. "Why on earth-? Why, itis iot three yet.
Surely-"

"O we must," Chloe exclaimed. "I must see Lord Arglay. I must find out
if I've done right. I must see what he says to her."

"But surely he can manage her without you," Frank said. "it can't be so
absolutely vital to you to be there. If she's got something that
doesn't belong to her, I shouldn't think she really does want to see
him     I should think it was all bluff. If," he added, "you'd tell me
what it's all about I should know better what we ought to do."

What they ought to do was not Chloe's concern; what she was going to do
she knew perfectly well. She was going straight back to Lancaster Gate;
so straight that the idea of telephoning occurred to her only to be
dismissed. Nor had she any intention of explaining to Frank; she had
been agreeable to him all day, it was now his turn to start being
agreeable. She kept up a steady speed towards the inn.

"I can't explain now," she said after a moment or two. "If I possibly
can I'll tell you some other time. The Foreign Office comes into it,"
she added, as an exciting suggestion. "But don't talk now-run."

It appeared to Frank the most curious day in the country with a girl
friend that he had ever spent. Short of Bolsheviksim whom he was
reluctant to believe, being a typical Liberal in Politics, though he
professed a cynical independence-he couldn't imagine why the Foreign
Office should come in. But
he was genuinely anxious to please Chloe, and though he offered one or
two more disjointed protests he headed the car for London as soon as
possible, once they had reached the inn; warning Chloe, however, that
this little two-seater was unlikely to be able to arrive before
whatever kind of magnificent car the Sheldrakes owned.

"O but we must," she said. "Try, Frank, try. I must be there when she
gets there. I must know what's happening."

"But what is this blessed Stone?" Frank asked.

"Darling, don't worry now," Chloe urged him. "Just see to getting on.
Lancaster Gate, you know. As quick as ever."

"I might be a taximan," Frank let out. "All right."

They fled through various lanes and emerged on a more important side
road which would take them on to the main road for London. As soon as
they did so however Frank began to slow down. A short distance in front
of them, halfway up the steep bank, was another car, and out of it Mrs.
Sheldrake was scrambling.

"O don't stop," Chloe cried, but Cecilia had recognized them and run
into the middle of the road.

"Stop," she said, and Frank was compelled to obey. She came up and
addressed Chloe.

"A most annoying thing has happened," she said, "and perhaps you'll
help us. The Stone's somewhere over there." She pointed to the bank and
the hedge. "I was looking at it in the car and Angus-Mr. Sheldrake-had
to swerve suddenly and it flew out of my hand, and now he can't find
it."

"What!" Chloe exclaimed.

"It must be there," Cecilia went on sharply. "I was just holding it up
to the sun, to get the colour in the light, and the carjerked, and it
had gone. But it's only just over there, it must be, and I thought you
wouldn't mind helping us look."

Chloe was out of the car in a moment. "You've lost it," she said. -O
Mrs. Sheldrake!"

"It can't possibly be lost," Cecilia assured, rather annoyed. "And
please-I'm afraid I don't know your name-remember that it's my
property."

"We can settle that after," Chloe said, beginning to mount the bank.
"We can't possibly leave it lying about for someone to pick up. We can
ask Lord Arglay whom it ought to belong to.,)

"This," Frank put in before Mrs. Sheldrake could speak, "is Miss
Burnett. She is the Chief Justice's secretary," he added as
impressively as possible, as Chloe caught the hedge at the top of the
bank, pulled herself up, and wriggled and pushed through. "My name is
Lindsay."

Cecilia eyed the bank. "Well, Angus?" she called.

A rather strained voice answered her from above-"No, no luck. O-er-are
you helping? Somewhere about here, we thought."

"Will you help me too, Mr. Lindsay?" Cecilia asked. "So tiresome, all
this business. But one can't afford to throw away seventy thousand
guineas." Some reason, after all, had to be given to this young man who
was obviously in a state of mere bewilderment, and perhaps the price-

So far she was right. He gaped at her. "A stone," he said. "But what
kind of a stone then?"

"O about so large," Cecilia told him. "A kind of cream colour, with
gold flakings, and funny black marks. Will you? It would be so good of
you. Miss Burnet;'s too kind. All four of us ought to find it, oughtn't
we? Thank you."

He began to help her to climb. Why Chloe, who had been so intent on
rushing to London-but of course if the stone was really worth seventy
thousand-seventy thousand, it would be rather fascinating even to see a
stone worth that.

But half an hour's search, though they all tramped round, parted the
thick grass, bent and grovelled and peered, brought them no nearer
success. Cecilia, Angus felt, could hardly have chosen a worse place to
look at the Stone; nor could Angus,
his wife felt in turn, have chosen a worse place to swerve. For besides
the bank and hedge by the road, at this particular point two fields
were divided by another thorny hedge, at the base of which the grass on
each side grew long. There were nettles and thistles and much larger
stones on which the men seemed to be continually kneeling, and they all
had a feeling that any one of the others might be trampling it into the
ground at any moment. And Cecilia distrusted Chloe and Frank, and Chloe
distrusted Cecilia and Angus, and Frank was wondering what the whole
business meant, and Angus was wondering who the strangers were, and as
they searched this wonder, suspicion, and irritation grew every moment
more violent. But the End of Desire remained hidden.

At last, as they met in their circumambulations, Frank murmured to
Chloe, "Is this really our business? Is it your Stone or theirs?"

"It isn't mine," Chloe said, trying not to sound irritable but
conscious she was looking hot and dirty and anxious, "but it isn't
really theirs. They bought it all right, but they oughtn't to have it."

"Are you tired out, Mr. Lindsay?" Cecilia called impatiently. "It must
be somewhere here."

"Yes, Mrs. Sheldrake," Frank rebelled suddenly, "but Miss Burnett
wanted to get to London, and really we seem to be going over the same
ground again and again."

"Please don't stop then," Cecilia said. "I'm sorry to have kept you."

"O nonsense," Chloe broke in. "Of course we must stop. We must find it.
We can't let a thing like that be about loose. If someone's got it at
least we shall know where it is, if not whose."

"There's no question of that," Cecilia threw at her, "since we paid for
it. As it is, I think your friend Mr. Montague has cheated us."

"He is not-" Chloe began and then remembered she was looking for the
End of Desire. With a muddled prayer to the
Stone-since, being a modern normally emotional girl she was, quite
naturally, an idolater-she stopped and, to her own astonishment,
experienced a sudden flicker of amused peace, accompanied by a clearer
intellectual survey.

"But we are getting confused, I think," she said.

At this moment Angus, having stung himself again, swore violently and
got up, kneeling on something sharp as he did so. Moved by this exactly
as by unexpected opposition at a board meeting he began to decide
things at once. "We can't go on like this," he said. "After all, so
long as things are left undisturbed here we're damn well certain to
find it if I have every blade of grass pulled up separately. The point
is--do you want to go to London now, Cecilia, or back to the Court?"

His wife looked at Chloe, who knew the Chief Justice. Let her talk to
him while she sat ignorant? Never. If they couldn't find this stone
they could anyhow get on the track of the others.

"London," she said. "But you had better stop here, Angus, and perhaps
Mr. Lindsay will go back to the Court and send someone to you."

Chloe felt clear that this would do what she wanted with Frank without
her interfering. She went on moving the grass with her foot and looking
at the ground, as did everyone else except Frank who glanced back
towards the road and          - said coldly, "I'm afraid that's
impossible. Miss Burnett wants to go to London too."

There was a short silence. Then Angus, still murmuring curses, said
abruptly to his wife, "Then you'd better take the car and get on to
London with Miss Burnett. And I'll stop here, and then perhaps Mr.
Lindsay won't mind going back to the Court."

"I shall very much mind," Lindsay answered. "I am going to take Miss
Burnett to London at once-myself. I daresay someone will pass pretty
soon who'll take a message for you."

Chloe's hand on his arm distracted him. "Frank dear," she said, "would
you go? I know it sounds beastly, but if you would . . ."

Frank stared at her. "Do you want me to?" he asked stupidly.

"I don't-I don't-want you to," Chloe in'confusion murmured. "But I
think it would be-O sporting-of you. It's not a bit nice, but I think
we ought."

"I think it's perfectly insane," Frank answered in a low voice. "Do you
want them to have their own way altogether?"

"Not altogether," Chloe protested, also speaking softly, "but it seems
as if we ought," she ended again lamely.

Frank, in a very bad temper, gave way. "O anything you like, of
course," he said coldly. "I go back to this Court then, and after that
I can come to London by myself, I suppose?"

"I know it's beastly, Frank," Chloe answered appealingly. "I'd go
myself or I'd come with you-I'd love to come with you-but I must get to
Lord Arglay as soon as Mrs. Sheldrake." She was not quite clear why,
since she realized even then that two sentences of Cecilia's
conversation would let the Chief justice know everything. But she could
not yet face that abolition of her own secret desires which the
abandonment of any attempt to witness their meeting would involve.
Besides, Frank would be bound to want to know-still, it was hard on him
and it was quite natural he should turn away and say to Sheldrake very
politely, "Miss Burnett thinks your suggestion a very good one, and so
do I. Will Mrs. Sheldrake take her on to London then?"

Cecilia with a cold grudge assented. But Chloe said suddenly to Angus-
"O but, Mr. Sheldrake, if you do find it, you'll tell us, won't you?
That would be only fair." Angus agreitd. "If I find it I'll let you
know at once," he said. "At Lord Arglay's?"

"Please," Chloe said gratefully, and tried to catch Frank's eye. She
failed, and went sadly to the bank. She was always doing the selfish
thing, she felt. But after all Lord Arglay might
-might very easily-want several things done at once when he knew the
situation. She wished she wanted to be with Frank a little more
strongly. Duty with a strong inclination looked so dreadfully selfish
beside duty with a mild inclination. She sat down gloomily in the
Sheldrakes' car and it moved off.

The two men looked at each other. "I don't understand what all this is
about," Frank said, "or whose this precious stone is. But I have your
word that if you find it while I'm gone, or at all for that matter,
you'll let us know."

"I don't mind telling you what I know," Angus answered. "I bought, from
a fellow named Montague, who seems to be a nephew of this Lord Arglay
your friend's so keen on, a rather valuable stone for my wife. She
understood that it was-well, practically, unique-and now there seems to
be some question on our side of misrepresentation, and on yours-theirs,
I mean, --of other rights in the property. I daresay it can all be
settled by a few minutes chat between me and Lord Arglay or whoever
knows, but till then, since I've parted with my money, I consider I've
a right to hold the stone. But I'm anxious to be quite fair and I'll
certainly let you or Miss Burnett know if it's found. I shall have a
very careful search made, and if it's necessary I shall buy both these
fields."

"I see," Frank said, a little impressed by this method of dealing with
difficulties. "And you want me to go and let your people know where you
are."

"If you will," Angus assented. "It's very good of you, but you'll agree
that Miss Burnett seemed almost as keen as my wife. "

"O yes," Frank answered gloomily. "What's the best way to your place
from here?"

Sheldrake told him and he departed, car and all. Angus, allowing about
an hour before he was relieved, lit a cigarette and sat down under the
hedge to wait. He was too tired to do any more searching; indeed, when
the cigarette was finished,
he found himself disinclined to move in         order to reach another,
but, stretching himself out, lay half-asleep and half. brooding.

He was only partly conscious of feet that sounded on the other side of
the hedge, though a certain subconscious knowledge told him that
someone was coming along a footpath that ran alongside the hedge, a
couple of feet away. As they came nearer however he moved so as to be
just in time to see a tall figure take a short stride up to the hedge,
reach up and pick somethin- from the top of the intertwining twigs. A
sudden fear assailed him. The stranger was back on the footpath before
Angus could scramble to his feet, and was beginning to move away by the
time he reached the hedge.

"Hi!" Angus cried out, seriously alarmed. "Hi, you!" The stranger
paused and looked back. He was a tall, rather dark young man, of about
thirty, carrying sketching materials, and he looked at Angus with a
certain hard surprise.

"Hi!" said Angus again. "Is that mine?"

The young man looked at him, took a step or two farther on, and said
over his shoulder, "Is what yours?"

Angus ran a few feet along his side of the hedge and said, "What you've
just picked up. If it's a funny looking stone, it's mine."

"Is it really?" the stranger said. "And why did you put it there?"

"Never mind about all that," Sheldrake said impatiently. "Just hand it
over, will you?"

The young man began to walk slowly on, and Angus, tripping over roots
and stones every other second, kept pace with him, cursing aloud.

"I ask you," the stranger said to the sky, "what wouldyou think? I pick
a-something-from a hedge and am vociferously told that it belongs to
him"-he threw a disagreeable glance at Sheldrake. "And you, I suppose,"
he said bitterly, "were looking for it?"

"I had been," Angus said, almost falling once more. "I had only just
sat down."

"Well, if you will take a rest in the middle of pitch and toss-" the
young man flung over. "If it's yours how did it get to the top of the
hedge?"

"My wife threw it there from a car," Sheldrake answered incoherently as
they reached the bank of the high road. "And then went away, car and
all," the stranger said looking at the empty road. "Family happiness.
Is marriage a success?"

"Don't be a damned idiot," Angus snapped. "Give me that stone at once."

The stranger pondered. "I half-believe you," he said, "but only half.
And anyhow I may tell you I dislike nothing so much as to be called Hi.
I don't mind calling myself I, though of course-yes, I know what you're
going to say-there's no proof of it. It's a convenience elevated into a
philosophy-yes, I agree. But even so I don't like strangers using what
is, so to speak, my own pet name for myself And still more do I dislike
their aspirating it. An aspirate so generously bestowed is almost
snobbish. I don't say-"

"Will you give me that stone?" Sheldrake shouted.

"If you had asked me politely," the young man went on gravely, "I
probably should-more out of surprise than conviction. Holy awe and so
on. But as it is-no. However, if it's yours, you shall have it. My name
is Oliver Doncaster, and I am staying for a few weeks at Mrs.
Pentridge's in the village over there. I am now going there to tea.
After tea"-he looked at his watch-"a quarter to five say, about six, if
you will call and convince me you shall have your stone. What is your
name-besides Hi, which is, I suppose, generic?"

Angus tried to pull himself together; he felt such a fool wrangling
through a hedge. Besides he was not finally certain that this fellow
had the stone. "I beg your pardon if I was rude," he said, "but it was
all so sudden.. .

"So sudden?" Doncaster asked.

 ..... and I was so anxious to stop you, that I just called out . . . If
you would let me see what it was you took out of the hedge. . . ."

"It was," the other allowed, "a stone. Itjust happened to catch my eye.
After six I shall be delighted to let it catch yours. Never mind about
your name if you'd rather keep it dark. In about an hour or so then? So
pleased to have-well, this is hardly a meeting, is it?-heard from you.
Good-bye, goodbye." He waved his hand gracefully and went off along the
footpath which here turned to the left and took him to a gate half-way
along the field. By the time Angus had got to the bottom of the bank he
had come into the road, passed across it, and disappeared down a side
lane.

At tea he examined his find. It seemed dull enough indoors, though the
colour was pure and the markings curious, but it lacked something of
the golden light with which it had seemed to shine in the afternoon
sun. A little disappointed he went up to his bedroom and paused on the
way at another door.

"Hallo," he said, "may I come in?"

In the bed in this room lay Mrs. Pentridge's mother, Mrs. Ferguson, who
had been paralyzed from the waist downward for the last year. Opinion
in the house was silently divided whether it would have been better for
her to be taken altogether or not. Mr. Pentridge thought it would be a
merciful release for her. Mrs. Pentridge thought it was a merciful
blessing that she had been so far spared. Mrs. Ferguson disguised her
own opinion, if she had one, and concentrated her energies on making
the most of what visitors and what talk she could still have. Doncaster
had fallen into what he felt to be a ridiculous habit of showing her
his day's work after tea, and was even, half-seriously, trying to teach
her his own prejudices about art; not that he allowed himself to call
them that. Mrs. Pentridge, who was also in the room, examining pillow-
cases, welcomed him as warmly as her mother.

"Did you get a nice view, Mr. Doncaster?" she asked.

He sat down smiling. "A very pretty bit of work," he said. "No, Mrs.
Ferguson, I don't mean mine-I mean the thing I was trying to do. But I
had to alter one branch. I couldn't somehow find out exactly what spot
nature meant me to stand at. Now look there-" He held out the sketch
and Mrs. Ferguson stared at it while he expatiated. Mrs. Pentridge went
on with her pillow-cases. When at last he rose-"O by the
Way,"
he said, "I'm expecting a man in a few minutes, to talk about something
I found. Look, did you ever see a stone like that?" He passed it over
to Mrs. Ferguson. "Look at the colour, isn't it exquisite?"

"What is it?" the old lady asked.

"Lord knows," said Oliver. "I should like it to be chrysoprase, but I
don't suppose it is. The Urim and Thummim perhaps. "

"That was what the high priest had on his breastplate," Mrs. Ferguson
said, looking at the Bible that lay by her bedside. "I remember that
well enough."

"I'm sure you do," Oliver said smiling.

"I was little enough when I heard about them," Mrs. Ferguson went on.
"At the Sunday school it was. I remember it because I learned them the
Sunday before I went to the treat for the first time. Urim. and
Thummim, that was it. I remember Susie Bright pretending to look for
them all the way home in the ditch. O I do wish I could run now as well
as I could then."

Mr. Sheldrake's knock at the door below passed unnoticed. For Mrs.
Pentridge had dropped her pillow-cases, and with staring eyes was
watching her mother struggling up in bed. She sat up, she gasped and
gazed, her hands drooped and waved in front of her. She began to shift
round; oblivious of Oliver's presence she felt for -the side of the bed
and began to slip her feet over it. "Mother," shrieked Mrs. Pentridge
and flew to one side as Oliver leapt to the other. Mrs. Ferguson,
panting with surprise and exertion, came slowly to her feet, and
holding on to her two supporters, took a step or two forward.

"I'm all right," she gasped, released Oliver, took another step, "quite
all right," and let go of her daughter. "I think," she added, "I must
be feeling a bit better to-day."

There was a stupendous silence. Mr. Sheldrake knocked again at the
front door.





                            Chapter Six

                        THE PROBLEM OF TIME

Sir Giles lay back in a chair and grinned at Professor Palliser.
"Well," he said, "we've spent twenty-four hours on it and here's the
result." He read from a paper.

"1. It is of no known substance.
2. It answers to no re-agents.
3. It can be multiplied by division without diminution of the original.
4. It can move and cause movement from point to point, without leaving
any consciousness of passage through intervening space.
5. It can cause disappearance-possibly in time."

"Certainly in time," Palliser said, but Sir Giles shook his head.

"Only possibly," he answered, "we don't know that your bright young
pathological specimen has gone back in time; we only know he isn't here
and the Stone is. I thought you told a very good story this morning to
that mother of his."

"I don't like it," Palliser answered seriously. "It's all very
disturbing. I suppose the police will be coming here soon. "

"I should think certainly," Sir Giles agreed. "But I heard him say good
night. And there's no reason why you should murder him-I suppose there
isn't?-and no way for you to do it. So I can't see that you're likely
to be troubled seriously. And anyhow they haven't got a body nor any
trace of one. Let's get on with the inquiry."

"I expect you're right," the Professor said. "What do you think we
ought to do next?"

Sir Giles leaned forward. "If this assistant of yours has moved in
time," he said, "if he has gone back, wherever he's gone to, I suppose
he might have gone forward instead?"

"I suppose so," Palliser assented slowly.

"Then that seems to be the next thing," Sir Giles said. "But that I
think we shall have to do ourselves. We can't run any risk of giving
too much away. And, I don't see any chance of being permanently lost
there because the future must be the present some time."

"All the same, I shouldn't go too far at first," Palliser suggested. "A
quarter of an hour, say."

Sir Giles took a Stone from the table, and was about to speak when
Palliser suddenly went on. "Look here, Tumulty, if it worked that way,
it wouldn't be a certainty, would it? Supposing I project myself an
hour forward and find I'm sitting in this room-and then suppose I
return to the present and go to my bedroom and have myself locked in
for two hours, say, how can I be doing what I saw myself doing? And the
shorter the time the more chance of proving it wrong. In six days
anything might happen, but in six minutes....

Sir Giles brooded. "You probably wouldn't remember," he pointed out.
"But I like the idea of your defying the future, Palliser. Try it and
see."

Palliser's tall lean form quivered with excitement. "It would snap the
chain," he said. "We should know we weren't the mere mechanisms of
Fate. We should be free."

"I sometimes think," Sir Giles answered reflectively, "that I'm the
only real scientist in this whole crawling hotbed of vermin called
England. There isn't one of all of you that doesn't cuddle some
fantastic desire in his heart, and snivel over every chance of letting
it out for an hour's toddle. Do be intelligent, Palliser. How can any
damned happening break the chain of happenings? Why do you want to be
free;' What good could you do if you were free?"

"If a man can defeat the result of all the past," the Professor said,
"if he can know what is to be and cause that it shall not be-"

"O you're drunk," said Sir Giles frankly. "You're drunk with your own
romantic gin-and-bitters. If you're going to be sitting here in an
hour's time you're going to be, even if this bit of prehistoric slime
has to bump you on your crazy noddle and shove you into achair all on
its own. But try it, try it and see.

"Well, you try it too," Palliser said sullenly. "I'm going to keep you
under my eye, Tumulty. None of your kidnapping games for me." .

"You romantics are always so suspicious," Sir Giles said. "But for once
I don't mind. Let's try it together. Where's the Crown?"

Palliser took it out of the old safe in which it had rested all night,
and sat down beside Tumulty. "'How long do we make it?" he asked. "Half
an hour?"

"Good enough," Sir Giles answered ."You locked the door? Right. Now-
where's the clock? Half-past eleven. Wait. Let me write it on a bit of
paper-so, and put that on the table. What's the formula?"

"To be as we shall be at twelve o'clock, I suppose," Palliser said, and
the two-Palliser wearing the Crown, Sir Giles clutching the Stone-
framed the wish in their minds.

". . . though I don't suppose I can tell you anything new," Palliser
ended, looking at the police inspector.

Sir Giles looked round over his shoulder-he was standing by the window-
but he was only half-attending. Had or had not the experiment
succeeded? He couldn't remember a thing out of the ordinary. He had sat
with Palliser for what seemed a long time-but which the clock had shown
to be only ten minutes, and had been vaguely conscious of a rather sick
feeling somewhere. And then they had looked at one another and Palliser
had abruptly said, "Well?" He had stirred and stood up, looked at the
slip of paper with "11:30" written on it, looked at the clock which
marked twenty to twelve, looked back at Palliser, and said with some
irritation, "God blast the whole damned thing to hell, I don't know."

"What do you mean?" or something like it, Palliser had asked. The
picture was becoming fainter, but roughly he could still fill it in.
Every minute made all that had happened in that half hour more of a
memory; but had it happened at all or was it memory to begin with? and
was what was happening now actually happening or was it merely
foresight?

Sir Giles in a burst of anger and something remarkably like alarm,
realized that he didn't know.

He remembered the knocking, the caretaker, the entrance of the
inspector to whom Palliser was talking-very well the Professor was
doing, Sir Giles thought, only he probably hadn't realized the
difficulty; he wouldn't, not with that kind of cancer-eaten sponge he
called an intellect. "But I remember," Tumulty thought impatiently.
"How the hell could I remember if it hadn't happened? There'd be
nothing to remember." He plunged deeper. "But at twelve I should
remember. Then if it's come off-I remember what hasn't happened. I'm am
in a delusion. I'm'm mad. Nonsense. I'm in the twelve state of
consciousness. But the twelve state couldn't be unless the eleven to
twelve state had been. Am I here or am I sitting in that blasted chair
of Palliser's knowing it from outside time? "

He had a feeling that there was another corollary just round the corner
of his mind and strained to find it. But it avoided him for the moment.
He looked over his shoulder to find that the inspector was going, and
as soon as the departure was achieved rushed across the room to
Palliser. "Now," he said, "what 'has happened? 0 never mind about your
fly-blown policeman. What has happened ?"

"Nothing has happened," Palliser said staring. "It evidently doesn't
work in the future."

"You seem jolly sure about it," Sir Giles said. "How do you know? You
wanted to be as you would be at twelve, didn't you? Well, how do you
know you're not? You seem to remember, I know; so do I"

"Well then," Palliser argued-"Yes, I see what you mean. This is merely
knowledge-premature knowledge? Umph. Well, let's return to eleven-
thirty." He took a step towards the safe, but Sir Giles caught him by
the wrist. "Don't do that, you fool," he said. "Why the hell didn't I
see it before? If you once go back, you'll bind yourself to go on doing
the same thing-you must."

Palliser sat down abruptly and   the two looked at each other. "But you
said the present would be bound to become the future," he objected.

"I know I did," Sir Giles almost howled at him. "But don't you see, you
fool, that the action of return must be made at the starting-point?
That's why your oyster-stomached helot vanished; that's the trick
that's caught you now. I won't be caught; there must be a way out and
I'll find it."

"Look here, Tumulty," Palliser said     ' "let's keep calm and think it
out. What do you mean by the action of return being made at the
starting-point?"

"O God," Sir Giles moaned, "to be fastened to a man who doesn't know
how to ask his mother for milk! I mean that you must condition your
experiment from without and not from within; you must define your
movement before you make it or your definition will be controlled by
it. You can say I will go and return in such and such a manner, but if
you only say I will go your return is ruled by sequence. Can't you
think, Palliser?"

"Then we are in the future?" Palliser said, "and we can't go back to
live that half-hour? Well, does it very much matter?" "If we are," Sir
Giles said, "we-O it's no good trying to
explain to you." He began to walk about and then went back to the chair
in which he had been sitting originally and stared at it. "Now am I
there?" he asked grimly, "or am I here?"

There was a silence of some minutes. Then Palliser said again, "I still
can't see why you're so excited. That half-hour wasn't of any
importance, surely?"

Sir Giles, having reached his limit of exasperation, became
unexpectedly gentle. He went back to Palliser and said almost sweetly,
"Well, don't worry over it, don't hurt your brain, but just try and
follow. If this is a forecast in consciousness, that consciousness is,
so to speak, housed somewhere. And it's housed in your body. And
where's your body? And how do you get your mind-time and your body-time
to agree?"

"My body is here," Palliser said, patting it.

"O no," Sir Giles said, still sweetly. "At least perhaps it is and
perhaps it isn't. Perhaps all this is occupying a millionth part of a
second and we're still sitting there."

"But Pondon disappeared?" Palliser objected, "into his past, I suppose?
Mayn't we have disappeared into our future?"

"I hope we have," Sir Giles assented. "But we seem to remember-or to
know-what happened, don't we? We seem to know that we talked and the
police came and so on? Did it happen or has it got to happen or hasn't
it happened and will it never happen? If we will to return we seem to
me-but of course I'm a little child crooning on your knee-to be in a
constant succession of the same period. And if we don't?"

"Well, we go on," the Professor said.

"Till we become conscious of death?" Sir Giles asked. "And then what
happens? Till these apparent bodies die and corrupt and our minds
return to our real bodies and live it again-is that the truth? Years
and years and years and all in less than a second and all to be
repeated-do you like it, Palliser?"

"But Pondon disappeared," the Professor said again.

"You keep on repeating that," Sir Giles told him. "Don't you see, you
cow, that the conditions may be different? Whatever the past is, it has
been in everyone's knowledge; whatever the future is it hasn't."

"What do you propose to do about it, anyhow?" the Professor asked.

Sir Giles considered. "I propose to think over it for a few days," he
said, "and see if I can think of any formula to find out, first where
that assistant of yours is and secondly where we are. Also to see if
Whitehall is doing anything, because I'm not going to be taken by
surprise by them, not under present conditions. So I shall go back to
London this afternoon."

All the way to Euston-he didn't want to use the Stone again at the
moment-Tumulty brooded over the problem that confronted him. He devised
several formulae for getting into touch with the unfortunate Mr.
Pondon; the most obvious experiment-that of willing him back-had been
tried by himself and the Professor on the previous evening without
success. It seemed that the Stone could not be used to control others;
its action was effective only over the action of whoever held it. Sir
Giles regretted this rather keenly; the possibility of disarranging
other people's lives had appeared to him a desirable means of
experiment, since he was on the whole reluctant to conduct experiments
on himself. That state of being which lies between mysticism, madness,
and romanticism, had always been his chosen field, but it was a field
in which few suitable subjects grew. He found it impossible not to
desire to be able to dispose of objectionable people by removing them
to some past state of being, and he almost sent a telegram to Palliser
urging him to acquaint Mrs. Pondon and the police with the facts of the
case and to inquire whether the police "in the execution of their
duty," would be bound to follow the vanished assistant to the day
before yesterday. Pondon had certainly gone of his own free will, even
if his superior had refrained from explaining the possibilities clearly
enough. However, Pondon could wait a few days. That morning, Sir Giles
had noticed in their short interview, he had cut himself while shaving;
it afforded Tumulty a certain pleasure to think of that small cut being
repeated again and again until he himself
had time, inclination, and knowledge to interfere. But the other
problem worried him more considerably. That missing half hour haunted
him; had he lived through it or had he not, and if he had not could
even the Stone release him from the necessity of doing so?

He began to wonder if the Stone could help him, but he didn't see how,
unless it could present thoughts to his mind or to other people's. If
there was someone he could trust to tell him what could be learnt from
such a trial of the Stone? He thought of Lord Arglay, a trained and
detached, and not unsympathetic, mind. Palliser was no good because
Palliser was mixed up with it. And you couldn't go to everyone asking
them to help you look for half an hour you had mislaid. Also Arglay
would know if Whitehall were moving-not that he minded very much if it
were.

At Euston he took a taxi (to the Chief Justice's.

Lord Arglay's Saturday afternoon therefore broke suddenly into
activity. Some time after tea, while he was playing with the idea of
bringing Organic Law into the Stone's sphere of activity, though he
felt certain the Haji would disapprove of any such use, he was startled
by the announcement that Mrs. Sheldrake had called. "Miss Burnett is
with her, sir," the maid added.

"Now what on earth," Lord Arglay said as he went to the drawing-room,
"is Chloe doing with -Mrs. Sheldrake? How did she get hold of her, I
wonder? and has she brought her here to be instructed or to be
frightene&"

It soon appeared however that if anyone were frightened it was Chloe
herself. Mrs. Sheldrake took the conversation into her own hands, with
a brief explanation of her connection with the Stone, and a light
reference to the fact that it had been, for the moment, mislaid. She
wanted to know, since Miss Burnett had mentioned Lord Arglay several
times, whether he claimed any rights in the Stone.

"Not in that particular Type," Lord Arglay said.

"Type, Lord Arglay?" Cecilia asked. "How do you meanType?"

"The position is a little obscure," the Chief Justice said, considering
rapidly Mrs. Sheldrake's appearance and manner, Mr. Sheldrake's riches
and position (which he had looked up), and the desirability of subduing
them both without antagonism. "I say Type because the Stones which
exist-and there are several-are apparently derivations from one
Original, though (and perhaps therefore) possessed of the same powers.
But how far they are to be regarded as being identical with it, for
proprietary reasons, I cannot at the moment say. Nor in whom the title
to the property inheres. I may add that certain foreign representatives
are deeply interested, and the Government is observing matters. I think
that in the present situation your husband should preserve the utmost
secrecy and caution. His title appears to me uncertain, both so far as
the acquisition of his Type is concerned and in the relation of that
Type to the Original."

He delivered this with occasional pauses for meditation and with a
slight pomposity which he put on at necessary moments. Mrs. Sheldrake,
a little impressed, nevertheless appeared to receive it with frigidity.

"But, Lord Arglay," she said, "we can't be expected to sit quiet while
other people use our property in order to ruin our companies. I am
thinking of the effect it may have on Atlantic Airways. What is this
original you are talking about?"

"It is the centre of the derivations," Lord Arglay said at random, but
ridiculously enough the phrase in Chloe's mind suddenly connected
itself with "the End of Desire." The chance and romantic words came to
her like a gospel, none the less emotionally powerful that at the
moment she didn't understand it. What were the derivations? She had a
vague feeling that the sentence suggested Lord Arglay himself as the
centre though she knew he would have been the first to mock at the
ascription. But there was certainly something in them that referred if
not to him, then to something connected with him. He was walking on
some firm pavement, where she wanted to be walking too.

She came back to hear Mrs. Sheldrake end a sentence-
"opinion on it."

"Madam," Lord Arglay said, "it must be clear to you that I can give no
opinion until a case is before the Court. I am not a solicitor or a
barrister. I am the Chief Justice."

"But we must know what to do," Mrs. Sheldrake said. "Don't you even
know where the original, whatever it is, came from?"

Lord Arglay suppressed a desire to offer her a précis of the Hajji's
history of the Stone of Suleiman, and leaned forward. "Mrs. Sheldrake,"
he said, "by the folly of my nephew you
have come into actual-if not legal-possession of a Type of Stone which
is said to be regarded by millions as a very holy relic, and the
ownership of which may have the most important repercussions. I beg you
to act with great care. I venture to suggest that you should at least
consider the propriety of giving it into my care until more is known
and decided. It is, I know, an audacious proposal, but the seeming
audacity is due to the anxiety with which I regard the situation. I am
not speaking casually. I do not think it likely, but in certain remote
yet not impossible circumstances I can believe that even your life and
your husband's might be in danger. Consult with him and believe me that
this warning is meant very, very seriously."

"That," he thought, "ought to worry her." She was staring at the ground
now, and he threw a side glance at Chloe, whose face reinforced his
words.

Cecilia felt baffled. She saw nothing to do at the moment but to talk
to Angus and take other ways of finding out the mystery. As she began
to shape a phrase of dubious farewell the door was thrown open and Sir
Giles Tumulty came in. He nodded to Arglay and stared at the visitors.

"Busy, Arglay?" he asked. "I want to talk to you."

"I want to talk to you," the Chief Justice said, with something
in his voice that made Chloe look up suddenly and even distracted
Cecilia, to whom he turned. "I can do no more for you now, Mrs.
Sheldrake," he ended.

"It's very unsatisfactory," she complained. "I almost think I had
better go to the Ambassador. You see, we don't come under your
jurisdiction, if that's what you call it. We belong to the States."

"Quite," Lord Arglay said, waiting for her to go.

"After all, someone must know to whom the Stone belongs, and who can or
can't sell it," Cecilia went on.

"Hallo," Sir Giles said, "have you got one too? Is this yours, Arglay,
or is it Reginald's? I hope you didn't overcharge for it. "

Cecilia almost leaped at him. "O," she said, "I'm afraid I don't know
your name but can you tell me anything about this Stone? It's all so
very mysterious. We-my husband and I-bought it from a Mr. Montague, and
now we are told it's very doubtful whether he had the right to sell
it."

"Of course he had the right," Sir Giles said. "I gave him one yesterday
morning."

"Was it yours then to begin with?" Cecilia asked.

"Certainly," Sir Giles said.

"Does anyone deny it?"

"Yes," Lord Arglay said, "and you know they do."

"O a set of religious maniacs," Sir Giles tossed them aside. "Do you,
Arglay?"

The Chief Justice paused for a half second, then his training won.

"No," he said, "I don't deny it for I don't know. But I want to talk to
you about it, Tumulty, after this lady has gone." He felt it was rude
but he couldn't help it. A more urgent matter than Mrs. Sheldrake's
trouble was obsessing him. That she had actually lost the Stone he had
not understood; her references to that part of the adventure had been
so general as to leave the impression that her husband was finding it
just as she set off with Chloe.

Now she retaliated by turning her back full on him and saying to
Tumulty: "I should like to talk with you, Sir Giles. Could you spare me
half an hour at Grosvenor Square?"

Sir Giles's first impulse was to tell her to go to hell. But he felt
that Lord Arglay had changed in something; his previous good temper had
gone. Tumulty had been through too many dangerous experiences in remote
parts of the world not to recognize hostility when he met it, and he
knew that Arglay was hostile now. Why he couldn't imagine but that was
the fact. If Arglay was going to turn nasty it might be as well to be
in with this woman, whoever she was. If she had bought the Stone there
must be money and therefore power and probably position, and perhaps a
counterweight to the Chief Justice's enmity. Not that it mattered very
much; he wasn't going to spend any time shooting at Arglay with any
possible kind of inconvenient elephant rifle. But obviously these two
weren't on the best of terms, and Sir Giles's generally diffused
contempt suddenly crystallized in a definite hatred of this large man
looming in front of him. He accepted a card, refused to make a definite
promise; he wasn't going to be rung up as if he were her chauffeur-but
said something about ringing up, and with a malicious benevolence got
rid of her. She departed, her mind stabilized by his brusque assurance
that she had an entire right to her Stone. Chloe half rose; Lord Arglay
waved her back. Sir Giles flung himself into a chair.

"Now," he said, "what's.your trouble, Arglay-that is, if it's fit for
your . . . secretary . . . to hear." It was the minutest pause before
"secretary"; both his hearers remarked it, and neither of them took any
notice of it.

"I want to know," Arglay said, "what you've been doing at Birmingham."

Genuinely surprised, Sir Giles stared at him. "But that's exactly what
I want to tell you," he said. "I want you to find out, one way or
another, what has happened."

"I promise you I will do that," Arglay answered. "But you shall tell me
first what you have done."

"Don't talk to me like that," Sir Giles snapped back. "You're not in
your bestial Law Courts now. Palliser and I made an experiment this
morning, and I'm not at all clear-"

"I want to know" Arglay interrupted "about your experiment last night."

More and more astonished, Sir Giles sat up. "Last night?" he said,
"what do you know about last night? Not that there's anything
particular to know. You're not interested in Palliser's kindergarten
school, are you?"

"Who was the man you gave the Stone to?" the Chief justice insisted,
"and what happened to him?"

"Now how do you know all that?" Sir Giles said meditatively. "God
strike you dead, Arglay, have you been spying on me with that blasted
bit of dried dung? You have, have-you? So it does do something with
knowledge. Good, that's what I wanted to know. Now listen. This morning
Palliser and I-"

"What happened to the man last night?" Lord Arglay said again.

"O how the hell do I know?" Sir Giles said fretfully. "That's part of
the whole thing. You can have him-I don't want him. He's probably
messing round last week-no, we said twelve hours so he won't be. As a
matter of fact I thought he might come back in another twelve but we
were there-at least, Palliser was-by nine this morning and he hadn't.
But you can go and look for him. Only I want you to tell me first
whether I'm here or not." He succeeded in outlinino, his problem.

In spite of himself Lord Arglay was held by it.

"But so far as I'm concerned, it's certainly you-the normal corporeal
sequential you I'm talking to," he said. "I've not missed half an
hour."

"I know that," Sir Giles moaned. "I know that what's happening now is
happening to you. But I don't know whether
I'm knowing it all first of all. It's this damned silly business of
only actually experiencing the smallest minimum of time and all the
rest being memory that does me in. I know it was memory at twelve
o'clock but if I'd lived through it all it would still be memory. O for
God's sake, Arglay, don't be as big a fool as Palliser. I suppose
you've got some brains; after all they made you Chief Justice. And if
you can see what happened in Birmingham last night you can see what
happened there this morning. You needn't be afraid; we can define the
whole thing first of all, so you're bound to come back all right."

"I will do nothing at all," Lord Arglay said, "until I have done what I
can for your-" he paused on the word " victim " which sounded
theatrical. "And even then," he said, slurring it, "I do not know what
I can do, for I do not think this Stone was meant to be used to save
such men as you from the consequences of their actions."

"What do you think it was meant for?" Sir Giles said. "And not so much
of this infant school Scripture lesson. I'd see your inside torn out,
Arglay, before I asked you to save me. I want to know what does happen
and if you won't tell me the nearest warder in the Zoological Gardens
will do as well."

"Then you can go and ask him," Lord Arglay said, recovering something
of his good temper, partly because he began to discern that, somehow or
other, the tinfortunate assistant might be given a chance of return,
and partly because he did not dislike seeing Sir Giles really thwarted.
"I'm not going to do a thing without very great care. And you'd better
take care what you do because, if you're right, you'll have to do it
all again."

"O my lord God Almighty," Sir Giles said, "can't you see that, if I'm
right, I can't choose till next time? You are a louse-brained catalept,
Arglay." His interest in pure thought vanished and his personal concern
returned. "So you're not going to do anything, aren't you?" he said.

"Not for a day or two," Lord Arglay said. "It'll do you all
the good in the world, Giles, to be a little uncertain of yourself.
Well, you can't object to that way of putting it, surely; you are
exactly a little uncertain of yourself, aren't you?"

Sir Giles said nothing. He sat for a minute or two gazing at the Chief
Justice, then he got up, and with a conversational, "Well, well, well,"
walked straight out of the room. Lord Arglay looked at Chloe.

"I refrain from saying 'Curiouser and curiouser,' " he said, "but I
can't think of anything else to say. The efficient Giles has been
caught. How just a compensation! The Stone is a very marvellous thing."
His voice, even on the words, changed into gravity. "And now," he went
on, "suppose you tell me what did happen this afternoon."

When she had done so-"Then for all we know one of them is lying about
the English countryside?" the ChiefJustice said. "Pleasant hearing for
our friend the Hajji. And now for my experiments." He went over his
experiences of the previous evening.

"So," he ended, "we know it moves in time and space and thought. And in
what else?"

"But what else is there?" Chloe said.

"The HaJji talked of the Transcendence," Lord Arglay answered. "But who
knows what he meant or if what he meant is so?"

Chloe said, almost with pain, "But what do you think he meant?"

"Child,"' Lord Arglay said, "I am an old man and I have known nothing
all my life farther or greater than the work I have taken to do. I have
never seen a base for any temple nor found an excuse to believe in the
myths that are told there. I will not say believe or do not believe.
But there is one thing only at which I have wondered at times, and yet
it seemed foolish to think of it. It will happen sometimes when one has
worked hard and done all that one can for the purpose before one-it has
happened then that I have stood up and been content
with the world of things and with what has been done there through me.
And this may be pride, or it may be the full stress of the whole being
and delight in labour-there are a hundred explanations. But I have
wondered whether that profound repose was not communicated from some
far source and whether the life that is in it was altogether governed
by time. And I am sure that state never comes while I am concerned with
myself, and I have thought to-day that in some strange way that state
was itself the Stone. But if so then assuredly none of these men shall
find its secret."

"Is that the end of desire?" Chloe said.

"I have no desire left at all," Lord Arglay said, "but I think that
other is the better ending of desire. And though I cannot tell how you
should seek for it, I think it waits for everyone who will have it.
Also I think that perhaps the Stone chooses more than we know; and yet
that is a fantasy, is it not?"

"Was there a stone in the Crown of Suleiman?" she said, "and was
Suleiman the wisest of men?"

"So they say," Lord Arglay answered. "And will you seek for wisdom in
the Stone?"

"What is wisdom?" Chloe said.

"And that, child," Lord Arglay answered again, "though I am an
interpreter of all the laws of England, I do not know."





                            Chapter Seven

                        THE MIRACLES AT RICH

Half-way down the stairs Mrs. Pentridge and Oliver Doncaster began to
realize that someone was knocking, loudly and continuously, at the
door. But the spectacle of Mrs. Ferguson in front of them, progressing,
in the dressing gown which she had put on, from stair to stair with an
alertness which her age, to say nothing of her paralysis, would have
seemed to forbid, so occupied and distracted them that it was with
reluctance that Mrs. Pentridge at last rushed to open, and with delight
that she said, hastily returning, "It's for you, sir."

"Eh?" said Oliver, "me? O nonsense! O damn!" He remembered the lunatic
who wanted the stone, and strode across. "Hallo," he said, "O it is
you! Well, yes; yes, I'm sorry, but we're in a bit of a confusion just
now owing to a paralyzed old lady suddenly skipping like the high
hills. Could you wait a few minutes or go and have a drink or
something?"

"No, I couldn't," Sheldrake said. "You've made me come all this way and
given me all this trouble, and now you talk to me about an old woman.
An old woman won't stop you giving me my stone."

"By the way, what did I do with it?" Doncaster asked vaguely. "I know I
had it a few minutes ago. Now what-I remember, I was showing it to Mrs.
Ferguson when she began to curvet. I wonder if she dropped it
somewhere."

Sheldrake swore under his breath, then ceased as an incredible idea
came into his mind. "Who's Mrs. Ferguson?" he asked.

"Mrs. Ferguson is my landlady's mother," Doncaster said.
"Who having been in bed to my knowledge since just before
I came last year is now jazzing like a two-year-old. Peep round the
door. Well, you don't suppose I'm going to interrupt her by asking for
my-I mean your-at least I mean you said your-pebble, do you? Bless her,
she's like a child at a Sunday school treat."

Sheldrake became more and more uneasy. If this infernal old woman-if
the Stone could cure-if it got about"Look here," he said quite untruly
to Oliver, "I've got to get on to London and I want to take my property
with me. A joke's a joke, but-"

"And a jubilee's a jubilee," Oliver said. "Still, I see your point.
Well, wait a minute- Good heavens, she's going out." Mrs. Ferguson
indeed was coming straight to the door.

When she reached it Oliver pulled Sheldrake aside. "Still feeling
better, Mrs, Ferguson?" he asked.

"Much better, thank you, Sir," the old lady said. "But I feel as if I
could do with a little fresh air, and if it looked a nice evening, I
was thinking I'd just pop along and see my sister Annie. I haven't seen
much of her this year owing to her asthma and my not being able to get
out. Mary, my dear," she added to Mrs. Pentridge, "I think I'll dress."

"O mother," said Mrs, Pentridge, "do you think you ought to go out?
Suppose you were taken bad again?"

Mrs. Ferguson smiled serenely. "I shan't be taken bad," she said, "I
never felt better in all my life. And I owe it all to you, Mr.
Doncaster," she added.

"Me?" said the surprised Oliver.

"I felt the strength just pouring into me from that stone you gave me,
Sir," Mrs. Ferguson assured him. "I've got it tight. You don't want it
back this minute, do you, Sir?"

"Certainly not, Mrs. Ferguson," Doncaster said promptly. "Keep it an
hour or two and see how you feel."

"O nonsense," Sheldrake broke in,-"look here, Mrs.-"

"Shut up," said Oliver. "That's all right, Mrs. Ferguson. Carry on."

"I won't shut up," Sheldrake shouted. "What the hell do you think
you're doing, throwing other people's property about?

"How do I know it's your property?" Oliver shouted back. "I pick a bit
of stone out of a hedge and you pop up out of a sound sleep and say
your wife threw it there and will I give it back? Who are you,
anyhow?"s

"My name is Sheldrake, Angus M. Sheldrake," the other answered. "I'm
the chairman of Atlantic Airways and half a dozen other things. I gave
seventy thousand pounds for that stone and I want it back at once."

"Then you won't get it back at once," Oliver retorted, "not if you were
the chairman of the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, Arctic, and Antarctic
air, sea, and land ways, and the Tube railways too. Not if you offered
me another seventy thousand -at least, you might then. I don't know, so
don't tempt me. Or rather do, so that I can say, 'Keep your dross.'
Start with ffty thousand, and go up by fives."

"By God," Sheldrake said, "I'll have you all in prison for this."

"Don't be a fool," Oliver answered crossly. "Go and wake up job
Ricketts and tell him to arrest old Mrs. Ferguson for stealing your
stone. I should like to see you explaining."

The quarrel raged in this manner until Mrs. Ferguson, cloak and bonnet
on, came to the door to start. "Is it the gentleman's stone, sir?" she
asked anxiously.

"He doesn't know, I don't know," Oliver told her. "Get you along, Mrs.
Ferguson, but don't let it go out of your possession. I call everybody
to witness," he said loudly, addressing Mrs. Ferguson, Mrs. Pentridge,
Sheldrake, the chauffeur, and the villagers who were beginning to
collect, "that Mrs. Ruth Ferguson retains the property in question--
namely, a stone--on my instructions until I am satisfied of the
bonafides of the claimant, one Angus M. Sheldrake on his own
confession. There," he added to Sheldrake.

"What the devil do you suppose is the good of that?" Sheldrake said
furiously.

"I don't really know," Oliver said comfortably, "but it creates a right
impression, don't you think?"

"But do you expect me to prove the whole bally thing to any fool who
stops me in the street or any pickpocket who sneaks it?" Sheldrake
raged.

"To be accurate, it was you who stopped me and wanted to pick my
pocket-in effect," Oliver said. "And we might as well spend the next
two or three hours proving your bona-fides as not, don't you think?"

"I'm not going to let that woman out of my sight," Sheldrake said.
"Where she goes I go."

"Her people shall be thy people and her gods thy gods," Oliver
murmured. "Sudden conversion of a millionaire. The call of the old
home. Way down on the Swanee River. O Dixie, my Dixie, our fearful trip
is done."

"O go to the devil," Sheldrake said, leaping back to his car. "Barnes,
follow that damned old woman in the black bonnet."

"Yes, sir," the chauffeur said obediently, and the procession started-
Mrs. Ferguson and Mrs. Pentridge in front, Oliver strolling a few paces
behind, the car rolling along in the road, parallel to him, and an
increasing crowd of villagers, dissolving, reforming, chattering and
exclaiming as the astonishing news spread. Rather owing to this
tumultuous concourse than to any weakness on Mrs. Ferguson's part it
took them an hour to reach the mile-distant town of Rich-by-the-Mere,
commonly called Rich, where Mrs. Ferguson's asthmatic sister lived. By
the time they reached her street the crowd was a mob, the car was doing
the best it could among the excited groups, and Oliver had been pushed
forward on to Mrs. Ferguson's heels. The old lady knocked at the door,
which was opened in a minute, and there followed immediately a loud
scream.

"All right, Annie," Mrs. Ferguson was heard to protest and the
excitement in the crowd grew louder.

Sheldrake felt almost off his head with anger, despair, and doubt. He
had realized during the slow crawl that to go to the police would be to
broadcast the rumours of the Stone, but what was to happen he could not
guess. That he would recover it he had no real doubt, but he wanted to
recover it quietly and get out of England with it at the earliest
possible moment. He peered out of the car to see Oliver, his back
against the door of the house, giving a dramatic description of Mrs.
Ferguson's recovery to as many of the crowd as could hear him; he saw,
remotely, the helmets of one or two policemen approaching slowly; he
saw windows and doors open all round and new conversations leaping up
every moment; he even discerned one or two members of the crowd
scribbling in small note books, and dropped back with an oath. But he
sat up again in a moment and managed to attract Oliver's attention, who
slid through the crowd to the car.

"Look here," he said, "this is past a joke. I apologize if I was rude.
I can prove anything you want me to. But as a matter of fact the stone
does belong to me, and I must rely on you to get it back. You believe
me, don't you?"

"I do really," Oliver said. "You were a bit uppish, you know, but I
don't understand what's happened. Of course, it's all nonsense about
the stone healing her, but as things have turned out we shall have to
go gently. We can't have the poor old thing pushed back into bed
because we take it away brutally. Leave it to me and I'll get it back
for you to-night. Where do you live?"

Angus told him. Oliver grimaced. "A bit of a way," he said, "but I
suppose it was my fault. Well, I'll try and collect it gently to-night
or to-morrow morning."

I           "Excuse me, sir," a voice beside him said, "but can you
tell me whether it's true that an old lady has been cured of cancer
by a piece of magnetic iron? Does it belong to you or to this other
gentleman? And is it true that she-"

Oliver and Sheldrake stared at each other. Suddenly Oliver looked
round. Out of the window of the house Mrs. Pentridge was leaning.

"O Mr. Doncaster," she called, "do please come. Auntie', asthma's gone.
It went in the middle of a cough. O do come." The noise broke out
deafeningly. Mr. Sheldrake flung himself down in the car, and the small
reporter fought his way beside Oliver to the door.

The next morning they all read it. Chloe at Highgate in a paper
purchased when she saw the placards, Lord Arglay at Lancaster Gate in
the Observer, Sir Giles at Ealing in his housekeeper's Sunday
Pictorial, Professor Palliser at Birmingham in the Sunday Times,
Reginald at Brighton (though this was purely by accident, in a paper he
picked up in the smoking-room of his hotel). It was even stated long
afterwards, in a volume of memoirs, that at Sandringham the Majesty of
England, augustly chatting with Lord Birlesmere (the Minister in
attendance), the Persian Ambassador, and the author of the memoirs, had
graciously deigned to remark that it was a very extraordinary affair.
In the papers, Lourdes, the King's Evil, the Early Christians, Mrs.
Eddy, Mesmer, and other famous healers were introduced and, almost,
invoked. For the scenes in Rich all night had been such "as to baffle
description." Once it had been understood that this impossible thing
was happening, that health was being restored, and that so simply, so
immediately, the house was almost rushed before the police could guard
it. The two old ladies-Mrs. Ferguson and her sister-with Mrs. Pentridge
were rushed up the stairs by Oliver, who, with one policeman by him,
stationed himself near the top, exhorting, arguing, fighting. The crowd
in the street was, with usual and immediate sympathy, continually
dividing to let cripples through or the blind and the deaf. Many came
rushing to borrow the Stone for the sick who could not  come.
Sheldrake's car, opposite the front-door, was turned into a kind of
Grand Stand. By midnight the whole place was in a tumult. The loss of
the Stone itself became an imminent danger. Sheldrake was continually
telling the police that it belonged to him; the police were concerned
with more difficult matters. But the reporters had it. "The Stone,"
they all declared, "was said to belong to Mr. Angus M. Sheldrake, the
well-known. . . " and so on. It was known all over England on that
Sunday morning that Mr. Angus M. Sheldrake ownedwhether at the moment
he actually possessed was a little doubtful-a miraculous Stone which
healed all illnesses at a mere wish.

"Well, really," Lord Arglay said to himself, "Reginald seems to have
done it this time."

Reginald was much of the same opinion. But neither he nor anyone else
of those concerned had any idea what to do next. The Persian Ambassador
took advantage of the afternoon quiet at Sandringham to point out   to
Lord Birlesmere that if this were true, and if it were due to the relic
of which he had spoken, and if the news were telegraphed abroad the
most serious consequences might ensue. Lord Birlesmere took note of his
Excellency's communication, and, later on, got through to Rivington
Court on the telephone. He had met Sheldrake S        two or three
times and Angus came to speak. But when he understood that the Foreign
Secretary was hinting at a personal interview he gave a little laugh.

"My dear Lord Birlesmere," he said, "I couldn't if I would. Not without
a couple of thousand soldiers and machine guns. They're all round the
place, camping in the grounds, knocking
at the doors. Every town in the district has discharged its halt and
maimed here, and they all want me to heal them."

A          "And do you?" Lord Birlesmere asked, fascinated by the idea.

"What?" said Mr. Sheldrake.

"But aren't," Lord Birlesmere went on, changing the subject, "aren't
the County Authorities doing anything?"

"They've drafted all the police that they have to spare," Sheldrake
told him, "and they're communicating with London. But it doesn't look
as if that would help me till to-morrow."

"I'll talk to the Home Office people," Birlesmere said. "You won't mind
promising not to leave England or get rid of the Stone till I've seen
you?"

Sheldrake hesitated. His chief wish was to get out of England with the
Stone; on the other hand his chances of doing so in the face of an
antagonistic Foreign Office were small, and he was conscious that there
were certain crises in which the Foreign Office would offer no strings
for him to pull-the ends would all discreetly disappear. He did not
completely understand why the Foreign Office was interfering at all;
the Stone hardly seemed to be their pigeon. He had gathered from
Cecilia when she returned the night before, or rather when he had
himself returned that morning, that the Government was mixed up with
it; and of course the Stone was said to have come from abroad. Still

"Well," he said, "if you'll get me out of this at once I don't mind
promising to see you before I leave."

"But can't you really get away?" Lord Birlesmere asked. It seemed to
him inconceivable that any crowd could really prison a man in his own
country house, but that was because he had never seen it happen. The
concourse round Mr. Sheldrake's front-door, between that and the
garage, trying to look in, and even to get in, at the windows,
continually flowing in through the gates, occupying the lawns, the
terraces, and the gardens, consisted of more people than Lord
Birlesinere had seen in all his life. They were quiet while they were
not interfered with, in an uncertain quiet. They doubted whether it was
much good their coming. They might, before evening, disperse from sheer
discouragement and hunger; but the one or two attempts made by an
insufficient band of police to shift them had merely produced
irritation and, once or twice, something like serious trouble.

Lord Birlesmere, discovering all this by gentle questioning, at last,
with some sort of qualified promise, put the receiver back and stared
at it. Soldiers were all very well, but the Government was shaky
enough, and what would the Opposition papers say if he used the Army to
hold back a crowd of suffering English men and women from their chance
of healing, and to ensure the escape of an American millionaire with
the source of healing in his possession? The Opposition would know, as
well as Mr. Sheldrake, as well as Lord Birlesmere himself, that the
idea of the Stone doing anything was rubbish. He wished the Prime
Minister was in London, but he wasn't; he was in Aberdeen. The best
thing was obviously to get Sheldrake quietly to London-perhaps later
the crowd would disperse a bit-and then there was this Sir Giles
Tumulty the Persian Ambassador had mentioned-an interview there. What
on earth had Bruce Cumberland been doing, if anything? The thought of
the Ambassador suggested to Lord Birlesmere that it might be just as
well if he did not learn too much from the Persian; he didn't want to
be put too clearly in possession of the views of a friendly Government.
Sheldrake had certainly better be removed quietly. He took such
measures as suggested themselves.

On the same Sunday evening the HaJji came round to Lord Arglay's house.
The Chief Justice threw down the latest edition of a special evening
paper and greeted him with a certain pretended cynicism. "This, I
suppose," he said, "is the evil you prophesied for the world-all this
healing, I mean?"

"There is not a great deal of healing so far; there is a great deal of
desire for healing," Ibrahim answered. "That may be an evil. "

"If Sheldrake gets off to America with it, there'll be an evil all
right," Lord Arglay said. "I wouldn't be a bit surprised if they passed
a special act to prevent him."

"Can your Parliament do such things?" the HaJji asked.

"O rather," Lord Arglay said. "Prevention of Removal of
Art Treasures, I should think. It'll take Sheldrake as long as we like
to prove the Stone isn't an Art Treasure. Or they may claim that the
sale is invalid because it never was Reginald's; only then you'd want a
real claimant. And who could that be? Not me, obviously; not Giles--he
wouldn't; not the Ambassador-they'd have to give it back to him."

"You think they would not?" said the Hajji.

"I am absolutely and perfectly sure they would not," Lord Arglay said.
"And really, Hajji, I don't know that I blame them. After all, it's not
the kind of thing that any one man or family or country even ought to
keep. I'm not at all sure it ought to be in existence at all, but after
what I've seen I can't think how to destroy it. If you dropped it into
the Atlantic I should be afraid of it floating to the Esquimaux or some
such people. And it can't be left loose. Look at what happens when it
is."

"What then," the Hajjji said, "do you think should be done with it?"

"I can't think," Lord Arglay said. "Unless the League of Nations? With
a special international guard? No? I was afraid you wouldn't agree."

"You are mocking at it and me," the Hajji said.

"No, I'm not," the Chief justice assured him. "I'm a little de-
normally-mented about it. But I take it very seriously. When the
English take anything very seriously they always become a trifle
delirious. People tell you that we aren't logical, but it isn't true.
Only our logic is a logic of poetry. We are the Tom o' Bedlam of the
nations, the sceptics of the world, and we have no hope at all, or none
to speak of-that is why we are always so good at adopting new ideas.
Look at the way Reginald adopted the Stone."

The Hajji went on looking at him gravely. "And what are you going to do
now?" he said.

"I'm in several minds," Lord Arglay said. "And one is to take the Stone
and will myself wherever what you call its
Types are and collect them all one by one, whether their present
possessors agree or not, and then will myself inside ,Vesuvius with
them all. And one is to go and look for this Pondon fellow. And another
is to go and knock Giles on the head. That's three-and the fourth? The
fourth is to take the Stone and will it to do what it will with me."

"And that is the most dangerous of all," the HaJji said.

"After all," Arglay argued, "if Miss Burnett seems to think she can get
wisdom -from it, why shouldn't I?"

"Does she?" the HaJji asked.

"No, of course she doesn't," Lord Arglay said irritably. "It was I who
asked her that. HaJji, I'm just rambling. But what in God's name can we
do?"

The HaJji brooded. "I think that it only knows," he said. "But I dare
not use it at all, because it is so great and terrible, and I do not
think you believe in it enough for it to reveal its will. What of this
friend of yours?"

"Who?" Lord Arglay said blankly.

"This Miss Burnett," Ibrahim answered. "Does she believe?"

Lord Arglay stared at him. "What if she does? What can she believe in?"
he said. "Are you proposing to play some such trick on her as Giles did
on Pondon? Because if so, HaJji, I may as well tell you I shall stop
it. Besides, why do you think she'd find out?"

"If-no, it is impossible," the HaJji said. "But I dreamed that I saw
the Name of Allah written on her forehead as it is written on the
Stone. And it is certain that the way to the Stone is in the Stone."

"Then," Lord Arglay said, not unreasonably, "why don't you take it?"

"Those of my house," the HaJji answered reluctantly, "who were of the
Keepers have sworn always to guard and never to use the Relics they
keep. Neither this nor a yet more sacred thing. "

"What else is there then?" Arglay asked.

"There is that which is in the Innermost," the Hajji answered, "that
which controls all things. And I fear lest by the knowledge of the
Stone any shall come to find this other thing, For it is said that even
Asmodeus when he wore it sat on the throne of Suleiman ben Daood in
Jerusalem, and if your Giles Tumulty-"

I expect even Asmodeus was a gentleman compared with Giles," Lord
Arglay said. "But seriously, Hajji, do you mean that there is something
else behind? And if so what is it?"

"I must not tell you," Ibrahim said.

"Quite," Lord Arglay answered, half as a gibe, half as a submission.
"It's all very useful, isn't it? Well, Hajji, will you help me to find
this Pondon man? Is there any particular formula?"

"I think you had need be careful," Ibrahim answered. "For if you will
to return to the worlds that were you will not have the Stone with
you."

"Giles's idea seemed to be," Lord Arglay said, "that one could will to
return to the past for ten minutes or so."

"I do not see how you can bring this man back from the past without the
Stone, and if you return to the past you will not have the Stone," the
Hajji said doubtfully. "Besides, though you can return to your own
past, I do not know whether you can return to his."

"But why can't I go to him now," Lord Arglay said, "wherever he is now?
Damn it, man, he must be somewhere now."

"If you are right, he is nowhere at all now," the Hajji said. "He has
not yet reached now. He is in yesterday."

"O Lord!" the Chief Justice said. "But he must be somewhere in space."

"O in space he is no doubt here or there or anywhere," Ibrahim
answered. "For yesterday's space is exactly where to-day's space is."

"And to-morrow's also?" Lord Arglay said.

"I think that is true," the Hajji told him. "But to-morrow's exists
only in a greAter knowledge than ours and it can only be experienced in
that diviner knowledge. Therefore to experience the future, though not
perhaps to foresee the future,. it is necessary to enter the soul of
the world with the inward being."

"Then Giles did not miss that half-hour?" Lord Arglay said, and
explained the situation. The Hajji shook his head. "I think," he
answered, "that he has known, in an infinitely small fraction of time,
all  his future until he enters the End of Desire.

"He has foreknown that which he is now experiencing?" Lord Arglay
asked.

"I think so," Ibrahim answered. "But though he knew it I do not think
it is now within his memory, nor will be until he reaches the end. For
to remember the future he must have foreknown his memory of that
future, and yet that he could not do without first foreknowing it
without memory. So I think he is spared that evil. Exalted for ever be
the Mercy of the Compassionate!"






                           Chapter Eight

                           THE CONFERENCE

The room at the Foreign Office was large enough not to be crowded. Lord
Birlesmere sat in a chair dexterously arranged at the corner of a
table, thus allowing him to control without compelling him to preside.
Next to him sat Lord Arglay with Chloe by his side; opposite was Mr.
Sheldrake in a state of very bitter irritation. Reginald Montague was
in an equal state of nervousness next to Chloe. Mr. Doncaster was next
to Sheldrake, and a little apart were Professor Palliser and Sir Giles
Tumulty. At the bottom of the table were Mr. Bruce Cumberland and a
high police official. The Persian Embassy was not represented. It was
about 11 o'clock on Monday.

Lord Birlesmere leant a little forward. "Gentlemen," he began, "you
know, I think, why we have troubled you and why you have consented to
come here. The very surprising demonstrations at Rich during the week-
end are a matter which do not concern this particular Office, but-as
most of you at any rate know-those demonstrations are said to be
connected with a substance, reputedly a relic, in the existence and
preservation of which a foreign Power has declared itself to be
interested. I need not detain you now to explain to what extent that
Power's representatives have taken official action. But I may say, in
passing, that I myself have reason to believe that certain agitations
and disturbances in the Near East during the last two months have the
same cause ......"

"What cause?" Mr. Sheldrake interrupted irritably.

"A concern," Lord Birlesmere flowed on, "with the existence and
disposal of this hypothetical relic. I am anxious to
discover, on behalf of the Government, of what nature this is, whether
it is one or many, to whom it now belongs, and in whose Possession it
now is, and how far the claims of any foreign Power can be justified. I
need not say that I and any other representatives of the authorities
here will treAt every communication made: as confidential, or that if
any of you wish to make a private statement we shall be pleased to give
you immediate opportunities."

Nobody leapt at the opportunity.. Lord Birlesmere said across the
table: "I believe, Mr. Sheldrake, you claim that this supposed relic
belongs to you?"

"I know nothing whatever about relics," Sheldrake answered. "I know
that only last Friday I bought from Mr. Montague a kind of stone which
he assured me could produce certain remarkable results. I tested his
claims and they seemed justified; and as a result of these tests I gave
him my cheque for seventy-three thousand guineas."

"Did you understand," Lord Birlesmere asked, "that this was the only
stone of its kind in existence?"

"No," Sheldrake admitted rather reluctantly, "I understood there were
three or four."

"And by a series of events this Stone came into the hands of Mr.
Doncaster and thence to the police, performing apparently some
remarkable cures on its way-yes," Lord Birlesmere said, "we needn't go
into that now. Except, Mr. Doncaster, that you think these cures may
really have been produced by the Stone? Or anyhow," he added, seeing
that Oliver was prepared to discuss this for a long time, "you see
nothing against that hypothesis?"

"Well, nothing except-" Oliver began.

"Practically nothing at the moment," Lord Birlesmere substituted.
"Quite. Well now, Mr. Montague, would you mind telling us where you got
the Stone?"

"My uncle gave it me," Reginald said very quickly. "Sir Giles." He met
Sir Giles's eyes and shivered a little.

Lord Birlesmere, having reached the desired point by a more gentle
method than by mere attack, looked at Sir Giles with an engaging smile.
"I wonder whether you would mind telling us exactly what you know about
the Stone, Sir Giles," he said.

"I don't mind telling you," Sir Giles said, "but I'm damned if I see
why I should. Why on earth should I tell this private detective agency
everything about my personal affairs, because an auriferous Yankee
loses his purse?"

Lord Arglay observed round the table a slight perplexity, except where
Mr. Sheldrake jerked upright and Reginald stared downwards. In an
undertone to Chloe he said: "I don't really know why he should, do
you?" But Chloe was looking, rather inimically for her, at Sir Giles.

Lord Birlesmere glanced at Bruce Cumberland, who said: "Merely as a
friendly act, Sir Giles, you might be willing to assist the inquiry."

"But in the first place," Sir Giles answered, "I don't see any friends
here-except perhaps the Professor, and secondly, I don't know what I've
got to do with the inquiry. Whoever's been curing the village idiots of
England it isn't me. I've got something else to do than to cure old
women of paralytic delirium."

"The properties of the Stone .        Mr. Cumberland began again.

"The properties of the Stone," Sir Giles interrupted, "are for
scientists to determine-not politicians, policemen, and prostitutes."

Mr. Sheldrake jerked again, and kept his eyes away from Chloe with an
effort. So did everyone else, except Lord Arglay who smiled at her and
then looked at Lord Birlesmere. The Foreign Secretary, caught between
ignoring the word and thus appearing to allow it and protesting and
thus permitting the whole conversation to wander off on to a useless
path, said in a perfectly audible voice to Mr. Sheldrake: "Sir Giles,
like
other great men, is a little eccentric in his phrases sometimes, but
Sir Giles refused to be excused.

"Well, I suppose the Foreign Secretary is a politician," he said, "and
a Scotland Yard Commissioner is a policeman. Eh? Very well then-!"

Bruce Cumberland leaned across towards the Chief Justice. "perhaps," he
said in a hoarse whisper, "Miss Burnett would like to withdraw. I mean,
you see ... "

Chloe's hand touched Lord Arglay's arm. "Don't make me go," she
breathed to him.

"Ah," Lord Birlesmere said, delighted at the suggestion,
"now if in the unusual circumstances Miss Burnett would oblige me
personally by rendering the inquiry easier ... We want," he Nvent on
rather vaguely,    "to have no restraints imposed, though if the matter
were less urgent . . ."

"My dear Birlesmere," Arglay said patiently, "neither Miss Burnett nor
I have the least objection to Sir Giles using any language he finds
congenial. We haven't even a police-court acquittal against us, and any
apology seems to me to be chiefly due to the English language which is
being wildly misused. Pray consider our feelings unruffled."

"Very good of you," Lord Birlesmere, rather perplexed, murmured, and
returned to Sir Giles who was feeling in a waistcoat pocket and
snarling at the Chief Justice. "The point is, Sir Giles," he said,
"that it is necessary for the Government to know, first, what
justification there is for foreign claims to the Stone; secondly, what
properties the Stone possesses; and thirdly, how many there are in
existence."

"The answers," Tumulty said, "are that no foreign claim to the Stone
has any validity, that Professor Palliser and I are at work on an
investigation of its qualities, and that I cannot tell You how many
stones exist for a reason I can show you." He felt in his pocket again.

"The qualities," Lord Birlesmere said, "are said to include rapid
transit through space and singular curative powers."

"Transit through time and space," Sir Giles corrected him. "Two hundred
miles or two hundred hours." He pushed his chair a little away from the
table and set another-his own Stone on his knee. "Don't crowd me,
gentlemen," he went on, "or I shall have to remove myself at once. This
is not the Stone Mr. Sheldrake flung away."

"Like the poor Indian," Oliver Doncaster put in, being a little tired
of having no chance to say anything, but no one took any notice except
the Chief Justice who, glancing at Sheldrake, altered Shakespeare into
Pope by murmuring "whose untutored mind."

"If the Government," Sir Giles went on, "wish to conduct an inquiry
into the nature of the Stone I shall be happy to assist them by
supplying examples." He covered the Stone on his knee with both hands
and apparently in some intense effort shut his eyes for a minute or
two. The inquiry looked perplexed and doubtful, and it was Chloe who
suddenly broke the silence by jumping to her feet and running round the
table. Sir Giles, hearing the movement, opened his eyes just as
Palliser thrust his chair back in Chloe's path, and leapt up in his
turn, throwing as he did so about a dozen Stones, all exactly similar,
on to the table. Everybody jumped up in confusion, as Chloe, still
silent, caught Palliser's chair with a vicious jerk that unbalanced and
overthrew the Professor, and sprang towards Tumulty. Sir Giles, the
Stone clasped in one hand and his open knife still in the other, met
her with a snarl. "Go to hell," he said, and slashed out with the knife
as she caught at his wrist.

"Miss Burnett! Miss Burnett!" half the table cried. "Miss Burnett! Sir
Giles!" Lord Birlesmere exclaimed. Mr. Sheldrake, his mouth open in
dismay, caught up two or three of the Stones and looked at them. Lord
Arglay, leaning over the table, struck Doncaster's shoulder sharply:
"Get that knife away from him," he said, and himself ran round after
Chloe. Palliser, scrambling to his feet, thrust himself in Doncaster's
way. "Lord Birlesmere," he called. "I protest! I demand that you shall
stop this attack."

"Get out, you-" Sir Giles yelled at Chloe. The knife had shut on her
fingers and blood was on her hand. But her other had already caught
Tumulty's wrist and was struggling with his for the Stone. Lord
Arglay's arrival did not seem materially to help her; it was Tumulty,
who, as everyone rushed to do something to end the scuffle, let go of
the Stone, slipped to one side, reached the table, and caught up one or
two of the Types which, to the Chief Justice's hasty glance, seemed to
cover it. There were by now half a dozen bodies between Chloe and Sir
Giles, who however had only distanced a foe to meet a fidget. Sheldrake
clutched at him. "What are you doing?" he shrieked. "What are you doing
with my stone?"

"Lord Birlesmere," Sir Giles said, "unless you stop that hellcat of
Arglay's I'll ruin everything. I'll go off and flood the country with
Stones. I can and I will."

-Lord Birlesmere said passionately, "Miss Burnett, please be quiet.
You'd better go; you'd really better go."

The Chief Justice gave Chloe a handkerchief. "You attend to Tumulty,
Birlesmere," he said. "The real proceedings are only just beginning.
All mankind has been searching for this Stone, and now the English
Government has got it."

Lord Birlesmere came back to the table and stood by Sir Giles. "What
does it mean?" he said.

"I will tell you now," Tumulty answered. "Anyone who has this Stone can
heal himself of all illnesses, and can move at once through space and
time, and can multiply it by dividing
it as much as he wishes. There will be no need of doctors or nurses or
railways or tubes or trams or taxis or airships or any transport-except
for heavy luggage, and I'm not sure about that-if I scatter this Stone
through the country. How do you like the idea? Look," he said, "I'll
show you. Will to be somewhere-in Westminster Abbey." He thrust one of
the Types into the Foreign Secretary's hand, who took it, looked at it,
looked at Sir Giles, hesitated, then seemed to concentrate-and suddenly
neither he nor Tumulty were there.

As the others jumped and gaped Arglay said to Chloe, "You can't do any
more. They have it here. Go back home and wait for me

"I suppose I was a fool," Chloe said in a low tone. "But I did so hate
to see him sitting there, and know what he was doing. And if I'd
screamed at them no one would have done anything."

Arglay nodded. "It is clear," he began, "that here-no, never mind. I'll
tell you presently. Wait." He stepped to the table and picked up one of
the Types. Mr. Bruce Cumberland began to say something. Lord Arglay
looked at him and went back to Chloe. "Take this," he said. "No, take
it. Thrice is he armed, of course, but I would rather you could come to
me."

"I don't like to touch it," Chloe looked at it in a kind of awe.

"To the pure all things are pure, even purity," Lord Arglay said. "Take
it, child. And keep it near you, for I do not think we know what may
happen, but I think the Stone is on your side."

"What do you mean?" Chloe asked. "On our side?"

"I haven't an idea," Lord Arglay answered. "But I think so. Now go. Go
to Lancaster Gate and wait for me. Go before the Foreign Secretary and
that Gadarene swine return." He took her to the door, and as he
returned was met by Mr. Bruce Cumberland.

"Has Miss Burnett gone?" the secretary said. "I don't know whether Lord
Birlesmere might not want her not to go before-"

"My dear Mr. Cumberland," the Chief justice said, "your certainties are
as mixed as your negatives. Hasn't Lord Birlesmere been asking her to
go in every kind of voice? And now I've urged her to, just to please
him. And you're still not happy. How difficult you diplomats are!"

"Yes,But she took one of the Stones," Bruce Cumberland protested -

"Well," Lord Arglay said, sitting down leisurely, "I can easily make
you another-ten, twenty more. At least, I can't, because I don't want
to annoy Suleiman ben Daood--on whom be the Peace! as my friend the
Hajji would say. If it belongs to him. But you can make them for
yourself. What a time Giles is, showing Birlesmere the tombs in
Westminster Abbey!"

Bruce Cumberland gave up the argument and they waited in silence for
the return of the others. When this took place Sir Giles, with a glance
round the room and a triumphant grin at Arglay, flung himself into a
chair. Lord Birlesmere stood leaning on the table for some time. Then
he said: "I think, gentlemen, there is nothing more that can profitably
be done now. I am very much obliged to all of you." He paused, bowed,
added something in a low voice to Mr. Sheldrake, and sat down. The
American did the same thing. Lord Arglay watched thoughtfully till the
others had withdrawn and Lord Birlesmere was looking at him restlessly.
He considered for a moment the three opposite him, and said quietly.
"No, Birlesmere; you're like Salisbury, you're backing the wrong horse.
And if Mr. Sheldrake wants to get his seventy thousand pounds restored
I think that he's riding the wrong way. As for you, Tumulty, I don't
think you know where you're riding." He got up and strolled slowly to
the door.

The important conference now began. That Sir Giles was a member of it
was due largely to the importance he seemed to have as the origin and
scientific investigator of the Stone rather than to any actual need of
him. But his impatience Prevented a good deal of time being lost in an
international wrangle, since neither Birlesmere nor Sheldrake wished
more Types to exist than could be helped, while Tumulty was entirely
reckless. All that he wanted was opportunity to inVestigate the
qualities of the Stone, without exposing himself to any serious risk of
unexpected results; and this he saw a
chance of obtaining by an understanding with the Government. But to
both of the others the monopoly of the Stone was rapidly becoming a
matter of the first importance, and under pressure from Sir Giles
something very like the first draft of a new Anglo-American treaty was
reached in half an hour or so. Sheldrake had vague personal and semi-
official relations with the President, and promised to bring the whole
thing privately to his notice. With instruments of this nature at their
disposal, and a judicious use of them, he and the Foreign Secretary saw
infinite possibilities of developing power. Only one thing stood in
their way, and it was this hindrance they were anxious for Sir Giles to
remove. At present the successful use of the Stone depended entirely on
the individual will. But for purposes of national control, it was
necessary that the controllers should be able to move masses of men
without the masses having a choice. It was clear that no army which had
been supplied with Types of the Stone could be relied on. Mutiny might
be dangerous but transit of this sort would be safe and easy. For the
first time in history the weakest thing was on a level, was indeed
better off, than the strongest. Besides, as Sir Giles with a certain
glee pointed out, in war nothing but mortal wounds would be any use;
others could be healed at once, and wars would become interminable. It
was Lord Birlesmere who asked whether, if the Stone could heal so
easily, it could also repair wastage; that is, prove a substitute for
food. "But then," he added, startled, "it would practically confer
immortality. The world would in time become over-crowded; you would be
adding without taking away."

"You might," Sir Giles said, "use it as the perfect contraceptive."

Mr. Sheldrake looked down his nose. The conversation seemed to him to
be becoming obscene.

"Under control," Lord Birlesmere said thoughtfully, "always, always
under control. We must find out what it can do; you must, Sir Giles."

"I ask nothing better," Sir Giles said. "But you Puritans
have always made such a fuss about vivisection, let alone human,
vivisection. "

"No one," Lord Birlesmere exclaimed, "is suggesting vivisection. There
is a difference between harmless experiments and vivisection."

"I can have living bodies?" Sir Giles asked.

"Well, there are prisons-and workhouses-and hospitals-and barracks,"
Birlesmere answered slowly. "Judiciously, of course. I mean, a careful
investigation of the possibilities." He was distracted by Mr.
Sheldrake's clamour for a licensed monopoly of the Stone for use in
transit.

It took longer to satisfy the American than the scientist. Lord
Birlesmere was perfectly willing to give up bodies to experiment, so
far as he could, but he was very reluctant to interfere with the right
of any citizen into whose possession the Stone might come, to use it as
he chose. Yet nothing else, it was clear, would be of any use.

The possession of the Stone would have to be made illegal. And
therefore the Types would have to be recovered. Of such Types, besides
those on the table, there were at least fourProfessor Palliser had one
("I'll answer for him," Sir Giles said), Reginald Montague ("and you
can deal with him," he added, "frightening him will do it"), Lord
Arglay, and Miss Burnett.

They looked at each other. It might be rather a difficult thing to
persuade the Chiefjustice to give up anything he had a right to possess
and an interest in keeping.

"What about a secret Order in Council?" Sheldrake soared to new heights
of romanticism.

"I don't know the legal aspect," Birlesmere muttered. "And he probably
would. The English law is a difficult study, my dear Mr. Sheldrake, and
Lord Arglay would probably know a good deal about it. I might consult
the Law Officers-but even then-and Miss Burnett too. Being his
secretary makes it so awkward. . . ."

There was a prolonged silence. Then Sir Giles said suddenly: "What
about this foreign Power of yours?"

"What about it?" Birlesmere asked in surprise.

"Persia, wasn't it?" Sir Giles said. "I had some carpet-weaver of
theirs to dinner to find out about the Stone. And if they burgled me-
and I'm almost sure they didvvhat about a neat little burglary at
Lancaster Gate? And at-where does that girl live?"

Birlesmere shook his head. "It means them getting the Stone," he
objected, "and I'd much rather Arglay had it. Well, I'll think about
it. Perhaps a friendly appeal-"

Sir Giles made a peculiar noise and rather reluctantly abandoned the
subject. He disliked any Types being in Arglay's and Chloe's
possession, but his dislike was not strong enough to urge him to
extreme action. But as, a little later, a temporary agreement having
been arrived at, he left the Foreign Office, it occurred to him that if
the Stone had shown his own action to the Chief justice, it could be
used also to discover what was in Arglay's mind, and to suggest other
modes of action. With this idea possessing him he rejoined Palliser,
who was staying at Ealing.






                           Chapter Nine

                     THE ACTION OF LORD ARGLAY

Lord Arglay, insisting on writing some business letters after lunch,
insisted also that Chloe should wait his convenience and rest until he
was ready for her. It was consequently not until after tea that he lit
one of his very occasional cigars, and standing in front of the
fireplace said: "And now, Miss Burnett, what do you make of it?"

"I feel an awful ass," Chloe told him, "going for Sir Giles like that.
But I couldn't think of anything sane to do-I was so angry."

"The wrath of the Lamb," Arglay said. "But I didn't mean about
yourself; you saved the Lord Chief Justice throwing an inkstand at
Giles, which would have been more scandalous, but perhaps more
effective, if I had hit him. It might even have killed him. I really
meant-about the situation. Suppress, if you can, your righteous
supernatural anger with him, and tell me why you hate him so."

"I don't hate him," Chloe said. "I only want to stop him doing anything
at all with the Stone. He oughtn't to have it."

"So far as we know, he bought it," Lord Arglay pointed out.

"But it isn't his," Chloe pleaded, "not really."

"Mrs. Sheldrake used much the same argument to convince me that all the
Types ought to be her husband's," Arglay answered. "Only she said, they
are his, really. Try and be masculine and rational. Why isn't it his?"

Chloe made an obviously intense effort. "I think I hate the way he
looks at it," she said. "He doesn't care about it, only about the way
it works. He doesn't care about Suleiman-or Charlemagne-or ... He only
wants to see what it will do."

"And being an incurable romantic," Arglay said, "you hate him being
merely utilitarian. Well, I don't suppose anyone else, for a thousand
years or so, has barked their knuckles for the sake of Suleiman the
King. I should think you were the first of the English to do it. Still-
it's hardly reason enough for your disliking Giles quite so much."

Chloe went on looking for reasons. "He doesn't care about it a bit,"
she protested. "He throws it about as if it were of no importance at
all. And he doesn't care how much he cuts it up."

"And why do we care?" Lord Arglay asked.

Chloe smiled. "I don't know," she said, "I don't know a bit, but I do.
Don't you know?"

The Chief Justice frowned at his cigar. "I will offer you two
alternatives," he said. "First, we are both disgracefully sentimental.
We wallow in tradition. And when a traditional thing appears to produce
unusual results we can't help being affected. Giles is stronger-minded.
Suleiman and our lord the Prophet leave him unmoved. J'y suis, j'y
reste, and so on. I hate being less efficient than Giles, but I fear
it, I promise you I fear it." He shook his head despairingly.

"And the other alternative?" Chloe said.

"The other? O the other is that we're right in being affected," Lord
Arglay answered, "that amid all this mess of myths and tangle of
traditions and ... and ... febrifuge of fables, there is something
extreme and terrible. And if so, Giles had better be careful."

"Which do you believe?" Chloe asked.

"My dear girl, I haven't a notion," the Chief Justice told her. "I
don't see a little bit how we can decide. It's a question -let's be
perfectly frank-of which we want to believe."

"Which do you then?" Chloe persisted.

"I don't want to believe either. I hate being foolish and I dislike
being pious," Arglay said. "Do you choose first. How will you know and
receive the Stone?"

"He said it was the End of Desire," Chloe murmured.

"And shall that be romance or truth for you?" Arglay asked. "Make up
your mind and tell me, child; what will you have the Stone to be?"

"I would have it to be the End of Desire indeed," Chloe said. "I would
have it to be something very strong andsatisfying. I am afraid of it
but I--don't laugh-I love it."

Lord Arglay looked at her thoughtfully. Then, "Do you believe in God?"
he asked.

"I suppose so," Chloe said. "I think I do when I look at the Stone. But
otherwise-I don't know."

"Well," said Lord Arglay, "I will make you a fair proposal -I will if
you will. It's all perfectly ridiculous, but since I saw those people
this morning I feel I must be with them or against them. So I suppose
I'm against them. Not, mind you, on the evidence. But I refuse to let
you believe in God all by yourself."

Chloe looked up at him, her eyes shining. "But dare I believe that the
Stone is of God?" she said. "And what do I mean by God--except - . ."
she half added and stopped.

"Except-?" Arglay asked, but she silently refused to go on and he said:
"If you will believe this way, then I also will believe. And we will
set ourselves against the world, the flesh, and the devil, and not sit
in the seat of Giles Tumulty. But I would have you be careful there for
I think he hates you."

"But what can he do?" Chloe asked in astonishment.

"If I have seen his mind, as I believe I did," Lord Arglay said, "he
may also see yours. Unless the Stone has varying powers. I would have
you consider very closely in what way you may work with the Stone for
God. Also I would have you keep it on you day and night that you may
escape by it if need be. "

"But what need can there be?" Chloe asked.

"Child," Lord Arglay answered, "it is clear that these men cannot stop
where they are. They must either abandon the
Stone to chance and itself or they must seek to possess it. Now I do
not think it is well that they should wholly possess it, and I think
that you and I should keep our Types while we can. I do not know
whether the Types can be united, but if I were Birlesmere I would
strive for that, and the united Stone would give sole power. If this is
what he does they may attempt anything within or without the Law.
Fortunately," he added pensively, "the interpretation of the law so
often depends on the Courts. To-morrow I will talk to the Hajji."

"But what will you do with it in the end?" Chloe asked.

"Why, that we shall see," Lord Arglay said. "For the Law is greater
than the Courts, and in the end the Courts shall submit to the Law. But
meanwhile you shall consider how you will follow this God that we have
decided to believe in, who, it seems, may give wisdom through the
Stone. And then we will free Giles's prisoner in the past." He paused
and considered Chloe with an anxious protectiveness. "But if you need
me," he said, "come to me at any hour of the day or night."

Chloe met his eyes gravely. "I will remember," she said, "and-and I do
believe in God."

"In spite of the fact that Giles Tumulty exists, so do I," Lord Arglay
said, "though in a man of past fifty it's either an imbecility or a
heroism."

"And what for a girl of twenty-five?" Chloe asked.

"O in her it's either a duty or a generosity," Lord Arglay said, "but
for a secretary it's a safeguard. One must have something to explain or
counter-balance one's employer!" . . .

At Ealing Sir Giles got up in a rage. "Why the hell can't I find out?"
he asked, throwing one of the Types on the table. The question seemed
reasonable enough. For in their preliminary investigations that
afternoon both he and the Professor had found out all they wanted.
Having worked out what seemed a moderately safe formula they had
experimented first on such minds as Sir Giles's housekeeper, the
Professor's old
aunt, Lord Birlesmere, and others. After something of the same
experiences which Lord Arglay had undergone, the results had been
satisfactory enough. Sir Giles, rather to his annoyance, had been
conscious of a strongly marked, if muddled, desire that some malignant
old beast should go to China, mingled with an anxiety whether a girl
called Lizzie should be getting into trouble. The process was similar
in each case. There opened before the eyes of the holder of the Stone
the scene then before the eyes of the subject of the investigation,
there arose within his mind the occupation of the subject's mind, but -
in words rather than in ill-defined vision. The presence of the Stone
in the hand remained throughout as a kind of anchor, so that the
connexion with the actual world was never entirely lost, and could at
will be wholly re-established.

But when Sir Giles, rather pleased at being able apparently to get his
own back on the Chief Justice, attempted the most important experiment,
he found the result negligible. He framed the formula; he called up the
consciousness of Arglay; he intensified his will. There appeared
gradually before him the familiar study as seen from in front of the
fire-place; Chloe was sitting in front of him. Sir Giles was aware of
thinking that Arglay had an admirable taste in women, that though of
course this girl was not really intelligent she could probably take the
Chief Justice in. This consciousness went on repeating itself again and
again. He tried to empty his mind, but it was no good. The image of
Chloe occupied it, with a sort of detached irritation, until he
recalled himself in a fit of anger.

"You try, Palliser," he said shortly. "Arglay can't be so deMented on
that girl that he can think of nothing elsd. But I'm damned if he seems
to, unless the Stone's gone wrong."

The Professor tried, with a little more success. "The Chief Justice,"
he said, "seems to be thinking of protecting God."

"Of what?" Sir Giles shrieked.

"That was the impression I got," Palliser said. "A strong wish to
protect and a sense that protection was valueless,
and the idea-the word God recurring. All aimed at the girl."

"I know Arglay's a legal hurdy-gurdy," Sir Giles said, "but even he
wouldn't play that tune. But why can't I get any result? "

"You don't think," Palliser asked rather nervously, "that it's because
you'd already decided what he was thinking?"

"Don't be a damned fool," said Sir Giles. "I hadn't decided. I know his
feeling about the girl, of course. She's a presentable bitch and
there's only one thing an unmarried senility like Arglay could be
thinking. You don't mean to tell me he's merely altruistic? But he
can't be thinking of lechery the whole time. He must be talking to her
about something-even God."

The Professor continued persistent. "You don't think you're imposing
your view on him?" he said. "After all, these others -your housekeeper
and the rest-we didn t know or care what they were thinking about. But
Arglay and this girl-you do or you say you do."

"Well, you don't seem to be much nearer," Sir Giles snapped. "What's
this blithering imbecility about protecting God?"

"I may not have got it quite right," Palliser admitted. "But
I certainly had the idea of protection, and of God. It may have been
the girl he wanted to protect."

"A damn good word, protection," Tumulty sneered, and for a minute or
two seethed up and down the room. Then he broke out: "Do you mean to
tell me Arglay can read my mind and I can't read his?"

"You know best," Palliser answered. "You know how far he knew what you
were doing, and how far you know what he
was.'

"He knew something about that Boy Scout of yours," Sir Giles said, "so
he must have seen something. By the way, I suppose he-what was his
filthy name? Pondon?-is going on his merry-go-round just the same? I'd
like to have a look at him. I suppose we can?"

"Only take care you don't get caught up in the past too," palliser
said. "But I should think you could see him if you wanted to. As I
understand it, all the past still exists and it's merely a matter of
choosing your point of view."

"I don't see," Sir Giles said thoughtfully, "I really don't see how
he's ever going to get back. Birlesmere's quite right-what we want is
to control the damned thing. If I could do that I'd -I'd make Arglay an
infant in arms and his girl an ... an embryo again. Friday-Saturday-
Sunday-Monday. It'll very soon be four days to the minute since your
fellow willed. I suppose he just goes on willing when he reaches the
top point? "

"The Stone being there too?" Palliser asked.

"I suppose so," Sir Giles meditatively answered. "If the past is
continually scaled off the present, the Stone is scaled off too. And he
goes on willing and dropping it. Let's have a look at him, Palliser!"
Palliser hesitated a little. "We want to be careful only to look," he
said. "Don't forget that half-hour."

Sir Giles looked black. "I don't," he said harshly. "But we can't do
anything about that now. And we only want to see the past from the
present. Come along, Palliser, let's try it. I desire-I will-to see-
what was his name? Hezekiah? 0, Elijah-I will without passing into the
past to see Elijah Pondon-something like that, eh? What was the exact
time-a quarter to seven, wasn't it? It's almost that now."

"Suppose," Lord Arglay said to Chloe, "two persons, each holding the
Stone or its Type, wished opposite things at once, what would happen
then?"

"Nothing probably," Chloe said.

"I wonder." Lord Arglay looked at the Type before them. "Nothing-or
would the stronger will ... ? The point is thisYou know the wretched
fellow Giles trapped? Well, he willed Of course; they must have
persuaded him so far. But he must have willed merely in obedience, in
anxiety to please, in a kind
of good-feeling-you see-? And at the moment he held a Type." He paused.

"Yes?" Chloe asked.

"It's all very difficult," Lord Arglay sighed. "But if the Stone is-
what the Hajji says-indivisible and that sort of thing, mustn't all the
Types be, so to speak, one? It sounds raving lunacy-but otherwise I
don't see ... And if they are, and if a fellow had one of the Types for
a moment, could we enlarge that moment by some other Type so that he
sawand did or didn't do what he did before? Do you see?"

"Not very well," Chloe said frankly. "Wouldn't you be altering the
past?"

"Not really," Lord Arglay went on arguing. "If the Types are one then
at his moment of holding his this fellow in Birmingham held this one,
and there his present touches our present."

"But then-you mean that Time is in the Stone, not the Stone in Time?"
Chloe asked.

"Eh?" said Lord Arglay, "do I? I believe I do. Lucid mind! But keep
your lucidity on the practical aspect. Eschew the
metaphysics for a moment, and tell me-don't you think we might offer
him other ways at that moment?"

"Why are we to be so anxious to help this poor man?" Chloe asked. "You
do dislike Sir Giles almost as much as I do, don't you, Lord Arglay?"

"I dislike tyranny, treachery, and cruelty," the Chief Justice said.
"And I think that this fellow has been betrayed and tyrannized over.
Whether it's cruelty depends on what his past was like. Besides, it's
got to be a kind of symbol for me-an omen. I can't believe the Stone
likes it."

"I don't suppose it does," Chloe said seriously.

A little startled, Lord Arglay looked at her. "My dear child," he said,
"do you really think-?" But as she looked up at him it was so clear
that she did think exactly that, and that it seemed quite natural to
her, that he abandoned his protest.

"We are," he thought to himself, "becoming anthropomorphic a little
rapidly. We shall be asking the Stone what it would like for breakfast
next." He played privately with the fancy of the
the        Stone absorbing sausages and coffee, and then decided to
postpone any protest for the moment. "After all, I don't know any more
than she does," he meditated, "perhaps it would like sausages and
coffee. Shall I end with a tribal deity? Well then, God help us all, it
shall be at least our deity and not Giles's and
Sheldrake's and Birlesmere's. Much nicer for everyone, I should think.
Now that we know we create gods, do not let us hesitate in the work."
He blinked inwardly at the phrase and proceeded. "But I have promised
to believe in God, and here )es        is a temptation to infidelity
already, since I know that any god in whom I can believe will be
consonant with my mind. So if I believe it must be in a god consonant
with me. This would seem to limit God very considerably."

"Do I really think what?" Chloe asked.

For a moment he did not answer. He considered her as she sat before
him, leaning a little forward, gravity closed over fire, waiting for
his answer, and "Yet it is very certain," Lord )Arglay thought, "that
things beyond my conscious invention exist and are to be believed. Also
that if I choose to attribute such an admirable creation to God I am
thereby enlarging my own ideas of Him, which by themselves would never
have
reached it. So that in some sense I do believe outside
myself."

"Nothing, nothing," he said to Chloe. "Return we to our sheep, our ewe
lamb. If his will worked merely in courtesy, might it not be swept by a
stronger will?" He began to walk up and down the room. "You know,
Chloe, I've a good mind to try it."

"Do be careful," Chloe said, with considerable restraint.

"I shall be extremely careful," Lord Arglay told her. "But don't forget
we are rather relying on the Stone to assist us. I admit that it's
purely logical and won't go against our wills, but perhaps it might
even elucidate the will. Anyhow," he  added suddenly, "I'm going to
try. But what the devil do I say to it?"

He took up a pencil and a sheet of paper and sat down, remaining for
some minutes engrossed. When he had at last, in deep concentration,
made several marks on the paper he threw it to Chloe. "There," he said.

It looked almost like a magical diagram. There was a rectangle in the
centre, with two or three small sketches within it which might have
been meant for human figures. Above it was written "6:45 or
thereabouts", and next to it "Pondon". Underneath "I will that in the
unity of the Stone I may know that moment and showthis present moment
to him who is in the past, and that I may return therefrom."

"The last phrase," Lord Arglay said, "sounds singularly unlike a
courageous English gentleman. But I shall do no good at all by being
stuck in last Friday. Otherwise it's almost as good as the Hajji."

"I think the Hajji would have added one thing," Chloe answered, and
blushing a little wrote at the end "Under the Protection"; then she
said hastily, "What is the drawing meant to be?"

"That is the room where Giles's experiment took place," Lord Arglay
explained. "The squizzle on the right is Pondon, the Greek decoration
on the left is Palliser, and the thousand-legged Hindu god underneath
is Giles himself. It's to help the mind. With the greatest respect to
the informing spirit of the Stone I don't want to leave more to it than
I can help." He looked at his watch. "Six-thirty-three," he said.
"Ought one to give the Stone a little rope?"

"You think the exact time necessary?" Chloe asked.

"Not logically, no," Arglay said. "It's merely to help my own mind
again. Strictly one could reach six-forty-five on Friday from any time
now. But the nearer we are the sharper the crisis seems to me to be.
Silly, but true."

"And what do I do?" Chloe asked.

Arglay looked at her a little wryly. "I think you'd better just sit
still," he said. "You might pray a little if you feel sufficiently
accustomed to believing in God." He picked up the Stone and settled
himself in his armchair. But before he could begin to concentrate Chloe
had moved her own chair to face him, and leaning forward, laid her
right hand over his that held the Stone. With her left she picked up
the diagram.

"Let me try too," she said. "I'd rather not be left here alone. "

"Be warned," Lord Arglay answered. "You may find yourself merely taking
down the history of Organic Law. Or even continually knocking
Palliser's chair away from him and getting your fingers cut infinitely
often."

"Let me try," she urged again. "Or do you think I might spoil it?"

"No," Arglay said. "I think you may save it. For I am sure you are the
only one of all of us who is heartily devoted to the Stone. Well, come
along then. Are you- comfortable?"

Chloe nodded. "Under the Protection," she said softly and suddenly, and
Lord Arglay, smiling a little but not at all in scorn, gravely
assented: "Under the Protection." And silence fell on the room.

Chloe was later on very indistinct in her own mind on what had actually
happened or seemed to happen. She was even shy of explaining it to Lord
Arglay, though she did manage to give him a general idea, encouraged by
the fact that he seemed to accept it as a perfectly normal incident.
For after some few minutes while she gallantly strove to keep her mind
fixed on the diagram at which she was gazing, and the unfortunate Mr.
Pondon, and Lord Arglay's almost unintelligibly fixed passion for
restoring him, and such difficult and remote things, it
seemed to her as if an inner voice very like Arglay's said firmly: "My
dear child, don't blether. You know perfectly well you don't care about
this at all. Do let us be accurate. Now."

She made, or so she thought, a general vague protest that
she was anxious to do what he wanted, but Arglay, or the Stone, or
whatever it was that was dominating her, swept this aside; she forgot
it in the sudden rush of her consciousness to its next point of rest.
And this point seemed to be the memory of Mr. Frank Lindsay. She found
herself remembering with a double poignancy at once how satisfactory
and how unsatisfactory he was. The poor dear did and was everything he
could be; he held her hand pleasantly, he kissed well, he displayed
becoming zeal, and if his talk was a little dull ... yes, but his talk
was not dull but alien. Talk, they all-and two or three other young men
arose in Chloe's mind-they all failed to be memorable in talk. There
came to her almost a cloud of phrases and sentences in different
voices-preceding, accompanying, following, incidents that had certainly
not been talk. They had been extremely delightful-incidents and
companions alike-she was an ungrateful creature. But her palm rested on
something that was warmer and closer and steadier than any kiss on that
palm had been, and the ends of her fingers touched a hand that was warm
and intimate and serene. And again the voice that was Arglay's or the
Stone's said within her: "Go on, child." In a sudden reaction it seemed
to her that she hated that intimate but austere government. She hung
suspended between it and Frank Lindsay. Times upon times seemed to pass
as she waited, without the power of choice between this and that,
hating to lose and fearing to gain either because of the loss of the
other that such gain must bring. She must, she thought vaguely, be
getting very old, too old to be loved or desired, too old to desire.
Her memories were spectral now; her companions and peers very faint and
circling round her in an unnoticing procession. And besides them what
else had there been in her life? There came to her a phrase -he Survey
of Organic Law.-Organic Law had never meant very much to her, and this
increasing loneliness and age was law, organic law. But again there
pierced through that loneliness the double strength upon which her hand
rested. The words grew sacramental; they had not existed by themselves
but as the communication-little enough understood-of a stored and
illuminated mind. Who was it, long before, had used those words? And
suddenly at a great distance she saw the figure of Lord Arglay as he
stood in Sir Giles's room holding the Stone -the justice of England,
direct in the line of the makers and expositors of law. Other names
arose, Suleiman and Charleniagne and Augustus, the Khalifs and Caesars
of the world, of a world in which a kiss was for a moment but their
work for a longer time, and though they grew old their work was final,
each in its degree, and endured. Between those figures and her young
lovers, now, in her increasing age, she could not stop to choose;
immediately and infinitesimally her mind shifted and she forgot her
throbbing past. It avenged itself at once; the names grew cold and the
figures vague as she dwelled in them. She seemed to meet the eyes of
the ghostly Arglay, and he smiled and shook his head. No longer strong
but very faint the same voice said to her: "Go on, child." But where
and how was she to go? A cold darkness was about her and within her,
and at the end of that darkness the high vision of instruction and fair
companionship was fading also in the night. Despairingly she called to
it; despairingly with all her soul she answered: "I will go on, I will,
but tell me how." The phantom did not linger gently to mock or comfort
her; it was gone, and around her was an absolute desolation which she
supposed must be death. All the pain of heart-ache she had ever known,
all negligences, desertions, and betrayals, were gathered here, and
were shutting themselves up with her alone. Beyond any memory of a hurt
and lonely youth, beyond any imagination of an unwanted and miserable
age, this pain fed on itself and abolished time. She lay stupefied in
anguish.

From somewhere a voice spoke to her, an outer voice, increasing in
clearness; she heard it through the night. "Child," Lord Arglay was
saying with a restrained anxiety, and then, still carefully, "Chloe!
Chloe, child!" She made a small effort
towards him, and suddenly the pain passed from her and the outer world
began to appear. But in the less than second in which that change took
place she saw, away beyond her, glowing between the darkness and the
returning day, the mild radiance of the Stone. Away where the
apparition of Lord Arglay had seemed to be, it shone, white
interspersed with gold, dilating and lucid from within. Only in the
general alteration of her knowledge she was aware of that perfection,
and catching up her breath at the vision she loosed it again in the
study and found the Chief Justice watching her.

Lord Arglay's own experience had been much more definable. He shaped in
his mind the image of the room in which he had seen the three men,
formulated as clearly as he could his desire to offer Pondon a way of
return, and made an effort towards submitting the whole thing to
whatever Power reposed in the Stone. He took all possible care to avoid
any desire towards an active imposition of his will, since it appeared
to him that such a desire involved not only danger to himself, but
probable failure in his attempt. Less moved, in spite of his
protestations, by the mere romanticism of the thing than Chloe,
unaffected by titles and traditions and half-ceremonial fables, he yet
arrived at something of the same attitude by a process of rationalism.
He did not know how far the Stone was capable of action-perhaps not at
all; but until he did know a great deal more about its potentialities
than he did at the moment, he refused to do more than make an attempt
to provide Pondon with a way of return. How far, and in what manner,
such a return would present itself to the consciousness of Sir Giles's
victim, he could not tell; the endeavour was bound to be experimental
only. But he did not primarily wish to move himself to the building at
Birmingham; he wanted to bring that complex of minds and place and time
again into the presence of the Stone. He resolved his thoughts into
lucidity and sat waiting.

For what seemed a long while nothing happened. Concentrated on his
thought he remained unconscious of the look of strain that gradually
occupied Chloe's face; at first he was vaguely conscious of her, then
he lost her altogether, For though there was at first no change either
in his surroundings or in his thought yet change there was. Something
was pressing against his eyes from-within; he felt unnaturally
detached, floating, as it were, in his chair. A slight nausea attacked
him and passed; his brain was swimming in a sudden faintness. The room
about him was the same and yet not the same. The table at his right
hand seemed to be multiplied; a number of identical tables appeared
beyond it in a long line stretching out to a vague infinity, and all
around him the furniture multiplied itself so. Walls that were and yet
were not transparent sometimes obscured it and sometimes dissolved and
vanished. He saw himself in different positions, now here, now there,
and seemed to recognize them. Whenever his mind paused on any one of
these eidola of himself it seemed to be fixed, and all the rest to
fade, and then his mind would relax and again the phantastmagoria would
close in, shifting, vanishing, reappearing. He became astonishingly
aware of himself sitting there, much more acutely so than in any normal
action; a hand was still on his, but it was not Chloe's or was it
Chloe's? No, it was another s hand, masculine, more aged; it was . . .
it was the Hajji's. Lord Arglay began to think: "But this is Friday
then,"-with an effort abolished the thought, and went on keeping the
problem in his mind clear. The myriad images of himself that
-        vacillated about him were vastly disconcerting-and there
were other people too, his servant, the Hajji, Chloe. He was
doing or saying something with each of them. It was like a
-        dream, yet it was not like a dream for distinct memory hovered
round him and he found that only by a strong inhibition could
he prevent  himself submitting to it and being conscious only of some
precise moment. The apprehensions began to deepen downwards and
outwards but not by the mere inclusion of neighbouring space. An
entirely new plane of things thrust itself in and across various of the
appearances; in an acute  angle almost like a wedge a different room
thrust itself down over a picture of himself talking to the Hajji, but
within this wedge itself were infinite appearances, swelling like a
huge balloon with a painted cover and loosing fresh balloons and new
thrusting wedges in all directions. In one group of superimposed layers
he was aware of Giles doing a thousand things, and then suddenly, as if
in a streak of white light driving right across the whole mirage he was
aware of Giles watching. In a new resolution he turned from Giles to
Pondon, but he couldn't see Pondon, or not at all clearly; it seemed to
him certainly that Pondon now and again was walking about, was walking
towards him, down a floor that ran level with his eyes, straight
towards the bridge of his nose. The physical discomfort of the
sensation was almost unbearable, but Lord Arglay held on. Pondon now
like a tiny speck was right up against him, and then the discomfort
vanished. A hand-not Chloe's, not the Hajji's, was closing round the
Stone in his own hand. Lord Arglay made another act of submission to
the Stone; all times were here and equal-if the captive of the past
could understand. The Stone seemed to melt, and almost before he had
realized it to reharden; the intruding hand was gone. There was a faint
crash somewhere, a sensation of rushing violence. Lord Arglay found
himself on his feet and gasping for breath while before him Chloe lay
pallid and silent and with shut eyes in her chair.

He stood still for a few seconds till he was breathing more normally
and had become more conscious of his surroundings; then, feeling
slightly uncertain of his balance, he sat down again. He became aware
that his hand and Chloe's were now closely interlocked; in the hollow
between the two he felt the Stone. He looked more carefully at his
secretary; he put out his other hand and felt the table near him; then
he sighed a little. "And I wonder," he said to himself, "if anything
has happened. Heavens, how tired I am! And what on earth is happening
to this child? She looks as if she were going through it too. Dare one
do anything? ... I wonder why Giles shot across like that. He didn't
seem to do anything. I wonder-I wonder about it all. Where is Pondon?
Where is Giles? Where am I? And above all where is my admirable
secretary? "

Very gently he disengaged their hands, but not entirely, restoring them
to the position they were in at the beginning of the experiment. He
looked at his watch; it marked six forty-seven. "I wonder," Lord Arglay
said, still staring at it, "if pondon caught the connexion. It's all
very difficult. . . . I seem," he added, "to remember saying that
before. Well . . ." He leantforward a little and said, softly, but
clearly, "Chloe.. . Chloe ... Chloe, child!"






                            Chapter Ten
f
                   THE APPEAL OF THE MAYOR OF RICH

Doncaster, having been suddenly thrown over by Mr. Sheldrake and Lord
Birlesmere, and himself in London with nobody wanting him,
determined to return to his holiday village. As he walked to the
station he found himself considerably irritated by the treatment he had
received. He had been asked by the police to be good enough to attend
this conference, and now he was flung into the street with the other
less important people. No one had explained anything to him. He didn't
even know who half the people he had seen were. He had heard Lord
Arglay's name and recognized it; he had a vague recollection of having
once read an extremely outspoken book by Sir Giles on the religious
aspect of the marriage customs of a tribe of cannibals in Polynesia.
But who Palliser was or the girl who had landed Palliser on the floor
he had no idea, nor why she had done it. Why had she rushed round and
flown at Sir Giles's throat? "I almost wish," he thought, "she'd flown
at mine. Or Sheldrake's. I should have liked to help her wring
Sheldrake's neck. I wonder if she hurt herself much. Anyhow it won't
matter if she's got one of the Stones. Why the devil didn't I take one?
Why does no one tell me what it's all about? Why did Sir Giles cut the
Stone to bits? And why did that girl want to stop him?" As far as Rich
he entertained himself with such questions.

Rich itself, when he arrived there, seemed to be similarly, but rather
more angrily, engaged. There were groups in the streets and at the
doors; there were dialogues and conversations proceeding everywhere.
There were policemen-a number of policemen-moving as unnoticeably as
possible through the slightly uncivil population. In fact it was,
Doncaster thought, as much like the morning after the night before on a
generous scale as need be. It occurred to him that he would go round
and see Mrs. Ferguson's sister on his way; it would be interesting to
know whether she remained in her recovered health -if he could reach
her, of course, because as he wandered towards her street the groups
seemed, in spite of the continually pacing police, to be larger and
more numerous. The street itself however was passable, though not much
more, and he had just turned into it, when he was startled into a pause
by a high shrill voice some distance off which called over the street,
"Where's the Stone? Take me to the Stone."

Oliver looked at the people near him. One man shook his head placidly
and said, "Ah there he is again." But the rest
were listening, he thought, almost sullenly, and one or two muttered
something, and another gave a short laugh. Conversations ceased; a
policeman, wandering by, caught Oliver's eye, and seemed to meet it
dubiously as if he were not quite certain what to do.

"Where's the Stone?" the voice shrilled again. "I want to see. Won't
some kind friend take a poor old blind man to the Stone?"

"What is it?" Oliver said to his nearest neighbour, the man who had
laughed.
"That's old Sam Mutton," the man said in a surly scorn. "Stone-blind
and half-dotty. He's heard of this Stone and he's made his grand-
daughter take him about the town all day to look for it." He lifted his
own voice suddenly and called back, -"No use, Sam, the police have got
it. It's not for you and me to get well with it."

The cry went over the silent street like a threat. But in answer the
old man's voice came back. "I can't see. I want to see. Take me to the
Stone." Each sentence ended in what was
nearly a prolonged shriek, and as Oliver took a pace or two forward he
saw the speaker in front of him. It was a very old man, bald and
wizened, approaching slowly, leaning on the one side on a stick, on the
other on the arm of a girl of about twenty, who, as they moved, seemed
to be trying to persuade him to return. She was whispering hurriedly to
him; her other hand lay on his arm. Even at a little distance Oliver
noticed how pale she was and how the hand trembled. But the old man
shook it off and began again calling out in that dreadful agonized
voice, "I want to se-ee; take me to the Sto-one."

On the moment the girl gave way. She collapsed on the ground, her arm
slipping from the old man's grasp so that he nearly fell, and broke
into a violent fit of hysterics. Two or three women ran to her, but
above her rending sobs and laughter her grandfather's voice went up in
a more intense refrain, "Where's the Stone? I can't see.-Nancy, I can't
see, take me to the Stone." The policeman had come back and was saying
something to Oliver's neighbour who listened sullenly.       _get him
home," Oliver heard, and heard the answer, "You get him home-if you
can." The policeman-he looked young and unhappy enough-went up to the
old man, saying something in a voice that tried to be comfortable and
cheering. But old Sam, if that were his name, turned and clutched at
him, and broke out in a shrill senile wail of passion that appalled
Oliver, "I'm dying, I'm dying. I want to see before I die. I'm dying. I
want to see. O kind, kind friends, will no one bring me to the Stone?"

"The police have got the Stone," Oliver's neighbour called. "Who cares
if you want to see? The police have got the Stone." "God blast the
police," said someone the other side of Oliver,

and a young working man, of about his own age, thrust himself violently
forward opposite the constable. "You, damn you, you've killed my wife.
My wife's dead, she died this morning, and the baby's dead-and they'd
have lived if I'd got the Stone." He made sudden gestures and the
policeman, letting go of the old man, stepped back. Oliver saw two or
three more helmets moving forward in support, and a voice behind him
said sharply, "Now then, now then, what's all this?"

He looked round. A group of men were pushing past him. One was a short
fierce-looking man, with an aggressive moustache; beside him was an
older and larger man, with a grave set face. Behind these two were a
police-inspector and two or three constables.

"What's all this?" said the little man angrily. "Constable, Why aren't
you keeping the street clear? Don't you know your orders? Who's this
man? Why are you letting him make all this noise? What's he got to do
with it? Don't you know we can hear him all over the town? Gross
incapacity. You'll hear more of this."

The young constable opened his mouth to speak and shut it again. The
tall man laid his hand on his companion's arm. "One man can't do
everything, Chief Constable," he said in a low voice. "And Sam's a
difficult person to deal with. I think we'd better leave it to the
inspector here to deal with things quietly."

"Quietly?" the Chief Constable snapped. "Quietly! Look here, Mr. Mayor,
you've been at me all day to do things quietly, and I've given in here
and given in there, and this is the end of it." He looked over his
shoulder. "Clear the street at once, inspector," he said. "And tell
that old dodderer that if he makes another sound I'll have him in
prison for brawling. "

The Mayor said firmly, "You can't arrest him; he's a well-known
character here, and everyone's sorry for him and his grand-daughter.
Besides, it's natural enough that he should be crying out like this."

"I don't care whether it's natural or not," the Chief Constable
answered. "'He's not going to do it here. Now, inspector, I'm waiting."

The inspector signed to his men, who began to make separate and gentle
movements forward. But after a step or two the
advance flickered and ceased. The general murmur, "Now then, now then,
you can't hang about here," died in and into the silence with which it
was received. The crowd remained sullenly fixed.

"Inspector!" the Chief Constable said impatiently.

The inspector looked at Oliver who was close to him, recognized his
kind, and said in a low almost plaintive voice, "Now, sir, if you'd
start some of them would get away."

"And why the devil," Oliver asked very loudly, "should we get away?"

There was a stiffening in the crowd near him, a quick murmur, almost
the beginning of a cheer. The Mayor and the Chief Constable both looked
at Oliver.

"Say that again, my man," the latter said, "and I'll have you in prison
for resisting the police."

"The Lord Chief Justice," Oliver said, more loudly still, "is entirely
opposed to the action of the Government." He had hardly meant to say
that, but as soon as it was said he thought hastily that in the
morning's conference the ChiefJustice hadn't seemed to be exactly one
with the Government. But he realized in a minute that his sentence,
meaning one thing, had meant to his hearers quite another. A more
definite noise broke out around him. "This," he thought, "is almost a
roar."

The Chief Constable began to say something, but the Mayor checked him
with a lifted hand. "Do I understand you, sir," he asked, "to say that
the Chief Justice considers the action of the Government illegal? Do
you speak from your own certain knowledge?"

Oliver thought of saying, "Well, I don't know about illegal," but the
phrase was so deplorably weak that he abandoned it. Besides, in that
large room at the Foreign Office-Lord Birlesmere, Sir Giles, Chloe's
bleeding fingers-"The Chief Justice's secretary," he said clearly, "was
seriously injured this morning in-protesting against-the action of-
certain associates of the Government, and the Chief Justice takes
the most serious view of the situation."

This might be a little compressed, he felt; Lord Arglay's actual words
had seemed a trifle less official. And seriously injured? Still ...

The inspector stood still, looking worried, and glanced gloomily at the
Chief Constable, who was making half-audible noises. The Mayor
considered Doncaster evenly. Somebody behind shouted, "The Government's
broken the law," and Oliver felt a little cold as he heard this final
reduction of his own sentences to a supposed fact. In the following
silence, "I want the Stone," the old man wailed again.

"We all want the Stone," another voice called, and another, "Who cares
what they say? We want the Stone." Cheers and shouts answered. A man
stumbled heavily against the inspector who was thrown back upon the
Chief Constable.

The incident might have become a mélée if the Mayor had not intervened.
He held up both arms, crying in a great voice, "Silence, silence!
Silence for the Mayor," and went to a horsetrough near by, motioning to
Oliver to follow him; by whose assistance he mounted on the edge of the
trough. Holding to an electric light standard he began to address the
crowd.

"Good people," he said in a stentorian voice, "you all know me. I will
ask you to return to your homes and leave me to discover the truth
about this matter. I am the Mayor of Rich, and if the people of Rich
have been injured it is my business to remedy it and help them. If, as
appears, the Stone of which we have heard is able to heal illness, and
if the Government are using it, as swiftly as may be, for that purpose,
it is the duty of all good citizens to accept what delay the common
good of all demands. But it is equally their right to be assured that
the Government is doing its utmost in the matter, day and night, so
that not a single moment may be lost in freeing as many as May be from
pain and suffering. I shall make it my concern to discover this at
once. I know the hindrances which must, and I fear those which may,
follow on what has happened. I will myself go to London." He paused a
moment, then he went on. "Some of you may know that my son is dying of
cancer. If it is a matter of ensuring swiftness and order he and I will
be the last in all the country to claim assistance. But I tell you this
that you may be very sure that he shall not suffer an hour longer than
need be because of the doubts or fears or stupidities of the servants
of the people. Return to your homes and tomorrow at this time you shall
know all that I know." He paused again and ended with a loud cry, "God
save the King."

"God save the King!" yelled Oliver in a thrill of delight, and assisted
the Mayor to descend. Who turned on him at once and went on talking
before the Chief Constable could interrupt.

"I shall want you," he said. "I want all the information you can give
me, and I may need your personal help. Are you free? But it doesn't
matter whether you are or not. I demand your presence in the name of
the King and by the authority of my office. We will go to the Town Hall
first. Barker," he went on, to a man behind him, "see that the car is
kept all ready in front of the Town Hall. Inspector, I rely on you to
see that the promise I have made is published everywhere, and I warn
you that the bench will examine very carefully any case of reported
brawling brought before them in this connexion. Chief Constable, I am
obliged for your assistance, but I think the situation is well in hand,
and the chief magistrate can dispense with any outside help. Come
along, young man-what is your name.

What account exactly Oliver gave the Mayor he was never very clear.
But, whatever it was, it was bound to confirm in the other's mind the
importance of the Stone and the need for urgint and immediate action on
the Government. Once in the Town Hall, Oliver found himself in a maze
of action. There was a small, stout, and facetious alderman who was
apparently being left in charge as deputy mayor; there was an auburn
and agitated Town Clerk; there were the girl typists who are
spread all over England; there were commissionaires and chauffeurs and
telephones and councillors and a male clerk-Oliver had had no idea so
many people could accumulate in the seat of authority of a small
country town. He was rather curious to learn what the Mayor's own name
was, and at last by dint of studying the notices on the wall discovered
that it was Clerishaw-Eustace Clerishaw. He had hardly fixed on this
when its'owner was on him again.

"I shall want you to come with me," the Mayor said. "I am going to
London at once."

"But what good shall I be?" Oliver asked, as he was hurried to the
door, but without any real regret at finding himself thus caught up
again in the operations of the Stone.

"I may," the Mayor went on, "want to see Lord Arglay, but I shall go to
the Home Office first."

"If you get as much satisfaction as we did at the Foreign Office,"
Oliver answered, "you'll be there for months. What do you think they'll
do?"

The Mayor, taking no notice, pushed him out of the Town Hall and
followed him. There was a large crowd at the entrance, and a cheer went
up when they appeared. As they hurried down to the car which stood in
readiness a policeman sprang to open it and Oliver recognized the young
constable he had seen before. They scrambled in; the policeman banged
the door, and put his head in.

"Good luck, sir," he said. "Good luck and give them hell."

"Heavens above," thought Oliver as he sat down, "the Pretorian Guard's
beginning to mutiny."

For the rest of the journey he was undergoing a close interrogation,
and by the time they reached London the Mayor seemed more or less
satisfied. He sat back and stretched his legs.

"The Deputy Mayor, with the help of my clerk and so on," he said, "is
getting into touch with all the Mayors in the district. During Sunday
crowds from at least five
other centres came out to Rich, and returned, I fear, with very little
satisfaction. I have been asked questions by all the Mayors, but until
I found you I had very little information to go on. "

"I shouldn't think you'd got much now," Oliver said. The Mayor looked
at his notes. "As I understand," he went on, slowly, "the matter is at
present in the hands of the Foreign Office, and some kind of strain
exists between that Department and the Lord Chief Justice. I heard from
Mr. Sheldrake -whom I saw for a few minutes yesterday-that Lord Arglay
was in some way connected with the whole thing-indeed, Mrs. Sheldrake
seemed to think he was responsible for the trouble. But I have always
been very much impressed by such of Lord Arglay's judgements as I have
been able to read and follow, and I was greatly struck by an article of
his I once read on the Nature of Law. A little abstract, perhaps, but
very interesting; he defined law provisionally as 'the formal
expression of increasing communal self-knowledge' and had an excursus
comparing the variations in law with the variations in poetic diction
from age to age, the aim being to discover the best plastic medium for
expression in action. Very interesting."

"He didn't look a bit like that this morning," Oliver said. "He just
surveyed everything, though he moved quickly enough when that foul
Tumulty creature was slashing round with a knife-at least, he told me
to move."

"I think the best plan," the Mayor said unheeding, "would be for you to
go straight to him. He may not, in his position, be able to do
anything, but he said in that article that law. should be an exposition
of, not an imposition on, the people-so he may be more or less in
sympathy. Yes, you go there-I had the address looked up-while I go to
the Home Secretary's; it's no use trying Whitehall-I'd better go to his
private house first. If I can get no satisfaction ......

"Do you expect to?" Oliver asked.

The Mayor was silent for a few minutes, then he said quite quietly,
"No, I don't. I expect there'll be trouble before we get our way.
That's why I want to know about the Chief Justice. If he's on our side
it will help us amazingly."

Oliver tried to imagine the large placid form who had sat comfortably
opposite him at the conference leading the crowd from Rich-by-the-Mere
to attack London. But though that picture faded too quickly, he
realized as he thought that the assistance of the Chief Justice would
give the riot an emblem of authority which would transform it into a
rebellion. Only he couldn't see Lord Arglay doing it, and he was no
nearer to seeing it when the Mayor turned him out of the car at
Lancaster Gate and went on, leaving him staring at the front door which
concealed the Justice of England. The justice of England, he reflected,
might be out; nothing in the present state of things was more probable.
A little more cheerfully he rang the bell, and his hopes were defeated.
The maid would see if Lord Arglay was at home. Mr. Doncaster? Would he
take a seat?

"Doncaster?" Lord Arglay said, looking at Chloe. "Doncaster? Ought I
to.... I do, vaguely."

"I think he was there this morning," Chloe said. "Just a minute." She
looked among her papers. "Yes, he was, I made a list of their names in
case they should be useful."

"I sometimes think," Arglay said, glancing down the slip of paper she
gave him, "that the law of cause and effect isn't really understood.
Since whatever you do is bound to be justified, justification is
produced. This Mr. Doncaster comes merely as a result of your having
written down his name. Shall we ask him what he thinks-poor deluded
wretch!-made him call here?"

They had, at the moment of Oliver's arrival, been arguing whether it
was safe for Chloe to go home alone. She had wished to go as usual; the
Chief Justice had offered his car, his servants ("though none of them,"
he put in, "would be useful") and himself to take her. Alternatively,
was there no friend she could telephone to, who could call at the house
and look after her. "If you won't stop here, that is."

But this, considering that the servants knew nothing of the crisis, and
considering also matters of dress and convenience, Chloe declined to
do. She was more uncertain about summoning Mr. Lindsay. Frank had been
rather badly treated-and he was almost certain to be in, working-and he
would love to be called on. Ought she to give him the pleasure? "But we
should have to tell him," she said aloud, half-unconsciously.

"The papers," Lord Arglay said, "have already done a good deal of that.
And a friend of yours-" with a gesture he opened the secret to her
friend's entrance.

Duty could sometimes be pleasure, Chloe thought looking at him, and
certainly pleasure sometimes looked remarkably like duty. Still ...
after all, Frank had had a difficult Saturday. And nothing at all of a
Sunday, since she had refused to stir out for fear she might be wanted.
After a brief explanation therefore she got through to Frank, offered a
tepid request, and came back feeling unexpectedly gloomy. It was then
that Oliver had arrived.

"Yes, O yes," Chloe said, "I should ask him. I'll go and wait for Mr.
Lindsay in the hall." That, she felt, described her existence-she would
always be waiting for someone in the hall. While the great people
talked in studies and drawingrooms. She rather hoped Frank wouldn't
come, then she could get off by herself before the Chiefjustice had
finished with this Mr. Doncaster. What was the shortest time she could
decently wait?

"Show Mr. Doncaster in," Lord Arglay said to the maid. "And when a Mr.
Lindsay whom I'm expecting comes, show him in. If," he went on to
Chloe, "this fellow has anything really secret I'll take him away,
while you tell your friend as much as you choose of the story. If you
can remember it, which is more than I shall be able to do soon. I do
wish I knew what, if anything, had happened at Birmingham. If that
fellow Pondon has come back what a difficulty he'll have explaining to
the police. Mr Doncaster? Why yes, I remember you this morning now-Miss
Burnett, if you remember Miss Burnett, remembered you before. Do sit
down."

"Thank you very much, Lord Arglay," Oliver said, obeying.

"An extraordinary business, isn't it?" the Chief Justice went on. "How
goes your end?-whichever is your end. For I'm ashamed to say I am not
quite clear what party you are of, so to speak. Mr. Sheldrake's, wasn't
it?"

Oliver crossed his legs. "I represent," he said gravely, "the people. I
am the autos of their autocratic mouth. I am the sovereign will. I am
...... The solemn tone of his mock pro.- clamation faded, and he ended,
lamely and seriously, "the people."

Lord Arglay observed the change of tone and looked at him carefully.
"And how do the people come in?" he asked.

Oliver, as best he could, explained. As he began he felt a fool, but
his eyes lit on the strip of black silk across Chloe's hand-she had
declined to attempt to heal it by the Stone and he derived therefrom a
certain strength. After all, this girl had knocked the Professor over
and attacked Sir Giles; she had thrust herself across the will of that
unpleasant little beast. And Sir Giles had been left with Sheldrake at
the Foreign Office when the rest of them were turned out. And the
people were clamouring for life and health from that Mystery which the
police, on behalf of the American, had pouched.

"I don't quite see," Lord Arglay said when he had done, "on what
grounds you asserted so strongly that I disapproved Of the Government."

"Well, sir," Oliver said, "I thought you approved of Miss Burnett."

` "I always approve of Miss Burnett," Arglay answered. "It would be
temperamentally impossible to me to have a secretary of whom I
disapproved. But approving of Miss Burnett has not, from the beginning,
been necessarily equivalent to disapproving of the Government."

"But in this case, sir ... ?" Oliver suggested.

The Chief Justice shook his head. "No, no," he said. "In the first
place I don't know what they are doing; in the second, I neither
approve nor disapprove of governments, but of men and that only
according to the order and decision of the laws. I am a chair, Mr.
Doncaster, not a horse-not even Rosinante."

"But if Don Quixote came before the chair?" Oliver asked.

"I should think he is very likely to, if he goes on as he is at
present," Arglay said drily. "But even then-Don Quixote or Don Juan or
the Cid Ruy Diaz the Campeador-it is all one. I have not eyes to see
nor mouth to speak but as the laws shall direct me."

"But if it is a case beyond any law?" Oliver said.

"There is no case beyond law," the Chief justice answered. "We may
mistake in the ruling, we may be deceived by outward things and cunning
talk, but there is no dispute between men which cannot be resolved in
equity. And in its nature equity is from those between whom it exists:
it is passion acting in lucidity."

"Mr. Lindsay," the maid said, opening the door. Chloe stood up stiftly
and went forward to meet him, and as she did so it seemed to Oliver as
if Arglay's last phrase took on a sudden human meaning. A vivid
presence passed him, and he found himself gravely reconstructing the
meaning of those words. On a sudden impulse he turned to Lord Arglay.
"Is that what you would call Miss Burnett's action this morning?" he
asked.

For a moment the Chief Justice frowned; it appeared to him unnecessary
that this Mr. Doncaster should remark on anything Chloe had chosen to
do. But the neatness of the phrase placated him; he looked at Oliver
with cautious but appreciative eyes. "I will admit, at least," he said,
"that, entirely as a private man, I regard Giles Tumulty as something
very nearly without the law." He stepped forward to meet Frank.

The half-hour which followed was not one on which Chloe looked back,
for some time, without growing hot. It was largely she felt, Mr.
Doncaster's fault for arriving so late; it was largely Frank's for
arriving so soon. He had been dragged from his surveyor's studies to
take her home, and she didn't want to go-not until she knew whether
this Mayor was coming. But if she didn't go at once she must explain,
and how could she explain in front of Mr. Doncaster? And why did Frank
look so dull? And why, in an effort to be conversational, must he ask
her at once if she had hurt her hand? And why was the Chief Justice
displaying a remote intention of leaving her to talk to Frank while he
went back to Mr. Doncaster? She managed to introduce them, in order (by
the exercise of a certain dexterity which she was uneasily conscious
Lord Arglay patiently humoured), to move the conversation-it was no
more lightly done-on to the common subject of Mr. Sheldrake. But it
continually showed signs of breaking into two halves, and at the end of
about a quarter of an hour she began wretchedly to make the first
preparations for departure. She put one or two papers together, she
opened her handbag, and saw within it the white silk handkerchief in
which her Type of the Stone had been wrapped. Under cover of a
monologue of Lord Arglay's she pushed aside the soft opaqueness and
gazed at the Mystery. Nothing, she thought, had ever looked more feebly
useless, more dull and dead, than that bit of white stone. The flakings
were not gold, they were yellow; they were obviously merely accidental
and it was only a perverse fancy that could see in the black smudges
the tracing of the Divine Name. She put her hand down sharply to cover
it again, and found that her fingers were unwilling to move. Dared she
so, in action, deny the Stone? Thought was multitudinous but action
single. A pushing aside or a ritual veiling?---one it must be. Nobody
could see or know what she did, yet she felt as  if an expectancy lay
around, as if something waited, docile but immortal, the consequences
of her choice. "Cowardly fool!" Chloe said to herself and, so
protesting against her own action, drew Lord Arglays handkerchief
ceremonially over the Stone.

In spite of her delay, she had reluctantly gone, attended by Mr.
Lindsay, before the Mayor of Rich arrived at Lancaster Gate. He was
shown in at once and Oliver, hastily presenting him to the Chief
Justice, said urgently: "Well, what happened?"

The Mayor answered slowly: "I have had to remind the Home Secretary
that the office of Mayor is filled, not by the decision of the
Government, but by the choice of the people."

"Have you indeed?" Oliver said.

"I had some difficulty in getting to see him," the Mayor went on, "and
when I did he was bent on assuring me that the matter was being dealt
with. I pressed him to tell me more. I pointed out that I was
responsible for order in the town, and that the effect of maintaining
secrecy would be highly damaging. We had a long discussion and in the
end I was compelled to point out to him that, if no satisfactory
statement were made, I should be driven to place the resources of the
mayoralty at the disposal of any constitutional agitation that might
arise. I was very careful to say 'constitutional.' It was then that he
threatened me with removal and I reminded him that the Mayors came by
vote of the Town Council who are chosen by the people."





                          Chapter Eleven

                THE FIRST REFUSAL OF CHLOE BURNETT

Chloe's chief regret, when she and Frank got out of her bus at
Highgate, was that there was a quarter of an hour's walk before them.
She made a half-hearted effort-half-hearted on his account as much as
hers-to persuade him to return at once, but when this failed she
resigned herself to his inevitable desire to discuss the whole matter.
Saturday afternoon's experience, the Sunday papers, things said that
evening, had made it impossible to keep from him the secret of the
Stone. But, accustomed to him as she was, she seemed to hear in his
voice a hint of anxiety which at first she attributed to his concern
for her.

"It shows you things in your mind?" he said as they turned
a corner.

"Apparently," Chloe assented. "At least, it showed Lord Arglay Sir
Giles's mind."

He was silent for a minute or two. Then: "Tells you things?" he went
on, following his own thoughts.

Chloe considered. "Tells you?" she asked at last.

"Things you mightn't know-or might have forgotten," he answered. "It
would make things clear to you, wouldn't it? If it shows you thoughts."

"I Suppose it might," Chloe said, rather vague about what he meant and
a little irritated at her vagueness. There was
 another short silence.

"And it can be separated?" Frank said.

"No," said Chloe firmly, "it can't. Or only by people like Sir Giles."

The pause after this began to annoy her; the conversation was going in
spasms like hiccups. "Let's talk of something else," she said. "It's
only a month to the exam., isn't it? I do hope you'll get through."

"I suppose," he answered lightly, "you wouldn't like to lend me the
Stone?"

"To-" Chloe stared. "The Stone? Whatever for?"

"Well," said Frank, "if it shows you things-I mean, if it helps the
mind, the memory or whatever ... well, don't you see-if one could
remember at the right time-" He made a second's pause and went on
"That's where an examination's so unfair; one can't remember everything
just at the minute and just forgetting one single fact or formula that
one knows perfectly well throws the whole thing out. It isn't even a
case of wanting to be sure one would remember       !because one would
remember if one didn't forget-I mean, if one wasn't afraid of
forgetting. It isn't, in that way, as if there was any unfairness. I
wouldn't dream of taking an unfair advantage; it wouldn't really be
doing more than taking an aspirin if one had a headache on the day.
Lots of the fellows have mnemonics-it'd only be feeling that one had a
pretty good system. It isn't as if-"

"Frank, do stop," Chloe said. "What is it you want?"

"I've just told you," Frank said. "Would you lend me the Stone just
till after my exam.?"

"No, I wouldn't," Chloe answered. "I'm sorry, Frank, but I really
can't."

"Well-if you don't want to part with yours-I quite understand-would you
... make one for me?" Frank asked. "You know how important it is for me
to get through, darling. I don't know what'll happen if I muff it."

"I suppose you'll go in again," Chloe said, anger growing within her.
It was only, she warned herself, that Frank didn't -and, not knowing
all about it, couldn't-understand. But nobody-nobody-did understand,
she least of all.

"Well-perhaps," said Frank, defeated by this realism. "But
it'd be much more convenient to get through at once. It might mean a
great deal more than a year later on-it gives one a better chance."

Chloe made a small effort. "Dear Frank," she said, "I hate to seem a
pig, but I couldn't ... I couldn't do that-not with the Stone."

"But it wouldn't be unfair," Frank urged. "Anyone who can manage any
way of remembering things does-short of writing them down. It's only
just to safeguard the mind against a sort of stage-fright; just a sort
of... of... cooling-mixture."

"O God," Chloe said suddenly, "is there no end?"

Frank looked at her in a hurt surprise. "I shouldn't think I was asking
very much," he said, "not if you really want me to pass. You might know
that I wouldn't ask you to do anything unfair. It doesn't put me in a
better position; it only prevents me being in a worse. They'd all do as
much if they could."

"I don't care if they would or not. I don't care whether it's right or
fair or whatever you call it or not," Chloe answered. "Frank, do try
and see it. It's just that we can't use the Stone like that."

"But why not?" Frank asked in mere bewilderment. "If it can do all
those things? Your Lord Arglay's been using it, hasn't he?"

"Not for himself," Chloe answered.

"But I'm not asking you to use it for yourself. It's really an
unselfish thing you'd be doing in lending it to me, or giving me one,"
Frank urged. "I did think you'd like me to passbut I suppose you don't
care about that either."

"Don't be, beastly, Frank," Chloe said.

"It doesn't look much like it, anyhow," the misguided Frank went on.
"You don't seem to mind other people being helped-and I don't
understand why you won't. You've always been out to make the best of
your chances, and you won't do the same for me. You'd use it quick
enough to save yourself being sacked, I expect."

"I wouldn't," Chloe said sharply. "I wouldn't use it to buy myself food
if I was starving."

"O don't talk rubbish," Frank said and fell into sullenness. They
walked on silently. He had dropped her arm or she had dropped his;
anyhow, they were disjoined. Her hands were empty but for the handbag,
and in that ridiculous bag the absurd Cause. It seemed from its
seclusion to taunt her. "Throw me away," it seemed to be saying, "throw
me into the gutter. Am I worth all this trouble?" It wouldn't, she
thought, with a touch of sanity, please Frank any better if she did-not
Frank. He wouldn't appreciate the gesture. Besides, it wasn't her
business to throw it away. "I am yours," the Stone gibed at her, "your
own-throw me away. You're in danger of throwing him away." From
somewhere her memory brought up a text-"My lovers and friends hast thou
set afar from me; and hid my acquaintance out of my sight." She didn't
want him to go like this.

"Darling," she breathed tentatively, "don't be cross. I'd do anything I
could."

"That," said Frank coldly, "isn't true, Chloe. It's a quite simple
thing and you won't do it. Very well; it's your Stone. But it's no good
saying you'd do it if you could. You can and you won't."

"Do it," something said to her, "do it. Why ever not? Are you setting
up to know what's right? Do it, and be a real friend to him."
Friendship-after all, ought she to do for her friend what she wouldn't
do for herself? Ought she to break her heart and do it? Was it only her
own wish she was safeguarding?

From her own point of view it was by the mercy of the Stone that Frank
said again at this moment, with a touch of superior and angry
rationalism-"Yes, you can and you won't."

"Very well then," Chloe said, stopping dead. "I can and I won't. And
now go away. Go away or I shall hate you. Go."

"I prefer to see you right home," Frank said formally.

"I don't want you to," Chloe said. "I can't bear it. O Frank do go-"

"I don't want to be nasty," he said irresolutely, "but I can't see why
you won't. I've explained to you that it wouldn't be unfair."

"I know, I know," Chloe said. "Good-night. I'll write tomorrow."

"O well, good-night," Frank answered, and found himself looking after
her in a temper of which he had never imagined she could be the cause.
"So ridiculous," he thought; "women never can reason clearly, but I did
think she was more intelligent. It isn't very much to ask her to do for
anyone she professes to like. But it's always the same; everybody wants
to have their own way."

Still meditating on the insufficiency of human virtue he turned back
towards the terminus at the bottom of Highgate Hill. Anxious, however,
as he might be, to see Chloe's point of view, it eluded him with
persistent ingenuity. As a friend, as something-well, different from a
friend-she ought to havc wanted to help him. Not that he found it easy
to accept the Stone, but his incredulity was a good deal intimidated by
the sudden arrival of Mrs. Sheldrake on the Saturday, the columns of
the Sunday papers, the rather mysterious position of Lord Arglay, and
Chloe's own great concern with it. He thought rather vaguely of radium,
vita-glass, magnetism, and psychoanalysis, the possibility of some
quickening power exercised on the brain, or some revitalization of the
nervous functions. The last phrase appeared plausible enough to cover
all instances of recovery to health and what--so far as he could see--
was a sort of mind-reading. As for movement in space '' - - perhaps it
was hardly so satisfactory there. Nervous functions would have to be
thoroughly vitalized in order....

A fresh voice interrupted him. He looked up to see another friend--but
this time a young man.

"Hullo, Carnegie," he said gloomily.

Albert Carnegie looked at him with an irritating cheerfulness.

"What's the gloom about?" he asked. "Why the misery?,,

"I'm not miserable," Lindsay said perversely. "Why should I be
miserable?"

"Sorry," Carnegie answered. "I thought you were looking a bit under the
weather."

"It's this damned examination, I expect," Lindsay said. "I've been
sticking to it close enough, these last days."

Carnegie turned. "I'll walk back with you," he said. "How's Miss
Burnett?"

"Well enough, I suppose," Miss Burnett's friend answered. "But she's
got mixed up with all the business about this Stone in the papers, and
she's a bit on edge about it."

"What, the Stone that makes people well?" Carnegie asked.

"Makes anyone do anything," Lindsay told him, "so far as I can
understand. Makes people fly or jump or see into each other's minds, so
they say."

"Fly!" the other exclaimed.

"Well, if you don't call getting from one place to another in
practically no time flying, I don't know what you do call it," Lindsay
said. "And I saw something like it happen myself, so I can't say it's
all tripe."

"Do you mean you saw someone move through the air by using this Stone?"
Carnegie asked.

"I saw a woman suddenly appear where she hadn't beenand Chloe says
she's seen it done, seen Lord Arglay disappear and reappear and have
been somewhere in between. It all sounds nonsensical enough, but what
with what I saw and Chloe and the papers together I don't know what to
think."

Carnegie walked on for some distance in silence, his mind occupied with
a side of the question which had so far onlY occurred to Mr. Sheldrake
and Reginald Montague and to them in a limited sense. But Carnegie's
occupation happened to be in the headquarters of the National Transport
Union, and while Lindsay was talking there came to him the idea that
if--only if, because of course there couldn't-but if there were
anything to it, then it was the sort of it that the General Secretary
of the Union would think was most distinctly his own business. Any
violent disturbance of transport would be, and this would be a very
violent disturbance. At least if there were more thanone, or perhaps a
few Stones. It was against nature that there should be more.

"I suppose there are only one or two Stones in existence, so far as we
know?" he said in a few minutes, as casually as possible.

"It doesn't seem to matter," Lindsay answered, still brooding over his
grievance. He broke into a short explanation of his desires and was
gratified by the concentration with which Carnegie listened. "So that,"
he ended, "I really don't think it's too much to suggest. It gives her
no trouble and no one could call it unfair."

"And every single one of these things has the same power?" Carnegie
asked.

"I know it's all ridiculous, but that's their story," Lindsay agreed.
"So one would think that Chloe . . ."

"And who have got them now?" Carnegie interrupted.

"Well, Chloe has, and this Sheldrake man, and Arglay I suppose . . . I
wish Chloe wasn't with Arglay; I think he's none too good an influence.
These lawyers are such hidebound pedants very often, and Chloe's rather
open to suggestion. I don't mean that she's weak exactly, but she's
rather overanxious to please, and doesn't take her own line sometimes
as strongly as she ought to. Now she might have seen that in a thing
like this she ought to exercise her own judgement and not be dominated
by legal forms."

. "Yes," said Carnegie, whom Chloe only interested at the moment as one
of the holders of the Stone. "Anyhow there must be a good few knocking
about at the present moment,
and more to be made at any time?"

They had come out into the main road opposite a large Evening News
placard which announced "Interview with Mrs. Ferguson." Another close
by stated "Where the Stone came from," and a star placard "The Stone-
Government Action. Official." The Evening Standard's "The Situation at
Rich" was comparatively out of date. Carnegie looked at them. It might
be, it certainly was, a hoax somehow or other, but even as a hoax he
thought the General Secretary would like to know. The only question
was-now or in the morning? At the Tube entrance he left Lindsay who
went on his way meditating over Chloe's perversity.

If he had been able to press his request again at that moment he might
have gained it. For Chloe was lying in bed, miserable enough, and, with
her habitual disposition (as Mr. Lindsay had very nearly understood) to
wonder if she had behaved unkindly to others, was almost regretting her
firmness. It seemed now so small a thing that Frank had wanted, and she
might have been merely selfishly one-ideaed-and her own ideaed in
refusing him. After all, Lord Arglay had made use of the Stone. Yes,
but that had been for someone else's good. And had not she been asked
only to help another's good? It wasn't her examination. And would not
Lord Arglay have had her use it for her own good? had not he bidden her
use it, if need were, if there were danger? Yes, danger, but Frank's
desire to pass an examination could hardly be called danger. (Besides
even in danger-could she?) She couldn't see Lord Arglay using it to
make himself Chief Justice, though he might to ensure a right judgement
and proper sentence. But had she any right to inflict on Frank her own
interpretation of what the Chief Justice's will might be? Frank had no
particular use for the Chief Justice. It would be, she thought,
convenient if they could ask of Suleiman ben Daood himself what the
proper use of the Stone was, though even Suleiman, as far as she
remembered the legends she had studied a few days before, had fallen
sometimes from wisdom. Asmodeus had sat on his throne, and pharaoh's
daughter had deceived him, and he had built altars to strange gods. She
remembered Lord Arglay's bargain of that evening; was she really
supposed to be believing in God? And if so, who? or what? Suleiman's?
Presumably. Or Octavius Caesar's or Charlemagne's or Haroun-al-
Raschid's--supposing they all had one? Or the Stone's own God?

Half-unconsciously her hand felt for it where it lay under her pillow
in its silken veil, and as she touched it sleep or some other healing
power flowed through her. Asleep or awake, at once or after a long
time-it seemed both in the dream that possessed her-she seemed to see
before her a great depth of space that changed itself while she looked
into it and became a hall with carved pillars and a vast crowd surging
through it. Far off she heard a roaring that grew louder and by its own
noise divided and ordered the crowd so that the many small scurrying
figures were heaped in masses on either side. She felt herself
somewhere among them, but not in any one place; she was carried through
them, seeing all round her brown faces and long dark beards and bright
turbans and cloaks, the roaring still in her ears. And then the crowd
opened before her and she saw suddenly the great centre of the whole,
but first in masses and only afterwards its own central height. For to
right and left as she gazed there expanded huge gatherings of seated
men: on the one side men in the same cloaks and head-dresses she had
already seen, with little rolls or boxes fastened to their foreheads
and wrists, and some of them held antique parchment in their hands.
Their faces were Jewish, and mostly very old and lined with much
thought, only here and there she saw one and another young and ardent
and again one and another still older than most but astonishingly full
and clear and happy. Over against them, but with a broad aisle between
them were another company, in many different garbs and all unknown to
her; or almost all, for among -the turbans and helmets and diadems she
saw suddenly a Chinese mandarin sitting gravely watchful, and another
whose bearded
face came to her as if she had looked on it ina gallery of high
statuary among divine heads of Aphrodite and Apollo, of Theseus and
Heracles and Aesclepius. But most of the rest were strange and
terrible, only not so terrible as those on whom her eyes next rested.
For beyond these, and again in two opposing companies, she saw figures
that seemed larger or lesser than mortal man, and other figures who
were of other natures and kept in them only a faint image of humanity.
There a seeming fountain twisted its ascending and descending waters
into such a simulacrum, and there again was one having many heads, and
one again whose writhing arms encircled him round and round and
sometimes leapt forth and were again retrieved till it seemed as if the
ancient Kraken itself had become human. Over and among them flew many
birds and by their flights her glance was drawn upward till she saw
that the whole roof of that place was formed of birds, vibrating and
rising and falling with persistent but unequal motion, with colours
gleaming and iridescent or dull and heavy. In front there hung
immovable one huge monster of a bird like the father and lord of all
that are of the eagle and vulture tribe, with his eyes filmed and his
head and dreadful beak a little on one side as though he listened to
all he could not see. And as she shuddered and looked down she saw
below him a number of huge lions' heads, and the red jaws opened in a
terrific roar as the beasts seemed, some to crouch before the spring,
some to be high-ramping in a wild fury. In this last astonishment all
former wonder was swallowed up-and that she felt surprise and awe she
knew even then, and knew also that she did not truly dream, but even
while the beasts raged and roared there passed between them a note of
music and a voice sang "Praise to the Eternal One; glory and honour and
adoration be to the Lord God of Israel; blessed be He!" and immediately
the noise of the beasts sounded in one answering roar and was still,
and they also. Then Chloe saw them stand fixed, on the steps of a
throne, six on the one side, six on the
other; and the throne itself was above and behind them, carved as it
were out of sapphire, very deep and clear; and on the throne a king
sat, with a crown on his head. In the crown was the Stone, and it shone
with a soft whiteness, and in it, amid the gold, in a deep blackness
the letters of the Name were moving and glowing. Below the throne Chloe
saw the companies assembled, the companies of the doctors of the Law
and of the ambassadors from many lands, and the awful Djinn and Angels,
diabolic or divine, who waited on the word of Suleiman ben Daood, king
in Jerusalem. Then she looked again at the king, and saw that his right
hand lay closed upon his vestmented knees, but while she looked he
lifted it slowly up, the whole assemblage bowing themselves to the
ground, and opened it. But what was in or on it Chloe did not see, for
there leapt upon her from it a blinding light, and at once her whole
being felt a sudden devastating pain and then a sense of satisfaction
entire and exquisite, as if desires beyond her knowledge had been
evoked and contented at once, a perfect apprehension, a longing and a
fulfilment. So intense was the stress that she shrieked aloud;
immediately it was gone, and she found herself standing upright by the
side of the bed, trembling, open-mouthed, holding agonizedly to its
framework.

She sank onto it and remained exhausted. Only it seemed in a little
that the noise of the lions was still in her ears and a voice with it.
Gradually she found the voice was saying: "Miss Burnett! Miss Burnett!
Are you all right, Miss Burnett?" and knew it for the landlady's.

"Yes, Mrs. Webb, yes, all right, thank you," Chloe stammered. "It was
just-it was-it was something in my sleep. I'm so sor-I mean, I was-
please, it's quite, quite all right."

"Are you sure?" Mrs. Webb said, still doubtfully. "I thought You were
being killed."

"Thank you so very much," Chloe said again, and then in a sudden rush
of heroic virtue got to her feet, struggled across the room, unlocked
the door, and spoke comfortingly to the
anxious Mrs. Webb till the old lady at last went away. Chloe shut the
door, with a desolating sense that she had forgotten everything, went
back to bed, and as she stretched herself down into it went off
immediately into a profound sleep.

So profound and effective was it that she was rather more than half an
hour late the next morning in arriving at Lancaster Gate, where she
found Lord Arglay in a high state of excitement. "Don't apologize," he
said, "but I thought you were never coming. Nothing wrong? No, all
right, that's merely my rubbing it in. Look at this and all will be
forgiven." He held out to her the morning paper, directing her eyes to
a remote paragraph. "Strange Incident at Birmingham," she read.
"Missing Man Burgles Laboratory."

"The laboratory assistant Elijah Pondon who was supposed to have lost
his memory at Birmingham was discovered this morning in curious
circumstances. When the senior demonstrator visited the laboratory late
last night during Professor Palliser's absence in London, whose
assistant the missing man was, he found Pondon already there. His
entrance is at present inexplicable as he had no key, and the
laboratory had not been in use during yesterday. Efforts to obtain a
statement have not so far succeeded, as he appears to be in a dazed
condition. It is supposed he must have some means of entry known only
to himself."

" 'Means of entry known only to himself,"' Lord Arglay said. " 'Dazed
condition'! I should think he probably was in dazed condition. But
we've done it, child. We've given him means of entry known ... and so
forth."

"We?" Chloe said.

"We," Lord Arglay said firmly. "By virtue of the Stone, if you like,
but after all it was we who determined and tried-determined, dared, and
done. Heavens, how pleased I am!" His mood changed and he began to walk
up and down the room. "I wonder what Pondon makes of it," he said.
"Does he know anything? does he guess anything? What did he see, feel,
or do? or didn't he do, feel, or see anything? Has he just linked up
with Friday night? or does his memory                    . . . ...  His
voice died as he meditated.

Chloe fingered the paper. "Do you think we ought to know?" she asked.

"I don't know about 'ought,' " Lord Arglay answered, "but I should very
much like to know. Why?"

"I was wondering," Chloe said. "I could go to Birmingham if you liked
and talk to him a little."

"Things are getting so frightfully complicated," the Chief Justice
sighed. "There's the Government and Sheldrake and Giles and the
Persians and the Mayor-all busy about it."

Chloe mentally added Frank Lindsay to the list, and might (had she
known in what confidences Mr. Lindsay's irritation had resulted) have
added also the Secretary of the National Transport Union. But she said
nothing.

"I don't really like letting you out of my sight," Arglay went on. "Yet
it might be useful to know what this Pondon knows-if anything," he
added dubiously. "Is there anyone who could go with you? What about
your friend Mr. Lindsay?"

"No, O no," Chloe said, stopped, and went on. "But what do you think
could possibly happen, Lord Arglay? They haven't any reason to do
anything to me."

"I told you last night," the Chief Justice answered, "that they're
bound to want to get all the Types into their possession--Sheldrake and
the Government anyhow, and I suppose the Persians, only they don't
stand a chance. And now there'll be the Mayor too; I don't believe he
realizes yet that I have one."

"You didn't tell him?" Chloe asked.

"No," Arglay answered. "I'm becoming very shy of telling
anyone anything about the Stone. But he's bound to hear, and then he'll
be at me to go down to Rich on a mission of healing. Well, I won't."

This possibility was a new idea to Chloe and for a few moments she
gazed at Lord Arglay in silence.

"You won't?" she asked at last, consideringly.

"I withdraw 'won't,' " he answered, "because I don't really know from
moment to moment what I shall be doing. I may. I may find myself
sitting in the market place or the Old Moot Hall or whatever they have
there, handing the Stone to one after another, and watching the sick
take up their beds and walk. Or at least get off them. O don't, don't
let's go into that now. Would you like to go to Birmingham?"

"I think I should rather," Chloe said. "I should like to see the man
you saved. And whether he feels anything about it.,, Lord Arglay went
to the telephone. With his hand on the
receiver he paused. "Do you remember Mr. Doncaster?" he asked.

"Yes, of course," Chloe said. "Why?"

"Did you like Mr. Doncaster?" Lord Arglay went on.

"He seemed quite nice and intelligent, I thought," Chloe answered. "I
didn't trouble about him much."

"Would you mind him coming to Birmingham with you?" Arglay said.

"It seems quite unnecessary," Chloe objected. "But no--not if you would
like him to. It's nice of you to worry-" she added suddenly.

The Chief Justice, engaged in ringing up the hotel where the Mayor and
Oliver had found a night's shelter, waved a hand, and then, while
waiting for Oliver to be found, said: "After all, when this is over-I
suppose it will be, some time-there is Organic Law. If you like. Not
that you really care for Organic Law, do you, child?"

She answered his smile with another, flushing a little, then she said:
"I do see something of it, I think. But it seems so far away from....."

"People," Lord Arglay said. "And yet so is the Stone. Or it looks like
it. On our last night's hypothesis-Is that Mr. Doncaster? This is Lord
Arglay. Mr. Doncaster, are you doing anything urgent to-day, either for
yourself or for Don Quixote?
I was wondering whether you could and would take Miss Burnett to
Birmingham.... O the same story.... Yes, she'll tell you all about it
in the train.... Do. Good-bye.-So that's settled."

"I don't know what use he's going to be," Chloe said.

"O-lunch," said Lord Arglay, "and tickets ... have you any money, by
the way? I'll get you some ... and to keep an eye on your back in case
a Persian attacks you with a yataghan or what not."

"And what use am I going to be?" Chloe asked.

"You will be of one chief use," Arglay answered. "You will discover all
that is possible of the nature of the Stone." He put his arm over her
shoulders and she reached up her hand and took his. "It may be," he
went on, "that before these things' are ended we shall have great need
of knowing . . . and perhaps of trusting ... the Stone."





                          Chapter Twelve

                        NATIONAL TRANSPORT

The General Secretary of the National Transport Union listened to his
subordinate the next morning with considerable incredulity. It was, in
fact, only the caution necessary to his official position that
prevented him being openly contemptuous, and even that caution was
strained.

"Do you expect me to believe that a man can fly through walls and
ceilings?" he asked.

"No, sir," Carnegie said deferentially. "I don't expect you to believe
anything-I don't know that I do. But I thought you'd like to know what
was being'said."

"But who's saying it--except some friend of yours?" the General
Secretary asked. "I mean-it's not evidence, is it?"

"My friend mentioned Lord Arglay, sir," Carnegie ventured. "That's
really what made me decide to tell you."

"What!" the General Secretary said, "I'd forgotten that bit. D'you mean
the Chief Justice?"

"Yes, sir. This girl is his secretary."

Mr. Theophilus Merridew got up and went across to the fireplace, at
which he stood staring.

"It's obviously got twisted round somehow," he said at last irritably.
"But what on earth could get twisted into such a fantastic tale? I
think I'd better see your friend, Carnegie."

"Yes, sir," Carnegie said. "You won't forget that he may not really
have meant to tell me so much?"

"I shouldn't think he did," the General Secretary answered. "If I
hadn't always found you a very reliable fellow-and if it wasn't for
Lord Arglay-I met him once on a Commission
and he seemed a very level-headed sort of man. But this.... No, I
won't. The whole thing's too ridiculous.... But what the devil can it
be they've got hold of? Tell me all about it again."

Carnegie did so, stressing his own unbelief and his anxiety merely to
bring it to his chief's notice as part of his official duty, however
wild the rumour might be, in anything that had to do with transport.

"Can't we get hold of a bit of this precious Stone?" Merridew asked at
the end. "Who's got it?"

"Well, sir, the girl's got a bit-because Lindsay wanted it, and I
understood Lord Arglay had, and of course the Government because of
this affair at Rich. I don't know who else. O! Sheldrake."

"What!" said Merridew. "What, the Atlantic Airways man? Why didn't you
say so before? I know Sheldrake well enough--I'll go and see him.
Whatever bit of truth there is behind this he'll have got hold of. And
if the bit of truth is anything we ought to know about-he won't want an
upset any more than we do."

"I thought he was on the other side, sir," Carnegie said smiling.

"Profits mean employment, employment means profits," said Mr. Merridew.
"Didn't we agree on that at the last Conciliation Conference? Very well
then. I'll see if I can get him at once."

It happened therefore a little later that morning that Sheldrake was
asked if he could see Mr. Merridew, who for one reason or another was a
fairly frequent caller and was admitted.

"I've come on a funny, business," he said cheerfully, sitting down. "I
want to know anything you can tell me about this Stone of yours."

"Eh?" said Sheldrake, really surprised, for he could imagine no reason
why Merridew should take an interest in a medicinal
stone. And there had been nothing else in the papers. "The Stone? Why
do you want to know about the Stone?"

The General Secretary, equally in fear of ridicule and negligence, went
carefully.

"I want to know what truth there isin this rumour that Lord Arglay's
putting about," he said, "that it's going to do something queer to
transport."

"Transport?" Sheldrake asked with a pretence of renewed surprise. "Does
Lord Arglay say that?"

"No no," Mr. Merridew said. "You don't catch me committing myself to
that, not with a lawyer. I don't mind letting his name drop in, so to
speak, between you and me, but actually perhaps I'd better say-what
truth there is in this rumour that's got about? I needn't tell you
that, whatever it is, we don't want transport reduced any more than you
do."

Sheldrake thought for a minute or two. On the one hand he wasn't
anxious to bring anyone into the secret; on the other, to have the
Union at his back would bring extra pressure to bear on the Government,
of whose intentions he still remained doubtful. It had been desirable
that he should recover his own Stone, but it was absolutely necessary
that he should stop any ideas-still more than copies----of it from
getting about. That would be, if not ruin, at least very considerable
inconvenience. And it would mean very considerable inconvenience to Mr.
Merridew's clients also, of that he was sure. Weighing all this in his
mind, and throwing into the balance Mr. Merridew's own reputed and
experienced discretion, he decided to speak. He gave, without names, a
summary of how it had reached him, of the concern felt in high
quarters, of its powers medicinal and expeditory. And finally he drew
from his inner waistcoat pocket the absurd Thing itself, and, very
carefully holding it, displayed it to Mr. Merridew, who sat staring at
it.

"Well," he said at last, "that's not going to damage transport, is it?
It looks like nothing on earth. What's it supposed to do? What ... what
is it?" he ended helplessly.

Sheldrake shook his head. "Tumulty says something about it being an
original."

"Ooriginal enough," Mr. Merridew murmured, still staring.

"And Lord Arglay told my wife it was the centre of the derivations,"
Sheldrake added.

"Centre of what derivations?" Merridew asked, more bewildered than
ever. "Look here, Sheldrake, can't you show me what it'll do? What
happens when you ... use it, if that's the word?"

Sheldrake being-not unwilling to convince him, Mr. Merridew emerged
from the next few minutes in a startled and very anxious condition. It
seemed clear indeed that transport was going to be in a serious state
of collapse if the Stone was multiplied. On the other hand he very
naturally and very badly wanted it.

"But what's this girl doing with it?" he asked. "Carnegie told me that
his friend said she was Arglay's secretary and she had one."

"I know, I know," Sheldrake said. "Arglay and she have them, and I wish
they hadn't. But I can't get Birlesmere to do anything drastic; this
Chief Justice is too important to be ... just dealt with, so he says. I
don't suppose he'll do anything with it, but I wish to God we had them
all under lock and key. It's not safe while they're about in the
world."

Merridew got up meditatively. "Well, anyhow," he said,
"we run together in this. You'll let me know of any developments?"

"I will," Sheldrake answered. "And keep it quiet. You won't want your
conferences to get nervy. Tell me if you manage to get hold of
Arglay's."

"I don't know about Arglay's," Merridew said, "but I wonder whether ...
All right. Good-bye for now."

He returned to his office still in profound meditation and when he had
reached it sent for Carnegie.

"This friend of yours," he began, "the fellow who told you about the
Stone-I've seen Sheldrake, and I'm bound to say
it seems a serious business-you keep your mouth shut, Carnegie, and
stand by me, and I'll look after you . . . understand? Very well. As I
was saying, this friend of yours--who is he?"

Carnegie explained Frank Lindsay.

"Well offl"' asked Mr. Merridew. "No, of course not. And he was a bit
up in the air over it, was he? Is he a ... sensible fellow? The kind
that can see where his own interests lie?"

"I think so, sir," Carnegie said. "He always seemed to me a pretty
level-headed chap. Reads a good deal, but I suppose he has to do that."

"Yes. . . -umph ... well," said the other. "Get him round here, will
you, Carnegie? Ask him to look in here at lunch time; ask him to lunch-
no, better not; that would look too eager. Ask him to look in and see
me. You needn't let him know what you've told me. just that I was
speaking of the Stone and you mentioned you knew someone who knew this
Miss Burnett who is the Chief Justice's secretary. See?"

Carnegie saw at any rate sufficiently well to lure Frank round to the
offices of the Union, and there introduced him to Mr. Merridew, who was
extremely interested and affable.

"Ah, Mr. Lindsay, how kind of you! Do sit down. Don't go, Carnegie,
don't go. It's a shame to trouble you about this, Mr. Lindsay, but if
you can help us I needn't say how grateful I should be. Of course I
quite understand that this is all confidential. Now I'm in a state of
great anxiety, very great anxiety indeed, and when Carnegie let out
that he knew you and that you were in touch with the Lord Chief Justice
and so on, I thought a little chat couldn't at any rate do any harm.
It's all about this Stone of yours."

"Not of mine, I'm afraid," Frank said. His first feeling on waking that
morning had been that he had been rather hard on Chloe, but as he
dressed and became more clearly aware that the examination was one
morning nearer this had given
way to the feeling that Chloe had been very hard on him. In which
opinion he still remained. "I've not even seen it properly."

"It's Miss Burnett who has it?" Mr. Merridew asked halfcasually.

"It is," said Frank. "And of course Lord Arglay."

"Ah, yes, Lord Arglay," Merridew assented. "Lord Arglay -have you ever
met him?"

"Once," Frank said.

"Lord Arglay is a delightful man in himself, I believe," Merridew went
on, "but I'm not sure that he isn't in some ways a little narrow-
minded. A lawyer is almost bound to be perhaps. However, that's neither
here nor there. My own trouble is quite simple. I'm responsible, as far
as any man is, for all the members of this Union getting shelter and
food from their jobs. Now, I've not seen this Stone, and I can hardly
believe what's said, but it's said-it is said-that it means there's
some new method of movement. I suppose it's a kind of scientific
invention."

"I really don't know," Frank said, as Mr. Merridew paused. "I only know
what Miss Burnett told me. O and Mrs. Sheldrake seemed very anxious
about it."

"Ah, the ladies, the ladies!" the General Secretary smiled. "A little
credulous, perhaps-yes? But I do feel that, if there should be anything
in it, I ought to know what. And as between a lady, a lawyer, and, if I
may say so, a man of the world like yourself, I naturally preferred to
get into touch with you. After all-I don't know what your political
views may be, but after all someone ought to think of these millions of
hardworking men whose livelihood is in danger."

"But I don't see quite what I can do," Frank said. "Miss Burnett
wouldn't lend me the Stone."

"She wouldn't, you think," Merridew asked, casually looking down at his
papers, "sell it?"

"Eh? sell it?" Frank exclaimed. "No, I don't-I'm almost
sure she wouldn't. Besides Mrs. Sheldrake said something about seventy
thousand pounds."

"Ah, well, a poor Trades Union could hardly go to thatbut then I'd be
quite willing only to borrow it," Merridew said. "If for instance you
by any chance had one of them-I'd willingly pay a good sum for the
privilege of borrowing it for a little while. Say-" he estimated Frank
for a moment and ended-"a few hundreds even. It's of such dire
importance to my people."

Frank considered, and the more he considered the more certain he became
that to offer Chloe, if she were still in her last night's mood, a few
hundreds would be the same as offering a few millions or a few pence.
In these silly tempers it would mean nothing to her.

"I can ask her, of course," he said reluctantly.

"If she should lend it to you for any reason-" Mr. Merridew
thoughtfully said, "If, I mean, you had any need of it and -as she
naturally would-she passed it on to you, perhaps you'd bear me in
mind."

"I don't think she's likely to do that," Frank said.

"Or even if you could borrow it sometime-I don't mean exactly without
her knowing, though if she didn't happen to want it. . . . I understand
Lord Arglay has one, and I suppose if Miss Burnett works there she
could always use his-if you happened across it some time. . . . I don't
know whether Miss Burnett is one of those young ladies who always leave
their umbrellas or their handbags or something behind them-"

"No," Frank said, "she isn't."

"Well, if she did"-Merridew went on-"or, as I say, if you borrowed it
for any purpose of your own-well, if you had it in any way, and would
show it me, I should be very glad to pay a fee. Better spend a few
hundreds first than a few millions on unemployment pay, you know, is
the way I look at it. Prevention is better than cure."

"I see," Frank answered.

He was not at all clear what he did see, moving in his mind, what kind
of action half-presented itself and then withdrew, but to borrow the
Stone for his examination, just for the day or two, couldn't do any
harm. And if this fellow was willing to pay . . . Chloe should have it,
of course; she'd only about thirty pounds at her back. Or at least they
might split it-she was always very good about paying if things were
rather tight, and she'd probably rather . . . only then she'd have to
know. And if as a matter of fact she hadn't known, if there were any
way of borrowing it, if . . .

"I see," he said again, and there was a silence. Suddenly he stood up.
"Well, I must be going," he said. "Yes, I see, Mr. Merridew. Well, if
anything should happen-"

"Any time, day or night," the General Secretary said. "Carnegie will
give you my address. And of course any expenses-taxis or anything-good-
bye."

He watched Frank out and when Carnegie returned-"I' wish there was a
quicker way," he said. "I shall go to the Home Office after lunch, but
I don't suppose they'll let one out of their hands. I wouldn't if I was
them. It's up to you to keep on top of your friend, Carnegie. If he
wants it himself for this examination of his we may just have tipped
the balance. Though he mayn't be able to do it even so. Well, we must
see. And now try and make an        appointment for me with the Home
Office this afternoon."

The Home Secretary was        a charming politician whose methods
differed from Lord Birlesmere's in that while the Foreign Secretary
preferred at least to appear to direct the storm, Mr. Garterr Browne
allowed it to blow itself out, after which he pointed out to it exactly
what damage it had done. He got up to shake hands with Mr. Merridew and
directed his attention to another visitor who was standing by the
table.

"May I introduce you to Mr. Clerishaw, the Mayor of Rich-by-the-Mere?"
he said. "Mr. Merridew, the General Secretary-of the National Transport
Union. Do sit down, both of you. I fancy this business may be a trifle
long. Don't be alarmed, Mr. Merridew-I know what you want, at least I
can guess. My difficulty is . . . but perhaps Mr. Clerishaw had better
explain. A man always puts his own case best."

There were those who asserted that this phrase, which was a favourite
with Mr. Garterr Browne, had been responsible for more quarrels in his
party and crises in the Cabinet than any other formula for twenty
years. After hearing it, a man was always convinced that he did, and
was consequently more reluctant to abandon his case than before. The
Mayor needed no convincing, but neither was he anxious to waste energy.

"I have already stated my case to you, sir, as a member of the
Government," he said. "I cannot see that anything is to be gained by
repeating it."

"I think, Mr. Mayor," the Home Secretary said, "that you will find it
is more necessary to convince Mr. Merridew than to persuade me."

"How so?" the Mayor asked.

"Because Mr. Merridew is one of my difficulties, I fancy," the Minister
answered. "Mr. Secretary, tell me how much publicity do you desire for
the tale of this absurd Stone?"

"What!" Merridew exclaimed-"publicity? I don't want any publicity at
all-that's the point. I want to know whether the Government are taking
steps to control all of these precious Stones that are in existence ...
I mean, if there's anything in them. Or to have immediate assurances
that there is nothing."

"Yes, but Mr. Clerishaw wants a great deal of publicity, Mr. Garterr
Browne smiled. "O a very great deal. He objects to any kind of
secrecy."

Mr. Merridew settled himself firmly in his chair. "And why?" he asked,
very much as a General Secretary should.

The Mayor turned on him. 'Great God, sir," he said almost fiercely, "do
you want to condemn thousands of men and women to suffering?"

"I don't," Merridew said, "and because I don't I want the Stone
withdrawn from ... from circulation."

"Don't you know," the Mayor cried out, "that there are those well and
happy to-day who have been in pain and grief for years-all by the
healing powers of this Stone?"

"O you mean the people at Rich?" Merridew exclaimed. He had entirely
forgotten, in his concern with transport, the virtues of the Stone
which had caused so much disturbance in Rich during the week-end. But
his phrase sounded as if he relegated the people at Rich to sickness or
health indifferently, and the Mayor took a step forward.

"I speak for the people at Rich," he said, "for I am the Mayor of Rich.
By what right do you speak and for whom?"

"I speak," Merridew answered, sincerely if somewhat
habitually moved, "for the sons of Martha." He had found Mr. Kipling's
poem of the greatest use in emotional speeches from the platform; that
and some of Mr. Masefield's verses were his favourite peroiations. But
the Mayor, not having read much modern verse, was merely astonished.

"For what?" he asked.

'For the sailor, the stoker of steamers, the man with the clout,' "
murmured the Home Secretary, who had heard Mr. Merridew before. "For
the workers-some of them anyhow."

"And what have the workers to lose because of the Stone?" the Mayor
asked. "Are not they also the people?"

"Of course they're the people," the General Secretary exclaimed, "they
are the people. And are they to lose their livelihood because of a few
cures?"

"Perhaps," the Home Secretary put in, "you haven't realized, Mr. Mayor,
that this very interesting Stone has other qualities, so I am told,
besides the curative. In short. . . ."

He gave a brief explanation of those qualities. The Mayor listened
frowning.

"But I confess," Mr. Garterr Browne ended, "I didn't know that these
facts-these apparent facts-would have reached
Mr. Merridew so soon. However, as it is-" He got courteously off the
storm, and signed to it to go ahead.

"That," Merridew said, "is my case. If it's some scientific invention,
as I suppose it is, it ought to be State property, and its introduction
into the economic life of the country must be only brought about very,
very gradually."

"While the poor die in misery," the Mayor commented.

"Damn it, sir," Mr. Merridew exclaimed, "I am speaking for the poor."

"For the sick and dying?" the Mayor asked. "For the blind and the
paralytic and the agonized? Do as you will about economics-but the body
is more than raiment."

"Not without raiment-not for long," Mr. Garterr Browne said. "But go on
with the discussion. What were you about to say, Mr. Secretary?"

"I protest against the way my words are twisted," Merridew cried. "I've
no possible objection to the medicinal use of the Stone."

"Nor I to its economic suppression," the Mayor answered and they both
looked at Mr. Garterr Browne.

"Beautiful," the Minister breathed. "When democracy lies down with
democracy.... And how, gentlemen, do you propose to use the Stone all
over the country while at the same time keeping it under close guard?"

"The doctors-" Merridew began.

"Hardly," the Minister said. "For it must be in the hands and at the
will of those who are to be healed. And I don't my. self see what is to
prevent the ... the healee from going off by its means, once he is
cured. We shan't be able to keep it quiet. And then there will be
Stones everywhere. I'm not objecting. I'm only saying that we must use
it either fully or not at all."

"Then in the name of God, use it!" the Mayor cried out.

"And ruin hundreds and thousands of homes!" Merridew followed him.
"Suppress it, I say."

Mr. Garterr Browne waved both hands at the storm. "You
See?" he asked it courteously, and after a few moments' silence added,
"If the Government heal the sick they starve the healthy. If, on the
other hand, they protect the healthy they doom the sick."

.Both his visitors felt a sudden touch of horror. The dilemma came at
them so suddenly, and on so vast a scale, that they mentally recoiled
from it. Neither of them was thinking at the moment of any others than
those on whose behalf he imagined himself speaking. But to each of them
the placid voice of the Home Secretary called up a vision of another
hemisphere of danger and distress; and over that danger and that
distress floated, ironically effective, the Stone. Of the two the Mayor
suffered the more, for he had the keener sight, and at the same time
the remembrance of his own son struck at his heart. He saw the silent
railways and the idle workers at the same time that he heard the moans
of the dying man and knew them for the moans of one among thousands. He
turned sharply on the Minister.

"Is there no way of administering relief," he asked, "by the most
careful vigilance?"

"There is no way to protect the Stone if we'are to use the Stone," Mr.
Gartef Browne said. "And now, gentlemen?"

"I cannot believe it," the Mayor cried out. "Is the mind of man
incapable of dealing with this problem? Or is the Stone sent to mock
us?"

"Well . . . mock?" the Minister asked, "mock? ... But I think probably
its value has been much exaggerated. We have, of course-"

"But I have seen these things happen," the Mayor said.

"No doubt, no doubt. As I was saying," the Minister went on, "we have,
of course, our own scientists at work on it. Analysing, you know."

"Who are your scientists?" the Mayor asked.

"Sir Giles Tumulty primarily," the other answered. He had never heard
of Sir Giles till the previous evening, but his
manner implied that the name ought to settle the Mayor, "And no doubt
he-they-will find some means to isolate the curative while--shall we
say inhibiting?-the non-curative elements. But you must give us time."

"And am I to go back to Rich and tell the people to die?" the Mayor
asked.

"You talk as if your townsfolk were all the people," Merridew muttered.
"Aren't there any others to watch for the people than you? What of the
Unions? Are my members to starve that your townsfolk may be more
cheerful?"

"It seems," the Mayor said heavily, "that this Stone is a very subtle
thing."

Mr. Garterr Browne felt that his own mind was at least as good as the
Stone if it came to subtlety. It had been a difficult situation, and
now everything was coming right. He looked almost gratefully at Mr.
Merridew, but received no answering glance. The General Secretary was
beginning to feel anxious about the future.

"At least," the Mayor said suddenly, "you will have the whole matter
laid before Parliament, so that we may know what resolution is come to,
and for what reason."

"I very certainly will not," Mr. Garterr Browne said, startled at this
new threat of tempest. "Why, Parliament isn't even sitting. I shall let
the Cabinet know. Can't you trust us to do our best?"

Neither of his visitors seemed anxious to do so. Both of them were
thinking of the crowds, of voices crying out questions, of the demand
of the common people for security and food and content. In the faint
noise of the traffic of London that came to them in the room there
seemed to be something which must either be laid hold of or itself lay
hold. Merridew saw before him the massed ranks of his Conference. There
was here a thing which allowed, it seemed, of no arrangement; here was
no question of percentages and scales and wage-modifications over long
periods-things that could be explained and defended. If it got out, if
the Stone were used publicly, the whole of his Unions would be raging
round him, and all the allied trades. Yet if the Stone were refused, he
seemed to see in the upright and dangerous figure of the Mayor a threat
of other action, of the outbreak of the sick and the friends of the
sick. He foresaw division and angry strife, and suddenly looking at the
Home Secretary he cried out in answer to the plaintive appeal-"But this
is civil war!"

The Mayor looked over at him. "I do not think you are wrong, Mr.
Secretary," he said. "We are coming perhaps to evil days."

"But really, gentlemen," the Minister began, and then changing his
intention addressed himself to the Mayor. "Do you not see," he said,
"that more will suffer if the Stone is used than if it is kept secret?
I am sure we all sympathize with those who are in need'of one sort or
another, but you cannot build up a house by pulling it down, nor do
good to some by doing harm to many. Besides, so little has really been
discovered about this ... discovery that it's too soon to take a gloomy
view. You, I am sure, Mr. Mayor, will explain this to the people of
Rich."

"And if the people of Rich lynch me in the street I shall think it
natural," the Mayor answered.

There was a knock at the door and a secretary entered. "Lord Birlesmere
is very anxious to- see you, sir," he said. "He telephoned from the
Foreign Office Just now to know if he could come across."

"Of course, of course," Mr. Garterr Browne answered, and then, as the
secretary went out, turned to his visitors. "Well," he said, "I must
break off the discussion. But please don't let there be any
misunderstanding. The Government will take steps to find out what the
truth really is. As I said before, there is always likely to be
exaggeration. And then I will let you know its decision. Pray,
gentlemen, exercise all your restraining influence, and do not let
there be any talk of civil war. This is a civilized community. Your
interests-the interests of those you represent-townsfolk or unionists-
will be safe in our hands. I shall be writing to you both in a few
days. No, Mr. Mayor, I can't discuss it further at present. Important
things are bound to take time."

As the two were ushered out Mr. Garterr Browne shook his head
thoughtfully at the still ominous storm. "What is quite certain,"
he said, "is that no one must be allowed to believe in this Stone
any more. It simply must not be allowed."





                         Chapter Thirteen

                     THE REFUSAL OF LORD ARGLAY

Wandsworth?" Professor Palliser said, staring at Sir Giles. "Why did
you go there?"

"Can't you guess?" Sir Giles asked. "Then I suppose you won't guess
what happened. Well, I don't mind telling you, Palliser, that for once
neither did I. Nor the Governor, who is a beefy lump of idiocy. He got
quite upset when he saw it."

"Saw what?" Palliser asked. "What have you been doing?"

"I'll tell you," Sir Giles answered. "I ought to have foreseen perhaps-
but one doesn't know what the logic of the damned thing is. Well, I
went to Wandsworth. You know what they have at Wandsworth?"

"Not specially," Palliser said. "A common, isn't there? And a prison?"

"And a Hottentot missionary college, and a seminary for barmaids," Sir
Giles added. "What do they have at Wandsworth Prison early in the
mornings?"

"Parades?" Palliser, all at sea, ventured. "Breakfast? Chapel?"

"Try all three," Sir Giles answered. "Executions, Palliser. That's what
I went for. There aren't so many that I could afford to miss one,
especially just after Birlesmere had given me a practically free hand.
So I got a letter out of him and the Home Office scullion and down I
went. After all, I argued, if this infernal Stone is a kind of
rendezvous of the past and the future and every sort of place I didn't
see why it shouldn't push a man over an interruption, like death. There
is only one kind Of death which is fixed and that's execution. Even at
hospitals you can't be certain to an hour or two, and anyhow very often
there people don't die intelligently; they lose themselves and drift.
But the fellow who's going to be executed knows about it all right. The
ape-creature who called himself the Governor wouldn't let on to me
whether he usually drugged the victin, but I saw to it he didn't drug
this one. I wanted all the intelligence I could find-not that there was
much anyhow; he was an undersized slug who'd poisoned a woman because
she'd run away with him without having any money, so far as I could
understand. Not that it mattered. I got there before he'd had his
breakfast, and had a little talk, asked him if he'd like to live and so
on. The warder had been cleared out of the cell, so it was all right. I
don't know what the wretched creature thought I was offering him, but
he screamed with gratitudequite a fascinating ten minutes, all twisting
and slobbering. In fact, I began to think I shouldn't get the idea into
the maggot-hole he had for a brain, but I did, and made him have a good
breakfast too. Then the chaplain came in and talked about life in
heaven, but my murderer was all for life on earth, and I was worth a
dozen mongrel-faced chaplains to him. So he was pinioned so that he
could hold one of the Stones-you ought to have seen the Governor
looking like a Sunday school superintendent in a night club or
something worse-and I told him to put everything he knew into choosing
to live. And off we went-he and the hangman and the chaplain and the
Governor and I and everyone. The funniest thing you ever saw, Palliser-
if you ever did see anything funny. And there was the trap and
everything. Well, do you know it was only then it occurred to me that I
ought to be underneath--in the pit thing he drops into. It delayed
matters a bit, but at last they grasped what I wanted: anyone except a
malformed baby of two months would have understood me sooner than that
Governor: and round and down I went. And down he came."

Sir Giles paused. "And now," he resumed, "what do you think happened?"

"How do I know?" Palliser exclaimed. "He was dead?"

"No," Sir Giles said thoughtfully. "No, I shouldn't say he was dead."

"He was alive!" Palliser cried. "Does it really do away with death?"

"Well, yes, I suppose in a way he was alive," Sir Giles said. "He was
quite conscious and so on-one could see that. The only thing was that
his neck was broken."

Palliser gaped at him. In a moment Sir Giles resumed. "There he was.
Neck broken, everything as it should be, the body dead so to speak. But
he wasn't. I can see now that it was my fault in a way. I was thinking
in terms of continuation of life, so I put him on to that idea, and of
course he swilled it down with his coffee. But we both forgot to
arrange the conditions, so that the ordinary physical process wasn't
interfered with. Yet on the other hand his consciousness just stopped
there, in his body or wherever it lives. A damn funny result,
Pallister. If you could have seen his eyes while he hung there kicking-
-"

Palliser interrupted. "But what did you do?" he asked.

Sir Giles shrugged. "O well,.they cut him down, and stuck him in a bed
somewhere privately, and the chaplain postponed any more of the
resurrection and the life, and the Governor went off to get more
instructions. And I hung about a bit-in fact, I've been there all day
on and off; but there doesn't seem to be any change. There he lies, all
broken up, and just his eyes awake. No use at all to me or anyone, damn
and blast him for a verminous puppy-dog!"

Palliser moved uneasily. "I'm beginning to be afraid of it," he said.
"I wish we knew what it was."

"It's the First Matter," Sir Giles said. "I told you that was what I
thought it was, and I'm more sure than ever now. It's that which
becomes everything else."

"But how does it work?" Palliser asked. "How does all this movement
happen? How does it carry anyone about in space?"

"It doesn't," Sir Giles answered immediately. "Can't you see that it
doesn't move people about like an aeroplane display. Once you are in
contact and you choose and desire and will, you go into it and come out
again where you have desired because everything is in it, anyhow. Do
try and see further than a wax doll on a Christmas tree can."

"So that if you were set in contact you might, even if you only partly
knew ... ?" Palliser began slowly and stopped.

"I expect so," Sir Giles said sweetly, "if your hearse of a
mind could only get to the cemetery a bit quicker. What might you?"

"I was thinking of Pondon," Palliser went on. "That might explain how
it was that he's ... returned?"

"He's what?" Sir Giles said sharply. "What d'you mean, Palliser? He
hadn't a Stone, had he?"

"Your brother-in-law must have done it," Palliser answered, feeling
some pleasure at the connexion. "You know you thought you saw him when
we were trying to get at Pondon the other night and failed. There seems
to have been a paragraph in the paper, but I missed that. But when I
got to Birmingham yesterday morning, he was there. He'd been found in
the laboratory when my demonstrator went in at about ten o'clock. He
was a bit bewildered then, I gathered, so I went round to see him. And
who do you think I found there?"

"Arglay!" Sir Giles exclaimed. "By God, I'll tear Arglay into bits."

"Not Arglay," Palliser went on, "but that girl who was with him-his
secretary. She'd told him some tale and got on his right side, for
there he was talking away to her, and telling her how he couldn't make
out what had happened. I was rather sorry I'd turned up at first,
though he was quite all right with me-asked me if the vibrations were
all right. You remember we told him some tale about testing etheric
vibrations-on the lines of my Discontinuous Integer?"

"He was damn near being a discontinuous integer himself,"
Sir Giles said snappily. "And what had Arglay's woman to say about it?"

"I don't like it," Palliser answered. "O she didn't say much, just
cooed at him now and then. But from what he said, while he was doing
his job as usual, he found his hand holding this Stone-and he knew he'd
been holding it, so (as far as I could understand) he took a tighter
grip and said to himself, "This is where I ought to be." And then he
remembers pitching right over, and there the demonstrator found him.
But that girl and Arglay have had something to do with it, and if
they're going to interfere continually-"

Sir Giles put up a hand as if for silence, and sat meditating for
several minutes. Then he drew a deep breath and got up. "I'm going to
try something," he said. "I've had enough of this young Hecate mixing
herself up with my affairs because that bestial leprechaun who employs
her tells her to. I'll give Miss Chloe Burnett something else to do
with her mind, and perhaps with mine. If she can use the Stone so can
other people. Where is it? Go away now, Palliser, and let me try."

It was perhaps the greatest mistake which Giles Tumulty had ever made
to allow what had been in general a cold, if rather horrible, sincerity
of investigation into remote states of mind to become violently shaken
by a personal hatred of his brother-in-law. He and Arglay had always
mutually despised each other, but until now they had neverbeen in
conflict. The chances of the last few'days however had turned them from
contemptuous acquaintances into definite enemies. Indeed at that
moment, though no one of those connected with the progress of the Stone
and its Types had realized it, the Chief Justice. and his secretary
were becoming the only single-minded adherents it possessed. Lord
Arglay certainly could not be thought to feel any passionate devotion
to it; but he strongly disliked all that he saw and felt of the greed
by which it was surrounded. The Persian Government, the English
GovernMent, the American millionaire and his wife-these he knew; and
there were others he did not know-Merridew and Frank Lindsay; even, in
some sense, though a holier, the Mayor of Rich and the Hajji Ibrahim.
All for good or evil desired to recover the Stone, and use it, and most
of them desired greatly to possess all its Types as well. Doncaster and
Mrs. Pentridge hardly knew enough or were hardly in sufficient contact
with the movements it had caused to make any demand. But Lord Arglay,
at once in contact and detached, at once faithless and believing,
beheld all these things in the light of that fastidious and ironical
goodwill which, outside mystical experience, is the finest and noblest
capacity man has developed in and against the universe. And now this
itself was touched by a warmer consciousness, for as far as might be
within his protection and certainly within his willing friendship,
there was growing the intense secret of Chloe's devotion to the
Mystery. As if a Joseph with more agnostic irony than tradition usually
allows him sheltered and sustained a Mary of a more tempestuous past
than the Virgin-Mother is believed to have either endured or enjoyed,
so Lord Arglay considered, as far as it was clear to him, his friend's
progress towards the End of Desire. To that shelter and sustenance she
had eagerly returned from her absence on the Birmingham errand, and she
and her companion were now telling him and the Hajji, who had been
summoned, of the occurrences of that errand.

Of one thing however Chloe did not speak. She might have gradually
revealed it to Lord Arglay, but she certainly was not going to mention
it before the Hajji, and as in a way Mr. Doncaster was it or the
occasion of it she could not before him. Chloe had usually found a
fairly long train journey---especially in the first class compartment
Lord Arglay had naturally assumed she would take-in the company of an
intelligent and personable young man who rather obviously admired her,
a very pleasant, and even exciting, method of spending the time. There
was so happy a mixture of the known and the unknown; there was all the
possibility of advance and yet all the suretY
of withdrawal-there was in short such admirable country for campaigning
that she could not very clearly understand why she had today looked at
it without any thought of a campaign. She had thrown out a squadron or
so to check Mr. Doncaster's early moves, and had with small expenditure
of effort immobilized him. The journeys were ended and there was no
regret. She must, Chloe thought when she became conscious of this, be
terribly excited. But she was not excited. She only wanted to serve the
Stone-and Lord Arglay-as much as Lord Arglay-and the Stone-wanted.
There was a slight doubt in her mind which of them, if it came to a
crisis, was the more important, but it hadn't come to a crisis and very
likely never would. Once or twice her experience in the operation which
she and the Chief justice had directed occurred to her; with the
suggestion of a possibility that there indeed a choice beyond her
knowledge had been made and a first separation from mortality dutifully
and sadly undergone. It would have seemed to her silly. and pretentious
to put it like that, but when she said to herself: "I don't think
perhaps I shall care about it so much," it might have meant much the
same thing, at least to any of the Types of the Stone or to the wisdom
of Suleiman ben Daood, king in Jerusalem.

"We went to the University first," Doncaster was saying, "but he wasn't
there, and they didn't or wouldn't know anything, so we went to his
house."

"How did you find it?" the ChiefJustice put in.

"Telephone Directory," Doncaster said. "That was my idea -I thought in
his position he'd almost have to be on, and he was. But it was Miss
Burnett got us into the house-the usual kind of house; just the thing
you'd expect of him. He lived with his mother, and I thought we could
swear we were journalists; but before I could say anything-" He paused
and looked at Chloe.

"And what did Miss Burnett swear you were?" Lord Arglay
asked.

"I said we were his friends," Chloe answered, with a simplicity and a
certainty in her voice which-Arglay thoughtwould have opened any doors.
Some new completeness seemed to be growing in her. He permitted himself
to test it with another question.

"And did you also think it was the kind of house You would expect of
him?" he asked, throwing a side glance of humorous apology at
Doncaster.

Chloe frowned a little. "I don't think I know," she said, "I mean, I
didn't expect anything. It was-it was a house, and he and his mother
lived in it. I don't see what more one could say."

"It didn't," Arglay asked again, "seem to you of any particular kind?"

"It was a very nice house," Chloe said, "but-no, I didn't notice
anything else."

"It had an aspidistra in the window," Doncaster put in.

"It certainly had," Chloe agreed, "and a very good aspidistra too. I
admired it."

Lord Arglay signed to Doncaster to go on-after a slightly perplexed
glance at Chloe, he obeyed.

"So Miss Burnett said, 'We are his friends,' and his mother let us in
and took us to the aspidistra, and presently he came in. So we-at least
Miss Burnett-told him she knew all about
it....-"

"Did you?" Arglay interrupted.

"Well, in a way," Chloe answered. "It seemed as if he thought he had
seen me before; he looked at me so hesitatingly at first. And I said I
knew something of what had happened, and was anxious to know if we
could do anything more to help him. So we ... we stammered a little at
one another, and then he broke out. He said he didn't know what had
happened. He remembered Professor Palliser talking to him about etheric
vibrations, and asking him to test them by wishing-he said wishing-to
be at an earlier point of time, and then he wondered if he had been."

"He was very muddled about it all," Doncaster added. "And about what
happened afterwards: he was doing his job in his usual manner and
suddenly he felt as if he were holding on to a post and something was
saying to him, 'This is the way.' He couldn't get nearer than that. And
he saw a kind of photograph in the air."

"A what?" Lord Arglay exclaimed.

"He didn't say a photograph," Chloe cried out. "He said a picture. "

"He said, to be exact, 'a picture just like a photograph'," Doncaster
insisted, "of the same room. And it got bigger. But go on, Miss
Burnett."

"I think he saw them in the Unity," Chloe said. "He said he felt as if
he'were standing between them, and he didn't know which he ought to be
in, but it was frightfully important for him to choose rightly. And he
wondered which the Professor and his friends wanted. But then he
thought he saw . . ." she hesitated . . ."me in one of them, and moved
to ask whether I wanted to see the Professor!"

"And then crashed," Doncaster ended. "And knew nothing more. It was at
that point that the Professor arrived. He looked a trifle embarrassed
when the mother brought him in and he saw Miss Burnett---embarrassed
first and then rather annoyed. So there was general conversation for
awhile, and I chatted to the Professor-at least, I asked him what he
thought of it all, while Miss Burnett and Pondon talked. And then we
came away."

"I like the notion that he thought you wanted Palliser," Lord Arglay
said contentedly. "The Stone seems to have a subtle irony of its own.
But why you? Very much pleasanter for him, of course; but I had an
idea, from what you said, that I was doing most of the work. Why-
didn't he see me?"

"It may be," the HaJji said, "that it was by your work that this man
beheld her. For all that you showed him was the Stone, and it may be
that Miss Burnett's work was in the Stone,
and that he beheld her there. It was in its degree, redemption which
you offered him, and if she was toiling also at redemption-the Way to
the Stone is in the Stone."

"And yet his desire was to do what Palliser wished," Arglay demurred.

"His desire was to fulfil good as he knew it," the Hajji said.
"Therefore he was capable of receiving within those conditions the End
of Desire, which is eternally good."

"All times are within it and all places, it seems," Arglay said. "Are
not therefore its own Types within itself?"

"I think that is true," the Hajji answered. "Certainly therefore this
Thing contains its own Unity; it is for us to find the path by which
that Unity may be manifested."

"It seems to me," Doncaster began....

For some time Chloe had been conscious of a restlessness which she had
been trying in vain to subdue. She was tired or something, she
supposed, but things looked different somehow. What a lot of bother
everyone was making! after all, there were other things in the world.
And all this talk about redemption and the End of Desire. The end of
desire was to get what you wanted. The Hajji was rather a silly little
old man, she thought with his Compassionates and his Muhammeds and his
Peace be upon him and his under the Protection-what protection and from
what? A little intelligent watchfulness was all the protection she
needed, and she could supply that herself. As for Lord Arglay-Lord
Arglay, it occurred to her, was unmarried, and if not rich-he could
hardly be that-still he must have.... And no-one but Reginald Montague
to leave it to! Old men sometimes ... after all he wasn't repulsive. If
be married Chloe Burnett, Chloe Burnett would have a more comfortable
life. And if he didn't marry still he was the kind of man who would
probably treat his mistress very fairly. Suppose he had one already?
That must be seen to. Chloe Burnett might not be exactly beautiful, but
she had (so she had been told) a genius for making the most of herself
and her
art. There wouldn't be many mistresses who could outdo her if it really
came to a tussle.

The Hajji stopped speaking, Lord Arglay stirred, and Chloe woke to
sudden anxiety. What on earth had she been thinking? Thoughts had
passed through her mind in their usual way, but not-surely nofl-usual
thoughts. Had she really been guessing how much money Lord Arglay had,
and whether she could get it? Had she really been planning to use the
hands clasped beneath her chin to trap him? Now if it had been this
young Doncaster man ... his hair would be rather pleasant to pull
rather hard, he had thick hair; and well-made wrists, better fnan
Frank's. Not that there would be any need to give up Frank, or anyhow
not entirely. Chloe Burnett could deal with them as Sir Giles dealt
with Arglay and the Hajji or the fellow at Birmingham, a silly fellow
as she remembered him. Useful no doubt in a way, and amusing to think
of him lost in the past. But -very, very dull and only meant to be made
use of by other people much more intelligent-Sir Giles for instance.
"Bloody fool!" Chloe said aloud.

As Oliver Doncaster had just begun "It seems to me-" her words caused,
even in that company, a moment's attention. Oliver stopped speaking
with a shock and found himself faced with the unbelievable. The Hajji
turned on her a look of sudden alarm. Lord Arglay, taking her in with a
side glance, said casually-"Not you, Mr. Doncaster; I think probably
Palliser. But in any case we have for the moment done what we can.
Would it be too much to ask you to call in the morning?"

Oliver had had earlier some general expectation of seeing Chloe home.
But he wasn't as clear as the Chief justice that the words hadn't been
meant for him, and of course'if that was what she thought the sooner he
got away the better. Dare he risk shaking hands? He offered her his as
charmingly as possible. "Very well, Lord Arglay," he said. "Good-night,
Miss Burnett. Thank you for letting me come to Birmingham."

Chloe gave him her hand and looked at him. Oliver who had been all day
conscious of being held at an emotional distance discovered, with the
second shock in two minutes, that he was being deliberately invited to
be-understanding. Her fingers caressed for a moment the back of his
hand; her mouth shaped itself for the kiss the circumstances forbade;
her eyes mourned rebukingly over his departure. "Good-night, Mr.
Doncaster," said a voice full of suggestions of intimacies that, so far
as he could remember, hadn't happened, "We may meet -again-in the
morning then?"

"She can't have meant him," the Chief justice thought to himself. "But
it certainly sounded as if she did. 'Bloody fool'- it's the way these
modern young creatures talk. Yes, but not here, not-with other people
about-to me. I shouldn't have thought she'd have done that. Still-she
did. No," he thought suddenly. "I don't believe it. She never talked
like that-except for amusement or from bitterness. And never so. She is
civilized; she is in obedience to the Law."

He had been taking Oliver to the door while he was thinking and once
that was closed he hastened back to the study. Chloe was standing by
the fireplace, looking round the room. Lord Arglay had seen her
standing just there often enough, but in her eyes now there was a
difference. They surveyed, they considered, they calculated; so much he
saw before she brought them back to meet his with a smile. But even
that had something unnatural about it, a determination of quite another
kind from that which had on other occasions once or twice appeared in
the depths of her look, a hardness alien to the secretary the Chief
justice knew. For a moment, as their glances met, this gave place to a
sudden bewilderment, but before he could say a word she had turned
aside and was looking towards the window. Lord Arglay looked round for
the Hajji, who had apparently withdrawn into some corner, and found him
at last by his elbow. In that room they were far enough from Chloe not
to be heard if they spoke softly, and in such a tone the Hajji said:
"Something has frightened you?"

"No," Arglay answered, "not frightened. I was a little startled, but I
expect it's all right. No doubt Miss Burnett is a little overtired."

"I do not know Miss Burnett," the Hajji said, "except that I saw the
Name upon her forehead. But I have watched her eyes, and I think you
are right to be anxious."

"Why?" Arglay said abruptly.

"Her eyes and her mouth have changed," the Hajji answered. "They are
curious and greedy-and even malicious. And if, as I think, she is not
by nature greedy or malicious. . ."

He paused, but Arglay only said, "Well?"

"Then," the Hajji concluded, "something or someone is making her so."

In case Chloe should catch his eyes again Lord Arglay looked at the
Hajji and said, "It seems a damn silly thing to try to do. What good
would it be?"

"It might be a good deal of good," the Hajji said, "if indeed they
desire to obtain the Types which you have. But even if not, have you
never known men act from hate and anger alone?"

"And is this also, if it is so," Lord Arglay said, ironically,- part of
the miracle of the Stone?"

"I warned you that there might be much evil," the Hajji answered, and
fell silent.

Lord Arglay glanced again at Chloe. "You think they may be playing
tricks on her?" he asked, but more as if in courteous conversation than
in inquiry, and the other did not trouble to answer. At last, "Well,"
he went on, "if this is so I will do what can be done."

"Will you try and find her in the Stone?" the Hajji asked.

"No," Arglay answered, "no, I do not think I will take up the Stone.
Between her and me I will not have any even of these things. "

"You love her?" the Hajji said, half in statement, half in
interrogation.

"Why, I do not very well know what love may be," Lord Arglay said, "but
so far as is possible to men I think that there is justice between her
and me, and if that justice cannot help us now I do not think that any
miracles will."

"This is a very rare thing," the Hajji said doubtfully.

"My secretary," Lord Arglay said, half-lightly, half, seriously, "is a
very rare young lady." His voice became entirely serious, as he added,
"And if it is Giles, I will perhaps kill him tomorrow. But now I will
see what is at work here."

"Cannot I help you?" the other asked.

"No," Arglay said. "I will do this alone. Good-night."

He shook hands and opened the door. The Hajji, without going nearer,
bowed to Chloe and walked out. Lord Arglay shut the door and strolled
across the room.

"I thought he was never going," Chloe said.

The remark was so perfectly normal that for a moment the Chief justice
felt almost idiotically defeated. But something reminded him that Chloe
had never been the kind of secretary who remarked in that way on her
employer's visitors. She would have thought it presumptuous and rude,
and the affection that had grown between them had never made her more
careless of her behaviour as a subordinate or as a friend. In both
capacities the remark was inadmissible, and Lord Arglay knew it as he
took the last three steps that brought him level with her. He smiled at
her and for a moment considered.

"Do you feel very tired?" he asked.

"Well, it was a hell of a journey," Chloe said, "but no-not if you want
me, I mean."

"Too tired," Lord Arglay said, "to do a little Organic Law?" Chloe
looked at him blankly for a moment. "O!" she exclaimed, and before she
could add any more the Chief Justice went on easily, "I want you to
consider it in connexion with our last night's resolution. I want you
to think." His voice on the last word became suddenly authoritative.

Chloe laid a hand on his arm. "I am rather tired," she said, "but of
course if you must have it done-" The hand slid down his arm to his
hand and lingered there. Lord Arglay took it and held it. "Yes, think,"
he said. "Think, very carefully, yourself

Chloe pouted. "What about?" she said. "Isn't there anything better to
do? It's you that ought to think, not me."

"Good God!" Lord Arglay said, really annoyed, "don't talk such rubbish,
child."

A quick tremor shook Chloe, she released his hand, and slid round to
face him. "Am I a child?" she said, and suddenly anger contended with
cunning in her eyes. She paused uncertainly, as if something within
her, unaccustomed to the instrument it was using, was fumbling with it;
she half put out her hand again and withdrew it; she leaned forward but
whether in desire or hate Arglay could not tell. He kept his eyes on
her now, saying nothing for a moment that the remembrance of the Chloe
Burnett be knew might gather more mightily within him. For the change
that had come upon her was provoked by no natural alteration of mood,
and for a moment he wondered whether indeed he had been wise in this
extremity to refuse the mysterious capacities of the Stone. If he could
use it to rescue Pondon might he not with a thousand times more reason
use it here? Might it not be a wise and proper thing to do? But however
wise or proper it might be he knew he could not; to do so would be
already to confess defeat--there was something else on which he relied
and it was the mere fact that they were what they were and had been
what they had been.

He said, with a certain slowness, "Child, I would have you think of
what we chose to do."

"I do not want to think of anything that is past," she answered
sullenly, and to that he said in a growing passion of authority, "But I
will have you do this, and therefore you shall do it now. I will have
you do it."

She moved her head from side to side as if to avoid the charge he laid
upon her; then, abandoning a direct refusal, she said in almost a
whisper, "But first let us think of other things. "

"Child," he answered, "the things of which you would think are neither
here nor there, nor do you think of them. You think and you shall think
of all that we have done together, and of how we determined to believe
in God."

"I will believe in you instead," Chloe said and took a small step
forward in the small distance that separated them.

The sentence was so unexpected, she was herself so close, that Arglay
for a moment hesitated. It was not so much desire for her that filled
him as a willingness to accept himself on those terms, to take this
offered substitution. To play deity to an attractive young girl-there
was, for a moment he felt, a certain point to the idea. But even as the
point pricked him ever so slightly he smiled to think of it, and the
consciousness of the prick passed from him. His own belief in God was
still small, but his feeling for Organic Law was very strong, and his
dislike of any human being pretending to be above that Law was stronger
still. The temptation rose and was lost in its absurdity. And yet ...
She looked up with an inviting smile. He took her suddenly by one
shoulder with his hand.

"You will not believe in me," he answered, "as more than a servant of
that which you serve. Answer me-what is that?"

"It is nothing with which you have anything to do," she said, "unless
you will do also what I will."

He smiled at her in a sudden serenity. "Now I know that I shall have my
way," he said, either to her or to that which was within her, and added
to her alone, "since it is impossible that we should be so separated
for ever."

"You!" she said harshly. "Will you govern me with your bit of filthy
pebble?"

"I have no need of the Stone," he answered, still smiling at her, "for
all that is in the Stone, except the accidents of time, is here between
us and perhaps more than is in the Stone. And in that you will answer
me. Tell me, child, what is it you serve."

She wrenched her shoulder away from him. "Keep your beastly hands
away," she cried. "I am my own to keep and command."

"And if that shall be true to-morrow," Lord Arglay said, "it is not
true now." His voice took on a sternness and he looked
on her with a high disdain. "Answer," he said; "will you make me wait?
Answer-what is it that you serve?"

She moved back a step or two, and suddenly he put out his hand, caught
her wrist, and pulled her back close to him; then, his eyes on hers, he
said: "Child, you know me and I know you among the deceptions. What is
it, what is it that you serve?"

She gave a stifled cry, and slipped forward so that he caught her"I
know,"- she said, "I know. Hold me; I know." When at last he moved she
stood up and did something to her hair; then she looked at him with a
faint smile. "I do know," she said.

"Then I think it is more than I do," Lord Arglay said. "But that is
very possible."

"Have I been saying anything-very silly?" she asked, picking up her
handbag and looking for her powder-puff. ?"

The Chief justice considered her. "How do you feel?" he     asked.
"Well enough to talk a little about it?"

"Quite," Chloe *answered,. sitting down, and adding after a Moment's
pause, "Have I been a nuisance?"

"Don't you remember?" Lord Arglay asked. "Suppose you tell me first-
whatever seemed to happen,"

"I don't know that anything exactly happened," Chloe said. "I just
began to think about . . ..began to think in a different way.,)

"In quite a different way?" Arglay interrupted. "I mean, in a way you
had never thought before?"

The colour flamed in Chloe's cheeks. But she met his eyes, and
answered, "Partly. I don't think I ever calculated before--not so much
anyhow. Or not at the same time that I felt . . she struggled bravely
on and ended . . . "desirous."

The Chief Justice considered again. He had seen the farewell she had
taken of Doncaster; he had observed, when he had returned to the study,
the valuation to which she was bringing its furniture; he had remarked
the cold intention in her eyes when the two of them were talking; and
he decided that in this case desire and calculation were two different
things. But by what means, if by any outside herself, had they been
loosed?

"It came on you suddenly?" he asked.

"It came," she answered, "as if I thought I was walking down one road
and found I was walking down another. it didn't even come; it was
there. I lived into the midst of it."

"And it?" Arglay said, "it seemed like some other self of yours? Did
you know yourself in it?"

"In a way," she answered, "all the things that I have sometimes hated
most in myself. But not altogether. Never-no, in all my life, I never
wanted so utterly to grab without giving anything at all, never
before." In her agitation she stood up, "I'm not like that," she said,
"O indeed I'm not."

"No," Lord Arglay said, "but I think I could guess who is, and whose
mind was thrust upon yours then.' But even he, even in the Stone, could
only affect you through your own habits and emotions. So that both he
and you troubled and hid your heart." He mused for a moment and went
on."Child, in those past times that you speak of, how have you governed
yourself?"

"By this and that," Chloe said, "By trying to think clearly and by
trying to be as nice as I could to people,"

"It'is very well said," Lord Arglay answered. "I do not think Giles or
anyone else will easily overcome that guard,
of yours."

"I will take care of that," Chloe said in quite a different voice. "I
shan't be caught twice."

"Well," Lord Arglay answered comfortably, looking round the room, "I
mayn't be what Reginald's unfortunate American would call rich, but I
should think I am quite the most well-todo person you know. So if you
are going to make an attempt on anyone it will probably be on me again.
Which won't matter, will it?"

"No," said Chloe, "though it seems funny that it shouldn't. And in a
way it does."

"O la la! in a way-" Lord Arglay said. "But only in a way conformable
to the Stone. Now it is funny, if you like, how determined I was not to
use the Stone. One might have thought I didn't care what happened to
you. I might have been the HaJji; indeed I was worse than the Hajji,
for he at least thought about using it."

"Why-if I may-why didn't you?" Chloe asked shyly, but her eyes were
glad as she looked at him.

"I couldn't see that it was going to be of the slightest use," he
answered. "It just wasn't there. Or else-since we have decided to
believe in it-it was there anyhow, and to have it materially wouldn't
have helped."

"Is there then something greater than the Stone?" she asked. "I dreamed
last night that the King lifted up his hand and there was a great
light."

"Also the HaJji spoke of a greater secret," he answered. "I do not
think Giles quite knows what he is doing."

"Do you think it is-dangerous to him?" Chloe said.

"Anything that one uses is apt to become one's master," Arglay
answered. "And if the Stone should become Giles's Master-what would he
find it to be?"

Chloe looked at her fingers. "Do you think," she said doubtfully, "we
ought to try and. . . warn him or ... help him . . . Or anything?"

"Help him-help Giles?" Lord Arglay exclaimed. "My dear
child, don't be absurd! After he ... O you're tired out; I shall take
you home. Unless-I ask you again-unless you'll stop here? "

"Not to-night, please," she said. "I shall be quite safe now. If he
tries it again, I shall just think."

"Do," Lord Arglay approved. "My present problem in Organic Law is this-
Good heavens, you want to know! O come along, you're merely making
altruism into a habit."





                         Chapter Fourteen

                 THE SECOND REFUSAL OF CHLOE BURNETT

Lord  Arglay asserted later that whenever Chloe declared that  she
would be quite safe something perilous was certain to be approaching,.
But since he knew that she was in possession of one of the Types and
therefore had at her disposal a means of escape from any crisis and a
place of refuge in his own house it did not seem to him that she was
likely to be in any unavoidable danger. For alternatively if any one of
those who were bound to regard them as enemies should seize on the Type
she had, then his object would be achieved. The Stone possessed, there
would be no point in harming Chloe; it would indeed be a stupid and
risky thing to do, arousing that very attention which it was important
to avoid. It appeared therefore to the Chief Justice that though she
might be inconvenienced she could not be seriously endangered.

This argument, though sound within its limits, suffered from the same
trouble that invalidates all human argument and makes all human
conclusion erroneous, namely, that no reasoning can ever start from the
possession of all the facts. The two facts which Lord Arglay's
reasoning left out of account were, first, the inclusion of the Prince
Ali among the pursuers of the Stone, and second Chloe's increasing
determination not to use her Type for her own safety. It was this
omission which proved his conclusion wrong and did actually put her in
peril.

For whatever the Persian Ambassador might diplomatically desire, and
whatever the HaJi Ibrahim might religiously assert, Ali had no
intention at all of relinquishing his efforts-to
recover all the Types if possible, and if not at least one; by the
possession of which he hoped to procure the rest. His first objective
had been Sir Giles. But Sir Giles had made it clear that any attempt to
recover the Type in his possession would mean a multiplication of
Stones which from Ali's point of view would be not only sacrilegious
but extremely troublesome. He had not for some days been at all clear
where the rest of the Types were. Reginald Montague had apparently had
one, but then-he gathered from the papers-so had Sheldrake; were they
one or two? Ali could not, in his position, afford to make a number of
violent and unsuccessful efforts to recover it or them; the
Ambassador's modernity and the Hajji's piety might agree in removing
him to Moscow or having him recalled to Tehran before he achieved what
he wanted, should either of them suspect what was happening. He had not
dared so far to make any effort to excite the temper of the East. But
he had, with the greatest caution, sounded the mind of one of his
friends in the Embassy; he intended to gather about himself a small
group of similar spirits in order that when a convenient time came he
might, if necessary, strike in several directions at once.

Nothing however was further from his mind than that he should be rung
up by Sir Giles Tumulty. It was not the first telephonic conversation
which had proceeded between the Embassy and the English that morning;
the HaJji and Lord Arglay had been talking earlier. The Chief justice
had briefly explained that all was well with Miss Burnett, and had
added that he was still in two minds about going off to Ealing and
quite simply killing Sir Giles.

"What good do you think that would be ... in the End?" the HaJji said.

"I haven't an idea what good it would be in the End," Lord Arglay
assured him, "but it seems as if it might be a considerable good here
and now. After all, we can't be expected to put everything off because
of the End or we should just be putting off the End itself At least it
seems so to me, but I'm no metaphysician."

"What would    Miss Burnett desire?" the Hajji asked.

"That's my only difficulty," Lord Arglay explained. "I don't think
she'd like it-and yet I don't know. Everybody else would be pleased. I
might be hanged but I should be almost certain - to have a memorial
statue somewhere, probably by Epstein. I like Epstein too. Well, I
suppose I shan't."

He might however have been almost inclined to turn the only half-
fantastic idea into an act if he had overheard Sir Giles a quarter of
an hour later. The whole history of Tumulty's dealings with the Stone
had roused in him a state of increasing irritation with Lord Arglay and
his secretary. There had been the spying on him, as he chose to call
it, at Birmingham; Arglay's refusal to investigate the half-hour's
break; the affray at the Conference; his own impotence to understand
Arglay's mind; the rescue of Pondon. And now            He was not very
clear what had interfered with his domination of Chloe. He had, after
the usual preliminary attention and concentration, become aware of
looking through Chloe's eyes much as Arglay had looked through his own.
He had been aware of a feeling for the Chief justice which, since it
certainly wasn't his own, must be Chloe's. He had attempted to turn
that emotion into his own desire to use Arglay and then throw him
aside. But he had not reached to the extremer places of Chloe's own
manner of experience; it-had been but her conscious thought that he
could dominate, working inwards from without. He had so far conquered
that his intention had imposed itself on her as her own, although with
the changed appearance which, in their turn, her physical and mental
desires had wrought in it. But at the time when Lord Arglay had called
upon his friend with the authority to which she was accustomed and
Which she loved, Giles's will had been swept aside. A darkness fell
upon him; he became aware of the Stone in his hands, it seemed to move
in them and itself to thrust him back. He dropped it suddenly as if
just in time to avoid its growth against him, and took, as he became
again conscious of his outer Surroundings, a few angry steps about the
room. "I don't know if this is a damned nightmare," he grunted, "but it
felt as if I was going to be swallowed by the bloody thing. I wonder if
I'm letting the idea of getting back at Arglay and his whore run away
with me. One does, sometimes; and that's just death to observation. I
wish there was someone else who could tackle, them. And by God," he
exclaimed, "there is. I suggested it to Birlesmere myself-there's the
Persian."

As he thought about it he decided that this, in default of a better,
was the momentary solution. The Prince Ali was probably still anxious
to recover the Stone, and if he happened to kill Chloe or Arglay in the
process so much the better. Anyhow even to lose their Types would
certainly annoy them, and if at the worst Ali or his friends failed or
suffered there was no particular harm done to Sir Giles himself. "Ali
and this screaming peahen can fight it out together," he said, and
looked up the number of the Persian Embassy.

The Prince was considerably surprised when he was first told that Sir
Giles Tumulty wanted to speak to him, but he condescended to answer.

Sir Giles was obscenely abrupt. On condition that he was left alone he
would give the Persian a chance of recovering something, if All thought
it worth while. Was he to be left alone? The Prince, as abruptly,
agreed. Then at Lancaster Gate and wherever the secretary hibernated,
were Types of the Stone, if they were wanted.

"But why," the Prince said curiously, "do you tell me this?"

"What in hell's name does that matter to you?" Sir Giles asked. "I gave
him one when I thought you were after me, just to make you and your
company of date-eaters think a bit. But he annoys me, and I'd rather
you had it."

The Prince thought, but did not say, that the Foreign Office would
hardly have agreed. Sir Giles had thought of it but he was far too
angry with his brother-in-law to care about all the Foreign Offices in
Europe.

"Well, there you are," he said. "I suppose you can hire somebody to do
the job."

"That I will see to," the Prince said. "If this is true I cannot thank
you, but I will at least ignore you."

"You'll do what?" Sir Giles almost yelled, but recovered himself and
slammed down the receiver. "And I hope they assault the girl and
assassinate Arglay," he thought to himself as he prepared to go out
again to Wandsworth.

The exact measures which the Prince took were, not unnaturally, never
explained. But by the time that Chloe, after an uneventful day,
returned home, they had been carried out. His friend had left London
for Brighton and Reginald Montague. He himself was waiting for night.

Chloe and the Chief Justice had-quite seriously-discussed the
possibility of attempting to recover all the Types and of escaping with
them from England. But neither of them, especially as they grew less
and less inclined to use it-or, as Chloe had said-to dictate to it, had
-been quite prepared to take such extreme measures. Lord Arglay viewed
with a certain hesitation the annexation of Sheldrake's Type, for which
after all he had paid and from which he was presumably entitled to get
such satisfaction as he legally could. The Mayor of Rich had called to
ask the Chief Justice to draw up a public statement and petition on
behalf of all the sick, and on the first draft of this Lord Arglay,
with a wry smile, had spent some time. Rich, he gathered from the
papers, was still in a state of simmering discontent. Oliver Doncaster
had called, very uncertain of his behaviour in Chloe's company, and
rather defeated at finding that everything seemed normal. No one
alluded to her remark of the previous night, and the Chief Justice
being in the room all the time there was no opportunity
for him to make the running on the strength of her own behaviour. As,
rather gloomily, he departed, Lord Arglay looked at Chloe. "Of course
he doesn't appreciate Giles," he said.

"But what must he think of me?" Chloe asked despairingly.

"I can't begin to imagine," Lord Arglay said. "Nor as a matter of fact
can he. You can, but you needn't at the moment. For I am utterly
convinced that Austin-Austin!-never said 'Attribuat igitur rex legi,
quod lex attribuit ei, videlicet dominationern et Potestatem. Non est
enim rex ubi dominatur voluntas et non lex.' Don't you know the sound
of Bracton's voice, when you hear it? 'Therefore let the king attribute
to the law that which the law attributes to him, namely, domination and
power. For where the will rules and not the law is no king.' You
haven't checked your references, child, and, as a result, you've got
this whole page of quotations wrong."

Chloe bit her lips, crossed out the attribution, and plunged back into
legal histories.

This unfortunate lapse, the more maddening that it had been a page she
had written out some weeks earlier, and before the Stone had
preoccupied her mind, was annoying her when she returned that night.
For she had rather prided herself on her secretarial efficiency, and
Lord Arglay's quite pleasant, but quite firm, criticism of it
distressed almost as much as it pleased her. Almost, because she
thought as she took off her hat how much worse it would have been if he
had pretended that, because of their friendship, it didn't matter. "It
was," he had said, "no doubt the prophetic soul of your wide world
dreaming on things to come. But don't let it be dreaming too much about
the law-makers who are gone, will you? Or let us be quite clear when it
is." Chloe kicked herself again and made some coffee.

The incident however sent her to bed even more certain of the edge of
incapacity and void upon which she dwelt than
she normally was. What with Frank Lindsay being angry with her for one
thing (and even now she wasn't clear that she had been right), and Lord
Arglay being critical of her for another (and she was quite clear that
she had been hopelessly careless), she seemed to herself a sufficiently
ineffectual creature. It was true she couldn't much care whether Frank
was angry or not, and didn't in a sense mind whether Lord Arglay was
displeased or not; if the one didn't understand, well, she couldn't
help it, and of the other she would always be secure no matter how
unhappy he might, very properly and rightly, make her. Still, if this
was the result of her emotional and intellectual life-merely to annoy
everybody! She looked at herself in the glass and wondered as on
several other occasions in the last few days what the Hajji had meant
by saying 'that the Name was upon her forehead. The Name of the God in
which she and Lord Arglay had decided to believe? What did you do if
you had decided to believe in God? So far as her early training served
her, she thought you gave up your will to His. Non est enim rex ubi
dominatur voluntas-for where the will rules there is no king. But
Bracton-damn her stupidity!- had been talking of feudal law, and yet .
. . She wandered slowly back and lifted from her handbag the Type of
the Stone that she carried, to lay it under her pillow for the night.
"The End of Desire  ....... the Stone which is between you and me." You
gave up your will, did you? Your will by itself produced pretty poor
results, it seemed. Attribuat igitur-let the king attribute to the law.
. ..But how to find the law? "The Way to the "Stone which is in the
Stone." The Stone, Lord Arglay, God, the End of Desire. Was this then
what her absurd childish prayers meant? "Our Father which art in
heaven," she thought, "Hallowed be Thy name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will
be done on earth as it is in heaven"-and what did that mean?

Of course if it all did mean something it was quite easy to believe she
hadn't yet understood, but in that case she wanted, wanted very much,
to understand; and very much indeed, with her body and mind and
everything else, she desired the End of Desire. Still thinking about
it, still trying over to herself the first few phrases of that august
ritual of intercession she got into bed, laid the Type of the Stone
under her pillow, settled herself to sleep.

Or to think. But bed, as Chloe had on other occasions discovered, is
not really a good place in which to try and do both, even sequentially.
When she decided that she had thou thought enough and ought to go to
sleep, for fear the next day should find her making a muddle of more
quotations, she found it was too late. Bits of her previous thoughts
half imaged themselves to her, and disappeared before she could do more
than recognize them. She thought of getting up and reading, but she
couldn't think of any book in her rooms which she wanted to read-not
even Mr. Ford Madox Ford's novels or the life of Sir Edward Marshall-
Hall (which, a fortnight before,              had seemed to her to
unite law and interest-Chloe had never quite freed herself from the
idea that she ought to read in her leisure something that had a bearing
on her work). And an how-

She lay very still suddenly. Something, surely something had sounded.
Only the door-handle. But it had, ever so faintly clicked. Doors did
make noises in the night-but door-handles? She felt hastily round to
see if she could remember a door handle clicking. Was there somebody-
had somebody come for the Stone? She thrust both hands under her pillow
in a panic, and her fingers closed about it. The moonlight came half
across the room, alongside her bed; surely no one at least could reach
its-and her-head, and the Stone, unseen. She began to strain her eyes
towards the foot; then she shut them, in case there was anyone, and
that she might be thought asleep; then she partly opened them that she
might see what was happening. There was a faint movement somewhere, as
if of a breath being loosed, then another silence. Chloe's right hand
grasped the Stone; her left held the bed-clothes tightly.

What, what, if there was anyone there, was she to do? O for Lord Arglay
now!

She remembered suddenly, still desperately watching, what he had said,
"Come to me"-yes, but how was she to come?
O why wouldn't he come to her? "Come to me." But how--but of course the
Stone. She only had to make use of the Stone and all would be safe. In
the thrill of assured safety she all but made a face at the unknown, if
there were an unknown. And there was; for one second on the edge of the
dark an edge of a finger showed. Something was moving towards her in
the night. Well, that was all right; they could go on moving. She had
only to will and- She had only to will ... to use the Stone. In a
horror of anguish she understood the choice that was presented to her.

Her thoughts went through her head like Niagara. Lord Arglay had told
her but even Lord Arglay didn't feel like that about the Stone and she
had said to Frank she wouldn't use it if she were starving and what was
the man doing and what would he do if she screamed and even if she did
perhaps Mrs. Webb wouldn't come down this time and what could she do if
she did? O it wasn't fair, it wasn't fair! How could she use the Stone?
yet how could she bear not to if whoever it was came nearer? He was
probably trying to see if her hands were empty; well, they weren't. He
won't know if I ve got it in my hand or not, she thought. Could she sit
up, switch on the light, and with the Stone in her hand dare him to
move? No-it was too risky; he'd think of something she wasn't prepared
for and perhaps snatch it from her. Then she would use it; after all
she was using it to save it. She was doing for it what it could not do
for itself. She was protecting it. Not being a reader of religious
history Chloe was ignorant what things have been done in the strength
of that plea, or with what passionate anxiety men have struggled to
protect the subordination of Omnipotence. But in her despair she
rejected what churches and kings and prelates have not rejected; she
refused to be
deceived, she refused to attempt to be helpful to the God, and being in
an agony she prayed more earnestly. The God purged her as she writhed;
lucidity entered into her; she turned upon her face, and with both
hands beneath her pillow holding the Stone, she lay still, saying only
silently in her panting breath: "Thy will, . . . do ... do if Thou
wilt; or"- she imagined the touch of the marauder on the calf of her
leg and quivering in every nerve added-"or ... not."

In the darkness the Prince Ali almost made a movement of delight. He
had got into the house, by the aid of certain hangers-on of the
hangers-on of the Embassy; secret service, from which even a minor
Embassy is not entirely exempt, sets up connexions which are useful at
times, and judicious inquiries that afternoon by a gentleman in search
of lodgings had let him know which Chloe's room was. The actual seizure
of the Stone he had not dared to entrust to anyone else, but he had
been disturbed to find Chloe still awake. He had reckoned on sleep,
darkness, and chloroform, but he had not dared cross the moonlight
while she lay awake, for he had some idea of how swiftly the Stone
would work and he had no wish to be confronted with an empty bed. Now
that she had turned on to her face, however, his opportunity was at
hand. He felt very carefully for the chloroformed pad, and at that
moment a cloud began gradually to obscure the moonlight. The Prince
hesitated and determined to wait for that fuller darkness; while he
waited he took out his electric torch with his left hand, and rehearsed
his movements. A few quiet steps to the top of the bed, the torchlight
on her head, the pad over her mouth. He was practically certain that
the Stone would be under her pillow-or perhaps in a bag round her neck;
at any rate once she was unconscious he would be able to search at
leisure, with the room light on. It would, he felt, have been more
satisfactory to his outraged creed to destroy the woman who had done
dishonour to the sacred thing even by possessing it, and to avenge upon
her the insult offered to his God. But this relief he could hardly
allow himself; Allah himself must punish. The moonlight had
disappeared; the room lay in darkness, he stepped forward, his finger
on the switch of the torch.

When Chloe had heaved herself round with that last movement her heart
had been beating wildly, and her breath coming in quick pants. Now as
she lay she felt both of them beginning to move more quietly and more
largely; she drew long and deep breaths and her heart composed itself
to a corresponding rhythm. She still saw before her mental vision the
edge of a finger against a darkness, or rather not now the edge but the
finger itself, and at its back an indeterminate shape as if it were
thrust a little forward from the whole hand; and she realized that it
was not the same finger which she had seen a few moments earlier.
Between these two palenesses therefore she lay, the one remembered, the
other beheld, yet both present, and, almost as if in the uncertainty
before sleep, she was vaguely conscious that the two came together and
formed one stream of pale but increasing light. From somewhere beyond
her, where her hands clasped the Stone, that narrow line of light
emerged; she lay within it and it passed through and about, her without
hindrance. The more clear it grew to her knowledge, the more clearly
within she enunciated the formula she had shaped with such pain and at
last unconsciously abandoned the formula itself for the meaning that
lay within it.

"Do, or do not," she silently uttered, and fell even mentally into
stillness in order that unhindered that action might or might not take
place. The light grew suddenly around her; some encumbrance for a
moment touched her mouth and would have interrupted her appeal, had it
been vocal; a vibration went through her,as if a note of music had been
struck along her whole frame, and far off she heard as it were a single
trumpet at the gate of the house of Suleiman with a Prolonged blast
saluting the dawn.

The police-constable on his beat outside had come slowly
down the road, and from a few yards off saw a dark heap at the door of
Mrs. Webb's house. He broke into a run, bent over it for a minute, then
straightened himself, and blew his whistle. It was the body of a man
that lay there; they found afterwards that it was burnt as if by
lightning and broken as if cast from an immense distance. The
constable's whistle sounded again as if with a prolonged blast saluting
the dawn.






                          Chapter Fifteen

              THE POSSESSIVENESS OF MR. FRANK LINDSAY

Neither Mrs. Webb nor Miss Burnett were of much use to the police in
that morning investigation. Neither of them recognized the body, and
though it had lain huddled against the front door of the house, there
was nothing to show that, alive or dead, it had ever been inside the
door. Besides which, burning and breaking, as that body was burnt and
broken, are not injuries which the two women seemed very capable of
inflicting, and the inspector in charge leaned to the idea that it had
been brought from a distance and dropped at this spot. The usual
inquiries were set on foot, with a casual jest or two about the
possibility of the Rich Stone being responsible. But Miss Burnett was
not prevented from departing to her employment, though some care was
taken to see that she actually went to Lord Arglay's as she had
professed to intend; since with these modern girls, as someone
remarked, you never knew. The police had cause to be glad that they had
not interfered, since in quite a short time the Home Office was
intimating to them that the whole incident had better be kept as quiet
as possible, and the stop-press paragraph which, by the chance of a
belated journalist, had appeared in one morning paper had better be
left without any sequel.

The Chief Justice had listened in silence to Chloe's account of the
night.

"And that blast of sound went on," she ended, "and it Seemed to be a
long time before I understood it was just a POlice whistle, and all
that light was just the moon. And then
I knew that whatever it was had gone away; so I got up and looked out
of the window. And there they were."

"The police?"

"The police. They saw me and I asked a question or two, and they asked
more-of Mrs. Webb too. But they couldn't do anything to us. I don't
even know whether ... what they had was what I saw."

"It may not have been," Arglay said. "But I think it is likely. Did you
see the ... the result?"

"Yes," Chloe said, her face white but rather with awe than horror or
fear, "it was as if it had been struck by lightning."

"It wasn't Giles?"

"It was someone I have never seen before," Chloe answered. "A dark man,
a foreigner I think. Not a negro but someone Eastern."

"As a Persian, for instance?" Lord Arglay asked. "Though how they knew
of you I don't understand. Well, we can ask the Hajji if he knows
anything-I don't think he'd be in it. He seems to have too low an
opinion of violence and too high an opinion of you."

Chloe looked at her feet and said nothing, and in a moment the Chief
Justice went on. "Yes, we will talk to him, and also
I will speak to Bruce Cumberland. He won't want the thing broadcast, if
it is the Persians, and it may save you some trouble. At any rate, you
will sleep here now."

"Yes," Chloe said simply, "I will. Shall I send a note to Mrs. Webb
explaining?"

"Do," Arglay said, "while I telephone."

Mr. Bruce Cumberland, when he heard the news, took the steps he was
expected to take. The police were warned to b careful in their
inquiries, and to turn those inquiries to discovering whether any
member of the Persian Embassy was missing. But before Lord Arglay had
finished talking to the Hajji a caller arrived at Lancaster Gate.

Mr. Frank Lindsay had seen the newspaper paragraph, and  alone among
its readers had known the street for Chloe's. He did not seriously
connect her with "the dead body of a man found early that morning," but
there flashed through his mind the notion that here was an opportunity
for an anxious inquiry. Within that opportunity another possibility lay
curled, vivid with a delectable poison. Sometimes with, sometimes
without, his own consent, Merridew's proposal had demanded
consideration, each time more urgently, each time more plausibly. But
however reasonable it had begun to seem, since after all it would do
Chloe no harm and himself a great deal of good, he could not discover
how to carry it out without a depressing sacrifice of his own proper
pride. She had refused his suggestion almost-no, quite-rudely; she had
dismissed him; she had promised to write and had not written. Even for
the sake of his examination and (what of course did not weigh with him)
the fiee Merridew had spoken of-for a fee, nothing more, was what it
was-even for these things Lindsay could not see how to make any
movement towards a reconciliation. But every day made the need of that
reconciliation more urgent, if it was to be in time to be any use, if
(he said to himself) they were to be on their old terms again, and
hardly knew that by
the phrase he meant very new terms indeed. It was not that Chloe would
bear any malice, but that swift willingness of hers to hurry all
occasion of mischief into oblivion at times rather annoyed him; it
seemed a little undignified, and was one of the things in which he
suspected the influence of Lord Arglay encouraged her in lessening
herself. Of course, it was different when he was concerned, though even
then it was difficult for him to be gracious when she so speedily
abolished the opportunity for grace. She ran where he walked, and he
thought walking the more handsome movement. But now-with a dead  body
in the street-yes, a real concern was permissible. And that concern
repaid its possessor in other ways-but he was not thinking of that, he
was thinking of a dead body. He was perfectly correct, but a more
accurate vision would have told him that he was thinking also of a
dying soul, and that his own.

She would be at Lancaster Gate, and to Lancaster Gate, rather
nervously, he went. The telephone seemed inadequate to his anxiety; an
actual meeting, a clasping hand, a reassuring embrace, if possible, if
the Chief Justice was out of the way, seemed to be demanded. From every
point of view he hoped that Lord Arglay would be out of the way.

Lord Arglay, seeing the maid speak to Chloe and seeing also Chloe's
glance at himself, cut short his conversation with the Hajji, and,
hearing that Mr. Lindsay had called, took immediate steps to be out of
the way. "You can call me for a minute when he's going," he said, "if
you think it would look more courteous. But do as you like about that.
The Hajji won't be here just yet."

"But I don't know that I want you to go," Chloe said uncertainly. "No,
I'm sorry, I didn't mean to put it like that. I didn't mean to talk as
if I had a right. . . ."

"I feel," Lord Arglay said, "that God-it's curious how easily one
accepts the idea; atavism, I suppose-would rather I went; at least, the
God in your friend. There is courtesy everywhere, and this, so to
speak, is that. Besides, now I know you're safe, I should like him to."

Chloe did her amiable best to reassure Mr. Lindsay, but she felt all
the time that she couldn't much mind whether he were reassured or not.
Unless indeed he had undergone a conversion of which she would not look
for the signs for fear they should not be there. She said nothing about
the invasion of the night and at first took great care not to mention
the Stone. Yet sinCe it was so much in her thoughts she did find
herself wishing that he, so young, so ignorant, so well-intentioned, as
he seemed to her, could feel as she felt about it, or could at least
see what she felt, and when after about a quarter of an hour she felt
that he might as well go, she said hesitatingly: "You do understand,
Frank, about the other night, don't you?"

Frank, whose inner thoughts had also been occupied with the Stone, said
brightly: "O of course, of course. Don't worry; that's quite all right.
I see what you meant," and wondered, for the fifteenth time, whether
she had brought it with her or left it at Highgate. It wasn't on any of
the tables, but her handbag lay by the typewriter; could it be-

"Would you like just to speak to Lord Arglay?" Chloe said.

That meant that she was expecting him to go, he thought very swiftly;
if he said yes would she leave the room? or would she send a maid? It
was growing urgent, this need of the Stone, though, of course, he could
perhaps take her home. But where did she keep it? Suppose she had it
round her neck in a bag? Girls did; and then- Even his mind refused to
contemplate what measures, and in them what treachery, might be
necessary: after all, they had been friends. "Yes" then, and pray
heaven she went to tell Lord Arglay herself.

"Perhaps it would be better," he said.

She kissed him-persevering upon the Way-pressed his hand, went to the
door, threw him a last smile, and disappeared. And he, swiftly and
quietly, his eyes on the closed door, moved to her work-table, opened
the bag, felt the Stone, withdrew it, stared, at it, slipped it into
his trouser pocket, where he thought among his keys and money it would
be least noticeable, re-fastened the bag, and almost ran to the window.
And even then there were two or three minutes given him for repentance,
before Chloe opened the door for the Chief Justice, and stepped softly
aside, as a secretary should, that her employer might enter. This
careful subordination had always pleased Lord Arglay, and after the
occurrences of the last few days gave him an increasing joy, as if it
were part of the habitual ritual that surrounded his office, but much
more delightful, more dear, and in some way more important than the
rest.

Lord Arglay shook hands. Mr. Lindsay, a trifle awkwardly
apologized for disturbing Miss Burnett at her work. Lord Arglay said
that any friend of Miss Burnett's was free at all times to disturb her
in her work, which owing to her sense of form was rapidly becoming a
great deal more her work than it was his. Mr. Lindsay said that the
paragraph in the paper had alarmed him; he had been afraid there might
have been some disturbance in the street, or even that some attack. . .
. Lord Arglay said that he had feared the same thing and had been very
anxious until Miss Burnett arrived. Mr. Lindsay was greatly indebted to
Lord Arglay. Lord Arglay hoped that Mr. Lindsay would believe that
their common friendship with Miss Burnett put his own house at Mr.
Lindsay's disposal at suchor any-times. The maid announced Mr. Ibrahim.
Mr. Lindsay was again obliged and must go. Lord Arglay regretted,
understood, and parted. The maid showed Mr. Lindsay out.

With his departure the three in the study seemed to enter into a common
concern. The Hajji, as the sound of the front door closing was heard,
said quite simply: "It was Ali."

"That is your nephew?" Lord Arglay said.

"He was my nephew," the Hajji answered, "but more than death has
separated us. For he also has wished to lay violent hands upon the
Stone."

Lord Arglay said, as he motioned to them to be seated, "Haji, the whole
world seems to agree with him there."

"it is the worse for all of us," the Hajji -answered sadly.

"You are sure of this?" Arglay asked, as he too sat down.

"As sure as I can be without seeing him," Ibrahim said. "He is not at
the Embassy this morning, none knows where he has gone, and I know what
he unwisely desired."

"I am very sorry for your house," Lord Arglay said, "for this is
becoming a very terrible thing. But because of others will you tell us
what you think happened last night? Why did this man die?"

The Hajji looked at Chloe. "Tell me," he said, "what you did when you
knew that someone was in your room."

Chloe tried to express it. "I didn't think I ought to use the Stone for
myself," she said, "and I didn't think I knew what it willed for
itself, so I-I did nothing except hope that it would --deal with
things."

"Of itself?" the HaJji asked softly.

"I suppose so," Chloe admitted. "I didn't know what I ought to do."

The HaJji nodded slowly, and looked at Lord Arglay. "It
should be clear to you what has come about," he said. "A thing has
happened which has not been possible for a thousand years- "

"I can quite believe that," Lord Arglay said. "A thousand years seem to
be considerably less than a day in this case. But I an not at all clear
what this thing is."

"This Holy Thing has been kept in seclusion," Ibrahim answered,
"through many centuries, and in all that time none of its keepers have
approached or touched it. And since Giles Tumulty stole it men have
grasped at it in their own wisdom. But this woman has put her will at
its disposal, and between it and her the union may be achieved by which
the other Hiddenness is made manifest."

"What is the other Hiddenness?" Lord Arglay asked.

The HaJji hesitated, then he turned his eyes back to Chloe and seemed
to ask a question of her. What answer he saw on the forehead at which
he gazed she could not guess, but he spoke then in a low and careful
voice.

"In the Crown of Suleiman the Wise-the Peace be upon him!-" he said,
"there was a Stone, and this Stone was that which is the First Matter
of Creation, holy and terrible. But on the hand of the King there was a
Ring and in the Ring was    another secret, more holy and terrible than
the Stone. For within the Ring there was a point of that Light which is
the SPirit of Creation, the Adornment of the Unity, the Knowledge
of the Loveliness, the Divine Image in the mirror of the worlds just
and true. This was the justice and the Wisdom of Suleiman, by which all
souls were made manifest to him and all causes rightly determined. Also
when within the Holy of Holies in the Temple that the King made he laid
his crown upon the Ark and between the wings of the Cherubim, and held
his hand over it, the Light of the Ring shone upon the Stone and all
things had peace. But when the King erred, building altars to strange
gods, he dared no longer let the Light fall upon the Stone; also he put
aside the Ring and it is told that Asmodeus sat upon his throne seven
years. But I think that perhaps the King himself had not all that time
parted from his throne, how closely soever Asmodeus dwelt within his
soul. And of the hiding place of the Ring I do not know, nor any of my
house; if it is on earth it is very secret. But the Light of it is in
the Stone and all the Types of the Stone-and the Power of it is in the
soul and body of any who have sought the union with the Stone, so that
whoever touches them in anger or hatred or evil desire is subjected to
the Light and Power of the Adornment of the Unity. And this I think my
nephew did, and this is the cause of his blasting and hurling out."

He looked straight at Chloe. "But woe, woe, woe to you," he said, "if
from this time forth for ever you forget that you gave your will to the
Will of That which is behind the Stone."

Chloe started to her feet with a cry. "It isn't true," she broke out,
"it isn't true! What have I done to bring all this on me? I can't bear
it; it isn't, it mustn't be true."

Lord Arglay's voice answered her. "All is well," he said, "all is well,
child. You shall do nothing that you cannot do and bear nothing that
you cannot bear. I will see to that." He held out his hand towards her,
and, shaken and terrified, she caught it. "Sit down," he went on,
smiling at her, "and we will know what all this is."

"What are you," the HaJi asked, more astonished than indignant, "to
promise to govern the Stone?"

"Why, in some sense," Lord Arglay said, smiling again, "I am at the
moment, as you say, the Light that is in the Stone. Not that I ever
meant or wanted to be."

"I do not understand you," the HaJji exclaimed in bewilderment. "You
act as if you believed in the Stone, yet you talk like an infidel. Are
you for or against this Sanctity?"

"That it may decide for itself," Lord Arglay said. "I am no light to my
own mind, I promise you. But if what you say is true, and the Stone is
a thing of goodness, and has saved this child last night, then we may
agree yet."

The HaJji shook his head. "I do not understand," he said almost
pitifully. "Why will you always mock?"

"I do not mock," Arglay answered, "or if I do I would have you consider
whether this may not be part of your Mystery. But we will not now talk
of the place of mockery among the gifts of the King Suleiman, although
if he never smiled at himself the Court of the King must have been a
very sombre place. I have known other Courts which were so, but they
were, often, without any kind of light. Let us talk quietly of this. "

He drew from his pocket a small jewel case and laid it on the table,
then he released his hand from Chloe's and touched her shoulder as she
sat. "Is everything well?" he said.

She looked at him, in a returning serenity. "Everything," she said, "I
was afraid."

"Do not be afraid," he said. "Consider that we, if anything at all can
be,. are in the knowledge of the illuminated Stone. "

He opened the case, and his Type lay before them, but in it there was a
change. The Stone was glowing with a stronger colour than before; its
size was no greater but its depth seemed, as in some great jewel, to be
infinitely increased, and in that depth the markings which had seemed
like letters arose in a new and richer darkness. It expanded within;
and the eyes of those who gazed were drawn down the shapes of the
Tetragrammaton into its midst where the intervolutions of creams and
gold mingled themselves in what was more like cloud than Stone. The
Hajji looked and covered his eyes with his hand, pronouncing in a low
voice the formula of the Unity. Lord Arglay looked and there came- upon
his face a half-smile of such affectionate irony as that with which he
had glanced at Chloe-"this thing," he seemed to say, "cannot be and yet
it is." Chloe looked, and unconsciously put out her hand towards the
Stone, not as if to take hold, but naturally as if it were on the point
of clasping that of some sufficient lover. it moved forward and then
sank and rested on the table close to the Stone, and Lord Arglay,
including it also in his gaze, wondered suddenly at the kinship between
the two. For the hand and the Stone were to his eyes both softly
translucent; though the shapes were different, the matter of both was
the same, and if the one was to be raised the other was capable of
raising it. He permitted for a moment the fancy that that hand was but
pausing before it lifted up, not the Stone, but the whole round world,
playing with it as a ball upon its palm. He remembered the Hand thrust
out from a cloud in many an early painting to image the Power behind
creation, and the hand that lay open before him seemed meant to receive
that creation as it came into being. He saw-even while, rightly wise in
his own proper generation among these things, he refused to believe too
easily-that the Stone no longer rested on the table but that it threw
out of itself colour shaped into the table: the walls and furniture
were in themselves reflections of that Centre in which they secretly
existed; they were separations, forms, and clouded visibilities of its
elements, and he also and other mortals who moved among them. The Stone
quivered with its own intense and hidden life, and through the unknown
hand that appeared close beside it there passed an answering quiver.
Arglay saw it and held his breath for what might ensue. But nothing
more ensued, or nothing that could be apprehended by his critical mind.
The hand which had been for a moment a mystery of the same nature as
the Stone
resolved itself again into the hand of Chloe Burnett. The Stone, parted
to his vision again from the world, lay on the table where he had set
it. He looked up suddenly and as Chloe also moved their eyes met.

"And still," he said, "even so, you did muddle up those quotations."

She smiled across at him. "Am I not forgiven?" she asked.

"No," Lord Arglay said thoughtfully, "no, I do not think you are
forgiven." He considered the Stone again. "Lay your Type here," he went
on, and let us see if they agree."

She went across the room to her typewriting table, picked up and opened
her bag, looked into it, felt in it, looked again, and turned to him
with an exclamation. "It isn't here," she cried.

The Hajji looked round with a start of attention; Lord Arglay went
swiftly over to her. "Was it there?" he asked.

"Certainly it was," Chloe cried. "I looked at it this morning just
before Frank came in."

Arglay turned back towards the table where the Type lay. "Can the two
already have become one?" he said. "Are all the Types of the Stone
restored?"

Ibrahim joined them, asking, "What is the matter?"

"I had a Stone here," Chloe said, agitation growing in her-"not an hour
ago it was here, and now it is gone."

The Hajji gazed, and shook his head. "I do not think they are yet all
one," he said, "for no soul has yet made itself a way for the Stone to
be what it will in itself. I think it is more likely that you have been
robbed of -it."

Lord Arglay frowned, but before he could speak Chloe broke out in an
exclamation of horror. "O no," she cried, "no," and looked at him with
troubled eyes.

"Who has been here since you saw it?" the HaJji asked, and  the girl,
still staring at Arglay, answered, "It couldn't be," ut more in fear
than doubt.

"Why, all of us are capable of all misfortunes at all times,"
the Chief Justice answered. "Are you very certain that     it was
here?"

"I am quite certain," Chloe answered, "for I ... I adored it while you
were telephoning."

"And are you certain," Arglay said to Ibrahim, "that the Types of the
Stone are not yet made one?"

"I am not certain," he answered, "who can be certain of the movement of
justice? But I think that a further devotion is needed."

Lord Arglay turned back to Chloe, "Well," he said, "there is no need
for us to decide, for there is nothing that we could do. If it has been
taken, let us desire that goodwill may go with it, and that I will very
gladly do."

"But I must go after him," Chloe said, "I must make him give it back.
It is my fault-perhaps I ought to have given it to him. Only ... O what
have I done?"

"Nothing but what was wise," Arglay said. "Let us forget it. You and I
are here, and also a Type of the Stone. Let it rest at that, and we are
where we were before."

"Not quite," the Hajji said, "for as there is but one End, so there is
now but one Stone with you, and it may be one path for the Stone. It
may be that the path and the Stone and the End are shown you that they
may be one."

Lord Arglay had turned to go to the Type that remained when he was
interrupted by the entrance of the maid with a telegram. He took it
from her, opened and read it, and gave a low exclamation. Then, "There
is no immediate answer," he said, and as the maid went out he went back
to the other two.

"They have dealt with Reginald," he said. "Your friends again, I
expect, Hajji."

Chloe said, "What has happened to Mr. Montague?"

"They have killed him," Arglay answered, and for          once
negligent of an absurdity read the telegram aloud.

"From the Hotel Montespan, Brighton. Gentleman seriously injured by
burglars and afterwards died here registered as Reginald Montague
Rowland Street West gave your name as that of relation burglar
unfortunately escaped but no apparent trace of theft would like to
confer Gregson manager."

After a moment's silence Arglay said, "I am sorry for Reginald. He was
a fool but he wasn't malevolent..              And now there is only
us-and the others."

"Shall you go to Brighton?" the HaJi asked.

"Certainly I shall go," Lord Arglay said, "for if by chance it was not
a thing done to gain the stone then any that he had may still be there.
I do not think that I shall find one, but I will take no risks.
Besides, as things are, I would not have even Reginald's death quite
unnoticed, whatever catastrophe awaits us."

"And this Type that you have?" Ibrahim asked, pointing to it.

"That I will leave here," Lord Arglay said, "and Miss Burnett shall
guard it for the few hours that I shall be gone. They will not attack
the house of the Chief Justice in full daylight, and if any come to
take it in the name of the Law then Miss Burnett shall do what she
chooses. And you, "ajji?"

"If this is true," Ibrahim answered, "I will not go back to those who
are already shedding blood."

"Then you also shall be here," Lord Arglay said, "and you shall talk
together, and see if there is anything to be done. For so far," he
added with an unwonted outbreak of anger, "I
have done nothing at all. Nothing. I have been only a useless
loquacity."

"It isn't true," Chloe said.

"Well-if you can think of anything, excepting trying to bring a
laboratory assistant out of yesterday .       the Chief JUstice
answered, still bitterly.

"You may have been more than you know," the Hajji put in.

"O I may..." Lord Arglay said. "They also serve who only sit about and
chat. But after believing in God-"

"Ah but you do!" Chloe cried, "and is that doing nothing?" Lord Arglay
looked at her. "It is giving a new name to old things," he said. "Or
perhaps an old name to new things. Don't worry, child. I will go to
Brighton, and do you consider the doctrine that is within the Stone."






                          Chapter Sixteen

                  THE DISCOVERY OF SIR GILES TUMULTY

The same afternoon while Lord Arglay was hearing at Brighton of the
extraordinary events (so the manager called them) of the previous
night-how someone, so far untraced, must have got into Mr. Montague's
room, and how Mr. Montague's mutilated body had been discovered there
in the morning; while he himself was finding that there was no trace of
any Type of the Stone among Reginald's belongings; while this
separation of a single Type from the rest was proceeding, Lord
Birlesmere and Mr. Garterr Browne sat in a room at the Home Office and
talked. Lord Birlesmere was agitated; Mr. Garterr Browne was calm and
bright.

"Tumulty tells me nothing," the Foreign Secretary was saying. "I tried
to get hold of him yesterday, but I couldn't. That fellow Palliser who
was with him would only say that he hoped in time to find some way of
control."

"It might be awfully useful if he did," Mr. Garterr Browne said, "I see
that. But it's going to take time, and I don't think at present either
of us can afford the time."

"That's quite true. I don't know what's happened," Birlesmere answered,
"but there was an unpleasant note in the Persian man's voice. I've just
seen him, and they're more sure of themselves. He even began to hint at
Geneva and perhaps something more."

"Well," Mr. Garterr Browne went on, "I think I may say that, as soon as
I heard of it, I saw what would have to be done. One thing, anyhow, I
don't know about Persia, but I think it'll quiet things here."

"And what's that?" Birlesmere asked.

Mr. Garterr Browne smiled slyly. "Ask yourself," he said, "why people-
this Mayor, for instance-are making such a fuss about the Stone. Why,
because they think it does things."

"So it does," Lord Birlesmere said.

"Never mind whether it does or not," Garterr Browne said sharply. "The
point is that they believe it does. Very well. What do we want to do
then? Stop them believing it. How do we do that? Tell them, and show
them, that it doesn't."

"But it does," Lord Birlesmere said again.

"The first thing I said to myself," Mr. Garterr Browne went on, "when I
realized it, was-people must simply not be allowed to believe in it.
The second thing was-thank God it's stone. "

Lord Birlesmere sat and stared. Mr. Garterr Browne sat and smiled, then
he resumed.

"How can one stop them believing in it? As I've just saidtell them it
doesn't work; show them it doesn't work. And if it does, show them
something that doesn't."

"Good God!" Lord Birlesmere exclaimed.

"Stone," the other said, still smiling, "isn't rare. Marked stone isn't
rare. Of course, to a shade the markings.... I don't say that the tints
are exactly.... But near enough. I got hold of a man, and I went over
his place, and I found bits. I've known him rather well for years-he
was a contractor for the new Government buildings-and I found a bit of
what I wanted."

He pulled out a drawer and extracted something from it which he threw
across to Lord Birlesmere. It was a fragment of square stone, having a
black streak or two in it. But it was a poor imitation of the Stone of
Suleiman, and so Lord Birlesmere, having considered it, felt compelled
to say.

"No one would take it for the same thing," he said.

"No one who hasn't got the original is likely to be able to compare,"
Garterr Browne said. "And who's got it? Sheldrake -well, he must keep
his for the present; the Persians-well, if
they know we'll keep it quiet they won't want to make a fuss; Tumulty
and Palliser-well, they must be careful in their experiments, but
they're not likely to act in public; you-that's
all right; Arglay--that is a little awkward, but he's a sensible fellow
and we'll talk to him. I fancy Merridew's trying to get a bit but I
don't think he has yet-and anyhow he'll want it kept quiet; he was here
saying so."

"But, good God," Lord Birlesmere said, "people won't believe that these
cures and so on didn't happen."

"We shan't ask them to," Garterr Browne explained. "They may have
happened; they don't happen now. Something has changed-the Stone has
been exposed to the air or something. Rays ... rays might have been
exhausted. Tumulty and     and I'll manage a convincing statement. just
keep it firmly in your mind that people must not be allowed to believe
in it."

"But then why worry about having this thing?" Birlesmere asked. "You
can tell them all that anyhow."

Mr. Garterr Browne almost winked. "You wait," he said. "That Mayor's
coming round here again, and it'll sound more convincing if I produce
this. Besides-I'm not certain, but I may decide to get a few scientific
opinions on the virtue and age of the thing, a few doctors or
something."

"They certainly won't believe that that did anything," Lord Birlesmere
said.

"Nor very likely did the other," Garterr Browne answered. "Think of the
number of people who don't believe in it now, and those who don't want
to. All we need for public opinion is a focus." He got up in great glee
and pointed to the bit of stone. "This is the focus." He made gestures
with both hands.

"We concentrate," he said, "by a semi-official statement. Now how many
people, in face of that, and their neighbours, are going on believing
in an obviously absurd Stone? Ask yourself, Birlesmere, would you?"

"If, I'd seen it . . ." Lord Birlesmere began.

"Pooh! coincidence," said the other. "Pure coincidence."

"And suppose one of the original Stones gets about somehow?" Birlesmere
asked. "How will the Government look then? It's a damned risky
business, Browne, and I don't half like it."

"Nor you mayn't," Mr. Garterr Browne, a little huffed, answered. "But
you don't like simplicity. Look here-this is the Stone, don't you see?
It is; just is. And it doesn't do anything at all. Of course, we shall
try and get hold of all the others. Tumulty ought to do that."

"Tumulty won't do anything but what he wants." Birlesmere said. "And I
don't like the way the Persians are talking. Suppose it does come up at
Geneva?"

"Well, give them this," the Home Secretary suggested. "Who's to know?
They only want it for a temple or something, I suppose, so this would
be just as good. It isn't as if it was a matter of practical
importance. And would even they know the difference? Why, I can hardly
believe there is any."

"O I think there is," Birlesmere protested. "The marking looks
different."

"O the marking, the marking," said Mr. Garterr Browne impatiently.
"God's truth, man, what does the marking matter? Here am I faced with a
riot or a strike and you with a war, and there you sit bleating about
the marking. If you get to rock-bottom, if you come down to actual
facts, it is that or this. Which will you have?"

"O this of course," Lord Birlesmere said.

"Do you agree to my telling this Mayor, when he comes in a few minutes,
that this is it?" the other pressed again.

"Yes, O yes," Birlesmere assented. "Only you must back me up too with
the Persian."

"United we stand, divided we fall," Mr. Garterr Browne
almost sang. "It's quite simple, Birlesmere, so long as you keep firmly
in mind that people must not be allowed to believe in it. in fact, of
course, they don't believe in it; nobody could. So we're only making
their real minds clear to them."

"But-" the Foreign Secretary began.

"I know, I know," the other interrupted. "You used it, didn't you? You
and Tumulty. Yes, but, my dear fellow, are you sure you did? Looking
back now, are you sure it wasn't a kind of illusion? You may know it
wasn't because you have the Stone, but will those who haven't it know?"

The telephone rang and he bent to it. "O bring him in," he said. "Now
here is the Mayor; now you see."

The Mayor came in heavily. His meeting with Merridew had shaken his
determination far more than he had known at the time, for since then he
had become gradually aware of how strong, within his public feeling and
his desire for the good of the common folk, had been the hope to save
that son who lay cancer-stricken at home, and also of what a strong
case Merridew might present for the suppression of the Stone. He had
supposed good to be single, and it was divided; to be clear, and it was
very clouded; to be inevitable, and it was remotely receding. With dull
eyes, and a heart almost broken by public and private pain, he faced
the Home Secretary.

"I have come to know if you have any news for me," he said.

Mr. Garterr Browne      shook a sympathetic head. "I am afraid," he
said, "that What I have is, in a sense, worse even than you might fear.
In fact, we have discovered that the matter has settled itself." He
paused and the Mayor stared at him; then he resumed. "Yes, settled
itself You see," he picked up the stone that lay on the table, "you see
apparently this thing changes; at least, I mean a change comes in it.
It doesn't retain its powers. Lord Birlesmere here will bear me out
that we have been very much startled and shocked to find that after a
while the qualities of the Stone, the special qualities both of
transport and medicine, disappear. It becomes apparently just an
ordinary piece of ... mineral. We are, as I told you, having it
investigated, but our advisers report to the worst effect, and I am
bound to say that what Lord Birlesmere and I myself have been able to
see has confirmed us in accepting that report. It may be that the air
has a ... a modifying effect or that some inherent virtue becomes
exhaustedlike radium, I mean like radium doesn't if you follow me. It
may be that some central ray-diffusing nucleus disperses itself
gradually. I couldn't say. But as a result-well, there we are. Nothing
happens. I chanced," Mr. Garterr Browne went on suddenly, apparently
resolving to do the whole business well, while he was about it-"I
happened to have neuralgia early this morning rather badly, and so of
course I thought ...  But there it is, my neuralgia didn't stop. I'm
very sorry to have to tell you this, for I know what you must be
feeling, what indeed I'm feeling myself. But there it is. Truth will
out."

With this sudden peroration Mr. Garterr Browne put the stone back on
his table and looked at the Mayor. The Mayor, without invitation, sat
down suddenly. He stared at the stone which, up to now, he had not
seen.

"This is it?" he asked.

"This is it," Mr. Garterr Browne said regretfullly, while Lord
Birlesmere inhaled audibly and thought of that earlier moment when Lord
Arglay's secretary had made a scene in a Government office on behalf of
the Stone of Suleiman. How much quieter things were, he considered,
round Browne's stone! If only it could be kept up, and after all there
was no reason why it shouldn't be. No one could tell, except by the
general growth of peace and quiet, which stone had really better exist.
Strong measures perhaps, but difficult times required strong measures.

The Mayor said slowly: "Do your scientific men, your doctors, assure
you that this is quite useless?"

"Alas, yes," Mr. Garterr Browne said reluctantly.

"And what of the other Stones?" the Mayor asked. "Have they also become
useless?"

"Well, so far as we can test them," the Home Secretary answered, with
an air of complete frankness. "There are one or two we haven't got, of
course. There's Sir Giles Tumulty's; he's working on it, so no doubt we
shall hear."

There was a short silence. Then the Mayor said, "It is certain that
this Stone can do nothing?"

"It is perfectly certain," Mr. Garterr Browne answered, tasting the
words as if he were enjoying the savour of the truth that they
contained, "that this stone can do nothing."

The Mayor stretched out his hand, picked up the stone, looked at it,
turned it over in his hand, and then sat for a moment holding it. At
this last moment of his hopes, when he realized that, in consequence of
this new discovery of the mysterious nature of the stone, he was about
to return to Rich disappointed and crushed and compelled to crush and
disappoint-at this moment it was impossible for him not to make one
last personal effort. It was useless, of course, but if any virtue
remained, if, defeated in the State, he could still succeed in the
household by some last lingering potency, if he could help his son.-He
shaped the wish to himself and put all his agony and desire into it,
clutching tightly the useless bit of matter meanwhile,. and the two
Ministers watched him with rather obvious patience. At last he stirred,
put it down, and stood up.

"It seems I can do no more," he said. "I will go back to Rich and tell
them that there is no hope."

"A great pity," Lord Birlesmere said, speaking for the first time; and
"A very great pity," said Mr. Garterr Browne, adding, both to create a
good impression and with an eye to any extremely improbable future
eventualities, "Of course, if any fresh change should occur, if (for
example) it should be in any way cyclic, I pledge you my word to let
you know. But I haven't much hope. A most remarkable phenomenon-that it
should have reasonably aroused such hope."

"A very common phenomenon-that the dying should hope for life," said
the Mayor, and with one abrupt farewell went out.

"And now," Garterr Browne said, leaning across his table towards
Birlesmere, "now for Tumulty."

The Foreign Secretary in turn leant a little forward, so that to
observant eyes, perhaps to Lord Arglay's, the two might have seemed as
they bowed towards each other across the office table and the mock
stone, like two figures of cherubim bowing over another Ark than that
which was in the Temple of Suleiman, and over the false treasures of an
illusory world. The light of the Shekinah was hidden, but there was
something of a light in Mr. Garterr Browne's eyes as he said,
"Birlesmere, now we've got rid of him, now he's been worked, is there
any reason why we shouldn't have it"-he dropped his voice a little"and
stick to it? You and I and Sheldrake if we must, and Tumulty to
experiment? It may be able to do very great things. Life-for all we
know; and gold-for all we know; and control."

Lord Birlesmere paled a little, but he also had felt during the last
few days a small and strange desire moving in his heart, and he did not
dispute with his colleague. He only said, "Can it be done?"

"Let us talk to Tumulty," Mr. Garterr Browne answered and took up the
telephone.

It was, however, much later in the evening before Sir Giles could be
got hold of. He had that day been again to Wandsworth considering the
detestable bed where the living and broken victim- of his experiment
lay, sustained against all likelihood in a dreadful mortality by the
rigorous operation of the Stone. He had then proceeded to a hospital
where he proposed to institute a series of experiments to see how far
health could be restored or abolished, and to note the effect of the
Stone upon the bodies in a state of disease, and he had made
arrangements to visit a madhouse on the next day, where among the
merely imbecile he hoped to be able to measure the degree of personal
will necessary for any working. He was consequently both tired and
snappy when the Home Secretary began talking, and shut down on the
conversation in a few minutes.

"It's always the same damnable chit-chat," he muttered as he went up to
his bedroom and flung his Type on a table by the bed. "Always this
infernal control. I'd control them fast enough if I could. If I could
get past whatever sailor's knot the thing tied itself into the other
day when I wanted to try it on that bitch of Arglay's. Can't that hog-
headed paroquet of a Secretary have Arglay and her jailed for something
or other? I can't get rid of a notion that she's peering over the
blasted thing at me. Am I losing my nerve and beginning to see things?"
He had sat down, half-undressed, on the side of the bed, and in a
sudden outbreak of rage he picked up the Stone again. "Damn you," it
was Chloe whom he half-unconsciously apostrophized, "are you tucked
away in it as if it was Arglay's bed? I only wish I could get at you."

As he spoke the Stone seemed to open in his hand. He found himself
looking into it, down coils of moving and alternated splendour and
darkness. Startled, he dropped it on the table, or would have done, -
but that, as he loosed it, instead of falling, it hung in the air,
dilating and deepening. It was no more a mere Stone, it moved before
him as a living thing, riven in all its parts by a subdued but
increasing light. He sprang up and took a step or two away, nor did it
pursue, but he somehow found himself no farther off. He backed,
cursing, to the extreme other side of the room, but there once more he
found himself close to what had by now become a nucleus of movement
which passed outward from it into the very walls and furniture. They,
so far as the mind which was now striving to steady itself, could
discern, were themselves shifting and Curving. He put out his hand to
the bed and found himself
holding the cord of one of the pictures; he stepped aside, and one foot
was on the pillows of the bed and one crashing through the glass of the
wardrobe. "The damn thing'11 get me down if I'm not careful," he
thought, and made a great effort to hold himself firm, and see in its
natural shape the room he knew so well. But whether within or without,
the awful change went on; it was as if the room itself, and he with it,
were being sucked into the convolutions of the Stone. Its darkness and
its light were no more merely before him but expanding upwards and
downwards till they rose to his head and descended to his feet; he felt
himself drawn against all his efforts into some unnaturally curved
posture-he knew of pain somewhere but could not keep his mind on it.
For before him in arch after arch, as if veil after veil were torn
swiftly aside, that which was the Stone was opening its heart to him.
His eyes could not properly see, nor his brain understand, what those
swift revelations held; he thought once or twice he saw himself, he was
sure he caught sight of Lord Arglay moving in some abstracted
meditation upon some serious concern. And then suddenly he saw her; he
saw her lying in bed asleep, far off but very clear, and felt himself
beginning to be entirely drawn down the long spiral passages through
which he gazed. He set, in one last gigantic effort, his whole will
against this movement and for a moment seemed to stay it. So clear was
the vision that he saw Chloe stir and turn a little in her sleep. In a
suddenly renewed rage he felt himself cry out at her, "O go to hell,"
and as the words, from within or without, reached his mind, Chloe
stirred again and woke. He saw her wake; his eyes met hers; he saw them
but saw in them no recognition-not of horror or anger or fear; nor
indeed of pity or mercy or distress. She looked at him through the
distances, and as if unconsciously put a hand beneath her pillow. And
as she did so the vision passed and he saw her no more.

For now, and now that sense of pain in his limbs grew stronger, he saw
That which had lain beneath her pillow;
within the Stone he saw the Stone. Not in the sense of which the Hajji
had spoken or Lord Arglay had talked to Chloe, but for him more
agonizingly the way to the Stone lay indeed within the Stone. Its
greatness was all about him, yet its smallness lay, glowing gold, at
the remote centre. There was something or someone behind and partly
above it, and below in a fiery circle of guardianship he saw figures
that seemed each to wear it in ring or crown, in sword-hilt or sceptre,
and then the Stone in the centre changed and was the Stone no more.

For whatever brooded over it had moved, and at the movement the light
leaped out at him, and suddenly Giles Tumulty began to scream. For at
once the light and with it the pain passed through him, dividing nerve
from nerve, sinew from sinew, bone from bone. Everywhere the sharp
torment caught him, and still, struggling and twisting, he was dragged
down the curving spirals nearer to the illumination into which he was
already plunged. And he remembered-now suddenly he remembered how he
had seen in a vision what was to be. He had willed to be in the future,
and since that could not be, for the future as yet had lain only in the
Mind to which it equally with the past was present, the Stone had
revealed the future to him. He remembered; he knew what was to happen,
for the merciful oblivion was withdrawn; he saw himself gathered, a
living soul, into the centre of the Stone. That which he had been to
men, that by which he had chosen to deal with others, by that he was to
be dealt with in his turn. The wheeling and looming forms of giant
powers amid whom he was drawn turned on him their terrible and curious
eyes; under the gaze of everlasting dominations he- was exposed in a
final and utter helplessness. He was conscious also of a myriad other
Giles Tumultys, of childhood and boyhood and youth and age, all that he
had ever been, and all of them were screaming as that relentless and
dividing light plunged into them and held them.

He was doing, it seemed, innumerable things at once, all the
things that he had ever done, and yet the whole time he was not doing,
he was slipping, slipping down, and under and over him the Glory shone,
and sometimes it withdrew a little and then pierced him again with new
agony. And now he was whirling round and round, having no hold above or
footing below, but being lost in an infinite depth. Above him the light
was full of eyes, curious and pitiless, watching him as he had often
watched others, and a subtle murmur, as of some distant words of
comment or of subdued laughter came to him. From the spirals of time
and place he felt himself falling, and still he fell and fell.

When they found him, but a few moments after that raucous scream had
terrified the household, he was lying on the floor amid the shattered
furniture twisted in every limb, and pierced and burnt all over as if
by innumerable needle-points of fire.







                         Chapter Seventeen

                    THE JUDGEMENT OF LORD ARGLAY

Twenty-four hours after his theft, Frank Lindsay had begun to realize
that the emotions which accompany possession are sometimes as hard to
deal with as the difficulties which precede possession. Before he had
had the Stone in his pocket he had seen quite clearly what he would do;
he would divide it, keep one part, and pass the other on to Mr.
Merridew in return for a fee. That two identical Stones would result
from the division he had not understood, only that each part of a
divided Stone possessed the virtues of the whole. But he found that
such a proceeding was by no means easy. His irritation with Chloe had
prepared the way for his desire of success in his examination, winged
by the promised fee, to pass into action; but when action was for the
moment over, he found the second step more difficult than the first. He
had been squeezed by circumstances and a narrow chance into the first
act, but time opened before him for the second, and he could not move.
He continually found himself staring at the Stone; he continually
fingered his pocket-knife, and even took it out and opened it. But he
could not put the edge to its work.

For one thing the Stone itself surprised him. He had not understood
from Chloe-and for a good reason, since at that time she had not made
herself a path for the Will of the Stone, and the Light within it had
not expanded in proportion-that it was so strange, so active, and even
so terrible an object. He was-he had to admit-frightened of touching
it; he felt as if it would bleed at a cut and pour out its life before
him. He
hesitated even to touch it; it looked sometimes as if it would
burn him if he lifted it. On the other hand, he could not bring himself
to part entirely in his mind from Chloe by passing it on to Mr.
Merridew in its completeness. He thought of ringing Carnegie up and
refrained; vaguely it seemed to him that Chloe might, she might, be
willing to lend him one of them if he didn't. After all, she might take
another view of his needs even now, even if she found out; but he
realized that if she found out that it had passed to Merridew, his own
days would be short in her land. And at that he began to realize that
he was very near finding Chloe indispensable to him, or (as he called
it) loving her. He didn't want her to leave him, and while he had the
Stone (he thought hopefully, in the manner of lovers of the sort) he
could bribe, or lure, or bully her into nearness. The idea had occurred
to him in the night, and he took it with him to the offices where he
worked, and his own small room.

The only difficulty in the way of re-establishing relations with Chloe
while retaining the Stone was the explanation of how he had got it. He
hardly saw himself saying to her, "I have stolen this from you, and I
want to use it. But if you are very nice to me I will not give it to
anyone else, though i might make a hundred or two by doing so. I will,
that is, buy you with a hundred pounds and the preservation in my own
hands of your property." The nearest he got to saying that even to
himself was to recollect that she had occasionally, in times of
financial stress, jested, half-mockingly, half-grimly, on the amount
for which she would sell herself. But he realized that anyone who
offered five pounds, or indeed five pence, would stand a better chance
than he himself coming with such a bargain. Besides, of course, he
didn't want her to sell herself, he wanted her to love him-in exchange
for his loss of a hundred pounds and his promise only to use the Stone
for his own purposes.

It was at that moment she arrived, following up an officeboy, who just
had time to say, "Miss Burnett to see you," before he was dazzled out
of the way by her smile as she passed.

The smile vanished as she shut the door behind her; she turned on the
wretched, goggling, and gasping Frank a face which he had never seen
before. Chloe laughing, Chloe irritable, Chloe impatient, Chloe
affectionate, Chloe attentive, Chloe provocative, these and many
another he had known-but this, this was hardly Chloe. It was not that
she looked angry or harsh; there was rather in her face a largeness of
comprehension, a softness of generosity and lovely haste to meet any
approach, which bewildered him.

"Dear Frank," she said, tenderly, "how silly of you!" Frank went on
goggling. She added simply, "I couldn't come yesterday because Lord
Arglay was a:way till very late, and I didn't like to leave it while he
had told me to stop. Not that it mattered. So I had to come here." She
smiled at him. "Darling," she added, "you were rather rash, weren't
you? and a little rude?"

Frank's mind tried vainly to understand. He was being accused-it must
in the circumstances surely be an accusation? what could she do except
ask, or appeal, or accuse? Only this didn't sound like any of the
three; it was more like sympathy. But if he were being accused, it was
of a breach of manners and not of morals, which put him at a
disadvantage, since the second can be defended on the grounds of some
better, or at least different, morality, but the first is a matter of
taste and defence is only communicable by emotion. Of her emotions at
the moment he was altogether ignorant.

"Rude?" he said, "rude? What do you mean-rude?"

"Well . .' ." Chloe sketched a gesture. "You might have asked me again
first if you needed it so much."

Whether this subtlety was from the Stone or from her own feminine mind
was hidden at the place where the Stone and her mind were finding their
union. The only answer of which Frank was capable was criticism in
turn.

"I did ask you," he said, "and you wouldn't          But anyhow, I
don't know-"

He could not finish. Her swift and luminous eyes prevented him, passing
in front of him with what shone in them, as they turned his excuses and
denials aside, like a new and overwhelming mastery and knowledge. She
came lightly to him and paused.

"Will you give it back to me?" she said simply and stretched out her
hand.

In the stress of-the moment he almost did. They had, they had been
friends, great friends. They had had good times together; she had
mocked and teased and helped and liked him; their hands and their
mouths, their voices and their glances, were familiar. All but the
sovereign union had been theirs, and if, for Chloe, that sovereign
union had by now been made with other worlds, and if its image and
instrument in this world lay between her and her other friend and
master, yet of these things Frank was ignorant. And since assuredly
that full and sovereign union permits no exclusion of any beauty, since
the august virtue of its nature is to receive into itself all which
partakes of its own divine benignity, since there-and there alone-is
neither one nor many, neither lesser nor greater, but all is perfect
and free, since even in its reflections upon earth the marvellous
liberty of the children of God is to be experienced by all who devoutly
and passionately desire, then even at that single moment Frank Lindsay
might have entered into its sweetness and strength could he have met
her as she came, and answered her in such a voice as that in which she
asked. But such a voice can carry no selfish complaint, no wrangling
excuse; it is a sound which, native to heaven, can on earth be vocal
and audible only between spirits already disposed to heaven. So
disposed, for all of clumsiness or roughness or anger or haste or folly
that needed still to be cleared and enlightened, she stood and faced
him. So indisposed, for all of industry and care and thought and study,
he stood and looked away.

"Give what back?" he mumbled.

She sighed a little, and a faint shadow came upon her. She dropped her
hand and said gravely, "Will you give me back the Stone that you have
taken?"

Between denial and excuse he hesitated; then, abandoning both, he
began, "Chloe, I don't think you quite understand-"

"Need I understand more?" she asked.

"It's like this-" he began again, and again she checked him. ..

"There is no need," she said, and then more swiftly, "Frank, dear
Frank, will you do this?"

He made another effort, letting go the pretence of ignorance. "Are you
asking me to?" he said. "I mean, do you want it?"

"No," she said, and ceased.

"But if you don't want it, then why ... I mean, mightn't it as well be
here-or even-" He was a little disappointed by her negative, and yet
uncertain of the wisdom of introducing Merridew.

"It does not matter much where it is, I think," she said, and again
affection broke into her voice as she said, "I'm not asking for it. I'm
asking you."

"You're asking-me for it," he said intelligently.

"No," she answered again. "I am asking you to restore it, if you will,
before-"

"Before?" he asked, really startled. Surely Arglay, surely she,
couldn't be thinking of the police! Curiously enough, he had never
thought of the police until now. But she wouldn't, she couldn't, not
with him! And Arglay couldn't be such a cad.

"Before"-for the first time she faltered-"I don't know; perhaps before
it is restored. But that doesn't matter; only I can't wait. Lord Arglay
is expecting me; he let me come because he knew I wanted to, but I
can't wait. Frank, if you have liked what we have had, you and I, will
you give me back the Stone?"

"It isn't that I wouldn't-soon," Frank answered.

"Will you now?" she asked.

"I think we ought to talk it over a little," he said defensively. "I
think you ought to try and get my point of view. I think-"

She moved away and walked, a little sadly, to the door.

There she paused and looked back. "Thank you for everything you have
done for me," she said. "They were good times. Good-bye, darling."

He began to stammer some further explanation, but she was gone, and he
stood alone with an emptiness and an uncertain fear invading his heart.
In his haste, when she had entered, he had flung his morning paper over
the Stone, which had been lying on the table, and now he moved that
away, and again looked at the thing which he had denied her. He thought
uncertainly of the examination, and unpleasantly of Mr. Merridew; of
course, if she really wanted-It was a long while before, still
disturbed, but still following the way he had begun to tread, he rang
up Carnegie at the Union offices. Nor even then had he ventured to
divide the Stone; he would talk to them first.

Carnegie, a cheque in his pocket, and the General Secretary s urgent
instructions in his mind, arrived as quickly as possible, and as
quickly as possible cut short Frank's talk, and procured the exhibition
of the Stone. He agreed to every condition Frank made about having it
returned--or a part of itfor the examination, passed over the cheque,
picked up a spare envelope, slipped the Stone into it, put it down for
a moment on the table again, and slapped Frank on the shoulder.

"Good man!" he said. "Merridew will be frightfully bucked, and you may
find he can be useful to you yet. He will if he can after this. Well, I
must get back at once. On the twenty-third you want it then?"

He grinned cheerfully at Frank, moved to pick up the packet, and looked
vaguely at the table. "Where-" he began, picked up an empty envelope,
the only one in sight, and said with some sharpness, "Where the devil
is it?"  v

They both looked, they separated and sorted papers, they searched table
and floor, they looked inside the envelope a dozen times, and still the
Stone was undiscoverable.

"What's the idea?" Carnegie asked. "Is this a joke?"

"Don't talk rubbish," Frank answered sharply. "Did you put it in your
pocket?"

It seemed not, though the cheque had remained in Frank's. Carnegie
searched, threatened, expostulated; Frank, maddened by an implied
accusation of a theft of money, snapped, and later raged. They searched
and quarrelled; they hunted and denounced. And for all their effort and
anger and perplexity, the Stone of the King was not to be found.

But while Frank had, after her departure, still been standing, dimly
puzzled and unhappy, Chloe had been on her way back to Lancaster Gate,
back to the HaJji and Lord Arglay and the Unity in the Stone. All the
previous afternoon she had watched it, or-to, the best of her power-
prayed, or meditated, or talked or listened to that foreign doctor of
the mysteries. The realization of the theft of her Type had caused that
which remained to seem very precious to her; the thought of the attempt
in her room and of the death of Reginald Montague had brought the sense
of necessary action very close, but she did not yet see what that
action was to be. The Hajji had talked as if but one stage had been
reached; she had made an opportunity, he implied, for the Stone, and
the Indwelling of the Stone, to operate in the external world, but
there it could at best only heal and destroy and its place was not
there. He would not formulate for her what more remained, and she
reposed now on the hope, the more than hope, that Lord Arglay and the
Stone would direct her. Her unhappiness about Frank lay rather round
than in her; she saw it as a sadness rather than felt it as a sorrow,
for within she was withdrawn to an intention of obedience and a purpose
not yet unveiled.

She got out at the Tube station, smiled at the newspaper man, picked up
an agitated old lady's umbrella, threw a glance over the Park and came
after a short walk to the house. When she opened the study door she was
at first unobserved, for Lord Arglay was standing with his back to the
door listening to the Mayor of Rich. At least, she supposed it must be
the Mayor from what he was saying, and from Oliver Doncaster's presence
a few paces distant. The HaJji was sitting close by. The Stone
infinitely precious, glowed upon the table. On another side table were
her typewriter, her notebooks, one pile of ordered manuscript which was
the first few chapters of Organic Law, and another pile of papers which
were the notes and schemes and drafts and quotations and references for
the remainder. She closed the door softly behind her and for a minute
or so stood and gazed.

Her gaze took in, it seemed, the symbols and instruments of her life,
but they were real things and she felt with increasing happiness that
what was there had, however hidden, run through her life. The muddled,
distressed, amusing thing that her life had been resolved itself into
four things in that roomthe manuscript, and Oliver Doncaster, and Lord
Arglay, and the Stone. Whatever was coming, it was good, and she was
fortunate that her work had entered into the Chief Justice's attempt to
formulate once more by the intellect the actions of men; she was
fortunate to have had even so small a part in the august labour.
Whatever was coming, it was good that all her transitory loves should
touch with so pleasant a glance as Oliver Doncaster's her renewed
entrance. She remembered how she had thought of his hair, and with a
secret smile she assented-not in desire but in a happy amusement. "The
dear!" she thought, caught his eyes, saw the admiration in them,
preened herself on it for a moment's joy, and looked on. Of the HaJji
and the Mayor she felt little; they knew and did things, but they
answered to no need or capacity within her except as teachers or
clients. And of Lord Arglay and of the Stone she could not think, only
she hoped that, whatever happened, neither of them would be lost to her
for ever.

He paused, but Chloe only waited for him to proceed as (he thought) she
had so often done while he dictated the sentences of Organic Law. He
went on.

"And here therefore we are," he said, "wondering what path to follow.
For the Mayor and the HaJji disagree, and Mr. Doncaster and I have no
clear idea, and though doubtless the Stone knows very well it does not
give us much help. What do you think?"

She shook her head, and as she did so the Mayor broke once more into
his plea for those whom he sought to serve. But after a while he
stopped.

Lord Arglay said, "All this is true and dreadful enough. But even yet I
am not clear what should be done."

"If you are afraid to act-" the Mayor cried out. "No," Lord Arglay
said, "I do not think I am afraid." "Then divide the Stone," the Mayor
exclaimed, "and let me have a part, and do what you will with the
other."

The HaJji made a movement, but Lord Arglay checked him with a hand, and
said, "No, that I will not do; for I am still the Chief Justice-though
I cannot think I shall be so for very long-and it is not in my
judgement to commit any violence upon the Stone."

"Then for God's sake say what you will do," the Mayor cried out in
pain, "and put an end to it all."

Lord Arglay stood for a minute in silence, then he began to speak,
slowly and as if he gave judgement from his seat in the Court.

"I think there are few among my predecessors," he said, "who have had
such a matter to decide, and that not by the laws of England or Persia
or any mortal code. But God forbid that when even such a matter is set
before us we should not speak what we may. For if this is a matter of
claimants then even those very terrible opposites shall abide the
judgement of the Court to which chance, or it may be something more
than chance, has brought them, as it was said in one of the myths of
our race that a god was content to submit to the word of the Roman law.
But it is not in our habit to wash our hands of these things, whatever
god or people come before us. Also this is a question, it seems,
between God and the people. It is a very dreadful thing to refuse
health to, the sick-but it is more tragic still to loose upon earth
that which does not belong to the earth, or if it does only upon its
own conditions and after its own mode. Therefore I would not compel the
Stone to act or ask any grace from it that it did not naturally give.
And it is clear to us at least since last night that this thing belongs
only to itself So that-I say that it is necessary first that it may be
offered again to itself, but whether or how that may be done I do not
yet know. For of all of us here one has sworn an oath and will keep it,
and one claims the Stone for his purposes, and two are unlearned in its
way. And therefore there is but one Path for the Stone, and since she
has made herself that we will determine the matter so."

He looked at Chloe, and his voice changed. "Are you to be the Path for
the Stone?" he said.

"That is as you will have me," Chloe answered.

"Are you to be?" he asked, with a tender irony. "Will you sit on the
throne of Suleiman, and of all those who have possessed the Stone,
kings and law-givers, Nimrod and Augustus and Muhammed and Charlemagne,
will you only restore it to its place?"

Chloe flushed, and looked at him in distress. "Am I being silly?" she
asked. "I do not compare, I was only asking what you wanted me to do."
-

"Be at peace," he answered, "for no man, has yet measured his own work,
and it may be you shall do more than all these. They laboured in their
office, and you shall work in yours. But why will you have me tell you
what to do?"

"Because you said that the Stone was between us," she answered, "and if
that is so how otherwise can I move in the Stone?"

"And if I tell you to do it?" he asked.

"Then I will do what I may," Chloe said.

"And if I tell you not to do it?" he asked again.

"Then I will wait till you will have it done," she said, "for without
you I cannot go even by myself."

He looked at her in silence-for a while, and as they stood there came
through the open window the shouting of the newspaper boys. "More
Rioting at Rich," they called, "Official Statement." "The Stone a
Hoax." "Rumours of War in the East." "Rumours of War ... rumours of
war."

Lord Arglay listened and looked. Then, "Well," he said, "whether I
believe I do not know and what I believe I most certainly do not know.
But it is either that or this. And since this is in your mind I also
will be with your mind and I will take upon me what you desire. So, if
there is indeed a path for the Stone, in the name of God let us offer
it that path, and let whatever Will moves justly in these things fulfil
itself through us if that is its desire." He lifted up the Stone, kept
it for a moment raised upon his hand in the full view of all of them,
and held it a little out towards Chloe. "Go on, child," he said.

With the words there came to her the memory of her other experience in
that room, when in dream or vision she had heard some such voice
command her and struggled desperately to obey. There was no struggle or
desperation in her movement or consciousness now as, so summoned, she
went forward and paused in front of him, holding out her joined hands
below his. He lowered his own gently till it lay in the cup of hers,
and said in a voice shaken beyond his wont, "Do you know what you must
do?"

She looked at him with a docile content. "I have nothing at all to do,"
she said, and the Hajji cried suddenly aloud, "Blessed for ever be the
Resignation of the elect."

"Under the Protection," Lord Arglay said, with the smile he had for
her, and, as she answered, in a voice that only he could hear, "Under
the Protection," he leaned his hand very gently -so that, as if almost
of its own motion, the Stone rolled over into hers. She received it,
moving a step or two backward till she stood a little apart from them.
The Hajji broke into the Protestation of the Unity"There is no God but
God and Muhammed is the Prophet of God."

The Mayor had turned half aside and had sat down, but he looked back
now at the figures before him. Oliver Doncaster gazed with the ardent
worship of young love at Chloe, but he also was in the rear. Upright,
attentive, providential, Lord Arglay maintained his place, and stood
nearest to her of all who watched.

She turned her eyes from his at last, downwards upon the Stone. It lay
there, -growing every moment more dark and more bright within itself;
it seemed larger than it had been, but they could not properly judge
because of the movement within it. Chloe looked at it, and suddenly
there came into her mind the memory of Frank Lindsay. "Poor darling,"
she felt with a renewed rush of pity and affection, "he didn't, he
couldn't, understand." In her own understanding she offered his failure
and his mischief to That which she held, and with him also (moved by a
large impulse which she endured without initiating, but with which she
gladly united herself) all those who for any purpose of good or evil
had laid their hands or fixed their desires upon the Stone. Vague in
image, but intense in appeal, her heart gathered all-from herself to
Giles Tumultyin a sudden presentation of them to the Mystery with which
they had trafficked.

Opposite her the eyes of Christopher Arglay had been watching it also.
But as, in the passion of her intercession, she raised her hands and
bent her head as if to carry the Stone into her breast and brood above
it there, his gaze slid along those arms to her form, and took in not
only that but the open window and the sky beyond.

He looked out, and in the sky itself there was a change. There was
movement between him and the heavens; the chimneys and clouds and sky
took on the appearance of the Stone. He was looking into it, and the
world was there, continents and cities, seas and their ships. The Stone
was not these, yet these were the Stone---only there was movement
within and beyond them, and from a point infinitely far a continual
vibration mingled itself with the myriad actions of men. And then, in
the foreground of that vastidity, he saw rising the Types of the Stone,
here and again there appearing and through all those mingled colours
rushing swiftly together. Loosed from their cells and solitudes upon
earth, living suddenly in conjoining motion, closing within themselves
the separation which men had worked on them, those images grew into
each other and were again made one. For a moment he saw the Unity of
the Stone at a great distance within the Stone which was the world, and
then the farther Mystery was lost in the nearer. Colour and darkness
were a great background for her where she stood; they concentrated
themselves upon her; through her they poured into the Stone upon her
hands, and behind her again appeared but the sky and the houses of a
London street.

The Hajji's voice called: "Blessed be the Merciful, the Compassionate!
blessed!" and he got to his knees, immediately afterwards prostrating
himself towards the window, the East, and Mecca. Moved by the action
and by some memory of churches and childhood, Oliver also knelt down;
so that of all those in the room only the figure of Lord Arglay
remained still upright and vigilant before her as the great change went
on.

The strength of the appeal within her faded; it had achieved itself and
she was hastened to what remained in her will. She became conscious of
the movement of her hands and her head, and stayed them, for they
seemed to suggest, however slightly, a removal and possession of the
Stone. Her hands went a little from her, the Stone exposed upon them;
they lifted a little also, and her head was raised and thrown back. But
still her eyes were upon it, and her will abolished itself before its
own. Where before she had prayed "Do or do not," now she did not even
pray. Her thought and her feeling passed out of her knowledge; she was
the Path and there was process within her, and that was enough.

It was not given to her-or to most of the others-to see the operation
by which that Mystery returned to its place. For the HaJji's eyes were
hidden, and the Mayor still brooded over the needs of men and was but
half-attentive, and Oliver Doncaster's look was for Chloe rather than
the Stone. Only the justice of Lord Arglay, in the justice of the Stone
which lay between himself and the woman he watched, beheld the
manifestation of that exalted Return. He had seen the Types come
together and pass through her form, colouring but never confusing it,
till they had entered entirely into the Type upon her hands. But
scarcely had the last vestige of entwined light and dark grown into the
One which remained, scarcely had he seen her in herself standing again
obedient and passive, than he saw suddenly that the great process was
reversing itself. As all had flowed in, so now all began to flow out,
out from the Stone, out into the hands that held it, out along the arms
and into the body and shape of which they were part. Through the
clothes that veiled it he saw that body receiving the likeness of the
Stone. Translucency entered it, and through and in the limbs the
darkness which was the Tetragrammaton moved and hid and revealed. He
saw the Mystery upon her hands melting into them; it was flowing away,
gently but very surely; it lessened in size and intensity as he
watched. And as there it grew less, so more and more exquisitely and
finally it took its place Within her-what the Stone had been she now
was. Along that path, offered it by one soul alone, it passed on its
predestined way-one single soul and yet one not solitary. For even as
she was changed into its nature her eyes shone on her mortal master
with an unchanged love and in the Glory that revealed itself there was
nothing alien to their habitual and reciprocal joy. The Stone that had
been before        them was one with the Stone in which they had been;
from either side its virtue proclaimed itself in her. At last the awful
change was done. She stood before him; her hands, still out-stretched,
were empty, but within her and about her light as of a lovely and
clearer day grew and expanded. No violent outbreak or dazzling
splendour was there; a perfection of existence flowed from her and
passed outward so that he seemed both to stand in it and to look on it
with his natural eyes. With such eyes he saw also, black upon her
forehead, as if the night corresponding to that new day dwelled there
for a while apart, the letters of the Tetragrammaton. She stood, so
withdrawn, as the Stone sank slowly through her whole presented nature
to its place in the order of the universe, and that mysterious
visibility of the First Matter of creation returned to the invisibility
from which it had been summoned to dwell in the crown of Suleiman the
King. As in the height of his glory the Vicegerent of the Merciful One
had sat, terrific and compulsive over spirits and men, and the Stone
had manifested above him, so now from the hands stretched to grasp it
and the minds plotting to use it, from enemies and conspiracies, greed
and rapine, it withdrew through a secluded heart. She stood, and the
light faded and the darkness vanished; she stood, one moment clothed in
the beauty of the End of Desire, and then swiftly abandoned. She was
before him, the hands stretched not to hold but to clasp, the eyes wide
with an infinite departure; she exclaimed and swayed where she stood,
and Lord Arglay, leaping to her as she fell, caught a senseless body in
his arms.






                          Chapter Eighteen

                     THE PROCESS OF ORGANIC LAW

Cecilia Sheldrake was always, everybody said, extraordinarily kind to
her husband, which may have been why he committed suicide some ten
years after the vanishing of the Stone. No one quite believed, and very
few people understood, what her hints to her intimate, and indeed her
less intimate, friends exactly meant; that she and he had possessed
some marvellous thing by which anyone could go anywhere, and that,
having nearly lost it once in a motor-car,- he had shortly afterwards
entirely lost it in her drawing-room. She never reproached him, or not
after the first year or two, and even then never with the virulence of
the first week. They had, people gathered, been looking together at
whatever it was-nobody remembered and nobody cared to remember, and
then he had mislaid it. At least, for the first year or two he had
mislaid it, and after then nobody ever understood quite what he had
done with it-sat on it or swallowed it or sold or secreted it,
according as it seemed to the hearer most like an egg, a bon-bon, a
curiosity, or a jewel. But somehow he had got rid of it, and Cecilia's
life was ruined. As, very justly, it actually was-first, by the
discontent which she perpetually nursed, and secondly, by the drastic
financial rearrangements which followed on her husband's suicide.

Mr. Garterr Browne, being unmarried, and having definitely himself
preserved the Type which he had had, found himself in the difficult
position of having nobody but himself to blame His position therefore
was so far worse than Mr. Sheldrake's and it was for a few months made
worse still by his having at odd times to deal with the doctors and
scientists whom he had summoned to report on his own substitute for the
Stone. Fresh reports kept arriving for quite a long time from
scientific men of whom he had never heard, but who (with an indecently
unselfish ardour) kept on taking an interest in the remarkable cures at
Rich and their relation to the wretched fragment which Mr. Garterr
Browne had handed on to his earlier advisers and they had passed to
their friends who were interested. Exactly how it was that he and Lord
Birlesmere could never afterwards be persuaded to take the same view on
any question, not even the Prime Minister, whose Government was twice
wrecked, ever properly understood.

Between those two politicians, between Sheldrake and his wife, between
Carnegie and Frank Lindsay, there lay continually suspicion, anger, and
hatred. Negligent of them and their desires, the Mystery had left them
to their desires, and with those companions they lived. For it was not
in the nature of the Stone to be forgotten, and even in her village
Mrs. Ferguson entertained her friends with the tale of her recovery
rather from an unappreciated love of it than because she was as
talkative as she seemed.

The Persian Embassy fell silent; Professor Palliser fell silent. Only
one event caused a common flicker of satisfaction to rise in the hearts
of the professor, the millionaire, the thwarted General Secretary (who
never understood what the trouble had been about), and the politicians.
That event was the sudden resignation of his office by Lord Arglay.

For in the house at Lancaster Gate Chloe Burnett lay, uncomprehending
and semi-paralysed, for a long nine months of silence. On the same day
when at Wandsworth the unhappy wreckage of a man passed into death, and
his bed lay empty, the wreckage of his saviour was carried to a bed in
the Chief justice's house. Her mouth was silent, her eyes were blank,
and that whole side of her which was not for ever still shook every now
and then with uncontrollable tremors. The doctors stated that it was a
seizure, a verdict on which only once did Lord Arglay permit himself to
say that, whatever it was, it was precisely not that. All the rest of
the time he maintained a silence-his secretary had been taken ill while
at work, and since Apparently she had no relations and no friends with
a better claim, and since he felt that it was probably his fault for
overworking her, and since the house was large, it was better that she
should remain. This was the general interpretation which Lord Arglay
allowed to arise. "For if," he said to the Hajji before the latter
returned to Persia, "if we profess that this is the End of Desire,
fewer people than ever will want to experience it."

"Her spirit is in the Resignation," the Hajji said.

"Quite," Lord Arglay answered. "So, you may have seen by this morning's
paper, is mine. As entirely, but in another sphere."

"Did you not hold," the Hajji asked, "that your office was also of the
Stone?"

"I have believed it," Lord Arglay answered, "but for one thing I will
not now make that office a personal quarrel between these men and
myself, though I think that otherwise even the Government would find it
difficult to turn me out. But the Law is greater than the servants of
the Law, and shall I make the Law a privy garden for my own pride? Also
since this child has come to such an end I will have none but myself,
so far as is possible, be her servant for the rest of her time."

"I do not understand your mind," Ibrahim said. "Have you known and seen
these things and yet you do not believe in the Stone?"

"Who said I did not believe?" Lord Arglay asked. "I believe that
certain things have emerged from illusion, and one of them I have
resigned for its sake and the other I will watch for hers."

"You are a strange man," the Hajji said. "Farewell then, for I suppose
you will never be in Persia."

"Do not despise us too much," Lord Arglay said. "It is our
habit here to mock at what we love and contemn what we desire, and that
habit has given us poets and lawgivers and saints. Good-bye, Hajji."

"The Mercy of the Compassionate be with you," the Hajji said.

"And even in that, for a reason, I will believe," Lord Arglay answered,
and so they parted.

To Frank Lindsay Arglay sent a short note, saying nothing of the Stone
but only that Miss Burnett had suffered from-he paused and with a wry
smile wrote-a seizure, that she remained at Lancaster Gate, and that he
would at all times be very happy to see Mr. Lindsay there. Frank
however did not come. For a number of days he intended to answer the
note, but he could think of nothing to say that seemed adequate. If
Chloe wanted to see him, he argued, she would send a special message;
it was not his business to intrude. So safeguarding himself from that
intrusion he safeguarded himself also from any, and all that he might
have known of the conclusion of the Mystery was hidden from him. He
passed however a not unsuccessful life in his profession, and the only
intruder he found himself unable to cope with was death.

But every few days through months Oliver Doncaster called and saw Chloe
and talked a little with Lord Arglay, and it was to him only that
Arglay on a certain day sent a note which read:

"MY DEAR DONCASTER,

"Chloe died yesterday evening. The cremation will be on Thursday. If
you could call here about eleven we might go together.

"Yours, C. ARGLAY."

There had been no change and no warning of that conclusion. Whatever
process had been working in her body, since the day when her inner
being had been caught with the Stone into the Unity, closed quietly and
suddenly. The purgation of her flesh accomplished itself, and it was by
apparent chance that Arglay was with her when it ceased. He had paused
by the bedside before going to his own room next to hers for the night.
As he looked he saw one of those recurrent tremors shake her, but this
time it was not confined to one side but swept over the whole body.
From head to foot a vibration passed through her; she sighed deeply,
and murmured something indistinguishable. So, on the moment, she died.

Arglay saw it and knew it for the end. He made no immediate move until
he touched with his fingers the place where the epiphany of the
Tetragrammaton had appeared. "Earth to earth," he said, "but perhaps
also justice to justice and the Stone to the Stone." His hand covered
her forehead. "Under the Protection," he murmured. "Good-bye, child,"
and so, his work at an end, left her.

In the car, as they returned from the crematorium, Oliver Doncaster
said to him, almost bitterly, "Was it a wise thing to tell her to do
it?"

"Why, who can tell?" Lord Arglay answered. "But she sought for wisdom,
and what otherwise should such spirits as hers do upon earth?"

"She might have had love and happiness," the young man said, "and
others too. There was always a light about her."

"Why, so it seemed," Lord Arglay said, and after a moment's
pause, looking out of the window of the car, he went on. "But who can
tell how that light came to be? It is but a few weeks since I gave
sentence upon a man before me who had murdered through some sudden
jealousy the girl he was to marry. And when, as is the ritual, I asked
him if he had anything to say, he cried out that though I might hang
him justly, for he confessed his crime, yet that there was a justice
against which he had sinned which was greater than I and had already
purged him. And though I have never made it my habit to do as some of
my brethren do, offering their own moral opinions and the ethical and
social rules of their own world, and condemning the guilty by such
verbiage as well as by the law, I answered him that this also might be
possible and that such a justice might already be fulfilled in him. But
if indeed there be any such sovereign justice, may not this child have
found a greater thing than either you or I could give her? Could she do
more, while she was upon the stepping stones, than smile at the water
that ran by her?"

"Must the water always run by?" Oliver said.

"It is its nature, as it was hers to pass over it," Lord Arglay
answered. "And it may be that she has come into the light that was
about her and the God in whom we determined to believe."

At Lancaster Gate he bade Doncaster farewell, came again into his
study, and stood still to look round it. His charge was at an end, and
for all he could tell there were still before him years of life.
Something must be done, and instinctively he looked at the MS. of the
Survey of Organic Law which had laid so long neglected, then he walked
over and picked it up. The type-written sheets bore in places his own
alterations and in places hers. There were sheets of annotations she
had typed and sheets of references in her writing. Lord Arglay looked
at them, and for a moment it seemed to him an offensive thing that
another handwriting should be mixed with theirs. Yet after a moment he
smiled: to accept such a ruling would indeed be to go against the whole
nature of the Stone and the work they had done together. For here was
this lesser work, and if it were worth doing-as it might be-and if
without someone to supply necessary detail it would probably not be
done-was not this also as much in the nature of organic law as the
operation of the
Stone? ...

"Besides," Lord Arglay said aloud, "in a year's time, child, I should
be finding an excuse. I think I will not find an excuse. The way to the
Stone is in the Stone, and I will choose to do this thing rather than
to leave it undone or to be driven back to it by the weariness of
time."

He walked across to the telephone, looked at it distastefully, and
turned the pages of the directory.

With his hand on the receiver, "Also," he said, "though the King wrote
Ecclesiastes, yet the Courts gave judgement in Jerusalem. This, I
suppose, is Ecclesiastes. . . . Paddington 84.... Is that the Lancaster
Typewriting Agency?"



THE END




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