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Title:      C
Author:     Maurice Baring
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Title:      C
Author:     Maurice Baring



1924





CONTENTS

VOL. I

Introduction

Walter Wright's Introduction

Chapter I

Chapter II

Chapter III

Chapter IV

Chapter V

Chapter VI

Chapter VII

Chapter VIII

Chapter IX

Chapter X

Chapter XI

Chapter XII

Chapter XIII

Chapter XIV

Chapter XV

Chapter XVI

Chapter XVII

Chapter XVIII

Chapter XIX

Chapter XX

Chapter XXI

Chapter XXII

Chapter XXIII

Chapter XXIV

Chapter XXV

Chapter XXVI

Chapter XXVII


VOL. II

Chapter XXVIII

Chapter XXIX

Chapter XXX

Chapter XXXI

Chapter XXXII

Chapter XXXIII

Chapter XXXIV

Chapter XXXV

Chapter XXXVI

Chapter XXXVII

Chapter XXXVIII

Chapter XXXIX

Chapter XL

Chapter XLI

Chapter XLII

Chapter XLIII

Chapter XLIV

Chapter XLV

Chapter XLVI

Chapter XLVII

Chapter XLVIII

Chapter XLIX

Chapter L

Chapter LI

Chapter LII

Chapter LIII

Chapter LIV

Chapter LV

Appendix




INTRODUCTION


It was in January, 1923, that I received a letter from an old
friend of mine, a journalist and a traveller, whom I will call
Walter Wright, from which the following is an extract:--


New York.  July, 1922. . . .  You will remember my telling you
about Gerald Malone's papers two or three years ago--if not, you
will understand what happened if you read the introduction to the
manuscript I am sending you to-day, registered and under separate
cover.  I tried to do what he wanted, and, now it's finished, I
want you to read it and tell me whether you think the story could
possibly be published as it is.  If not, could you re-write and re-
cast THE WHOLE THING on the basis of the material (all Malone's
papers) which I am sending you with what I have done?  Should it
ever be published I should like it to appear in England.

                                                      W. W.


I wrote back saying I thought the story should be published as it
stood; that I would not hear of re-casting, re-writing or altering
it.  Should I try to find a publisher?

He answered by cable:  "Go ahead.  Married yesterday."

By the next mail I received a short letter from him telling me of
his marriage, and that all his plans had been changed.  He and his
wife were starting at once for the South Seas, Australia, the East
Indies, and Japan, and other places.  The journey was to be
combined with writing and business, and might probably last several
years.  It was impossible for him to do anything more.  He gave me
absolute control over the MSS., and asked me to do what I could
with, and for it.

That being so, I endeavoured to comply with his wishes, and the
result is the publication of the story as I received it from
Wright, without any alteration on my part.

I have heard nothing further from Wright, with the exception of a
picture postcard from Sumatra.

                                              MAURICE BARING.

1924.




WALTER WRIGHT'S INTRODUCTION


In the autumn of 1919, almost a year to a day after the declaration
of the armistice, I received a letter from an old college friend,
Gerald Malone.  He said in his letter that he was ill and that he
wanted to see me on an urgent matter.

I had not seen Malone since the end of the war.  At Oxford I had
known him well.  He was thought to be exceptionally gifted, but all
the promise that he showed was destined to come to nothing.  He
took a disappointing degree and he worked for a time at law, but he
was never called to the Bar.  His father died, leaving him a small
competence, which he rapidly got rid of by spending it.  When his
fortunes appeared to be at their lowest ebb and his situation and
prospects seemed to be precarious in the extreme, and he was
starting for the Colonies to begin life afresh on a ranch, he was
left some money by a distant relation--not a large fortune, but
enough to live on--and almost immediately after this he was offered
the job of publisher's reader by a firm of publishers.  He was not
the only reader to the firm--he was to read novels only--and the
salary he was given was not a large one.  The work did not interest
him, but, curiously enough, he did it well.  He was successful.  He
now seemed to have reached smooth waters, but he made an
unfortunate alliance, which resulted materially in his life being a
long struggle to make both ends meet, and morally in ceaseless
friction and permanent domestic misery.  He fell in love with a
woman of loose morals, violent passions and inflexible tenacity.
They lived together for a time; they quarrelled and separated.
They were reconciled again and quarrelled again.  He could neither
live with her nor without her.  She could not be faithful, and she
would not abandon him.  Finally he married her, and this made the
situation worse than ever.  She never deserted him, nor did they
have a day's happiness together.  This state of material strain and
moral friction lasted until his wife's death.  The release, instead
of making him happier, led him to the brink of despair, and I think
he would have certainly taken his life had it not been for the good
offices of a noble and good woman, a Mrs. Fitzclare, who had been a
friend of his greatest friend, and who helped him to tide over this
period of hopelessness.  Then came the war.  Gerald enlisted as a
private, and was subsequently promoted.  He served in various
capacities and in various countries.  He returned home after the
armistice unwounded, but broken in health.

I went to see him and found him in the rooms at Gray's Inn which he
had occupied since his marriage.  He looked ill, indeed; his face,
as well as his hair, was grey.

He was lying in a bed in a comfortless, untidy bedroom.

"I'm dying," he said, "and I have asked you to come because I am
leaving you something and I want to give it you before I die."

He handed me a large parcel.

"In this parcel," he said, "you will find a bundle of unsorted
papers.  You are not to open it till I die.  They contain not the
story, but materials for the story of C."

C. was the nickname of a common college friend of ours who had been
Gerald Malone's greatest friend at Oxford, and whom I had
afterwards also known in a curiously intimate way.

"I want you to write his story," he went on.  "I want you to write
it as a novel, not as a biography, but write it you must."

I said that although ever since I had left Oxford I had been an
intermittent journalist and had written several books, and had even
dabbled in romantic themes, I had never written a novel, nor did I
feel capable of doing so.  I agreed that a biography was out of the
question.  We were too near the story; but we were, also, I thought
and said, far too near to turn it into fiction.  Some of the actors
in the drama were still alive.

"No," he said, "the principal actors are dead.  C. is dead, and
Terence Bucknell is dead, and that's all that really matters.  But
you needn't publish it till you think fit.  You needn't publish it
for years.  Not, if you like, while you are alive, or as long as
any one else of that lot is alive.  As a matter of fact they are
nearly all of them dead now.  But you MUST write it.  C.'s story
must be told.  It must be put on record, and not as a dry, lifeless
biography with everything left out, but as a living novel with
everything put in, EVERYTHING; the story, in fact, of his life,
which is just what is generally left out in biographies.  I haven't
told it.  I haven't attempted to tell it.  I couldn't.  I have read
too many novels to write one myself.  But I should like it to be
told as a novel.  A biography--one of those stiff tombstone
eulogies--would deaden it.  You can do it.  You are the only person
who can do it.  You are the only person left alive who really knew
him."

I pointed out that he, Gerald, was C.'s greatest friend, a far
greater friend than I was.

"Yes," he said, "that is true.  I was a greater friend, but when
you knew him he TALKED to you, he TOLD you more than he told any
one.  He knew me too well to want to tell me things.  You knew him
more intimately than I did, although I was a nearer friend.  He
often told me this himself."

"But surely," I said, "the interesting thing about C.'s story is
its truth, and to turn it into fiction would be to falsify and to
desecrate it."

"I don't want you to write an ordinary novel," he said, "I want you
to tell the story of C. as you saw it, in the first person.  What
you don't know you can fill in from the papers I have left you.
You can, if you like, say at the start you are doing that.  In that
way you will be able to tell all that there is to be told, all that
we know.  That will be enough.  The main facts are enough.  You
will understand when you read my notes.  I want you to begin quite
straightforwardly to tell how you met him for the first time; then
life at Oxford and in London, and all that we knew and felt about
him, and spare Leila nothing."

"I don't think I can do it," I said.

"I beg of you as a dying request to try," he said.  "My ghost will
haunt you unless you try.  Do what you can.  You must try."

I said I would try, as I saw that my resistance was making him
worse.  We were then interrupted by a visit from the doctor.  I
waited in the sitting-room while the doctor visited him.

Gerald's sitting-room was an epitome of his life.  The room was
most untidy.  Over the chimney piece there was a large map of the
city of Rome and a crucifix.  On the chimney piece a small
photograph of his wife as she had been when he first knew her, and
a lot of pewter cups--school and college trophies of sprinting.  On
the single bookshelf which ran round the walls were books of all
kinds: Dante, Plato, Sherlock Holmes, Alice in Wonderland,
Theocritus, Monte Cristo, Chess Strategy, Herrick's poems, Boswell,
Mommsen, Catullus, Gregorovius, The House on the Marsh, The
Mysteries of Paris, Gibbon, The Diary of a Nobody, Ganot's Physics,
The Time Machine, and Jules Verne, but no novels.  On the table was
a bottle of brandy and a half-smoked cigar in a tray full of ashes,
and an almost finished, rather mouldy-looking tongue.  On the open
piano there was the score of the Geisha, which had been his wife's
favourite opera.  In the corner of the room there was a broken
gramophone.  The chintzless armchairs had many holes torn and burnt
in them.  The carpet was threadbare and covered with stains.  There
were no pictures on the walls except a large photogravure of a lady
playing the organ near a stained glass window, which I imagined
must have belonged to his wife.  I waited till the doctor came out,
so as to have a few words with him.  The doctor told me he thought
Gerald was very bad.  I mustn't stay long--it was bad for him to
talk.  I asked if there was no one looking after him.  The doctor
said that Gerald appeared to have no relations alive, but there was
a Mrs. Fitzclare, who was nursing him.  She had become a nurse
during the war, and had remained one; she had left him a message
saying she would be back immediately, and asking him to wait; she
was admirable.  It was she who had sent for him some days
previously.  She had been with Malone all the day before and all
night, and had only just gone out to fetch something, and he was
expecting her now at any minute.  I could stay till she arrived if
I liked.  The doctor looked into the bedroom and said that Gerald
was dozing.  He waited for about five minutes in the sitting-room;
then Mrs. Fitzclare arrived.  I had known her for years, and I will
anticipate nothing by saying anything about her now.  I waited in a
small ante-room while the doctor gave her a few instructions.  He
then left us.  She told me that she thought Gerald was dying, and
that she was not going to leave him.  There would be another nurse
coming in the evening for the night, but she would be here as well.
Gerald had been born and baptised a Catholic, but during his life
he had worried little about religion until latterly, but now he
wanted to see a priest, and there was one coming presently.

"Gerald was very anxious to see you," she said; "it will be a great
load off his mind now that he has seen you."

I then left his rooms with my parcel.  Mrs. Fitzclare promised to
let me know how he went on.  That evening I got a telephone message
from her saying that Gerald was a shade better, but there was no
hope.  He had seen the priest and had received the last Sacraments.
She would ring me up in the morning.  The next morning she
telephoned to me that Gerald had died at four o'clock in the
morning.

A requiem Mass was said for him at a church in Maiden Lane.  Mrs.
Fitzclare, myself and a Major Jackson, with whom he had served in
the war, were the only people present.  I asked Mrs. Fitzclare if I
might call on her, as there were several things I wanted to ask her
about Gerald, but she told me that she was just starting for
France.

"I have another sick friend there," she said, "and I only delayed
starting because of Gerald.  We may meet later, but I am almost
always abroad now."  But we never have met again, as I lived in one
continent and she in another.

I opened Gerald's parcel on the afternoon of the day he was buried.
It was a large, untidy parcel, done up in an old map--Gerald was
always passionately fond of maps--and tied up and sealed.  I opened
it while it was still daylight, and as I opened it a great quantity
of papers of every size, shape and substance, came tumbling out.
The papers were all unsorted and in an incredible state of
confusion.  They consisted of letters, envelopes, old programmes,
signed menus, telegrams even, fragments of diaries, notes, some
sketches of incidents in his childhood, descriptions of places,
pencil sketches, some water-colours, interrupted fragments of
narrative, hints for possible stories or poems, isolated sentences
and dates.  No chronology was observed, and no order, but separate
items were sometimes conjecturally dated in pencil.  There were
letters from C., letters from Gerald, letters from other people,
some faded photographs of people and places, some kodak films,
photographs of college groups and places in England and abroad.  I
turned over one item after the other, reading a bit here and a bit
there, and I suddenly realised that it had become dark.  I had some
tea, and read on and on till it was past dinnertime, and then,
after the briefest of meals, I went on reading till far into the
night.

As I read these faded papers a host of slumbering, long-forgotten
memories crowded round me.  Many little absurd incidents which I
had not thought of for years rose up clearly before me, and I saw
faces I had not thought of for years, and wandered once more in
once familiar scenes, and heard voices and accents of friends and
acquaintances some of whom were dead, others of whom were still
alive somewhere, but lost sight of in the changes of life.  I was
hypnotised by this poignant melancholy peep-show.  And through it
all the figure of C., his face and his voice, kept coming back with
startling vividness.  A thousand aspects of him came to life once
more, and as I sat brooding over all these dead scraps the story
that was revealed, or half revealed, was, I thought, a strangely
moving one.

It was one o'clock in the morning when I had finished the greater
part of the papers, and as I sat thinking over all the story the
most vivid of all these peeps into the past was the occasion of my
meeting with C., an incident which he alluded to in one of the
letters.  It was purely by accident that I made C.'s acquaintance.

I had passed the necessary examination at school admitting me to
the University, and to be a member of X---- College, but I had not
been able to go up when the time came, owing to an attack of
rheumatic fever.  When the Michaelmas term came I decided that it
would be waste of time to go up to the University.  I spent the
autumn till Christmas at a crammer's in London.  The crammer, Mr.
Spark, urged me to go up to Oxford in January, even if I only
stayed there a year.  He said that nothing made up for the loss of
University experience.  I had then in my own mind decided not to
take his advice.  I spent Christmas with my family in Sussex, and
when Christmas was over I accepted an invitation to stay with some
friends of my family, Mr. and Mrs. Roden (this is not their real
name).  Mr. Roden was a retired business man.  He was very well
off, cultivated, and a patron of the arts.  His wife was the sister
of C.'s father.  I did not know this at the time.  I had not seen
the Rodens since I was a child.  I was surprised at receiving the
invitation, but my parents said I must accept it, and assured me
that I should enjoy myself.  I remember starting full of scepticism
as to their forecast.  Gerald's papers brought back that visit now,
which after so many years was completely blurred.  I remembered as
if it was yesterday the shyness and apprehension I felt as I drove
from the station alone in a one-horse brougham, and I remembered
that the coachman seemed to shut his eyes tight when he addressed
you.  It was the first time I had ever been to a country-house
party.  The house was modern, and I felt once more the impression
of comfort you received directly you entered the front hall.  I was
often invited to the house subsequently, but I have quite forgotten
the details of those many other visits.  But as I looked at C.'s
handwriting on paper stamped with "Elladon House, Southampton," I
saw the large hall or gallery in which there was a bright wood fire
burning, some oak pillars, and many modern pictures: Corot,
Daubigny and Rossetti.  At a large tea-table the family and guests
were eating tea loudly and noisily; the cracker stage had been
reached; some one was wearing a paper cap.  Mrs. Roden walked up to
me, bubbling with welcome.  She was older than I remembered her to
be.  Her hair was white, and she wore a long, trailing, sage-green
tea-gown and a white fichu.  She was handsome and picturesque.  Mr.
Roden, with his bald, shiny head, his grey hair rather longer at
the back than most people's, greeted me in his rather squeaky,
piping voice.

I remember coming down to dinner in a frantic hurry, thinking I was
late and finding myself the first, except for Mrs. Roden, a married
niece of hers, and a grown-up boy who was standing by the fireplace
looking down into the fire.  He turned round and smiled at me, and
said:  "How do you do?" and I suppose it was taken for granted that
we knew each other already.  In reality I had never seen him
before, and I did not find out till the next day that he was a
nephew of Mrs. Roden.  This was C.

I wondered whether I ought to know who he was and whether I had
seen him before.  I felt convinced of the contrary, and yet I had
the impression that I knew him already, and that I knew him quite
well.  There are some people like that.  When you see them for the
first time you feel that you have known them all your life.

I took into dinner a tall, dark girl, dressed in black, who was the
daughter of a well-known painter, Sir Gabriel Carteret.  She was
studying painting, she said, and meant to devote her whole life to
it.  She would never marry; she intended to give up her whole life
to art.  She was, I afterwards learnt, a girl of great talent.  She
drew and painted in a masterly way, and she had already exhibited
some pictures which people said were superior to her father's.
But, after an artistic career of three or four years, she fell in
love with a Polish pianist, married him, and never painted another
picture.  She is still alive and, I believe, still extremely happy
with her Polish pianist, who tours the world giving concerts from
Brussels to Tokio and from Aberdeen to the Cape of Good Hope.  C.
sat on the other side of Miss Carteret, and I saw him now once more
as I turned to my right-hand neighbour, trying to make conversation
with the lady artist.  He seemed to be not exactly shy, but at his
wits' ends for something to say.  I caught his eye once or twice,
and it twinkled.  I wondered then more whether I ought to know who
he was, and whether I had possibly ever seen him before, and at the
same time I knew I hadn't.

After dinner, when the move was made and the men were left to drink
their port and smoke, I found myself next to C., and the first
thing he said to me was:  "I did admire the way you talked to that
girl."  He meant Miss Carteret.  "I couldn't think of anything to
say to her."

We then talked of other things.  He told me he was at Oxford, and
that he had gone up at Michaelmas, and had just finished his first
term.  I told him how I had been on the verge of going there
myself; how it had been put off, and what the crammer had said; and
how I had settled not to go.  He swept all that aside and said I
must, of course, come to Oxford, and I must come to X----, which
was the jolliest college at Oxford, the only college, the best
college.

Mr. Roden, who was inquisitive of the conversation of others,
overheard this remark, and said to us:

"It is like all other colleges in that respect."

Then he went on with another conversation.

C. went on about Oxford.  He poured out the advantages.  He said I
would regret it all my life if I didn't go there.  I said I thought
that I had missed my opportunity; that I had dropped out of the
running, and would no longer find myself with my contemporaries.  I
was afraid I had missed the right moment.  C. said that was all
nonsense.  I MUST go up, and that was an end of it.  Then some one
on his other side claimed his attention, and another picture came
before me: C. listening with courtesy and deference to an old man
who was not, I think, very amusing.  At the time it didn't strike
me that his face, or that anything about him, was remarkable.  All
that I was conscious of then was that I seemed to know him, and
that he seemed to know me, and that as far as I knew we had never
met before.  I certainly did not give his appearance a thought at
the time.  I merely wondered who he was.

A salmon-pink programme enclosed in C.'s letter to Gerald summoned
up another picture before me.  It was the programme of a village
concert which we all went to one night.  I heard once more the
uncertain unison of the glee singers, and a village maiden who in a
pianoforte solo seemed always on the point of reaching the top note
of a difficult run and never attaining it; a sailor singing a
sentimental song of which the refrain was "For greed of gold," and
the vicar, apprehensive of indelicacy, stopping his encore after
the third verse; the Rodens' butler singing "To-morrow will be
Friday," and the chaos of the toy symphony at the end, with a
cuckoo that cuckooed backwards.

It was at that concert that C. and I were introduced to some
friends of theirs who were staying in the neighbourhood, whom I
will call Lord.  They were there with their daughter, and I sat
next to Mrs. Lord at the concert, whose conversation was
bewilderingly disconnected.

"Are you at Oxford or at Cambridge?" she asked me, and when I said
I hoped to go to Oxford she said it was so interesting to have been
at both.

I only listened with half an ear to Mrs. Lord's rambling discourse.
I thought all the time what an exceedingly beautiful creature her
daughter was.  She sat a little further up in the row, not far from
C.  She had corn-coloured hair, sky-blue eyes, a dazzling skin, and
a celestial smile.  Could that radiant creature really have been
the same person as the Mrs. Fitzclare whom I had seen and talked to
that very morning at Gerald's funeral?  Yes, the eyes were the
same, and the smile was, if anything, more beautiful, but life had
rubbed out all the radiance and joy with a hard piece of pumice-
stone.  Perhaps the sharpest of all the pictures these papers
evoked was that of C. at that concert looking at Miss Lord.  What a
fresh look of undisguised, devout, complete, enthusiastic, unmixed
admiration!

It was owing to that visit that I made C.'s acquaintance, and had I
not met C. I should not have gone to Oxford.  My parents thought it
unwise, but Mr. Spark, the crammer, persuaded them it was the wiser
course.

After living through all that early meeting once more, I could
hardly bear to look at the papers again.  I put them away and went
to bed.  The crowd of ghosts was too thick; the ghosts were too
real.

The next morning, in the sober light of day, I tackled the papers
once more in a serious manner, and I began the business of sorting
them.  The work took me about a week.  Then I was able to sum up my
impressions and face the question of what was to be done with them.

The disconnected facts and dates and scraps of this disordered,
rambling, chaotic record enabled me to focus what I knew already,
and what I had guessed had taken place.  I regretted that Gerald
had not co-ordinated the papers himself; that he had not himself
tried to mould an organic whole out of the rich material.  There
was something in the matter, as it told itself fragmentarily, that
I from the outside, with my comparatively cheap journalistic
experience and stereotyped habit of writing, could not hope to
achieve.  Nevertheless I felt bound to try and keep the promise I
made to my dying friend.

The question arose, How was it to be done?  I agreed with Gerald
that a biography was impossible if the story was to be told.  I had
no experience of novel-writing.  On the other hand, I felt, after
reading the papers, that it was not possible to do what Gerald
suggested, namely, to tell the story from my point of view in the
first person.  If fiction it was to be, it must, I thought, be
DIRECT fiction based on the material that Gerald had provided for
me.  That material would be more or less the limit of my field of
knowledge.  I must work it out as best I could, inventing as little
as possible.

I finally settled, after thinking it over, to try and tell the
story in the shape of direct fiction.  A novelist, when he does
this, is, as far as his characters are concerned, omniscient.  I am
not.  I am well aware that in this case my omniscience is limited
to Gerald's papers, and yet, to make the story coherent, I shall
have to try as far as possible to get into C.'s mind and tell his
story from that point of view.

It is not possible to tell the whole story, because nobody knows
it.  C. on certain matters was the most reticent man in the world.
He was one of those men who can tell the whole world, as some poet
says, what he dared or would not tell to his dearest and nearest
friends.  He would have told--and I believe he did tell--the world
through the medium of the written word; but the record of what he
told is, as far as we know, at present irretrievably lost, so that
all we have now are the few and disjointed facts of a brief and
troubled life: the stray jottings of one friend; a few letters and
the surmises of another friend, who is conscious of the uncertainty
of his intuition and of his total inexperience in presenting fact
in the guise of fiction.

I have, of course, changed all the names of persons and places;
even the names I have mentioned so far are fictitious, but I have
tried to keep to the facts.

I may have omitted much that is vital.  At least, I have invented
no data of my own.

                                                 WALTER WRIGHT.

New York,
July, 1922.





Per te poeta fui.

Dante.





VOLUME I


CHAPTER I


Lord and Lady Hengrave had a house in London and a house in the
country.  The London house was in Portman Square, a gloomy building
originally Adam in style, but entirely redecorated in the reign of
William IV.  Their house in the country, Bramsley, was in
Easthamptonshire.

Lord Hengrave had started life by being a younger son, and had been
sent into a cavalry regiment.  He had spent some years in India,
and while serving there his elder brother died.  He was recalled
home by the death of his second brother, and found himself the heir
of a title, two houses and a considerable amount of property.  He
was at that time thirty years old.  He married, the same year he
arrived in England, the fourth daughter of a retired admiral, who
came from an old Suffolk stock.  He had been extremely hard up all
his life, and the allowance that he drew and his pay were just
enough to enable him to live in the army.  The result was, he was
heavily in debt.  The debts were paid, but no sooner was he married
than fresh debts began to accumulate.  He was a gambler by nature,
and he played cards for high stakes, but, although he was fond of
racing, he never betted on the turf.  He had an invincible
prejudice against the turf as a business, and maintained that it
was not a thing a gentleman could do with clean hands.

He was a staunch Tory, but cared little for politics, and never
held any public appointment, with the exception of the Lord-
Lieutenancy of the county and for a brief period a minor Court
appointment.  He was a kind husband, unfaithful with discretion and
decorum, and he never let his affections interfere with the even
tenor of his life.  He was fond of country life and of fox-hunting,
fonder still of yachting, and at one time possessed a racing
cutter, which he was soon obliged to sell.

During his early married life he spent money quickly and
carelessly.  He entertained; he yachted; he gambled; he bought; he
built.  He was fairly cultivated, and fond of old pictures and
prints.  He liked claret and port, and soon became a martyr to
gout, which he treated by drinking more port and cursing the
doctors.  In his youth he had been extremely good-looking, and he
maintained a look of great youth through his middle age and beyond.

There soon came a time, as his family increased, when he realised
that he was up to his neck in debt.  He mortgaged his property,
sold some pictures and some furniture, and gave up yachting.
Henceforward his life was a perpetual compromise between excessive
expenditure and makeshift arrangements for meeting it.  He never
ceased to be in debt, and nobody understood how the Hengraves
managed to make both ends meet.  The simple solution was that they
didn't.  He gave up gambling, and from time to time, in moments of
extreme stress, he sold something.  This would have been a
satisfactory solution if he had not at the same time increased his
expenditure by buying something else.

He was always immaculately dressed, and his clothes looked as if
they had grown on him.  Lady Hengrave was at home to luncheon every
day, even in the days when the financial situation was at its
worst, and the food there was always better than that at the houses
of other people.  Lord Hengrave went to the Derby every year, and
to the Omnibus Box at Covent Garden.  He rode in Rotten Row in the
evening.  He always wore a white flower in his buttonhole, and his
pocket-handkerchiefs were undemonstratively exquisite.

Lady Hengrave faced the uneasy conditions of her married life with
calm and determination.  She was well aware of her husband's
infidelities and ignored them.  She accepted his gambling
propensities and his extravagance as she accepted the march of the
seasons, and she devoted herself to the task of driving the rickety
coach of the family fortunes as safely as possible under the
conditions.  In her youth she had been greatly admired.  She was
not tall, but beautifully proportioned; she had a fair, dazzlingly
white skin, pale blue eyes, fair hair parted in the middle,
determined lines of decision round the mouth and chin, and
beautiful sloping shoulders.  She was an ideal Winterhalter.  As a
girl she had been a prominent figure in London, and no party had
been thought complete without her.  It was expected that she would
make an ambitious marriage and become a leader in the political
world.  Her marriage, which on the face of it, at the time it
occurred, was a good one, was thought disappointing.  She had
been strictly brought up by a violent-tempered father and a
Continentally educated mother, who had instilled into her an
undying respect for the classics in politics, literature, art and
music.  Lady Hengrave had no talents; she was neither literary nor
artistic, but consciously or unconsciously she handed down to her
children the traditions of culture and the respect for the classics
in all the arts which she had absorbed in her youth.  She was
sensible and practical, and accepted life with a shrewd, calm
philosophy.  She was undemonstrative, and with the exception of
Gilbert, a "ne'er-do-weel," and Harry, the youngest boy, was not
particularly fond of her children.  She disliked children in
general, and she had been born grown up.  She had certain rigid and
inflexible standards which concerned small as well as large
matters.  Certain things could be done, indeed, must be done,
certain opinions accepted, and certain books could be read; others
could not.  When in talking of two people being engaged to be
married she would say that "there was no money," one felt the
couple in question had somehow been extinguished.  When she would
talk of some one being poor, but having pretty daughters, one felt
that the daughters were being appraised at their exact market
value.  If she talked of the books from the circulating library,
they were divided into three categories: those which were pretty,
well written, and disagreeable.  The first two categories were
read, must be read; those which belonged to the third category were
not to be mentioned.  And yet in all this there was nothing
snobbish or hypocritical, as people who were used to a different
layer and a more liberal atmosphere might have thought, and
sometimes did think.  It was the result of a certain definite,
rigid way of looking at things, which was the direct offspring of
the eighteenth century, with its worldly wisdom, its sceptical
acceptance of the realities of life and the nature of society, and
its horror of enthusiasm.

She had a marvellous memory for the genealogies of all the people
she knew, and could trace the correlatives of any family of her
acquaintance; she always knew who anybody, who had a legitimate
claim to her acquaintance, "had been" before her marriage.  Here
again there was food for misunderstanding, and those who should
think of her as one of Thackeray's snobs, poring over the peerage,
would be wrong indeed.  Lady Hengrave divided people into those you
knew and those you didn't know.  The genealogies of those she knew
were as familiar to her as the multiplication table.  She no more
bothered about the rest than she did about the Esquimaux.

The Hengraves had a family of six children.  The eldest, Edward,
was sent to Eton and Cambridge, whence he passed through the
militia into the Brigade of Guards.  After one of the financial
crises which periodically occurred in the Hengrave family, he left
the army and obtained a billet in the City, in which he gave
satisfaction.  He married an American wife, who, although far from
being a millionairess, was well enough off, so the problem of
Edward's subsistence was satisfactorily settled.

Very different was the fate of the second son, Gilbert, who was
said to be Lady Hengrave's favourite child.  He was an attractive,
sharp boy, and his parents destined him for the diplomatic service.
He passed his examination, but unfortunately he had inherited all
his father's gambling propensities, and none of his father's rigid
principle in such matters.  There was a scandal: he was accused--
falsely, some said--of cheating at cards; but although it was
doubtful whether he had cheated, it was certain that he had lost
over ten thousand pounds, which necessitated the sale of the
Bramsley Gobelins.  He quarrelled with his father, left for Canada
and started life on a ranch.  His father and mother never set eyes
on him again.

Next to Gilbert came two girls--Julia and Marjorie--and after them
came Caryl, who from his earliest years was called C.  A younger
son, Harry, was born two years after Caryl.

After the third of the financial crises which afflicted the family,
the Hengraves lived perhaps a little longer in the country, but
their London house was never let, and they always spent some months
in London, even before the girls came out.  The girls, although
quite nice-looking and exceedingly well dressed and neat, had no
real beauty, whereas the boys were all of them, in different ways,
remarkable for their looks.

The two eldest children were brought up by a series of French and
German governesses, none of whom stayed long, as they found the
naughtiness of the children to be unendurable, and they all of them
prognosticated a sad future for Gilbert.  Their souls proved only
too prophetic.  When the two elder boys went to school, Lady
Hengrave abandoned for a time the idea of foreign tuition, and
engaged an English governess to live permanently in the house, in
whom she thought that at last she had found a treasure, relying on
outside classes for their French and German.  But the treasure,
Miss Meredith, left the family, for reasons of her own, after she
had been with them for a year, much to Lady Hengrave's annoyance.
She was succeeded at first by an Alsatian, Mademoiselle Walter, who
was intelligent and violent-tempered, and combined French logic and
German discipline.

The Hengraves always spent Christmas at Bramsley.  They would go up
to London at the beginning of February and stay there till Easter.
For Easter they would go back to Bramsley and after Easter come
back to London and stay there till the middle of July, and they
would perhaps go down to Bramsley for Whitsuntide.  From July
onwards they remained at Bramsley, sometimes paying a fleeting
visit to London in the month of November.



CHAPTER II


C.'s earliest recollections were centered round the nursery in
Portman Square, which was presided over by a brisk and rather sharp-
tongued Nanny called Mrs. Brimstone, whom the children called
Brinnie.  With the help of two nursery-maids, Jessie and Eliza, she
ruled over the nursery and the washing and dressing of C. and
Harry.  Brinnie shared Lady Hengrave's preference for Harry, but in
reality she cared nothing for the younger children compared with
what she had felt for the elder boys, especially for Master
Gilbert.  She was fond of Harry because he was the youngest and the
last baby she had had charge of.  She was old, and her temper was
worn out.  C., she considered, as did the rest of the household, to
be an irreclaimable young ruffian, and if ever Harry was naughty
she said that it was Master C. who had led him into mischief.

C. learnt to read in the nursery when he was six, and at the age of
seven he was soon promoted to lessons in the schoolroom, but he
continued to be taken for the morning walk in the park, or to play
in the square with Brinnie and Harry after the promotion had taken
place.

C. used to look forward to his birthday throughout the year.  It
was the only day in the year on which he seemed to play a part of
any importance in the family.  Lady Hengrave recognised birthdays
and encouraged the celebration of each of her children's birthdays
with undemonstrative impartiality.  There was a birthday cake at
the schoolroom tea, with candles on it, and generally his aunt,
Mrs. Roden, who was also his godmother, would come to luncheon and
bring him a present.  C.'s eighth birthday, which occurred in
March, when the family were in London, began auspiciously.  He was
given some toys in the morning, and a new shilling by his father.
He was allowed a holiday in the schoolroom, and all went well till
luncheon-time.  Just before luncheon Brinnie and Jessie scrubbed
Master C. and Master Harry with extra vigour, and extra time was
spent in curling Master C.'s curls with a tail comb and in
sprinkling them with rose-water, and Brinnie was more than usually
caustic in her comments on those curls, which were always
refractory, and more than usually gloomy in her forebodings as to
the immediate fate of the clean starched pinafore that she tied
round him.  She hoped, to be sure, he would be good, as his aunt,
and his godmother into the bargain, Mrs. Roden, was coming to
luncheon.  Her ladyship had sent up word to say so.  C.'s heart
leapt when he heard this news, as this would be sure to mean a
present.  Brinnie had no fear of Master Harry behaving badly: he
was always good, "and it is a pity," said Brinnie to Harry, "that
she isn't your godmother instead of Master C.'s.  Master C. doesn't
really deserve a godmother, what with his naughtiness and his
leading others into mischief who are too young to know any better."

Brinnie ignored the fact that Harry had a godmother of his own.

Punctually at two o'clock a loud bell rang through the house up the
reverberating back staircase, and C. and Harry, under a volley of
final exhortations, ran downstairs, joining up on their way with
their two sisters, Julia and Marjorie, who came down from the upper
floor in charge of Mademoiselle.

The children trooped down to what was called the blue room, on the
ground floor, and which was next to the dining-room.  It was a
comfortable room, full of prints, and their father used it as a
smoking-room and study, but it was there guests were received
before going into the dining-room.

Lord Hengrave was out to luncheon.  He only had luncheon at home on
certain days of the week, and this was not one of them.  Lady
Hengrave was standing up in front of the fireplace talking to Mr.
Dartrey, who always came to luncheon twice a week.  He was an M.P.
and the director of a railway company, and the children thought him
inexpressibly dreary, especially as, being friendly and well
disposed towards them, yet at the same time completely removed from
the world of childhood, he thought it necessary to make conversation
with them.  C. was always scolded after his visits for having been
rude to Mr. Dartrey.

Lady Hengrave shot an enveloping glance at the children and at
Mademoiselle as they came into the room, and asked in French after
the lessons.

"On a t suffisament sage," Mademoiselle said laconically.  She
was not the least afraid of Lady Hengrave, as so many other people
were.  The girls were frightened of her, and she maltreated them
and made them, obstinate as they were, learn their lessons and
speak French.  She preferred the boys to the girls, and she thought
C. showed promise of intelligence.  This made her none the less
severe.  She rapped the children's knuckles with a ruler till they
were sore, but neither the girls nor C. ever complained to their
parents.  They had already had a long and eventful experience of
different governesses--French, German, Swiss and English--and they
knew now that their present lot might be exchanged for a worse one.

Harry alone of the family was well treated by Mademoiselle, but he
did not return her affection, and he bitterly resented her
treatment of his elder brother.

Lady Hengrave asked whether C. had been behaving properly.

"Il perd son temps, comme toujours; il pourrait travailler trs
bien s'il voulait," said Mademoiselle.

Lady Hengrave gave an almost inaudible sigh.  Mr. Dartrey tactfully
changed the conversation by saying that the trains on the line of
which he was a director reached a greater pitch of perfection in
punctuality every day.

At that moment Mrs. Roden was announced.

Mrs. Roden was Lord Hengrave's sister.  She had married a partner
of a large City firm, who was extremely well off and fond of modern
pictures.  Mrs. Roden was fond of artists, and this was a
characteristic that Lady Hengrave deplored.  Mrs. Roden was a
handsome, picturesque woman, who had been painted by several of the
most famous painters of the day.  She was amiable to the extent of
being gushing.  C. preferred her to all his relations.  Lady
Hengrave never took any of the children with her when she stayed
with her sister-in-law, as she feared the effect on them of what
she considered to be a Bohemian atmosphere.

Mrs. Roden swept into the room, pouring out apologies for being
late.  She kissed C. and gave him her present, large wooden nut-
crackers.  The two crackers as they shut formed a black nigger's
head, and as you shut them small white teeth opened and shut, and
the empty sockets revealed two gleaming eyes.

"Thank your aunt Rachel," Lady Hengrave said to C., and, addressing
the company in general, "He's had too many presents already."

Just before they went into luncheon another guest was announced.
This was Lady Hengrave's brother, Captain Farringford, whom the
children knew as Uncle William.  He was a sailor.

They went into luncheon, and, as usual, the children's physical
characteristics were discussed as if they had not been there.

"Harry grows more and more like Charles every day," said Mrs.
Roden.  Charles was Lord Hengrave.  "He's grown so much; so have
the girls."

"Do you see a look of Aunt Jessica in Julia?" Lady Hengrave asked.

Aunt Jessica was a great-aunt of the children.  Mrs. Roden, after a
careful scrutiny of Julia's face, said, yes, she could just detect
in it a distinct look of Aunt Jessica.  Julia blushed.  But as it
was C.'s birthday, he became, for the time, the centre of the
conversation.

"What are you going to be when you grow up?" Mr. Dartrey asked him
point-blank.

C. blushed scarlet and was about to stammer something when his
uncle William, who was loud-voiced, breezy and boisterous, answered
for him.  "He's going to be a sailor, of course; and that's why
I've brought him this knife."  And he produced from his pocket a
large clasp-knife, which he said he would give to C. after
luncheon.

"Would you like to be a sailor?" asked his godmother.

Lady Hengrave answered for him.  "We have settled," she said, "to
send him into the Navy if he can pass into the Britannia."

C. was conscious that he had no voice in the matter of the choice
of his profession.

"The examinations are so difficult now," said Mrs. Roden.

"Yes, very difficult," said Lady Hengrave, shutting her eyes as if
to rid herself of such a disagreeable vision.

And thus it was that C.'s career was settled for the time being.
Apart from wearing a sailor's suit and from having been violently
sick on a penny steamer, he had not yet shown signs of any
particular vocation for the sea.

C.'s birthday, for a birthday, passed off fairly calmly.  The
children did not break all his toys, and Mademoiselle quelled one
or two incipient quarrels between C. and his sisters.

As C. was eight years old, Lady Hengrave had settled that he was no
longer to sleep in the night nursery with Harry, but in a little
room by himself on the floor above.  As he was to go to school next
year, it was time, she said, that he should get used to sleeping by
himself.

C. was a nervous child, afraid of the dark, and prone to nightmare.
He often talked, and sometimes walked, in his sleep, but Brinnie
would not admit this, and Lady Hengrave was told nothing about it.
Nor, if she had been told, would she have understood.  She did not
like C., and she did not understand him.

The chief excitement of C.'s birthday had been Mrs. Roden's
present.  It was the most exciting present that any of the children
had ever yet received, even from Mrs. Roden, who was famous in the
schoolroom and the nursery for the unexpectedness and the glamour
of her presents.  The girls were, of course, agreed that C. was too
young for such a present, and that he would break it before it had
lasted a day, and they were well in the way of breaking it
themselves when C. snatched it from them and rushed upstairs with
it to his room.

Tea went off quietly; the birthday cake was satisfactory, and all
went well till bedtime came, and for the first time C. was to sleep
by himself in his lonely little bedroom.

Eliza, the nursery-maid, undressed him and put him to bed, and then
he was left alone.  A night-light was burning on the washing-stand.

C. was still excited after the events of his birthday, and he did
not feel sleepy.  The incidents of the day began to flit before
him, like pictures on the slide of a magic lantern, slightly
distorted as they are apt to be when the brain is on its way to
sleep.  He thought about his uncle and the clasp-knife, and whether
he would ever be a sailor, and whether he wanted to be one.  He was
not at all sure he had any such wish.  Then everything else was
blotted out by the sudden thought of his godmother and of her
startling present, the nigger nut-crackers.  They were in the room
now, in the corner of the room near the washing-stand, where he had
hidden them from his sisters.

But instead of being pleasantly thrilling as they had been all day,
and an object of delightful interest, the nut-crackers now seemed
to be a very different thing.  First of all, they had become much
larger; he knew this without looking at them, for he dared not look
even in the direction where they were hidden.  Also, the nigger's
head was alive, the eyes had returned to the sockets without any
one touching the crackers, and the jaws were opening and shutting,
and showing their gleaming teeth.  He hid his head under the bed-
clothes and prayed for the vision to depart, but it did not depart;
it became more and more portentous.  He thought the nigger was now
walking across the room, and now bending over his bed.  The
nigger's head had become enormous.  His eyes were glowing like live
coals.  C. shook with terror.  How could he escape from this awful
thing?  At last he made a great effort and crept out of bed, and
ran blindly to the door, which had been left ajar.  What was he to
do next?  He dared not go to the nursery, where Brinnie and the
nursery-maids were having their supper, as he knew Brinnie would be
extremely cross and pack him off to bed again.  Downstairs there
was company.  The children had watched the guests arriving through
the banisters of the staircase.  He knew vaguely it was about
nursery supper-time, between nine and half-past.  He decided to try
the housekeeper's room, and he ran right down the stone back
staircase to the basement, to the housekeeper's room, where he
found Mrs. Oldfield, the housekeeper, a stately figure in large
swishing skirts, having supper with the upper servants.  There,
too, was Miss Hackett, Lady Hengrave's maid, who was a friend of
C.'s.  Brinnie was jealous of Miss Hackett and detested Mrs.
Oldfield, so C. felt a fearful joy at being safe in the enemy's
camp.

"Well, I never!" said Miss Hackett.  "Whatever is the little boy
going to do next?"

Miss Hackett took him on her lap; Mrs. Oldfield gave him a sponge
cake, some white grapes, and said:

"A glass of ginger wine will do the child no harm.  His feet and
hands are as cold as ice."

"And to run all that way without his dressing-gown and slippers!
Whatever will Mrs. Brimstone say?" said Miss Hackett.

"Don't tell Brinnie," said C.  "Please, Hacky, don't tell her."

Miss Hackett promised not to tell; she saw that he had been
frightened by something, and it was settled that she had better
take him upstairs again before his flight should be discovered.
She took him upstairs, and when she had put him to bed C. confided
to her the cause of his fears: the nutcrackers; the nigger's head.
She took the nut-crackers away and put them in her own room.  She
then went back and stayed by his bed till he fell asleep, which he
soon did, as he was very tired.

Nothing was discovered, but the next night the same thing happened
again.  C. was put to bed and fell asleep almost immediately.  He
was then visited by a nightmare in which the black head played a
large part, and before he was awake he was half-way downstairs.  He
was again welcomed in the housekeeper's room and received comfort
and refreshment, and he was again taken back to bed by Miss
Hackett.  C. now made a regular practice of visiting the
housekeeper's room at night, although he was not conscious of
wishing to do so, or even of starting to do so.  He was urged on by
the vision of the nigger's head, although he had not set eyes on
the nut-crackers for some days.  One night Eliza met him on the
staircase as he was returning from one of his expeditions, and the
secret was out.  A battle royal ensued between Miss Hackett and
Mrs. Brimstone.

"The poor child is frightened out of his wits by that nigger's
head," said Miss Hackett.

"Nigger's head and fiddlesticks!" said Mrs. Brimstone.  "I shall go
straight to her ladyship."  And straight to her ladyship she went.

Lady Hengrave was annoyed, and said gravely that if ever C. was to
run downstairs again he would be whipped.  Nobody, not even Miss
Hackett, realised that when he started on these expeditions he was
still asleep and did not know what he was doing, nor that he was
being urged by the spurs of a nightmare.  In spite of all Lady
Hengrave said, and of an icy threat from Mademoiselle, C. did the
very same thing the next night.  Fortunately, Mrs. Brimstone was
out.  Miss Hackett took him back to bed and soothed him (he was in
a flood of tears), and, what is more, promised to destroy the nut-
crackers.  The nigger's head was destroyed the next day, and its
destruction seemed to break the spell, for after this his
nightmares took a less active form, although he still suffered from
one recurrent dream.  He dreamt he was alone on the deck of a
derelict vessel which was buffeting the waves without progress in a
blanket of mist.  He was aware of a waste of bleak, desolate and
moaning waters, and somewhere in the thick salt mist a fog-horn was
sounding dolefully.  He could taste the salt in the air and feel
the sting of the fog, and what sounded like a foghorn was really
the cry of some one or something in gigantic pain.  Yet he had only
rarely seen the sea.  He had once been taken to Ryde, and he had
spent a week with Mademoiselle and the girls at Broadstairs to
recover from the chickenpox.



CHAPTER III


The life of the children at Hengrave House and at Bramsley was
conducted rigidly according to plan both during the half-year that
was spent at Bramsley and that which was spent in London.  The
children saw little of their parents.  The two boys were brought
down to say good-morning after breakfast in the nursery, or later
in the schoolroom, a meal which was ready punctually at eight, and
all the family met at luncheon.  The rest of the time was spent by
the children in the nursery or the schoolroom.

C. joined the schoolroom soon after his sixth birthday, and became
a minor, obstinate and rebellious satellite in the system of
lessons which revolved immediately round the severe and arid moon
of Mademoiselle, but which was none the less under the perpetual
influence of a remote but effective sun, namely, Lady Hengrave.
For although the children seldom went downstairs, Lady Hengrave
frequently visited the schoolroom, and she kept a sharp eye on the
course of her children's lessons.  She herself drew up the scheme
of lesson hours and of the subjects and books to be studied, and
she insisted on the children learning passages of Shakespeare,
Schiller, and La Fontaine by heart, which they were sometimes made
to recite before people.

C., although fond of story-books and fairy tales, detested these
incursions into literature.  He learnt the passages like a parrot
and had no idea what the words meant, nor any idea that they could
by any stretch of imagination be poetry.

He pretended to learn them with much greater difficulty than was
really the case, as his memory was in reality quite remarkably
good.  German and French he detested still more, and allowed as
little as possible of either tongue to penetrate into his mind.
Nevertheless by the time he went to school he knew a great many
speeches from Shakespeare's historical plays by heart, and a great
many of La Fontaine's fables, besides passages from Pope and
Dryden, all of which were far too advanced for him to understand.

The routine of lessons was the same for the children in London and
in the country, and lessons, save for the interruption of a walk,
took up all the morning, an hour in the evening before tea, and a
certain amount of time for "preparation" after tea.

Towards the end of July the nursery and schoolroom passages were
obstructed by large shiny leather boxes, which meant that the
family were going to move down to the country.  "We're going to
Bramsley," the children would shout in the passages and down the
staircase.

Bramsley Hall was in Easthamptonshire, only a little over an hour's
journey from London.  It was situated in rather a bleak stretch of
country, and the west front of the house looked out on the high-
road to London.  The nursery looked out on this road, and on
Sundays C. used to watch from the nursery windows the high
velocipedes whizz by; and sometimes a regiment of red-coated
soldiers would march past to the music of drums and fifes and "The
Girl I left behind Me."  There was a "park" which had once boasted
of fine trees and deer, but the finest timber had been cut down,
and all that was left of the park was a walled-in approach.  The
garden was still stately, and the house had a shabby dignity of its
own.  It was an old house, but had been made more modern at three
different epochs.  The prevailing style was Early Victorian,
although there were still scattered traces and solid remains of
many periods, Caroline, Queen Anne and Georgian, and it had escaped
the vandalism of restoration.

The move to Bramsley was an event which would have been hailed with
excitement by the children, and especially by C., who greatly
preferred the country to London, if life at Bramsley had not been
marred by several permanent drawbacks.  In the first place, there
was Mademoiselle, and Mademoiselle and lessons in general were far
more irksome in the country than in London; in the second place,
there was a neighbouring family, the Calhouns, which played an
important part in their lives; and in the third place, there were
the uncles and aunts who stayed in the house for long periods at a
time.  Lessons at Bramsley seemed to C. in the summer an almost
unbearable tyranny.

It was hard to pore over problems in arithmetic, to learn by heart
the fable of Les Animaux Malades de la Peste, to grapple with rules
of French past participles, while outside at that very moment there
was a bird in the raspberry nets waiting to be caught; minnows
waiting to be fished in the stream which ran through the kitchen
garden; peaches hanging ripe on the sunburnt wall, waiting to be
stolen; while the breeze, through the open windows, brought with it
sights and sounds from the world which was at present forbidden and
shut from view even by the red and yellow Venetian blinds: the
rhythmical music of the mowing machine, and the smell of the warm
flowers on the terrace, and the cries of Harry, who was not yet a
thrall to the full discipline of the schoolroom, as he raced down
the lawn.  It was in moments like these that C. hated lessons with
a bitter fury.  He saw no possible redeeming feature in them
anywhere, and as he pored over the speech in Absalom and Ahitophel,
which he was learning by heart, he wished that all authors, and
especially the French and British poets, were at the bottom of the
sea.

Mademoiselle Walter was intelligent enough to know that C.'s
education was being conducted on radically mistaken lines.  The
English governess who had preceded her, Miss Meredith, had likewise
understood C.'s mentality far better than Lady Hengrave did and had
alleviated the aridity of his classical education by letting him
have a whiff of Longfellow and a soupon of Southey.  But then Miss
Meredith had left just when she might have been a friend for C.

Mademoiselle Walter divined in C. a possible future love of
literature, and cleverly allowed him to read the lyrics of Victor
Hugo, which he delighted in, in secret.  But such was his dislike
for Mademoiselle that he never admitted he learnt these poems by
heart for his own pleasure.  On the contrary, he pretended that he
hated them, and he never lost an opportunity before Mademoiselle of
decrying the French; only since she was Alsatian, and in order to
make quite sure of offending her, he decried the Germans as well.
There was only one ecstatic moment in schoolroom life at Bramsley,
and that was when Mademoiselle Walter went for her holidays; this
happened sometimes in the month of August and sometimes in the
month of September.  The second cross of the children's life at
Bramsley were their neighbours, the Calhouns, a family who lived
ten miles off, and consisted of a retired soldier, an energetic
wife, three daughters, who were the bosom friends of Julia and
Marjorie, and two boys, Albert and Freddy, one of whom was older
than C. and the other the same age.  They were his playfellows, and
were always held up to him as an example of what boys should be.
They did their lessons well; they were said to be, and what is
more, they WERE, extremely intelligent; they rode well and they
played cricket well.  It was this last fact which was destined to
mar two of the principal pleasures of C.'s life at Bramsley,
namely, hunting and cricket.

C. had been taught how to play cricket by Mr. Hatch, the under-
butler, and in company with James, the footman, Alec, the groom,
and Teddy, the gardener's son, and every now and then a few further
recruits from the servants' hall, the stables, and the garden, C.
used to enjoy ecstatic games of cricket in the summer evenings with
a single wicket on the roughest of pitches, a patch of ground near
the stables.

C. was for some time successful in keeping these games dark from
Mademoiselle and the drawing-room.  Experience had taught him that
it was wiser never to mention a treat.  If one did, the chances
were that for some unaccountable reason it was forthwith forbidden.
This had happened so often to C. that he had become prudent and
cunning in the concealment of his secret treats, hiding them behind
plausible substitutes.

Mrs. Calhoun had sometimes suggested that C. should go over and
play cricket with their boys, but to C.'s infinite relief the
distance made it inconvenient, and Albert Calhoun, who was at
school, did not press his mother to invite a raw novice.  So
somehow or other it was taken for granted that C. did not play
cricket.

Unfortunately, one evening Colonel Calhoun, riding back from a
visit in the neighbourhood, happened to ride down the secluded lane
which fringed the improvised cricket ground where C. was playing.
Colonel Calhoun was an enthusiastic cricketer, full of theory, not
only as to how the game should be played, but also as to how it
should be taught.  He watched the game with equanimity for some
time, but at last he could bear it no longer, and he shouted to C.,
who was batting:--

"Play forward, play forward, you're not playing with a straight
bat."

He then cantered to the house and asked to see Lord Hengrave.  Lord
Hengrave was in the garden.  The Colonel left his cob in charge of
the footman and sought Lord Hengrave, who was busily engaged in
pulling the bindweed out of the phlox on his terrace border.  After
mutual salutations were exchanged, Colonel Calhoun went straight to
the point.

"I have just seen your boy playing cricket near the stables.
They're teaching him to play very badly.  He's not playing with a
straight bat.  They'll ruin the boy's style.  Nothing is so
important as to be taught right at the beginning."

"Ah, yes," said Lord Hengrave thoughtfully, as he espied another
piece of bindweed.  "Of course, the boy's small," he added.

"He's not too small to learn," said the Colonel.  "Now I have a
professional over from Carbury twice a week to teach my boys."

At this moment Lady Hengrave appeared on the scene, and Colonel
Calhoun began again at the beginning.

"Can't the boys come over," he suggested, "on the days that the
professional comes to us?"

"Harry is too small," said Lady Hengrave, "and C. doesn't care for
cricket."

"But," said the Colonel, "I have just seen him playing."  And he
told the story all over again, dwelling on the faults of style that
were being implanted in him, and how he was not playing with a
straight bat.  "It's better," he said, "not to be taught at all
than to be taught badly."

"I'll see that he learns properly," said Lady Hengrave.

She determined at that moment that, if cricket was played, she
would put the game on a proper basis.

Colonel Calhoun, after declining to stay for dinner, went away
feeling that his words of wisdom had not been spoken in vain.
Colonel Calhoun's visit was the seed of a large organisation,
namely, the Bramsley Hall Cricket Club, and end of C.'s fun as a
cricketer.

Lady Hengrave interviewed Oldham, the gardener, and Wilkes, the
coachman, who were both of them enthusiastic cricketers, and the
result was that a field was made into a cricket ground.  The
village schoolmaster became the honorary secretary of the Bramsley
Cricket Club, and the professional who visited the Calhouns came
over to Bramsley once a week and bowled to C. at the nets, and
insisted on his playing forward and with a straight bat, and
Colonel Calhoun rode over every now and then to see how he was
getting on.  C. was given some small cricket pads and small cricket
gloves, and made to score during the matches on Saturday afternoon,
and taught how to keep the bowling analysis.  Bramsley was soon
able to challenge Frimpton, where the Calhouns lived, and Albert
and Freddy Calhoun came over and played.  Theirs was always the
winning side.

As for C., he imbibed a hatred for the game which lasted for the
rest of his life, and the only incident of all the cricket matches
which subsequently occurred with regularity at Bramsley and
Frimpton which he recalled with any pleasure was one occasion when
Freddy Calhoun's front tooth was knocked clean out of his mouth by
a swift ball.  That was exciting enough in itself, but it was
nothing to what happened immediately afterwards.  The tooth was
lost on the cricket pitch, and Mrs. Calhoun advanced swiftly from
among the public, searched for and found the tooth, and replaced it
in its socket with dexterity and firmness, where it solidified,
grew, and remained firm and sound.  This seemed to C. miraculous.

During the summer there were no guests at Bramsley but with the
autumn a few relations and old friends arrived for the hunting
season and for such shooting as Lord Hengrave was able to offer,
but never many at a time until Christmas.  The children called this
the uncle-and-aunt season, and they all of them disliked and feared
it.

There was Aunt Harriet, a widow of a brother of Lady Hengrave's, a
formidable old lady in a peaked cap, who was a rigid churchwoman on
the Low side, and who invariably asked C. whether he had learnt
last Sunday's collect.  Learning the collect and the Catechism was
one of the Sunday duties of the children, and C. learnt the
collects with ease, and till the end of his life could repeat them
all word-perfect; but when his Aunt Harriet was present he could
not bring the first word of any one of them across his lips.

At Christmas there was always a family gathering, consisting of
such uncles and aunts as were in England and free.  The Rodens
never came.  They had Christmas gatherings of their own.  But Uncle
George, a younger brother of Lord Hengrave's--a grey-haired,
grumpy, very upright old gentleman--always arrived punctually on
the 20th of December.  He took the opposite line to the rest of his
family on every topic under the sun.  Because his elder brother was
a Tory, he was a Whig, and if he went out walking with his younger
brother, Harold, who was a clergyman, he spat if they chanced to
meet a bishop.

Uncle William, the sailor, came if he was in England, but he was
generally in some far-off station.

Far more formidable than the uncles were the aunts.  Lady Hengrave
had two sisters older and one younger than herself.  The eldest
sister, Aunt Louisa, had been the beauty of the family.  She had
been radiantly fair and elegant in her youth, and she maintained
her elegance when she grew older by natural, and the fairness of
her complexion and the glitter of her hair by artificial means.
She had made a runaway match with a younger son, who, on marrying
her, had left the Army for the Stock Exchange.  They had a small
house in Stratford Place, and they had difficulty in making both
ends meet, which they achieved by living largely on their relations
and friends.

The second sister, Aunt Fanny, married Cuthbert Transome, a Fellow
of All Souls, who wrote history and contributed to the Nineteenth
Century.  They had a large house in St. John's Wood.  Aunt Fanny
was extremely cultivated and well read, but her taste was
forbiddingly austere.  She read German philosophy and gave musical
afternoons at her house every now and then, where only the severest
classical music was tolerated.  C. was sometimes taken to these
entertainments by his mother, and had to sit through quintets and
trios in which not a repeat was spared.  He suffered acutely.  Aunt
Fanny and Uncle Cuthbert spent Christmas at Bramsley regularly.

As Uncle Cuthbert was an atheist, neither he nor Aunt Fanny went to
church, even on Christmas Day, and Lady Hengrave used to explain
this to the children by saying that the church was draughty, and
Uncle Cuthbert had a weak chest; but the children were not taken
in, nor would they have been, even if Mrs. Oldham, the housekeeper,
had not carefully explained to C. that there was no fear of Aunt
Fanny and Uncle Cuthbert not going to hell for their unbelief.

Lady Hengrave's third sister had married a diplomat and lived
almost always abroad.  She seldom came to Bramsley and never at
Christmas time.  C. detested all his aunts equally and cordially.
He did not know which he detested most, Aunt Louisa, who found
fault with his seat on horseback and the cut of his clothes, Aunt
Fanny, who asked him questions in geography and the dates of the
Roman Emperors, a list of which she said was always on her dressing-
table, or Aunt Emma, who on her comparatively rare appearances at
Portman Square, criticised his French accent and found fault with
his manners.

C. and the girls were taught to ride when they were quite small,
and were soon allowed to go out hunting.  They all inherited their
father's horsemanship.  C. rode well and easily, but here again the
Calhoun family intervened and turned this pleasure to bitterness.
It was always being pointed out to him that the Calhoun boys rode
so much better than he did, which was true, and every time he went
out hunting he had to face a fire of hostile criticism from Colonel
and Lady Calhoun.  Mrs. Calhoun hunted herself, and never a meet
passed at which she did not criticise C.'s deportment on horseback.
Lord Hengrave, too, was a formidable critic, whether on horseback,
or, if his gout was too bad, in a carriage, and sometimes he would
shout at C. at the top of his voice.  C. did not mind this, but
what he did mind was the expression of unconcern on the faces of
the two Calhoun boys, while the criticisms were being made in
public.  C. knew that they were greedily drinking in every word.



CHAPTER IV


When C. attained his eighth birthday his childhood had become
crystallised, and the main facts of it were these.

He was frightened of his father and never knew what to say to him.
He did not get on with his mother, who did not like him and did not
understand him.  He was a nervous child, frightened of intangible
things, and reckless and over-bold in the daylight.

Prematurely intelligent in some ways, but in great need of
direction, and since he received just the very guidance that was
ill-suited to him, he became rebellious and sullen.

He was an outcast in the nursery, and a rebel in the schoolroom.
In none of the governesses who looked after him did he find a
friend or a companion, and his relations with his two sisters were
perpetually strained, and often violently explosive.  His sister
Julia was four years and his sister Marjorie two years older than
he was.  Julia was a model of convention and propriety, but she was
capable of great naughtiness.  She was small, she had tight thin
features, a clear complexion and flaxen hair.  Marjorie was larger
and darker, and had fine grey eyes.  She was completely self-
possessed and brimful of assurance.  In reality she was just as
conventional as her sister, but she had wilder spirits.  She was
musical and had a natural sense of rhythm.  The two sisters spent
all their time quarrelling, and sometimes they beat each other with
umbrellas, but they always combined against C.

There were brief interludes of neutrality, as, for instance, when
C. invited his sisters to join in his surreptitious games of
cricket, which they managed to do when Mademoiselle was on her
holidays, until Colonel Calhoun intervened with his professionalism.
The most violent rupture between C. and his sisters occurred at
Bramsley during the Christmas holidays, after his eighth birthday.

Mrs. Roden had sent all the children a Christmas present.  To
Julia, Marjorie and C. she had sent the same present, namely, the
materials in a large cardboard box for making out of paper a model
farmyard.  Christmas went off quietly enough, devastated for the
children by Aunt Fanny, Uncle Cuthbert, Aunt Louisa and Uncle
George.  After the New Year the guests departed, and the children
felt they might play with their toys without fear of criticism.

One evening, after tea, they settled down to undertake to construct
Aunt Rachel's, otherwise Mrs. Roden's, model farmyards.

The lamps had been brought to the schoolroom; Mademoiselle was
engrossed in a French novel which had a white paper cover shrouding
its title and yellow cover from inquisitive eyes, and which
happened to be Zola's Germinal.  The children sat round the large
tea-table which had been cleared for games.  They opened the red
cardboard boxes and read carefully the printed sheet of directions
which they found in the box.  After so doing they each of them went
in search of starch and scissors.  The problem was to make a model
farmyard, including buildings, outhouses, cows, poultry, trees, pig-
styes and pigs, in three dimensions.  The means were a large sheet
of paper on which the houses, animals and other accessories were
printed in colour.  You had to cut out the house, tree, animal, or
implement, and fold it till it assumed a concrete shape; then stick
the folded edges together and stick the base of the object in
question, so that it stood upright on a solid board.  That evening
all went well.  They did not get beyond cutting out.  Mademoiselle,
who was finding Zola's new book engrossing, complimented them on
their quiet, and blessed Mrs. Roden for having given them so
absorbing a present.

Each of the girls and C. were engaged in making a rival farmyard.
The second evening they reached the sticking stage.  The great
silence of the night before was punctuated on this second evening
by fragments of absent-minded, disconnected talk, such as "Your
tree's crooked," "Which tree?"; "Your wall's too large," "What
wall?" but everything passed off quietly, and Mademoiselle was not
interrupted in her reading.  She was getting more and more
interested in Germinal.  The farms had progressed.  All of the
children had got the walls up and the trees, and several of the
animals, but as yet not one of them had succeeded in sticking on a
roof to the walls of the farm building itself.  This was an
operation which required peculiar dexterity, and when clearing-up
time came they had not one of them succeeded in achieving it.  The
two girls railed at C. for being clumsy; nevertheless, they had not
themselves been successful in dealing with the difficult problem of
the roof.

The third evening was almost entirely consecrated to the roof
problem.  Mademoiselle had reached the most enthralling part of
Zola's book, and the children were silent from the intense effort
of trying to stick on the recalcitrant roofs.  But their tempers
were on edge.  The girls had tried and failed over and over again,
and every now and then they jeered at C.'s efforts.  Suddenly C.
gave a wild shriek.  Mademoiselle dropped her book and lost the
place, and breaking into English, which she only did under the
stress of strong emotion, she said:--

"You naughty boy, what do you make such a noise?"

"I've done it," said C.  "Look, look, Mademoiselle, my roof is on!
The whole house is there!  It's finished!"

There was no gainsaying the fact.  There was the farmhouse solidly
established, stuck firmly on the cardboard, and perfectly roofed.
The girls looked at each other with silent stupor, and black
jealousy entered into Marjorie's heart.  She said nothing.  C.
danced round the room, clapping his hands, till Mademoiselle said:--

"Veux-tu te taire, vill you be quiet?  Je te mettrai au pain sec."

But no threats could overcome C.'s soaring ecstasy, the rapture of
the successful creative artist.  The girls went on working
sullenly.

"We shall do it presently," said Marjorie.  "It's quite easy
really."

But they knew in their hearts this was not so.  They worked on for
a few moments in silence and then Marjorie said:--

"Aunt Rachel gave C. that one because it's the easiest.  It's not a
grown-up one like ours!"

"They're all exactly the same," said C.

Marjorie chuckled almost inaudibly.

"We were quite right," she said in a just audible aside to Julia,
"to let him do his first, and to think it's the same as ours."

"Quite right," said Julia.

"It IS the same," said C.

"Oh, yes," said Marjorie, with great and exasperating calm.  "Just
the same."

C. felt a wild wave of passion surging within him.

"At any rate," he said slowly, "Aunt Fanny said she was afraid you
were going to take after Aunt Maria."

Aunt Maria was a great-aunt who for some reason unknown to the
children was a black sheep, and whom they imagined to be ugly, but
who in reality, merely had the drawback of being old.  Marjorie
affected not to listen.

"We won't do ours till to-morrow," said Marjorie to Julia, ignoring
C.  "It would spoil the poor little boy's pleasure."

"Well, at any rate, I don't cry when I'm bowled at cricket," said
C.

It was an undeniable fact, and one of the bitterest recollections
in Marjorie's life, that she had cried publicly at a cricket match
on being bowled out first ball.  The shaft went home.  She said
nothing.  C., satisfied with his triumph, left the schoolroom.
Mademoiselle had finished Germinal and at once violently urged the
children to tidy the schoolroom.  She left the schoolroom herself.
While Julia was putting her box away Marjorie took C.'s handiwork
and tore his farmhouse from the board.  A few minutes later C.
entered the room.

"Mademoiselle says you're to tidy," said Marjorie, "and you didn't
do the farmhouse after all."

C. looked at his devastated handiwork and said nothing.  For the
moment he was completely stunned; then his thoughts slowly moved
towards revenge.  Marjorie had a doll she was particularly fond of.
It was called Josphine, and it was respected by the whole
household.  It was a china doll and opened and shut its eyes.  Even
Lady Hengrave recognised the existence of Josphine and tolerated
Marjorie's affection for it.  C. tidied his toys, put them back in
the cupboard, and left the schoolroom in silence.  He then went
upstairs to the girls' bedroom and took Josphine from her bed,
where she had already been put to sleep, and shattered her head
against the coal scuttle.  Marjorie was unaware of the tragedy till
she went to bed, although C.'s apparent calm frightened her.  When
she went to bed and realised what had happened, her screams re-
echoed through the house and brought Lady Hengrave from her
bedroom, where she had gone to dress for dinner.  She was put in
possession of the facts, or rather of a one-sided version of the
facts, by Marjorie.  Mademoiselle Walter, who was appealed to, said
she had not witnessed the incident as she had been in her room at
the time, but remarked icily that Marjorie was "trs taquine."  The
calamity of the death of Josephine was thought too awful for
punishment or even for comment.  C. was treated like a murderer.
Even Miss Hackett said to him:--

"You've never been and KILLED Josphine."

C. felt that he had indeed committed murder.  Nobody sympathised
with him; everyone shunned him.  Lady Hengrave said:--

"I shall have to tell your father, and I don't know what he will
say, and I shall tell your brother Edward as well."

This last threat was the worst of all, for, although in their
experience their brother Edward had never once intervened in the
domestic affairs of the schoolroom, the children were frightened of
him, and C. felt overcome with shame at his being told of his deed.
Nobody mentioned the ruined farmyard; nobody could see that the two
acts were on a par.  The farmyard, in the eyes of the grown-ups,
was simply a bit of paper.  They did not realise the triumph C.
had felt in his effort of successful creation; the intense
mortification he had experienced when his handiwork had been
destroyed--the result of so much painful labour of so sudden a
final inspiration.  All that was swallowed up by the more
prodigious fact that Josphine was no more.  His sisters would not
speak to him.  Mademoiselle merely said, "Voil ce que c'est que
d'tre mchant," and Harry was at that time too young to
sympathise.  Mrs. Brimstone not only gave him a long preliminary
scolding, but brought the subject up on every fresh occasion, and
C. was a pariah in the household.  Lady Hengrave promised Marjorie
a new doll, but Marjorie was inconsolable.  Josphine was taken to
the toy shop and a new head was given to her, but Josphine's
original head had been made in Paris, and her new head, which was
bought in Sloane Street, was a different affair altogether, besides
being slightly too small.  Josephine had lost her elegance for
ever, and Marjorie never forgave C.

Curiously enough, C. did not feel that he was in any way justified
by Marjorie's destructive act.  He shared the view of the family
that the two acts were altogether disproportionate, and he felt
that he was indeed a criminal and had committed an act which would
certainly never be forgiven in this life, and probably not in the
next.

It was a long time, a long time that is to say measured by the
standards of childhood--in reality about a fortnight, and morally
about an on--before C. lived down the murder of Josphine, for,
after the subject had been dropped at Bramsley, it cropped up again
when the family returned to London and Josphine was taken to
Sloane Street for her new head, which proved, alas! to be so poor a
substitute.

Although C. preferred the country to London, he often experienced a
feeling of relief when the family returned to London, because life
in London, on the whole, was freer and less exposed to the
criticism of relations and neighbours, or, rather, outside
criticism was less permanent and less intimate.  He did not mind
the comments of the guests who came to luncheon as much as the more
prolonged criticism of the neighbours and relations whom he endured
at Bramsley.  Besides which some of the guests who came to luncheon
from the outside world were entertaining and amiable.

There was Countess Felseck, a Swedish lady, who had something
pleasantly frivolous about her as well as radiant and apparently un-
aging hair.  She used to come to luncheon very often, but,
curiously enough, never when Lord Hengrave was at home.

In addition to Mr. Dartrey there was another regular and constantly
recurring luncheon guest, who came to luncheon once a week, but
never on the same day as Mr. Dartrey.  This was Mr. Cecil Whitelaw,
who owned racehorses and wore clothes subtly different from those
of other people, talked in a loud voice, and was often sulky; but
he took little notice of the children.

As far as other children were concerned, Aunt Louisa's boys were
older than C., and were already at a public school when he was in
the schoolroom.  Aunt Fanny had one overgrown, red-haired,
spectacled boy who, she said, whenever he was left in a room,
"snatched at a Shakespeare."  He despised C., and C. kicked his
shins whenever he had the opportunity.  The Roden children were not
encouraged.  Harry was two years younger than C., but he was big
for his age and was as tall as C.  He was the favourite of the
nursery and the drawing-room, and the various governesses into
whose orbit he was attracted were all of them fond of him.  C. was
not in the least jealous of Harry.  He accepted the fact that Harry
found greater favour as a natural thing that could not well be
otherwise, as Harry was obviously more amiable, so much better
behaved, and so much nicer.  Everyone admired him and said, "What a
pretty boy!"  C. was considered to be the ugly duckling.  Their
companionship was the main factor of the inside life of his
childhood, and they kept the full quality of it a secret.  The
various governesses and Mrs. Brimstone used to see them play
together and witness their noisy fun and their frequent quarrels,
but what was kept from the world was that C. told Harry all the
stories he read in story books and invented others of his own,
which Harry listened to with breathless interest, especially as he
was no reader himself.  The stories were translated into action,
and took the shape of exciting and dramatic games.  So completely
did Lady Hengrave misread the situation with Harry that she thought
the boys got on badly together, and imagined them to be living in a
state of perpetual feud.  She was perpetually scolding C. for being
rough, one of the reasons of this being that, whenever they
suggested they should do anything together, C. used always to make
a pretence of indifference, and the keener he was to do the thing
the more indifferent he pretended to be, because he feared that any
treat might share the fate of single-wicket cricket.

As to treats, Lady Hengrave never took the children to the play or
to any entertainment--not on principle, but from economy--although
C. and his sisters were sometimes allowed to go to tea at the
Rodens' house in Kensington.  Julia and Marjorie had plenty of girl
friends, who used to be asked to tea in the schoolroom, but on
these occasions they never let C. join in their games, especially
after the murder of Josphine.  Sometimes all of them went to
children's parties, but C., rightly or wrongly, acquired the
reputation of being rough, and after a time the girls were more
often asked by themselves.  The net result of this was that, until
he went to school, C. had no friends and no companions, either at
home or outside, with the exception of his brother Harry and Miss
Hackett.  The only happy hours he spent were in the housekeeper's
room, where he played cribbage and Old Maid with Miss Hackett and
the housekeeper, and sometimes long whist with the butler and
others, or playing with Harry, or reading a book by himself in the
nursery.  He never read in the schoolroom, as he did not like his
sisters to see him reading.  He pretended to them and to the world
in general that books were babyish things, and fit only for girls.
In reality he was passionately fond of fairy tales and all stories
of adventure.

On Sunday afternoons Mr. Dartrey sometimes took the children to the
Zoo, and once a year a friend of the family, a quaint old man with
a beady eye, called Mr. Short, whom they all adored, took them to
the circus, and sometimes to the pantomime.  As Edward, the eldest
son, had been in the Eton eleven, the Eton and Harrow match was
considered a function that could not be missed, and they went to
Lord's every year.  This was the greatest treat of the year for C.

When the family returned to London after the memorable Christmas
holidays, which were dated in C.'s mind by the murder of Josphine,
C. was not far off from his ninth birthday.  His birthday was in
March.  It was settled that he was to go to school in September,
and during the last lap of his pre-schoolday life, two events of
importance happened to him.

One of them was the departure of Mademoiselle Walter.  This was a
dramatic event which was brought about by the unconscious
intervention of Harry.

It was a rainy day in February.  There was no question of going
out, and C. and Harry had planned and had arranged with the cook to
make toffee in the kitchen, and possibly a gingerbread cake.  Just
before luncheon C. committed some minor fault in the schoolroom,
for which he had been told by Mademoiselle that he must write out
the phrase "Je suis un enfant dsobissant et mal lev," twelve
times before tea.  Soon after luncheon C. and Harry went down to
the kitchen and became engrossed in the manufacture of toffee and
treacle, and assisted in the making of a gingerbread cake which
proved to be successful, save for a large damp hole in the centre
of it.

C. forgot all about his punishment, and when Mademoiselle asked him
for it at tea-time, he was silent.  Mademoiselle, who had been
severely tried by the girls all the afternoon, was in the worst of
tempers.  She rapped him on the knuckles with a ruler and sent him
to bed.  C. bore this with stoicism.  Not so Harry, who considered
that he was to blame.  After he had spent the first fury of his
grief in a paroxysm of tears, he rushed downstairs to Lady
Hengrave, who was giving tea to Mr. Whitelaw, and declared
dramatically that he wanted to go to school.  When pressed for his
reasons the whole story came out, and Lady Hengrave drew the
conclusion from it that not only C. and the girls were maltreated
by Mademoiselle, but that possibly Harry was liable to the same
treatment, although he had made no such accusation.  The result was
that Mademoiselle Walter left the house.

She was replaced by a kindly German, Frulein Setzer, a South
German, with a passion for children and a great talent for teaching
them.  Julia and Marjorie took advantage of her kindness and teased
her unmercifully, but she was quite indifferent to this and went on
steadily through the routine of lessons, and in spite of everything
managed to teach the children something.  C. liked her, but he knew
in his heart that she was far less interesting than Mademoiselle
Walter, who had been so unkind to him.

After Easter, in the summer of the same year, another treat came
for an all too brief period into his life.

Ever since his eighth birthday and the incident of the nigger's
head, although he no longer walked in his sleep, he had frequently
been tormented by nightmares, and especially by the recurring dream
of the ship and the mist and the fog horn.  Something now happened
which drove these nightmares away for ever.  C. conceived one of
those romantic adorations that children sometimes have for grown-
ups, love for a girl some years older than himself.  This is how it
came about.

He was allowed for the first time to join his sisters when they
went in the evenings to play games with other children in Hamilton
Gardens.  The children were nearly all of them older than C., and
the contemporaries of his sisters.  There were not many boys.  It
was considered a great favour that he should be admitted to the
games, and his sisters were opposed to it.  Kind Miss Setzer,
however, insisted on C. being allowed to go.  C. enjoyed himself
for the first time with other children, and made friends with two
girls.  One was called Freda; she was very dark and had large black
eyes.  The other, Leila, was fairer, with a promise of great beauty
and melting violet eyes.  They were both of them several years
older than he was.  For about a month everything went smoothly.  C.
enjoyed himself ecstatically, and his sisters were forced to admit
that he was an asset on whoever's side he played, as he ran faster
than any of the other boys.  Leila and Freda were not always there
together, and he got to know both of them intimately.  But it was
Leila he loved best.  He confided everything to her.  He thought
her the most ravishing creature who had ever been born, and the
vision of her face and of her violet eyes banished the nightmare
from the limbo in which his mind wandered just before dropping off
to sleep.

One evening, it was a radiant evening towards the end of June, and
the Park was crowded with people, C. was looking forward more than
he had ever done to the game of flags and to a meeting with Leila.
The children arrived in Hamilton Gardens.  On the way they had
passed their brother Edward, who was on horse-back on his way to
Rotten Row.  A band somewhere was playing Estudiantina, a valse.
Sides for flags were picked.  Freda was on the same side as C., and
Leila was on the opposite side.  Never had the game been more
exciting.  At one moment Freda was captured by the enemy, and C.
raced across the lawn and succeeded in rescuing her.  As they ran
back together C. said something to Freda and laughed.

At that moment Leila rushed past them.

When the game was over C. walked up to Leila, whom he had not seen
for some time, and spoke to her.  Leila looked at him and turned
away.

"What is the matter?" asked C.

"Nothing," she said, "only you had better go and talk to Freda as
you like her so much better," and she turned away and wouldn't
speak to him again.

"I thought you were her best friend," he said.

So she was.  C. never forgot that moment.  It was connected in his
mind with the strains of the Estudiantina valse and the ringing
clatter of hansom cabs, and the intoxicating atmosphere of gaiety
that hung about evenings of the London season.

The next day Leila's governess complained to her mother that Caryl
Bramsley spoilt the games by his roughness.  Leila's mother
complained to Lady Hengrave.  Lady Hengrave said it was high time
he was going to school, and forbade him ever to be taken to
Hamilton Gardens again.  That was the bitterest moment in C.'s life
before he went to school.



CHAPTER V


In his ninth year C. was sent to a private school.  Lady Hengrave
had been recommended an excellent school in Berkshire, where the
boys were well taught and obtained scholarships at public schools.
As C. was destined for the Navy, and had to pass what was
considered a difficult examination to get into the Britannia, it
was important that he should be well taught.  But in the summer of
C.'s ninth year the Headmaster at the Berkshire school died, the
staff of the school split up, and the school came to an end.  One
of the masters started a school of his own near Oxford, taking with
him one of the assistant masters; another, who, although the least
intellectual, was considered to have the greater organising
capacities, started a school near Brighton.  Lady Hengrave, who had
inspected the school and made the acquaintance of the masters, made
up her mind that Mr. Forsyth, who had migrated to Brighton from the
Berkshire school, was preferable, and C. was sent to the seaside
school.  There were only nine boys under Mr. Forsyth's charge
during C.'s first term, and that was thought to be an advantage.
Lady Hengrave thought the boys would get more attention, and
consequently work harder.  Mr. Forsyth was a brisk, breezy, rather
burly man.  He understood boys, knew how to manage them, and how to
amuse them, but he was not a scholar in any sense, and he left the
intellectual education of the boys to his staff.  At the Berkshire
school he had only taught the smallest boys the elements of French
and arithmetic, as well as drawing and music to the whole school.

At the new school he took no classes at all, but contented himself
with organising and pervading the whole, which he did very well.
Indeed, if the acquiring of knowledge had been of no importance,
"Forsyth's," as the school was called, would have been one of the
best schools in England.  The staff was not over large.  Mr.
Cartwright, who was practically Mr. Forsyth's partner, although
they were not co-equal (Mr. Cartwright was called an assistant
master), lived in the house and dealt with mathematics, modern
languages, history and geography.  His interests were purely
athletic.  He had been a Rugger blue at Oxford, and he looked upon
work as an interruption which had to be borne patiently in the
serious business of school life which was games.

Mr. Forsyth was unmarried, but Mr. Cartwright was married, and Mrs.
Cartwright lived in the house, looked after the boys and played the
part of matron.

Mrs. Cartwright came from the North; she was one of the many
daughters of a well-to-do minister.  She had a fuzzy, reddish
fringe and a delicate, little, white freckled face, and a refined
Glasgow intonation.  She was kind to the boys, but took little
interest in the school.  Her heart was in the columns of the Queen
newspaper and the Court Journal, and she sometimes read Modern
Society in secret.  She had a passion for the news of the world of
fashion, and she followed the movements of every member of the
Royal Family with enthralled interest.  C., being the younger son
of a peer, had great prestige in her eyes, and her only regret was
that his sisters were not yet out, and that she could not read
their names in the lists of guests at the balls and parties that
were chronicled in the Morning Post.

Latin and Greek were taught by an anmic, pale and bearded man with
worn-out trousers and frayed linen, who came in from Brighton every
day.  Although his name was Porson he had only a superficial
knowledge of the classics, and little authority over the boys.

Another visitor taught the boys English literature.

Music was encouraged, and the boys were also taught sketching in
water colours and in oils.  At the end of his first term C. took
home a water colour of a mill which was supposed to be by his hand,
but it had a grown-up Royal Academy quality which would have been
surprising in the work of a boy of nine.  Mr. Birch, the drawing
master, wore a velvet jacket, and lived in a house furnished
entirely with unsold Academy pictures, some of which had been hung.
He always finished off the boys' pictures, feeling that it was more
satisfactory to all concerned, which it was; for, although the
parents must have known that the pictures were not their son's
unaided work, they liked to think that progress had been made, and
that some of the work was perhaps authentic.  Some parents, indeed,
bravely maintained the illusion that the sketches were entirely
their boys' work.

The boys played Association football with a neighbouring school.
They went twice a week to a gymnasium, where they learnt
gymnastics.  They went out riding on the Downs on ponies from a
riding school.  They attended a swimming bath once a week, and had
swimming lessons.  They had a thoroughly enjoyable life and learnt
nothing.  At the end of his first term C. went home for the
holidays, taking with him a handsomely bound copy of Stories from
Livy, a prize for modern languages.  He took with him as well a
report saying that he had been most satisfactory in every respect,
and that he was making excellent progress in all subjects.  He was,
perhaps, a little weak in freehand drawing.

Lady Hengrave was delighted, but Frulein Setzer shook her head
after cross-examining C. about his German lessons, and came to the
conclusion that he had not learnt much; for, although music at
Forsyth's school was taught by a German, German was taught by Mr.
Cartwright, who had never been to Germany, and who had the
slightest acquaintance with the language.  He could not construe
the simplest German poem without the help of a translation.

When C. went back after his holidays, for his second term, the
number of boys had increased; there were now fourteen, and before
C. left the numbers increased to twenty-nine.  Mr. Forsyth had
joined the volunteers, and the boys were now drilled by a sergeant
in a drill hall, were taught to form fours, and were sometimes, as
a great treat, allowed to pull a string which let off a gun.

Athletic sports were the excitement during the Lent term, and C.
won the hundred yards race in an open competition for various
schools.  He was tall for his age, and the committee were inclined
to think that his reported age was incorrect.  This was not the
case.  C. made friends with a boy called Arkright, who introduced
him to the works of Harrison Ainsworth, and to Oliver Twist and The
Old Curiosity Shop.  He soon reached a position of importance in
the school, and became the captain of the football eleven, but he
never took to cricket, in spite of Mr. Cartwright's exhortations,
and used, whenever he could, to go out sailing on the sea.  This
the boys were allowed to do; and, as C. was destined to be a
sailor, the Headmaster thought it fitting and appropriate that he
should get used to the sea as soon as possible and overcome an
unfortunate tendency to sea-sickness.

When he learnt to swim, Mr. Forsyth said that the first step in his
naval career had been reached, and he prophesied that C. would one
day be an admiral.  His reports became more and more glowing; and
at the end of every term he took home more and more prizes, among
others the works of Josephus, in two volumes, bound in red calf.
He was nearly always at the top of his division, and both his
father and mother were astonished at the apparent fertility of what
they had considered to be a difficult and unprofitable soil.
Nobody at home had any doubts about the situation except Frulein
Setzer, who had a shrewd suspicion that C. was learning very
little, but she was too frightened of Lady Hengrave and too fond of
C. to say anything.

C. had little aptitude for mathematics, and, although he had not in
him the makings of a scholar, his mind responded to classical
subjects, and he had been well grounded in French at home.
Unfortunately, the teaching in Latin and Greek, and still more in
modern languages, at Forsyth's was not only negatively inadequate,
but positively harmful; and, instead of learning Latin, French and
a little Greek, C. gradually forgot the Latin that he knew, and
would have completely forgotten his French if Frulein Setzer had
not compelled him to talk French in the holidays.  The reason that
he was so easily first in his classes and won so many prizes was
that the little knowledge he acquired was greater than what was
picked up by the other boys, and in the kingdom of the blind the
one-eyed was king.

Apart from the work which formed the daily routine C. met with no
stimulant which acted on his mind in any way in the teaching of his
masters, or in his intercourse with them.  He read the works of
Henty and he discovered the genius of Rider Haggard, but, apart
from that, the world of fancy was a closed book to him, for the
lessons in English literature at Forsyth's were delivered by an
expert in Pitman's shorthand, whose highest ideals were the most
fluent and stereotyped form of journalese and the scrupulous
avoidance of prepositions at the end of a sentence.

Mr. Forsyth used often to take the boys to the local theatre, and
there C. made his first acquaintance with the more melodramatic and
sentimental branches of the English drama.  He saw a dramatised
version of The House on the Marsh, and several other melodramas of
the same nature.  These plays sometimes renewed for him the
nightmares of his childhood, but he did not confess the fact to
anybody.

C. behaved fairly well during his schooldays.  He did no work, but
he gave no trouble.  He ragged Mr. Porson during the classical
hours, and burnt pills called Pharaoh's serpents during his class
which, when lit, developed into brown coiling and rather nauseating
snakes.  He got on well with the Headmaster, and he was on amicable
terms with Mr. and Mrs. Cartwright, but he took no interest in
them.  He was good at games but cared little for them, a fact which
baffled Mr. Cartwright.  He collected stamps and worked hard in the
carpenter's shop with his friend, Arkright.  Together they made a
quantity of brackets and other ornamental pieces of furniture with
a fret-saw.  He made no other great friends, but the last two years
of his private school life were enlivened by the arrival of his
younger brother.  He and Harry shared a room together, and fought
over the bath religiously every day.  The boys respected C., as he
was easily the best football player and athlete at the school, and
he was supposed to be the best scholar.  During one of the summer
terms C. went through an emotional experience.  A French company
came down to Brighton and gave a flying matine at the Theatre
Royal.  The company was a scratch one gathered together round a
star from the Paris Gymnase, named Fanny Talbot, who was French in
spite of her English name.  The play she appeared in was Le Matre
des Forges, familiar to the public of London under the name of the
Ironmaster.  Fanny Talbot was an abrupt and rather violently
emotional actress.  But her sudden fame and instantaneous
popularity were due to her great and unusual beauty.  She had
delicate, rippling, fair, cendr hair with natural golden lights in
it, and mysterious brooding eyes, a statuesque presence and the
expression of a somewhat peevish sphinx.  Mr. Forsyth took the boys
of the first division to see this play.  He said it would be good
for their French.  He wanted to see the actress whom London had
been raving about.  As for C. he fell instantly and madly in love
with Fanny Talbot, and the performance of the Ironmaster opened for
him a door on to the kingdom of romance.  He had no idea such
beauty could exist, and in some way she reminded him of Leila, the
heroine of his romance in Hamilton Gardens.  He bought several
photographs of her which he concealed, and he confided his passion
to Arkright, who was sympathetic, but said it was a great pity she
did not speak and act in English.  For his part he preferred Violet
Cameron.

With the help of Arkright--that is to say, aided by the advice of
Arkright as far as the sentiments were concerned (for Arkright knew
little French)--C. composed a letter to Miss Fanny Talbot, which,
after many rough copies, drafts, alterations and emendations,
finally read thus:--

Deux anglais lves  l'cole de Forsytes, Brighton, dsirent
mettre  vos pieds leur profounde admiration, aux pieds de Fanny
Talbot, la plus grande actrice du monde et la plus belle entre
toutes les belles.  O prodige Incroyable!

La plus belle entre toutes les belles was a phrase that C. had once
heard Mademoiselle Walter make use of, and the final apostrophe was
a quotation from a speech in Racine's Athalie, which C. had known
by heart for some years.

Miss Fanny Talbot answered the letter by sending a visiting card on
which she wrote a civil phrase thanking her English friends for
their kind appreciation.  They tossed up as to who should own the
card, for Arkright, although his passion for Fanny Talbot was less
violent, collected autographs, and the personal autograph of so
great a celebrity would be the flower of his collection.  He won
the toss, but most generously he insisted on C. keeping the
autograph, for, as he said, "It's one thing for a chap to collect
autographs and another to have a lifelong passion for a great
actress, and, although I admire her very much, I do prefer Violet
Cameron, both as an actress and a beauty."  C. yielded to this
argument, and hid the little visiting card in the same box which
concealed four different photographs of Fanny Talbot, three of them
in costume, and one of them en ville.

Arkright was an amateur of the theatrical life and knew a great
many actors and actresses by name, as his parents took him to the
play quite often during the holidays.  Up till now C. had taken
little interest in this taste, but now Fanny Talbot had changed all
that, and C. took an interest in the stage for her sake, and read
the theatrical news in the Daily Telegraph, in the hope of seeing
her name.  He even had a fight with Baily major because Baily
slighted her.  This is how the incident occurred.  C. had bought a
new photograph of Fanny Talbot and was showing it to an interested
but critical group, with that desire of universal confirmation and
that apprehension of a possible want of appreciation that an idol
inspires.

"It's of course not a bit like her," he said apologetically,
meaning that it was not nearly beautiful enough.

"That's a pity," said Baily major, "because if it had been she
would have been rather good-looking."

The group tittered.  Baily major was famous for his sarcasm.

"All right," said C., "we'll fight it out in the playroom."

And fight it out they did, with gloves and seconds.  The first
three rounds were indecisive.  In the fourth round Baily major's
nose bled and his face had grown very red.  He was slightly the
more powerful of the two, and neither of them were skilful boxers;
but C. had behind him the fierce drive of his overwhelming passion
for Fanny Talbot, and a raging desire to avenge her, so that in the
fifth round, after a few wild swings, he managed to pound Baily
major's head till the latter admitted defeat in tears.  They shook
hands, but before doing so C. demanded that Baily major should
apologise for having slighted Fanny Talbot.

"I never said anything against her," Baily said between pants.
"How could I know that you'd get so waxy over a photograph?"

"Well," said C., "Fanny Talbot is the most beautiful person and the
greatest actress in the world, and I'll fight any one who says the
contrary."

Nobody disputed the sentiment.

This was the most emotional experience C. had at his private
school, but perhaps the school incident which impressed him the
most, and which gave him the greatest cause for thought--an
incident which changed him and shifted him to another centre, so to
speak--was the following.

One afternoon towards the end of the summer term the first division
were engaged in doing sums.  Mr. Cartwright was out of the room.
The sums in question were decimal fractions of an exasperating
kind, and none of the boys, not even the best mathematicians, could
cope successfully with all of them.  Through the open window came
the voices of a nigger party singing in the street and the smell of
the sea, and the distant noise of a merry-go-round.  It was a
radiant afternoon towards the middle of July.  The room was hot and
stuffy; a few wasps buzzed along the window frames.  The black
arithmetic books seemed more than usually dismal, the ink in the
ink pots of the wooden desks more choked with blotting paper and
more stagnant than ever.  The black steel pens seemed more than
ever to have feelers as of some strange sea beast.

Suddenly C. voiced public opinion by saying out loud:--

"I shan't do another stroke of work."

"Nor shall I," said Baily major.

"Nor shall I," said every one else in chorus, and a feeling of
exhilarating desperation pervaded the division.  The boys shut
their books and began making pellets with blotting paper and
flipping them at each other.  The room began soon to hum with
noise.

Some one dropped a book.  Some one else banged down the lid of a
desk.  One boy threw a book across the room.  The noise almost grew
into a hubbub.

Presently Mr. Cartwright swept into the room and shut the door with
a bang.  A deadly stillness ensued, and immediately all the boys
automatically closed their desks, took their pens, and went on
tackling their decimal fractions in the most docile manner
imaginable--all of them except C., who kept his word and did not go
on with his work, and did not even open his book.

"Bramsley major, why aren't you working?" said Mr. Cartwright to C.

"I can't do these sums, Sir," said C.

"Rubbish," said Mr. Cartwright good-humouredly, "try again."

C. said nothing, but remained looking obstinately in front of him,
his book still closed, his pen idle.

"Bramsley major," said Mr. Cartwright, "go to bed at once!"

C. walked off to bed, but he had kept his promise and had not done
another stroke of work more that day, and as he lay in bed
supperless that night, he dimly pondered long over the cowardice of
human nature: the secret of corporate action, the mystery of people
not being able to combine, the brief nature of revolutions, and the
subjugation of the majority by a minority of one.  Puzzling
questions all of them, and destined to recur and occur to him often
in after life.



CHAPTER VI


C. went up for his naval examination in Michaelmas term of his
third year at school.  Mr. Forsyth and the whole staff of
"Forsyth's" were optimistic as to the result, and the news of his
complete failure fell like a bombshell both upon home and school.
Mr. Forsyth attributed the failure to a bruise on his shin he had
received in the football field just before the examination.
Frulein Setzer attributed it to the incapacity of his teachers,
but she kept her opinions to herself.  It was settled that he
should stay two more terms at school and then go to Eton.  His name
had been put down for Winslow's when he was quite small.  Eton was
a part of the religion of the Hengrave family, and they considered
it unthinkable that a member of their family should go to any other
school.  As C. could not become a sailor, it was thought that he
might perhaps be able to pass into the Foreign Office, or possibly,
better still, get "something in the City."  There would be time to
think of that later.

When the time came for C. to go to Eton, Winslow's was full up, and
Mr. Winslow could not take him, nor could one or two other house-
masters whom Lady Hengrave would have preferred, and C. was sent to
Pringle's.  It was a good house, but not conspicuous for stars
either in the athletic or the intellectual world.  The house
boasted of only one boy in Sixth Form, and of no member either of
the eleven, the eight, or even the Victory, and of no member of
Pop.

In the house cup matches Pringle's never got further than the
second ties, and did not always reach that stage.  On the other
hand, Pringle's was respected as being quite a "decent" house.
This was largely due to Mr. Pringle's personality.  There was
something fundamentally gentlemanlike and urbane about him.  He was
polished, Attic, rather highly-strung, and given to nervous brain
storms in school; an electric teacher, stimulating to boys he liked
and got on with, but blighting to those whom he did not like, and a
master of light but stinging irony.

When C. reached Eton he was still called at home the Ugly Duckling.
And there was something at this epoch rather uncouth and overgrown
about him, something immature and yet overripe.  He was too big for
his age and showed little promise of good looks, although there was
something rather striking about his dark eyes and undisciplined
hair.  He was lanky and thin, and looked as if he had grown up too
quickly.  He was untidy, too, and his hair and his clothes looked
as if they had never been brushed.

He took Upper Fourth on arrival, which was another shock both to
Forsyth's and to Lady Hengrave, as they had confidently expected
him to take Remove.

At the end of his first half the lower master whom he had been up
to wrote in his report that he had been taught "small Latin and
less Greek," and Mr. Pringle took a pessimistic view of the effects
of his irreparable past on the future.

C.'s Eton career was a curious one.  He was perfectly happy,
enjoyed the life, did his work just well enough to pass trials and
just not well enough to achieve ordinary distinction.  He was
sufficiently idle and disobedient to get into trouble every now and
then, but sufficiently reserved and obstinate to weather rows with
equanimity and without disaster.

It has been already recorded he was considered to be the best
athlete at his private school.  At Eton he passed athletically into
a phase of total eclipse.  He was naturally a good football player,
and had he been at a house that was good at games he would have
forcibly been pushed up the ladder of success.  As it was, he
played with bad players, and did what he found the others doing.
He took the line of least resistance and conformed to his
surroundings.  He had no athletic ambitions.  He was a wet bob.
But it was a long time, and then only by accident, and at the
instigation of one of the masters who had taken him out one day
downstream, that he put his name down for Novice Eights.  He
ultimately got into the Lower Boats, but there he remained rooted.
His Eton life was a curious life within a life.  He had his own
little circle, which escaped the notice of the crowd, and in that
little circle he was happy.

When C. had been at Eton two years his brother Harry joined him; he
was not sent to Pringle's, as there was room for him at
Crutchleigh's, an athletic house which boasted of the presence of
the Captain of the Boats, the Keeper of the Field, and two members
of Sixth Form.  Harry's career was very different from C.'s.  He
became a shining star in the cricket world, got his sixpenny his
first summer term, and ended by playing at Lord's and being Master
of the Beagles.  He moved in a different universe to that of C.

C. looked on at the dawn and promise of these triumphs with
admiration untinged by envy, and the two brothers would go for a
walk together regularly every Sunday afternoon.  They never
criticised each other.  Each accepted the other as inevitable, and
Harry's success amply made up to Lady Hengrave for C.'s obscurity.
In fact, C.'s obscurity enhanced Harry's success in her eyes.  Had
it been the other way round she could scarcely have borne it, and
C. knew that.

C. did not get on very well with his tutor, Mr. Pringle.  Mr.
Pringle suspected in him a lurking spirit of opposition, and felt
that he was more intelligent than his work showed him to be.  He
was sarcastic, and C. met his sarcasm with sullen silence.  They
just missed getting on.  During his first half C. had nothing to do
with his tutor as far as work was concerned.  Mr. Pringle had no
room for him at first, and sent him in company with two other new
boys, to Mr. Oxley's pupil room, who acted as his tutor for the
time being.  It was only when he got into Remove that they came
into direct contact, and at first there was little friction between
them.  Mr. Pringle used to call him a scamp and accuse him of
"trying it on," but there was nothing more than that.  It was when
C. reached Upper Remove that a little incident dug an irreparable
breach between C. and his tutor, although Mr. Pringle was quite
unconscious of the fact.

One day the boys were construing Homer in pupil room, The Odyssey.
C. was fascinated by The Odyssey.  They were construing in the
Tenth Book, a passage which tells how Odysseus came to the Palace
of Circe in the Island of a.  C. was put on to construe at line
211.

This is how he translated the passage:--

"They saw in the glades the well-built house of Circe, of polished
marble, in a conspicuous place, and around were mountain wolves and
lions which she had subdued by enchantment, since she had given
them wicked herbs."

"'Wicked herbs,' that's good," said Mr. Pringle.  "Very good."
Then he caught himself up and said "You may be taking me in, you
probably are taking me in."

"Wicked herbs" was Dryden's rendering, and quoted in Pope's
Odyssey, a book which C. had read at home.  C. was profoundly hurt
by his tutor's bantering distrust, and that was the last time he
made the slightest attempt to construe a passage well in pupil
room.

Another time C.'s tutor had told his boys to learn for private a
passage from Pope, the famous passage about Addison, which C., as a
matter of fact, had known ever since he was nine years old.  It was
a passage that Lady Hengrave had insisted on her sons learning in
the schoolroom.

"Go on, Bramsley," said Mr. Pringle to C.  C. hesitated for a
little and then began to spout:--


     Peace be to you!


"No, no," said Mr. Pringle, in an agony of impatience,


     Peace to all such!


C. began again:--


     But were there one whose fires,
     Peace to all such!
     True genius kindles and the blame inspires.


Mr. Pringle buried his face in his hands, and then lifted his head
as though shattered by the nerve-wracking experience.

"Don't you see that besides murdering the verse you're talking
nonsense?" he said.

"I don't know what it's all about, Sir," said C.

"It doesn't matter whether you know or not.  You must take it from
me that it's good, as good as verse can be, and if you don't like
it, dub yourself a fool."

"Yes, Sir," said C. calmly, and went on massacring the lines with
perverse ingenuity, saying, for instance:  "Brook no arrivals to
the Turkish throne," instead of "Bear like the Turk no brother near
the throne."  And "Damn with vain praise assent without a tear,"
till Mr. Pringle could bear it no more.

"Dub yourself a fool, dub yourself a fool," he said, and he put
some one else on.

C. was perfectly consistent in his conduct with regard to all the
masters.  With the French masters he pretended not to understand a
word of French, and with the German master, not to understand a
word of German.  This deceived some of the French masters but not
all of them.  M. Bu, who was a man who stood no nonsense, told C.
that he saw through his British accent, and that he was not going
to stand it, so C. was reluctantly obliged to modify his feigned
ignorance, although he managed never to reveal the full extent of
his knowledge or capacity.  With the mathematical masters he was
able, without pretence, to maintain an attitude of invincible
ignorance.  With the classical masters he assumed an attitude of
respectable mediocrity, which on the whole met with toleration, if
not with approval.

C. made no great friends at his tutor's, with the exception of one
boy, whom he messed with, called Weigall.  This was a matter-of-
fact boy, who came from Yorkshire.  Weigall was C.'s greatest
friend in the house.  The link which bound them was natural
history.  Weigall was an ardent naturalist and an impassioned
bird's egg collector, and C. and Weigall spent hours together at a
taxidermist's shop in Windsor, where they learnt bird-stuffing.
Weigall had come to Eton the same half as C., and they had gone up
to the school together.  They messed together ever since their
first half, and had always been in the same division, and they both
read and revelled in the works of Marie Corelli.  C. thought her
works were quite entrancing, and he enjoyed the fierce satire and
vehement sentiments of that authoress as much as her daring
imagination.  His tutor, when he used to come round in the evenings
after prayers, used always to find at that time a book by Marie
Corelli on the table, and when he saw it he used to snort.  C. used
to put it there on purpose, knowing that the bait was sure to get a
rise.

"How can you read such stuff?" Mr. Pringle would say.

"Oh, but, Sir, it's awfully good!" C. used to say.

Mr. Pringle begged him to read the works of R. L. Stevenson, and C.
obstinately refused to do this, although he had read and enjoyed
Treasure Island in secret.  He was not ashamed of admitting to his
admiration for Rider Haggard.  He had been enthralled by She, when
he read it at his private school, but he was still more enthralled
when he re-read the book three years later at Eton, when he was
sixteen.  He thought it the most wonderful book that the human mind
could imagine, a vision of thrilling beauty and a soul-shattering
tragedy, a world epic.  When asked by one of the division masters,
Mr. Cobden, who was the greatest English author, he said, without
hesitation, Rider Haggard.  Mr. Cobden, who liked originality and
hated the conventionality of boys, was not displeased, and said it
was a great thing to know one's mind.  C. was sixteen years old
when he was up to Mr. Cobden in the summer half.  This master had a
powerful effect on him.  Mr. Cobden saw that C. was not the average
boy he pretended to be, and found out that he had a queer
storehouse of disjointed, out-of-the-way knowledge in him.  Under
his tuition C. consented to recognise quotations from Shakespeare,
although he had not yet read any of the plays, and knew no more of
them than the passages he had learnt by heart as a child.  But Mr.
Cobden interested him, and he showed his interest and answered the
master's questions.  Mr. Cobden called him an idle brat, but he was
interested, and said in his report at the end of that summer half
that C. was "an uncommonly sharp and thoughtful lad."  His tutor
was astonished to learn that C. was at the top of his division that
half, and had been presented by Mr. Cobden with Boswell's Life of
Johnson, bound in white vellum, honoris causa.

"Have you ever read this?" asked Mr. Cobden, as he wrote C.'s name
in it.

"No, sir."

"Well," said Mr. Cobden, "it's the best book in the world."

C. felt quite certain that Mr. Cobden was speaking the truth.



CHAPTER VII


It was in the Michaelmas half of his fifteenth year that C.
underwent a startling mental change.  In the summer holidays, one
Sunday in church the vicar had mentioned the poet Shelley with
disapprobation, and C. had wondered who he was.  When he went back
to Eton he was laid up shortly after the beginning of the term with
a bad chill, and he stayed out for a week.  He was kept in bed for
three days, and when he was allowed to get up he sat in his Dame's
room and discussed books with Miss Derwent, the matron.  She was a
great novel reader, but she did not care for verse.  He asked her
if she had ever read the works of Shelley, as, knowing that she was
very High Church indeed, he had an instinct that there might be
something in Shelley likely to rouse or to shock her ecclesiastical
susceptibilities.  Miss Derwent rustled and creaked all over at the
name, and said that Shelley was a dreadful unbeliever.

"Was he a clergyman?" asked C.

"No," said Miss Derwent, "he was not so bad as that--not so bad as
Renan."

C. resolved to read the works of Shelley.

As soon as he was up, he went to the school library and asked
Burcher, the librarian, for the works of Shelley.  Burcher produced
three small volumes bound in red morocco, published by Moxon, in
1857.  C. took home the third volume with him, which seemed to
contain shorter poems.

He had just finished tea.  He was sitting with Weigall in his room,
which was one of the smallest and most encumbered of all the rooms
in the house.  It possessed a mantel-board covered with blue cloth
and embossed with gilt nails, and a set of coloured hunting
pictures bought in Eton, an ottoman, a bureau, slightly damaged by
red-hot poker-work, and a table on which there was a maroon-
coloured tablecloth covered with candle-grease stains, which C. and
Weigall used to begin to remove when they became excessive, with a
red-hot poker and a piece of blotting-paper.  Tea had been cleared
away.  They had begun to sap.  The room was stuffy from the heat of
too many candles.  It was a Thursday evening.  Verses were done
with, signed and written out.  But both C. and Weigall had an Extra
work looming in front of them.  C. had done one sum, grappled with
it for some time, and then after looking up the answer at the end
of the book, put a large "W" meaning "wrong" next to it, thus
admitting absolute and final defeat.  He had drawn a line under
that sum and begun another, which being easy he had solved almost
at once.  A triumphant "R," meaning "right," was put alongside of
it, and a line drawn underneath it.  Then C. had begun another sum
and had become hopelessly stuck in it.  He felt he could go on with
it better after a slight interval of relaxation.  Weigall was
almost in exactly the same position.  He had finished three sums of
his Extra work (his was not the same as C.'s as they were not up to
the same mathematical master), and had got stuck in a third.  He,
too, felt the imperative necessity for a slight interval.  He
fetched a paper bag from the sock cupboard, and the two
mathematicians each consumed a banana.  From the passage came the
tempting sound of a game of football, but they resisted the call.

"We can't," said Weigall, "we've got far too much work to do."

"Yes," said C.  "FAR too much work to do.  I've almost done an
hour's work," he added.  "The Friar says we need only do an hour's
work, and I've done over half an hour."

"I've got stuck," said Weigall.  "I can't get this equation out.
There must be something wrong with it."

"Probably a misprint," suggested C.

"Piggy never takes that for an excuse," said Weigall dolefully.

"I think I shall do mine better a little later on," said C.

He walked up to his little bracket bookshelf and took from it the
volume of Moxon's Shelley he had taken from the boys' library.  He
sat down in the solitary armchair in the room--a basket-work,
rather diminutive, armchair stuffed with blue material.  Weigall
followed suit and fetched Three in Norway, a book he had read over
and over again.

C. opened the volume of Shelley and came across The Cloud, which is
at the beginning of the third volume, on p. 19.  He read and
experienced for the first time in his life what the printed words
upon a page are capable of.  He seemed to be caught up in a chariot
of fire.  Time and place were annihilated; one gorgeous vision
after another swept him with dewy, rainbow wings; celestial bells
seemed to be ringing in the air, and when it was all over something
ineffable had been left behind.  He was dazed.  He thought he must
be mistaken.  He read the poem through slowly and silently again
from the beginning until the end.  Yes, it was all there.  He had
opened the gates of an undiscovered magical kingdom.  He was
bursting with the wonder of his discovery.

"Weigall, you must listen to this," he said.  And he began to read
it out.

Weigall put down Three in Norway, and listened in silence.  He was
quite interested, if a little puzzled.  When C. came to this
passage--


     As on the jag of a mountain crag,
       Which an earthquake rocks and swings,
     An eagle alit one moment may sit
       In the light of its golden wings


he paused.

"Isn't that wonderful?" he said.

"Yes," said Weigall, "but I don't think an eagle WOULD do that."

"Why not?" said C.

"Oh," said Weigall, "because an eagle's wings aren't golden."

C. suddenly realised that Weigall was not quite as sympathetic an
audience as you could wish for this music, but he went on reading
till the end.  When he had finished Weigall said:--

"Listen to this."

And he read out, by no means for the first time, the tragedy of a
salmon which some one had failed to gaff after an hour of desperate
playing.

"Children aren't salmon," said Weigall with a sigh, quoting from
the book.

C. went on with Shelley, and every now and then he read an extract
to Weigall, who tried to be as sympathetic as possible, although
Shelley's natural history shocked him.  At last he said, after
rather a long excerpt from The Witch of Atlas:--

"I must go on with my Extra work.

"Well, I suppose I must too," said C., and they both raced through
three more sums, none of which could be solved correctly.

It cannot be said they expended much effort over them, but a "W"
was written against each uncompleted sum, and then Weigall said
with a cry of relief:--

"I've done an hour's work, let's go and play passage football," and
they went.

But C. had entered a new world.  He felt he must talk to some one
who would understand the nature of the marvellous discovery he had
made.

That half he was up to a dry, prim master with a quiet sniggle and
a current of gentle irony, and a general air of Miss Austen's
novels about him.  There was not much sympathy to be looked for in
that quarter, and C. would rather have died than let his tutor,
who, as a matter of fact, appreciated certain kinds of verse
greatly, know that he read and enjoyed poetry.  However, the
supply, as so often happens, was soon destined to respond to the
demand.  C. found what he was looking for close at hand, in the
acquaintance and companionship of a boy in the same division as
himself, whom he almost immediately after this made friends with.
This was a boy called Calmady, who was at a Dame's house.  He was
an idle and irrepressibly high-spirited boy, to whom work came
quite easily, who had a facile talent for writing Latin verses
without thinking of what he was doing.  He was too lazy to excel in
games, although he had a latent talent for cricket, which remained
entirely undeveloped.

Calmady introduced C. in his turn to a friend of his called
Bentham, who was in a division above them.  Bentham was a Colleger.
He was an alert and original boy, full of brains and mischief, and
always carrying on a half-concealed war with authority.  These
three soon became inseparable, and formed a Triumvirate, an
association of idleness.  On long after-fours when they were not
playing football, they would stroll up town to Califano's and drink
chocolate and whipped cream, and Bentham would bait "Cali" till the
latter threatened them all with a carving knife.  Bentham organised
a small society called the S.F.T.P.O.C.K., that is to say, the
Society for the Prevention of Christian Knowledge, and besides the
Triumvirate in question, one or two outsiders were allowed to be
honorary members.  Bentham had drawn up an elaborate book of rules.
The first rule was:  "No member is allowed to do his own verses or
his own Extra work."  The second rule was:  "No member is allowed
to prepare a Latin or Greek construe without the aid of a word-for-
word translation"; and the third rule, which would have been the
most irritating and monstrous of all in the eyes of the classical
masters with a tradition, was:  "No member, in translating English
into Latin, is allowed to use the Latin-English Dictionary."

Bentham was a poet, a satiric poet, and he wrote pointed satires in
the heroic couplet.

Calmady had imbibed considerable education at home.  He came from a
large family where French and German had been spoken, and his
father possessed one of the finest libraries in England.  His
tastes were literary and musical, but he was an incurable
dilettante.  He learnt the violin, but resolutely refused to
practise.  In Calmady, C. found a willing ear into which to pour
the discovery he had made of the poet Shelley.  Calmady was steeped
in the poetry of Byron, to which he introduced C., but up till this
moment he had never read Shelley.  C., up to the moment when he had
discovered the three little red volumes in the school library, had
never read nor looked at a line of more modern poetry.  He had
regarded all poetry as an unintelligible jargon which had to be
learnt by heart.  In the summer half before he had made Calmady's
acquaintance, he had bought at Ingleton Drake's, and heaven knows
why, a book of selections of verse and prose for recitation.  In
this book, alongside The Bells, by Edgar Allan Poe, and Count
Robert of Sicily, by Longfellow, there was Keats's Ode to the
Nightingale.  C. had read this through one evening when he was
changing, and had not understood one word of it.  He had wondered
what it was all about.

He now consulted Calmady about books in general.  He found that
Calmady was most understanding and shared his tastes.  Calmady was
also a passionate admirer of Marie Corelli, but Byron now was his
chief idol, and he was greatly incensed because his tutor did not
like Byron.  He told C. about Byron.  C. said rather solemnly that
he had promised his mother not to read Don Juan, but he supposed he
could read the rest.  He remembered hearing her speak with respect
of Childe Harold.  He bought a selection of Byron in the Canterbury
Poets, which he soon devoured.  He then resolved to make
discoveries for himself.  These discoveries proceeded slowly at
first.  After the discovery of Shelley and a partial discovery of
Byron they remained more or less stationary for a time.  C.,
Calmady and Bentham had many other things to think of, and when
they had any money to spend on books they usually bought novels.
They each of them read Jane Eyre, and Weigall read it, too, and was
enormously struck by it, and Frulein Setzer gave C. Les Trois
Mousquetaires as a Christmas present, and introduced C. to the
magic of Alexandre Dumas.

C., Bentham and Calmady decided to collaborate in a novel or a
romance, and later on to edit a newspaper.  The novel was to be
historical and to deal with the epoch of the French Revolution.

"But, of course," said Calmady, "we must read up the epoch."

With this object in view, C. began to read Carlyle's French
Revolution, but he could not get beyond the first chapters.  He
consulted Miss Derwent on the matter, and she said she also found
Carlyle's style dreadfully difficult, but fearfully interesting
once you got into it.  They searched the boys' library for works on
the French Revolution, and they found a book of memoirs by Croker,
which, however, was not quite what they needed.  It assumed a
certain knowledge of the period on the part of the reader.
Nevertheless, the novel was begun.  Calmady and C. were to write
it, and Bentham was to write incidental lyrics and the verse at the
beginning of each chapter, as in the Waverley Novels.  Weigall was
to do the illustrations of those parts which dealt with incidents
in natural history.  The title of the novel, which was to be in
three volumes, was to be Clorinda, the reason for the Italianate
name being that Bentham said that, if the novel were to be
dramatised and turned into an opera (there was a boy in college, he
said, who would write very good music for it), it was simpler to
begin by having an Italian name, at least for the heroine.  So the
heroine became an Italian by birth, although domiciled in France.
The whole of this novel was actually written, mostly in the boys'
library, but some of it in school, in a black notebook bought at
Williams' by Bentham, who wrote the whole of the text as well as
the lyrics.  It was profusely illustrated by Weigall, who insisted
on the mother of the heroine being of Scottish descent--a Jacobite--
in order to give him scope for some sporting scenes in the
Highlands.

Bentham was allowed to take it home for the Christmas holidays, but
at the beginning of the holidays he caught measles, and the novel,
Clorinda, was burnt when his effects were disinfected, and so
joined the poems of Calvus, the sonnets of Raphael, the original
version of the first volume of Carlyle's French Revolution, Dante's
picture, and other rare things that have irrevocably vanished.  The
authors did not feel the loss greatly; they were too intoxicated
with the fumes of what Balzac called "enchanted cigarettes," that
is to say, the planning and discussing of books to be written in
the future.

When C. went back to Eton after those Christmas holidays he was
sixteen, and he entered upon what proved to be the most enjoyable
year of his school life.



CHAPTER VIII


C. was now at the top of Lower Division.  He had so far accomplished
nothing brilliant nor noteworthy, either at work or at play.  He had
no friends besides the few which have been mentioned. He was not
known in the school at large, and he made friends with none of the
masters.  Calmady's tutor, Mr. Carr, was literary, and extremely
anxious and willing to help and encourage any signs of literary
taste in the boys.  He would get Calmady and some others to come and
read poetry in his house.  C. was asked to join the group, but he
resolutely refused to do so.  Nevertheless, Calmady used to bring
back scraps from the feasts of poetry that were held on these
occasions.

C. was up in the Lent half to D. D. Keanes, an energetic teacher,
unconventional in manner, but conventional at the core, and a
thorough Philistine.  Keanes saw there was something in C., but his
indifference and slovenliness irritated him to madness.

"You're not the fool you pretend to be.  You've got SOME brains,"
he used to say to C., "but you're as obstinate as a mule, and your
scholarship is MISERABLE."

One day Mr. Keanes told the boys they were each of them to write
down the name of his favourite poet, and C., without thinking of
what he was doing, wrote Dryden.  He would have put Shelley, who
was then his favourite poet, but he did not like to desecrate his
admiration by proclaiming it.  Mr. D. D. Keanes was astonished and
thought C. was posing.

"Dryden!" he said.  "Quote me one line of Dryden."

Upon which C. mechanically, automatically, as if in the schoolroom
at Portman Square, began to spout:


     Of these the false Ahitophel was first;
     A name to all succeeding ages curst:
     For close designs, and crooked counsels fit;
     Sagacious, bold and turbulent of wit;
     Restless, unfix'd in Principles and Place;
     In Pow'r unpleas'd, impatient of disgrace:
     A fiery soul, which working out its way,
     Fretted the Pigmy-Body to decay,
     And o'er-informed the Tenement of Clay.
     A daring pilot in extremity. . .


until Mr. Keanes had to tell hint to stop.

"Where did you learn that?" he said.

"At my first school," said C.

This, although it sounded plausible, was totally untrue, as he had
learnt it at home in the schoolroom.

"Well," said Mr. Keanes, "if you can quote Dryden, you ought to be
able to learn your saying lessons decently, and I shall see in
future that you do."

C. was conscious of an error in tactics, and saw that in future it
would be useless for him to pretend to have a memory as bad as the
one he had hitherto taken pains to be credited with.  During the
Easter half he used to enjoy running with the Beagles when the
trees of the playing fields were just tipped here and there with
green; he delighted in the vistas of fallow country and the fresh
furrow, the brown earth, the grey skies with a gleam of blue, the
meet at Ditton Cross Roads, or Salt Bridge; he enjoyed, too, the
pleasant exhaustion afterwards; the hot bath, and the long, lazy
tea with sausages and boiled eggs and strawberry jam, while Weigall
read aloud Three in Norway.  But even here, while taking part in an
occupation that he liked, he seemed to take trouble not to
distinguish himself, and he purposely and successfully escaped
notice, although he probably put in as much hard work as any one
else.

It was not that C. was really without ambition.  Ever since he had
made friends with Calmady a tiny seed, un grain d'ambition, began
to swell in his heart, but his ambition was not of an ordinary
kind, and as soon as it was born he felt it was destined to be
thwarted.  He gradually realised during the last two years that he
spent at Eton that there was a want of harmony between his values,
between what he thought was important, unimportant, desirable,
undesirable, fun or no fun, good or not good and the values and
tone of those who surrounded him both at school and at home.

He realised that he had always felt this unconsciously at home, but
he had never been able to put it into words.  He did not even now
put it into words.  He was merely conscious of a kind of
uneasiness, of a misfit, of being either too square or too round
for the hole in which he had been placed.

His second summer half in Fifth Form opened out for him a new era
of enjoyment.  Calmady's tutor took him out with one other master
and Calmady one day down-stream.  They rowed past the Bells of
Ousely to Runnymede.  C. rowed extremely well, and Mr. Carr asked
him why he wasn't in the boats.  He had never put down his name for
Novice Eights.  Mr. Carr told him he must do so at once.

Calmady was a dry-bob, and took no interest whatsoever in the
boats, and only a platonic interest in cricket, but since he came
from a cricketing family he thought it would be treason not to be a
dry-bob.

The next evening C. put down his name for Novice Eights, and went
through the ordeal successfully.  He ended by getting into the
Lower Boats.

All this time, and all this summer, he was living in fairyland.
Spurred on by Calmady, and his accounts of the poetry sessions at
Mr. Carr's, C. was making fresh discoveries for himself in the
boy's library.  He discovered another little volume bound in red
morocco, namely, the works of Keats, published by Moxon, in 1863.
He read again the Ode to the Nightingale, which he had found
unintelligible when he had come across it in a book of recitations.
Now it was unintelligible no longer.  It touched unguessed-of
springs in his nature, and opened the door on to another province
of the fairyland into which he had already entered with the magic
password of Shelley; a wonderful limbo of dreams and desires--
colour and sound.

Then followed after this, the discovery of the romantic poets, of
Walter Scott, Coleridge, William Morris's Defence of Guenevere,
which he found, too, in the boys' library, and the Ballads of
Rossetti.  But with the exception of Calmady and Bentham, whose
scholarship was more advanced, and whose taste was already on the
severe side, there was no one whom C. wished to talk to on the
subject of his discoveries.

If Bentham was less extravagant in his enthusiasm, and more
circumspect in his literary adventures, Calmady made up for it by
his unlimited exuberance, and his undisciplined extravagance of
expression.  Calmady kept the loud pedal pressed down on C.'s
enthusiasms, and one day, when C. confided to his friend a great
secret, namely, that he wished one day to be an author, Calmady
said there was no doubt that he was destined to be one of the
greatest of English authors.  He knew it for certain.  But
Calmady's violence of expression did not only take a literary
direction.  He and C. were up during that summer half to a
mathematical master called Smythson.  Nothing could be slower or
more dreary than the routine of arithmetic, algebra and Euclid
carried on on a hot summer's afternoon under the influence of Mr.
Smythson's ponderous personality.  Calmady became more and more
restless, and less and less attentive, till at last Mr. Smythson
remonstrated with him fiercely, and threatened him with divers
punishments.  Calmady, stung to the quick by what he considered the
injustice of the proceeding, rose to his feet and delivered a fiery
oration.  He carried the attack into the enemy's camp, and took the
offensive.  The disorder and misrule during the mathematical hour
was Mr. Smythson's fault, he said, and not the boys' fault.

"We none of us do a stroke of work," was his peroration.
"Everybody cribs.  You teach us NOTHING.  In point of fact," and
here his voice reached a high pitch of hysterical frenzy, "you're
the rankest beak in Eton!"

Mr. Smythson was so dumbfounded at this outburst that he did
nothing.  He merely wrote a note to Calmady's tutor afterwards,
telling him that his pupil was apt to get dangerously excited and
to lose self-control.  He supposed it was the hot weather.

Calmady's literary enthusiasm took the shape, firstly, of
composing, with the help of C., and again, of Bentham, a fantastic
romance modelled to a certain extent on Marie Corelli, with
reminiscences of Marion Crawford and Rider Haggard, called The Opal
Ring, and, secondly, of writing long letters to distinguished
authors discussing their works, and the works of other authors.  C.
was asked to join in this correspondence, but all he consented to
do was to make suggestions; he refused, except on one occasion,
either to write or even to be the co-signatory of a letter either
to Mr. Andrew Lang, Mr. Swinburne, Mr. William Morris, Mr.
Gladstone, or Mr. Walter Pater.  But Calmady wrote to some author
of note about once a week.  One of the masters having said that
Jack the Giant-Killer was not an English story, Calmady wrote by
the next post to Mr. Andrew Lang on the subject of Mrchen; told
him what he thought about his works, and received a civil answer.

In the Christmas holidays of C.'s sixteenth year, Calmady was
given, as a Christmas present by one of his relations, Swinburne's
Atalanta in Calydon.  He brought it back with him after the
holidays, and he and C. both revelled in this work.

"Why," they said, "have we never been told of Swinburne before?"

Calmady wrote at once to Mr. Swinburne himself, and told him of
this sad neglect in their education.  Here was one of the greatest
English poets alive and still writing, an Etonian into the bargain,
and they had never heard his name mentioned by one of the masters.
It was true, they discovered, that Atalanta in Calydon, Erectheus,
and some of the poet's later works were in the boys' library, but
it was an amazing thing that they should have been kept in
ignorance on so important and vital a subject.

"I am not the only person," wrote Calmady, "who considers you to be
one of the greatest of English poets."

To this letter Calmady received no answer, and C. expressed the
opinion that he feared the great poet had considered the letter to
be cheek.

They were both of them unaware of the existence of Poems and
Ballads, which was not on the shelves of the school library, until
C. happened to find the volume in question, which belonged to his
brother Edward, at home.  Lady Hengrave saw him looking at it and
she promptly burnt the book.

In the holidays C.'s life proceeded with unvarying monotony.  At
Christmas the aunts and the uncles arrived.  The hounds would
sometimes meet at Bramsley.  The Calhouns would ride over.  One of
the Calhoun boys was now at Harrow, one at Eton in circles removed
from those of C., and the girls were out.  In the summer there were
cricket matches and lawn tennis.  Marjorie and Julia were now both
of them out, and the Hengraves spent more time in London than they
had been used to do hitherto.  Frulein Setzer had gone, and the
schoolroom rgime was at an end.  Marjorie and Julia affected to be
very grown-up, and talked disdainfully of C. and of Harry as the
"boys."

The finances of the Hengrave family were undergoing one of their
periodical crises, and Lady Hengrave told C. during the Christmas
holidays, of his sixteenth year, that the next year would have to
be his last year at Eton, as they would not be able to afford to
keep him there any longer.

It was during the same holidays that C. made a discovery.  In one
of the turrets of the old part of the house at Bramsley there was a
small room full of books.  It contained all the British poets, from
Chaucer to Byron, and most of the Elizabethan dramatists.  C.
discovered that now that he had tasted of modern verse, that the
verse of the older epochs was readable too, and did not only
consist of dreary, unintelligible passages that had to be learnt by
heart.  He read the works of Milton and delighted in Paradise Lost.
He discovered that he could even read the classics of the
eighteenth century--Pope and Dryden--whom he had learnt to dislike
as a child, with pleasure.  He spent a great deal of time in this
turret, and found it a refuge, a sanctuary, especially when the
house was full of relations and guests, and Julia and Marjorie were
indulging in noisy chaff with their contemporaries, and sarcastic
remarks at the expense of C., his brother, and of schoolboys in
general.

Lady Hengrave had settled that they could not afford to send C. to
the university, and the question of his profession was discussed,
and for the time being settled.  Harry was to go into the Army.
That had to be at all costs.  He was to go to Sandhurst from Eton,
and that being so it would be impossible for C. to go into the Army
as well.  Besides, he was not fitted for it.  He was not himself
consulted.  The question was, what remained?  It was thought
unlikely that he would ever pass the examination into the Foreign
Office.  There was an off-chance of his passing into the Diplomatic
Service, should he chance upon an examination in which his fellow
candidates were not of the most exalted intellectual calibre, but
even then, could they afford to have a son in diplomacy?  The
answer was in the negative.  He was not clever enough to pass into
the Indian Civil Service.  The Bar was out of the question.  All
that remained was the chance of Edward getting him "something in
the City," or the doubtful and frankly miraculous supposition that
C. might suddenly develop capacities and brains.

Finally, Lady Hengrave settled, and Lord Hengrave assented to the
following arrangement.  C. should stay one year longer at Eton.  He
should leave at Christmas, before his eighteenth birthday.  He
would then go abroad for a time and learn some foreign language
sufficiently well to qualify him for employment in the City, or for
any other profession that might possibly turn up.

All these arrangements, which for the time being C. ignored, were
based on the reports that Lord Hengrave received from Mr. Pringle.
They were to the effect that C. was getting on fairly well, but
that he left much to be desired.  He was not a scholar and never
would be one.  He did not take enough trouble, and did not do
nearly as well as he could do.  Sometimes he distinctly showed
signs of greater ability than his average work manifested.  The
masters who had to deal with him were all agreed that he could do
better if he tried.  They all agreed that he did not take pains.
His tutor admitted that he was frankly puzzled by the boy.  Some
masters gave him an excellent report; others could make nothing of
him and do nothing with him.  The science masters praised him
without qualification.  His science abstracts were admirable, and
yet he took not the slightest interest in science, and did badly in
the subject in trials.  The truth was that science abstracts gave
C. a rare opportunity of writing English, of composing, which he
did much better than the other boys.  Sometimes he was praised by
other masters for his English in translations, but rarely, for, in
common with many people, when he translated he did not write so
well as when he wrote out of his own head.

Mr. Pringle put down the unsatisfactory nature of the results
achieved by C. to his companionship with Calmady, who, so he wrote
to Lady Hengrave, was an exceedingly idle and, to his mind, an
exceedingly tiresome boy.

Lady Hengrave, who knew Calmady's father and mother, who were both
in her eyes thoroughly right in every respect, took no notice of
this.  His friendship with Calmady was, to her mind, the one bright
spot of C.'s Eton career.

She sighed, when she read these reports, and settled in her mind
that it was useless to expect anything either useful or brilliant
from C., and that he would be fortunate if he obtained "something
in the City."  That was, however, what she determined he should
achieve, unless it were possible to find some private secretaryship
for him.



CHAPTER IX


When C. went back to Eton after Christmas to start on the last year
of his school life, he was nearly seventeen years old.  He had
grown rapidly during his last year at Eton, and now looked less
loose and less immature; his thick hair was a little less unkempt;
his eyebrows beetled a little less, and he had faint indications of
an embryo moustache.

His younger brother was taller than he was, and far better looking.
He had already made a name for himself as a cricketer and a
football player.  C. was in the Lower Boats, but that fact summed
up all his athletic achievements so far.  In any other house he
certainly would have had his house colours by now.  He was in Upper
Division.  He did German for Greek.  His intellectual career had
been, up to this point, of the most ordinary.  He had never got a
"distinction," although he had sometimes got a "class" in Trials.
He had never been sent up for good; on the other hand, he had never
failed to pass Trials.  His last year was destined to be the
happiest of his school time, possibly the happiest of his life.

He had changed.  In the first place he was much tidier.  Instead of
his clothes being covered with candle-grease stains from head to
foot, and instead of his hat being always brushed the wrong way,
there was a certain smartness and finish about his appearance, his
clothes, his socks, and his ties, which he was unconscious of, and
which he inherited from his father, but which other boys noticed.
His tutor, too, noticed it immediately, and congratulated him
satirically on his elegance.  This enraged C., and he no longer
wore the new socks he had chosen, which were somewhat audacious in
design, except when he went on leave.  The boys at his house did
not even call him "lush," as they would any other boy, for C.'s
smartness was subtly different and they did not criticise him, they
accepted him, and confined themselves to laughing appreciatively
when in pupil room at private Mr. Pringle made pointed jokes at the
expense of C. and of his handkerchiefs.  Mr. Pringle tried to foist
the name of "Beau Brummel" on him, but it was too late.  C. was
already known to the house and outside it as "C.," and nothing can
displace a nickname once it is there.

It was during C.'s last summer half that Mr. Carr suggested that
his name should be put up for the literary society, on the strength
of what Calmady had told him, but the literary society would not
hear of it.  They considered C. to be an absolute Botian.

Bentham, in the meanwhile, had printed a small book of satirical
verse, and was contemplating the editorship of a periodical.  It
was to be called the Weekly Scug, but his tutor got wind of it, and
exercised preventive censorship, so the newspaper was written out
for private circulation only, and had only one number.

The romance, The Opal Ring, in three volumes, but only 100 pages of
MS. was sent to a whole series of publishers, and to an equal
number of magazines for serial publication, but it was always
returned with thanks.  Calmady, smarting under what he considered
to be the injustice of these refusals, sent it to Madame Sarah
Bernhardt, with a view to its being dramatised.  He never heard if
it reached her.  It was certainly never performed.

C., in the meantime, partly on his own initiative and partly under
the indirect influence of Calmady's tutor, which reached him
through Calmady, continued to make discoveries in English
literature.  He discovered Wordsworth; Matthew Arnold, and Marlowe,
as well as the later Elizabethans, and lastly, he made the
astonishing discovery that Shakespeare's verse was intelligible--
that it WAS verse.

During C.'s last summer term the ninth jubilee of Eton was being
celebrated.  There was an exhibition in Upper School of Eton relics
and banquets of old Etonians were taking place, and there was a
feeling of excitement in the air.  But C. spent all his time either
on the river or in the boys' library.  He had an out-rigger and he
enjoyed sculling up to Monkey Island after six, and the sights and
sounds of the river on the long summer evenings, or bathes at
Athens, and feasts of cherries and squash-fly biscuits on the bank.
C. did not know this was to be his last summer half.  Had he known
it, it is probable that he would have liked the world to stand
still on one evening which he spent on the river, and which he
never forgot in after life.  He was sculling back from Surly in his
outrigger, taking long, sweeping strokes.  The threat of a
thunderstorm had turned the sky grey.  There was not a breath of
air, and the water of the river was as still and seemed as even as
glass.  Every reflection in it was distinct and clear-cut.  In
spite of this there was nothing oppressive in the air, only an
enveloping soft summer warmth.  By the time he had sculled past
Athens and reached the Brocas, and Windsor Castle came into sight,
the sky seemed like a warm, grey curtain made of an even silken
texture, unfurrowed and without a ripple in it.  And this infinite
greyness seemed to be faintly, but only just faintly, suffused by
the softest pink tinge, as if somewhere behind the curtain there
had been a gorgeous sunset ablaze which shone through it.  The
storm did not break.  A few large drops of rain fell, and that was
all.  The storm floated or drifted away stealthily to the sound of
a far-off murmur of thunder, and instead of the rain, a tall, vast
rainbow presently encircled Windsor Castle, and by the side of it
shone another fainter ghost of its sevenfold glory.

The effect was magical; the elm trees of the Brocas, the grey walls
of the Castle, the little houses and the roofs below the Castle,
seemed to have become more unsubstantial than their reflections in
the water; as unreal, as fantastic as that great round rainbow
itself, and to be of the same stuff as those castles that are
faery, that hang for a moment like many-coloured gems in the
morning air and then vanish at the call of an unearthly bugle.

As C. skulled past the Brocas it seemed to him that he had entered
into an enchanted space, and that he was released from the bonds of
time.  "Stay," he could have said to the fleeting moment, "for thou
art in very truth so beautiful."  That was one of the impressions
of school life which was destined to remain with him.

Another equally strong one was the school concert of the same
summer half, which was held on the evening of June 23rd.  Neither
C. nor Calmady belonged to the musical society, and they went to
the concert together.  Shelley's Arethusa was sung first to music
by Goodhart, and C. and Calmady both enjoyed hearing the words of
their favourite poet, for he was to them at that time the poet of
poets; his verse was for them on a different plane to that of all
others, however magnificent those others might be, sung out by the
fresh young voices.

C. remembered reading that lyric for the first time after tea the
same evening he had discovered The Cloud.

"Shepherding her bright fountains" struck him as being a
wonderfully beautiful image.  He had never thought about it before.
The music pointed it out to him.


       The loud ocean heard,
       To its blue depth stirred,
     And divided at her prayer,


moved him inexpressibly, and the vision of the worlds beneath the
sea--


       Under the bowers
       Where the ocean powers
     Sit on their pearled thrones.
       Through the coral woods
       Of the weltering floods,
     Over heaps of unvalued stones,


touched, as it already had done when he read the poem for the first
time, a spring in his mind that opened a door on to a kingdom of
wonder; but most of all he enjoyed the last stanza:--


       And now from their fountains
       In Enna's mountains,
     Down one vale where the morning basks,
       Like friends once parted,
       Grown single-hearted,
     They ply their watery tasks.


He wondered whether friends, really great friends, could or did
ever part, and whether, if they did, they grew single-hearted once
more.  The words and the music steeped him in a curious day-dream,
full of questions and shot with wonder; but the end of the lyric
soothed and rocked his anxious doubts and uneasy questionings to
sleep.


       At sunrise they leap
       From their cradles steep
     In the cave of the shelving hill;
       At noontide they flow
       Through the woods below
     And the meadows of Asphodel;

       And at night they sleep
       In the rocking deep
     Beneath the Ortygian shore;
       Like spirits that lie
       In the azure sky,
     When they love but live no more.


There was a wonderful peace about this ending, a final beatitude in
the suggestion that love would endure when the turmoil of life was
over; and the sense of the poem and the sound of the music both of
them left something behind them that remained long after they had
ceased to be heard.

Arethusa was followed by the Eton Ode, of which the words were
written especially for the occasion by Swinburne, and set to music
by Parry.  The music was essentially English; English in the same
way as Shakespeare's chronicle plays and Herrick's lyrics are
English, with nothing shoddy or vulgar about it.

Shelley's name is mentioned in the poem.  "Shelley, lyric lord of
England's lordliest singers."  This pleased C. and Calmady,
especially as Calmady had asked their division master if he liked
the poem, and the master had said that the introduction of the name
of Shelley had given him great pain.  This had made Calmady and C.,
to whom he had retailed the story, furious.  They were incensed at
a master daring to find fault with Shelley, but this offence was
wiped out by the triumph they felt in hearing these words sung in
public by a large chorus, and in noting the gratifying fact that
the master in question was singing in the chorus himself and paying
tribute with his lips, if not with his heart, to the genius of
Shelley.  But when the ode reached its close--


     Still the reaches of the river, still the light on field and
        hill,
     Still the memories held aloft as lamps for hope's young fire
        to fill,


C. became conscious of a thick lump in his throat.  He suddenly
realised that he must leave Eton one day, that all this must come
to an end; he suddenly became conscious, and for the first time,
that he was the part of something large, of a corporate body, of a
long tradition, a note in an endless series.


     Bright with names that men remember, loud with names that men
        forget,


they sang, and he knew that, if his name was not destined to
increase the blaze of the long record, it would, at any rate, be
one of those obscure notes that contribute to the volume of
continuous sound.  And at the thought of the brief nature of the
longest Eton school life, that it might come to an end almost at
once, and then for ever, C. felt an intolerable pang, and bent his
head lest Calmady and others should see that he was crying.

That same week he tasted a sip of Eton's outward and visible
triumphs in the procession of the boats, which had been put off
from the 4th of June.  He went up for long leave for the Eton and
Harrow match, and Calmady's people had a coach, where Calmady and
C. enjoyed their luncheon, but they neither of them enjoyed the
cricket, which was not exciting.  C. and Calmady were taken to a
Gaiety burlesque on Saturday evening, and up till then all was
great fun, but when C. found himself wandering aimlessly about the
gaunt rooms of Hengrave House, or sitting in an empty back drawing-
room, where the furniture was covered with brown holland, fearful
of disturbing his father, and afraid of finding visitors in the
drawing-room, and ultimately taking refuge in the schoolroom, and
even there liable to come across a tte--tte between one of his
sisters and a girl friend, he was glad on the whole when his leave
was over and he got back to Eton.

He left Eton at the end of the summer nursing a secret project
about which he had spoken to no one, not even to Calmady; and this
was to win the Shakespeare prize.  Four plays had been set--The
Tempest, Henry V., As You Like It, and Julius Csar.  C. was
perfectly determined to get this prize, and he set about to study
these plays, which he had read already, till he knew them almost by
heart.  He did not say a word about it.

When he went back to Eton at Michaelmas he still did not know it
was his last half.  Lady Hengrave wrote the momentous decision to
Mr. Pringle, and asked him to communicate it to C.  This he did
shortly after C. arrived.  C. was just out of first hundred.  If he
stayed until the summer he would be in the Upper Boats.  He would
in all probability get his house colours, unless Pringle's did
impossibly badly in the house cup.  He was up to a rather severe
master, Mr. Whitethorn, but he liked him.  They understood each
other.  Never had Eton life seemed more pleasant or more promising.
It was just beginning, he thought, to be really enjoyable.  C. was
just about to emerge from his shell when the blind Fury had come
with the abhorred shears to slit his thin-spun Eton career.

C. at once confided the news to Calmady.

"And what are they going to make you do next?" he asked.

"They're going to send me abroad to rub up my French.  They don't
know that I know French now as well as I shall ever know it in my
life."

"And then will you go to Oxford?" asked Calmady.

"No; they say it's too expensive.  They are going to send me into
the City into my brother's office, if he can find a place for me."

"Well," said Calmady, "I don't expect they'll let me stay much
longer either.  They want me to go up for the Diplomatic Service,
and I shall have to go to a crammer's or abroad."

And then they spoke of their ambitions and their projects for the
future.  Calmady wanted to be a composer, and to study music in
Leipsig or Berlin, or, failing that--his appreciation of the arts
was catholic--to be an artist and to study in the Quartier Latin.
Unfortunately, he knew little of music, had no ear, and could not
draw at all.  C. wanted to be a writer--any kind of writer.  He
would have liked to begin at once at the lowest rung of journalism,
in the most humble capacity, but he knew it was not the slightest
use to suggest anything of the kind to Lady Hengrave.

"You will be a writer," said Calmady.  "I am quite sure you will.
My tutor corrected some of your papers last Trials, and he said you
were one of the few boys he had ever come across who wrote good
English.  He said he was quite sure you would write some day if you
wanted to."

C. then told Calmady about the Shakespeare prize.  Calmady was
delighted.  He was himself going in for the Prince Consort's prize
for German, but had no chance, no chance at all, of winning it.  C.
swore Calmady to secrecy about the Shakespeare.  Later, however, he
was obliged to let his tutor know, as his name had to be sent in.
His tutor was agreeably surprised and greatly astonished.  He
thought at first for a moment that there was something behind it,
that C. was doing it to avoid a school or to shirk work of some
kind, but he did not say this.  He contented himself by asking in a
mildly bantering fashion how long C. had been a Shakespeare
student.  C. was inclined to answer "All my life," which he felt
was only too painfully true, but he wisely said nothing.  He went
in for the prize.  He thought he'd done very badly and answered
wrongly questions which he could have answered perfectly well at
any other time.  But to his immense surprise, and to the still
greater surprise of Mr. Pringle, one day, when he had for the
moment forgotten all about it, a large sheet of paper with the well-
known blue ink writing caught his eye on the school board, and he
stopped to look at it and saw the words "Shakespeare prize."  He
felt quite dizzy for the moment, and could not read the rest of the
words, which seemed to be blurred.  Then through the mist he caught
the words "Shakespeare Prize: Prizeman, Bramsley major."  He walked
away, chewing the cud of the great news to himself in silence.
Presently he was met by Calmady, who had seen the news, and who
greeted him with a shrill scream of triumph.  They both walked up
town together, and, as though celebrating some old time-honoured
ritual, they walked into Califano's, and ordered two chocolates.
Calmady's joy was completely disinterested and all the more
unaffectedly sincere from his having failed even to be mentioned
among candidates for the Prince Consort's prize.

"I knew you'd get it," said Calmady.  "My tutor told me this
morning.  He set the papers, and he said yours were far the best."

Mr. Pringle was astonished, and as annoyed at having been taken in
by C.'s pretended ignorance as he would have been had he been
deceived by an assumed knowledge.  But he congratulated him warmly,
nevertheless, and told him that a man who could quote Shakespeare
would never be dubbed a fool.

"You've been taking me in for years," he said.  "I thought you were
a dunce, and you were a knave all the time.  However, I prefer a
knave to a dunce," he said graciously, and he gave C., in addition
to the book which he was going to present him with on leaving, a
Shakespeare Concordance.

The end of C.'s last half went by with incredible rapidity.  He was
given his house colours, but Pringle's did not get beyond second
ties in the matches for the House Cup.  Then came the end: the last
school concert; the last breakfast at Little Brown's; dinner with
his tutor; the choosing of his prize at Ingalton Drake's.  He chose
the works of Shelley, in four large red volumes, Buxton Forman's
edition, and some little books.  Mr. Pringle gave a slight snort
when he saw the books, and said:

"Why don't you choose something you'll like when you're older?"

Then came the last school concert.  The deafening roar as the
swells walked up the school hall with their coloured scarfs.  The
melting voice of Digby, whose voice was just about the break,
singing the most sentimental of all sentimental songs, Lay your
head on my shoulder, Daddy.  The boating song, spoken more than
sung by the Captain of the Boats; and the Vale, which C. had
enjoyed so often before when the fact of leaving had seemed so
impossibly remote, but which was now almost unbearable.

The last morning in Chapel.


     Lord, dismiss us with Thy blessing;


sang the choir.  How often C. had wondered what it would feel like
when the well-known words


     Let Thy Father-hand be shielding
     All who here shall meet no more;


would apply to him.  They had always given a feeling of sadness,
but, on the whole, it was a pleasurable sadness; and, now for the
first time in his life, he learnt the difference between the tears
that are luxuriously shed in tasting an emotion that does not
belong to you and the tears of recognition that respond to the call
of actual experience.

The final packing; the last walk through Eton with Calmady and
Bentham, neither of whom were leaving yet.  The last morning; the
scurry.  And then farewell to Mater Etona.  A sad farewell for C.,
the saddest of all, for what he was leaving had been a home, and
the home to which he was returning was a place of exile.



CHAPTER X


Before C. left, Calmady, Bentham and he had a little sheaf of
verses printed at New's, the stationer's, consisting of ten short
lyrics.  The pamphlet was called:  "In the Boys' Library and other
Poems," printed for private circulation.  Most of the lyrics were
written by Bentham, but Calmady contributed an Ode (in the
Spenserian stanza) to Algernon Charles Swinburne, and C. wrote a
Vale.  Only a few copies of this pamphlet were printed, and the
joint authors enjoyed correcting the proofs enormously, but their
proof-correcting was more enthusiastic than accurate, for the only
fragment of this pamphlet which is still extant is a stanza from a
poem which had been stuck by C. into a notebook, and subsequently
torn, so that all the remains of it is this:--


     Wsulsoroven 'co tell the tale,
       His triumph, love and tragedy,
       . . . Colchian shore set sail.


This and the incomplete and undated title page, torn likewise:--


           "In the Boys' Library and other Poems"
                             by
                 C. B., R. L. C., and E. B.
              Printed for Private Circulation,


is all that remains of the printed work, and it must be admitted
that the fragment is one which even a German Shakespearean
commentator would find difficulty in reconstructing, and he would
have grave doubts which of the three possible authors to attribute
it to.

C.'s Vale survived in MS.  He had showed it to his tutor, who had
written on it:  "Good, but there were others at Eton besides
Poets."

Here is the Vale which was found in Malone's papers:--


                  Vale

     Farewell, this is the first, the worst Farewell,
       Good-bye to the long dream;
     I hear the tolling of my boyhood's knell,
       And I must cross the stream.

     Good-bye, South Meadow, Athens, Cuckoo Weir,
       Good-bye, tall Brocas trees;
     To me you are more sacred and more fair
       Then the Hesperides.

     Good-bye, dear Library, dear musty shelves,
       Worn books and marble bust,
     Where over tables scholars skipped like elves,
       And raised a cloud of dust.

     But there I saw--as through a misty veil,
       A chalice of white fire--
     The light of Shelley's song, and heard the tale
       Of his divine desire.

     'Twas there I read how, led by fatal chance,
       A mortal loved the Moon;
     And thus I learnt the language of romance,
       And heard the magic tune.

     The little book was like a silver key
       To many-coloured lands,
     Where wondrous harps upon a ghostly sea
       Are swept by a mermaid's hands.

     To-morrow I shall be beyond the spell,
       The fields behind; the road
     Before me; banished from the wishing-well,
       And on my back a load.

     Yet none can steal the tasted happiness,
       And if I meet dark hours,
     Dear Mother, I will turn in my distress
       Back to thy chiming towers.

     Though pangs begotten of sweet memory
       Make worse the present woe,
     I'll turn to thee and say:  "At Eton I
       Was happy long ago."

     "What can I give thee, Mother, in return
       For all thy gifts to me?
     What if no laurel shall adorn my urn,
       Nor deed of high degree?

     "Others with honour, glory and green bays
       Shall brighten thy bright fame;
     I, with no more than love, can swell thy praise
       With one forgotten name."


His tutor complimented him on it in a bantering tone, repeating
what he had written on the copy, and hinting that C. had left out
everything that made Eton important.  C. felt this was only too
true in another sense.  He had left out everything that had
mattered to him, his thoughts, his dreams, his friendships, all
that Eton had meant.  He had left it out because he couldn't say
it.

During the Christmas holidays after his last half at Eton, C.
realised more sharply than he had ever done before, what a gulf
there was between himself and all the rest of his family with the
exception of Harry.

Julia and Marjorie, since they had been out, had become models of
crystallised convention.  They had their father's pride, without
his dignity and ease, and their mother's rigid limitations, without
her culture.  C. felt there was no one now at home whom he could
talk to about anything that interested him, and he felt more than
this.  He felt it was impossible to say what he really thought
about any subject under the sun.  If he got near to doing so before
his sisters a misunderstanding would be sure to arise, and this
would quickly grow into an argument, and from an argument into a
quarrel, which would rage until Lady Hengrave would intervene and
put a stop to it by telling C. not to tease the girls.

Towards the end of the holidays the Hengraves went up to London as
usual, and C. and Calmady were able to meet.  C. was in the flush
of the full and complete discovery of Swinburne, and he was
intoxicated with the beverage.  He thought, as so many people have
thought on making the same discovery in the days of their youth,
that there was no such poetry in the world; nothing like it at all;
nothing to be compared with it, and Calmady and C. chanted The Hymn
to Proserpine, and The Triumph of Time, and other poems as they
walked down the London streets or in the parks.  They felt a great
desire to express the homage they felt for the poet in some
tangible way.  They wanted to see him and tell him--no, tell him
they would never dare--but express the fervour of their worship to
him by their silent and reverent awe.  It seemed a pity, as so many
poets were dead, that one who was alive and so superior to all the
rest should not receive the homage that was due to him from the
living.

Calmady had already written to Mr. Swinburne a year before, but had
received no answer.  A bolder project now took shape in their
minds.  This was to call on Mr. Swinburne, and to take with them a
letter asking him if they might have the supreme honour of shaking
hands with the greatest poet of the age.  They discussed the matter
for hours, but as C. was going abroad and Calmady was due to return
to Eton, time was short, and whatever was to be done would have to
be done quickly.

The Sunday before Calmady was due to go back to Eton, C. was asked
to luncheon with Calmady's people in Grosvenor Place, and after
luncheon they determined to put the long-talked-of and daring
project into execution.  They looked out Swinburne in the Court
Guide, and found that C. A. Swinburne lived in a flat in Hyde Park
Mansions.  They were faintly astonished to find that his initials
ran C. A. instead of A. C., as on the title pages of his books, but
they thought that perhaps A. C. were his initials as an author, and
C. A. his initials as a private gentleman.  They then composed a
letter, a very brief letter, asking if they might be allowed to
shake hands with the author of Atalanta in Calydon and other
immortal poems.  Armed with this missive they set out for the flat
in Hyde Park Mansions.  It was a large building.  They arrived at a
hall where there was a mahogany board with an immense array of
names in slots, showing who was in and who out.  They found a hall
porter in uniform.

Did Mr. Swinburne live there? they asked in trepidation.

Yes, he did.

Was he at home?

Yes, he was.

They were shown into a lift, and were whirled up to an upper
landing.  They rang an electric bell.  A dignified butler opened
the door; not quite the kind of butler you expected in a poet's
household.  There was nothing Bohemian about him, and his face had
a mask-like calm, his shoulders a military squareness.

Was Mr. Swinburne at home?

He was.

Would he kindly give him this letter and ask for an answer?

The butler acquiesced with perfect deference and departed with the
letter.  The boys scrutinised the little ante-room with awe.  It
was hung with trophies of sport; antelopes' horns, stags' heads,
riding whips, and some prints of a naval battle.

"His father was an admiral," whispered Calmady.

They waited a moment and then a dignified, very upright, military
gentleman with white hair and kind, grey eyes walked into the ante-
room, holding the letter in his hand.

"I am afraid I am not," he said, "my illustrious namesake, but I
shall be delighted to shake hands with you."

C. and Calmady blushed scarlet, and wished the earth might swallow
them up.  They shook hands, but they were not able to speak, and
they left the building not knowing what they were doing.

"Wasn't it awful?" said C.

"Awful!" said Calmady, "what must he have thought of us?  He didn't
seem to mind," he added.

"No," said C. "That's what made it worse, his being so awfully
jolly.  I don't expect he'll tell anybody."

"I hope he doesn't know my people," said Calmady.  C. shivered at
the possibility.

"Nor mine.  Mine would be worse, as Mother hates Swinburne."

"So does Mamma," said Calmady, "but nobody need ever know."

"Those are just the sort of things that leak out years afterwards
when one has forgotten all about them," said C., remembering
dramatic, belated disclosures in novels.

Calmady groaned, and agreed.  "Yes," he said, "like in a Greek
tragedy or Hall Caine."

And the two boys felt that from henceforth a Nemesis would hang
over them, and that they had sown a fatal seed, as the members of
the House of Atreus were wont to do, which was bound to bear some
dreadful fruit.

The next week Calmady went back to Eton, and C. started for France.
It was settled that he should spend three months at Versailles in
the house of an old musician, whose wife had been in old days a
friend of Lady Hengrave's, and who had known better days; then,
perhaps, three months in Germany.  After that it was to be
determined by a competent judge whether he had any chance of
passing into any public office, or whether his brother Edward could
find him something in the City.  It was thought that in either case
foreign languages were a necessity, and as he already knew French
and German fairly well he would only need to rub them up a little.
It would be out of the question, it was thought, for him to go to
the University.  That would be sheer waste of time, besides being
impossibly expensive.

C. had never been abroad before in his life.  He felt a certain
excitement, not unmingled with apprehension and a sickening longing
to go back to Eton.

He asked to be allowed to spend one Sunday at Eton before he left,
so as to say good-bye to Harry.  This favour was granted.  He went
down on one Saturday afternoon to Eton and stayed with his tutor.
He arrived about tea-time and strolled through the familiar
passages.  He found Weigall, who had just finished tea, and who now
messed with a boy called Sims.  They were discussing questions that
concerned the Beagles and the House Debating Society, and they
could not pay any attention to C., so absorbed were they in the
immediate facts of the present.

C. realised with a pang that he no longer belonged to the life that
was going on; that he was of yesterday.  He went out and strolled
to Calmady's house.  There was a riotous game of passage football
going on, and Calmady greeted him cheerily, but could not leave it.

He came back and went to see his Dame, Miss Derwent.  She was very
glad to see him, and they discussed novels, as usual, and when she
heard he was going to Versailles she said he would enjoy the park
in the summer, and that it was conveniently near Paris.  She,
herself, was perhaps going to spend Holy Week in Paris.  She
preferred France to Germany; in Germany there was the music, of
course, only she did wish they would not do so much Wagner.

They talked about Tennyson's latest poem on the death of a royal
personage, which Miss Derwent said she thought might have been a
little more personal.  C. said it was a pity Swinburne wasn't Poet
Laureate, upon which Miss Derwent said that he was a republican and
had written very unpleasant things.

"But he wrote much the best Jubilee Ode," said C., "and he's not a
Home Ruler."

Miss Derwent admitted that not to be a Home Ruler was something,
and she thought he was sound on the subject of Mr. Gladstone, but,
nevertheless, he had written some unpardonable things.

C., finding the conversation was becoming dangerous, said he must
go and dress for dinner.

At dinner there were four Eton masters, and C. was shy and silent.
They talked about R. L. Stevenson all through dinner, capping each
other's quotations.  C., who had only read Treasure Island, felt
out of it.  Mr. Pringle approved of C. going to France and deplored
his having to go to Germany.  He said that the Germans were
barbarians, and that their language was excruciating.  There was
nothing to read in German, but Mr. Whitethorn, who was there, said
he would enjoy the music in Germany, and that he would be able to
hear a Beethoven symphony for two marks.  C. had never heard a
Beethoven symphony, nor even of one, although he knew that
Beethoven was a phenomenon that Lady Hengrave approved of.  But he
reflected that if it was anything like the kind of music he had
heard at his Aunt Fanny's house he should not spend two marks on
it.  C. had heard little music in his life, but Lady Hengrave had
instilled a certain respect for Mozart and the Italian opera into
him, and he had a genuine love of tune.

On Sunday he went to chapel, and after luncheon he went out for a
long walk with Harry, as their custom had been while they were
still at Eton together.  They had always been for the same walk.
Up the Long Walk, round the spurless equestrian statue of King
George, and home.

C. knew that this was the last time that he and Harry would ever be
together on the old terms, and even now that he had left the
situation was no longer the same.  It was the finale of a long
piece of music which, while it had been going on, had passed
unnoticed.

Harry was now in Army Class.  He had already got his house colours,
and he was in upper sixpenny.  He was extremely popular both with
the boys and the masters, and his career showed every sign of
exploding into a blaze of Eton triumph.  The two boys talked about
the future, and they talked about the past; the tyranny they had
mutually suffered at the hands of Mademoiselle Walter, and of their
detestation of the Calhoun family.

Harry asked C. what he was going to be, and C. said he had no idea.
He loathed the idea of the City.  He loathed the idea of a
Government office.

"Wouldn't you have liked to go into the Army?" asked Harry.

"I should never have passed the exam.," said C.

But this wasn't true.  He knew that his mother would never have let
them both go into the Army, and it was, of course, right that Harry
should do so in preference to him.  They got back in time for
chapel, and C. remembered, as he heard the last hurried, frantic
beats of the chapel bell, the old panic he used to have of shirking
chapel.  Those final hurried beats of the bell had seemed to him
the most ominous sounds, fraught with inevitability and doom, in
the world.  And now he would not hear them in that same way any
more.

He went back to London on Sunday night, so as to have a whole last
day in London before starting for France.

He started from Victoria Station on Tuesday morning for Paris and
Versailles.  At the station there was another Eton boy, whom he had
known by sight, bound for the same destination.  His name was
Pelly.  They greeted each other shyly, but on the boat they made
friends.  They were both violently seasick during the whole of the
crossing, and both of them swore that they would never cross the
Channel again.  They arrived at Paris rather late in the evening,
and C., who was by way of going straight on to Versailles, put off
going till the next day, so as to spend the evening with Pelly, who
also desired to have one free evening before joining his pension.
They both of them sent telegrams to their respective hosts.

During the journey C. and Pelly had made great friends.  Pelly was
a quiet, cultivated scholar, and he was about to study French in
Paris before going to the University.  They went to a small hotel
in one of the side streets off the Rue de Rivoli.  C. knew the name
of it, because Miss Derwent had told him she always stayed there.
It was dark and cheap, clean and stuffy, and had no bathrooms and
no electric light, and wooden bedsteads with curtains.

After they had unpacked their things, and washed and tidied
themselves, they felt extremely hungry, and they thought they would
like some dinner.  They strolled up the Avenue de l'Opra till they
passed, on the right-hand side, an unpretentious-looking
restaurant, on which they saw the name Bignon.

"Let's go and have dinner here," said C.; "it looks quite decent."

Pelly agreed that the place seemed inviting and not too crowded.
They sat down at a table, and a friendly waiter suggested that they
would, no doubt, fancy "des hors d'uvres et quelques hutres" a
nice, plain consomm Milanaise, and, perhaps, a truite meunire to
follow, and a plain roast poularde with a little salad.  That
sounded simple enough.  Another waiter, with large side-whiskers
and black apron, hinted with aloof disinterestedness at the wine,
and C. said he thought some claret, just an ordinary Bordeaux,
would be the thing.  The waiter agreed.  There was a Hautbrion
which he was certain would meet the case.  He came back presently
bearing with reverence, and yet with the intrepid familiarity of
those who are used to handling sacred things, an old cobweb-covered
bottle, slightly tilted in a basket.  He uncorked the bottle
without shaking it.

The food proved to be simple and excellent.  The wine, too, was
soothing, so much so that they ordered another bottle.

They began by discussing Eton, the boys and the masters, recent
events and happenings; they went on to discuss books and poets, and
C., after a few glasses of the Hautbrion, declaimed reams of
Shelley and Swinburne to the surprised but interested Pelly.  They
sat on talking until late.  They finished up with coffee, and the
waiter suggested a "verre de fine."  This proved to be also very
pleasant and soothing, and not at all fiery.  They repeated the
dose.  They then asked for the bill.  It was unobtrusively brought,
face downwards, and amounted to 251 francs 35 centimes.  C. was
aghast.  This represented his monthly allowance.  He would only
just have enough money to get to Versailles, and he doubted whether
he would have enough money to pay his hotel bill.  Pelly was
anxious to pay half, but C. insisted that he had invited him.
Luckily Mrs. Roden had sent him a cheque before starting, otherwise
he would not have been able to pay the bill at all.

He put down on the plate 250 francs in paper and 20 francs in gold.
The waiter indicated by his gesture that he would fetch the change,
but C., half as in a dream, and half feeling that if he was in for
a penny it was better to be in for a pound, and that the tip was
only on the scale of the rest of the extras, waved him away, and
left him in possession of the lordly tip.  The waiter took the
twenty-franc piece like a lamb, with perfect composure, indicating
that the transaction which had just been accomplished had been
between gentlemen and men of the world who understood each other
perfectly, and C. wondered whether all restaurants in Paris were as
costly as this one.  Fortunately his hotel bill proved to be
unexpectedly moderate, and he had just enough money left to travel
to Versailles.



CHAPTER XI


The family to which C. was now introduced consisted of an old man
and an old lady called Maartens.  The professor and his wife were
both Dutch by birth, but they had lived many years in France, and
the French people simply called them Martin.  They had once been
well-to-do landed proprietors, but they had lost all their money in
a financial crisis, and were obliged to receive pupils in order to
live.  Professor Maartens gave music lessons, and his wife taught
French.  The professor had only adopted the title of Professor
since the change in his fortunes.  He was not a professional
musician, but he was intensely musical, and he played the
pianoforte with a soft touch and great delicacy of feeling.  He had
composed a barcarolle which had been published and publicly
performed in happier days before the Emperor Napoleon III.  They
lived in a small flat in a side street on the left-hand side of the
palace.  It was small, but scrupulously clean.  Madame Maartens had
been brought up from her earliest years in France, and she had not
only known Lady Hengrave, but Lady Hengrave's mother, who had lived
in Paris.  She was refined and cultivated and devoted to the pupils
she received in her house.

She took to C. at once.  When he arrived at Versailles he had not
finished growing, and he was already tall for his age, but he had
lost the look of immaturity and awkwardness that had seemed to hang
about him during all the end of his Eton career.  Nobody now would
have called him the ugly duckling.  In fact, Madame Maartens was
extremely struck by his looks, and in writing to Lady Hengrave
congratulated her on having a son who promised to be so good-
looking, and who was "plein d'esprit."  Lady Hengrave was
astonished by these comments, and thought that Madame Maartens must
be suffering from senile decay.  A photograph of C. as he was in
those days is still in existence.  He looks in it curiously old for
his age, and almost like the hero of an 1830 romance, with a touch
of Balzac and Dickens about him.  In real life he probably did not
look as old as that, or did not look old at all, but Madame
Maartens frequently remarked that he was old for his age, and said
on one occasion that at times he behaved like a child of ten, and
at others he reasoned like a man of forty.

He was very dark, his hair was thick and undisciplined, his cheeks
a little hollow, and his eyes very bright and very dark.  His
manners were shy, reserved and diffident, and the French people
liked him at once.  He was happy at Versailles, and felt once more
that he had found a home which might, to a certain extent, make up
for having left Eton so prematurely.

His life settled down into a regular routine.  Madame Maartens gave
him a French lesson every day, and three times a week he had a
lesson from a French schoolmaster, Monsieur Jollivet, who lived at
the other end of the town--rather a long tram drive--in a neat
little villa.  Monsieur Jollivet taught him French literature and
French composition.  The other pupil in the Maartens' house was a
French boy called Henri Marcel, to whom Madame Maartens was
teaching English.  Madame Maartens suggested that C. should from
time to time go to Paris, dine there, go to the theatre, and come
back by a late train; but C. made excuses.  The truth was that he
had no money, and would not have any till the end of the month.  He
had not even enough money to pay for the bi-weekly tram journey to
Monsieur Jollivet's house, and every time he went there during the
first month he was obliged to walk, which meant starting three-
quarters of an hour before his lesson began.

Monsieur Jollivet was a small, dark, bearded, fiery and lucid
teacher, with a great contempt for his own countrymen and a great
love of what he called REAL French literature, which meant Molire,
Racine, La Fontaine, Voltaire, Andr Chnier, and Guy de
Maupassant, but not Zola.

Lucidity, simplicity, logic and ease were the qualities he rated
highest.  He made C. read Corneille and Racine, and was stupefied
to find that he was already familiar with both these authors, and
could quote them by the yard.  The fact gave him great satisfaction,
as he was able to use it against the class of French boys he taught
at school.

"Pas un de vous n'est  la cheville de cet Anglais," he would say
to them.

He made C. read the plays and write analyses of them afterwards,
and also translations and compositions of his own.

Monsieur Jollivet did not despise all the modern poets.  He thought
that Victor Hugo had sinned colossally against the canons of taste
and the laws of proportion, but he would sometimes say: "quand il
est grand, il est grand comme le monde," and in support of this he
would quote the lines from Napolon II.:


     Demain, c'est le cheval qui s'abat blanc d'cume.
     Demain, O conqurant, c'est Moscou qui s'allume,


Foreign literature and languages he ignored.

One day he asked C. to translate something from one of the English
poets, and C. tried his hand at Swinburne's Garden of Proserpine.

Monsieur Jollivet was not pleased by the result.

C.'s version of


     "And gathers all things mortal
     With cold immortal hands."


"Et cueille toutes choses mortelles de ses mains froides et
immortelles" shocked him.

"Ce n'est pas clair," he said, "et c'est d'un got douteux."

Monsieur Jollivet advised him in the future to confine his
translations to the English prose authors.  On the other hand, he
was pleased with C.'s French prose, which he said was pure, except
on one occasion, when C. unfortunately used a phrase of current
journalistic slang, "le CLOU de la pice"--harmless enough, one
would have thought.  This incensed Monsieur Jollivet, who went so
far as to say that it was the fabrication and use of such idiotic,
meaningless and vulgar expressions which had caused the French to
lose the Franco-Prussian War.

In politics Monsieur Jollivet was a pessimist, and was for ever
prophesying disasters to his country.  Were the French to fight the
Germans to-morrow, he would say, the latter would walk into France
"comme dans du beurre," and he attributed this to the incurable
vanity, complacency and frivolity of his countrymen.

Curiously enough, he introduced C. to the name of Wagner.  At least
he made C. realise that Wagner was an out-of-the-way phenomenon.
Monsieur Jollivet said he seldom went to the theatre--the modern
plays were so stupid, and the modern actors massacred the classics--
but he did go to the opera, whenever Wagner was performed, and the
Valkyrie and Tristan had stupefied him.

"Cette musique," he went on repeating, "qui ne resemble  rien."

C. checked this opinion by asking Professor Maartens and his wife
what they thought about Wagner, and both the Professor and Madame
Maartens (and she was extremely musical as well as her husband)
agreed with Monsieur Jollivet that Wagner was a great genius, and
that evening after dinner the Professor played C. some selections
from the Ring, which impressed him greatly.

"You must go to Paris the next time they do one of the operas,"
they said, "and hear one."

"Yes," said C., blushing and thinking of his straitened finances.

And they, too, said they had no wish to go to the theatre, but they
did enjoy more than anything else an evening at the opera, only--

C. felt they could not afford it, and felt, too, the right thing
for him to do would be to take them to Paris one night, and give
them the treat they so greatly enjoyed.  However, the state of his
budget made it, for the moment, quite impossible.  Pelly wrote to
him, and asked him to meet him in Paris and share his delightful
discoveries.  C. was only too willing, but he felt cramped at every
turn for want of money.  At last he thought of selling something.
He had a gold watch-chain and two pearl studs which had been given
him by his godmother.  He spent his last francs in registering
these and posting them to a silversmith in London.  He asked him to
make an offer for them.  The silversmith sent him back a cheque for
five pounds and kept the jewels--this, for the moment relieved the
situation.  On receipt of the money he wrote to Pelly, and
suggested they should meet and go to the play.  He did not suggest
dinner, as he was still under the impression that to feed at a
restaurant in Paris was a pleasure which could only be indulged in
by the very rich.  Pelly accepted the invitation and met him at the
station, and suggested that they should go and have some food
somewhere, but C. said he thought it too expensive.

Pelly had now gained sufficient experience of Parisian life to be
able to convince C. that cheaper restaurants than Bignon existed.
They went to a Bouillon Duval, where they had an excellent meal for
two francs fifty.  After dinner they decided to go to the play.  In
looking through the list of theatres in the newspaper, C. caught
the name of Fanny Talbot, his early adoration.  She was playing in
a historical drama.  He said they must go and see her, so they went
to the Porte Saint Martin, where the drama was being played.

Fanny Talbot's art had improved in the interval, and although her
hair had been dyed a dark colour, and her face had lost its look of
youth, she was still strikingly beautiful, perhaps the most
beautiful, and certainly the best dressed actress on the stage at
that time.  But she was not the same person to C. as she had been
when he had first seen her at Brighton.  Then he had not thought of
her as an actress at all.  He had identified her with the romantic,
proud and persecuted personage she had interpreted on the stage.
He had thought of her as the embodiment of youth, thwarted romance,
and outraged virtue.  Now he looked at her as a beautiful and
finished actress, and her art, although competent enough to deserve
the praises of the French critics, was neither sufficiently
inspired nor artistic to sweep these two boys off their feet, nor
to make up for its commonplace setting.  The play in which she was
appearing was a historical melodrama which was more like a series
of tableaux vivants than anything else, with not sufficient life in
it to afford one thrill.  The two boys enjoyed themselves
nevertheless.  Pelly was by this time a great theatre-goer, and he
said that C. really must see the great actors of Paris, the artists
of the Comdie Franaise: Got, Bartet, Baretta, Samary, as well as
Rjane and Dupuis, and also the adventurous pioneers of the Thtre
Libre.

When C. told Monsieur Jollivet that he had been to see Fanny Talbot
in the historical drama of Mal-maison, he snorted with contempt.
He advised C., if he MUST go to the play, to try the Thtre
Franais on a night when they were not playing Racine; in Molire
there were still a few passable actors who knew how to speak, but
there wasn't one who could interpret Racine.  Nowadays directly an
actor made the slightest success he was obliged to have a troup, if
not a theatre, of his own to tour in America and round the world,
to gather dollars and exaggerate his effects, and cheapen them
until his art became as coarsened and travel-stained as his much
labelled travelling trunks.

The age of art was rapidly fading away.  Few people know how to
write French, and still fewer how to speak it.  In twenty years'
time French written in the classical tradition would be
unintelligible, and what was it replaced by?  A shoddy journalese
in prose--expressions such as le clou--and cryptic and senseless
mystifications in shapeless verse.

In the meantime, C. was making discoveries for himself in French
literature.  M. Jollivet made him read the classics, but he
surreptitiously read the moderns as well--novels: Zola, Daudet and
Flaubert; and Pelly brought him echoes from the Quartier Latin, and
of the enthusiasms of the young generation; the names of obscure
symbolists and decadents, few of whom were destined to achieve more
than a passing notoriety.

Pelly also got wind of Norwegian literature.  Ibsen was just
emerging above the European horizon, and Hedda Gabler was being
acted at the Vaudeville.  The Thtre Libre introduced him to Paris
by producing Ghosts two years before.  Pelly was immensely
interested, but failed to find great response in C., who was drawn
to the more romantic drama, and was revelling in Victor Hugo and
Alfred de Musset.  One night C. and Pelly watched a performance of
Hernani from the gallery of the Thtre Franais, and they were
moved to tears.  The time went on, the winter, which was a long and
cold one, began to show slight signs of surrender before the
invasion of spring.

With the exception of occasional visits to Paris, C.'s life was a
monotonous one.  He would work all the morning.  In the afternoon
he would go for a walk with Henri Marcel, the French pupil who
lived in the house, who was a conscientious, unassuming,
industrious, but unimaginative boy.  Twice a week he had lessons
from Monsieur Jollivet, and on Monday afternoons he would attend
Madame Maartens' day.  She would sit in a red silk and somewhat
faded armchair, dressed in mauve velvet, which was her one dress
for occasions, and receive the guests, who were varied.  They
consisted of members of the Versailles aristocracy, with a
sprinkling of musicians, and on one occasion a French-Canadian
Professor of Christian Science.  Madame Maartens was proud of C.,
and liked showing him off to her friends.  Some of these used to
invite him to breakfast or dinner, exquisitely served meals in
small panelled dining-rooms, on smooth polished mahogany tables
without table linen, presided over by an old retainer, who would
dangle a bunch of keys.

On one occasion Madame Maartens took him to dine with two American
old maids who lived in an apartment on the top story of a house
near the Htel des Rservoirs.  When they entered the drawing-room
Madame Maartens announced C. solemnly as "The Honourable Caryl
Bramsley," and the two old maids each made a low curtsey.  They
came from a Virginian family, and seemed to belong to an older and
more refined civilisation.  They were cousins.  They seemed to be
the living ghosts of pre-revolutionary Versailles, and the mother
of one of them had been born seventeen years before the Revolution,
so that her links with the past went back to an incredible
distance, and she herself remembered Napoleon at Trianon, and the
Cent Jours, and the Battle of Waterloo with perfect distinctness.

They were both beautiful to look at, with exquisite lace frills,
lace caps and cuffs, and one of them took snuff with a little gold
spoon from a tiny gold snuffbox.  They had lived at Versailles all
their lives, and so had their parents, even through the Revolution
and the Terror.  The mother of the eldest remembered seeing the
Dauphin playing in the gardens of Versailles.  They spoke of the
Place de la Concorde as the Place Louis Quinze, and Rachel seemed
to them a modern, a revolutionary actress.

They spoke exquisite French, and still more exquisite English, and
they were delighted with C.  He called on them after he dined
there, and they offered him preserved fruits, and entertained him
with anecdotes and reminiscences of the past.



CHAPTER XII


As the spring progressed, C. continued to make discoveries in
French as well as in English literature, but he had nobody with
whom he could share them.  Pelly was engrossed in art and in the
discovery of Norwegian plays and Russian novels, that C. thought
unreadable, nor did his friend passionately care for verse, and as
for Monsieur Jollivet, he had bounded in his seat when C. told him
that he had been reading Zola.  It was not the questionable
morality nor the indecency of Zola's work that offended him, but
the lack of proportion he displayed.  Zola's work, he said, was all
false; his pretence of realism absurd, his talent one of
distortion; he was a painter of exaggerated panoramas, and one of
the least FRENCH of French authors.  C. had also admitted to
Monsieur Jollivet that he had read Baudelaire and Verlaine, and
here again he had come up against uncompromising opposition.
Monsieur Jollivet maintained that C. was beginning at the wrong
end; that it was impossible for him to gauge the merits of such
authors before he had formed a standard by being thoroughly
familiar with the classics.  Baudelaire no doubt had written some
fine verses, but he was affected and perverse, an exotic.  Verlaine
had a lyrical gift, but C. should seek the garden and the fields,
all of them full of natural flowers, before studying the artificial
products of the hothouse; and as for all the symbolists and
decadents, they were de simples fumistes, or, what was worse, they
often used what might have been a genuine talent to debase and
disfigure the French language.

"You can't," he said, "be obscure in French."

"Tout ce qui n'est pas clair n'est pas franais."

He worked himself up into a fever, and ended by saying the greatest
of French poets, and, indeed, the greatest not only of all French
writers but of all writers in all the world, and of all times, was
La Fontaine.  C. confessed to finding the fables tedious.

Monsieur Jollivet sighed.

"When you are forty," he said, "you will agree with me."

To C. this seemed to be impossibly far off.

"Well," said Monsieur Jollivet, "at least if you read the moderns,
read the best; read Andr Chnier, Alfred de Vigny, Musset,
Heredia, and in prose read Sainte Beuve, Maupassant and Flaubert;
they all write FRENCH; but do not waste time on the galimatias of
Mallarm and such people.  All that is du chinois."

C., who had been profoundly impressed by the music and the imagery
of Baudelaire's poems, and whose heart was captured by the
intangible charm and the intolerable poignancy of Verlaine's
wayward minstrelsy, felt it was no use discussing these things.
And the vision of a small yellow copy of La Fontaine, out of which
he used to learn the fables by heart with Mademoiselle Walter, rose
up before him, and filled him with nausea.  He wondered whether one
day he would in reality come to agree with Monsieur Jollivet.
Possibly about the old things, he thought, but not about the new.
He would always admire Baudelaire and Verlaine.

It was on an afternoon in March--one of those surprisingly balmy
days when you feel that winter is dying--after one of his lessons,
which generally began with the analysis of a play of Racine or
Molire and ended by a discussion on general subjects, during which
Monsieur Jollivet always managed to rail at the authors who dared
to try and obscure the glorious lucidity and the inviolate logic of
the French language, that C. walked to the Park of the Chteau and
sat down on a stone seat and, putting away from him all thoughts of
French literature, took out a pocket Keats and began reading
Endymion straight through.  He was soon engrossed in the poem,
which, in spite of its subject and its setting, brought back
vividly and poignantly to his mind the sounds and smells of English
lanes and English fields, and the colour of English hills and
English skies.  He was so absorbed in his reading that he did not
notice that a man had sat down beside him till he heard a faint
grunt.  He looked up and saw, sitting at the other end of the long
stone seat, rather an untidy man on this side of the middle-age
barrier, and not more than thirty-five years old, but having
certainly left behind him all his baggage of early dreams, youthful
ambitions and illusions.  He was large without being fat.  His hair
was shaggy and rather long.  There was a slightly Johnsonian look
about him; his clothes dark and untidy, but you did not notice his
clothes at all.  They seemed all right.  What you did notice were
his great broad forehead and his eyes, which were penetrating and
clear.  You seemed to know at once that this man had a good eye for
what was good.  He, too, was reading in a small book, and every now
and then emitting a snort, which might have been pleasure, or which
might have been pain.  As a matter of fact, he was reading Homer.
It was probably the thought of what some people might say about the
book rather than anything which he found in it which made him
snort.

The stranger suddenly put down his book, looked at C., who smiled
and turned a little red.

"Do you think Homer was written by a committee?" the stranger said.

"My tutor at Eton," said C., "used to tell us that it was very
difficult to believe that the same man had written the Iliad and
the Odyssey."

"Yes, he would say that," said the stranger.  "Why do they think
they know better than Aristotle?  He was probably the wisest man
who ever lived, and more than two thousand years nearer to the
times of Homer.  Are you going to Oxford?"

C. said he was not destined for the University.

"Well, if you do, don't go to Oxford, go to Cambridge.  On the
whole it will do you less harm.  It's getting cold; let's walk."

They got up and walked a little in silence.  Then the stranger
began to talk of the places they were passing.  They were near the
Grand Trianon.  He pictured the last days that Louis XVI. and Marie
Antoinette spent at Versailles, and Louis XVI.'s last day's hunting--
October 5th, 1789--and Marie Antoinette sitting for the last time
in the Trianon during that rainy morning till the King summoned
her.

"It was a pity the French monarchy fell.  What a tragedy!" the
stranger said.  "Do you know Greek?"

C. said he had learnt a little, but had forgotten.  He had done
German instead.

"You can learn Greek now," said the stranger.  "You've plenty of
time.  You're young.  You can learn German later, or not at all.
It won't do you much good.  You probably know enough now to read
all that's worth reading: Faust, half a dozen lyrics of Goethe, and
Heine.  There's nothing else; only it's worth it for that--well
worth it.  But Greek is endless.  I met some of the young Oxford
poets and essayists in London the other day.  They said that Greek
was useless; Homer a superstition; schylus unintelligible;
Sophocles dry, and Euripides affected.  I asked them whom and what
they admired.  They said Flaubert and Turgenev.  But the owls did
not understand that the reason they admired these people (if they
did, if they had read and understood them, which I greatly doubt),
the reason they are at all admirable, is for conforming to the
Greek standard of excellence, and to no other.  They are admirable
as artists, and admirable only in so much and in so far as they
attain that standard--set by the Greeks.  Turgenev tried to write
Greek tragedy.  He had the form, but not the power--no estomac.
Flaubert had the estomac, but hadn't the restraint.  He could
paint, but he couldn't really draw.  The principles of art, like
the principles of strategy, are eternal.  It doesn't matter if you
fight with bows and arrows, or if you fight with torpedoes and the
mitrailleuse.  It doesn't matter if you write a sonnet or an epic;
if you make a statue of Apollo or paint a picture of the Thames
Embankment.  The principles are the same, and when you apply them
well, the result is good art, or good verse--a victory; and if you
apply them badly, the result is bad art, bad verse--defeat.

"But the best verse of all is Greek--Homer.  Nothing has ever
touched it.  Do you remember when Priam goes to Achilles to ransom
the body of Hector?"  And here he began to quote:--


[Greek text omitted--refer to html version]


"But the words so stirred the heart of Achilles that he wept,
thinking now of Patroclus, and now of his old father at home, and
Priam wept, thinking of his dead Hector."

"That is how Church translates it in Stories from Homer, and, as
usual, he does it best, only he leaves out one line:--

"And he touched the old man's hand and gently moved him back."

And the stranger repeated the Greek lines again, and as he did so
he looked towards the lowering sunlight which was reflected and
shone on the large window panes of Trianon, and at the sky which,
for the first time that year, was spring-like.  It was lilac and
green, and the trees were soft and dewy.  In the East, great snowy,
cold clouds were piled up one on another, faintly reflecting the
light in the West.  A black-cap was singing somewhere.  The
stranger's eyes filled with tears, and there was a new light in
them, and of the same quality as that of the evening sky.  C. felt
they were for the moment on holy ground, and that it was good for
him to be there.  So do great verse and the words of the mighty
poets transfigure the semblance and the manner of ordinary mortals,
for nothing could have been more prosaic than the appearance of the
stranger.  All at once the spell was broken, and the stranger said:--

"I must go.  I have got an appointment.  My name is Burstall.  I
live 4, Rue de la Gare.  Where do you live?"

C. told him his name and address.

"I am generally in to breakfast at twelve.  You must come some day.
I'll send you a line."

With these words Burstall left C. and walked away briskly.  C.
waited a moment longer in the garden and then he, too, walked away
in the opposite direction, wondering who the stranger was, and
fearing to force himself upon the stranger's society.

A week passed without C. hearing anything from his new
acquaintance, and C. had almost forgotten all about the incident
when he received a card, written in a diminutive and clear
scholarly handwriting, asking him to breakfast on the following
Saturday.  He accepted and went.  He found Burstall occupied three
small rooms on the fourth floor of a large building.  The rooms
were untidy and littered with books and papers.  An old woman,
immensely hardy and sturdy, a peasant called Suzanne, with grey
hair and the makings of a grey moustache, looked after him and
cooked for him.  After C. had been sitting for a few moments on the
only available space that was not covered with books, Suzanne put
her head into the room and announced that "Monsieur" was "servi."

Burstall leapt up and shouted, "What about the omelette?" he
trusted that was not servi.  It was not.  There was on the dining-
room table, covered with toile cire, only some hors d'uvre in the
form of radishes, sardines and olives.

"I always make the omelette myself," said Burstall.

He disappeared into the kitchen, whence there issued during the
next few moments the echoes of a heated argument.

"Mais non, Monsieur.  Ce n'est pas comme cela qu'on fait une
omelette."

Presently Burstall came out very red in the face, and said:--

"She never will cook an omelette on a hot enough fire.  However, I
have let her do it just for this once to pacify her."

This was, as C. found out later, the usual ritual at Burstall's
luncheons.  He always announced his intention of making the
omelette himself.  Suzanne let him begin, then made objections.
The result was he would argue, shout, and drop an egg, and finally
let Suzanne cook the omelette herself, which she did quite
admirably.

They sat down in the dining-room, which had no pictures on the grey
boiseries, and no ornaments save a glass of narcissi and violets,
lilies-of-the-valley and one little alien rose, put there by
Suzanne.

Burstall fetched a bottle of burgundy, and they sat down to their
breakfast.  Burstall talked about Paris; what was going on.  He had
seen Musset's Fantasio at the Odon.

"Professional actors spoil Musset," he said.  "Children would do
it, only, unfortunately, they are not children's plays; or
amateurs, if amateurs could only speak and move and not be self-
conscious.  Delaunay was the only professional actor who could act
Musset.  His plays are meant for drawing-rooms.  So are Racine's,
as to that.  There has only been one perfect performance of Racine,
I expect.  At Saint Cyr.  I should have liked to have seen it.
Actors shout and rant Racine now.  That's all wrong.  I suppose you
were taught at Eton to despise Racine?"

C. said he had been brought up at home to admire Racine, but he
confessed the plays bored him.  He had never seen one acted.

"I'll take you some day," said Burstall.  "Sometimes you get a
decent performance, and you want to hear the verse spoken.  The
dons and the critics in England despise Racine for one simple
reason.  They don't understand French.  They understand SOMETIMES
what the words mean, but not always; they are capable even then of
the most ludicrous blunders, but they don't feel the VALUES of the
language.  The French don't feel the values of English--of
Shakespeare and Milton; they don't see why


     Smooth-sliding Mincius crowned with vocal reeds


is a good line, but they don't go about saying the English can't
write verse.  They say they can't understand English and don't want
to.  It's all they can do to compete with their own language,
which, as you know, is an exacting one.  The English see no
difference between Voltaire's plays and Racine's; they don't see
why lines like


     J'ai voulu devant vous exposant mes remords,
     Par un chemin plus lent descendre chez les morts


are the lines of a great poet, that they are as good as they can
be.  They talk rot about it not being Greek.  It isn't; it's
French.  Phdre is a practising Catholic Christian, slightly tinged
with Jansenism, and she talks the language of Versailles.  But she
is a living being, and the language she talks is quite perfect.

"Don't believe a word they tell you about anything French.  They
know nothing about it whatever.  Because Matthew Arnold talked
nonsense about French verse, which he didn't understand, they think
they can do the same thing safely.  Some day, if ever they give a
matine of Phdre, we'll go.  You're bored with Racine now.  That's
because they've spoilt it for you at home or at school, or at both,
but once you hear the lines properly spoken you'll understand that
it is great verse."

C. told Burstall about his lessons with Monsieur Jollivet, and of
the want of appreciation that Professor professed of the modern
authors.

"A great deal of what he says is true," said Burstall.  "He's quite
right about Zola not being French.  He's got what they call a 'gros
talent'; he can set crowds going, but he can't write French; not
French such as Maupassant writes.  As to the modern verse, your man
is annoyed by the fumistes I suppose.  There always are a lot of
those about, because literature in Paris is a living thing.  People
care for it, care for it enough to make jokes about it and in it,
and to understand the jokes that are being made about it and in it.
But Baudelaire is good, as good as he can be, and of the living
poets Verlaine is about the best thing in French lyrics since
Villon, and Heredia is first-rate.  You've read him?"

C. hadn't.

Burstall quoted some lines from a poem on a Greek subject, a
funeral epigram on a shipwrecked mariner.

"That's as good as possible," he said, "only it takes him fourteen
lines to say it.  A Greek would have said it in four.  Heredia
would have written a perfect sonnet about those flowers that
Suzanne has put on the table.  Rufinus did it in six lines; they
are his flowers, too.  'I send you Rhodocleia, this garland, the
lily, the rose, the moist windflower, the wet narcissus, and the
dark-eyed violet.  Crowned with these flowers, put pride away, for
you shall fade, you as well as the garland.'  I'll lend you a
Heredia when you go away."

Then they talked of English books and of English verse, and to C.'s
delight there was nothing that Burstall did not seem to know.  He
quoted Webster and Donne; Dryden and Keats; Pope and Byron.

"Of course," he said, "you are at the stage when you think
Swinburne is the greatest poet who ever lived.  But you won't think
that for ever.  He is a damned good poet at his best.  For the
moment at a certain epoch of one's life he's like Wagner's music,
he annihilates everything else.  Have you ever heard Wagner's
music?"

C. shook his head.

"Well, you'll have to some day, I suppose.  You must get through it
like measles.  Don't go to it here; they can't do it.  It's
poisonous, neurotic stuff, and it's all wrong; but you'll have to
experience the disease.  Don't think I'm saying you're wrong to
like what you like.  You're young, that's the great thing, and I'm
not, and the young are often right in admiring what they do admire.
It's a great thing they should admire anything.  When people get
older they see nothing in Shelley or Swinburne; the colours seem to
have faded out of these things, but they haven't really.  The
colours are there, only they are too dry and too crusted to see
them.  Only remember, there are other poets as well, and if they
tell you that Pope is not a poet, or that Byron couldn't write
verse, don't believe them.  There is not a young man now alive
writing who would now give both his hands to be able to write one
line as good as any line of Pope, or one of Byron's good lines, and
they could no more do it than fly.  Pay no attention to them,
neither to the dons, and still less to the professsional writers.
You don't know any?  Thank God for it, and don't.  I suppose you
write yourself?"

C. blushed scarlet.

"Yes," he said, "I have tried to write a little."

"Well, you must show me what you've written.  I shall tell you what
I think, and I shan't talk nonsense to you.  Whatever the stuff is
like you are writing now, if you are keen about it, and go on, you
will end by writing something good."  He paused, and added with a
sigh:  "It may be something quite different from what you imagine.
When I was young I thought I should like to write an epic on King
Arthur, and a tragedy about Helen of Troy, and God knows what--a
century of sonnets, hymns like Ronsard's.  Actually I make my
living by writing in journals that nobody reads, and about people
like Donne, and Rabelais, and Villon, that nobody cares about
except pedants who don't understand them--or anything else.  We
live in an illiterate age, and in a country that cares nothing for
art and literature, and it's becoming--although this wasn't always
so, and certainly not in the eighteenth century--a good thing when
they don't; because those who do tend to become nauseating.  Here,
in France, there is a public which does care about those things.  I
don't say they are better.  I don't say they are even more
intelligent.  In some ways they are not, but they do care about
those things; they care for literature, art, and the stage, only
they take no interest in our country, or our literature, or in any
country except their own.  They are like the Chinese, and they have
a stiff brick wall round them.  But if you do care for such things,
for good prose, good verse, good pictures, and good music, you will
have a lonely time of it in England, and the more you keep it to
yourself, the better."

They had finished breakfast by now, and Suzanne brought in some
cups of steaming, fragrant coffee.  Burstall offered C. a Bock
cigar, and wandered round the untidy room, picking up a book here
and a book there, and carrying on a disconnected running comment.
He was a book collector.  And looking for a quotation from Phdre
he took up from an untidy litter a small volume, and showed it to
C., saying:--

"That's a first edition.  I picked it up for two francs.  These
things do happen sometimes.  Adventures in book-collecting happen
sometimes--even to the adventurous."

He began reading to himself, and he stopped and cried out:--

"My God, how good it is!" and his eyes were wet.



CHAPTER XIII


C. left Burstall's house in a flutter that day.  What filled him
most with excitement, not unmixed with apprehension, was the
thought that Burstall might one day read the attempts he had made
at writing.  During his last year at Eton he had written long
ballads, in which the influence of Coleridge, Walter Scott, William
Morris and Rossetti was paramount, but he had burnt all of these,
except what had been printed in the pamphlet started by Bentham,
entitled In the Boys' Library and Other Poems.  But since leaving
Eton the influence of Robert Browning, Victor Hugo and Baudelaire
was beginning to make itself felt, and he attempted several longer
dramatic poems.

He dared not show Burstall his Eton pamphlet, and he was doubtful
about what he had written since.  He had shown some of it to Pelly,
who had been sympathetic and encouraging, and had even sent one of
the poems home to his father, who was a highly-cultivated
Government official.  What his opinion had been was not known, but
Pelly's sister wrote that "They"--meaning the family--"had thought
the poem very bad."

"Probably," C. thought, "Burstall will forget all about it."  In
the meantime he bought Heredia's Trophes, and under the influence
of that impeccable craftsman he began to write sonnets on classical
themes.

Burstall asked him to go for a walk with him several days later,
but he did not mention C.'s writings on this occasion.  They saw
each other frequently during the month of April, but, in spite of
their frequent meetings and their long talks, C. acquired
astonishingly little information about his new friend, that is to
say, about the facts of his life.

Burstall poured out a flood of ideas, opinions, comments, judicious
criticism blent with blatant prejudice, violent abuse and
enthusiastic praise, but he seldom talked about himself; neither of
his present occupations nor past adventures.  C. had no idea where
he had been at school.  He gathered he had been at Cambridge, and
had studied in Germany; that he had travelled in Italy and Greece,
and in the Near East; that he knew French and German extremely
well; that he was saturated with the classics; that he had some
knowledge of painting, sculpture, architecture and music; and that
he was engaged in writing a long and erudite work on Villon and his
epoch, and that he contributed to the more serious reviews.

One afternoon he took C. to the Louvre.

In the picture gallery he spent most of his time looking at the
pictures of Ingres.

"He is the greatest draughtsman who has ever lived," he said.  "You
can't appreciate it now.  You don't care for line at present; you
only care for colour."

C. admitted that he preferred the Fte Champtre of Giorgione.
Pelly had recently lent him Pater's Renaissance, and he had found
it intoxicating.  As he stood in the Salon Carr with Burstall he
quoted a phrase from this book.

"Sticky, sickly stuff," said Burstall; "it's like the paste on a
wedding cake.  You can digest it now all right, just as school-boys
can eat ices without stopping, but there is no life in it and no
rhythm.  It is mosaic, a pattern of different-coloured woods.
Prose ought to be alive with rhythm, however simple or however
complicated it may be.  Take any sentence of Thomas Browne, what he
says about sleep, for instance"; and he declaimed in sonorous
voice:  "'A death which Adam died before his mortality; a death
whereby we live a middle and moderating point between life and
death; in fine, so like death, I dare not trust it without my
prayers, and an half adieu unto the world, and take my farewell in
a colloquy with God.'"

"But surely," said C., "there is a rhythm in Pater's prose too?"

"No rhythm at all, no play of life, no bones, and no flesh and
blood," said Burstall.  "It's all sugar and patchouli--decadent
stuff."

C. wondered why on earth Burstall couldn't admire both, and he was
frankly puzzled at what he thought was a wilful blindness.

"When you're as old as I am," said Burstall, "Pater will make you
vomit."

"But," stammered C. rather shyly, "isn't the end of the essay on
Leonardo jolly good?  Do you remember the end, about Leonardo's
love of precise forms: hands, flowers or hair? and something about
the 'vague land and the last curiosity?'"

"It's musty," said Burstall, "like


     Faint sweetness from some old
     Egyptian's fine worm-eaten shroud
     Which breaks to dust when once unrolled.


Do you know that?  It's Browning--one of the only decent poems he
ever wrote."

"Yes," said C., and he went on with the quotation in his mind:--


     Or shredded perfume, like a cloud
     From closet long to quiet vowed,
     With mothed and dropping arras hung.


He did not dare to say it aloud.

They left the Louvre and walked across the river down the quays.
Paris looked extraordinarily beautiful and elegant in the clear air
of the March evening.  C. made some remark to that effect.

"Yes," said Burstall, "but it's not London."  And he seemed, as he
said that, to be looking for and at something far off and out of
reach with infinite desire and acute homesickness.

They walked down the Quays.  Burstall made a few purchases at a
booth; he bought a small Rabelais and a Horace.  He had, he said,
dozens already, but this one pleased him.  Then they walked slowly
back again and watched the sky, which had spread a rose-red glory
behind the Arc de Triomphe, and they crossed the Place de la
Concorde, and Burstall accompanied C. to the Gare Saint Lazare.

C. was puzzled by Burstall's violent dislikes and his equally
violent likes.  He couldn't abide Wordsworth.  He cared little for
any of the modern poets except for a few fragments of Browning and
Tennyson, and a little of Swinburne's earliest work.  He didn't
care for Virgil; he was indifferent to Shelley.  On the other hand,
he was a fanatical admirer of Catullus, Byron, Verlaine and Racine,
which at first sight would appear to be a mixture full of
contradictions.

Before the end of the month C. had a series of small experiences
which opened fresh cells in his mind and coloured his thoughts with
a new dye.  Pelly took him one night to a studio where a Polish
artist, who was a friend of his, was entertaining a few fellow
artists and other friends.  The party began early--about nine.

The guests were most of them foreigners, that is to say, not French
people, although there were one or two French students and a Madame
Valmont, who was well-known in the literary world of Paris.
Burstall was there.  He knew the host, whose name was Vegas, well.
Vegas was a little man with a sallow face and very long, dark hair,
and quick understanding eyes, vivacious gestures and an insinuating
welcoming manner.  He painted strange landscapes and fashioned
rather shapeless statuettes, but they found favour with the
connoisseurs of the town, and he was able to live by his art.

Burstall snorted at his work openly and frankly and to his face,
and said it was utterly preposterous, but he liked Vegas, and his
criticisms were taken in good part.  Vegas welcomed C. warmly; he
introduced him to Madame Valmont, and to a Miss Church, a young
American from California, who was studying sculpture, and to a
Russian lady with an Italian name, Madame Orioli.

It was a large, high studio, lit by Chinese lanterns.  On one of
the walls there was a fine unfinished oil-colour sketch of some
people in a boat on the Seine in flood, by a friend of Vegas, some
of his tortuous and puzzling impressions, a drawing by Lorain, and
a huge photograph of Michael Angelo's Adam.  There were two large
divans, one in one corner, the other against the opposite wall,
heaped with torn and shabby coloured cushions; at one end of the
room there was a platform with a grand pianoforte on it, an old and
decayed instrument which had seen better days, and an easel with a
picture concealed by a drapery.  There were chairs scattered all
over the place; a table with books and palettes and brushes lying
about, in comfortable chaos, and a long table with supper:--
saucisson de Lyons, sardines, sandwiches, salad, radishes, pickled
caviare, Barsac, lemonade, beer and Cassis and Anisette--and chairs
all along one side of it only, stretched right across the whole
length of one wall.  The room was warmed by a stove and pipe which
disappeared through the ceiling, but the evening was warm, and the
stove was hardly necessary.

Madame Valmont, a middle-aged lady with a decided face and a brisk,
precise utterance, beady eyes and black clothes, and a lace
mantilla, sat bolt upright in a wooden armchair, surrounded by a
crowd of men, and Madame Orioli reclined on one of the divans,
smoking little yellow cigarettes with long mouthpieces.  She was a
large, dark-eyed, lazy-looking person, with a swarthy complexion,
and she looked like a handsome Indian idol.  Miss Church was
standing up in a group of American students; she was quite young,
very tall, almost impossibly fair, with the lightest of blue eyes,
and the most regular features.  She looked as if she had been
carved out of crystal.  Her mother had the same regular features,
but neither the height nor the eyes, and her face was ravaged by
years of travel, ceaseless anxiety and incessant poverty.  She was
weather-beaten and weary, but she still kept up a gallant fight,
and meant to do well by her daughter, Alice.  She watched her
incessantly, without appearing to do so, and seemed to be engrossed
in the conversation she was carrying on with a Frenchman about the
latest developments in art.  Burstall was roped into Madame
Valmont's circle, and very soon dominated it.  Every now and then
Madame Valmont was heard to say that "Burstall est impayable."  He
had the reputation among the French of being a pince sans rire.

C., after having been introduced to four or five people, suddenly
found himself isolated in a crowd of strangers without the sheet-
anchor of Burstall.  He felt helpless and lonely.  Madame Orioli
noticed his plight, and said something to Vegas, who was standing
up at the corner of her divan.  He gave C. a quick look and then
walked up to him, and said:--

"I want to introduce you to a great friend of mine, Madame Orioli,"
and he led him up to the divan.

"Sit down there," said Madame Orioli, and she gave him a cigarette.
"Make yourself comfortable.  I don't expect you know who any of
these people are.  I will tell you."

C. blushed and admitted that he knew nobody.  Madame Orioli made a
remark in Russian to a man who was sitting on the other side of
her.  He said "Da, da."  Then she turned to C. and said:

"You don't speak Russian?"  C. assented.  "You must learn it some
day.  It's an interesting and such a convenient language.  This is
the first time you have been to Vegas' studio?"

"Yes, the first time."

"It is always very amusing.  He can't paint, but he knows how to
receive and entertain.  He is very charming.  Do you want to know
who all the people are?  If I recite to you a string of names you
will be not much the wiser.  You have been introduced to that
American.  She is beautiful, but she has no money, and she and her
mother go from pension to pension like characters in Henry James.
You have read Henry James?"

"No, I am afraid not."

"Well, when you do read him you will find them like that.  The
mother may try and catch you, but she will make enquiries first.
She will take nothing for granted."

"Who is that just coming into the room?" asked C.

It was a girl with very dark hair and large dark blue eyes.  She
was young, and dressed in black, and she might have been French, or
Italian, or Irish.

"She is an English girl," said Madame Orioli, "the daughter of a
musician, a Miss Burke.  She is studying singing.  She will go far,
but not I think in art.  She is too good looking.  She will make un
beau mariage dans le monde."

C. agreed that she was most beautiful.

"She sings very nicely," said Madame Orioli, "but not well enough I
find.  That man who is talking to her is a French student, Dorant.
He is a natural, untaught musician and a charming singer, with a
very pleasing voice.  They will both sing to-night, and we shall
have some gypsy music, too.  You have never heard Russian gypsy
songs?  You will like them."

At that moment there was a slight stir near the doorway, and a lady
made an entre.  She created a wake like a swift, sailing vessel.
She was not very tall, but her perfectly-proportioned figure and
her erect carriage made her look tall.  She trod the ground like a
thoroughbred horse, with the assurance that only those have who are
used to take admiration for granted.  She took the stage without
hesitation, and she moved magnificently.  And yet she was not a
great beauty, not a beauty at all, some people would have said.
She was fair, but her hair was colourless and without radiance; her
eyes were pale blue, hard and without lights; her features small,
too regular, and unimportant; her complexion a little faded.  It
was her figure, her magnificent shoulders, and the way she held
herself and walked that gave her, perhaps, more than she deserved
of the world's attention.  Directly she came into the room
everybody looked at her, and nobody paid any more attention to the
crystal moonshine of Miss Church or to the liquid dark beauty of
Miss Burke.  She was very simply dressed in black, relieved by one
flashing slash of yellow satin, somewhere near her waist and was
wearing a bunch of yellow daffodils; but her clothes seemed to grow
on her, and had an undefinable stamp of elegance and neatness about
them.  She was followed by a tall and rather sulky-looking, fair-
haired man about thirty, who looked younger than she did.

"Who is that?" asked C.

"That," said Madame Orioli, "is Lady Ralph Dallington.  The French
people call her Lady Dallington as they cannot master the nuances
of your English titles.  She lives in Italy, in Rome, and sometimes
she comes here.  Her husband lives in England or Scotland.  They
are not divorced, not even separated, I think, but they live apart.
I have never seen him.  I know her very well, as I, too, live in
Rome most of the year.  She is what you call a very good sort, with
a great deal of aplomb and pluck.  She has one daughter.  She is
much admired in Rome."

"Why is she here?"  C. had put the question owing to a sudden whiff
of Bramsley that the appearance of Lady Ralph had brought with her.

"Well, it is complicated.  I like her very much, and she is a very
good sort, as I said, and that is all you need know."

"Who is the man who came with her?" asked C.

"That is a Russian," said Madame Orioli.  "He was in a cavalry
regiment in Petersburg, and he rides very well.  He is often in
Rome, and he sings gypsy songs.  You will hear him presently."

C. was enjoying his conversation with Madame Orioli, and he was
greatly disappointed when Mrs. Church sailed up to him in a
determined manner, and said that she wanted him to talk to her
daughter.  She led him away to the opposite side of the room, which
was becoming more and more crowded, and hotter and hotter.  C. sat
down on another divan next to the fair and transparent Miss Church.
Vegas, at that moment got up on to the platform, and asked for
silence, as he said the music was about to begin.



CHAPTER XIV


The first person to sing was Miss Burke.  She sang Si mes vers
avaient des ailes and Ah! si vous saviez comme on pleure to a tune
of Tosti's, and as an encore, a song, the refrain of which was Les
coccinelles sont couches.

She sang with a limpid, clear voice; her French accent was perfect,
her diction faultless, but the performance was totally uninspired.

"What does a coccinelle mean?" asked C.

"I guess," said Miss Church, "it's a kind of bug."

"A dragonfly?" hazarded C.

"No, a black-beetle," said Miss Church.

They both laughed.  The music had begun again and they had to
control their laughter as best they could.

Some one was playing the piano--playing Chopin with so much
expression that he was scarcely audible.  The audience listened
inattentively, a spontaneous whispering crept up in various parts
of the room, and they clapped with relief when he had finished.
Then the fair-haired young man who had arrived with Lady Ralph
Dallington got up on to the platform and tuned his three-stringed
balalaika.  As soon as he was ready he began to sing some grating,
bitter-sweet, intensely sentimental and piercingly melancholy
gipsy songs.

C. was entranced.

After the first song three other singers joined him, a soprano, an
alto, and a bass, and they sang a quartette; also the same kind of
song about delirious moonshine and cold dawns, "fierce midnights
and famishing morrows," the intoxication and briefness of love, the
sadness of spring, the satiety of summer, passion lightly come and
gone, lasting heartache and unsatisfied longing--unsatisfied,
permanent longing.

C. and Miss Church looked at each other as these people sang, and
as they drank in the music they enjoyed and shared each other's
pleasure.  They both wallowed in the voluptuous melancholy; they
both enjoyed the luxury of idle tears.  They longed for the singers
to go on for ever.  They did sing again; they sang two or three
songs, songs with a passionate wail in them, and one with an
insistent, swelling refrain that grew louder and fiercer, like the
howling of a pack of wolves.

"Aren't they wonderful?" said Miss Church.

Her lovely cool-blue eyes were wet with tears.  C. was deeply moved
as well.

"I should like them to go on all night," he said.

"So should I," she said, and they looked at each other, and C. went
on looking at Miss Church.

They stopped, however, after the fourth or fifth song, and they
were followed on the platform by Dorant, who sang a seventeenth-
century song with grace and great purity of tone.  His voice was
slight, but true.  Dorant was a professional painter, and, although
only an amateur musical composer and performer, he was an amateur
in the best sense of the word.  He made music for pleasure.  His
range was not wide, but what he tried to do he accomplished with
unerring tact and discretion.  After the old French he sang a love-
song by Augusta Holmes, and then a lyric of Thophile Gautier, with
music by Faur:--


          Avril est de retour.
          La premire des roses,
          De ses lvres mi-closes,
          Sourit au premier beau jour;
          La terre bien heureuse
          S'ouvre et s'panouit;
          Tout aime, tout jouit,
  Hlas!  J'ai dans le cur une tristesse affreuse!


And once again C. and Miss Church shared the luxury of melancholy,
a melancholy they had not yet experienced.  They were, therefore,
able to enjoy it to the full, and to shed happy tears; all the more
so perhaps because Dorant sang the song in the same mood and
without a trace of the sorrows that hurts and the passion that
sears.


          Les buveurs en gait,
          Dans leurs chansons vermeilles,
          Clbrent sous les treilles
          Le vin et la beaut;
          La musique joyeuse
          Avec leur rire clair
          S'parpille dans l'air.
  Hlas!  J'ai dans le cur une tristesse affreuse!

          En deshabills blancs,
          Les jeunes demoiselles
          S'en vont sous les tonnelles
          Au bras de leurs galants;
          La lune langoureuse
          Argente leurs baisers
          Longuement appuys.
  Hlas!  J'ai dans le cur une tristesse affreuse!

          Moi, je n'aime plus rien,
          Ni l'homme, ni la femme,
          Ni mon corps, ni mon me,
          Pas mme mon vieux chien.
          Allez dire qu'on creuse,
          Sous le ple gazon,
          Une fosse sans nom.
  Hlas!  J'ai dans le cur une tristesse affreuse!


"I liked that one best of all," said Miss Church, when he had
finished.

"So did I," said C.

There was a general move towards the supper table.  C. wanted to
sit next to Miss Church, but, to his surprise, Vegas asked him to
take "Lady Dallington" to the supper table.

"I used to know your father and mother very well," she said as he
walked up to her, "and I know your Aunt Emma in Rome.  Let's sit
right at the end of the table.  I don't want to sit next to a
Frenchman.  It's such a comfort to see an Englishman after all
these frowsy foreigners.  I don't count Americans as English."

They sat down.  On the other side of Lady Ralph there was a shy
American student, who, however, was firmly taken in hand by his
neighbour, Mrs. Church.

Lady Ralph sipped a small glass of anisette, and poured out volumes
of quick, metallic talk to C.  She was on her way back to Rome.
She loathed it as a place and she detested Roman society, but one
must live somewhere, and it was cheap and warm in winter.

"The Italians are monkeys," she said.  "I always wear black and
yellow, and when I went to the races at Milan last year, and the
Italian women saw me dressed in black and yellow, the next day they
all copied me.  They were all in black and yellow.  I just looked
at them and said 'Monkeys!'  If you come to Rome you must come and
see me.  I like seeing Englishmen.  Of course, there are English
people in Rome, but not my sort."

And so the conversation rattled on, and they sat a long time at
supper.  When, at last, it was over, C. made an attempt to have
another talk with Miss Church, who he saw was looking at him, but
it was too late.  The plan was again thwarted, by Mrs. Church this
time, who carried C. off to one of the divans and talked to him
about serious subjects in an undertone, while Dorant sang some
songs by Lully.  And then it was time to go, for, although the
party lasted till far on in the night--past midnight--Burstall and
C. had to leave to catch the last train to Versailles.

C. was steeped in melancholy as he left the studio.  He had wanted
to talk to Miss Church.  It would be too strong an expression to
say it had been a case of love at first sight, but it had been a
case of sympathy and admiration at first sight, one of those little
love affairs that are the false dawn of real ones, but further
progress had been impeded by the intervention of Lady Ralph
Dallington, and C., unfortunately, had not reached quite the right
age to be charmed by her.  Moreover, she had plunged him into the
atmosphere of Bramsley once more.  As Burstall and C. travelled
back in the train C. spoke of the music.

"I liked the Russian songs best," he said.

"Barbarous, nasal, Oriental wailings," said Burstall.  "Dorant was
good."

"Yes," said C.  "I liked that song of Gautier's.  I had never come
across those words."

"Yes," said Burstall, "you would enjoy that NOW."

But even the thought of that song was evidently painful to him, and
an expression of pain passed over his face, but he brushed away the
evidences of his melancholy by humming one of the Offenbach tunes
that Dorant had sung.

"That's better stuff," he said.  "It's as good as Sullivan--the
only modern English composer."

They parted at Versailles Station, and as Burstall said good-bye to
C. he said to him:--

"By the way, you never sent me your verse.  Send it along."

The words were like an electric shock to C.  He slept little that
night.  First of all the vision of Miss Church's clear complexion
and light blue eyes rose before him obstinately, and fragments of
the music, the long-drawn-out wail and the howling, insistent
chorus of the Russian singers, the finished grace of Dorant when he
sang seventeenth-century music, the tang and rattle of Lady Ralph's
conversation, which had brought him back to Bramsley and to the
Hengrave atmosphere, and the look of pain on Burstall's face when
he had spoken of Gautier's poem--all these things shone and moved
before him like the facets of an ever-changing kaleidoscope.  And
Burstall's request that he should send him his verse!  Did he mean
it?  Of course he did, otherwise he would never have mentioned it.
What would he think?  What should he send?  Not everything he had
written.  The sonnet Medea perhaps, or the series of sonnets on
Resolution, or that lyric?  No; Burstall would think that crude.
Perhaps he had better not send him anything, and yet he would so
much like to know.

Towards morning he fell into a restless sleep, and he woke up again
earlier than usual, when the birds were singing and the sun not
long been up.  He got up early and went out.  When he came back,
and had his caf au lait, he took out his MSS. from a drawer, and
he made a selection of those poems which he thought were least
likely to displease Burstall, and put them into a large envelope.
He was very distrait all that morning as he sat at his books and
read aloud to Madame Maartens.  She noticed it and said to herself
"The boy is in love.  Tant mieux."  She had a homely fund of
romance.

In the afternoon, he had a lesson from Monsieur Jollivet, who was
in an irritable frame of mind, and underlined several mistakes he
had made in his composition, "A letter to a friend describing a
visit to Paris," ferociously.  When the lesson was over Monsieur
Jollivet calmed down slightly.  C. ventured to ask him whether he
admired Gautier.

Yes.  Monsieur Jollivet said that Thophile Gautier had written
some very good verse, but that he was too romantic and not a patch
on Andr Chnier.  He took the works of the latter from the shelf
and read out La Captive from beginning to end.  C. didn't listen.
He was thinking of a thousand other things.  On his way home C.
left his MSS. at Burstall's house, and in so doing he felt he had
committed an irreparable act.  He had arranged to spend the next
day, which was Sunday, with Pelly in Paris.  It was the only day of
the week on which Pelly was free.

Sunday was a day of luxury to C.  It was sheer bliss to him no
longer to be obliged to go to church.  Sunday at home at Bramsley
had always been a nightmare; the long Morning Service, the Litany,
the Ante-Communion Service, the interminable aridity of the sermon,
the long luncheon afterwards, beginning with roast beef and ending
with seed cake and sherry; and then the Sunday walk in which the
whole family and any guests who happened to be there joined, the
inspection of the stables and the garden.

Now he felt he need never go to church again unless he wished to,
and yet, in spite of this, he never once questioned the orthodox
beliefs he had been taught at home, and the Church of England
seemed to him as solid and as unchangeable a fact as the solar
system.  As for Catholicism and other religions, they were, of
course, all very well for foreigners, but he could no more imagine
changing his religion than becoming a Hottentot.

He found Pelly in his pension and they went to a Duval and had
djeuner.

They talked first of the party at Vegas'.  C. talked of Burstall.
Pelly had never seen him before.

"I expect he's tremendously clever," said Pelly.

"Yes, he is, tremendously," said C.  "He's read everything."

He felt more uncomfortable than ever at having sent Burstall his
MSS.  He would have consulted Pelly, only he knew that Pelly was
engrossed at this moment in pictures and art.

After luncheon they went to the Luxembourg and Pelly took C. to see
Whistler's picture of his mother, which he said his artist friends
told him was the greatest of all modern pictures, and one of the
finest pictures in the world.

"They say," he said, "that it's all nonsense pretending that modern
art isn't just as good as what the old masters did.  They say that
picture is every inch as good as a Velasquez.  I don't know.  I
agree with them about modern music.  Think of Wagner."

He had been, he said, to a wonderful concert where a great deal of
Wagner had been performed, and he was full of it.

"The next time there is a really good concert you must come with
me."

"Yes," said C., feeling that he would be an inadequate companion,
and remembering the classical concerts at Aunt Fanny's house.  "But
I'm not musical," he said, "I don't understand classical music.  I
like the sort of music those Russians sang the other night."

"Yes," said Pelly, "but you should hear Wagner.  He isn't
classical.  It's like nothing else in the world.  After you have
heard it you can't listen to any other kind of music.  You can't
bear Mozart.  At any rate, I'm a Wagnerite."

They left the Luxembourg after Pelly had taken C. through room
after room discussing the pictures, comparing notes on this and
that painter.  They walked through the network of streets on the
south side of the Seine past the Odon, and as they passed rather a
big church, Pelly said:--

"We might go in there; the music there is very good.  There is a
man at my pension, called Winslow, he took me here."

They went in, but there was no service going on.  It was a large,
late Renaissance, neo-classic building.  A few women in deep
mourning were kneeling here and there in the deserted Nave.  In
front of a side altar a multitude of candles were burning.  As they
stood there a young woman dressed in black and heavily veiled
bought a tall candle from an old woman and placed it on a spike
with the other candles.  She then knelt down and said a prayer.
Over the altar there was a gaudy statue of a Saint, holding a bunch
of lilies and the Infant Saviour in his arms.

There was a palpable silence in the church, and C., who had never
been inside a Catholic church in his life, and thought of them, in
the light of Mrs. Brimstone's and Miss Hackett's stray remarks,
with a feeling of dread and horror, was surprised.  The church
seemed to be much less empty and different from those to which he
had been accustomed.

As they went out Pelly said:--

"Winslow takes me here on Sundays."

"Is he an R.C.?" asked C.

"No," said Pelly, "but he's very High Church.  He knows exactly
what to do and how and when to cross himself."

"Will he become an R.C.?" asked C., remembering the views of his
family on conversions.

"No," said Pelly.  "He says the Anglican Catholic Church is an
older branch than the Roman."

"And are you High Church, too?" asked C.

"No," said Pelly.  "I'm not a Christian."

"Oh," said C. interestedly.

It was the first time he had heard any one he knew make such a
confession, although he knew that his Aunt Fanny had the reputation
of being in the same position.

"Have you ever read the Song of Solomon in the Bible?" Pelly asked,
after a light pause.

"No," said C., "I haven't."

"Well, you must.  It's wonderful.  It's much better than Swinburne.
It's the most wonderful, passionate, burning love song ever
written.  Well, in the Bible, they say it's all a symbol of the
Church, the Christian Church.  Well, that must be nonsense, and if
that is nonsense, why should any of it be true?  It's supposed to
be all true."  The problem did seem a difficult one.  "But I like
the Catholic churches and the services, all the same," said Pelly,
"and the Latin words.  It's very old and dignified."

"But you couldn't become an R.C.?"

"Well, I don't think Catholicism is anything to do with
Christianity, I could never make the mental gymnastic necessary to
fit them together, and I think, too, one must be born a Catholic to
be one."

They talked of other things.  C. went back to Versailles for
dinner, and that night, when he went to bed, he read the Song of
Solomon in the Bible that Lady Hengrave had given him when he first
went to school.  Pelly was right.  It was, indeed, a wonderful
poem.  It was like Swinburne, but if anything, better.  And the
commentary on the top of the pages, talking of what it symbolised,
must be nonsense.  Pelly was right.  It WAS nonsense.  Then why was
any of it true?  Was the whole thing imagination?  People had made
up the story and believed it because they wanted to.  Yes--but it
had convulsed the world, and thousands of people had died because
they believed in it.  But what did that prove?  Only two days
before he had read in a book that a cause was not necessarily true
because people died for it.  People had died for every kind of
cause, and often for worthless causes.  There had been martyrs for
the Stuarts.  There were people who thought Mr. Gladstone was the
antichrist.  And it suddenly occurred to C. that the religion he
had been brought up in was more a social and political code, a
standard of decorum, than anything else; that his father and mother
went to church in the same way as they went to Lord's, or to the
House of Lords, or to Ascot, but there was little real religion
behind it all.  They weren't religious at all.  The whole thing was
a sham.  Then why bother?  Pelly was right.  Pelly had said quite
simply that he wasn't a Christian, and that solved the matter.
Well, he wasn't a Christian either.  And having made this
discovery, C. felt relieved and quite easy in his mind.  That
question was settled, and he need not give any thought to the
matter again.  He wondered what Burstall thought about such things.
He had never heard him mention anything to do with religion.  He
felt that he would certainly never dare to broach the subject to
him, nor did he now feel the need of doing so, for he considered
that he had settled the matter in his mind once and for all.

This walk with Pelly, the visit to the church, and the conversation
that followed it, and the fruits which that conversation bore, was
the second of the little episodes that occurred to C. during that
month, which changed or modified the pattern and the colours of his
mind.



CHAPTER XV


C. was longing to talk over this religious discovery with Burstall.
He regarded it as an emancipation which seemed to have lifted a
load that, unknown to himself, had been weighing on him for years.
Pelly had mentioned the writings of Renan, and C. bought the Vie de
Jsus, and this seemed to clinch the matter.  Christianity, he
thought, was a dead thing, the observance of which was kept going
and kept alive by society because it was convenient and expedient,
and as a social observance.  The people who thought and studied for
themselves, and who went into the matter like Renan and Ibsen, for
instance (and Pelly had told C. all about Ibsen), obviously thought
it was all nonsense, but very few people thought for themselves,
and the majority loved convention and ready-made ideas, and could
not bear the even surface of accepted doctrine to be ruffled or
disturbed.  He felt that Christianity was just one of the many
conventions upon which the life of the people among whom he had
been brought up, and whom he knew best (his parents, his uncles and
aunts, and the Calhouns, and the Eton masters), was based and built
up.  It was like the cult of athletics at school, the observance of
social rules and conventions at home.

This discovery did not worry him in the least.  On the contrary, he
felt he had attained an unguessed-of freedom.  He did not wish to
proclaim his need, or his absence of need, to any one, but he had a
certain curiosity to know what Burstall thought about these things.
All the knowledge he had of Burstall consisted of certain
incomplete sidelights on tastes and opinions in literature and art,
and these were perplexingly contradictory.  Besides this, all he
knew was that Burstall was an uncompromising Tory, who was in
favour of the power of the Crown being increased; who thought that
the Whigs had been the bane of England, and should be killed en
bloc, and that Gladstone was a traitor, a hypocrite and a self-
deceiver, and he had heard him say that he hoped the Emperor of
Russia would never give way to the aliens and to the demagogues.
That was all he knew of his opinions on political matters.  He had
never heard him mention religion.  The nearest he had ever got to
it was to say that Cobbett's book on the Reformation was
fundamentally true, but C. had never read it and had never heard of
Cobbett.  He made up his mind that the next time he saw him he
would ask him what he thought of Renan as a writer, and this might
lead to further revelations.  Two days later he received the
following letter:--


                                        VERSAILLES, RUE DE LA GARE,
                                                       April, 18--.

DEAR BRAMSLEY,

I have been called back to London.  I am obliged to start
immediately, and I have no time to bid you good-bye.  I have read
your verse.  It is difficult to give an opinion on the work of the
very young, and you are--and I hope you thank God for it every day--
still very young.  There are extremely few instances in the whole
history of literature of men afterwards destined to become writers
of good verse whose work written at your age showed any promise
beyond that of being able to write something.  You have facility.
That is all that the young Pope and the baby Keats and the infant
Shelley showed signs of in the work of their 'teens.  I seem to
detect something else.  I should not be surprised if one day you
were to write verse or prose of the first excellence, but I may be
wrong.  My judgment is bad, and I am no critic, and still less of a
prophet.  But I do say this, whether you write good verse or bad
verse, or no verse at all, I feel sure that write you will, and you
cannot do better than to persevere.  I have marked what I
considered to be some good lines in your work--good not only in the
sense of promise, but of performance.  Remember that verse is the
blossom of many minds, the fruit of few.  But go on writing
whatever you feel inclined to write, and when you are older you
will have command of the tools, and you will be able to express
whatever your particular message is destined to be.  Read the
classics in all the languages.  If possible, learn Greek, but don't
believe a word you are told by the professors.  I do not know how
long I shall be away, nor when I shall return, if ever.  These
things are on the knees of the gods.  I shall always be pleased to
hear from you, and I wish you success.  Letters sent to the MINERVA
CLUB, LONDON, will be forwarded to me.

                                                              I am,
                                                      Yours always,
                                           ANDREW MICHAEL BURSTALL.


C. was immensely cheered by this letter, but grieved that Burstall
had left.  The element that had made life most interesting had
suddenly been removed, for Pelly, although he was a charming
companion, had none of the fire, nor the energy, nor the salt and
the savour, that made Burstall's company and companionship
interesting and exciting.  A chill feeling of inexpressible gloom,
disappointment and emptiness settled upon him.  The world seemed
for the moment to be a much greyer place.  As to his writing, what
Burstall told him cheered him, and he felt justified in continuing.
He wrote a series of poems about the pictures in the Louvre, and a
lyric addressed to an anonymous unknown, in which there was a
reflection of his impressions of Miss Church.  He burnt a great
deal of what he had written since he left Eton, keeping only those
poems in which some lines had been marked by Burstall.

Soon after Burstall's departure Pelly wrote to him saying that he
had been given two tickets, billets de faveur, for a matine that
was being held at the Trocadro for some charity.  The programme
was not especially interesting, but a famous actress who was
passing through Paris was said to be going to recite.  This,
however, was doubtful.  He urged C. to accompany him.  C. accepted
with alacrity.  The matine took place on a Sunday afternoon, so
that Pelly was able to go without difficulty.  They were well
placed in the huge hall, near the stage, but Pelly was forced to
admit that the programme was not of the most attractive.  The
orchestra played the overture to Coriolanus; a famous pianist
played some elaborate fantasias which showed off the dexterity of
his fingers to its utmost advantage; a gigantic and massive
contralto sang the Gounod's Ave Maria with violin obligato; there
was a violin solo, and several songs were sung by a tenor from the
Opra Comique, and the first part of the concert ended with the
Intermezzo from the Cavalleria Rusticana.  So far C. had not
enjoyed anything very greatly.  The second part of the concert
began with a patriotic recitation by one of the male artists of the
Comdie Franaise, which was immensely applauded, but which left C.
stone-cold.  Then came more solos, a duet from Gounod's Romeo and
Juliet, more instrumental playing, till the long expected and
partially deferred number was put up which announced the appearance
of Madame Madeleine Lapara.

"She is coming after all," C. heard his neighbours say.

C. had heard about this actress during his schooldays.  She had
appeared in London, and his mother went to see her act religiously,
but never took the children.  The plays she appeared in were said
to be unfit for the young.  C. had seen photographs of her in the
Paris shop windows, and he had admired what seemed to be the poetic
semblance of a great and rare personality, but when he had
mentioned her to Monsieur Jollivet all the latter had said was "Je
l'ai vu jouer Hermione dans Andromaque et elle y tait excrable."

"Is she very wonderful?" he said to Pelly.

"I have never seen her," said Pelly, "but one of the art students
at the pension says that, when she chooses, she is the greatest
artist who has ever lived, and he says he would walk barefoot to
see her in Phdre."

There was suddenly a breathless hush, then a great storm of
applause, and Madame Madeleine Lapara was led on to the stage.  She
was not tall; she wore a large black hat, which seemed to be in the
way, and a long, loose, dark brown cloak, plentifully trimmed with
fur, and a fur boa round her neck.  She carried a large bunch of
violets.  She put the flowers on the grand pianoforte, and then,
taking a little piece of paper in her hand, she walked to the edge
of the platform.  C. was disappointed in her appearance.  He had
expected a romantic princess, instead of which, on the platform,
there stood a lady who might have stepped out of an artistic
fashion plate.  She seemed to be intensely Parisian, ultra-modern,
an article de Paris.

She paused a moment, looking down at the piece of paper in her
hand.  And then she said, "Obsession de Sully Prudhomme."  And as
she spoke the title C. already seemed to feel a change in the moral
temperature of the air.


     Un mot me hante, un mot me tue.
     Je l'coute contre mon gr:
     A le bannir je m'vertue,
     Il me suit, toujours murmur.

     A l'ancien chant de ma nourrice
     Je le mle pour l'assoupir,
     Mais, redoutable adulatrice,
     La musique en fait un soupir.


She sighed the words, speech seemed too coarse and music too
definite a word for the soft, rippling cascade of syllables which
filled the large hall.


     Je gravis alors la montagne
     Pour l'touffer dans le grand vent.
     Jusqu'au sommet il m'accompagne:
     Il y devient gmissement.


She raised her voice, her arms and her eyes; she lifted the soft
pedal.  The mystery took wings; her voice sounded clear and
silvery, and the audience scaled that mountain with her, and felt
the buffet of the great clean wind, and all at once the undying
sadness following her even to the mountain top--it dimmed the glory
and darkened the sun.


     Je demande  la mer sonore
     De le changer en bruit de flot.
     Plus plaintif et plus tendre encore,
     Hlas! il y devient sanglot. . . .


In the first two lines an abrupt modulation enlarged the sighing
utterance; it became grave and deep, and then she pressed an
ethereal pedal on her voice; it was once more unimaginably soft and
caressing, and something more than soft: there was something subtle
about it which defied analysis, like the scent of a flower at
night.  As she spoke the word sanglot there was a break in her
voice, and it was her piteous eyes that seemed to be speaking.  A
murmured acclamation escaped from the audience, and here and there
whispered bravos were heard.  A well-known critic, commenting on
the recitation in his feuilleton the following Monday, said there
was no search after effect in it and nothing time-taking, "point
d'effets cherchs ni de temps pris; cependant que de nuances
indiques, d'un simple trait de voix courant!" and he spoke of the
tremor of applause.  "Ctait un frmissement continu dans la
salle; . . . un murmure d'admiration et de plaisir qui coupait
le vers."


     Je tente, comme un dernier charme,
     Le silence enchant des bois;


You could have heard a pin drop.


     Mais je le sens qui devient larme
     Ds qu'il a cess d'tre voix.


The accent on the word larme trembled a little and stabbed the
listeners, who had been taken to secret woodways and to lofty
aisles of green trees.


     Ce qui pleure ou ne peut se taire,
     Est-ce en moi le remords? oh! non:
     C'est un souvenir solitaire
     Au plus lointain de l'me . . . un nom.


The last stanza seemed to float by as swiftly as a puff of smoke.
They were said almost before C. was aware she had begun; and far
away, infinitely far away, from the starless end of the soul, the
last word was sent to sound and softly die, leaving something
behind that lingered after its death.  And through all the
plaintive sighing music there was something else, something which
made itself felt, a poignant note, a stab, an immense sadness.

"Yes," the accents said:  "I know how sweet it is, and I know, too,
how very bitter is that sweetness," and as she ended, her eyes were
full of the sorrow of all the lovers in the world.  It was as if
she had laid bare a secret wound, a wound that every one had
suffered and every one had concealed, and that she had touched it
with a divinely magical, healing finger.

There were a few seconds of silence and then the audience burst
into a great roar.  C. didn't any longer know where he was nor what
he was doing.

In the meantime Madeleine Lapara had bowed her way from the stage,
but the audience stood up and shouted till she came back.  She
bowed from the corner of the platform and pressed her face against
her bouquet of violets, but the enthusiasm of the audience when
they saw her, rose into a frenzy, and there was one loud roar of
bis.

She left the platform, but she was recalled again and yet again,
but she showed no sign of being willing to repeat the performance.
The roar of the audience became more insistent and more imperative,
and all at once she apparently either changed her mind or made it
up.  The expression in her eyes seemed to say:  "Well, if you want
it, you shall have it."

She walked up to the pianoforte and she took off her hat, which was
transfixed and held in place by a long dagger-like pin.  This freed
a great mane of picturesque rebellious hair.  She put the hat down
and the flowers as well, on the pianoforte, and she took a cane
chair and dragged it right to the extreme front edge of the stage.
Then she sat down, and said in ordinary commonplace tones, as of a
schoolgirl saying a lesson:  "Le Songe d'Athalie."  There came a
gasp, partly of surprise, partly of expectation, from the audience,
and C. felt that he was back in the schoolroom at Hengrave House.
He saw Mademoiselle Walter, her determined jaw and the square,
black ruler on the long polished table.

"Caryl, tu perds ton temps," he heard the sharp reminder again.

Madeleine Lapara clasped her hands and bent her head.  Then she
raised her head again and looked straight in front of her and
murmured to herself:


     Un songe (me devrai-je inquiter d'un songe?)
     Entretient dans mon cur un chagrin qui le ronge,
     Je l'vite partout, partout il me poursuit.


Ominous apprehension and the shadow of a coming nightmare descended
upon the audience.


     C'tait pendant l'horreur d'une profonde nuit.


As she spoke the line she opened her eyes wide, and they were full
of fire and dread, like those of a frightened wild beast.

In the row in front opposite there was a little boy about nine
years old sitting next to his mother, a large prosperous middle-
class lady dressed in bright magenta.

"Maman, j'ai peur" he whispered.

She took him on her knee, kissed him and quieted and soothed him.
He buried his face on her shoulder and remained quite still till
the end of the performance.

As Lapara spoke this first line her voice had the depth and
sonority of a great bell, and C. suddenly felt how infinite in
suggestion were these bare, bald words.  He understood what
Monsieur Jollivet, what Burstall, what the whole French nation
meant when they said Racine was a great poet.


     Ma mre Jzabel devant moi s'est montre,
     Comme au jour de sa mort pompeusement pare.
     Ses malheurs n'avaient point abattu sa fiert.
     Mme elle avait encor cet clat emprunt,
     Dont elle eut soin de peindre et d'orner son visage,
     Pour rparer des ans l'irrparable outrage.


The words were hammered out in icy, low, metallic tones, in a
matter-of-fact voice, but a matter of tremendous fact, as of some
one who had been the eyewitness of a ghastly tragedy, and who had
not yet recovered from the shock of the spectacle.  The words had
the ring of truth and the accent of calamity.  She was telling the
bare facts, and as she did so the fallen Queen appeared to that
vast audience in all her undiminished pride.  The image evoked was
horrible, and great, and piteous, as well as horrible; for she had
come back with a painted face from the dead, and taken pains to
make up even in the region of Tophet.  And her arts had proved
ineffectual, her pretence of youth a mockery.  The reciter seemed
to grow a hundred years older as she said the lines, and C. thought
of Froude's description of the executioner holding up Mary Stuart's
severed head, grown grey and suddenly that of an old woman, at
Fotheringay.  (He had read this at Eton in the Boys' Library.)


     "Tremble," m'a-t-elle dit, "fille digne de moi,
     Le cruel Dieu des Juifs l'emporte aussi sur toi.
     Je te plains de tomber dans ses mains redoutables,
     Ma fille."


A soul in hell seemed to be shrieking a warning with all its feeble
might.

There came a change of key.


     En achevant ses mots pouvantables
     Son ombre vers mon lit a paru se baisser,
     Et moi, je lui tendais mes mains pour l'embrasser.
     Mais je n'ai plus trouv qu'un horrible mlange
     D'os et de chair meurtris, et trains dans la fange,
     Des lambeaux pleins de sang, et des membres affreux,
     Que des chiens dvorants se disputaient entre eux.


There was a decrescendo in tone, but the horror it expressed went
on increasing in pitch.  She suited the gesture to the words, and
she stretched out her hands.  She stood up as she spoke, and became
a classic figure.  C. beheld the ghosts in Virgil, on the banks of
the Styx, stretching their arms towards the forbidden shore.  In
the last four lines of the speech the voice rose to a high pitch of
horror, and ended with a cry and a gesture--as though she were
warding off the vision with her hands--of terror, pity, disgust--
unendurable pain.  The audience felt they were in the presence of a
brutal catastrophe.  C. remembered the first time he had been in at
the death out fox hunting, and as he looked at the actress he saw
reflected in her eyes the horror at an unbearable sight; and then
she seemed to change and to become herself the fallen Queen at bay,
Queen Jezebel, in all her borrowed youth, her malignant majesty and
evil glamour, turning and snarling defiance at the murderous pack,
and finally defeated, pulled down, chawed and mangled, and he
seemed to hear a human cry drowned and stifled by a merciless
baying and yelping.  The audience, he felt, were all of them in at
the death, and they knew it.  It was a hideous hallali, and the
quarry was an old painted queen.  The audience swayed towards the
platform; and C. noticed, in one brief second, that right up at the
right-hand corner of the top gallery, two members of the Garde
Rpublicaine were straining over the heads of the people in the
back row, immobile, fascinated, spellbound, as every one else.  The
audience were shouting now, not with a clamorous enthusiasm as
after the first piece, but with determination and in a rhythmical
disciplined chorus, "Bis, bis, bis," that would take no denial.
She said it all over again, beginning this time at


     C'tait pendant l'horreur d'une profonde nuit,


and C. was hardly conscious when it was over that she had begun, or
that it had all happened twice; he was still in the vision; still
on the spot of the tragedy; still in the presence of the murdered
and mangled queen; still under the pressure of the prodigious
nightmare.  She was silent; and once more the audience, like one
man, insisted on hearing it all over again.  It seemed as if both
they and the actress had been caught as workmen are caught by the
flying wheel of a machine.  Genius had escaped and got beyond
control, and had maddened the audience beyond frenzy to a cold,
relentless fury.  They were determined to have their way.  It was
as though the actress had become the hunted quarry, and they the
remorseless pack of hounds--or were they the quarry and she the
inspired huntsman?  A vicious circle of inspiration and enthusiasm
had been forged from which there was no escape, and to which there
could be no end.

C. had no idea how many times Madeleine Lapara repeated the
passage, but, at last, he was conscious that the audience had risen
to its feet, and that every one was leaving the hall in silence.
The dream was over.  She had, so Pelly said, repeated the sixteen
lines five times running.  It was, they said afterwards, unheard-of
in the annals of the stage.

The programme was by no means exhausted, but the concert, by
universal consent, had come to an end, for the audience, after what
they had heard, were unable to listen to anything else, and Madame
Lapara tottered from the platform under a final deafening farewell
of acclamation--a shattered, exhausted shell--a sibyl who had been
bending too long over the cauldrons of Doldona.

In the vestibule of the hall C. met Burstall.

"I came over for this, last night," he said.  "She promised to
recite if I came over.  She bet me a hundred francs I wouldn't
come.  I am going back to-night by the night train, and I can't
stop and talk to you now.  I'm going round to see Madeleine.  She
knows I'm here.  She saw me when she was recalled after the first
piece.  She knows I like Racine.  My God!  What a woman! and what a
poet!" and he rushed off snuffling.



CHAPTER XVI


The three experiences that dyed the colour of C.'s mind during his
stay at Versailles, besides his acquaintance with Burstall, were
the evening party given in Vegas' studio, the conversation he had
with Pelly about the Song of Solomon, and the recitation of
Madeleine Lapara.  It was, curiously enough, this last experience
that confirmed and expressed what the other two had only dimly
adumbrated and foreshadowed.  As soon as Madame Lapara opened her
lips, C. entered into a new world.  The experience was on a larger
and a deeper scale than that which he had already felt when he had
heard Fanny Talbot at his private school.  But the sentiments that
Madame Lapara inspired him with were as different from those he had
felt when seeing Fanny Talbot, as the thoughts of a boy of thirteen
are different from those of a boy of eighteen.  He did not fall in
love with Madeleine Lapara, although he felt he would give worlds
to see her again, but he fell in love with LOVE, with an imaginary
person, based more or less on Miss Church, whom he felt he would
give worlds to see again.  He was like some one who had seen the
object of a quest in a vision and who must henceforth roam the
world till he is face to face with the incarnation of his dream--
and must tear the masks from the faces of all till he finds the one
face he is seeking for.

But this was not the only effect the recitation at the Trocadro
had.  It sealed not only what he had begun to feel in the studio,
but also what he had felt after his conversation with Pelly about
the Song of Solomon; it ratified the emancipation he was enjoying.
He felt he now had the entry into a free Pagan world and that the
forts of convention and social prejudice had all crumbled and had
fallen before the blast of magic trumpets.  This new world was all
before him.  He had only just crossed the boundary, and he felt
there were wide fertile provinces and infinite riches to be
discovered.  Paris, he felt, was a wonderful springboard from
whence to leap into undiscovered seas, and he was looking forward
to exhilarating adventure when all of a sudden an unexpected
revolution took place in his career.

C.'s aunt, Mrs. Roden, Mr. Roden and the two girls spent Easter in
Paris that year, and C. was invited to have djeuner one day and to
dine another evening with his cousins, the Roden girls, and to see
Le tour du monde en 80 jours, at the Chtelet, which was the only
play going on at that moment which was thought to be quite safe for
the female young person.

One day C. was asked to djeuner at the Hotel Meurice, where the
Rodens were staying, and he found Mrs. Roden alone.  The girls had
gone out, she said, with their father.

"I wanted to have a talk with you alone," she said.

She then explained to C. that a family council had been held in
London about him and his future.  It had been settled that he was
to try and pass into the Foreign Office, possibly into the
Diplomatic Service, although there were difficulties about that.
The difficulties meant the expense, of course.

Mr. Spark, the crammer, had been consulted.  He knew all that there
was to be known about these examinations.  He was of the opinion
that C. should spend at least a year at Oxford or Cambridge.  Mrs.
Roden said she had persuaded Lady Hengrave to consent to this plan.
What she didn't say was that she had undertaken to pay for C.'s
university education.

Lady Hengrave had then written to Mr. Pringle, C.'s former tutor,
and had asked him whether C. would be able to pass into Oxford
without difficulty.  There was, it appeared, a tiresome little
examination called Smalls, which had to be faced.  Mr. Pringle had
written back to say that, owing to C.'s having done German for
Greek during his last year at Eton, he would need some extra
coaching in that subject; he was also extremely weak in
mathematics, and the sums needed in Responsions, although easy, had
to be solved correctly if the candidate was to pass.  He had made
inquiries about C.'s proficiency in modern languages, and the
French masters had all agreed that his French was far above the
average.  The German master, on the other hand, said that his
German sadly needed brushing up.  He considered, therefore, that C.
was wasting his time in France, and it would be far wiser for him
to spend a few months in Germany, and then a month, or possibly two
months, at a crammer's.  He recommended a certain Mr. Owen, who
lived at Bournemouth, and was a specialist in preparing boys for
Oxford and Cambridge.

Mr. Spark's establishment did not open in the autumn till the
middle of September, nor did he specialise in this branch of
cramming.  Lady Hengrave had consulted Mr. Spark once more, who had
said that C. should undoubtedly brush up his German, and
recommended a family at Alterstadt, near the Harz Mountains.  He
advised, after that, a year at Oxford, and he would then receive
him into his establishment, and he could begin the serious business
of cramming.

Lady Hengrave consented to C.'s going to Oxford, but she thought it
was quite unnecessary for him to go to Germany at present.  She was
led, however, to change her mind.  Her sister Emma was en poste at
Rome, and she mentioned in a letter to Lady Hengrave that she had
seen Lady Ralph Dallington, who had just come from Paris, and who
had spoken of C. as being a nice boy and obviously in love with a
very pretty but penniless American called Miss Church, whose mother
was well-known to be a determined woman and an intriguer.  She
warned her sister of the danger, adding that C. had probably
inherited his dear father's susceptibility.  Lady Hengrave was
alarmed, and resolved that C. must not stay a day longer at
Versailles than was necessary.

As a matter of fact, Lady Hengrave's fears were probably quite
groundless, for Mrs. Church made no overtures to C.  It was well
known that she investigated the circumstances of any possible
husband for her daughter most carefully before taking action, and
the younger son of an impoverished peer with a large family and a
standing harvest of debts was not what she was looking for.  All
these plans had been discussed, it appeared, more than a month
before Easter, and as soon as Lady Hengrave heard from her sister
Emma she had prudently already given Madame Maartens a month's
notice.  Indeed, Madame Maartens' fees were paid in advance, so C.
was to leave at the end of April and take the train for Hanover.

"I had great difficulty in persuading your mother about the Oxford
question," Mrs. Roden said.

So she had, until the financial side of the problem had been
solved.  After that, with the unconscious aid of Aunt Emma, the
rest had been easy.

The Rodens left the day after this interview took place, and before
saying good-bye to C. Mrs. Roden pressed a five-pound note into his
hand.

"--And if ever you are badly in need of money," she said, "write to
me.  Don't write to your father or to your mother; it would upset
them and be bad for your father's gout."

The advice was hardly necessary, as C. could not imagine writing
home to ask for anything, money least of all.  He went to see Pelly
as soon as he could, and told him the news.  Pelly was leaving at
the end of the month, and they settled to travel together to
Hanover.  There their ways parted.

Madame Maartens had known of the plan for long, but she had not
been certain that it would materialise; she had not reckoned on the
fairy godmother in the person of Mrs. Roden, so she was surprised
when C. announced the news to her.  She sighed.

"I suppose it's a good thing," she said.  "You certainly know as
much French as you would ever learn here, and Monsieur Jollivet
says you are 'trs fort,' besides which it is good for you to learn
German, to see Germany, and you will hear some beautiful music."

C. invited M. and Madame Maartens to go to the opera with him at
Paris.  He would have liked to have treated them to an opera of
Wagner.  Unfortunately no Wagner was being given, so he took places
for Carmen at the Opra Comique, and they dined beforehand at the
restaurant Marguery, which was Monsieur Maarten's favourite
restaurant, and they ate some Sole Marguery, which was Monsieur
Maarten's favourite dish.

They listened to the opera from a small box in the third tier, and
they all enjoyed it, although Monsieur Maartens slept peacefully
during the last act.

The next day C. spent in saying good-bye to Monsieur Jollivet and
other friends, and in taking a last look at Versailles.  Monsieur
Jollivet was sorry to lose his pupil.  He wished, he said, the
French boys he had to teach showed one-tenth of the application and
good sense and intelligence that C. had given proof of.

"Travaillez bien, et vous irez loin, mon enfant," he said.  "Vous
avez le sens de la littrature.  Tchez qu'on ne gte pas votre
got avec toutes ces salets modernes et ralistes," and he snorted
at the thought of them.

He gave C. as a parting gift, the poetical works of Andr Chnier.

It had been a cold, late spring, and a bitter east wind was blowing
on the day C. left Versailles.  And when he and Pelly arrived in
North Germany it was colder still.  There the spring seemed to have
scarcely begun.  The skies were grey, the trees were, many of them,
still bare, and the wind cut like a knife.  C. and Pelly arrived at
Hanover late in the evening.  The contrast after France and Paris
was great.  They went to Casten's Hotel and, ordering what they
thought would be two small cutlets, found they had to face two
enormous chops large enough for six people.  The dining-room was
full of officers in blue uniforms, drinking Sekt out of tall, thin
glasses.  C. recklessly ordered a bottle of champagner, and it
turned out to be sweeter than syrup and consisted almost entirely
of bubbles and foam.

The next morning Pelly started for Dresden, and C. for Alterstadt.
They travelled for an hour together, then C. had to get out and
change.  They were sorry to leave each other, and they exchanged
promises not only to write, but to meet later on somewhere in
Germany.

Alterstadt was a little town which might have come straight from a
Grimm fairy tale.  The houses were, many of them, of wood, with
pointed red roofs and beams let into the walls.  As C. drove from
the station he reached a square in which a large grey church rose
towering out of a crowd of little houses, which nestled close under
it.  It was like a scene from Faust and he expected to see
Mephistopheles slink round the corner and cower at the church door,
or Gretchen walk with book and rosary to church.

The house where his prospective hostess or hostesses lived, the two
Frulein Berchtold, was a small red-brick villa, two-storied, and
standing in a garden in the more modern part and the outer circle
of the town.  They were two old maids, and their brother-in-law was
a Professor who gave lessons in German to stray foreigners in his
spare time.  The elder of the two, Frulein Lili, taught.  She was
an intellectual, full of stifled literary ambitions, and she had
written in secret a cycle of love poems in which she had told the
adventures and the ultimate shipwreck of her volatile heart.  The
second sister, Frulein Anna, looked after the household, and her
principal distraction was to look at coloured views of the Alps
through a stereoscope, but she was fond of the stage, and every now
and then made an expedition to Hanover to hear an opera or a
classical drama.

Besides C. there was one other boarder in the house, a German boy
called Fritz Decker.

C. found the change abrupt, and the contrast between life at
Versailles and life at Alterstadt sharp, although not disagreeable.
His hostesses were exceedingly kind.  His German was rusty, but the
foundations of it were there, and he had learnt the elements of the
language in his childhood, and this made it all so much easier.
Frulein Lili gave him lessons, and when he confessed to her that
he enjoyed reading poetry, she confided to him that she, too, was a
poetess, and she showed him a ballad of an emotional description of
which the refrain was Die Rosen blhen auf Tyburn's Hhe, or words
to that effect.  She warned him before she gave it to him that he
would find it stimmungsvoll, which he did.

C. began to make for himself enchanting discoveries in German
literature.  He bought the lyrics of Heine and never did he enjoy
anything in literature more in his life than that first reading of
the Buch der Lieder, while there was still a thin mist of slight
difficulty and a lingering veil of intangible mystery over their
words.  It was not a fog caused by an imperfect mastery of the
language but a mist breathed by the gradual dawning remembrance of
what he had once known and subsequently forgotten.  It was like
going back into childhood.  The words had a strange freshness for
him as if they had just been coined and had come straight from the
mint for his enjoyment.  This particular impression wore off almost
immediately; in a week's time the words had lost all sense of
unfamiliarity and strangeness, and the mystery which the partial
veil of oblivion had lent them in the period of dawning
recomprehension, but they never lost their charm.

C. thought Heine was the most wonderful writer who had ever lived,
and he learnt poem after poem by heart.  They sang in his head all
day as he walked about the narrow streets of Alterstadt or climbed
the rather bleak, fir-clad hills in the neighbourhood.  It was
still cold; there were patches of snow on the hills, and biting
showers of sleet and hail.  But the house was warm and cosy and the
large stoves gave a friendly warmth.  The boarders had a sitting-
room between them where they did their work, and in the evening
Fritz Decker would smoke a long cherrywood pipe.  Fritz Decker was
a schoolboy in the Prima Class of the local Gymnasium.  He was
already a philosopher, and he was deeply versed in questions of
geology and comparative anatomy.  It was on such evenings that C.
learnt the meaning of the word gemthlich.  There was an
indescribable comfort and moral cosiness about them.  Sometimes a
fellow schoolboy of Decker's would look in and the three would play
skat, smoking and drinking a little beer from time to time.

Sometimes the two Fruleins would receive company downstairs, and
after the oldest and most exalted lady of the company had been
beckoned to the sofa, a flat cake with apple inside it and powdered
with sugar on the top would be presented, and a bottle of white
wine, and then Herr Kuni, the son of a neighbouring Musik-Direktor,
would be asked to sing.  He would shake the rafters with his
rendering of Die Rothe Hanne.

There was one other foreigner at Alterstadt at the time; he was a
young Scottish doctor, and he was living with another family.  C.
made his acquaintance and they would go out for long walks
together.  Frulein Anna was for ever urging C. to go to Hanover
and enjoy a nice classic play, Die Piccolomimi or possibly Die
Jungfrau von Orleans or a fine classical opera, such as Der
Freischtz.  But C. felt no desire to do so.  At last, seeing that
he was really wounding Frulein Anna by appearing to slight her
favourite pastime, and to be casting reflections on what she
considered to be the finest theatre in the world, he resolved to go
the very next time Frulein Anna suggested such a thing.  So, when
one day Frulein Anna, after perusing the newspaper, announced that
Tannhuser was going to be given, with Herr Brnning in the chief
part, C. asked her whether he might accompany her.  She was
overjoyed; Frulein Lili was asked whether she would like to go,
but she had one of her headaches, and Wagner's music was, in any
case, too much for her.  They took the afternoon train and walked
from the station to a little shop where Frulein Anna had a
particular friend who sold her tickets, and, after partaking of a
Butterbrod and a glass of beer, they entered the large theatre.

C. had never heard a note of Wagner, nor did he know what
Tannhuser was about.  He looked forward to a painful evening, and
to having to endure the kind of music he used to hear at his Aunt
Fanny's.  Then the orchestra began to play the overture.  Never did
he receive a more violent electric shock.  This was, indeed,
something different from chamber music.  He did not follow all of
it, but he was swept away.  The curtain went up, and to his
astonishment C. found himself in the heart of the kingdom of
romance, on familiar ground.  There was no difficulty in following
the story, and when he was transported to the Venusberg, he felt he
was witnessing a poem of Swinburne's in action.  The second act was
less exciting and at times operatic, conventional and a little
tawdry, but C. enjoyed the outburst when Tannhuser sang the
Venusberg song at court, and the idea of this appealed to him
immensely.  He would like, he thought, a crashing, thunderous
Venusberg song to be sung before all his aunts, which would cause
their conventions, creeds, prejudices, morals and ideals to come
crashing to the ground.

C. was not then, nor later, particularly musical, nor was he ever
destined to become a Wagnerite, he was too innately classical.  He
did not even want to repeat his experience; but Wagner's music
heard for the first time hypnotised him; laid bare his nerves, and
heightened his receptivity and sensitiveness to artistic
impressions.  He felt as if he had put on new armour, and was ready
to go and fight the world in defence of freedom, and of the joy of
life.  He wanted to shatter the world's false idols, and break the
walls of the established temples.  It was a fresh landmark in his
progress of emancipation.  He felt now that he had found the banner
and the watchword he needed.  He was ready to storm the forts of
folly.

They took the last train home as soon as the performance was over,
and Frulein Anna kept on repeating, as she unfolded a parcel of
Butterbrode which she had providently brought with her for C. and
herself, "Wunderschn war es, wunderschn."

C. returned, too, brooding over his new landmark in rapture.  Alas!
there was no one with whom he wished to exchange ideas on the
subject, and he was bursting with excitement and unexpressed ideas.



CHAPTER XVII


After C. had been a month at Alterstadt, Frulein Lili said that he
was sufficiently well advanced in German to take lessons from her
brother-in-law, who taught more-advanced pupils.  Her brother-in-
law, the husband of her deceased sister, was a Professor Kaufmann,
who taught English at the Gymnasium.  He was a large, genial, grey-
haired man, who had spent some years of his life in England, and he
spoke of English manners, customs, institutions, art and literature
with a kindly tolerance, and delighted in pointing out to English
people the folly of so many of their ideas, habits, customs, and
tastes.  He thought the habit of eating muffins especially
pernicious.  C. found it as difficult to discuss English and German
literature with him as it had been to discuss French literature
with Monsieur Jollivet.

Professor Kaufmann thought that Shakespeare was an English
superstition, and, although, no doubt, a fine dramatist, on the
whole grossly over-rated.  He found Milton tedious, Keats lacking
in moralische Ideen, and he had no patience with Tennyson.

"Who do you think is the greatest English poet of the nineteenth
century?" he asked C. one day.

The answer was:  "Shelley."

But another (German) pupil who was present said Tennyson.

"Shelley," said the Professor, "no doubt had ideas, but Lord Byron
is the greatest English poet of the nineteenth century.  And as for
Tennyson, he is a dwarf," said the Professor, "a dwarf compared
with Lord Byron, who is a giant."

In German literature Schiller was the only poet who satisfied him.
He could not read Goethe's Faust because he found the Gretchen
episode too painful.  He considered Heine unhealthy and morbid.
One day the Professor was drinking coffee with the two Fruleins,
and C. was present.  They were all sitting in the garden in a
little summer house (die Laube).  A volume of Heine was lying on a
garden seat.

"That is no doubt Mr. Bramsley's," said the Professor, "and I am
willing to wager that he himself is writing poems in the style of
Heinrich Heine."

C. blushed, but made no admission.

"Is that not true?" asked the Professor.  "Am I not right?"

"Ah, but you do not admire Heinrich Heine?" broke in Frulein Lili,
"and yet you must admit that he is a great poet.


     Das Meer hat seine Perlen,
     Der Himmel seine Sterne,
     Aber mein Herz, mein Herz,
     Mein Herz hat seine Liebe.


What grand thoughts!  Das ist doch grossartig."

"Ah, well," said the Professor, "we were all young once, and you,
Frulein, have remained young; but I will quote you something
better than that:--


     'Tis true, your budding Miss is very charming,
       But shy and awkward at first coming out,
     So much alarm'd that she is quite alarming,
       All giggle, blush, half pertness and half pout;
     And glancing at Mamma, for fear there's harm in
       What you, she, it, or they, may be about,
     The nursery still lisps in all they utter,
     Besides, they always smell of bread and butter.


There are good verses for you.  They are by Lord Byron, and from
Beppo.  That is saner than Heinrich Heine."

It was when taking part in conversations such as these that C.
longed for some one of his own age with whom he could discuss all
these things, some one who would understand what he meant.

At the beginning of June he received a letter from Pelly saying
that he had left Dresden and that he was now established at a
pension in Heidelberg.  He suggested that C. should pay him a
visit.  C. was to go home at the end of July.  Mrs. Roden had
written to him suggesting that on his way home it would be
advisable for him to visit one or two other places in Germany
besides Alterstadt.  She suggested in a gushing letter his not
leaving Germany before seeing the Rhine, and advised him to return
vi Frankfort and Cologne.  She backed up her advice by a little
cheque sufficient to meet the needs of a short Rundreise.  C.
waited till the end of the month, and he then bade farewell to
Alterstadt.  He had enjoyed his time there, but he had lived
entirely within himself, and he had been thrown back on to himself.
He was too reserved to assimilate German life and to make intimate
friends with the German boys of his own age.  As he had no fellow-
countrymen there except the Scotch doctor, who had left soon after
he arrived, he had grown rather weary of the grown-up social life,
the picnics in the woods, the concerts in the beer garden, and the
evenings at the Fruleins' house when they received company,
although all this had exercised a soothing influence on him and
given him time to think.  He had made good progress in German.  He
knew Heine by heart, and had read a certain amount of Goethe and
Schiller, although he was too young for Goethe and too old for
Schiller.  He had read a great many English books, and he had been
spellbound by George Meredith.

Besides reading, he in his spare moments had tried to write.  He
had written under the influence of Heine and Uhland several
romantic ballads, and under the lingering influence of Heredia and
the dawning influence of Wagner a whole series of classic and
romantic mythological sonnets.  What he wrote at this time was
either burnt by himself or lost afterwards, and nothing remains but
a few fragments.

He wrote to Pelly saying that he hoped to pass through Heidelberg,
and that he would let him know his plans more definitely as soon as
he started.  He did not wish to commit himself to any definite
programme, but he allowed Frulein Anna the treat of planning and
of calculating the cost of his Rundreise, while he inwardly decided
to commit himself to nothing as binding as a Rundreise Billet.
Frulein Anna planned the journey with care, and it was decided
that he must stop at Frankfort first and sleep the night there,
otherwise he would not arrive at Heidelberg until past midnight,
which would be bound to cause inconvenience to some one, and
perhaps result in his finding himself without a lodging for the
night.  C. always looked back on the morning on which he left
Alterstadt as one of the most melancholy occasions of his life.
Frulein Anna, Frulein Lili and Decker accompanied him to the
station.  They all four of them sat in the station restaurant and
drank a glass of beer.  Frulein Anna toasted C. and wished him a
fortunate journey, and every one else joined in the toast.  There
was something solemn about the ritual.

The conversation flagged.

"You must be sure to visit the Opera House at Mannheim," said
Frulein Anna.

"When they perform a play of Schiller's," said Frulein Lili,
standing up for literature as against music.

"Life at Frankfort is said to be very dear," said Decker.

"When you order coffee," said Frulein Anna, as if to make up for
this drawback, "order the Portion and not the Tasse; it is much
cheaper."

"And be sure to visit Goethe's house," said Frulein Lili.

"And do be careful of the draughts," said Frulein Anna, who
considered that all Sehenswrdigkeiten were always draughty.

"And send us a postcard now and then," said Frulein Lili.

A bell rang.  The time for getting into the train had come.
Frulein Anna pressed a parcel of home-made butterbrode into C.'s
hand.  Frulein Lili gave him a little book, Der Trompeter von
Skkingen.  He got into the railway carriage, a third-class
carriage.

"Leben sie wohl!  Auf weidersehen!" they all said in chorus.

He said good-bye to Alterstadt.  He was destined never to see it
again.

Fraulein Anna and Frulein Lili wept.  They both of them felt a
presentiment that they would never see him again, and they were
both of them extremely fond of him.  Some years later an Englishman
was staying at Alterstadt in another family, also for the purpose
of learning German, and he made the acquaintance of the two
Fruleins.  They talked of nothing but C., and when they discovered
that this stranger actually knew him they bubbled over with joy.

"So nice," said Frulein Anna (So nett).

"So gifted," said Frulein Lili (So begabt).

"He took me to see Tannhuser, said Frulein Anna.

"He gave me Platen's poems," said Frulein Lili.

"He was so fond of Gnsebraten," said Frulein Anna.

"He read Goethe's Tasso after he had been here four weeks," said
Frulein Lili.

"He had such a good heart; was so modest" (So bescheiden), said
Frulein Anna.

"So good looking," said Frulein Lili, with a sigh (Ein so hbscher
Mensch).  "Let us hope that the world may go well with him."

"I hope it will," said Frulein Anna.

"I fear he will have sad things to experience," said Frulein Lili,
scenting a broken heart.

He arrived at Frankfort late in the evening, and as he was walking
up and down the platform wondering what he should do, a notice
mentioning trains to Italy caught his eye.  A remark in Lewes' Life
of Goethe, which he had just been reading, passed through his mind.
Something about Goethe having been tired of the cold, wet German
summers.  He, too, was tired of the cold, wet summer.  It had been
raining at Alterstadt steadily all through the month of June, and
when he had gone for a lonely walking tour in the Harz mountains he
had found it so cold and bleak that he had returned after two days.
He had a sudden, overwhelming Sehnsucht nach dem Sden, and the
idea, the wild, insane idea, entered into his head that he must see
Venice.  He felt it was a case of now or never.  If he did not see
Venice now he would never see it.  If he did go, he would not be
able to stay long, for it would never do for them to hear at home
that he was careering through Italy, besides which he doubted
whether his finances would allow him even to get there and back and
then home afterwards.  He went to the booking office and asked the
price of a second-class return ticket to Venice.  It was too
expensive.  He decided to stay the night at Frankfort, and to go on
to Heidelberg the next day.

He asked at the hotel what was going on at the Opera House, and
they told him Tristan und Isolde.  He strolled out to get some
dinner at a cheap Wirtshaus.  At the table next to the one where he
had sat down a young Frenchman was sitting.  He also had been
studying German and was on his way home.  C. told him he was going
to the opera, and he said he would like to accompany him.  They
talked of Paris.  The young man took a lofty view of things there,
and when C. mentioned Madeleine Lapara he made a spluttering noise
and shrugged his shoulders, saying, no doubt she had been good in
her day, but now . . .  C. asked him whether he had often seen her,
and it turned out that he had never seen her except by hearsay.
They got places at the Opera House, high up in the third circle of
the Logen.

C. had no idea as to how Wagner had treated the subject of Tristram
and Iseult, which he only knew from Swinburne and Matthew Arnold.

Once more, and more powerfully this time, he was hypnotised by the
music; the singers were not romantic, the Tristan was positively
senile and had only the ghost of a voice.  Isolde was massive.  And
yet after a few moments that was of no consequence.  It hardly
mattered more than the footlights or the scenery.  C. could follow
neither the words nor the music, but he was utterly spellbound,
intoxicated, shipwrecked on an ocean of uneasy ecstasy, and yet
oppressed; he felt at one moment as if he were drowning in heavy
seas, at another as if he was alone in a sultry desert, and always
in a stifling twilight.

At the end of the first act the French boy who was with him got up
and, turning to the audience, exclaimed:

"La musique m'a dplu absolument!"

He then said he had had enough of it, and would meet C., if he
liked, at a Bierhaus.  But C. remained till the very end of the
performance, and when it was all over he felt as if he had awakened
from a long trance; he was scarcely aware of more than that, he
felt he had never heard anything like this before, it was totally
different even from Tannhuser, and M. Jollivet's phrase came to
his mind, Cette musique qui ne resemble  rien, and he felt as if
he had entered a thick enchanted forest from which there was no
escape, and that he, too, had drunk of a fatal cup, but who had
shared it with him he knew not.  He was haunted by a hidden face
and pursued by an undiscovered name.

He went home soon after the opera was over.  He could not face the
conversation of the young French man again.  The next day he went
to Heidelberg, and found Pelly living in a crowded pension kept by
the wife of a retired Colonel, and full of Americans, male and
female.  Heidelberg was gay and dry in the summer heat.  C. and
Pelly spent a day exploring the sights of the town, the garden, and
the castle; the next day they took a boat and made an expedition up
the Neckar, to Neckarsteinar and the Schwalben Nest, and on the
third they started on a four days' walk through the woods up the
valley of the Neckar.

C. poured out to Pelly all his recent experiences in the concrete
world of Alterstadt, and in the unsubstantial world of books and of
music, and he hinted at his dreams and ambitions.  They tired the
sun with talking and compared notes, and laid the foundation of a
friendship that C. thought would be lifelong.  But that was not to
be.  After a week both left Heidelberg together and started in a
steamer for Cologne.  C. confided to Pelly that his ambition was to
be a writer.  He had no desire to work for examinations, still less
to pass them.  Life in a Government office he thought would be
intolerable.  Pelly was destined for the Indian Civil Service, and
C. sadly reflected that he would most certainly pass, as he had an
admirably equipped intelligence, and was capable of working without
effort.  He had distinguished himself at Eton, and would most
probably do the same at Cambridge, which was his immediate
destination.

C. and Pelly talked of Wagner, Ibsen and the English poets; of
Maupassant, Hardy, Meredith, Kipling and the novelists, and they
both agreed it was high time some one should sing the Venusberg
song all over England and shatter the walls of Philistinism.  They
had no idea of the solidity of these walls.

Shortly after they had left Coblenz they were sitting on a seat on
the deck of the steamer, and C. was pouring out a flood of
indignant rhetoric on the sins of Philistia.

"Everything in England wants reforming," he said.  "The House of
Lords, what is the use of it?  And the House of Commons is WORSE.
The Church is dead; the army is an expensive, inefficient machine;
the stage is childish; literature is gagged, and art is muzzled,
bound by the code of the schoolroom.  Nobody dares say what they
think in England.  If you do you are talked down.  It is the
triumph of Philistinism.  It's Philistinism that we must fight, YOU
and _I_; and we must get others, and never stop."  And he began to
declaim the end of a favourite poem of Heine:--


     Tausend Ritter, wohlgewappnet,
     Hat der heil'ge Geist erwhlt,
     Seinen Willen zu erfllen;
     Und er hat sie muthbeseelt.

     Ihre theuere Schwerter blitzen,
     Ihre guten Banner wehn!
     Ei, du mchtest wohl, mein Kindchen,
     Solche stolze Ritter sehn?

     Nun, so schau mich an, mein Kindchen,
     Ksse mich, und schaue dreist;
     Denn ich selber bin ein solcher
     Ritter von dem heil'gen Geist.


Just as he finished the last lines a man and a lady walked past C.
and Pelly.  The man wore a covert coat and a tweed cap, and the
lady a dark serge coat and skirt.  The man was smoking a pipe.
They might both of them have stepped from the front hall at
Bramsley.  The lady sat down on the side of the steamer, and the
man arranged a rug on her knees.

The man walked up to C. and said to him, alluding to the General
Election:--

"I say, I hope those damned Radicals won't get in."

C. blushed and murmured something which, if it did not give the
impression of assent, certainly did not express any violent
dissent.

And this was his first encounter with the forces of British
Philistinism since he had enrolled himself among the knights of the
Holy Ghost.  He reflected ruefully that it was a decided victory
for the enemy's forces.



CHAPTER XVIII


C. and Pelly travelled to London together vi Cologne, and said
good-bye to each other at Victoria Station.  They were both of them
bound for their respective homes.  They promised each other to meet
very often in the future, and to correspond with unfailing
regularity.  The last promise they to a certain extent fulfilled.
The first one was decided for them differently to their
expectations, for they never met again.  Pelly went straight into
the Indian Civil Service instead of going to Cambridge, as he had
intended to do.  He passed brilliantly, went to India, and
disappeared from C.'s life, except in so far as he was represented
from an occasional letter from some remote spot.  But C. did not
realise this, either at the time of separation or afterwards.  He
always felt that he might be on the verge of meeting Pelly round
the street corner; he could always write to him easily, and he
sometimes carried on imaginary conversations with him in his head.

C. spent a fortnight at home, and thence proceeded to Bournemouth,
where Mr. Owen guaranteed to get him into Oxford.  There is no
record of C.'s life at Bournemouth.  He never spoke about it or
mentioned it later.  It was an epoch that seems not to have counted
in his life, nor did he ever mention any one he had met there, and
yet Mr. Owen's establishment was always full to overflowing.  In
any case the sojourn at Bournemouth fulfilled its purpose, as C.
passed Smalls and proceeded to Oxford, and became a member of  X.
College.  He arrived at Oxford shy and a little bewildered.  By
going abroad he had broken the thread which united him to his
contemporaries, and the few men whom he recognised as having been
at Eton at the same time as himself were at other colleges, and
took no notice of him.

His first interview with the Master was not very satisfactory.  The
Master asked him in in the evening.  He seemed just to have begun
his dinner, and was nibbling a piece of fried sole when C. was
shown into the dining-room.  He looked wise and comfortable, like a
white owl.  The Master told C. to sit down.  Later on he offered
him a glass of wine.  He asked after Lord and Lady Hengrave, and
then said, "And your brother?  How is your brother Gilbert?"
Gilbert was the ne'er-do-well.  C. blushed scarlet and said:--

"He's abroad."

Whether the Master was conscious or not of his lapse we shall never
know until the Judgment Day, and then there will scarcely be time;
but the silence caused by the remark lasted a long time.

"Have you read Boswell?" the Master asked at last.  C. said he had
not.  Nor had he.  The silence lasted till the Master said:--

"Good-night, Mr. Bramsley.  Read Boswell."

The Master little suspected at the time that C., although he had
never read Boswell, had done a far rarer thing, namely, to read
Johnson, even the dictionary.

His tutor asked him to breakfast with several other undergraduates,
and during the meal C. did not utter a word, but there was one
undergraduate present who never ceased talking, and told anecdote
after anecdote about his experiences with Custom House officials
abroad.  C. did not know who this talkative individual was, nor did
he ever get to know him afterwards.  It was during his first
fortnight at Oxford that one evening, when he was walking across
the Quad, he met an undergraduate who was whistling to himself very
loudly.  C. had already noticed him before in Hall, and had
wondered who he was.  He looked like a Spaniard.  His hair was
black and his eyes were clear, dark and slow.  His name was Gerald
Malone.  He came from the West Country.  He was a Devonshire man,
the son of a doctor, who lived near Dartmoor, and he had an Iberian
strain.

Malone nodded to him, and C. expressed semi-recognition.

"Come up to my rooms," said Malone; and they strolled up to the
rooms on the second floor in silence.

When they reached the rooms, which were entirely bare except for a
dilapidated rep sofa, a standing bookcase full of serviceable
books, and a map of Rome over the chimney-piece, they found several
other undergraduates engaged in making some kind of brew with a
kettle and some lemons.  Everybody there seemed to take C. for
granted, and he mixed quite naturally with them, and soon found
himself taking an active, not to say a violent, part in the
conversation.  Every one was talking at once, and nobody was
listening.  Suddenly C. heard Malone say that all poetry was rot,
but that the rottenest of all poets was Shelley.

"He's the best of all the poets," C. heard himself saying quietly
and decidedly.

"The rottenest of all ROTTEN poets," said Malone, who was just then
squeezing a lemon into a glass of hot water.

C. took the lemon from his hands, and threw it into the fire.
Malone looked at him, and then went for him calmly.  They were soon
both struggling on the floor in a long, hard-fought, silent,
infinitely arduous and painstaking struggle of the Homeric kind,
where first one and then the other of the combatants gets the
better of the contest.  At one moment C. was on the top, and
thought the victory was in his hand.  Malone had another piece of
lemon in his hand, and his object was to rub C.'s nose with it.
The piece of lemon became the objective of the fight.  Then Malone
got the upper hand, and forced C.'s head to the floor, but just
when victory seemed to be in his grasp C., by a supreme wriggle and
jerk, managed to neutralise the position.  He could not win, for
strong as he was, Malone was still stronger, but he could avoid the
humiliation of the lemon rub.  Finally the piece of lemon in the
scuffle was released from Malone's hand, and then a desperate
struggle began for who should reach it first.  C. was lying half on
his back.  Malone had more or less the upper position, but both
bodies wriggled, turned and struggled so much that they were seldom
in the same position for more than two seconds.  Malone had
pinioned one of C.'s arms, but C. managed with the other to snatch
the piece of lemon and throw it towards the fire, when another
undergraduate sententiously remarked that the struggle was one of
those Pyrrhic battles which were neither lost nor won, and, so
saying, he threw the piece of lemon into the fire.  Malone got up
and said:--

"You are an ass, Blades, you've spoilt the whole fight."

They had neither of them lost their tempers during the struggle,
and yet each of them had fought with all the concentrated violence
he was capable of.  That little episode was the beginning of C.'s
friendship with Gerald Malone, which was to last him all his life.

Malone inspired C. with hero-worship, less by his gifts, which were
above the average, both in matters intellectual and athletic, than
by his audacious high spirits and his thirst for enterprise, if
possible, dangerous enterprise, and his desperate determination to
go through with things.  He was, in daily life, quiet, and not even
very talkative, but on especial occasions, whenever there was a
rag, or an enterprise in the air, he assumed command and inspired
the proceedings with the energy of a demon.  He had been educated
at Dulwich, and he was a good oar and a good classic scholar, but
entirely without ambition, and the Master, who liked him, said upon
one occasion:  "I'm afraid that Malone will make a mucker of life,"
an unusual expression to fall from his purist lips.

C. very soon began to settle down at Oxford.  He did not go in for
rowing, but he played Rugby football with success.  He avoided the
hunting world, as he could not afford to hunt, and the more things
at Oxford were like his home the more he avoided them.  Curiously
enough, his literary, as apart from his intellectual life (that is
to say, his work), seemed to have come to an abrupt end.  He was
reading for Mods.

The first time he read an essay to the Master, the subject was
unsympathetic to him, and he did not do himself justice.  The
Master piped like a bullfinch, while C. read out his platitudinous
discourse, but at the end he said to him:  "The English is good."

C. kept the secret of his literary tastes and aspirations to
himself.  It was not that he did not hear books discussed around
him; he heard endless literary discussions, but they disconcerted
him.  Malone had read a great deal, but it was only the Greek and
Latin authors that moved his admiration.  As for modern literature,
he enjoyed Dumas, Alice in Wonderland, and Sherlock Holmes, but not
only nineteenth century, but all English verse was a sealed book to
him.  He talked with laughing contempt of Shakespeare, Milton,
Shelley and Keats, and of all the poets whom C. admired most.

All his friends put C. to shame in this matter in different ways.
There was Wilfrid Abbey, who seemed never to have read, nor to read
anything at all, as if a well-educated man knew all that was
necessary without reading a book.  He could always cap a quotation,
and never missed an allusion.  He seemed to have absorbed his
culture from the air.  But he had no love of books, and it was
impossible to discuss such things with him.  There was Oliver
Hallam, a dynamic personality, with an irregular face, uncertain in
temper, and ever shifting in mood, who discussed long and loudly
what was good and bad, in a way that was above C.'s head.

Then, beyond his particular sphere, there were the intellectuals:
Keeley, who absorbed knowledge without difficulty, and who seemed
to have got beyond the stage when it was necessary to read; and
Edmund Blades, the son of Christopher Blades, the historian, and of
Rachel Ellman, the once-famous Lieder-singer, who said that the
time had not yet come for him to read modern verse.  He had not
sufficiently formed his taste on the old.  For the present, he was
reading Thucydides.  Separate from the intellectuals, there was a
small musical and artistic set, into which C. penetrated from time
to time.  It contained a fabulously rich Israelite, called
Goldmann, who collected Oriental china, which was broken in his
rooms after bump suppers, and an extremely superficial, voluble,
but good-natured being, named Bently Jones, who, for some reason,
was called Pope Joan.  He was florid in dress and demeanour, and
collected obscure modern French verse and pictures from Munich.  C.
could not understand what or whom he was talking about when he
discussed books.  He seemed to inhabit a province he had neither
visited nor heard of, and to have read books whose existence he had
never even suspected at Versailles, either from his conversations
with Burstall or from the echoes that Pelly used to bring him from
the Quartier Latin.

C. thought for the moment no more of literature.  There were plenty
of other things to occupy him, and he enjoyed himself ecstatically.

He went home at the end of his first term and spent Christmas at
Bramsley, where there was a large gathering of uncles and aunts.
Mrs. Roden had written to his mother, asking that he might spend a
few days at their country house as soon as Christmas was over.
Lady Hengrave thought this was a good idea.

When he arrived at Elladon, the Rodens' house, he was enormously
struck by the quality of the atmosphere there, so different from
that of his own home.  The Corots, the Daubignys on the walls, the
noisy teas, the games, the rambling discussions about everything
and every one, where apparently you could say what you thought
about a book or a person without being considered odd, were a sharp
contrast to him, after the rigid tenour of his family life.  There
was a large party staying in the house.  There was some hunting and
a little rough shooting.  C. made friends with a boy called Walter
Wright, who was working for the Indian Civil Service.  He had just
determined not to go up to Oxford.  He passed his examinations in
order to do so and had meant to go to the same college as C. a year
before, but he was prevented from doing so by an attack of
rheumatic fever, and he went to a crammer's instead.  The crammer,
however, was all in favour of his going to Oxford.  C. entered into
Wright's case with fire, and said he must certainly go to Oxford,
and Wright settled to do so.

It was at Elladon, at a concert given in the village, that C. and
Wright made the acquaintance of a family called Lord, who were
staying at that time with some neighbours of the Rodens.  Mr. Lord
was an elderly, nervous man with grey hair, and wore a pince-nez on
a broad ribbon.  In his youth an unsuccessful painter, he had
invented a new kind of pottery, which had likewise proved a
failure, and designed a flying machine which never got further than
the tracing-paper stage.  With Mr. and Mrs. Lord was their
daughter, Beatrice.  C. sat in the same row during the concert, and
was spellbound by the few glimpses he had of her beauty.  She was
not eighteen years old, then; there was something indescribably
noble about her.  Nothing stiff nor Juno-like, but something
authentically celestial; something in her very soft, azure eyes
that suggested a floating, loving ocean; something magical in her
smile; something strong and proud in her chin that was too
pronounced, and in her eyebrows, that were too boldly pencilled,
and in her mouth that seemed carelessly finished; something
indescribably shining and winning in her whole appearance;
everything about her seemed to shine--her hair, her complexion.


            Her pure and eloquent blood
     Spoke in her cheeks, and so distinctly wrought,
     That one might almost say her body thought.


C. fell in love at first sight, but he was not conscious of the
fact.  He was only conscious that he wanted to look at her.  He
could not manage to do so without being uncivil and staring.  He
hardly saw her, and when he was introduced to her at the end of the
concert there was no time to speak or look.

On the way home he said to Wright:--

"Isn't she beautiful?" and his eyes were charged with dream.  He
didn't allude to her again, and shortly afterwards, the next day or
the day after, he left for home.

When C. went back to Oxford for the Lent term he had a new friend
in Walter Wright, and he introduced him to all his friends.  Wright
had been educated at Winchester.  He was not a classical scholar,
but he was fond of books, and had read a great deal.  Above all
things he was sympathetic and intuitive, and he detected C.'s
taste.  C. was aware of this, but for some time he did not mention
to Wright, or to any one else, that he was himself fond of reading
and had read a great quantity of English verse.  With some of his
contemporaries he was ashamed of his ignorance; with others of his
knowledge.  It was quite by accident that he broke through the
barrier of reserve with which he had hedged himself on this
subject.  One day Wright was sitting alone in his rooms.

"What are you reading?" asked C.

"Tennyson--Maud."

"I've hardly read anything by Tennyson since I was a child," said
C.  "My mother won't admit that Tennyson is a poet, and at Eton my
tutor laughed at him, and the Germans despised him, and I've only
read things like the Charge of the Light Brigade and the May
Queen."

Wright handed him the book, and C. began at the beginning, and then
went on without stopping.  Wright did not disturb him.  He went on
with a piece of work he had on hand.  C. read till past midnight,
when he finished the monodrama.  He then left the room abruptly and
went to his rooms.  The silvery, flute-like music, the warm
passion, the luscious landscape, and the glowing imagery, had
caught him and whirled him away into another sphere.  It moved him
in a new manner.  It was the first time he had heard English verse
speak in the accents of his time and express what he might have
felt himself.  So far poetry had kindled his enthusiasm, his
admiration, his imagination, his love of romance; this kindled the
dawning emotions and passions of his heart.  He did not go to sleep
for a long time that night.  He was like a man who had taken
hashish.  Strings had been touched in him which had never been
stirred, and tremulous thoughts and dreams were crowding his mind,
and there was a glimmer which had never been there before.
Something had lit a new lamp within him, and all that night vision
after vision haunted him.  The birds in the high hall garden
calling, the ocean foam in the moon, the swell of the long waves,
the noiseless music of the night; and he murmured to himself over
and over again:--


     All night the roses have heard
     The flute, violin, bassoon.



CHAPTER XIX


Although C. made a new friend in Walter Wright, he did not, even
after the incident of his first reading of Maud, confide to him any
of his literary aims and ambitions, nor share with him his literary
tastes.  This was odd, as Wright was nothing if not literary and
bubbling over with enthusiasm for books and for new discoveries in
literature.  C. kept all this to himself and threw himself into the
active life of the college.  He was insensibly becoming a leading
member in the small group to which he introduced Wright, to which
Abbey and Hallam belonged.

They called the outside world, that is to say, the Rowing Set, the
Intellectuals, the Artistic, and the ordinary undergraduate
"Limbo," and they only admitted one member of it--a red-haired,
matter-of-fact, rather thick-headed and extremely painstaking,
conscientious man called Baines, and nicknamed Socks--into their
intimacy.

But the group itself was a fairly large one, and the college
authorities frankly detested it for its covert insubordination and
for the obscure rags it was perpetually organising.  Wilfrid Abbey,
who was shy and quiet, a refined Etonian who hardly ever spoke in
company at all and was lazy beyond description as far as any mental
effort was concerned, was a prime leader in these escapades.

One evening he came up to C. and said to him:

"You have been put up as a candidate for the Quadranglers."

"What are the Quadranglers?" asked C.

"You shall see," said Abbey, and he took him to his rooms, which
were on the ground floor of the college.  There he found a table
spread with dishes of oysters, some tankards of beer, some bottles
of different-coloured wines, and in the middle of these dishes a
large book, sumptuously bound in crimson crushed morocco and with
the words The Quadranglers beautifully tooled on it.  "That," said
Wilfrid Abbey, "is the book of minutes, and no minutes are ever to
be entered into it, and the rule of the club is that you are to eat
and drink as much as you can in three minutes and then jump out of
the window.  If you perform this satisfactorily you become a life
member."

C. performed the duty satisfactorily, and became a life member of
the Quadranglers.

On another occasion they explored the colleges of Oxford by
climbing from roof to roof, and on a third occasion they turned the
Quadrangle into an imitation of the park of Versailles by bedding
out flat tin baths full of gold-fish.

The college authorities were for sending down Malone, who had been
thought, and rightly so, to be the ringleader in this affair, but
the Master would not hear of it.  He contented himself by saying
that he did not think it humorous and gating him.  A more serious
escapade happened a little later, when, during a rag in the Quad,
C. damaged a bath-chair which belonged to the Master's sister.  The
authorities took a very grave view of this incident, as they said
it was a breach of courtesy and an insult to the old.  A college
meeting was held, and the Dean opted for the sending down of C.
The Master opposed it and said:

"I don't think he meant to be discourteous.  I don't think he meant
to insult the old."  And so nothing was done.

C. went home for the vacation, having enjoyed his second term even
more than his first.  During the vacation Lady Hengrave suggested
that Walter Wright should be asked to spend a Saturday to Monday at
Bramsley.  She knew his people, and C., as it was not his own idea,
but his mother's, had no objection.  He had once proposed such a
thing himself, but he would never do so again.  It had been a
lamentable failure.

On the Saturday on which Wright had been invited there was a
typical gathering at Bramsley: the Bishop of Barminster, who had
married a cousin of Lord Hengrave's, a florid and alarmingly
condescending ecclesiastic, with a large beard and a fund of
anecdote, whom Lady Hengrave thought transgressed the code of
decency by being High Church.  He wore a large gold cross, which
she thought "odd," and he turned to the east when he said the Creed
in church, which she said was against the law.  With him was his
apologetic, blond and explanatory wife.

Lord Hengrave, at one end of the long, crowded dining-room, which
had some fine Dutch pictures, looked extremely dignified and young
for his age; he was carefully dressed, and he walked assisted by a
tortoise shell-headed cane.  Lady Hengrave, at the other end, still
"so handsome," with firm lines about the mouth and chin.  It was
impossible to imagine her unbending.  Both C.'s sisters were there,
both of them ultra-neatly dressed and rather stiff, with every pin
in its right place; neither of them pretty, and neither of them bad-
looking.  There were several other relations and one or two
neighbours staying in the house.

On Sunday morning everybody went to church, an old-fashioned church
with high shut pews, in which the Hengraves knelt on large red
hassocks, and followed the service in large red prayer books.  The
service was long and the Bishop preached, and Lord Hengrave slept
through the sermon.  C. felt that he was looking at Bramsley for
the first time through the eyes of his observant friend.  He
wondered what Wright thought of it all, how Bramsley struck the
outside world.  They must think it a hideous house, he thought.  As
a matter of fact, Wright was struck by the curious and comfortable
mixture of shabbiness and splendour, and he noticed the fine books
in the long library, the one or two exceedingly fine pictures--the
Romney on the staircase, the Lawrence and the Raeburn in the
drawing-room--mixed with indifferent family portraits.

Just as the party sat down to luncheon on Sunday C.'s brother
arrived.  He was in the triumphant phase of his last year at Eton.
He was flushed with embarrassment and tingling after a long, cold
drive in an open dogcart.  He was like C., but taller and better-
looking; you noticed his looks at once, and it was impossible to
help thinking of Hotspur, Prince Hal, Shakespeare, and every kind
of symbol and embodiment of gallantry and youth when you saw him.

Wright was sitting next to Miss Broxton, the daughter of a
neighbouring master of hounds.

She read Wright's thoughts as he looked at Harry's entrance and
watched him shyly take his place at the other end of the table.

"Isn't he good-looking?" she said.  "His father must have been just
like that when he was young."

Wright looked at Lord Hengrave, and compared father and son.  They
had the same short nose and long chin, the same ease of carriage,
although Lord Hengrave was a little bent and half crippled by gout,
and the same distinction.

"The eldest boy was good-looking, too," said Miss Broxton, "but now
he is fat.  But I think Caryl is the most interesting-looking of
them all."

Wright looked at Caryl critically for the first time, and appraised
his looks.  He had his father's distinction, he was dark like his
mother, but there the likeness ended.  He saw no look either of the
father or of the mother, either in his features, his general
appearance, or his expression.

"I suppose Caryl would be considered good-looking, too?" he said.

"I think," said Miss B., "that he is really the best-looking of
them all.  Edward, the eldest, is rather gross, and Harry is a
wonderful specimen of youth and health, but his face means nothing.
Caryl has such a well-cut face.  He reminds me of a Renaissance
bronze, and those dark deep-set eyes are most interesting.  I am a
kind of portrait painter, a poor one, but still a portrait painter,
and I look at him from that point of view--but I think it is an
unhappy face and even a tragic one."

At that moment Caryl was talking and smiling easily, and, as Wright
thought, happily to one of the guests.  He looked singularly
untouched by the cares and troubles of life.

"Why?" he asked, "How do you read his character?"

"Well," she said, "there is a dangerous question in his eyes, and
his chin isn't strong like his father's and Harry's.  I daresay I
am wrong, but I think he will have a lot of trouble in his life.
He looks like--I can't think of it now--I shall think of it later."

"Do you know him well?"

"Very little, although I have seen him here for years, ever since
he was ten years old.  I know the others best."

After luncheon, Lord Hengrave took all the guests for the family
walk round the garden and stables.  C. was silent and hardly spoke
at all.  After tea, Lady Hengrave showed Wright her sitting-room,
over the chimney-piece of which there was a large portrait of a
young man in uniform.

"That is Edward, my eldest boy," she said, "as he was when he was
in the Guards.  The boys," she added, with a sigh, "have got all
the looks, and they don't want them."

C. was, during the whole of the day, desperately uncomfortable for
his friend's sake.  He kept on thinking that Wright must be being
cruelly bored--and must be thinking everything awful.  His fears
were unnecessary.  Wright was quite comfortable at Bramsley, but he
felt, nevertheless, that the atmosphere had something chilling
about it.  Lord Hengrave was as courteous to him as it was possible
to be.  Lady Hengrave was exceedingly kind, but, from time to time,
he did have a slight sense of oppression.  There was something, he
thought, desperately final about all their judgments, and C. was
more aware of this than ever, and felt acutely what his friend must
be feeling.  They both felt that life was conducted, that people
were judged, that things were done, opinions accepted, books read
according to certain rigid and inflexible standards and codes.
When some one mentioned a certain new musical comedy which had just
been produced, and had achieved an instantaneous success, Lady
Hengrave said with solemn decision, "Edward couldn't get places,
but we will go directly we get to London," Wright felt, and C. felt
that he was feeling, that to see this particular play was looked
upon as a kind of sacred duty, like going to church on Sunday,
which it would be a gross breach of decorum not to fulfil.  She
said about something else, "I saw it in the newspaper," and they
knew it meant only one newspaper, a Conservative one, and that that
settled the matter.  And at tea-time, when some one asked her if
she had read a certain Liberal politician's speech, she said, "I
never read HIS speeches."

But Wright was afforded a glimpse of Lady Hengrave's respect for
the classics, which she respected in the same way as she respected
everything established from the Church to the acceptedly good
acting of a well-known comedian, when she asked him if he knew
German.  He said, "Yes," and she said to him, "Schiller's plays are
beautiful," and she confirmed the remark with an affirmative sigh.

"The boys," she added later, "have forgotten their German.  It's a
great pity."

Late on Sunday afternoon, C. took Wright up into a turret, and said
he wanted to show him his retreat.  It was the octagonal room, full
of old books.  There was no fire, and it was rather cold, for
although it was April the wind was cold.  However, they sat there
and smoked for a long time.

"I come here," said C., "when I want to escape from everybody."

As they smoked and talked, Wright looked at the books.

"Have you read all these?" he asked.

"Yes," he said, to Wright's surprise, "ALL of them."

And C. spoke out for the first time.  He told Wright he had a
passion for literature, especially for poetry.  His father and
mother respected the classics, and had insisted on all their
children reading Shakespeare, Dryden, Pope and Sir Walter Scott,
but as they had been made to do this when they were far too young
to understand what they were reading, it had only had the effect of
making them cordially dislike the name and sight of these authors.
But C. said he had discovered other poets by himself, and the
romantic poets, Shelley, Keats and Coleridge, at Eton.  Their works
were not to be found in the library at home.  Wright realised at
once that he was deeply acquainted with all the earlier English
poets, the Elizabethans, the Carolines, and the poets of the
eighteenth century, not only as few boys of his age, but as few
professional literary Englishmen.  Wright discovered that he knew
reams of the obscurest poets by heart; that he had a photographic
memory.  He had cherished all this as a secret, and he said that
Wright was not to tell a soul.  Wright felt there was something
else behind all this, and asked him, at last, if he had ever tried
to write anything himself.  He said he had tried, but he had torn
up most of what he had written, and then he confessed that his
great ambition was to be a writer some day; that he would give
anything to go in for journalism directly he left Oxford, he knew
that this would not be possible; he might just as well suggest
being a highwayman or a pickpocket to his parents.

"They won't let me stay long at Oxford," he said.  "At the most two
years.  They won't be able to afford it, and then I shall be dumped
down in the City, or in some Government office for the rest of my
life, and there will be an end of all that."

"Anthony Trollope," Wright objected, "wrote all his books while he
was a Government official.  I am sure you would always find time to
do what you wanted to do, if you really felt keen about it."

"Yes," said C., "if one really has the gift, but I don't suppose I
have; I would rather be a journalist and learn to write leaders and
the police news than be in the City or in a Government office."

They talked in that room for over two hours, and every now and then
C. would take down a book from the shelves, and say, "Read that?"
or "Do you know this?" and Wright seldom knew the passages which
he pointed out to him.  At other moments he would say, "Do you know
this thing?" and he would recite a passage from Donne, Campion, or
from one of the Elizabethan dramatists.  He had a passion for
Webster and Ford, and he knew Shakespeare better than any one else
Wright had ever met before or since.  Talking about Shakespeare, he
said:--

"It's curious that I should appreciate Shakespeare, considering how
I loathed being made to read him when I was a boy, and didn't know
what it all meant.  But I don't regret it now, because in that way
I learnt a whole lot by heart, as an unintelligible rigmarole,
which now gives me immense pleasure."

On Monday morning, Wright left Bramsley and travelled up to London
in the same carriage with Miss Broxton.  She talked to him about
C., and said that she was very glad C. had got a friend.  Wright
said he had plenty of friends at Oxford.

"Yes," she said, "but a friend he can see at Bramsley.  He once
brought a friend of his before, and it was a great failure.  I
expect it was Lady Hengrave who asked you."

Wright said this was the case, and she said she felt sure C. would
never ask any one again of his own accord.

"The Hengraves know your people and accept you."

"Are they very difficult to please?" Wright asked.

"They don't understand anything outside their particular orbit, and
C.'s friend was rather rough.  They don't understand him very well.
He has always been thought to be the black sheep of the family.
They wanted him to be a sailor, but he failed to pass the entrance
examination.  He is supposed not to have done well at Eton, and to
have learnt nothing there.  I expect it was his own fault.  He's
very obstinate.  They would never have sent him to Oxford, only his
uncle, Mr. Roden, offered to pay for it."

"Are they so badly off?" Wright asked.

"All the property is mortgaged, and nobody knows how they manage to
live, but they've got a house in Portman Square, and they live at
Bramsley at Christmas, Easter, and in the summer.  Nothing is ever
let.  Edward has done fairly well in the City, and he married an
American who is quite well-off.  Julia, the eldest girl, has been
out two years; Marjorie, the second, one year.  There was, you
know, a second son, Gilbert, who got into some money scrape.  He
lives in Canada, and they never mention him.  I believe the only
one of the family Lady Hengrave really cares for now is Harry."

"Did she like Gilbert?"

"I think so.  I think he probably was the only one of the family
she LOVED, but we shall never know that.  She never alludes to him.
She never got on with C.  She doesn't understand him.  I know what
C. reminded me of yesterday, a Giorgione in Lord Holmby's
collection."

Wright said he had never seen it.



CHAPTER XX


When C. went back to Oxford in the summer, he passed through a
rapid phase of development.  He acquired intellectually a certain
amount of inner confidence that he had till then been devoid of, or
uncertain about.  During his first two terms at Oxford he had been
overawed by comparing himself disadvantageously with his friends in
college.  He had been dumbfounded by what he considered the
superior culture of some--a man like Hallam, for instance, and even
by the solid scholarship of Malone, and these were men he liked,
and who treated him as an equal; and he had been humiliated by some
of the intellectuals (men he disliked, and who looked down on him),
and had felt a slightly withering blight in the company of others,
like Blades (whom he liked), while he despised the superficiality
and the affections of the artistic set.

On the other hand, intellectual intercourse with Wright was too
easy.  He distrusted Wright's opinions, views and tastes because
they seemed to him to be too easily understood, and it was so easy
to talk books and poetry with him that C. did not do so at all.

One day he showed Wright some verses he had written in Germany, and
Wright genuinely admired them.  He even praised the Eton Vale.
This convinced C. that Wright's admiration could not count for
much, and he classed him in the same category with Calmady, his old
Eton friend.  Thus it was that during his first two terms he had
kept his literary tastes and ambitions to himself and had played up
to the idea that he was a Philistine and an ignoramus.  The
situation was entirely changed by two new factors.  One was the
discernment of the Master, who, although he often had little
patience with "enthusiasm," had the keenest scent for the seeds of
literary talent, and detected in C.'s essays a gift for style and a
foundation of wide and quite unusual reading.  The Master
encouraged him discreetly and tactfully, used to send for him in
the evening when he was finishing his dinner, and talk to him about
books.  He had recommended C. to read Boswell, and he was surprised
when he discovered how much more C. had already done in the way of
Johnsonian study.  The Master deplored his reading history, and
urged him to take Greats.  C. didn't care for history, and the
Master realised this and said he was made to understand Greek
literature.  C. had considerable knowledge of Latin, which he had
learnt as a child, but only an average knowledge of Greek.  But
even such Greek as he possessed had shown the Master that he was
capable, if not of distinguished scholarship, of exceptional
appreciation, and it was a thousand pities that he should not
cultivate it.  The Master wanted him to give up history and take up
the classics in earnest.  C. was only too willing to do this, but
he said it would be no use.  However, he consented; and so the
matter rested.

Wright was perpetually urging him to produce, but with the
exception of the essays he wrote for the Master it is doubtful
whether C. wrote anything new during this period.  He may have
written some verse, but if he had he destroyed it and never showed
it to any one.  Nor did he ever contribute to any of the local
magazines.  He belonged to one or two debating societies, but
during his first two terms none of his speeches attracted any
attention.  All his inner life was dormant and slumbering.  But a
spark was waiting to turn the smouldering, flickering ashes into an
incandescent blaze.  The spark was not slow to fall.  It was the
second new factor that changed the current of C.'s life.

About nine miles from Oxford there was a house called Bilbury,
which belonged to a retired colonel, a bachelor, who often let it.
It was too big a house for a bachelor and too small for most
families.  It was an old, rather ramshackle and picturesque
building with a disused moat round it and an uncared-for garden.
It was close to the river.  This summer it was taken by Mr. and
Mrs. Lord, who thought it would be a good thing for their daughter
to have some country air, and possibly to see a little of Oxford
life.  They had let their London house for May and June.  Bilbury
was to be had cheap.  Mrs. Lord, who was entirely unpractical,
decided to take it at once because of the fireplace in the hall,
which she said was so convenient.  As they were only going to live
there in the summer, it was difficult to know what she meant; but
take it they did.  One morning Mrs. Lord had come into Oxford to do
some shopping.  She was dawdling in a bookshop and her daughter,
Beatrice, was with her.  C. strolled into the shop, but he did not
at first notice the Lords.  They were on one side of a large
upright bookcase, and he was on the other.  But he heard Beatrice
saying to her mother, "What a lovely copy, and so cheap!  I think I
must buy it," and Mrs. Lord answering, "I'm sure your father will
give it to you another day if it isn't sold by then."  Where had he
heard that voice before?  The concert in the village, when he was
staying with the Rodens, flashed into his mind, and the vision of
that girl, the girl whom he had been introduced to, but whom he had
hardly been able to look at.  He didn't dare come forward, and he
didn't dare come away.  Would they leave the shop without his being
able to have a glimpse of her?  No, fate settled otherwise.  Mrs.
Lord walked round to the other side of the shop, and C. was face to
face with her.  She recognised him.

"Beatrice," she called, "here's Mr. Bramsley, the nephew of dear
Mrs. Roden.  You remember we met him at the school feast--I mean
the penny reading; or was it at the meet?"

Beatrice came forward and shook hands with C.  She was more
beautiful than he had fancied her to be.  He remembered thinking
her the most beautiful apparition he had ever seen, but he had not
been able to look at her enough, and he had exchanged no words with
her except the briefest "How do you do?" and "Good-bye," all in
one, at the end of the concert.

Mrs. Lord was overflowing with hospitality and welcome.

"We have to come into Oxford next Sunday morning for Mass," she
said.  "Won't you come back with us to Bilbury, and bring any one
you like, on your bicycle?"

She talked of a bicycle as if it were an omnibus.  C. did bicycle.
He did not, however, feel equal to bringing any one on his bicycle.

On the following Sunday he met Mrs. Lord, Mr. Lord and Beatrice
outside the Catholic church after Mass, and they all bicycled back
to Bilbury.  It was six miles from Oxford.

It was a wonderful Sunday.  There are some Sundays in early summer
that, if it is not pouring with rain, seem finer and more beautiful
than any other days in the week.  There seems to be a special grace
about them.  C. thought of a poem of Uhland's he had read at
Alterstadt, which ends up "Das ist der Tag des Herrn."  The lilac
and the laburnum were out and the may, and there was a profusion of
pink and white blossom.  The fields were startlingly gay with
buttercups, and impossibly green.  The country seemed to have been
just created.  C. felt as if he were bicycling through Paradise.
When they arrived they found several other undergraduates awaiting
them, all of them quite unknown to C., and all of them from other
colleges.  They were Catholic boys from Catholic schools, the
Oratory at Birmingham and Stonyhurst.  There were also some friends
and relations of the Lord family.  Luncheon was supposed to be at
one, but it was not ready till some time after half-past one.  At
last they sat down to a long refectory table in a high stone hall.
C. had no idea who all the people were.  They talked for the most
part of people he had never heard of and of things which meant
nothing to him.

C. was sitting next to Mrs. Lord, and he found it impossible to
keep her talk in one channel for long.

One of the young men said that some one was very "holy."  Mrs. Lord
said she dropped her rosary during the Last Gospel.

"I always lose my rosary," she said, "they are so brittle.  The new
stained glass window is not a success.  It is surprising that
nobody makes beautiful glass now.  Have you ever read a book called
Phantastes?"

C. had never heard of it.  Mrs. Lord drifted on from half one topic
to another half.  Every now and then Mr. Lord joined in the
conversation from the other end of the table, and had a little
monologue on his own.

Had any one guessed the acrostic in Vanity Fair?  There was one
light which was a great puzzle.  T. and T.


     Not ever said to ears polite.


What could it be?

"Termagant," Mrs. Lord suggested.  "Is it uncivil to say termagant
or top-knot?  Last quarter we sent them in, but this quarter we
haven't guessed one.  Wilfrid sometimes makes them up.  T. and T.
Perhaps that is a word in itself, like G.P.O. or V.R.  They do that
sometimes.  But does T. T. mean anything?  Perhaps it's a catch, or
perhaps one ought to add something.  I must buy a Phrase and Fable.
Aren't the bookshops in Oxford fascinating, Mr. Bramsley?  We spend
so much time in them, don't you?"

And so she rambled on, but she never stopped talking.  Mr. Lord
asked him questions across the table every now and then:--

"You are at X. College, and do you see the Master often?  I
remember him years ago as an undergraduate.  He always wore a
nankin waistcoat.  We used to call him Bosky.  Nobody knew why, but
it seemed to suit him.  It's dropped out.  They don't call him that
now."

"He's very like his sister," said Mrs. Lord.  "In fact, very like
all his family.  You know his sister, Mr. Bramsley?  She is a Dante
scholar.  She is going to write about him some day.  Last winter
Beatrice went to a Dante class, but never got beyond the Fourth
Canto.  The Paradiso is so difficult; so theological.  We went to
Florence for Easter.  Do you know Florence?"

C. said he had never been to Italy.

"It is so nice to have Florence to look forward to," she said, "but
you know Rome, of course?"

"I've never been to Italy at all," said C.

"Not at all, no, of course not," echoed Mrs. Lord, smiling.  "I was
thinking of Charles Fry."

C. wondered who Charles Fry might be.

After luncheon they split up into groups and went down to the
river.  C. was left with Beatrice, and they sat in a field and
watched the pageant and listened to the noise of Spring.  There was
no cloud in the sky, and the river was even of a deeper blue.  The
bank opposite them was a long violent line of yellow buttercups.
Three beech trees were still brown and feathery, but against the
blue they seemed pink.  There was a large shrub of white may just
under a huge elm which was wearing its freshest, greenest apparel.
Its reflection made a lovely green smudge in the blue water.
Everything was humming with life, and every now and again you heard
voices from the river.  Mrs. Lord had suggested that Beatrice and
C. should go out in a boat, and they had gone down to the river
with that intention.  A boat was there ready for them to use.

They talked of Germany.  C. described Alterstadt.  Beatrice loved
Germany, German music, and German fairy tales.

Wagner was mentioned.  C. described how he had heard Tannhuser and
Tristan und Isolde.  Beatrice did not like Wagner except the
Pilgrims' Chorus in Tannhuser.  She had been to Bayreuth and heard
Parsifal; she said it was too difficult, but she meant she detested
it.

C. said he would have given anything to have gone to Bayreuth.

"I don't think I'm at all musical, but I like those sounds," he
said.

"I'm not musical, either," said Beatrice, "and I probably don't
understand it, but his music gives me the feeling of being
suffocated, like laughing gas."

They talked about laughing gas and dentists and dreams.  They
compared Germany and France.  Beatrice had lived for years in
Paris.  They compared notes, they argued, they disagreed, they
agreed.  They talked about Madeleine Lapara.  Beatrice had seen her
play in Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra.

"Wasn't she wonderful?" she said.  "There was a scene when she did
nothing, just listened."

C. said you got that sort of thing in France, but not in Germany.
Beatrice said she didn't care for art really, not for artists, nor
for books.  She never read anything.

C. was astonished, but a little later several books were mentioned:
Les Misrables, Vanity Fair, Kipling, and she had read them all.

"I'm not literary all the same," said Beatrice.  "I've never read
any poetry--hardly any, that is to say."

"Have you read Heine?"

"Yes," she said, "German poetry; German poetry's different; it's so
simple.  Isn't Heine perfect?"

"Do you remember a poem called the Wallfahrt nach Kevlaar?" said C.

"Yes.  Do you know it by heart?"

C. began to repeat that most untranslatable of all untranslatable
poems.  They both knew it by heart.

The tale of the youth whom his mother took to Kevlaar because his
heart hurt him so, for thinking of little dead Gretchen, their
neighbour.  For at Kevlaar the Mother of God was wearing her best
clothes, and the pilgrims were bringing her little feet and little
hands made of wax, and whosoever offered a wax hand, the wound in
his hand was healed, and whosoever offered a wax foot, his foot was
straightway made whole.  The mother took a wax taper and moulded
with it a heart:--


     Take that to the Mother of God,
     And She will heal thy smart.


The son took the wax heart, sighing, and went sighing to the Holy
Image of Our Lady, and tears welled from his eyes as the words
welled from his heart.

He told his story to the Queen of Heaven:--


     I was living with my Mother
     At Cologne, in the town,
     The town that has so many
     Hundreds of Chapels and Churches.


As C. repeated the lines in German:--


     Ich wohnte mit meiner Mutter,
     Zu Kllen in der Stadt,
     Der Stadt, die viele hundert
     Kapellen und Kirchen hat,


Beatrice said, "He is bribing her."

"Yes," said C., and went on (only in German, and not translating):--


     And next door to us lived Gretchen,
     But Gretchen now is dead,
     Mary, I bring thee a wax heart,
     Please heal the wound in my heart.

     Heal Thou my heart that is ailing,
     And I will, early and late,
     Devoutly pray and sing to Thee,
     "Gelobt seist du, Marie!"


"He is bribing her again," he said.

Then C. repeated the poem to the end, to its beautiful close, when,
in the little bedroom where the mother and the son were sleeping,
the Mother of God came stealing in and bent down over the sick boy
and laid her hand on his heart and smiled.  And the mother saw all,
and more, in her dream, till the barking of the dogs woke her up;
and there lay her son, and he was dead, and the red light of the
morning played on his pale cheeks, and the mother folded her hands.


     Ihr war, sie wusste nicht wie,


Devoutly she softly sang the words of praise:--


     "Gelobt seist du, Marie!"


"You know what gave Heine the idea?" said C.

She didn't.

"When he was at a Franciscan school at Dusseldorf, and learning to
read, he sat next to another little boy who told him that his
mother had once taken him to Kevlaar and offered a wax foot for him
to Our Lady, and that his own ailing foot had been cured.  He met
the boy later in the upper class at a Gymnasium, and reminded him,
laughing, of the wax foot, and the boy became serious and said that
he would offer a wax heart now.  Heine forgot all about him, but
later, in the Rhine country, one day, when he was going for a walk,
he heard the song of the Kevlaar pilgrims in the distance, singing:--


     Gelobt seist du, Marie!


And when the procession went by he noticed among the pilgrims his
schoolfellow with his old mother.  But he looked very pale and
ill."

"What a heavenly story," she said, "and what a poem.  I think it's
the most beautiful poem in the world."

"But then you DO like poetry," said C.

"I've hardly read any," said Beatrice.  "I can only read things
where the book does all the reading for you.  Heine does that.
I've never read any of the classics."

"But Shelley and Keats and Swinburne," said C., "do you call those
classics?"

"I don't know; I've never tried.  I don't think I should understand
them."

"And French poetry?" said C.

"I can't bear the classics I used to be taken to see at the Thtre
Franais, and which were supposed to be proper.  But I do like
Victor Hugo.  For instance, do you know that bit about the
swallows:--


          Vite  tire-d'ailes!
     Oh! c'est triste de voir s'enfuir les hirondelles!
     Elles s'en vout l-bas, vers le midi dor."


"I believe you've read everything in the world."

They got back to French and German differences and made comparisons
again.  C. said it must have been so wonderful for her to live
among artists in Paris, and so different from the horribly dull
London world.  Beatrice was afraid of disillusioning him and kept
to the amusing, lighter side of things, and she turned the talk on
to Germany and to the enjoyment she had had there.  They talked of
German children's books and fairy tales.  They compared notes about
the books they had read in their childhood.

"My favourite book when I was a child was a book with a green
cover, called On a Pincushion," said Beatrice.

"That was my favourite book too," said C., "especially the story
called The Seeds of Love.  Do you remember the little candles the
two sisters had to burn to get one wish?"

"On a night when there was neither moon nor star," said Beatrice.
"And the story of vain Lamorna, who lost her reflection?"

"Which was pulled down by the water elves with ropes of sand," said
C.

Fairy tales led to other memories of childhood.  They compared
notes as to how far back they could each remember, and about
experiences with governesses and schoolroom books.

Time rushed past them.  Tea-time had passed and the sun was low
when they remembered that they had better be going home.  They
remembered little of their talk when it was over.  If they had been
asked what they had been talking about, they could not have
answered.  They walked back in silence towards the house through a
shrubbery and the long, untidy garden.  No comment was made on
their lateness.  Mrs. Lord merely said that supper was nearly
ready.  As a matter of fact, it was not nearly ready.

They sat outside till it was ready; Beatrice, C., and the other
guests, in basket chairs, and enjoyed a long rambling general
conversation about nothing in particular.

Then they went in to a cold supper.  After supper the night was so
warm, the garden was so inviting, that they walked a little under
the trees.  It was dark; there was no moon, and every now and then
through the trees you heard the bell of a bicycle, and you
discerned a ghostly figure flitting by on the neighbouring road.
The party had again divided into groups.  C. again was left with
Beatrice for a little while.  There were pauses in their talk now,
and they said little, but their speech and their silences became
part of the spring evening.

Beatrice was dressed in white, and C. thought he saw her eyes
shining in the darkness.  He seemed to be on tip-toe with
expectation.  He was knocking at a new and magical door.
Everything that had seemed most new and wonderful up to this moment
had been, he thought, leading him to something else and something
better, something imminent.  There had been hints before--summer
evenings at Eton, Shelley, Keats, Madeleine Lapara, Tristan und
Isolde; but now something else was surely coming, some new
mysterious thing which perhaps might even now be about to be.  He
did not put all that into thought, still less into words.  He
hardly spoke; he didn't think; he only felt; he only wanted the
moment to stay; he could not think of the future; and Beatrice?
Beatrice, surely was wondering; she was lost in wonder; she, too,
was on tip-toe, and expecting something--although she was unaware
of it.  They had both of them forgotten the world for the moment;
they were walking hand in hand like children through an enchanted
country, and they were taking the wonder, the surprise, the magic
of it, the curiosity, for granted; they were like children afraid
of asking questions, lest by a rash word they might break the
spell.

How long this lasted they were unaware, but they were recalled to
earth by a loud shout from Mr. Lord.

"Beatrice, where are you?  They must be going back."

It was time to go home so as to get into college before twelve.

"Good-bye," said Beatrice.

"Good-bye," said C.  "May I come again?"

"Yes," said Beatrice, "please come again."

And that little minute seemed again to take them farther, to open
the door a little wider, and like all partings, even the happiest,
it had a slight shiver lent by the shadow of death, but it seemed
so slight that it was almost like a blessing.  C. bicycled home
with the other undergraduates.  They talked to C. every now and
then, and C. answered with one part of his mind.  He felt so happy
that he would have liked to sing.

He felt no sorrow at the evening being over; before him was the
certainty that it would happen again and again, and quite soon.
Who knew how soon?  When could he ask her and her mother to
luncheon in his rooms?  How soon would it be possible to do it with
decency?  At any rate, Mrs. Lord seemed to approve of him, and so
did Mr. Lord; but they were both so absent-minded.  They seemed
hardly to have been aware of his presence.  He must introduce
Malone to the Lords.  Wright knew them--at least, he thought he
did.  He thought he remembered having been introduced to them at
that concert.  The concert came slowly and vividly back to his
mind.  He lived it all over again.  He remembered the songs, and
what all the performers had looked like.  He remembered his
unavailing efforts to get a real look at Beatrice without seeming
to stare, and how it had been practically impossible.  And then, as
they met outside, and they did talk to each other for a moment, he
had scarcely dared look at her.  Did he know then that he would
ever see her again?  He had known, he felt now, without knowing, in
a strange way.  He knew, and yet he had hardly thought of it, nor
of her again, till the morning he had met her again in the shop,
and yet now her presence seemed to have been there the whole time,
only behind a veil.  He never forgot that bicycle ride in the
night.

He did not go to sleep till late that night.  He lived the
afternoon and the evening all over again many times.  He wondered
what she had been thinking about, what she thought now.  The next
morning he told Malone that he was going to give a luncheon party
in his rooms, and he asked him to be one of the guests.  It was
fixed for the following Thursday, and he sent off a civil letter to
Mrs. Lord, asking Mr. and Mrs. and Miss Lord to luncheon.  The
answer seemed all too long in coming.  When it did come it said
that Mrs. Lord would be delighted to bring Beatrice, but that Mr.
Lord was unfortunately obliged to go up to London that day on
business.

C. was overjoyed; all his thoughts were concentrated on one idea,
and that was on how he could manage to see Beatrice before
Thursday, which seemed such a long time off.



CHAPTER XXI


On Tuesday afternoon he bicycled as far as Bilbury, but he did not
dare ring at the door.  He bicycled up and down in front of the
house once or twice in the hope that some one might come out, but
nobody came, and so he reluctantly went home.

Thursday seemed to be an interminable time in coming, but it came
at last.  Malone, Hallam and Wright were all of them asked to meet
the Lords, and C. bought flowers and tried to make his rather bare
room more cheerful.

The Lords were late.  It was almost a quarter to two, and there was
no sign of them.  C. felt that something had happened to prevent
their coming, and walked up and down the room in a fever of
anxiety.

"They've probably had to go to London," he said.

"They would have let you know," said Wright.

"They've forgotten.  I'm sure they've forgotten all about it," said
C.

"Nonsense, your clock is fast," said Hallam.

"They have gone to the wrong college," Malone suggested.

"They may think I said Friday instead of Thursday."

And so the conversation went on, bristling with every kind of
improbable suggestion, until Mrs. Lord and Beatrice were seen
walking across the Quad.

"There, I told you so," said Wright.  "They're really hardly even
late."

The luncheon was a great success.  Hallam entertained Mrs. Lord so
unceasingly that C. was able to enjoy some prolonged snatches of
talk with Beatrice, and Malone, Hallam and Wright, all three of
them, gazed with undisguised admiration at Beatrice, who in her
summer muslin (it was an extremely hot day), looked like the symbol
and expression of the month itself.  C. felt that she was being
admired.  He felt, too, that she had exceeded their expectations.
He had told them all about Miss Lord's beauty, and, except on the
part of Wright, who had seen her already, he had been conscious of
an unexpressed scepticism.  But there she was, smiling and talking,
fresh and cool and lovely.  After luncheon they went down to the
river and went out in a punt.  C. was able to speak to Beatrice on
the way down there, but on the river itself he was obliged to work,
while Mrs. Lord and her daughter sat in the stern.  They stayed out
till tea-time, when Mrs. Lord said they had to be going.
Arrangements were made for the future.  Hallam, Wright and Malone
were all of them invited to Bilbury on the following Sunday, to
come to luncheon and to stay for supper.

And this is how a new and settled routine began in the life of C.,
which was shot with all the colours of the rainbow.

Malone, Hallam and Wright had all of them fallen in love at first
sight with Beatrice Lord, but they all of them silently agreed that
C. not only had the prior claim, but the dominant right and
position.  They all took it for granted that Beatrice had singled
out C.

C., Malone and his friends were asked to Bilbury every Sunday.
During the week, the Lords often came into Oxford, and the intimacy
between C. and Beatrice grew rapidly.  He poured out to her his
dreams and ambitions, ideas and opinions, hopes and fears.

"But you have written things already?" she asked him one day as
they were bicycling to Bilbury.

"A little, a few things, nothing that counts."

"Won't you show them to me?" she asked.

"They are not good enough.  Some day, if I ever do anything better,
I will show it to you."

C. felt a great disgust for everything he had written so far.
There was not a thing he felt he wanted to show to Beatrice;
nothing that was good enough for her.  At the same time, he felt
quite incapable of writing anything else for the present.  His
happiness seemed to have dried up the springs of fancy and
expression.  He felt there was nothing to say.  Life was so
wonderful that there was no time to do anything else except to
live.  Yet when he saw Beatrice he would talk a great deal of all
his literary plans for the future.

She listened sympathetically.  She could give him the rarest
understanding and lend him her imagination, which was sandalled
with strong wings, but at the same time what C. told her of his
hopes frightened her.  She saw that although he lived in the world
of art, that is to say, the world of books, literature and poetry,
the world of artists was unknown to him.  That was a world which
she knew all too well.  She had lived in it ever since her
childhood, and she had known more than enough of it.  She had seen
a sordid side of Bohemian life, which had kindled in her a violent
reaction.  Her father and mother were both of them natural
Bohemians.  Their friends were nearly all of them Bohemians, and,
for the most part, unsuccessful artists, forgotten musicians,
unpublished poets and unplayed playwrights.  They knew, it is true,
some successful artists and some well-known authors, but they drew
the unsuccessful and the needy towards them like magnets.  Uncouth,
talkative, shabby, hard-up, easy-going people were constantly in
and out of the house, and Beatrice had often said to herself,
"Philistia, be thou glad of me," only the trouble was there was no
chance of getting anywhere near Philistia.  She knew that C. knew
nothing of all her world.  She saw plainly that he imagined the
world of artists and writers to be an ideal framework for all that
was finest in art and literature, and to correspond to that.  He
imagined it to consist of nothing but completely disinterested,
devoted and self-sacrificing Paladins, who were working, all of
them under great difficulties and at great personal sacrifice, for
the good and glory of mankind, and living masterpieces as well as
painting and writing them.  He mentioned artists with bated breath,
as if they belonged to a higher sphere into which he would never be
allowed to set foot.  Beatrice, who knew the reality, foresaw that
he would scarcely be able to avoid disenchantment and disillusion.
She judged by what she had gone through herself.  It could not be
said that she had lost her illusions about such things, and such
people, for she had never had any.  From her earliest years she had
lived in that world, and had learnt a series of saddening object
lessons.  As she grew up she had acted like a buffer between her
father and a host of idle hangers-on who exploited his vanity, and
a crowd of needy relations.  It was she who now managed the
household, kept the household accounts and ordered meals.  Her
mother, in spite of her vagueness, was not entirely unpractical.
She had moments of inspiration sometimes in matters of organisation,
but anything like settled routine or a continuous life of thought
and action was foreign to her.  They had always been poor.  Mr. Lord
made money by fits and starts in various ways, by painting and
writing, and even in business, but he generally lost what money he
made in fantastic schemes and unsound speculations.  They had had
one or two windfalls.  Twice Mrs. Lord had been left substantial
sums of money, and both the legacies had almost instantly been
frittered away; but, fortunately, she had a marriage settlement that
could not be touched.  They were always in the position of trying to
make both ends meet, and Mr. Lord was as optimistic as Mr. Micawber.
But they managed to live, and they somehow floated on an uneasy
stream of debt and makeshift, and Beatrice did what she could to
keep the family affairs in some kind of order, and to prevent her
father from embarking on more than usually egregious follies.

The mode of Beatrice Lord's life and the nature of her
circumstances had thrown her back on her religion.  She and her
family were all of them devout practising Catholics.  C. was
puzzled by this factor and never discussed it with her.  It was to
him frankly inexplicable.  The only ideas he harboured about her
religion were those he had imbibed in his childhood from Brinny,
his nurse, and from Miss Hackett, and although he was willing to
believe that their views on the subject were neither final nor
exhaustive, he could not understand a grown-up person bothering
about religion.  He accepted the fact.  They were born Catholics,
and it was natural, he thought, that they should remain Catholics,
and yet it puzzled him more than he could express.  He looked upon
the Catholic religion as Anglicanism pushed further and reduced to
the absurd: Anglicanism run riot.  If Anglicanism failed to
satisfy, Catholicism  fortiori must do so in a higher degree.  But
he did not discuss the matter with Beatrice during this period.  A
summer of radiant, unimaginable happiness had begun for him.  They
both of them floated ecstatically down a tide of enjoyment,
amusement, high spirits, beautiful weather, fun, picnics, laughter
and song.  Every day seemed to be more beautiful than yesterday,
and less beautiful than to-morrow.  Mrs. Lord looked on and smiled.
She seemed to notice nothing, and she encouraged C. and his friends
to come to the house.  She lived in a world of her own and hardly
noticed what went on around her.

At the end of June the Lords' tenancy of Bilbury came to an end.
They were going back to London, but hoped to be back at Oxford
during the Michaelmas term.  But, before doing so, Mrs. Lord and
Beatrice had been asked to stay for a fortnight with Sir Gabriel
Carteret, who had a house on the Thames, near Datchet.  The Lords
and the Carterets were great friends, and Mrs. Lord corresponded
regularly with Lady Elizabeth Carteret.  In her letters she had
mentioned C. more than once, and C. had met the Carterets at the
Rodens.  The Carterets invited him to stay at their house as soon
as the Oxford term was over, at the beginning of July.  C. was
expected back in London, but he wrote to his mother and announced
his intention of accepting the invitation.  Mrs. Roden happened to
be with Lady Hengrave when she received the letter, and she said
the Carterets would be useful and valuable friends for C.  Sir
Gabriel Carteret was famous not only as a painter, but as a
personality, and he was extremely well off, while Lady Elizabeth
Carteret was of such as were accepted without question by Lady
Hengrave.  She wrote and told C. that as long as he was home for
the Eton and Harrow match he could do what he liked.

C. went down from Oxford at the beginning of July, a few days after
the Lords left Bilbury, and he went straight to Windsor.  It was
with a thrill that he arrived at Windsor station.  He left his
luggage to be called for and he walked through Eton on a July
afternoon of one of the hottest and most unbroken summers that
England had ever known.  He walked to the playing fields, and he
was greeted by a well-known shriek.  He turned round and saw
Calmady, who was on his way to absence.  They went together to the
schoolyard and C. met several acquaintances among the masters and a
few among the boys.  He suggested tea at Little Brown's, and he and
Calmady walked into the back room and ordered cold salmon, cucumber
and strawberry messes, and some iced coffee.  It was Calmady's last
half at Eton.  He was going abroad to study French, to a family in
Normandy.

"I'm almost in Sixth Form," he said, "and I've come to the end of
my Eton career without being expelled, which my tutor says is a
triumph," and he shrieked with laughter so loud and so long that
Phbe, who was busy dealing out teas to a lot of clamouring Lower
boys in the front shop, put her head into the back room and told
Calmady that if he made so much noise she wouldn't serve him.

"Come, come, Mr. Calmady," she said, "one would think you were a
Lower boy by the way you go on."

When they finished tea, and each of them had eaten two large
strawberry messes, C. said he must be going, and Calmady was going
to play cricket.  C. took a fly, picked up his luggage, and drove
to Datchet.

Chestercombe, the Carterets' house, was right on the river.
Opposite it there were two gaudily painted house-boats.  It was a
large panelled house, painted for the most part sage green and
partly sealing-wax red, with a panelled oak staircase.  It was more
like a series of showrooms than a house.  It contained some
exquisite Old English furniture; a great many silver sconces and
convex mirrors, and many pictures; a few sketches in crayon by Sir
Gabriel himself, and more important oil colours by English and
foreign contemporary artists.  In the low panelled hall there was a
large and most elaborate grand pianoforte of carved wood, inlaid
with mosaic work.  There were several other musical instruments
lying about in the rooms, including a small green Irish harp and a
spinet, but neither Sir Gabriel nor Lady Elizabeth Carteret, nor
their daughter, Hester, played any of them.  There were one or two
little rooms in the house which were only for show presumably, as
they were too small to sit down in unless you chanced to be a
pigmy, and a library in which there were no books except a complete
set of Punch bound in white vellum.

C. was greeted by Lady Elizabeth Carteret, who was a small, dark,
refined, ladylike woman, completely natural and rather untidy.
When she married Sir Gabriel he had been a penniless student, and
it was considered by her family (her father was a marquis with
about a dozen different titles and two large estates) that she had
made a runaway match of the rashest description.  It had, however,
all turned out for the best, and Sir Gabriel was considered an
ornament to any society.  Sir Gabriel himself was florid, bearded,
and had a passion for making puns.  He painted kind, dignified
portraits and soothing landscapes, and exhibited something once a
year at the Academy and sometimes at the Salon.  He was an officer
of the Legion of Honour, and had received decorations from most of
the European potentates.  They had one daughter, Hester, a tall
girl with black hair and large, black eyes, who was studying
painting.

"She is determined to take the bread out of her father's mouth,"
Sir Gabriel would say jocularly.

Lady Elizabeth took C. into the garden, where Sir Gabriel, Mrs.
Lord, Beatrice and Hester Carteret were sitting in basket-chairs
and watching the people on the river.  Mr. Lord was not there.  He
had, as usual, found pressing business to do in London.

C. had arrived on a Thursday evening.  It seemed to him that he had
been separated from Beatrice for years, and his joy at seeing her
again was undisguised.  At dinner he sat between her and Lady
Elizabeth, and his happiness was beyond all expression.  Lady
Elizabeth was romantic.  She had apparently read all the novels in
the world, and she invested her friends and acquaintances with
romantic qualities, and attributed sentimental and passionate
adventures to them, which she related to C.

The next day C. spent the morning at Eton, walking about looking at
the shops and visiting the Boys' library with Beatrice, and in the
afternoon they all went for a sketching expedition to Burnham
Beeches.

They were to spend the whole of Saturday afternoon and evening on
the river, and go for a long expedition to Runnymede.  Never had
Eton looked more beautiful; never had the river seemed so tempting,
so placid and so cool; never had the loosestrife on the banks been
more luxuriant.

They started out on Saturday in two boats.  Two Eton boys joined
them.  C. and an Eton boy took Hester Carteret and Beatrice in one
boat; Sir Gabriel and another Eton boy took Lady Elizabeth and Mrs.
Lord in another boat.  Hester Carteret took her sketching things,
and when they arrived at Runnymede settled down to serious business
in impressionist water-colour.  Her art belonged to the opposite
school to that of her father, and was very bold and wet.  Mrs. Lord
prepared the tea, made a fire, and organised the picnic, for which
she had a peculiar and unexpected practical talent, and she baked
some potatoes.  Sir Gabriel toyed with a sketch and Lady Elizabeth
entertained the boys, so that Beatrice and C. had an uninterrupted
talk to themselves.  They stayed out late, and the boys got back to
Eton just in time for lock-up.  They found a cold supper and
strawberries waiting for them, and a male cousin of the Carterets,
who was in the Foreign Office and had come down to spend Sunday.
The next morning Mrs. Lord and Beatrice drove into Windsor for
Mass, and they took C. with them.  C. went to Eton Chapel for the
first time since he had left.  His happiness was increasing every
moment.  He wished Beatrice could have come to chapel with him.  He
had pointed out so many things at Eton to her, and here was one
thing he could not share with her.  C. and the Lords had luncheon
at Leightons, and spent the afternoon in the playing fields.  When
they got back to tea C. was extremely astonished to find a telegram
waiting for him.  It was unexpected to receive a telegram on
Sunday, and it must have been sent off very early.  It was from
Lady Hengrave, and it said:  "Beg of you to come London to-morrow
in time for dinner we are giving for Prince of Saxe-Altenburg.
Your father wishes it."  Rumours had reached Lady Hengrave of a
flirtation--nothing more--but a flirtation with a penniless friend
of the Rodens who was staying with the Carterets.  To be a friend
of the Rodens at all was a bad mark in her eyes, but to be a
penniless friend of the Rodens was unpardonable, and a thing to be
dealt with at once.

"I suppose I must go," said C., "but I will come back if you will
let me."

The Carterets had asked him to stay till the end of the week.

Lady Elizabeth was greatly distressed.  She had seen at a glance
what was happening to C., and was determined to encourage the
romance with all the means at her disposal.  Throughout the picnic
she had carefully arranged to throw them together, and she had made
up her mind that it would be an excellent match.  She knew, too,
that it would annoy Lady Hengrave, and that was to her not the
least pleasing facet of the situation.

"You can't possibly go," she said.  "You've only just come, and
I've got such lovely things for all of us to do next week."

"I suppose he must go if it's a dinner party," said Mrs. Lord.  "It
might make them thirteen, and that would upset his mother and his
father; otherwise they would scarcely have telegraphed so early on
Sunday."

"Well," said Lady Elizabeth, "why not go up for the dinner and come
back here on Tuesday, and stay for the rest of the week?"

It was settled that he should go up the next day and come back as
soon as he could.  The Lords were staying on another week.
Beatrice and C. were silent that evening during dinner, and Lady
Elizabeth felt in complete sympathy with them.  After dinner she
managed matters so that Hester should show the kitchen-garden,
which was separated from the house and at some distance from it, to
the young male cousin, while Sir Gabriel talked to Mrs. Lord; she
herself had some letters which "she must finish."  C. and Beatrice
went out on to the lawn.

It was a hot, breathless, beautiful night.  There was no suspicion
of thunder in the air, but every now and then, in the distance, a
glimmer of summer lightning flickered across the sky.  They walked
down to the bank of the river and sat down on a white wooden garden
seat.  Some people were sitting on the top of the house-boat.  It
was too dark to see them clearly, but Beatrice and C. could hear
what they said quite distinctly.  They could distinguish a girl in
white, and a man was just finishing whistling to banjo accompaniment
an out-of-date lullaby from a Gaiety burlesque, Ruy Blas, which had
a great vogue when C. was at Eton.  There was a burst of applause,
and the singer said:--

"Now it's Harold's turn to oblige."

But Harold protested that he could neither sing unaccompanied nor
accompany himself.  There was a heated argument, in which every one
appeared to take part at once.  Beatrice and C. heard the noise of
a bottle being opened, and the singer jocularly remarked that he
deserved a drink after all that.  There was a pause for refreshment.
Some one named Elsie was called upon for a song, but she protested
that singing in the night air would damage her voice. There was
something undefinably theatrical about the tone of that
conversation.  They were actors, thought Beatrice, who were staying
with the inmates of the house-boat.  The original performer, whose
name turned out to be Walter, was asked to sing again, and he
consented.

"I'll give you what I gave them at Devonshire Park," he said; "and
I was encored, you know.  Of course, it wants the accompaniment;
but I'll see what I can vamp on the banjo.


     As the flight of a river
       That flows to the sea,
     My soul rushes ever
       In tumult to thee.

     A twofold existence
       I lead where thou art;
     My heart in the distance,
       Beats close to thy heart.

     Look up, I am near thee,
       I gaze on thy face;
     I see thee, I hear thee,
       I feel thy embrace.

     And absence but lightens
       The eyes that I miss,
     And custom but heightens
       The spell of thy kiss.

     It is not from duty
       Tho' that may be owed,
     It is not from beauty,
       Tho' that be bestowed.

     But all that I care for
       And all that I know,
     Is that, without wherefore,
       I worship thee so."


The singer put an immense amount of vehemence into the song.  C.
and Beatrice felt that the veins on his head must be bursting, but
Beatrice thought, too, that, in spite of the smart, stagey
professionalism of the performance, which was as shiny and glossy
as wet paint, and hideously competent (while utterly lacking in all
that makes anything artistic), there was in it a genuine note of
passion.  She felt as if they were having a peep into one of those
little dramas that go on behind the scenes in theatrical life, and
she felt so more strongly still when, as the song ended, she heard
a female voice say:

"I never cared for that song, Walter.  The words are so high-
falutin'.  Do sing us something sensible with a chorus."

"You always hate whatever I sing.  I've done--for this evening at
any rate."

Presently there was a bustle, a gathering up of wraps, and a chorus
of good-byes.  Some members of the party, and among them "Walter,"
were leaving.  A boat was got ready, and the people got into it.

"Come again next Sunday," said a female voice.

"No such luck," said Walter.  "Next Sunday I shall be at Glasgow."

The banjoist was in the boat, and they rowed away up-stream towards
Windsor to an accompaniment of laughter, shouts, chaff, argument
and banjo-strumming.

"Actors, I suppose," said Beatrice.

"I suppose so," said C.

The noise of the chattering people in the boat grew fainter and
fainter.  Suddenly the "Last Post" sounded from Windsor and died
away.

The flashy rendering of the song they had just been listening to
had a curious effect on C.  It made him feel inclined to say, and
it made it possible for him to say, all sorts of things that up
till the present he had never dared say.  It had unlocked a door.

"To-morrow night I shan't be here any more," said C.

"I wonder whether you'll be able to come back," said Beatrice.

"Of course I shall come back"; but there was an unexpressed fear in
the tone of his voice.

"Fancy!" said Beatrice.  "When I first heard about you and heard
you called 'C.' by Mrs. Roden, I thought it was S.E.A.  I thought
it such a funny name."

"At the concert?"

"Yes, at the concert."

They both laughed.

"Do you remember the concert?" asked C.

"Every moment of it.  Do you remember that song, For Greed of
Gold?"

"Yes, and the fat man who sang To-morrow will be Friday.  I didn't
dare look at you.  I thought I was staring too much.  I thought you
would think me so rude."

"I knew we would be friends."

"I thought so, too."

The moon had risen.  The trees and the shrubs seemed unreal.  It
seemed to C. that years had passed since the first evening they had
walked down to the river after the first Sunday he had spent at
Bilbury.  A dog barked somewhere.  It was quite still, and yet the
stillness was composed of a hundred little sounds: the breaking of
a twig, the rustling of a leaf, the note of a bird, then a ripple
on the water.  The summer night touched them with its spell, and C.
poured out his love for Beatrice in a flood of inconsequent
whispers, and asked her to be his wife.  Beatrice said "Yes" quite
simply, and they promised to love each other for ever and ever,
whatever might happen.  They made good the promise with their first
kiss.  The night, the stars, the moon, the river, the willow trees,
and all the muffled noise of the midsummer night seemed to witness
their declaration and to seal the sacrament.

They walked to the house, hand in hand, in silence.  When they went
to bed Beatrice went up to her mother's room.

"I am engaged to be married to C.," she said.

Mrs. Lord cried a great deal and clasped her child in her arms.
She was genuinely, overwhelmingly surprised.  Then she suddenly
exclaimed:--

"But, my darling, he'll never change his religion, and your father
will never hear of your marrying some one who isn't a Catholic!"

"We'll discuss that later, darling Mummy," said Beatrice.



CHAPTER XXII


Mrs. Lord had been brought back with a sharp jerk to the world of
reality from the vague country of dreams in which she had been
wandering, by Beatrice's announcement.  She had never faced the
possibility of Beatrice being engaged.  She thought she was far too
young, and she still looked upon her as a baby.  As for C., she had
never thought of him except as a schoolboy.  She slept little that
night.  The marriage seemed to be altogether impossible for a
multitude of reasons.  There was the financial question.  Both the
children were far too poor to marry.  It was possible, of course,
that C.'s wealthy relations, that Mrs. Roden, for instance, might
help; but it was improbable.  Mrs. Lord did not know the Hengraves,
but she took disapproval for granted from that quarter.  Then there
was the religious question.  Her husband, in spite of his vagueness
and affability, and his unbusinesslike, meandering habit of mind,
concealed in his soul a little hard kernel on the subject of
religion, and there were occasions and moments when he saw red on
the subject.  It would be impossible to discuss the matter quietly
and reasonably with him.  He became violent, too, when crossed and
excited.  But then Beatrice was a determined girl.  Altogether,
Mrs. Lord thought that "it was all very uncomfortable."

The next morning she braced herself to have a talk, first of all
with Beatrice, then with C.

She detailed the reasons which she said made the marriage
difficult.  She did not use the word impossible.

The extreme youth of both of those concerned.

The want of money on both sides.

The difference of religion, which would be regarded as an obstacle
probably by the Hengrave family, and certainly by Mr. Lord.

Beatrice did not discuss the financial side, but she did say that
mixed marriages often occurred, and often seemed to be quite happy.

"Yes, but your father!" said Mrs. Lord, and Beatrice felt that
argument to be unanswerable.

"What does C. feel on the subject?" asked Mrs. Lord.

"I don't know.  We have never discussed it.  I know he is fond of
Eton Chapel."

"Ah," said Mrs. Lord, "that's just it!  You see how difficult it
is.  We will say nothing to your father at present.  After all,
there is no hurry, you are both of you so young, so absurdly
young."

"Not younger than you were, Mummy, when you married," said
Beatrice.

Mrs. Lord sighed.

"I married far too young," she said.

Then she had an interview with C.

C. admitted that the financial prospects were poor, that his
parents would probably be difficult at first; as to the religious
question, he waved it aside.

"Mixed marriages happen every day.  After all, it's practically the
same religion.  You only believe a little more than we do.  That's
all.  It's not as if I was a Turk.  My godmother might help us.
She has always helped me so far.  And then we can wait.  I am
willing to wait for years, so anything may happen.  I can go into
the City and make money.  My eldest brother is in the City, and he
can take me into his office.  After all, when the Carterets were
married they were both of them penniless."

"Yes," said Mrs. Lord, "but Sir Gabriel was exceptional, and even
as a student he showed great promise.  He was born for success.  I
don't mean, my dear, that you will be unsuccessful."

But, although she was not aware of it, that was exactly what she
did mean.  C. had a horrible feeling that she was right.

"All I say is," said Mrs. Lord, "do not let us do anything rash."

She felt it was fearfully difficult, practically impossible, to
discuss the matter with C.  He swept aside the material objections;
as for the others, he did not understand them.

Luncheon passed off sadly.  The Carterets put this down to C.'s
departure, and Lady Elizabeth tried to enliven him by dwelling
forcibly on the necessity of his immediate return.  C. assented,
but he felt at the back of his mind that the return might not be
quite as speedy as he hoped.  Mrs. Lord said nothing about the
matter to Lady Elizabeth, but Lady Elizabeth suspected that
something had happened.  What it was she was not quite sure.  She
at first suspected a lovers' quarrel, but after a moment's thought
she got near to the truth.

C. had one last long talk with Beatrice in the afternoon.  Lady
Elizabeth saw to that.  They walked together round and round the
kitchen-garden.

It would be interesting to know what the immortals, the angels, the
devils, and the head clerk to the Fates think and say when they
overhear conversations such as Beatrice and C. held on this
occasion about their future.

"Father and Mother will mind at first," said C., "but they will
come round in the end.  Aunt Rachel will persuade them.  You see,
she has often said to me that, having no boys of her own, she
considers me to be her son."

"But," said Beatrice, "won't they all of them mind my being a
Catholic?  Mrs. Roden just as much as the others, in fact more?
She's very High Church."

"I thought," said C., "that High Church people approved of Roman
Catholics.  Our Dame used to at Eton."

"They do in a way, and to a certain extent," said Beatrice, "but
sometimes they are the most anti-Catholic people in the world.  I
suppose your Father and Mother would think it awful."

"I'm afraid they would think it a drawback," said C.  "My uncles
and aunts and cousins certainly would.  They'd say I'd been got
hold of by the priests, and what's so odd is that those who mind
most are just those who care least about religion--those who
haven't really got any religion at all.  At any rate, your Mother
didn't seem to think it was a difficulty that couldn't be got
over."

"Did she say anything about Father?"

"No, she said nothing about him."

"You know he would mind more than anybody."

"Would he really?  I can't understand why.  He couldn't think I
would want you to change your religion or to interfere with it in
any way."

"He wouldn't reason about it at all.  Father's an extraordinary
mixture.  You know he's half Irish, and he's so gentle and vague
and affable, and suddenly he sees red about a thing, and it's no
good arguing or saying anything.  It's not so much that he'd mind
me marrying a Protestant as that he would want me to marry a
Catholic.  It would be unthinkable to him that I shouldn't marry a
Catholic."

"But aren't there mixed marriages every day?"

"Of course, but that wouldn't affect Father."

"Do you mean he would forbid it?"

"I don't know that he would actually do that, but he would
certainly make it difficult."

"However, whatever the difficulties are, if we are determined to
get over them, nothing can prevent us getting over them."

"We shall have to be very patient and careful not to make things
more difficult.  Whatever we do we mustn't make them angry."

By THEM Beatrice meant the Hengrave family.

"I have a feeling it will all come right in the end.  I shall go
and see Aunt Rachel directly I get to London, and I am sure she
will pull us through.  You see she loves you."

"You mustn't be disappointed if Mrs. Roden isn't as enthusiastic as
you expect her to be."

"But she is a great friend of your Mother's, isn't she?"

"Yes, but I feel sure she wouldn't like to do anything which would
annoy your Mother, or which she thought would be likely to make
difficulties between you and your family."

"We must hope for the best.  I'm sure I can persuade her."

"We must hope for the best," said Beatrice; but she knew from the
first moment that she had talked to her mother and had thought over
the whole matter calmly in her own mind, that short of a miracle
there would be little chance of the marriage being sanctioned on
either side.  "Miracles," she thought, "do sometimes happen, only
this is too nice a miracle to happen."  But she kept her doubts to
herself.  She implored C. to be very gentle and tactful with his
family, and to respect their prejudices and not to arouse their
opposition.  C. promised to be as gentle as a lamb and as
reasonable as a serpent.  They went over the whole story again and
again, and again, and then, after many protestations, and promises
and assurances, and sacred, beautiful, foolish nothings, they said
good-bye.

Lady Elizabeth said good-bye to C. affectionately.  She conveyed to
him indirectly that she knew what was happening, and bade him be of
good cheer.  Mrs. Lord said good-bye to him tearfully, and
indirectly conveyed to him that he must not be too optimistic.

"We shall expect you to-morrow at tea-time.  If you can, get down
in time for luncheon," said Lady Elizabeth.

"I expect he will want to spend the morning in London," said Mrs.
Lord.

"I shall come back as soon as ever I can," said C.

Sir Gabriel, who was always glad of an excuse for going to Windsor,
said he would drive C. to the station, and they started off in a
dog-cart after an early tea.  C. was glad of Sir Gabriel's cheerful
affability and flow of mild puns.  Sir Gabriel left him at the
South-Western station, and as he said "good-bye" to him, he said
suddenly, quite gravely:--

"If you find you can't come back as soon as you wish, don't worry.
Things turn out sometimes to be more difficult than they seem to be
at first, but they often come right in the end," and with these
words he hurried away.

C. arrived at Hengrave House about half-past seven.  He found the
house in a state of commotion.  The girls were dressing.  Lady
Hengrave had gone to dress.  There was a red carpet outside the
front door, and an awning.  The staircase was full of flowers, the
front drawing-room was empty of furniture save for gilt chairs.
There was, he learnt, to be a little dance after dinner.  He found
a pencil note from Lady Hengrave begging him not to be late for
dinner, and telling him that he was to take in to dinner Alice
Woburn, the daughter of Lord Woburn.  She was just out.  He was
also, said Lady Hengrave, to be sure to be civil to Lady Harriet
Clive, who was to be on his other side.  Lady Harriet Clive was a
lively old lady who liked the literary, the original, and the
young, and she had asked Lady Hengrave to let C. sit next to her,
as she had heard of him (oddly enough from Burstall, a fact she did
not mention to Lady Hengrave).  C. ran upstairs and dressed in a
hurry.  Minor mishaps occurred; he lost his collar-stud, and spoilt
three ties in the tying of them, so that he was only just in time.
Dinner was at quarter past eight, and as the Prince of Saxe-
Altenburg was dining, everybody was punctual.  When C. came down he
found that most of the guests had arrived, and Lady Hengrave, in
black velvet, trimmed with artificial poppies, and a forbidding
tiara, looked at him reproachfully, but with relief.  The Prince of
Saxe-Altenburg walked into the room as the clock struck a quarter
past eight.  He wore a star and a red ribbon, and he shook hands
slowly with all the guests, and said a word to each.  To C. he said
nothing, but favoured him with an august twinkle.

It was a large dinner party.  Sixteen people sat down to dinner.
C. took Lady Alice Woburn down towards the end of the procession.
He found her shy and silent, and their conversation took the form
of a question, a pause, and a monosyllable; then another longer
pause, another question, and another monosyllable.  Towards the
middle of dinner Lady Harriet turned a beady eye on him, and said
that she had heard a lot of him from a quaint friend of hers,
Andrew Burstall.  C. was astonished, but delighted at his name
coming up into the conversation.

"He thinks a lot of you," she said.

"Where is he now?" asked C.

"Oh, he's so tiresome--always away.  It's impossible to get hold of
him.  He's an impossible man, but so clever and agreeable.  But a
dreadful Tory."  Lady Harriet was a Whig.  "But I suppose you are a
Tory like the rest of your family.  Your mother and I never discuss
politics, but I do have battles with Andrew Burstall whenever I see
him.  He's abroad now, finishing his book."

"Was he ever married?" asked C.

"He is married now, but the marriage was an unfortunate one.  He
and his wife don't get on.  She lives in London.  They're not
separated, but they quarrel dreadfully, and yet they cannot keep
apart for very long.  They both come to see me, but always
separately.  She's a clever woman, but very bitter, and she had
some money.  Next time I can get him to luncheon you must come and
meet him.  He spoke very highly of you, and he seldom does that.
You must have impressed him.  He said you wrote so well."

C. got very red and could scarcely believe his ears.  He felt an
inward glow of pleasure.

Lady Harriet asked him where he had been, and when he mentioned the
Carterets she said she knew them very well.

"Such a charming man, and dear Bessie Carteret just as foolish as
ever, I suppose.  And who else was there?"

"Mrs. Lord and her daughter Beatrice," said C., and he felt a
great, a new, rare and exquisite pleasure in saying the name of
Beatrice Lord.  He tried to say it in a detached way, but the
practised ears of Lady Harriet detected the quality of the
interest.

"Yes, the Lords," she said.  "I have met her.  She was a
Cartwright.  He's half Irish, I think, an inventor who is always
inventing things that never answer, and only end in some one going
bankrupt.  They say the girl's pretty.  Is she?"

Lady Harriet gave C. a piercing glance.

He tried hard not to blush, but he could not help it.

"Yes," he said, "she is very pretty--very tall."

"No money, of course," said Lady Harriet with a sigh.  "They are
all Roman Catholics; and that won't make it any the easier for her
to find a husband outside the old Catholic families."

"I suppose she'd have to marry a Catholic?" said C. tentatively.

"I believe they are rather bigoted," said Lady Harriet, "but, you
see, it's not every one would like their son to marry a Roman
Catholic, especially if she is penniless.  That would be the
difficulty.  I don't suppose they'd mind.  If Mrs. Lord is a
sensible woman she would be delighted for her daughter to marry any
one."

She gave C. another piercing glance, and noted the intense interest
that his expression betrayed in the topic they were discussing.
"Could it be that?" she thought.

"I suppose you had never met the Lords before?" she hazarded.

"Oh, yes, I met them at Aunt Rachel's last Christmas."

He said nothing about Oxford.

"The boy is in love with her," thought Lady Harriet.  "That's a
marriage which will certainly be thought to be out of the question.
Poor boy! poor girl!"  She pictured to herself her friend Georgina
Hengrave's feelings if C. proposed marrying a penniless Papist.

"Anyhow, the girl's far too young to think of marrying now," she
said, and then they talked of other things.

Lady Harriet was interested in C., but she seemed to foresee rocks
and shoals ahead of him in his relations with his family, and with
the world in general.

"You must come to luncheon with me soon.  Come next Sunday," she
said.

C. became immensely embarrassed.

"I should like to very much, but I am not sure whether I will be
here.  The Carterets asked me to go back, but--"

Lady Harriet understood the situation at once.

"You will let me know.  There's no hurry," she said.  "If you are
in London come at two o'clock.  I'll try and get some pleasant
people."

The men remained a long time over the wine when dinner was over,
and C. found himself next to two elderly politicians, who discussed
a Bill that was or was not going to be passed that session.  C.
thought their conversation would never come to an end.  On the
other side of him a young guardsman, who had sat on the other side
of Lady Alice, had found a congenial companion in another fellow
guardsman, and they were deep in shop.  The politicians included C.
in their audience and acted as though he were taking an intelligent
interest in their conversation.  C. was praying for it to end.

Lord Hengrave had moved up at the end of dinner to the opposite end
of the table, and was talking racing to the Prince of Saxe-
Altenburg, who every now and then nodded his head and sometimes
said, "I agree with you."  The port and the old brandy had both
been round twice, and, after drinking a final glass of old brandy
(1848), the Prince of Saxe-Altenburg said reflectively:--

"Ze wines are good.  I have drunk zem all," and he looked
interrogatively at his host, giving him the tacit signal for
rising.  Lord Hengrave and the Prince rose from their seats, and C.
rushed to open the door.

As they went upstairs C. heard the strains of a string band playing
a valse he had heard in Germany, Donauwellen, and he passed a crowd
of young men who were putting on white gloves in the cloak room.
Lady Hengrave was standing, very erect and dignified, at the top of
the staircase, receiving the guests.  C.'s two sisters had already
found partners and were twirling round the room.  They were
certainly better dressed than any of the other girls present.  Lady
Hengrave had seen to that, and C. thought he noticed a triumphant
expression on the face of his eldest sister, Julia.

He was bewildered.  There was hardly any one he knew by sight in
the room, and the people he did know were just those whom he would
like to avoid.  He saw that his sisters had noticed his arrival,
and would probably soon introduce him to some one.  He was an
unskilful dancer, and he looked upon talking to a partner as worse
than dancing.  He would have liked to have run away, but there was
no escape.  Between him and the door which led from the landing to
the back staircase stood Lady Hengrave.  He caught sight of his
sister-in-law, his brother Edward's American wife, and he felt she
was walking towards him with the intention of introducing him to a
suitable partner.  C. was desperate.  He looked around him and
wondered whether there was any means of escaping before his sister-
in-law could reach him.  There was luckily rather a crowd on the
landing, and at that moment Lady Harriet came to his rescue.  She
seemed to guess what he was going through.

"This is your first ball, isn't it?" she said.  "Do come and talk
to me for a moment."

C. was overjoyed at this solution.  She led him through the
ballroom, in which as yet only a few couples were dancing, into the
back drawing-room, where there were chairs and sofas.

"You can leave me," she said, "whenever you want to go and dance."

"Oh," said C., "I hate dancing, and I don't know any one."

"Presently," said Lady Harriet, "I'll try and find you a partner
who won't bore you, and in the meantime you can talk to me."

Lady Harriet knew exactly what C. was going through.  She also knew
what would be expected of him from his family, and she determined
to see him through the evening.  She had taken a great fancy to him
and, from what Burstall had told her, she felt that C. was an
exceptional person.

As they sat down the ballroom seemed quite empty.  There were about
four couples dancing, but they had not been talking for more than
ten minutes when the staircase had become crowded and the ballroom
was full of dancers.  Just as when you pour hot water into a basin
or a bath and you feel at one moment as if it will never get hot,
and then in one undefinable second the basin or bath from having
been a basin of cold water becomes one of boiling water, too hot to
bear, so did the rooms at one moment seem as if they could never be
filled and at the next were overflowing with people.

"You'll have to dance with some girl, once," said Lady Harriet, "or
your mother will never forgive either you or me."

"But I can't dance," said C.  "I've never danced since I went to
school."

"Then you must sit out," said Lady Harriet.  And as she said the
words the band began to play an arrangement of Lancers from Cinder-
Ellen up-to-date, a Gaiety burlesque.

"Lancers," she said, "You can dance the Lancers.  You must dance
them with Alice Woburn.  She hasn't got a partner, and you sat next
to her at dinner.  She's standing up there next to her mother."

C. did as he was told, and got through the dance without mishap.
In fact, he enjoyed it.  When the dance was over he sat on the
staircase with his partner.  Guests were still arriving.  His Aunt
Rachel and her two daughters passed him.  She greeted him warmly,
and when the music began, and he had taken his partner back to her
mother, he at once approached one of the Roden girls, and suggested
that they should go and have some lemonade downstairs.  He was
quite happy with his cousin.  She, in her turn, introduced him to
other unalarming partners, so that by supper-time he had got
through the evening fairly well.  He took Lady Harriet down to
supper, and as they were sitting at a round table, and eating
quails, a murmured confidence seemed to spread through the room and
make a ripple of excitement.  It was a piece of news, namely, that
Julia Bramsley was engaged to be married to Lord Holborn, only "it
was not yet announced."  By the time the piece of news had
circulated throughout the dining-room the phrase "not yet
announced" had lost its meaning, and by the time the first guests
to come down had finished their supper and gone upstairs the
marriage was considered to be announced, and Julia and the young
man, who had ten thousand a year, was twenty-seven years old, and
an eldest son, were receiving the congratulations of their friends.

When C. returned to the ballroom with Lady Harriet, who bade him go
and congratulate his sister, he felt rather at a loss what to do.
Julia was nowhere to be seen.  He came across Marjorie and said:--

"I suppose it's true about Julia?"

"Oh, that's stale news!  Do you mean you didn't know?  Of course,
to Tommy."

"Where is she?" said C.

"They've gone down to have supper," said Marjorie, and at that
moment a partner came and claimed her.  C. felt sentimental towards
his eldest sister, and wanted to make some manifestation, but he
looked round the room and saw no one with whom he felt inclined to
communicate anything.  He felt that he was in extreme jeopardy,
that at any moment some one might come and introduce him to a
partner.  The ballroom was now not so crowded, as many of the
dancers were having supper.  He walked into the back drawing-room,
and there he caught sight of Mrs. Roden.  He walked up to her.

"Have you had supper?" he asked.

Supper seemed to him a providential oasis in the Sahara of ballroom
life.  No, she hadn't.

"May I take you down?"

Mrs. Roden was extremely hungry, and delighted to go.  As they
walked through the dining-room to a table at the far end of the
room they passed Julia and her fianc, who were sitting at one of
the nearer tables.  C. bent over and whispered to her, "I do
congratulate you."  He felt a new and unwonted wave of fondness for
his sister.  She smiled back ecstatic thanks at him, while Mrs.
Roden overwhelmed her in a gurgle of felicitations.

"How delightful it is about Julia!" Mrs. Roden said as they sat
down.  "Delightful in every way."

"Aunt Rachel," said C., "I have got a secret to tell you.  I am
engaged to be married to Beatrice Lord."

C. poured out the whole story into his aunt's astonished ears, and
asked her advice.  What was he to do?  Had he better tell his
mother himself?  If so, when?  Or would she do it?

"Don't do anything in a hurry," said Mrs. Roden.  "Come to luncheon
with me to-morrow and we will talk it over."

C. had been looking forward to going back the next day to the
Carterets in time for luncheon.  Nevertheless he thought it best to
accept his aunt's invitation.

When C. and Mrs. Roden returned to the ballroom they found it
greatly thinned.  They had been a long time at supper.  It was
nearly half-past three.  Mrs. Roden's girls were still dancing;
Julia and her fianc were still enjoying their long, uninterrupted
tte--tte in the tented balcony of the back drawing-room.  When
the dance came to an end Mrs. Roden said that she must take her
girls home, as they had a ball every night that week.

"Mind, nothing rash," she said to C., "and luncheon to-morrow at
two."

The room suddenly emptied as quickly and as imperceptibly as it had
filled at the beginning of the evening.  Soon the only people left
were Julia and her fianc, Marjorie, Edward and his wife.  Lord
Hengrave had gone to bed some time before.  Lady Hengrave walked
upstairs from a belated supper with Cecil White, whom the lateness
of the hour had rendered peevish.  She gave a sigh of relief as she
noted the emptiness of the ballroom.

"Where's Julia?" she said.

"They're still on the balcony," said Marjorie.

"You might fetch them," said Lady Hengrave to C., "from the
balcony," correcting her daughter's pronunciation, "It's all over
now."

Even the band had gone to enjoy a well-earned supper.

"It's certainly very satisfactory," said Lady Hengrave to her
daughter-in-law, "about Julia."

Good-nights were said.  Edward and his wife, the last of the
guests, said good-bye.  Lady Hengrave said good-night to her
children, and the evening seemed to have reached a peaceful close,
and would have done so if on the way upstairs Marjorie, referring
to her sister's engagement, had not twitted C. with his being too
young to understand such things.

"As a matter of fact," said C., "I am engaged to be married
myself."

Marjorie laughed sceptically.

"I suppose you haven't told mother yet?"

"No, but I'm going to now," he said, and he ran down the back
stairs to his mother's bedroom, which was on the first floor, next
to the back drawing-room.

But when he got to the door his heart failed him.

"After all," he said to himself, "Aunt Rachel begged me to do
nothing rash," and he walked upstairs again slowly.

On the way he passed his two sisters, who were still talking in the
passage at the door of Julia's room, which was open.

"Well," said Marjorie, "have you told Mother of your engagement?"

C. laughed and said:--

"I believe you were taken in."

"Not in the least," said Marjorie.

They all went to bed.



CHAPTER XXIII


The next morning Lady Hengrave came down to breakfast punctually at
nine-thirty as though nothing unusual had occurred in the house the
night before.  Julia and Marjorie were expected to have breakfast
in bed after a dance, and were not to be called till they rang.  C.
and his father and mother met at the breakfast table.  The front
hall was full of workmen taking things away: plants, gilt chairs
and red baize shelves which had been used for the hats and coats of
the guests.  The furniture was being put back in the drawing-rooms.
Lord Hengrave was reading The Times in silence.

"Your father and I are dining out to-night," was Lady Hengrave's
first remark after C. had said good-morning, "and Edward is taking
the girls and Tommy Holborn to the play, and I've arranged for you
to go with them; they want another man.  After the play they are
all going on to Stuart House, where there is a dance, and you are
asked.  To-morrow your Aunt Rachel has got a dinner and expects
you, and on Thursday we have been given a box at the opera.  Friday
is the Eton and Harrow match.  One of the Holborn boys is in the
eleven, and Albert Calhoun is in the Harrow eleven.  On Friday
night there is a large family dinner at Holborn House and a dance,
and they expect you.  So you see, my dear boy, you will have a very
full week."

"But I have promised the Carterets to go back there to-day," said
C.

"I will write to Bessie Carteret.  She will quite understand when
she hears of the engagement."

"Won't she think it very rude?"

"I will explain everything.  She will understand perfectly.  Won't
she, Hengrave?" she appealed to Lord Hengrave.

"Of course the boy can stay," said Lord Hengrave, thinking that C.
was about to sacrifice the pleasures of London for a duty visit to
the country.  "He must go out and enjoy himself now he is here."

Lady Hengrave talked of the dance.  She said:--

"I think they enjoyed themselves, and the supper was hot.  It is
very satisfactory about Julia.  He's a nice boy."

She then went over the list of the week's entertainments once again
and found some new items.  There was a new Italian actress
appearing in London.  They ought to see her, and then C. ought to
go to the new play at the St. James's.  He must be sure, too, to go
and see his aunts.

"I will write to Bessie Carteret directly after breakfast, but I
think it would be civil for you to write her a line as well."

C. said he would do so.  He did more than write a line.  He wrote
eight pages to Beatrice and four pages to Lady Elizabeth, and he
sent Beatrice a telegram.  He made up his mind that whatever should
happen he would find some means of going down to Windsor, if only
for half an hour.

Marjorie and Julia came into the back drawing-room, where he was
writing.  Lady Hengrave was sitting in the front drawing-room,
writing letters also, and C. wondered whether Marjorie would allude
to his "joke" of the night before.  She looked at him as if she
were about to do so, but at the last moment she refrained.  It was
not only fear of Lady Hengrave, but a certain schoolroom loyalty,
which influenced her.

C. went to luncheon with his Aunt Rachel.

She took him aside and said, "Well, I hope you have done nothing
rash."

"No, it's all right, Aunt Rachel," he said, "except that I had
promised to go back to Chestercombe to-day, and I did want to so
much, and mother has made arrangements for me every day this week.
I haven't told her yet.  I thought it wasn't the right moment.  But
will it ever be the right moment?"

They were interrupted by the arrival of guests, and luncheon was
announced.

After luncheon Mrs. Roden took C. into her sitting-room, and they
had a long and serious conversation.  She saw at once that all
argument was useless.  It was like arguing with a waterfall.  She
also saw that he had no idea of the reality of the situation; that
is to say, of the impossibility of the marriage.  She was willing
to give C. an allowance, but it would not be nearly enough for him
to marry on, and she was loth to do something which she knew would
be contrary to the wishes of his mother, and above all things she
wished to avoid a quarrel between C. and his family.  She undertook
to speak to Lady Hengrave, because she knew that Bessie Carteret
was a gossip and fond of mischief, and that if she were to meet
Lady Hengrave she would be certain to let drop some hint that might
do infinite harm.  She promised to see Lady Hengrave that very
afternoon.  She felt, indeed, that there was no time to be lost,
but she let C. understand she would not help him to take a line
contrary to his mother's wishes.

When C. got home he looked up the trains in the A.B.C. to find out
whether it would be possible for him to go down to Windsor and get
back before dinner.  His brother was dining early, and he found the
scheme was not practicable, so he contented himself with sending
another telegram to Beatrice.

That afternoon Mrs. Roden had a momentous interview with Lady
Hengrave.  Mrs. Roden approached Lady Hengrave with the utmost
care.  She had promised C. to do her best for him.  She was
genuinely fond of the boy, and genuinely sorry for him, but she
knew in her heart that she would be fighting in a battle that was
already lost.

Mrs. Roden told the story.  She said that Beatrice Lord was a
charming girl.  A Roman Catholic it was true, but, after all, such
marriages sometimes turned out well.  It was true there was very
little money, but Mrs. Roden regarded C. almost as a child of her
own.  He was her godson, and she would continue the allowance she
was giving him now after his marriage.

"You see, I should leave it him in my will," she said, "and he is
welcome to it now; only by itself it, of course, wouldn't be enough
for him to marry on."

Lady Hengrave listened in silence.

"The Lords are impossible people," she said.  "Mrs. Lord was a
Cartwright.  She's a very silly woman, but there's nothing against
her, and I'm sorry for her; but as for him, he's impossible.  And
then the children would have to be Roman Catholics; and there's no
money at all.  Of course, dear Rachel, it's very kind of you to say
you'd help, but I should look upon it as an act of great unkindness
if you were to assist the boy to marry some one whom Hengrave and I
could not help disapproving of as a wife.  I don't want to say
anything against the girl, but you know as well as I do that
Hengrave would never hear of this marriage, and that it is quite
out of the question."

"I was afraid you would think so," said Mrs. Roden.  "Poor C.!  He
will take it very badly, I'm afraid."

"They are far too young, both of them, to know their minds," said
Lady Hengrave.

"They are very young," said Mrs. Roden plaintively.  She saw
clearly that there was nothing to be done.  "I hope C. will do
nothing rash," she said, thinking of the well-known obstinacy and
the violent outbursts of temper which were recognised traits of the
Hengrave blood.

"You need not be afraid, Rachel.  You can leave all that to me.  I
think I shall be able to arrange matters," said Lady Hengrave.

Mrs. Roden woefully reflected that this was all too true.

"There must not be, and there shall not be, any mismanagement.
Bessie Carteret is quite capable of making mischief," Lady Hengrave
said firmly.  "I will write to Mrs. Lord to-night, and I shall go
and see her as soon as she comes to London.  As for C., you needn't
be afraid.  I understand the boy perfectly."

Mrs. Roden then left the house, sadly reflecting that Lady Hengrave
was under a complete delusion in thinking that she understood her
son.  But she also knew that Lady Hengrave was not likely to make a
mistake in the management of any worldly affair.

That evening, before dinner, Lady Hengrave spoke to C.  She was
unusually amiable.  She said that she had heard all about what had
happened from his godmother.  She knew Beatrice Lord was a
charming, a very charming, girl.  Of course, they were both of them
far too young to marry at present, and then there was the money
question and many other difficulties.  She did not know what
Beatrice Lord's parents thought of it.  She knew his father would
be upset--greatly upset--at the thought of such a marriage as
things were at present.  The great thing was to do nothing for the
moment.  She would go and see the Lords as soon as she could.  For
the present she begged C. not to do anything.

"I suppose I may see Beatrice?" he said, "and write to her?"

"But she's not in London."

"The Carterets expected me to go back as soon as I could."

"Stay here this week in any case.  If you went away we should have
to tell your father.  He wouldn't understand why you were going
just when you've arrived in such a full week, with Julia being
engaged and so many things going on, and so many invitations
accepted for you; and then I should have to explain everything to
him, and that would be a mistake."

"I shall write in any case."

"There is no harm in that, only there must be no question of an
engagement just yet."

"But we are engaged," said C.

"Yes, I know, my dear boy, but I meant a public engagement.  There
is plenty of time.  All I ask you is to wait a little, and we will
see what can be done."

"I must see Beatrice."

"Of course you can see her," said Lady Hengrave.  "All I am asking
you is to be reasonable and not to make things more difficult than
they are already."

C. acquiesced.  But he had a horrible feeling of being caught in
the threads of an intangible web.

He wrote a long letter to Beatrice that evening, begging her to let
him know if he could see her at Windsor or in London.  He must see
her, be said, at once.  He went to the play that night like a man
in a dream.  It was a translation of a play of Sardou's.  C. was
unaware when it was over what it had all been about.  When it was
over he accompanied his sisters to what was called by the hostess a
tiny dance, and what turned out to be a large ball at Stuart House.
Here, again, he was just like a man in a dream.  He carried away
the impression of a great crowd of people packed like sardines on a
large staircase, at the top of which stood a young and radiant
hostess, as lovely as a flower, welcoming her guests with matchless
grace and a smile that reminded him of Beatrice.  Dazzling as this
apparition was, he thought her far less beautiful than Beatrice.
He was soon lost in the crowd.  He knew nobody.  He did not want to
know any one.  He found a corner near a pillar at the top of the
gallery, where he could see the guests arriving.  Nobody noticed
him.  He was glad of that.  He had never felt more completely
alone.  The people seemed to him like waxworks.  He had only one
wish, and that was to get away, to escape.

He was just thinking how he was best able to do so, when he heard
some one saying to him:

"Aren't you dancing to-night?"

He looked round and saw Lady Harriet Clive.  In spite of everything
it was nice to hear a friendly voice.

"I don't know any one," he said.  "I can't dance, and in any case
there's too great a crowd to get into the ballroom."

"Let's go and sit down," said Lady Harriet.

She led him along the gallery into a large square room, full of
beautiful pictures.  She liked the boy and he interested her.  She
saw at once that he was in an absent-minded mood.  She bothered him
with no questions, but she kept up herself a running comment on
different topics, and she told him who the people were.

"Who is that standing up in the doorway, dressed in yellow, talking
to the man with a red ribbon round his neck?" he said absently.

The face reminded him of some one, or something; he could not think
what.

"That is Leila Bucknell," said Lady Harriet.  "The man she is
talking to is a diplomat, Teddy Broughton.  He's a Minister
somewhere.  She is pretty, isn't she?"

The name Leila touched a cell in C.'s mind.  He wondered whether
she could be the Leila he had known and played with in Hamilton
Gardens.  He looked at her again.  Yes, she was pretty, very
pretty, just the right height.  Yes, her eyes were like the violet
eyes of his Leila, melting and appealing.  She had a beautifully
modelled face; she was exquisitely made, as delicate as a Tanagra
statuette, and yet not too small.

"I wonder who she was before she married," he said.

"She was a Steele, a daughter of Lord Fairleigh," said Lady
Harriet.  "She was married about six years ago to a man called
Terence Bucknell.  He is at the Foreign Office."

"I believe I used to know her a long time ago," said C.

Presently a dignified nobleman with a star and a blue ribbon came
and claimed Lady Harriet to go down to supper.  She left C. with a
smile and said:--

"Don't forget I expect you to luncheon on Sunday."

C. walked through the room, and as he did so he passed Mrs.
Bucknell, who was still talking to the man with the red ribbon
round his neck, but they were now sitting on a sofa.  There was no
doubt about it at all.  She was HIS Leila.  He smiled at her, and
made as if to say how-do-you-do, but she did not recognise him; she
nodded almost imperceptibly, and gave him a look of blank non-
recognition.  C. felt himself grow scarlet, and he hurried away
through the room embarrassed beyond words, and smarting with a
sense of extreme humiliation.  He only wished to escape
immediately.  This he managed to do.  He found a way downstairs,
and managed to get away without being caught by any of his
relations or acquaintances.  He continued to have a sense of
burning humiliation till he got home.  He hoped there might be a
letter from Beatrice awaiting him on the hall table, but there was
nothing but a bill from a hatter and a copy of the Eton Chronicle.
He went to bed, and when he got to bed he once more blushed scarlet
when he thought of the incident.  He knew it was foolish.  Why
should she, how could she have recognised him?  But he felt he had
done something foolish, that he had made a fool of himself, and his
cheeks burnt with shame.

The next morning all this was forgotten, because he received a
letter from Beatrice in which she said that she and her mother were
leaving Windsor and coming up to London that very evening.  Her
father needed them in London.  She would be in all the next day in
their house in Ovington Square, or if he were to come at three
o'clock they would probably be able to talk undisturbed, but the
morning would be better.  At tea-time, she knew, Lady Hengrave was
coming to see her mother, and Lady Hengrave had said in her letter
that she hoped Beatrice might be there.  What had happened was
this: Lady Hengrave had written to Mrs. Lord as soon as Mrs. Roden
had left, saying that it would be advisable for them to meet, and
asking her when she could find her in.  She wanted to go to Mrs.
Lord, not Mrs. Lord to come to her, and she made it plain.  Mr.
Lord was clamouring for his wife's and his daughter's presence in
London, and Mrs. Lord was as anxious to see Lady Hengrave as Lady
Hengrave was anxious to see her, so when she received Lady
Hengrave's letter she wrote to her that she would be in the
afternoon after her arrival (Thursday) at five o'clock, and would
be delighted to see Lady Hengrave then.  Lady Hengrave telegraphed
that she would call at five.

C. would have liked to go to the station to meet them, but Beatrice
had not said what train they were coming by, nor did he even know
which line they would take, Great Western or South Western--from
Datchet they used both.  So he spent the whole of Wednesday in
feverish agitation.  The Hengraves had guests to luncheon, and in
the evening he dined with the Rodens.  The next morning he drove as
soon as he decently could to Ovington Square, and there he found
Beatrice by herself.  Her father was in the City, and her mother
had gone out.  It was a curious fact that Mrs. Lord quite
unintentionally did things which had the appearance of being done
with intention, and sometimes as if with a subtle purpose, when
this was far from being the case.  For instance, during the whole
time she had spent at Oxford, while C. and Beatrice had gradually
got to know each other, an outside observer would have deduced from
her conduct that she was doing everything she could to throw them
together, yet when she was told of the engagement she was honestly,
genuinely astounded.  And on this occasion, again, you would have
thought, since Beatrice had told her she expected C., who had
explained his movements in a long telegram, she had gone out on
purpose to leave Beatrice and C. together in the exceedingly untidy
room that Mr. Lord called his studio, and which did duty for
drawing-room and everything else, but Mrs. Lord had gone out
because she always went to Mass at Farm Street on Thursdays, and
did a little shopping on the way back.

Beatrice and C. had a great deal to say to each other, and they
were able to say it.  They had matters of pressing urgency to
discuss.

"Mother is coming here this afternoon.  Will you be there?" he
asked.

"I shall come in at the end; I think your mother wants to see me."

"The moment she sees you it will be all right."

Beatrice shook her head sadly.

"There are great difficulties.  It is all far more difficult than
you imagine.  Father has not been told.  Mother would never dare
tell him, and I should find it difficult."

"All because of the religious difficulty?"

Beatrice got a little red.  That, she knew, was not the only
difficulty.

"Father is a very strange person," she said.  "He's not very
religious, and not what you would call fanatical, but all the same
he expects me to marry a Catholic; he couldn't conceive my marrying
any one else but a Catholic; and then, you see, there are other
difficulties."

"Money?"

He told Beatrice exactly what Mrs. Roden had said.  He had already
told her the substance of the conversation in a letter.

"She will only help you if your mother consents," said Beatrice.
"Your mother will never consent.  She will say just what Mother
says: that your father would never hear of it, and that she can't
tell him."

"Then do you mean we must just give in, and give everything up?"

"We can't do it unless they consent.  Neither of us can.  Neither
you nor I."

"But we'll get them to come round in the end.  At first there
always are difficulties, but no difficulties really matter if you
and I are quite determined.  If we are determined to be married,
nothing in the world can stop us."

"It would be folly for you to quarrel with your father and mother;
if you did that it would mean in the end quarrelling with your Aunt
Rachel as well, and then everything would be more impossible than
ever."

"So what do you think we must do?"

"I think we shall have to wait patiently."

"Wait, wait, that's what they all say."

"If we do anything rash we may spoil everything."

"After all, Sir Gabriel Carteret married Lady Elizabeth when they
were both penniless, and he was only an art student."

"Yes, but she had very rich relations, and they did not really
object to the marriage, except for the money question.  Our case is
far more complicated.  Your family will never consent to your
marrying a Catholic, and my father would only consent to my
marrying a Protestant if . . ."

"If what?"

"If he thought there were such overwhelming advantages FOR ME that
they outweighed everything else."

She laid stress on the "for me," but C. felt, and the feeling gave
him a chill, that it was a case of "for him" far more than "for
me."

"One never knows; all sorts of things may happen," he said.

"Yes, but the important thing is, that we mustn't do anything
foolish."

"I know; I know; but, at the same time, we must be quite firm."

"You are so young," said Beatrice.  "In a year's time you will
probably be much fonder of some one else than you are of me."

"What nonsense!" said C. "You are just as young as I am, as to
that."

"Yes, but much older in experience--years older.  I feel as old as
the hills."

So they talked, and they went over the same ground over and over
again, Beatrice making reasonable objections and C. sweeping them
impetuously aside.  Beatrice liked C. to sweep them aside, but she
estimated the force of his impetuosity and his revolt at its true
value.  She knew that it could but count for little against the
formidable array of circumstances.

They discussed the religious question again.

"After all," said C., "I could become a Roman Catholic.  I would
become a Hindoo to marry you."

"Instead of making it easier, that would make it quite impossible
as far as your father and mother are concerned."

"My father and mother may have prejudices, but that's only against
Catholics in general.  When they see you and know you they would
change their mind."

"People don't change their mind about that sort of thing," said
Beatrice.

"What can it matter," said C. impatiently, "what church one goes
to?--if one thinks it necessary to go to church."

"Catholics think it does matter," said Beatrice.

"Yes, but Protestants don't," said C. "That's the beauty of being a
Protestant."

"Yes, but although they don't mind anything else, they do mind
Catholics," said Beatrice.  "They think it doesn't matter what sect
you belong to, but they think it does matter if you are a Catholic.
There is no getting round that.  As far as our Church is concerned,
they are in a rut of prejudice, and they see it at a wrong angle,
and it is very difficult to get them out of the rut and to change
their angle."

"But it is all the same religion," said C.

"It's too difficult to explain.  I can't explain it to you.  You
see, you don't think religion matters one way or the other.  We
think religion matters more than anything else in the world.  And
people like your father and mother . . ." she stopped.

"Call something else religion," said C.  "I have always known that.
I know THAT isn't religion at all, only it's just as strong.  I
mean, they think going to church is like leaving cards, only that
doesn't prevent them thinking it tremendously important.  Only I
can't see why they should mind your doing the same thing in your
way."

"But you know they do," said Beatrice.

"Yes, they do," said C.

"We must face it."

"Yes, we must face it," he repeated.  "And do what we can."

"And not do anything to make it worse," said Beatrice.

C. and Beatrice went on talking till past one.  She said that her
father was expected back to luncheon, and C. knew that she meant
that under the circumstances he had better not stay.  So after
making elaborate arrangements for meeting on the following days, he
left the house.  On the doorstep he met Mrs. Lord, who greeted him
with the same kind and welcoming friendliness as usual.



CHAPTER XXIV


The same afternoon, at five o'clock precisely, Lady Hengrave drove
in her Victoria to Ovington Square.  She was not impressed by the
butler who opened the door.  He was an affable, talkative Irishman,
named Terence, slightly bald, and quick, but he was not very clean
(he was an intermittent, irregular shaver).  "Domestique de
mauvaise maison," she murmured to herself.  She was still less
impressed by the "Studio" upstairs, in which there seemed to be all
the superfluities that disfigure and none of the realities that
redeem a studio.

Mrs. Lord greeted her and offered her tea.

"Cuthbert," she said (Cuthbert was Mr. Lord), "is out and won't be
back until late.  He will be so sorry."

Lady Hengrave was relieved.  She had no wish to see Cuthbert.  Tea
was brought in by Terence (who was also man-of-all-work).
Strangely enough, it was hot and extremely good, and the tea-cakes
were hot and crisp.  Mrs. Lord always managed to have hot tea and
crisp tea-cakes, and Lady Hengrave noted the fact and gave her a
good mark for it.

Mrs. Lord talked of random topics, and Lady Hengrave, realising at
once that Mrs. Lord was capable of talking during the whole of her
visit on side topics, went straight to the point.

"My son Caryl tells me," she began, and she marshalled the facts
with order and perspicuity.

Mrs. Lord listened, seemingly attentive, and when it was all over,
and Lady Hengrave had proved with masterly logic and unmistakable
clarity that neither her husband nor she could think of allowing
the match to come off, said:--

"If only Cuthbert didn't happen to feel so strongly on the subject
of mixed marriages, and hadn't set his heart on Beatrice marrying a
Catholic, I'm sure everything could be arranged."

Lady Hengrave made her points all over again.  She made them more
clearly this time, and more forcibly.

"In any case I have told Beatrice that we mustn't do anything in a
hurry," she said calmly, with a smile.

Lady Hengrave gave it up.  "It is no good talking to her," she
thought.  "Either she's not listening, or she's not quite right in
the head."  She asked if she might see Beatrice before she went.

"Oh, yes," said Mrs. Lord, "she would so much like to see you," and
she rang the bell.  "She's in the dining-room writing her letters.
Ask Miss Beatrice to come up," she said to Terence, as soon as he
appeared.

Lady Hengrave and Mrs. Lord talked of the topics of the day, and
Mrs. Lord suddenly, on the subject of current events, became alert,
practical, and vivaciously to the point.  Beatrice came in.

"The girl has certainly got looks," thought Lady Hengrave.  "If she
had money--"

"Lady Hengrave wants to have a little talk to you," said Mrs. Lord,
and she swept out of the room, leaving them together.

This action on the part of Mrs. Lord astonished Lady Hengrave more
than anything else.  Beatrice, too, was slightly taken aback, used
as she was to her mother's sudden actions.

Lady Hengrave marshalled her facts for a third time.

"I know," said Beatrice.  "I quite understand.  My father would not
like the marriage either.  He would not like it even if there were
no other difficulties.  He would dislike it as much as you would."
(Lady Hengrave had touched very lightly on the religious
difficulty; nevertheless she had made herself clear on the point.)
"What do you want me to do?"

"I want you NOT to see him."

Beatrice reflected.  It seemed to her like a situation in a book, a
Montagu and Capulet situation--even more difficult in its
essentials--with a lot of sordid money details thrown in.

"As long as we are both in London it will be very difficult.  The
less I see him the more he will want to see me."

"Yes," said Lady Hengrave with a sigh, "that's true.  But you might
gradually see him less and less.  It would be for his good.  It is
for him I ask you to make the sacrifice."

"He's very young," said Beatrice.  "I am ready to do anything for
him, only I will not be untruthful to him, and I will not
deliberately do anything to hurt him, nor anything which I think
will make things worse."

"But if he knows your father would not hear of it?"

"Father knows nothing about it."

"But couldn't you tell him?"

"Mother would rather not.  Perhaps it will all settle itself,"
Beatrice added.  "A letter one doesn't answer so soon answers
itself.  People so often make things worse by taking steps."

Lady Hengrave wondered at the calm way in which Beatrice talked.
"Can she really be fond of him?" she wondered.

"Don't you think the best thing is to let things be, Lady Hengrave?
Very likely we shall be going away soon, and I suppose you will be
going away, so we shall not be able to meet, and C. will have
plenty of things to distract him," she said with a smile.  "If you
tell him to wait, he will be reasonable.  If you tell him he must
never see me again you will touch his obstinacy, and, as you know,
he can be very obstinate."

"Yes," said Lady Hengrave, "but a girl can do so much.  If you
could gradually let him see--"

"I'm afraid I'm incapable of acting a part, Lady Hengrave.  I quite
understand what you feel.  I knew it must be like that.  I am very
sorry for you it has happened.  These things happen before one
knows.  I daresay it was my fault, but I can't help feeling what I
feel.  You can be sure of one thing: I will never encourage C. to
have illusions about what I know is impossible.  I haven't done so
as yet.  I told him from the first that our marriage would be
regarded as impossible both by his family and by mine, for every
reason.  But it is useless to reason with him.  I think the only
thing you can do is to ask him to wait."

"I am very much obliged to you," said Lady Hengrave.  "I must be
going."  And she rose from her chair.

Beatrice called her mother, and Mrs. Lord came back and went on
with the conversation as if it had never been interrupted.  She
rang for Terence, and Lady Hengrave was shown out.

"I don't think C. is at all like his mother," said Mrs. Lord.  That
was the only comment she made on the visit.

Lady Hengrave went away with food for reflection.  The mother, she
thought, was a lady; there was that to be said.  The girl was very
pretty, well brought up, and sensible, but all the more dangerous
on that account.  However, she didn't think she would be likely to
do anything without her parents' consent.

That night the Hengraves had been given a box at the opera.  It was
not a Wagner night; in fact, the opera was nothing more original
than Faust.  Lady Hengrave took C. and Marjorie.  Julia was dining
elsewhere, and her husband went in the omnibus-box, which he
preferred.  During one of the intervals Lady Hengrave received a
visit from Ralph Bodmin, who was one of the private secretaries to
the Foreign Secretary, and who had the control of the minor
diplomatic appointments.  C., after having been introduced to him,
vacated his place and left the box.  He had caught sight of Mrs.
Roden in the stalls, and he went downstairs to try and speak to
her.

"I had a letter from your brother-in-law," said Bodmin, "to-day,
from Rome.  He wants another secretary or an attach very badly.
The Ambassador--Lawless--is here on leave.  George, who has been
left in charge, says they are short-handed and overworked.  But
they all say that.  There's nothing going on now in Rome, and he's
got two secretaries.  However, I can't send him any one; we can't
spare him any one at present.  I'm afraid he finds the heat
trying."

"Yes, he does," said Lady Hengrave.  "Couldn't you send him an
honorary attach?" she asked, and an idea was born in her mind.
She looked upon the appearance of Ralph Bodmin as the direct
intervention of Providence.

"Yes, of course, I would gladly send one if I knew any one who
would want to go.  But it's difficult to find any one who wants to
go to Rome in July."

"My boy Caryl--you shook hands with him just now--is at Oxford.
He's going to Spark's later, and then I want him to try for the
Diplomatic Service.  But before he begins all that cramming, which
is dreadfully expensive, I should so much like him to have a little
experience of diplomatic life, to see whether he takes to it, and
whether he would be likely to do well.  I suppose you couldn't send
him out to his uncle?  Emma would be delighted, of course."

"Nothing would be easier, Lady Hengrave," said Bodmin.  "I'm having
luncheon with Hedworth Lawless to-morrow.  I'll talk to him about
it.  I'm sure he would be delighted.  And he could probably live in
the Embassy.  There's no one living there at present, and he could
learn Italian.  Does he know a third language yet?"

"No," said Lady Hengrave, "only French and German so far."

"But it would interrupt his University career."

"He's been a year at Oxford, and as there's no chance of his taking
honours or anything of that sort I think it's long enough; and
Spark said a year would be enough for him in any case, so I should
have to send him abroad, and he would have, as you say, to learn a
third language; and as George and Emma are now at Rome, what could
be more suitable?"

"I'm afraid he would find Rome rather dull just at present."

"He's not blas.  He's never been to Italy.  July and August will
soon be over, and Rome is delightful in September.  He will have
great fun in the winter.  I really should be most grateful if you
could arrange this.  You would be doing me a REAL service.  And
George and Emma will be very grateful to you too.  I should like
him to go NOW.  It would be more convenient in every way."

"Yes, they would be very grateful.  Well, I will let you know to-
morrow evening."

"You're not going to Lord's to-morrow; you're too busy?"

"I shan't be able to get away."

"Here is the boy."  C. came back into the box.

"So you're going up for the Diplomatic Service," said Bodmin,
rapidly sizing him up.  (Good-looking and quite decently dressed,
he thought to himself, and nice manners.)

"I hope to have a try," said C.

"You haven't begun to cram yet, luckily for you.  I know no more
disagreeable position than that of a cramming candidate; one always
has to be at half-cock waiting for the chance of an examination,"
said Bodmin affably, and, as the curtain was going up, he left the
box.

Lady Hengrave had said little about her visit to Mrs. Lord to C.
She did mention it.  She said that Beatrice Lord seemed to be a
nice, well-brought-up girl.  It was a pity they were so poor and
lived in such squalid surroundings.

C. turned crimson at the mention of Beatrice's name, and feared
that the visit had not born much fruit, but, on the whole, he
thought it might have been worse.  Beatrice, at any rate, had made
a good impression.  From Lady Hengrave such words were great
praise.  He had talked to his aunt in the entr'acte.  She had
recommended patience.

"You would have to wait in any case," she said.  "Don't let your
mother think you are being impatient, and that you want to rush
things; do whatever she suggests."

The next day was the Eton and Harrow match.  It was impossible for
him not to go to that.  His mother looked on it as one of the most
sacred festivals of a well-spent life.

But he went to see Beatrice first on the way, and stayed with her
all the morning.  She was not going to Lord's.  Her mother couldn't
take her.  They compared notes about his mother's visit.

"Mother was hopeless with her," said Beatrice.  "She never thought
of her point of view at all.  The only thing she thinks of is
father.  Perhaps, after all, she is right.  I'm not sure the
difficulties on our side are not greater than on yours.  Your
mother was very nice to me, but she made it quite clear that she
thought it impossible."

"At present."

"Always, I'm afraid.  I really don't see what could make any
difference.  If you became a millionaire she still wouldn't want
you to marry a Catholic."

"I should do what I chose then, and she would have to accept it."

"But there is so little chance of your becoming a millionaire."

"Not much, I'm afraid.  Your father hasn't been told yet?"

"No," said Beatrice, laughing, "and I suppose yours hasn't either.
They are afraid of telling the fathers.  I think they are right.
Both the fathers would see red.  All we can do is to wait."

"And to see each other as much as possible.  I wish this beastly
cricket match wasn't going on.  I shall have to go there to-morrow.
To-night we've got a large family dinner."

They made arrangements to go to the Italian play on Saturday
evening.  They wanted to see the new Italian actress La Zechetti.
Ralph Bodmin, very smart in a frock-coat and a gardenia in his
buttonhole, came to see Lady Hengrave late that evening, when she
got back from Lord's.  He had seen Sir Hedworth Lawless, and Sir
Hedworth had appeared delighted that C. should go out to Rome as
Honorary Attach.  Sir Hedworth was going to the Holborns' dance,
and he would speak to her himself about it, and he wanted to make
C.'s acquaintance.  When would C. be ready to go?

"I want him to go as soon as possible," said Lady Hengrave.  "He
has got nothing to do, and he hates London."

Bodmin understood there must be some potent motive behind Lady
Hengrave's words.  He guessed the nature of the difficulty, but
discreetly left it alone.

Lady Hengrave then prepared her husband.  She didn't tell him
everything; but she hinted at the danger of a most undesirable
alliance, a penniless girl, an impossible father, and a foolish
mother.

Lord Hengrave at once said he couldn't afford to send the boy to
Rome.  As he was at Oxford, let him stay there.  The Rodens were
paying for his education, and it was sin to waste it.

Lady Hengrave said she was sure Mrs. Roden would continue the
allowance while he remained at Rome.  She was going to talk to her
about it that very evening.  Mrs. Roden, she said, thought the
possible match as undesirable as she did herself.

"But it will delay his going up for his examination," said Lord
Hengrave.

"Not nearly as much as Oxford does," said Lady Hengrave.  "They do
nothing at Oxford except play football and row and have suppers."
Besides which, it was necessary for him to learn a third language,
and he would learn Italian at Rome.  It would be cheap, because she
was sure Sir Hedworth Lawless would let him live in the Embassy.

Lord Hengrave gave in.  "But supposing the boy doesn't want to go
to Rome?" he said.

"If he wants to pass his examination he must go either to Italy or
Spain," said Lady Hengrave.  "Ralph Bodmin says it's essential that
he should know three languages."

"What damned nonsense these examinations are!" said Lord Hengrave.
"They make one spend a mint of money cramming the boys, and then
they arrange among themselves at the Foreign Office who is to get
in.  It's all waste of time and waste of money."

That night--directly after dinner at the Holborns'--Lady Hengrave
spoke to Mrs. Roden, and put the whole case before her.  Mrs. Roden
agreed that the plan was excellent.  She would, of course, she
said, continue to give C. his allowance.  She meant from
henceforward to pay for his education, and she didn't mind whether
it was carried on at Oxford or abroad.  It was most desirable that
he should go abroad for a time, but it was a great advantage for
him to know Italian.  Lord Hengrave spoke to Mrs. Roden, too, after
dinner.

"I thought it rather nonsense sending the boy to Rome," he said,
"but they say he's got to learn Italian.  I think it's silly
sending him out of the country just because he happens to be in
love with a girl.  I should have thought a little intrigue with a
married lady might have been arranged," he said, with a smile.

Mrs. Roden laughed and said:--

"I expect that will happen all too soon without any arrangement on
our part."

C. was, of course, quite unconscious of all these manuvres.  He
sat at dinner between one of his Roden cousins and a shy, silent
dbutante, and he talked little.

After dinner there was a ball.  It was a large ball for girls.  C.
was utterly miserable.  There was not a soul in the room he knew
except his cousins: the people, although they looked the same,
seemed to have been dealt from a different pack of cards from those
he had seen at Stuart House or at his mother's dance.

Lady Hengrave saw him standing disconsolately at the furthest end
of the ballroom, and directly Julia and Marjorie were taken away by
their respective partners, she went up to him and said to him
gently:--

"I want you to sit out with me a little, C.; I have got something I
want to tell you."

They walked through the long Adam ballroom into a little round
library that had been turned into a sitting-out room, and they sat
down on a sofa.

Lady Hengrave approached the subject discreetly, retrospectively
and prospectively.  It was necessary for him to have a profession.
His parents could, alas! allow him very little, but his Aunt
Rachel, who up till now had paid for his Oxford education, was
willing to go on giving him an allowance while he was working for
his examination, and (should he pass) during his first year in the
Foreign Office or the Diplomatic Service.  The Foreign Secretary
had promised his father that he should have a nomination.  He could
go in for whichever he liked.

Here C. interrupted, and said he would prefer the Foreign Office.

But whichever he did, Lady Hengrave continued, it was necessary for
him to learn a third language besides French and German.  Italian
would, of course, be the most useful.  The sooner he learnt
Italian, the better.  He could not learn Italian at Oxford, and
Spark, the crammer, had told her that if he was to pass the
examination before he reached the age limit, it would be impossible
for him to stay at Oxford for more than a year altogether.

And now a wonderful opportunity had presented itself.  An Honorary
Attach was wanted at Rome, where his Uncle George was now First
Secretary, and at this moment in charge.  Sir Hedworth Lawless, the
Ambassador, had consented to his being sent there.  What did he
think?  Didn't he think it would be an admirable idea?  He could
see what diplomatic life was like, and he would then have some data
for making up his mind which he preferred, the Diplomatic Service
or the Foreign Office.  He would see Italy; he would learn Italian;
he would not be away long--only a few months.

"Can't I stay at Oxford another year?" he asked.

"Your father won't hear of it," said Lady Hengrave.  "He already
thinks it waste of time your having been there at all, and he says
that if you stay on there any longer you will never be able to pass
the examination, and Mr. Spark says the same."

"Then, if I didn't go to Rome, what should I do?" said C.

"If you didn't go to Rome," said Lady Hengrave, "you would still
have to learn Italian or Spanish, and we should have to find you a
pension or a family somewhere in the north of Spain, as it would be
impossible just now in summer to find anything in Italy, and you
would not be nearly so comfortable.  You see, your father is
getting anxious.  He thinks you have wasted too much time already."

"The Master didn't think it waste of time," said C.

"It wouldn't be, if it wasn't necessary for you to work for an
examination," said Lady Hengrave.  "You see, it's so much better
and more convenient, and more comfortable in every way.  In all
probability you will be allowed to live at the Embassy.  You will
have your Uncle George and your Aunt Emma to be kind to you; you
will see diplomatic life and Italy under the best possible
conditions, and you will have time to yourself for work and for
learning Italian.  The Ambassador, Sir Hedworth Lawless, is a
charming man, and Lady Lawless is very kind.  I am sure you would
be happy at Rome."

C. understood that the verdict had been pronounced, and that there
was nothing for him to do but to accept it.  His doom was sealed.
What could he do?  Say that nothing would induce him to go in
either for the Foreign Office or the Diplomatic Service?  Say that
he would like to go into a newspaper office at once?  He knew that
his mother would then answer:--

"What do you propose to do, and how do you propose to do it?  What
will you live on?"

There was one ray of silver behind the cloud.  Rome was the kind of
place that the Lords were likely to visit.  Mrs. Lord often alluded
to their frequent visits to Italy, which sometimes seemed to have
been protracted.

"When do you want me to go?" said C.

"Well, Ralph Bodmin says that Uncle George is crying out for some
one, and that the sooner you go, the better.  Sir Hedworth Lawless
is coming here to-night, and I want to introduce you to him."

Lady Hengrave was relieved at C. having taken matters so calmly.
C. felt desperate, but, at the same time, instinct told him that
the only chance of his ultimately winning his battle was not to
fight his mother over points about which she was obviously in the
right.

The idea to him was appalling.  He hardly knew his Uncle George.
His Aunt Emma he merely recollected as being one of the oppressive
critics of his childhood.  But all that was nothing.  What mattered
was leaving Beatrice.

"If we are determined to marry," he thought to himself, "nothing
can prevent us.  I will go to Rome, but they will find when I come
back that I haven't changed my mind."

"I'll go whenever you like," he said.

"I must go back to the ballroom and look after the girls," said
Lady Hengrave.

A little later Mrs. Roden managed to have a word with C.  She told
him she had heard of the Rome project.  It was an excellent thing,
and he had been wise to accept it at once.  To have refused to go
would have been fatal.

Sir Hedworth Lawless arrived, and the first person he spoke to was
Lady Hengrave.  He was enchanted that C. should go to Rome.  He
should, of course, live at the Embassy.  There was no one at
present occupying the Secretary's rooms in the house.  He would be
back himself in October--possibly in September.  He would like to
see the boy so much.  Lady Hengrave caught sight of C. in the
doorway, and beckoned to him.

Sir Hedworth was not at all what C. expected.  He was rather short,
with dark hair, slightly silvered, and light grey eyes; there was
nothing florid nor affected about him, not even an eyeglass string.
He welcomed C. charmingly.

"So you're coming to Rome?  Believe me, the best time in the
Diplomatic Service is before you get in.  People say Rome is hot in
summer, but I assure you it's never too hot.  The Embassy is very
cool, and the evenings and nights are delicious.  I wish I was
there now myself.  I'll send your mother letters to some friends
who stay all the summer in their villas."

C. stammered out his thanks.

"You know Italian?"

"No, not yet."

"You'll learn in no time.  There are some excellent teachers."

The Ambassador gave a quick look at the staircase.  Then, after a
few more civilities to Lady Hengrave, he drifted away.  C. thought
him charming.  He noted, too, a very curious expression in his
eyes.  The same thing he had noticed in Burstall the first time he
saw him.  It was as if Sir Hedworth was looking over your head at
some one, or for some one very far away, some one who was not
there, and who was out of reach; but there was this difference
between Sir Hedworth and Burstall, that whereas Burstall seemed to
be looking at or for SOMETHING, Sir Hedworth seemed to be looking
at or for SOME ONE.

"Well, that's settled," said Lady Hengrave.  "You had better go
next week.  Tuesday would be a good day.  If one is going I always
think the sooner one starts, the better."

Lord Holborn at that moment advanced to take Lady Hengrave down to
supper.

C. looked about for a partner whom he could take to supper.  He saw
no one.  The few girls he knew were all of them dancing.  He walked
on to the landing.  Lady Harriet Clive was sitting there.

"Will you come down to supper?"

"You ought to be dancing," she said, "with one of the girls, or at
least take one of them to supper, and not an old woman like me."

"Please come," he said.

They went downstairs.  Supper was in a long Adam dining-room.  At
the next table to them was his sister, Marjorie, and with her was a
rather heavy-looking man about thirty.

"Who is that talking to Marjorie?" asked C.

"That," said Lady Harriet, "is Sir Harold Ducane.  He is immensely
rich--he owns a tar factory, or something."

C. told Lady Harriet about the revolution in his career.  She saw
exactly what had happened.  Lady Hengrave was sending him away so
that he might get over that unfortunate love affair.

"Don't forget to come to luncheon on Sunday," said Lady Harriet.
"I have asked some people you'll like."

At that moment Sir Hedworth Lawless walked into the dining-room,
leading on his arm a young, dark and beautiful lady.

"There's your Ambassador," said Lady Harriet.

"Who is it with him?"

"That is Madame San Paolo, the wife of one of the Secretaries at
the Italian Embassy."

That night at the ball Sir Harold Ducane proposed to Marjorie for
the third time; she had refused him twice.  This time she accepted
him.  She did not dare tell her mother that she had refused him a
third time.



CHAPTER XXV


C. wondered at the calm with which he was taking the situation.
The truth was, it was so bad, it was to him such a prodigious
calamity that he was numbed rather than hit by it.  Even if there
had been no question of Beatrice, to leave Oxford just as he was
beginning to enjoy it so immensely, and to go to Rome, and live day
by day with an uncle and aunt who represented to him the embodiment
of all that was difficult to bear in life, would have been bad
enough; and on the top of this the separation from Beatrice!  But
hope was not altogether extinct in his breast.  He must get
Beatrice to come to Rome.  If that could be managed, it would be
still better than seeing her in England, because he felt that in
Rome there would be more freedom and fewer obstacles.

It would be better to be in Italy with the chance of Beatrice
coming there than to be in England separated from her, and he felt
that if he remained in England he would be separated from her.  It
was, perhaps, he liked to think, a blessing in disguise.  Perhaps
it was Providence's way of making things easier, although it seemed
at first sight as if Providence was going out of its way to make
things impossible.

Early the next morning he flew round to Ovington Square.  He poured
out the news to Beatrice breathlessly.

"You must come there with your mother.  You told me you often used
to spend the winter in Italy.  Why not come to Rome for the
winter?"

Beatrice said that everything depended on her father.  They never
knew for long beforehand what their plans were going to be.  She
saw clearly that C. was being sent out of the country in order to
remove him from her, and very calmly and dispassionately she
analysed the situation to him.

"I think," she said, "we had better give up all thoughts of our
marriage ever being possible.  There are too many difficulties.
There is too much to fight against.  Your aunt is against it as
well as your mother."

"Of course, if you take that line," said C., "it will be
impossible, but if we take the line of being utterly determined to
go through with it, whatever happens, then it will happen.  Nothing
can prevent it."

"How can we do that?" said Beatrice.  "How can we marry on nothing
at all?"

"Not now," said C., "but in a few years' time, everything may be
different.  I don't care how long I wait."

"You may be different by then," said Beatrice.

"I shall never change."

"You think so now, but everybody always thinks that."

They went over the familiar ground and argued the case again and
again.

C. swept Beatrice away by the force and fire of his arguments.  He
would not hear of any final and ultimate objections.  But the more
forcible and plausible his arguments were, the more completely
unconvinced Beatrice became.

"You see," she said, "you don't really know Father.  And I don't
think you understand how fundamentally your mother is opposed to
it."

"Well, at any rate, promise that you will come to Rome if you
possibly can," said C.

Beatrice promised.

Their tte--tte was interrupted by Mrs. Lord, who came in with
trepidation and said that Mr. Lord wanted the studio, as he had a
business interview of great importance.  C. was obliged to go.  He
again went to the Eton and Harrow match.

On Saturday evening he dined with the Lords.  Lady Hengrave knew of
it, and made no objection.  Mr. and Mrs. Lord, Beatrice and C. all
went to see the new Italian actress, Maria Zechetti, who was
playing the part of Marguerite in La Dame aux Camlias.  C. had
told his mother that he was going to the play, but he had not said
which play, since the point had been raised at home whether Julia
and Marjorie might see La Dame aux Camlias, as it was in Italian,
and Lady Hengrave had decided that they could not do so, although
they might see La Traviata.  It had not occurred to Beatrice's
father and mother to discuss the point, so Beatrice said.  She had
always been allowed to see the plays that her parents saw.  And it
would never have occurred to Mrs. Lord to think that there could be
anything reprehensible in a play which was acted in Italian,
besides which Mrs. Lord said Maria Zechetti was different from
other actresses and did not make up.

Beatrice did not enjoy the play.  The art of Zechetti left her, so
she said, quite unmoved, although she knew Italian thoroughly.
There was to her no glamour about the artist's personality.  C.,
who did not know Italian, found the beginning of the play teasing
to the verge of exasperation.  He seemed to be looking at it
through a mosquito net, to be battering at a door that was always
about to open, but which remained resolutely shut.  The more
natural and realistic the acting, the more acute his irritation
became.  But the Third Act, in which the interview between
Marguerite and the father occurs, interested him in a different
manner.  Here the situation, the forcible separation of the two
lovers, reminded him of his own situation, at which he found
himself looking on with interest, wondering why he was not more
moved.  It should, he felt, have touched him on the raw.  And
surely there was a note of genuine passion in Zechetti's cry of
"Impossibile!"  And what could be more tragic than those haunting
eyes, those exquisitely mobile hands and that subtle interplay of
look, gesture, accent and movement?  But to his own astonishment he
felt that he was experiencing no emotion, but interest, admiration
and curiosity.  The play and the acting were a looking-glass that
reflected his own actual intimate situation, and yet, to his own
inexplicable surprise, he did not feel in the least moved.  He
experienced nothing like what he had felt when he had heard
Madeleine Lapara recite, but rather as if he were looking on at an
exquisite piece of clockwork.  It was, he thought, the barrier of
the language.  He could not feel the value of the words.  Mr. Lord
was enraptured, and said it reminded him of La Traviata and of
Italy, and he hummed snatches of Verdi from time to time.  Mrs.
Lord said she thought it a pity that Zechetti, and indeed all
actresses of note, chose such sad plays.  During the entr'acte C.,
as he went to fetch a programme, met Andrew Burstall.  He was
enjoying the play.

"Her acting," he said, "makes one feel a cad, as if one were
looking through a keyhole at things one oughtn't to be seeing.  And
she is still better, still more wonderful, in comedy, in La
Locandiera."

He had only been in London a day or two, and was going back to
Versailles.

Next to the Lords there was an Italian lady, who said:  "Peccato
che non ha voce."

Beatrice repeated the remark to C., who agreed that he found her
voice nasal and unmusical, but he had attributed this to his not
understanding the language.  But Beatrice said she felt the same.

The last act, played as it was with poignant simplicity, matchless
reserve, infinite subtlety, and divine economy by Zechetti,
saddened Mrs. Lord still more profoundly, but C. still complained
that the barrier of the language prevented real response on his
part, and Beatrice denied being under any spell.*


* In a letter of C.'s which comes outside the scope of this story,
he records a very different impression of Zechetti's acting, after
seeing her several years later, when he understood Italian.


"I admire the acting tremendously," she said.  "I don't suppose any
one could ACT better, but it leaves me cold, and I never forget I
am looking on at acting, although it seems the most natural acting
in the world."

On Sunday morning C. accompanied his mother and his two sisters to
church, an orthodox church in Mayfair, which was neither high nor
low.  After church they went for a walk in the park and C. went to
have luncheon with Lady Harriet Clive, who lived in Curzon Street.

"I've got a surprise for you," said Lady Harriet.

Several guests arrived; some elderly politicians whom C. recognised
from having seen pictures of them in the newspapers, a well-known
explorer who had just come back from Upper Burma, and Sir Hedworth
Lawless and a pretty Italian lady, who was at the Italian Embassy.
When all these had arrived the butler announced:--

"Mrs. Garrick and Miss Lord."

"That was my surprise," whispered Lady Harriet to C.

C. sat next to Beatrice at luncheon.  Lady Harriet had asked Mrs.
Garrick, who was an artistic lady and an intimate friend of the
Lords, to bring Beatrice, and she had told her that it was to be a
surprise.  She had heard all about C.'s coming move to Rome, and
she had resolved to give the young people a treat.

After luncheon, when the men were left alone, Sir Hedworth talked
to C.  He told him about Rome.  He said he hoped he would like the
life.  He mustn't expect too much at first.  That was the secret of
life, to put everything at its lowest value at first, then things
often turned out better than you expected.  He would enjoy Rome,
especially in the hot weather.  He himself thought it was really
the best time.

C. took an instant fancy to Sir Hedworth.  He thought him most
amiable, but sad-looking, and he imagined that he could probably be
alarming if he chose.

"I shall be back in Rome myself at the end of September, so will my
wife.  She's at the seaside at this moment for her health," said
Sir Hedworth.

He asked C. when he was starting, and C. surprised him by saying
the following Tuesday.

Sir Hedworth made a correct guess at the cause of all this
manipulation of plans, and he felt sorry for C.  He guessed that
Beatrice was the heroine of the romance, and he thought her a
charming girl.  He knew what the attitude of Lady Hengrave would
be, and after luncheon, when every one had gone, and C. had
accepted with alacrity an invitation to take Mrs. Garrick and
Beatrice to the Zoo, Sir Hedworth remained with Lady Harriet and
asked her about C.

She told him all that she knew.

"He is to go to Rome to be cured?" said Sir Hedworth.

"Exactly."

"He will probably be cured this time, but when he catches the
illness a second time, I think it will be very difficult to cure
him."

"When he's older?" said Lady Harriet.

"Yes.  He seems a nice boy."

"Yes, and I'm sure he's clever and original.  Andrew Burstall said
that the amount he has read is extraordinary, so much poetry."

"Really.  I wonder where he gets his literary tastes from," said
Sir Hedworth.

"Not entirely from his father and mother," said Lady Harriet.
"Georgina was very well educated, but she's not exactly a literary
enthusiast.  Andrew Burstall thinks this boy will go far, and may
some day be a very good writer."

"Not if he makes diplomacy his profession," said Sir Hedworth.

"I should have thought," said Lady Hedworth, "that in diplomacy he
ought to have plenty of time to write."

"That's just it; but let's hope for his sake he won't stay in
diplomacy long."

"You are all like that, whatever you are--soldiers, sailors,
writers, Prime Ministers--you all rail at your own profession.  I
believe the only happy people are actors and photographers, and its
ungrateful of you, of all men--the youngest Ambassador--to talk
like that.  Don't think it takes me in.  I believe you would be
miserable if you left the Service."

"I swear to you quite solemnly," said Sir Hedworth, "that I detest
it, only, as some one said, it may be a great mistake to go into a
profession, but it is a still greater mistake to leave it once you
are in it."

C., after an exceedingly sad afternoon at the Zoo, dined with his
family.  Julia's wedding was fixed for the end of August, and
Marjorie's engagement to Sir Harold Ducane was to be announced in
the Morning Post on Monday.  They were to be married quietly in
September, as Sir Harold was a widower.  Lady Hengrave regretted
that C. would not be present at Julia's wedding, which was to take
place at Bramsley, but diplomats, as she pointed out, were always
liable to be sent away at a moment's notice, and at inconvenient
times.  She talked of C. as if he were a diplomat already.

On Monday C. had a great deal of shopping to do, and his final
arrangements to make.  He had planned, nevertheless, to spend most
of the day with Beatrice, but on Monday morning he received a
letter from her saying that her father was obliged to go to
Eastbourne to see a man on business, and so as not to travel alone
he had decided to take her with him.  There was no escape; she
would have to go.  She did not know when they would be back.

C., after a day of gloomy shopping and aimless wandering in the
streets of London, called at Ovington Square at five.  He was met
by Mrs. Lord.

"Beatrice will be so disappointed," she said, "to have missed you,
but she and her father will not be back till dinner, and we are all
dining out and going to a musical party in Chelsea."

C. went home and wrote Beatrice a long letter.  The next morning he
started for Rome.  At the station, Terence, the Lords' Irish
servant, brought him a pencil note from Beatrice.  She had wanted
to come herself, but it was not possible.  Her father had pressing
letters to dictate to her.  She just had time to scribble this
note.  Perhaps it was better.  Good-byes at a railway station were
unbearable.



CHAPTER XXVI


It was after dark and late in the night when C. arrived at Rome.
It was very hot, and his first impression as he drove from the
station to the Porta Pia was that he had come to a city that was
haunted by ghostly waters.  The great splashing fountains he passed
seemed to welcome him to the city of so many shadows and so many
ghosts.  Nothing can describe the acute heartache that C. felt on
arriving in Rome.  Yet he was glad that it was summer, that Rome
was empty.  He was introduced to the Chancery and to the two
secretaries the next morning by his Uncle George, who arrived early
to welcome his nephew.  C. felt just as he did when he first went
to school.  He had not seen his Uncle George for some years.

George Maitland, who was now First Secretary at the Embassy at
Rome, and for the moment Charg d'Affaires, was the younger son of
a country squire who had possessions in the west of England.  He
was a good specimen of an honest, sensible, orthodox, sound
Englishman, and a long sojourn abroad at various European and extra-
European capitals had given him a slightly incongruous cosmopolitan
polish that one would like to have rubbed off.  He was one of those
people who seem to have been born middle-aged; he was rather shiny
and very neat.  He greeted C. kindly, and informed him that he
intended to let Farr, the younger of the two remaining secretaries,
go on leave as soon as C. should have got the hang of his duties.

Farr was small, quick, alert and intelligent; there was something
Southern, nimble and Latin about him.  The other secretary,
Wakefield, was slightly the senior.  He was British in appearance,
rather pale, and very fair, and one felt instinctively that he was
like his mother; he was most civil to C. and took obvious trouble
to help him and to make things smooth for him, and yet C. felt that
he was infinitely aloof and impenetrably reserved, more British
than Farr, but refined, observant, critical, yet somehow different
from other Englishmen.

Rome was supposed to be empty, and yet C., as he sat at his writing
table and copied out a despatch he had been given to "write out,"
with a quill pen, on a sheet of folded grey foolscap paper,
gathered, from the stray remarks that passed between the two
secretaries, that some of their friends were still in that city.

"I thought Katinka was rather cross last night," said Farr.

"She always is when Mrs. Winslope is there," said Wakefield.

"They don't get on?"

"They hate each other."

Then, after a pause:--

"Donna Maria was in great form; so was Alice."

"Miss Morgan is still staying with her.  She told me she only liked
Rome in the summer."

"She says things like that; but, as a matter of fact, she was here
most of the winter."

"Charleroi is going on leave," and so on.

After C. had finished his despatch, which did not take him long, he
felt he ought to be doing something else, but he did not know what
to do.  Every now and then his Uncle George came in from the next
room and asked a question and fetched a paper.  Twice during the
morning strangers called--Italians--who had to be interviewed in
the next room.

A dapper, businesslike little man, Mr. Hodge, walked into the
Chancery once or twice to ask a question.  He was the Ambassador's
personal private secretary, who kept the accounts.  He was not in
the Diplomatic Service.  He was married and seldom went on leave.

Farr and Wakefield appeared to be quite busy, and C. felt that he
was in the way, and yet doing nothing.

Wakefield every now and then gave him a little bit of information
as to where things were kept and what had to be done with certain
papers.

"Are you dining with the Belinskys to-night?" said Farr.

"No, with Bessie."

"Mrs. Tremayn is going to Naples to-morrow."

After a time another short despatch was found for C. to write out.
When he had finished it, Wakefield said to him:--

"You had better not blot your despatches when you write them out.
Let the ink dry, because if they have to go to the Queen she says
she can't read them if the ink is FAINT."

A little later the military attach, Colonel Hogarth, strolled into
the Chancery and smoked a cigarette and exchanged a little gossip
and news with the two secretaries.  C. was introduced to him, and
Colonel Hogarth at once asked him to dinner on the following
evening.

At one o'clock Maitland came into the room and said to C., "I'm
going to take you to lunch."

Out of doors the sunlight was dazzling, but the heat not
unpleasant.

C. said something about it.

"They always exaggerate those things in England," said Uncle
George.  "July's the pleasantest month in Rome.  It's only just
beginning to be warm."

The Maitlands lived in an apartment in the Via Tritone.  C. had not
seen his Aunt Emma since he had been at Eton.  She was not, he
found, greatly changed.  She was younger than Lady Hengrave and
more talkative, very decided in her opinions, and very sure of
herself; rather good-looking and slightly peevish.

"I flatter myself" was a phrase which often crossed her lips.  She
did.

She was affable to C., and said she was sure he would like Rome.

"One gets very fond of it," she said, "and I always say that the
summer is the nicest time, when the Romans are away.  Not that THAT
makes any difference, as they never ask one to anything, but one
has to go to their days.  In the winter everything is such a rush,
and then George likes to go on leave in the autumn for the
shooting.  It's a pity there's no more REAL shooting at Bramsley.
But we hardly get any leave now.  George is owed about six months'
leave as it is.  They are so unreasonable at the F.O."

She asked after the family and talked a great deal about the
engagement of his sisters.

"We shan't be able to go to the wedding, but that's the worst of
diplomacy.  It entirely destroys all one's family ties."

She asked a great many questions, but she paid small heed to the
answers.

"I'm sorry we can't ask you to dinner to-night, we're dining out,
but I daresay the young men will look after you."

C. assented, but he knew, and he was relieved to think, they were
both dining out.

When luncheon was over and they had had one smoke in the cool, dark
salone, which was plentifully embellished with large signed
photographs of English and foreign royalties, Maitland told C. that
he had better go back to the Chancery, as it was his first day.  As
a rule, it was not necessary for more than one of the staff to be
there in the afternoon; he himself would be coming later.

"There's been rather a lull to-day," he said.  "Last week we did
not know where to turn.  You'll find Embassy life isn't all milk
and roses.  But you've just happened to arrive on an off day."

C. went back to the Chancery and found Wakefield there by himself,
studying the Tribuna.

"There's no reason why you should stay," he said.  "There's nothing
going on.  If you look in about five o'clock, that will do.  There
may be a telegram then."

C. took advantage of the permission and called a cab and drove to
St. Peter's.  He wanted to lose no time in seeing the major sights
of Rome.

The city was deserted.  Everybody was taking their siesta.  C.
enjoyed the baking heat, and when he got to St. Peter's and walked
up the steps and pushed the heavy leather curtain he was glad
suddenly to find himself in the immense cool world of that church.

A woman was kneeling in front of one of the side altars.  He
thought he would walk up to that altar, which, at first, seemed to
be a few paces off, but when he came to do it he found he had to
walk some way, and he then, and thus, gradually, realised the
immense size of the place.  It was, he thought, a satisfactory
monument.  He did not stay there long, but drove to the Colosseum,
and from there to the Protestant cemetery, where Shelley and Keats
are buried.  He picked a blade of grass from Shelley's grave to
send to Beatrice, and then he drove back to the Chancery.  There he
found Wakefield and Farr having tea, and the same conversation that
had been going on in the morning seemed to be continuing.

Presently his uncle returned, and, after opening some letters in
his room, burst into the Chancery, and said that they would all
have to go to a Requiem which was being held the next morning at
the Greek Church for a member of one of the Balkan royal families
who had died a few days previously.

A little later a telegram was despatched to the Foreign Office, and
C. was taught how to take down the figures of the cypher.  After
that nothing happened, and C. wrote a long letter to Beatrice,
describing his journey and his first day.  Farr and Wakefield said
they were sorry they were both dining out, and advised C. where to
dine.  He did not, however, take the advice of either of them--
which was contradictory.  He dined at a small restaurant in the
Porta Pia, where there were little tables out of doors, and he went
to bed early, and so his first day at Rome came to an end.  It was
the same as many days that followed.

The staff were to go to the Greek Church in uniform, and C. had,
before leaving for Rome, made it an excuse for delay that he would
not be able to get a uniform made in time, and he had been told
that a uniform was essential by the Ambassador himself.  But this
difficulty had been got over in a curious way.  Lady Hengrave had
discussed the point with Bodmin, and he knew of a young man who was
just back from Paris, where he had been Honorary Attach, but who
had left diplomacy for good, and was going to plant tea in Ceylon,
and would be willing to let C. have his uniform for a trifling sum.
The boys were about the same height, and C. had been reluctantly
compelled to admit when the uniform arrived that it fitted
perfectly.

So C., dressed in his blue uniform (with sword), went to the Greek
Church, where he met the whole of the Corps Diplomatique.  Most of
the Ambassadors were on leave, but he was introduced to the various
Chargs d'Affaires, and his uncle told him that he must be sure to
lose no time in leaving cards on all of them.  The service lasted
over an hour, and everybody stood up the whole time, bearing wax
tapers.

The next day the whole staff had to go to the railway station at
half-past six in the morning in top hats and frock coats to meet an
Indian potentate who was arriving at Rome, and two days later the
staff attended a Requiem Mass which was sung at one of the smaller
churches for an English lady who had long been a resident at Rome.

This was the first time that C. had ever attended a service in a
Catholic church.  He could not follow what was happening, and when
it was over and he was driving back to the Embassy with his uncle,
the latter said:

"Did you notice the faces of the people, all of them either fools
or fanatics?"

C., thinking of Beatrice, was annoyed.  He dined with his uncle,
where he met diplomats several times; he dined with Wakefield, who
had a large apartment, and with Farr, who was married to an
American and who had a small apartment; and with Colonel Hogarth
and his wife, who had a middle-sized apartment.  At Wakefield's he
met the Swedish Minister's wife, who was an American and very
amiable, and at Farr's he met a Polish lady and another American,
and at the Hogarths' he met still another American lady, who
entertained a great deal at Rome, and the Russian Naval Attach.
And then he dined with them all again and met the same people over
again.  During his first three weeks he did not meet a single
Italian.  They were, so his uncle said, all of them away.

He soon got to know his fellow secretaries very well, up to a
point, but he found intimacy was impossible with either of them.
They were both of them completely different from any one he had
known at Eton or at Oxford.  Each of them was intelligent and
competent, quick at his work and efficient in business matters;
both of them easy, affable and good-natured; but Farr was engrossed
in his family life, newly married, and very much in love with his
wife, who was young and pretty; and Wakefield did not seem to wish
to know any one well, although he had, so C. heard, many friends
among the Italians, and the Corps Diplomatique.  He seemed to be
cultivated and well read, but he did not take any interest in the
things that interested C., and literature, as C. understood it, was
a closed book to him.  There appeared to C. to be very little work
to do in the Chancery, not more than two people could easily
manage, and yet it was necessary to be there nearly all day.  His
uncle kept on talking of the great rush of work there had been, and
there would be, but the actual present seemed to be full of
leisure.  At his uncle's house he met several of the foreign
diplomats, the French, the Russians, and the Germans.  After he had
been three weeks at Rome, with the exception of the Forum and the
Palatine, he had seen little more of the sights than on the first
day he arrived, and he had not made the acquaintance of an Italian,
with the exception of the Chancery servants and an old gentleman,
Signor Barbi, who came every morning to give him an Italian lesson
before the work in the Chancery began.  Signor Barbi was a
cultivated man with a military appearance, who had fought for
Garibaldi; he had a passion for Dante, for Lord Palmerston, and Mr.
Gladstone.  C. wrote to Beatrice every day, and every day he heard
from her.  At the end of August the Lords had gone to Ireland to
stay with some cousins.  Mr. Lord was writing a book which was to
reveal to the world some remarkable new theory and revolutionise
the art of pottery.  So far no winter plans had been mentioned.

His mother sent him a brief account of Julia's wedding,
supplemented with many cuttings from the provincial Press.

August and September passed without anything of interest happening
to C.  He made no new friends and met no old ones.  His life was
spent between sitting in the Chancery, where, when he was not
working, he wrote long letters to Beatrice, and rambling, when it
was cool enough, in Rome and the Campagna.  At the end of September
the Ambassador came back with his daughter, Cicely, the only child
of his first wife.  She was fifteen, and not yet out, and the
Chancery saw little of her.  The staff used to have luncheon with
him every day.  Farr went on leave as soon as C. was considered to
have mastered the rudiments of Chancery work, that is to say, a
fortnight after his arrival.

At the same time as the Ambassador a second Secretary returned to
his post, by name Agnew, and George Maitland and his wife went on
leave, to C.'s immense relief.

A new rgime began for C.  In the first place the Ambassador asked
one of the staff to luncheon every day, but Wakefield nearly always
lunched at home at his apartment.  Lady Lawless was still in
England and was expected later.

As soon as the Ambassador arrived C. made the acquaintance of one
or two Italians, and met two old acquaintances, Madame Orioli, who
lived in a villa on the Janiculum, and Lady Ralph Dallington, who
came back to Rome at the beginning of October.

The Maitlands went to stay at Bramsley, and George Maitland gave a
good account of C. to Lady Hengrave, but he mentioned, incidentally,
that it was a pity C. wasted so much time writing interminable
letters, and he presumed the boy must be in love with some one in
England.

Lady Hengrave at once took action.  She wrote a long letter to Mrs.
Lord, in which she pointed out that as they were both agreed as to
the impossibility of a marriage between Beatrice Lord and C., would
it not be better to clear up the situation?  She had reason to
believe that her son was writing to Mrs. Lord's daughter every day
and that the children considered themselves to be definitely
engaged.  It was interfering with her son's work and would damage
his prospects in diplomacy.  Had the time not come to put things on
a better footing?  Would it not be better if they were to stop
writing, etc., etc.?

Mrs. Lord was upset by the letter, and did not know quite what to
do.  She at first did nothing and left the letter lying about, and
her husband happened to read it.  He made a scene, said that he had
been kept in the dark, and that the whole thing was preposterous
and out of the question, and he told Beatrice that she must write
to C. and tell him that he must give up all thoughts of an
engagement, and that their daily correspondence must cease
immediately.  What especially annoyed Mr. Lord was a phrase in Lady
Hengrave's letter which alluded to Lord Hengrave's repugnance for
Roman Catholics.  Mr. Lord told his wife that he wished it made
clear to Lady Hengrave that his repugnance for Protestants was
equally strong.  But Mrs. Lord did not allude to the religious
question in her answer.  She wrote back a vague but conciliatory
letter, and she assured Lady Hengrave that all would be for the
best.  Beatrice wrote and told C. what had occurred.  She said she
was willing to wait, but she felt quite certain that the marriage
would never be allowed, that the obstacles were too great, and that
he had much better put all thoughts of it out of his mind.  She had
promised no longer to write to him.  She asked him not to write any
more.

C.'s first thought was to take a ticket for London and start that
night.  But just as he was thinking this over the Ambassador walked
into the Chancery and said to him, "I want you to dine with us to-
night; we shall be alone."

Lady Lawless had arrived the evening before.

C. felt that he was caught in a machine from which there was no
escape; he experienced the physical pain of unhappiness.



CHAPTER XXVII


This crisis inaugurated a new epoch in C.'s life.  All the dream of
the Lords spending the winter in Rome which he had been living on
during the last two months, and which he had discussed so often at
so great a length with Beatrice, had come to an end.  He felt like
a man imprisoned in a living grave.  He was indifferent to the
official routine, but he detested the social life of the place, and
Rome itself, with all its glorious associations and all its present
beauty and living interest, seemed to him nothing more than a
mouldering churchyard full of chilly ghosts.  It was to him a
prison and a charnel-house.

And yet he was not at first so utterly miserable as might have been
expected.  He was miserable, but he was not desperate.  He secretly
harboured for the moment an invincible optimism that made him think
that all would come right in the end.  The very fact that his life
at Rome was distasteful to him, his loathing for diplomatic life,
foreign life, Rome and everything to do with it, made things
curiously easier.  The big catastrophe seemed to be part and parcel
of the minor daily nightmare, and consequently easier to bear.  The
two would come to an end together--so thought C.  He seemed to be
experiencing a transient phase in a dream.  One day the curtain
would go up; his diplomatic career would be over, and he would find
himself once more face to face with Beatrice in the world of
reality.  Neither had he given up hope of the Lords coming to Rome,
or to Italy, in the winter, and if they were to come C. felt quite
certain he would manage to see Beatrice.

Lady Lawless arrived at the beginning of October.  She had been a
beauty in her day, and she was still extremely handsome.  She was
vivacious, full of fun, and fond of flirting with the young; but C.
was in no mood for flirtations, and Lady Lawless found him silent
and unresponsive.  She knew, though, what was happening, for Sir
Hedworth had outlined the situation to her, and they both saw that
some crisis must have occurred; so she pitied C., for she had a
romantic mind.  She tried to distract him by introducing him to
various people whom she imagined he would find congenial, and by
inviting him to entertainments.  Rome began to fill up.  English
residents returned, and American, English and tourists of all
nations began to dribble through.  Sometimes people would stay at
the Embassy; and Lady Lawless would employ C. in showing her guests
the sights of the place.  She thought it was good for him.

C. was thrown back upon himself.  By the end of September he could
understand Italian well and talk it fluently.  He was reading Dante
with Signor Barbi, who was the first foreign teacher that C. had
met with who looked upon literature from the same point of view as
he did himself and who felt towards it in the same way.  C. was
able to translate passages of the English poets with Signor Barbi
into Italian, and his Italian master never complained of a manque
de got in the masterpieces of Shelley and Keats.  C. began to
write himself again for the first time since he had left Oxford--
impersonal descriptive impressions suggested by Rome; and he showed
some of them to Signor Barbi, as well as what he had written
before.  Signor Barbi said they were the first steps towards the
work of a poet.  "I primi gradini."  He encouraged him and urged
him to continue.

Signor Barbi understood C.  He understood him through and through,
with all his southern intuition.  He understood him as a man and he
understood him as a writer, or as a would-be embryo writer.

One day they were reading Dante.  They had finished the Inferno,
and they had just got to the Purgatorio; they came to the line:--


     Dolce color d'orental zaffiro,


and as C. came to the line he gasped and stopped, overcome by the
beauty of the words.

Signor Barbi's eyes filled with tears, and he murmured "Stupendo,"
and then he cried, cried not only at the beauty of the magnificent
poetry, but having met with response to it in the heart of an
alien, an English boy who had only just learnt Italian, but who he
saw belonged to the mysterious freemasonry which exists all the
world over between those who love good verse and who possibly may
write it.

C., too, was moved, moved beyond all words and beyond all
expression; the words not only opened for him the doors of
fairyland, but in so doing they touched a thousand strings within
him, and all the vibrations of all those thousand strings made one
chord, which was Beatrice.

The very same night that he had read the first canto of the
Purgatorio with Signor Barbi he dined with the Ambassador.  There
were about a dozen guests, a well-known Italian beauty, Donna Laura
Bartolini, and an Englishman who was passing through Rome, a Mr.
Dallas Wace, middle-aged, good-looking, prosperous, independent,
unmarried, cultivated, a man of the world.  C., although he had
never seen him before, recognised by the tone of his voice, and by
everything he said and did, that he was a man whom his family would
accept without question, and yet there was a curious difference
between him and the habitus of Hengrave House.  Dallas Wace was
not only cultivated, but "modern."

There was nothing he couldn't talk about, nothing he didn't seem to
know.  And yet he seemed to skate over everything as if, after all,
nothing was very important.  The only thing that mattered was not
to be a bore, not to dwell too long on anything.  He was agreeable
to everybody, young and old.  At dinner he sat next to Donna Laura
Bartolini and talked to her in unaffected, effortless French; on
his other side was the Consul's wife, Mrs. Maclure, who came from
one of the English county families and considered that she had
married beneath her in accepting for husband a delightful ex-sailor
who had drifted into the Consular Service.  Dallas Wace smoothed
her amour propre and fanned her sense of self-importance; and after
dinner, when the men went into a smoking-room, according to the
Italian custom, he devoted himself for a time to C.; he talked of
Rome, the sights, the Italians, the foreigners, the theatres.

"Zechetti's acting--charming, charming, especially in comedy; she
hasn't the presence or the voice for drama, but she's clever--very
clever."

"Madeleine Lapara?  Oh yes, of course, she's no longer what she was
once--I remember her years ago in Hernani; she overdoes her effect;
she rants sometimes; it comes from playing to ignorant audiences,
and in second-rate companies; she ought never to have left the
Thtre Franais, but, of course, she's got immense talent, and
she's clever, VERY clever."

C. felt a faint echo of Hengrave House conversation here, but with
a difference; Wace's field of action was a larger one, his
criterion was on another plane, more acute, more sensitive, and
more modern.

Wace dismissed the subject of acting and touched lightly on opera.
"Have you heard Giraldi?  She IS a great artist, finer as an
actress than Zechetti.  Yes, a singer.  Her Traviata and her Manon
are really fine.  Yes, you ought to hear her.  She sings in the
Cavalleria."

"I think that's a lovely opera," said C., who had just heard it for
the first time.

"It's dramatic and effective," said Wace.  "The book's good; the
music"--he shrugged his shoulders--"the intermezzo is pretty, but
as to the rest, one has heard it all before."

Professor Fani, the archologist who had just discovered some pre-
Romulus remains in the Forum, joined in the conversation, and so
did Agoura, who was Secretary at the Russian Embassy, and who spoke
six languages quite perfectly.

Professor Fani deplored the influence of Wagner.  He was ruining
modern opera.  Wace and Agoura had both been to Bayreuth last year.

"They make a great fuss about the scenery," said Wace, "but the
truth of the matter is that it's very ugly indeed, heavy and
German, all beer and sausage; the way Parsifal is staged, for
instance, is hideous."

"But after all, the music's German," said Horace Clive, a well-
known musician and a passionate Wagnerite.

"Oh, the music's charming, of course," said Wace, "but that's no
reason why they should stage the things so badly--those dresses,
those crude colours--the design of Kundry's garden, which is like
the picture on a dcadent fan."

"But Wagner WAS a German," said Clive, angrily.

"The music's charming," repeated Wace, smoothing him down,
"Parsifal's charming."

"I think one gets sick to death of all those motives if one hears
enough of them," said Agoura.

"It's a mistake to stop for more than one cycle," said Wace.

"If you're not musical--" said Clive.

Wace deftly changed the subject, and talked to Fani about the
recent excavations; their conversation expanded, and, finally,
included the world of art and literature.  He quoted Renan, and in
the course of the long, crowded talk Carducci, Stendhal, Turgenev
and Huysmans were mentioned.

The groups of talkers were slightly reshuffled.  Wace felt as if he
had disposed of art and music, and turned to the Ambassador, who
was discussing the prospects of the Cesarewitch with Maclure.  Wace
said he was sorry to miss Newmarket this year, but he was looking
forward to his big game shooting.  He was on his way to East
Africa.

They went into the next room, and Wace went straight up to Lady
Lawless and said an appreciative, appropriate and accurate word
about an Old English musical clock which she had recently picked
up.  Mrs. Castleton-Wyse (an American) joined in the conversation,
and discussed the authenticity of a Giorgione in a private
collection.  Wace lightly led the conversation away from the
pitfalls of art criticism, which bored him, to actualities and
gossip, international society, and prevented any one dwelling too
long on any one item or person.

C. left the dinner party that night with a subtle sense of blight,
as if everything that Wace had touched had withered, and yet how
friendly Wace had been, how good it was of him to pay him so much
attention.

But, although C. felt a little depressed he was full of wonder and
awe, and marvelled at the variety and range of Wace's culture and
knowledge.  There was nothing he hadn't seemed to know, and yet
there was obviously no effort, and no pretence about him.  He had
talked just as easily to Mrs. Maclure as to Donna Laura, and had
dealt with English county life just as lightly as with European
politics and society.  C. had gone away dazed, and yet at the
bottom of it there was a distinct sense of devastation.

All that he thought was most beautiful and wonderful in the world,
under Wace's universal appreciative touch seemed to have been
turned to dust and ashes.

The inner life of the Embassy, the Chancery life, seemed to C.
peculiarly curious.  In a way, he was extremely intimate with
Wakefield and Farr; he shared their interests, their jokes; he was
at his ease with both of them.  He liked them both immensely, and
yet they were at the same time worlds away.  Wakefield interested
him the most--Wakefield, with his quiet manner, his barrier of
unbreakable reserve.  He was a Catholic, and C. (thinking of
Beatrice) would have liked to discuss the question with him, and
hear what Wakefield really thought about it all; but whenever C.
got near the fringe of the topic, Wakefield gently eluded him.  All
he heard him say on the subject was that it was very tiresome to
have to eat fish on Fridays, although easier in Italy than in
England.

He discussed the question with Signor Barbi, but Signor Barbi had
no patience with Catholics.  He said that Wakefield had a
countenance da prete; that in Italy nobody went to church except
women, and that one day the Pope would be sent to Malta, and that
that would settle the question once and for all.  Or else if there
could only be a liberal Pope, who would order his carriage and
drive straight to the Quirinal, then we should see a united Italy,
such as there had never been before; but, of course, he added, the
Jesuits would never allow such a thing to happen.  C. repeated this
conversation to Farr, not to Wakefield, and Farr, who was a
Protestant, said he thought that Signor Barbi was talking nonsense.

Every now and then stray Englishmen would arrive at Rome; people
who brought the bag instead of the King's Messenger, or friends of
the Ambassador, who stayed at the Embassy.  Sometimes they would
ask C. to dine with them.  Just before Christmas one of his Oxford
friends, Blades, brought out the bag, and C. spent an evening with
him.  They sat in C.'s sitting-room in the Embassy and discussed
books and poetry.  When C. had been at Oxford, Blades had thought
it wrong to read modern poetry, but since C. had gone down Blades
had apparently broken this rule, for he talked of modern as well as
of ancient literature.  He told C. he had heard of his having
written at Eton and at Oxford, and he asked him to show him
something.  C. turned the tables and asked him if he had written
anything.  Blades said that he and another undergraduate intended
to edit a magazine next term at Oxford.  It was to be called the
Oxford Rambler and was to be literary and serious.  Blades said he
had written some verse for it.

"I should like you to send us something," he said, "only I warn you
that our standard is a high one."

"I expect your poetry's awfully good," said C.

"Yes, it is," said Blades.

That night, when he went home to his hotel, he took with him a
large envelope containing some of C.'s typewritten poems.  He
brought them back the next day and said he was afraid that they
were not very good, and that there was nothing which would do for
the Oxford Rambler.  "I should stick," he said, "to prose.  You
see, verse is so difficult, and bad verse is, as Horace says,
'impossible.'"

"Yes," said C., "quite impossible."

C. thought that Blades was no doubt right and he burnt most of the
poems he had written.  He felt quite disinclined to write verse,
and, after all, what did it matter?




VOLUME II



CHAPTER XXVIII


Up till Christmas, C. was convinced that the Lord family would
somehow or other, by some miracle, arrive in Italy; and that he
would be able to see Beatrice.  This was quite unreasonable on his
part, but he was buoyed up by a causeless optimism, nor did he take
the story of Mr. Lord's opposition seriously.  He did not take Mr.
Lord seriously; he felt that all opposition from that quarter could
be dealt with quite easily.  But one day, just about Christmas-
time, he happened to be calling on some one at the Grand Hotel, and
as he sat waiting in the hall, he cast a listless eye on the New
York Herald.  The first thing that caught his attention was a
paragraph in the social news, which announced that Mr. and Mrs.
Lord and Miss Beatrice Lord had arrived at the Mina Hotel, at
Helouan, near Cairo, and were expected to spend the winter in
Egypt.

This little paragraph hit C. as though it had been a poisoned
arrow.  He passed from a mood of unreasoned optimism and baseless
hope to one of reasoned pessimism and solid gloom.  He felt that
Beatrice had been taken away from him, that in some odd way he had
been cheated by Providence.  He retired more than ever into
himself.  At the same time he was determined that no one in his
entourage should notice anything.  He accepted invitations; he
spent a great deal of time at the house of an American lady who
entertained largely; he did his duty by his colleagues; and the
Ambassador said he might make a good diplomat.  The only moments
which he enjoyed were those which he spent studying Italian with
Signor Barbi.

Towards the end of February he caught a chill.  He neglected it and
it developed into pneumonia.  He was laid up during the whole of
the month of March, and at one moment he was seriously ill.  Lady
Lawless found him an English nurse, and his Aunt Emma, who had
returned to Rome soon after Christmas, sent Lady Hengrave daily
bulletins, but she was firmly of the opinion, which was
corroborated by the doctor, that it was not necessary for Lady
Hengrave to come to Rome.  By the end of April, C. was up and
convalescent.

He returned to life a different man.  He seemed to have shed a
portion of his self.  He felt indifferent to everything and
everybody, and he looked at the world with a calm, detached
curiosity.  The doctor said he wanted change of air, and that Rome
was bad for him.  He must on no account stay there during the
summer.  The Ambassador was suffering from asthma, and had been
ordered to go to Mont Dore, a place which he detested, and which
bored both him and Lady Lawless to tears.  They suggested taking C.
with them.  The Ambassador was to stay there a month.  C. accepted.
He did not in the least care where he went nor what he did, and he
wondered at his own indifference.

Sir Hedworth, Lady Lawless and C. arrived at Mont Dore in the
middle of May, and they stayed there for a month in a little house
that Sir Hedworth had hired.  Sir Hedworth was taken up with his
cure, and Lady Lawless became engrossed in a bantering, only half-
serious, flirtation with a French man of letters whom she had never
seen before.  C., who had a room to himself, spent most of his time
pretending to work.  In the afternoons the whole party would
sometimes go for expeditions all together, and in the evenings Sir
Hedworth played patience, while Lady Lawless used to read out
novels, sometimes French and sometimes English, with plenty of
spirit and sentiment.

They made acquaintances among the visitors; there were several well-
known singers taking the cure.  Madame Bellini (ne Wilson), who at
tea-time received guests standing on a dais in her best Balmoral
manner; several well-known preachers, among others Father Walter
Hissop, a High-Church clergyman who preached eloquently on the
reconciliation between science and religion, and a few French
actors and actresses.  C. took little notice of the life which went
on around him.  He spent the whole morning poring over books which
he was not in reality reading, or in reading French novels, because
they were, as Lady Lawless said, "good for his French," and in the
afternoons he would go for long solitary walks, unless Sir Hedworth
and Lady Lawless took him out for an expedition.

Lady Lawless liked C.  She thought him remarkably intelligent and
possibly full of promise, but she slightly alarmed him, and in her
presence he would become more than usually silent; nor did he ever
approach anything bordering on intimacy with her, although he liked
and appreciated her.

Both she and Sir Hedworth were kindness itself to C.  They thought
his depression, which was now obvious, was the result of his
illness, and they did their best to distract him.  C. tried to play
up to their efforts, but nothing could pierce the wall of his
listless indifference.  He was like a numbed person suffering from
permanent and deep-seated frostbite of the heart.

Towards the middle of June he went home to London.  Lady Hengrave
found him greatly altered.  He looked older, and she said he had
improved.  He found his father was laid up.  C. refused to go to
any entertainments in London this year.  He said the doctor had
told him he ought not to sit up late, at present.  He called at
Ovington Square as soon as he arrived in London, and he learnt that
the Lords were at Oxford.  He called on Mrs. Roden, hoping for
news.  Mrs. Roden was embarrassed, and C. felt there was some new
factor that was being kept from him.  Towards the end of June his
father got worse; he took to his bed, and never got up, and finally
died after a short and peaceful illness.

The family went down to Bramsley for the funeral.  C. felt more
numbed than ever in the presence of death, and the arrangements and
attendant circumstances of the funeral left him with a feeling of
unutterable emptiness.  The non-naturalness of all concerned, with
the exception of Lady Hengrave, who was sensible and dignified, was
appalling.  All the family were gathered at Bramsley.  There were
Edward and his American wife, who now made it excruciatingly clear
to Lady Hengrave that she was Lady Hengrave and that Lady Hengrave
was a dowager.  There were Uncle George and Aunt Emma, who were so
used to going into temporary mourning for foreign royalties and
diplomats that they assumed a possessive air about mourning and
death in general.  There were Uncle Cuthbert and Aunt Fanny, who
made it clear that they thought it permissible to tolerate the
mythology of their epoch.  There was Aunt Louisa, now a widow, who
was the most human and natural of the mourners with the exception
of Mr. and Mrs. Roden.  Harry came from York, where he was now
stationed.  He had passed from Sandhurst into the Rifle Brigade.
He tried hard to look solemn, but his cheerfulness would leak out.
C.'s two married sisters were present, Lady Holborn and Lady
Ducane.  C. found both his new brothers-in-law slightly trying.
Lord Holborn was amiable, but almost half-witted, and Harold Ducane
was aggressively friendly, but could not help striking an
undefinable wrong note, whatever he did or said.

Lord Hengrave was to be buried in the village church.  The Bishop
of Barminster was to read the service.  A great many wreaths
arrived.  Lady Hengrave spent the time answering telegrams of
condolence.  She was quite calm, and faced the change of
circumstances with dignity, and with a complete mastery of the
situation which made her daughter-in-law, the new Lady Hengrave,
appear indescribably wrong and out of place.  Lord Hengrave had
left his affairs in considerable disorder.  Edward said he would
probably have to sell Bramsley, and very likely Hengrave House as
well, but the new Lady Hengrave, while she had made up her mind to
permit the former, if necessary, had resolved to retain the London
house, whatever might happen.  Lady Hengrave had been left badly
off, and C. had been left two hundred a year, and Harry three
hundred, to enable him to live in the army.  C. had the Rodens to
look after him.  The girls were provided for, so they had been left
nothing.

The day of the funeral was very beautiful.  All the neighbours and
the Lord Lieutenant of the County attended.  The choir sang "Now
the labourer's task is o'er," and the Bishop of Barminster read out
the fifteenth chapter of the First Epistle to the Corinthians.  C.
was standing next to Harry in the high pew, with his two sisters.
In the pew in front of him were his mother, Mrs. Roden, and his
eldest brother, Edward, and the new Lady Hengrave.  In the pew
behind him were his brothers-in-law and the other uncles and aunts.

As the bishop, with his sonorous, well-trained elocution, read the
tremendous words:  "For this corruptible must put on incorruption,
and this mortal must put on immortality," C. felt more than he had
ever felt before, that such thoughts and such words were the
children of fond human hopes and desires.  The words of Swinburne
came back to him:--


     From too much love of living,
       From hope and fear set free,
     We thank with brief thanksgiving,
       Whatever gods may be
     That no life lives for ever;
     That dead men rise up never;


He had not yet read Catullus, and did not yet know the terser, more
terrible statement of the Roman poet:--


     Nobis, quum semel occidit brevis lux,
     Nox est perpetua una dormienda.


But another line of Swinburne's echoed in his head:--


     Only the sleep eternal
     In an eternal night.


"So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this
mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass
the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.  O
death, where is thy sting?  O grave, where is thy victory?"

As the bishop read these words, C. looked round the church.  What
did these words mean to those that were present?  What were they
thinking of?  Were they giving a thought to the immortal soul of
the departed?  Did they really believe there was an immortal soul
appended or belonging in any way to the mortal remains now enclosed
in that massive shiny coffin, which, with such difficulty, had been
carried up the aisle by the faithful tenantry?  Did they believe
that this particular mortal had put on immortality?  And as C.
looked round the church he seemed to breathe an icy breath from a
bleak, desolate country, and to be alone in a world dispeopled of
gods; and all that was going on, all the circumstance of the
present ceremonial, seemed to him to be the most hollow and
meaningless of mockeries.

The coffin was carried to the churchyard; the villagers and the
tenants, and the casual visitors, all strained for a last look at
it.  "Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust."  It was over,
and C. felt that more than a chapter--the first volume--of his life
had come to an end.

The following day the family began to disperse.  Lady Hengrave, who
had behaved with incomparable dignity towards her tactless daughter-
in-law, went to stay with her eldest daughter, who lived in
Suffolk.  The Rodens went back to the country and invited C. to go
with them.  The Maitlands went back to Rome.  They were taking
their regular leave later.  The remaining uncles and aunts went
back to London.  Harry rejoined his regiment, and Edward and the
new Lady Hengrave were left in possession.  The family lawyer, Mr.
Grayshott, was to come down and discuss what was to be sold.

The night before C. left Bramsley, the footman who had been looking
after him brought him a small piece of paper, on which some figures
and items in pencil had been noted, the whole amounting to thirteen
and sixpence.  C. looked at it without understanding, and asked
what it was.

"Your washing bill, sir."

C. felt that if he had to pay his washing bill in his own home he
was indeed a stranger and a guest--it was indeed true that he no
longer had a home.  Bramsley or Hengrave House at the best of times
had been a chilly home for him--a home, nevertheless, round which a
thousand associations were entwined.  Now he felt even this had
been taken away.

He said:--

"All right, I'll pay it to-morrow."

As he went to bed he pored over the little washing bill.  "Three
shirts, three collars, four pairs of socks," etc., etc., and he
laughed till he cried, but not in the sense that the phrase usually
implies.  That is to say, there was no mirth in his laughter and no
happiness in his tears.

The next day he went up to London.

The programme for his future, as outlined by Lady Hengrave, was as
follows:  He was to go up for the first examination that occurred
either for the Foreign Office or for the Diplomatic Service.
Candidates, besides having to be nominated, were expected to be in
possession of an income of four hundred a year.  Mrs. Roden
promised to supply the extra two hundred which would be necessary
for C.

C., in the meantime, woke up to reality from the cold dream in
which he had been living, when his future was discussed before him
as a matter of course, and he made up his mind at that moment that
no force on earth would compel him to enter the Diplomatic Service.
He was thankful that he had been allowed to have a taste of it.  He
did not want to appear ungrateful to the Rodens, and he was
determined, if it came to a battle with his mother, to choose his
own ground and his own time for the action.  His mother had asked
him to go and see Mr. Spark, the crammer, on his way to the Rodens,
and to consult him as to his programme of work, and as to what he
should do before his term began in mid-September.  C., who had
heard a great deal about Mr. Spark from friends and people in Rome,
determined to reveal his real feelings to him.  He had made an
appointment with Mr. Spark, and he went up to London.

Mr. Spark received him in his rooms at Gower Street, at twelve-
thirty.  He had prepared candidates for the Foreign Office and
Diplomatic Service Examinations for years, and he had a power of
diagnosis as to whether the candidate would be successful or no, as
acute as that of an inspired doctor.

Mr. Spark received C. genially.  He had heard of him from his old
friend, Hedworth Lawless; he knew his Uncle George.  He said a few
appropriate words of condolence and asked feelingly after Lady
Hengrave.  Then he plunged into business.

"So you're coming to me in September.  How's your German?"

"Well," said C., "they want me to, but the truth is I hate
diplomacy.  They told me when I went to Rome it would be a good
thing, as I should be able to see whether I liked the life or not.
I did see.  I know I HATE it.  Of course, I know I've got to do
something, but I don't see why I should go into diplomacy as a way
of making a living--it's so expensive.  It's a luxury.  I've got
two hundred a year of my own, and my aunt, who is my godmother,
Mrs. Roden, gives me two hundred a year, and says she will go on
giving it me as long as I am working, and when I get in."

"Have you spoken to your mother and to your aunt about this?"

"No, not yet.  I thought I had better see you before doing that.
In the first place, I should never pass.  I know French pretty
well, German not nearly well enough, although I learnt it as a
child; some Italian, but none of the other subjects except Latin.
I'm bad at geography and all that.  I should have to live a long
time abroad in Germany again.  I hate living abroad, and, you see,
Mr. Spark, I don't want to pass."

Mr. Spark nodded his head.

"What would you like to do?"

"I should like to stop on at Oxford," said C., "only that's too
late now.  The Master wanted me to stop, and thought it a pity I
should go down so soon.  He wanted me to read for Honours; but now
I should like to read for the Bar," C. said, with some slight
hesitation.

"Are you quite sure you would hate diplomacy?" said Mr. Spark.

"Quite, quite sure."

"And what about the Foreign Office?"

"I think that's almost worse."

"Did you ever discuss this with Sir Hedworth?"

"Yes, a little; he wasn't particularly encouraging.  He doesn't
seem to think it great fun being an Ambassador, and he's supposed
to be the youngest and the most successful of all of them, and if
they feel like that when they're successful--"

"You might change your mind later.  You haven't been well.  The
climate at Rome is very trying.  Diplomacy gives you an opportunity
of seeing interesting men and interesting places under the best
conditions, especially at first.  You could leave it later if you
didn't like it."

"Then it would be too late to do anything else.  I think it is best
to settle now."

"Do you think you have any aptitude for the Bar?"

"I don't know; I should like to try."

"Well, well," said Mr. Spark, "what do you want me to do?"

"I want you to write to my mother and tell her it's no good my
cramming, as I never shall pass.  I don't mind what you say, as
long as you make her understand that it's no use my going up.  She
will believe YOU; she wouldn't believe me."

"But won't your aunt be annoyed?" said Mr. Spark, thinking of the
extra two hundred a year.

"No, she will understand perfectly.  She has always been very good
to me."

"You won't give it a trial?"

"You see, I have given the thing itself a trial; I know now what
diplomatic life is like, and I know I would rather do anything else
in the world.  I would rather enlist."

Mr. Spark understood perfectly.  He saw that argument would be
quite useless, and that as C. felt like that about it, he would
certainly never pass the examination.  He didn't believe C. really
cared about the Bar.  He was certain he would never make a lawyer.
He suspected literary aspirations, but he said nothing about that.
He promised to write to Lady Hengrave, and at one o'clock he
carried off C. to his Club in Whitehall and entertained him to
luncheon.  Two of his pupils were guests as well.  Mr. Spark talked
lightly on the topics of the day; the theatres, Zechetti, Madeleine
Lapara, the new books, the picture galleries, the political
situation, the drawbacks of foreign travel, the obstinacy of Custom
House officials; and all the time, although he was far from
appearing to do so, he was watching C. and sizing him up.

C., in his enthusiasm for Lapara, and in certain remarks on French
poetry, had betrayed his tastes.  Mr. Spark saw his frame of mind
quite clearly.

"He could pass if he worked, but he never would work."  That was
his verdict.  "He's not a diplomat and never will be, nor would he
make a good Government servant.  As for the Bar, he will never be
called.  However, he can try.  The boy has literary ambitions and
has certainly the makings of a man of letters, but he is too shy to
talk about his aspirations."  Mr. Spark thought of Lady Hengrave
and understood.  He thought also that careful treatment was
necessary, for if C. were to be openly crossed at this moment, Mr.
Spark felt he would be capable of doing something desperate--of
enlisting, for instance.

That is what Mr. Spark thought, and that evening he wrote a
diplomatic letter to Lady Hengrave.  He pointed out that C.,
although well equipped in French, Latin and Italian, would need at
least another year in Germany to attain the standard necessary for
the examination; that, of course, he had not yet even begun to face
the practical subjects: geography, prcis writing, etc.  His French
was fair, but would need further brushing up.  He did not honestly
think the boy's heart was in the work, and that being so, he would
be unlikely to pass, in which case it would be criminal on his part
to recommend a long course of studies, which could not help
entailing great expense, if the whole thing was to be done for no
purpose.  He had discussed the matter frankly with the boy, and he
felt that he was bent on reading for the Bar, which was certainly
less costly, etc.; and Mr. Spark pointed out the advantages of such
a step.  He ended by lightly hinting at the danger of crossing C.
at this period of his development and of making him go in for
diplomacy against his will.  He also hinted at the costliness of
diplomacy as a career, and at the possibility of some political
secretaryship turning up later.  C., at Mr. Spark's advice, made a
clean breast of the whole matter to his aunt directly he arrived at
Elladon, and enlisted her sympathy; and she at once wrote to Lady
Hengrave, and made C. do so as well.  Although these letters came
as a complete surprise and were somewhat of a shock to her settled
ideas, Lady Hengrave did not, in reality, mind whether C. went into
the Diplomatic Service or not.  She had been in favour of it
because she thought it would ensure the two hundred a year being
given by Mrs. Roden, since the possession of four hundred a year
was obligatory for candidates; but as soon as she got Mrs. Roden's
letter saying that the two hundred a year would be given to C.
whether he went into diplomacy or not, and that her husband seemed
to think C. might do very well at the Bar, Lady Hengrave
capitulated.  She wrote to C. that, although she vitally disagreed
with what he said about diplomacy and his prospects in that career,
he could do as he liked.  His father would have minded, but as he
was no longer there to mind there was no more to be said.  Lady
Hengrave was no longer uneasy about Beatrice Lord, for Mrs. Roden
had communicated to her the likelihood of an event occurring which
would eliminate that danger for ever.  The event occurred almost
immediately.

The day after C. reached Elladon, the Rodens' house, he received a
letter from Beatrice.  She had read of his father's death in the
newspapers, and she wrote to tell him how sorry she was for him.
She had something else to tell him: she was engaged to be married
to Vincent Fitzclare.

Vincent Fitzclare was a Catholic, the son of a friend and business
associate of her father's.  Beatrice had met him in Egypt.  He had
himself been in the Army, and was now a partner in an English bank
in Paris, one of the firms in which her father was interested.
They were to be married at the end of the month at the Oratory.
Her father and mother were overjoyed.

Although she said little in the letter and explained nothing, C.
understood much.  He knew that Mr. Lord had been the chief agent in
this match, and that Beatrice was not in the least in love with
Vincent Fitzclare.  Had he received the letter a few months
earlier, before his illness, the result might have been disastrous.
As it was, it was like a drop of water in a cup that is already
full to the brim.

C. passed through London a month later, and stayed a night with his
sister Marjorie, who now had a house in Eaton Square.  In the
afternoon he called at Ovington Square.  He found Beatrice in.  She
was alone.  She welcomed him, and he saw that she was just the
same.  She was to be married the next day.

"Give it up, I beg you, and marry me," said C.  "It's not too
late."

Beatrice smiled sadly.

"It's too late," she said.

"No, it's not too late," said C., and he poured out a flood of
argument and entreaty.

Beatrice buried her face in her hands and cried; then she pulled
herself together and said:  "I can't, C., you know I can't; you
know I would if I could.  Don't make it more difficult for me than
it is already, please."

C. became calmer again.  He felt that he must not give way for her
sake.

"I suppose people don't do those things," he said, "do they?"

"Perhaps people who are very brave do," said Beatrice, "but I'm a
coward, a fearful moral coward; but not only for myself, but for
you."

Their conversation was interrupted before it became too difficult
by the arrival of Mrs. Lord, who seemed delighted to welcome C.,
and talked of the wedding presents.

The next day Beatrice was married to Vincent Fitzclare.



CHAPTER XXIX


At the bottom of his heart C. would have liked to be a journalist,
but he felt it was useless to suggest such a thing; and, moreover,
even if he had insisted on taking up a journalistic career, where
in the world of journalism would he find an opening?  What were his
credentials?  What had he got to show?

But on the same day that Lady Hengrave had outlined to him the
programme of his future at Bramsley, he received a letter from his
Oxford friend, Gerald Malone, telling him that he had taken his
degree (a second) and was coming up to London to read for the Bar.
He was to work in the chambers of a friend of his father.  He
suggested that if C. was going to live in London they should share
rooms together.  The word "Bar" came to C. as a heaven-sent
suggestion, and he acted upon it, as we have seen.

C. would willingly have accepted the proposition with regard to the
rooms, but it had been already arranged that he was to live with
his mother.  She had taken a small house in Gloucester Place, and
he was to have the use of one room on the ground floor as a sitting-
room, as it was thought necessary for him to have somewhere to
work.  Lady Hengrave, after spending some time with her married
daughters in the country, came up to London, took the house,
engaged servants, and by the middle of September, when C. arrived
in London--the day before Beatrice Lord's marriage--she was
established in her new home and ready for C.  It had been arranged
that he should work in the chambers of Sir Shreeve Mellings, who
had been an acquaintance of her husband's.  C. went to his chambers
in the Temple, had luncheon at various restaurants in the Strand,
and sometimes dined at home.  Gerald Malone had two rooms near
Fetter Lane, and they had luncheon together every day.

Sir Shreeve Mellings was a portly, unctuous man, who smoothed the
creases out of his lips after every word he pronounced and seemed
to taste them with succulent relish.  He remarked with pain that C.
did not seem to take to the law as quickly as he would have hoped.
Gerald Malone seemed to take to it even less well.

On the other hand, Gerald was thoroughly at home in the Bohemian
precincts of the London half-world, and the principal cause of his
neglect of study was a passionate relationship he had formed with a
certain Cissy Tilden, who was a pupil in a dramatic academy,
learning to sing with a view to the stage.  Cissy Tilden was a gay
Cockney, with fair hair and laughing blue eyes, and a quick temper.
C. made the acquaintance of a friend of hers named Ivy Darrell, and
sometimes a partie carre would be arranged, and the four would
spend the evening at a music hall and have supper afterwards in
Gerald's rooms; but these entertainments were not a success, as
Cissy Tilden invariably quarrelled with Ivy.  Ivy, who was the less
clever of the two girls, but the more sensitive, and certainly the
more unwise, exasperated Cissy by letting her feel that she
considered C. to be vastly superior to Gerald.  This was more than
Cissy, who was passionately fond of Gerald, could bear, and the
inevitable crisis came about one night in Gerald's rooms.  Ivy and
Cissy quarrelled over the pronunciation of the word "waltz"; they
flew at each other and had to be separated, and the result was that
Ivy quarrelled with Cissy for good, and then with C., who she
considered had not taken her part sufficiently.  She demanded that
he should break off all relations with Gerald, which he refused to
do.  Ivy went out of C.'s life for good, and shortly afterwards,
Cissy announced, not without triumph, that Ivy was engaged to be
married.  Gerald's relationship with Cissy was considered, both by
himself and by C. at that time, to be permanent and enduring, and
Gerald announced his intention of marrying her as soon as he should
be called to the Bar, an event which seemed for the moment to be
infinitely remote.  After the quarrel with Ivy, C. kept clear of
all serious entanglements, and his love adventures were fleeting
and casual, and left no impression whatsoever on his feelings.

Several of his Oxford friends were now living in London.  One day
he met Wright in the street, who asked him whether he had written
anything.  C. replied negligently that he had quite given up all
that, but he said he was still interested in books, and that he
craved for an entry into the world of letters, which was still
surrounded in his eyes by a nebulous aura of romance.  Wright
shared his desire, but did not know how it could be fulfilled.
Before long C.'s wish seemed to be near realisation.  He spent a
Sunday at Oxford, and at the Junior Dean's dinner table he met Mr.
Clement Horridge, whose wife was better known as Charles James
Clarke, the authoress of several popular psychological novels, one
of which, Equality, had been translated into French and had
appeared in the Revue des deux Mondes.  She was not staying at
Oxford herself.  She rarely indulged in social excursions, but she
received her friends at her comfortable house in Bryanston Square,
and Mr. Clement Horridge, who was well known in the financial
world, and who was nothing if not affable and "social," asked C. to
be sure to come to luncheon any Sunday he should happen to be
remaining in London.  He would meet some interesting people.

"I say it who shouldn't," he said, "but we do know every one worth
knowing in the world of art and of letters, and my wife will, I am
sure, be delighted to make your acquaintance."

She was somewhat of an invalid and rarely went out, and she found
the strain of writing very great; nevertheless she was always glad
to see people in her own house, especially the young.  During the
summer they lived a great deal at their house near Dorking.  He
asked C. to give him his address, and a few days later C. received
a note from Mrs. Horridge's secretary asking him to luncheon on the
following Sunday.  He accepted, although Lady Hengrave expected him
to have luncheon at home on Sundays, a day when a few people
usually looked in, and the luncheon was just as good as it used to
be at Hengrave House, and the guests the same, namely, Mr. Dartrey
and Cecil Whitelaw (on alternate Sundays), and sometimes an uncle,
or an aunt, or a sister.  When C. said he was going to have
luncheon with Mrs. Horridge, she asked with surprise who that might
be.

"She's Charles James Clarke," said C.

"Oh!" said Lady Hengrave, "I've just been reading her new book,
Tribute.  It's well written," she said with a sigh, "but too long,
I think, in the second volume.  But they say the third volume is
interesting."

C. went to that luncheon with high hopes.  He imagined he was going
to walk straight into a magical country.  Who knows?  Mr. Swinburne
might be there, or Mr. Meredith.  Neither of them was there,
however.  He found Mr. and Mrs. Horridge, their eldest son, James--
a silent youth, who was working at Spark's for the Civil Service
Examination--an affable clerk from the Foreign Office, and Miss
Launceston, an old lady who was shabbily dressed in a black poke
bonnet.  She did good works in the East End and prided herself on
speaking her mind with the unvarnished frankness of the eighteenth
century.

Charles James Clarke herself was a timid, handsome lady dressed in
floating black robes, and with pre-Raphaelite reddish-gold hair,
who was passionately fond of classical music and absorbed in the
study of Russian, which she was learning so as to read Turgenev,
her favourite author, in the original.  She received C. kindly.
She knew his Aunt Fanny and remembered having seen him as a little
boy at one of his aunt's musical afternoons.  They still went on,
did they not?  C. confessed that he did not care for classical
music.

"You are a Wagnerite, I suppose, like all the rest of us," said
Mrs. Horridge with a sigh.

"We're all going to Bayreuth next year," said Mr. Horridge
cheerfully.  "You'd better come with us.  We're learning up the
motifs," and here he hummed something faintly resembling the sword
motive.

Charles James Clarke's new book was mentioned.  The reviews were
pouring in.  They had been highly complimentary.  The Times had
given the book a whole column, and the Speaker had said that
Charles James Clarke was the most subtle English novelist since
George Meredith.  C. sat between Miss Launceston, who knew his
family well and talked of them, and a Mrs. Leonard, who was a queen
in the modern painting world, and a patron of impressionist
artists.  She took little notice of C.

C. came away greatly disappointed.  Instead of having effected an
entry into the magic world of art, he had been immersed into the
very atmosphere he was pining to escape from, and in a less
pleasant setting.  However, he was perhaps to succeed better a
little later, or at least to try again.

His old friend, Lady Harriet Clive, asked him to luncheon on
another Sunday, and there he met Mr. Leslie Goldsmith, who was the
senior partner in the old publishing firm of Ludgate & Sons.
Leslie Goldsmith was pouring new wine into the old bottles of the
firm as hard as he could.  He was publishing novels translated from
the Swedish, the Spanish, and the Dutch, and verse by young
writers, and a magazine called the Curlew, with startling
illustrations and a cover designed by a revolutionary A.R.A.  He
asked C. to look in one evening the following week at his house in
Cheyne Walk.

C.'s heart beat faster when he received this invitation.  He felt
that at last he was going to enter the magic portals.  He entered
them when the appointed day came about ten o'clock, and found
himself in a large, square, empty room papered with brown paper.
On the walls were a few etchings by Whistler and a sketch by Degas.
There was not a trace of a book anywhere.  The room was crowded
with a heterogeneous collection of men, some of them in velvet
smoking jackets, some of them in tweeds, some in frock coats; all
of them in day clothes, and most of them smoking pipes.  One burly
man had a black-and-red check necktie round his collarless neck.

Mr. Leslie Goldsmith was an alert, dark little man with a quick,
beady eye.  He gesticulated, as he talked, like a foreigner.  He
greeted C. immediately, and presently introduced him to a man whose
name C. did not catch.  He was a middle-aged baldish man, with
something scholarly about him, but he did not altogether suggest a
scholar.  He wore spectacles and seemed to be looking on at the
world from a remote post of observation.  He talked to C. amiably
and pleasantly, with a cynicism that was not bitter and a
condescension that was evidently assumed.  He told C. who the
people were.

"The man with the flannel scarf is a footballer.  He plays Rugby
football very well.  He also writes verse.  I can't tell you what
it's like; I've never read it.  I seldom read any verse.  In any
case, it's no good reading verse when it's new.  You must keep it,
like wine.  If it hasn't gone bad in twenty years, if it still
exists after twenty years in the cellar, it's perhaps worth trying.
But there are plenty of poets about now, because poetry apparently
pays.  That is so, isn't it, Goldsmith?"

Goldsmith had come to see how they were getting on.

"Yes," said Goldsmith; "the modern poets, too, are admirable men of
business.  You must get rid of all the old-fashioned ideas on that
subject."

"Perhaps," said C.'s new acquaintance, "that means not that poets
have learnt to become good men of business, but that good men of
business have learnt to write bad verse."

Goldsmith laughed.

"You mustn't say that before Harrison," he said, and he darted off
to another group.

"Are there a lot of poets here to-night?" asked C.

"A lot.  But they don't all look like poets.  Besides the
footballer, that little man with a large head and serious eyes,
like a wise owl, is a poet, but I'm not sure whether he writes in
English or only in Latin--possibly in Hebrew.  That very pale man
sitting on the edge of the sofa is an etcher, and is said to be
very clever.  The man in a frock coat who looks like a City man is
a poet too.  Some one must be paying him a compliment, because he
is visibly bridling."

They had talked on various subjects for about ten minutes; the
stranger continued to banter C. lightly, and talk to him as if he
were absurdly young, but not in an offensive way, and C. enjoyed
the conversation.  It amused him; it was the last thing he had
expected at Goldsmith's house, but it was different from anything
he had as yet experienced.  Presently the stranger said:--

"I must be going home.  I can't introduce you to any one because I
know no one."

He slipped away, and Goldsmith, at once noticing that C. was left
alone, drew him into a group which was at the time being dominated
by the man who the stranger had said was an etcher.

The other members of the group were a rather tall man with vague
blue eyes and fair bright hair that stuck out round his head and
reminded C. of the pictures of Swinburne, Goldsmith himself, and a
dark, saturnine man who was smoking an enormous pipe.

They were discussing Zechetti.  The dark man said he preferred
Zechetti to Lapara.  She had more charm for him.

"She never walks through her part.  She never imitates herself, and
one cannot help falling in love with her."

"I prefer Lapara," said the etcher, who looked, on closer
inspection, emaciated and worn in spite of his great youth.  C.
thought he must be consumptive.  "There is something to me drab and
dull and prosaic about Zechetti.  I feel no thrill when I see her,
whereas when Madeleine stalks on to the stage in Fedora, or any
part, looking gorgeous and strange, like a tired peacock, then I am
carried away."

"They are both women of genius," said the fair-haired man.

Goldsmith asked C. what he thought.

"I like Lapara best," said C., blushing and feeling incapable of
explaining why.

The group split up again.  A little man with spectacles joined in
and began rather fiercely to dogmatise on the French stage.
Goldsmith led C. into the next room and offered him a whisky and
soda.

C. took the opportunity of asking him who the people were he had
been introduced to.

"The man I introduced you to first," said Goldsmith, "is Johnstone-
Craye.  He's been in the Home Office for years.  The man sitting on
the edge of the sofa is Basil Lee, the etcher.  He's a genius, but
his lungs are bad.  The tall, fair man is Walter Mason, the poet.
I'm bringing out a new book of his next week.  It is to be called
'Silver Woodways.'  A good title, and Lee has designed a wonderful
cover.  The large paper edition on India paper has been sold out
before publication.  The dark man is Jeremy Lowe, also a Civil
servant.  He has done me a book of essays on Spanish Cities--very
fine.  We are going to call it 'Pomegranates from Granada.'"

In the next room there was another group of men, in the centre of
which was the little man with the large head.  "That's George Bede,
the poet," whispered Goldsmith.  The group were discussing French
poetry.  A man with a silken beard and a suave, refined utterance
was saying that French poetry was never on the first line.  "No
French verse affects," C. heard him say, "my sensorium in the same
way as Goethe, or Dante, or Shakespeare at their finest."

Bede protested, and quoted some lines of Victor Hugo.

"Yes, very pretty," said the man with the beard.  The argument
proceeded with quick, short attack and counter-attack, and the man
with a beard launched into a short monologue.  C. could not catch
all of it, but he heard the final sentence--". . . English, German
and Italian poetry so incomparably above French is the co-
ordination into a total mood as distinguished from the charm of
metaphors or descriptions."

After a little more argument Bede said that he was certain Victor
Hugo was one of the greatest poets of all time, and a wonderful
painter.

"So was Byron," said the man with a beard.

"Oh, Byron," said Bede, "he's dead."

Bede, C. reflected, seemed a frail and anmic creature, compared
with even the thought of Byron.  He thought of Professor Kaufmann
saying that Tennyson was a dwarf beside Byron, who was a giant.  If
Tennyson was a dwarf, what was Bede?

"Burstall," some one said, "says that in thirty years' time there
will be a great Byron revival."

"Poor Burstall," said the man with a beard.  The mention of
Burstall's name had been like an electric shock to C.  He felt
himself tingling all over.

Bede, apparently tired of the discussion, walked into the next
room.  The group dissolved.  C. told Goldsmith that he was afraid
he ought to be going home.  Goldsmith led him to the door.  Several
of the guests had gone home.  C. asked the name of the man with a
beard.

"That," said Goldsmith, "is Arnholm, the art critic."

Goldsmith said good-bye to him, and said C. must have luncheon with
him at his club, the Gainsborough Club in Dover Street.  He had
luncheon there every day.

On the doorstep he met Bede.  Bede asked him which way he was going
and, as they were going in the same direction, proposed that they
should go home together.  C. felt a little shy, but he consented,
nevertheless.

On the way back, as they were passing through St. Leonard's
Terrace, Bede said, "I live here, come in a moment.  I'm not going
to bed.  I am really only just up.  I only live at night."

He led C. upstairs into a little room full of books.  He poured him
out some whisky and they both sat down.  He asked C. about his life
and education.  They talked of Oxford.  Bede had been a Cambridge
man.  They compared impressions.  C. told him how bitterly he
regretted having gone down so soon.  Rome was mentioned.

"Are you a Catholic?" asked Bede.

"No," said C., and the question, bringing as it did thoughts of
Beatrice, hurt him.

"I'm nothing--"

"Of course not, if you're not a Catholic," said Bede.  "There is
either that or nothing.  There is no third course."

"And one can't very well BECOME a Catholic," said C.

"Why not?" asked Bede.

C. stammered and did not answer; what he was thinking was that
converts always seemed to him rather tiresome, and never quite the
same as real Catholics; but then he reflected that Bede was very
likely a convert himself, so he refrained from saying anything.  It
was not, however, necessary, for Bede poured out a stream of
argument and exposition to the effect that Catholicism was the
great reality; the only thing that mattered; the only thing that
counted; the only creed a thinking man could adopt; the only solace
that satisfied the needs of the human heart; the only curb to the
human passions; the only system that fulfilled the demands of human
nature and into which factors such as love and death fitted
naturally; the unique and sole representative of the Divine upon
earth.  The English had gone wrong because they had fallen into a
rut from the straight road of their true inheritance: Catholic
England, Chaucer's England, to which the whole of Shakespeare's
work was the dirge.

"But do you believe it all?" asked C.

"You are in a muddle about the meaning of the word belief.  You use
the word belief in the sense of thinking something is probable or
improbable in itself.  When we say we believe in a dogma, we mean
we are giving credit to something which is guaranteed to us by the
authority of the Church.  Religious belief is a mystery and an
adventure.  But if, like Pascal, you wish to bet on it, you have
nothing to lose if it turns out not to be true, whereas the other
way round--"

"I should hate to do it from fear.  I have the greatest contempt
for death-bed repentances; for men who have blasphemed and rioted
all their lives, and then at the last moment have sent for a
priest--"

"That means you are not a Christian, that is to say not a Catholic.
(Catholicism IS Christianity.  It's the same thing--and nothing
else is.)  Well, Christianity is the religion of repentance: it
stands against fatalism and pessimism of every kind mainly in
saying _that a man can go back, even at the eleventh hour_.  A man
may quite well hold the opposite opinion and die nobly, stoically--
heroically, if you will--but he is NOT A CHRISTIAn if he does so--"

"I don't want to be a Christian, and I must go," said C.  They had
been talking for over two hours.

Bede walked downstairs with him into the street.  They passed a
cabman's shelter.  Bede peeped in and bade C. do the same.  At the
table, with a cup of coffee in front of him, a little pale man was
scribbling in a notebook.

"That's Henry Dixon, the poet," Bede whispered.  "We mustn't
disturb him; he's writing."

Bede left C. at the corner of the street.



CHAPTER XXX


It was thus that C. entered the portals into the literary world.
He wondered as he left Bede whether he would ever see any of these
people again.  He did not have to wonder long, for the next
morning, as he was walking to the chambers in the Temple where he
worked, he passed the British Museum, and just in front of the
entrance he met Johnstone-Craye, the first person whom he had been
introduced to at Goldsmith's party.  Johnstone-Craye greeted him
with a chuckle, and said to him:  "You had better come in here with
me; it will be good for your mind."  C. followed him into the
Museum, and Johnstone-Craye led him to a marble bust, a Greek head
with a broken nose.

"In thirty years' time you will be able to appreciate that," he
said.  He then led him to another bust, which was still more
dilapidated.  "And perhaps when you are sixty--mind you, I only say
PERHAPS, you will be able to appreciate THAT."

They then left the building.  Johnstone-Craye had to go to his
office, and C. to the Temple.

C. met Goldsmith frequently during the next months.  He was
proposed by him as a member to the Gainsborough Club, and elected.
There he met Walter Mason, Basil Lee and others, but he did not
become intimate with any of them.  Bede, who had interested him
most, he did not see again; for the time being he had, he heard,
left London and gone to live in the country.  C. asked Goldsmith if
he knew Burstall.  Goldsmith knew him, but had no idea as to his
present whereabouts; he had, he thought, quarrelled with his wife
and started on a prolonged voyage to the South Seas.  After the
evening spent at Goldsmith's one of the first things C. did was to
buy the works of some of the poets he had met.  They rather
disappointed him.  And it was after reading their works more than
after meeting the authors in the flesh that he thought that he had
not yet come across a circle of men such as Shelley, Keats and
Coleridge.

He felt less inclined for further adventure, but, nevertheless, he
would not yet admit to himself that he was disappointed in the
literary world.  What if there was no Shelley or Keats at present
in London, yet all these people were interested in interesting
matters; they were interested in intellectual and artistic
problems, in ideas.

Concurrently with this thread which led him from time to time to
Goldsmith's house, to the Gainsborough Club, and sometimes to the
Caf Royal with Mason and others, his life with his family went on
in the same rut as before.  Twice a week he dined with his sister
Marjorie in Eaton Place.  Julia was away, and was staying in the
country till after Christmas.  But the only real intimacy which he
experienced was that which he enjoyed with his Oxford friends, with
Malone and Wright.  He spent Christmas in London with his mother.
Julia had asked them to stay with her in the country, but Lady
Hengrave did not wish to go to a large party, and C. pleaded the
necessity of work.  On Christmas Eve he and his mother dined with
Marjorie and her husband, where they met his eldest brother and his
wife.  Soon after Christmas, C. met Blades, who asked him to dinner
with his people.  There he saw another facet of the intellectual
world: the Bishop of Christminster, who had just published the last
volume of his brilliant history of the Dukes of Athens; William
Farren, who directed archological research in Rome, rarefied,
remote and silent; Hodgkinson, the critic, amiable and acute, witty
and gay; and a Mrs. Airlie--enthusiastic, but pointed and critical--
who had read all the latest French novelists and poets.  Nothing
but literature and books was discussed.

"I suppose you never read novels," Mrs. Airlie said to the Bishop.

"I read little else," the Bishop replied.

Modern writers were discussed: the forthcoming production of a play
by William George, the novelist, at one of the West End theatres,
of which great things were expected.

"But will it be a success?" asked Mrs. Blades plaintively.  Having
been a Liedersngerin she knew the surprises of the footlights.

"It MUST be a success," said Hodgkinson.

A comedy by Maude, the notorious Irishman, which had just been
produced, was mentioned.  Mrs. Hodgkinson said it was so curious he
should have written a goody-goody play.  Mrs. Airlie said all his
epigrams were stolen from other people and his technique stolen
from the French.  The Bishop remarked that he wondered more
playwrights didn't steal their technique from the French.  A
poetical play was about to be produced, and the author, a young
Cambridge poet, had read his play aloud to William Farren and his
wife a little time ago.

"Is it in blank verse?" asked Mrs. Airlie, with sympathetic
interest.

"Well, it's blank--" said Farren.

"William is so naughty," said Mrs. Farren.

Ibsen was mentioned.  A hot discussion ensued.  The Bishop could
not abide Norwegian literature.  Hodgkinson made every one laugh by
describing how another Norwegian poet had mistaken at his house
General George, who had just returned from a victorious expedition
against the hill tribes in India, for William George, the shy
psychological novelist.  C. was sitting between Mrs. Farren (an
American and ultra-cultivated), and Mrs. Airlie, so he could not
complain of the conversation not being literary.  Mrs. Farren
talked to him incessantly of the adventures of her soul among
masterpieces--of Rome, Florence, American architecture, and the
sins of Italian archologists.  Mrs. Airlie patronised him, and
when he ventured to say that he did not appreciate Russian novels
and couldn't read Tolstoy, she said:  "It's a very good thing for
the young not to have good taste."

After dinner, the Bishop and Hodgkinson held the table.  Style was
discussed and young Edmund Blades staggered the company by saying
that he thought the two worst living stylists were Stevenson and
Pater.  His father said that the habit of paradox was becoming a
positive disease in young England, but Edmund Blades stuck to his
point, and Farren, to the surprise of everybody, said he thought
the boy was quite right.  Hodgkinson said it was a comfort the
young should admire anything.  C. took no part in the discussion.
But when Farren asked him point-blank what French prose writer he
most admired, and he answered Renan, Farren became interested and
they discussed Renan's works, which C. was saturated with at the
moment.  From French they got on to English literature.  C. spoke
to Farren of the so-called renascence that was supposed to be
taking place in English verse, and asked him if he thought there
were many first-rate English poets alive.  Farren said he thought
that among the more modern younger men there were only three who
wrote good verse, and of these two were Irishmen.  There were some
good poets alive, but they belonged to a much older generation.

"They say that Byron's work is dead," said C.  "Do you believe
that?"

"I think," said Farren, "that Byron is one of the greatest of
English writers, the greatest English poet of the nineteenth
century, that the sweep of his wings was larger and stronger,
although Shelley had as much genius and a greater mind.  But I can
tell you one thing.  Those young men can say what they like, but
there is not one of them who would be sorry if he found that by
accident he had written one of Byron's even second-best lines."

English poetry led them back to French poetry.  Farren scoffed at
the want of appreciation of French verse in England, just as
Burstall had done.  "They might just as well say the Persians had
no poetry," he said.  C. asked him if he knew Burstall.  "Yes, I
have met him," he said.  "Very brilliant, but he's wasted his
gifts.  He's frittered away his intellectual capital in the
newspapers."  He had no idea where he was.

When the men went up into the drawing-room, after some pressing
Mrs. Blades consented to sing.  She accompanied herself.  She sang
a setting to the words of Byron:--


     So we'll go no more a-roving.


"And they say," said Farren, when she had finished, "that the man
who wrote those lines is not a poet."

It was the words more than the music or the singing that struck C.,
for Mrs. Blades's voice was long past its prime, and at its best
she had been more remarkable for taste than for inspiration.  But
she was much applauded.  Only, as she knew that some of her guests
were restive under music, she refused the encore that was asked of
her.

She talked a little to C. and asked after Mrs. Roden and his Aunt
Fanny, and wondered she had not seen him at her musical
entertainments.  C. confessed that he was unworthy of difficult
music.  Mrs. Blades smiled tolerantly.  Mrs. Airlie again looked at
him patronisingly, as if she were once more approving of bad taste
in the young, and then C. went home.

Three nights later he dined with his brother, Edward.  Bramsley had
been let, and Hengrave House also, for the moment.  The new Lord
Hengrave was living in a small house in Grosvenor Place.

It was a small dinner party--one or two Members of Parliament and
an American relation of his sister-in-law who had come to London
for the first time.  The new Lady Hengrave patronised her, and when
the coffee was served, offered her a cigarette, saying, "Oh! we all
smoke here now."

After dinner C. found himself with the Members of Parliament.  They
were discussing some legal Bill with which an eminent lawyer had
had something to do.  His name was Sir William George.  At one
moment some one said, "It was very foolish of William George to
behave like that," and C. thought they meant William George the
novelist, whose play had been produced two nights before, and after
the performance of which there had been a fracas caused by the
appearance of George himself, who took his call.

"It wasn't his fault," said C., joining in the conversation.  "They
made him appear."  He was full of the topic, and thought the whole
of London was thinking of nothing else.

"He doesn't mean him," said Edward impatiently.  "We're talking of
the House of Lords."

C. felt deeply ashamed of himself and realised in a flash how
little one half of the world knows what the other half are talking
about, and he felt that he was condemned to the half which
interested him the least.

A little later, upstairs in the drawing-room, they did discuss
books: the newest books of the day, an English novel by a well-
known novelist.  C. was asked whether he had read it.  He said no,
but that he had read a story by the same author, alluding to one of
his earlier works.

"Oh, but that's quite OLD," said young Lady Hengrave with the
utmost disdain, and in a manner as if it were a disgrace to mention
something that was not brand new.  Again C. felt that he had
committed a solecism.  And yet, he thought, why should one not
mention a story just because it had been out a few years?  Here was
a difference between this world and the new literary world into
which he had just peeped.  In the literary world, at least, you
could mention a book of any epoch, it did not matter if it was old
or out of date.  You would find response.  Here it was looked upon
as a blot and a sign of being behind the times, which, apparently,
was unforgivable.  Truly the values of the two worlds were
different, and C. felt saddened, not by this discovery, that such
values can be and are different, which he had, indeed, made years
before, but by the sense that the new world, which he had so longed
for, had not after all proved quite so radiant as he had expected.
But he consoled himself with the thought that he HAD enjoyed his
conversation with Johnstone-Craye and Farren, and that he had made
the acquaintance of Bede.  There were others, too, whom he might
get to know in time.

At any rate the new world was alive.  Books were being written and
pictures were being painted by people who were keen and young.
There was a world, which was in touch with realities, even if it
possessed less glamour than he had expected it to have.  One day
Goldsmith asked him to luncheon to meet a very famous author and
scholar whose fine, witty work in criticism and whose grave,
melancholy verse he had admired even when he was at Eton.  The
luncheon took place, as usual, at the Gainsborough Club, and there
were several authors present: a successful writer of romance, a
French novelist, and the editor of one of the evening newspapers.
C. sat next to the Frenchman, who was delighted to find some one
who could speak French without an entirely English pronunciation.
C. suddenly remembered that the author whom he had been longing to
meet, namely, Angus Cole, was one of the many to whom Calmady had
written from Eton, and C. also remembered he had on one occasion
been persuaded by Calmady to append his signature with Calmady's to
a letter, lyrical in enthusiasm, that had been sent to Cole.  He
was so appalled by this recollection that he did not dare say a
word to the object of his hero-worship.

He needn't have worried.  Angus Cole had probably entirely
forgotten the incident, and even if he had remembered it he would
never have connected it with C. at this moment.

C. listened to the conversation of his hero with the writer of
romance.  The latter asked Cole's advice as to whether it would be
wise to write a sequel to a romance which had lately been
published, and which had been a great success.  Cole was against
it.  He said sequels were never quite satisfactory, even the best
of them.

"I should leave your hero and heroine in their kingdom and think of
something else."

"I expect you're right," said the novelist, but C. felt that he was
determined to write the sequel, and he was right, for the sequel
appeared a year later, and was just as successful, and deservedly
so, as the first book.  "I wonder why people ask for advice,"
thought C. to himself, "when it is quite obvious that they do not
mean to take it."



CHAPTER XXXI


The Rodens had taken a house at Florence for Easter and longer.
They had taken it for two months.  It was a large palace on the
Lung' Arno, and they asked C. to come and stay with them.  Towards
the end of March he had not been well again and had a sharp attack
of influenza, and the doctor said that a change of air would do him
good, so he accepted the invitation with alacrity.

The Rodens were there, their two daughters, and Hester Carteret.
Wright had been sent to Florence to rub up his Italian, and the
Rodens had made him move from a pension to their house.

C. arrived at Florence just before Easter and found the city
basking in sunshine and sweet with the smell of flowers.  They
spent the mornings doing the sights and the afternoons in
expeditions to Fiesole and other places.  The sight of the Tuscan
country in the spring was a revelation to C.  The wild tulips, the
blossom, the brown hills, the young corn, the early roses, the
burning April sun, the delicate shapes of the budding trees, the
clean and coloured buildings seen through the "live translucent
air, as the sights in a magic crystal ball," were a wonderful
solace and a divine surprise after long months spent in the gloom
of a cold and foggy London winter.  The sights of Italy and the
sound of the Italian language brought back the nightmare of Rome to
him, and the thoughts of Beatrice indeed, but no longer with actual
pain.  He felt as if he had been dead and were gradually coming to
life again.  He felt he could no longer enjoy himself as before, as
in the Oxford days, but nevertheless, unbeknown to himself,
something was sprouting inside him and his youth was reasserting
itself.  He was, as the doctors say, mending.  From Hester Carteret
he heard news of Beatrice.  She had attended the wedding.  After
the wedding the Fitzclares had gone to Ireland for their honeymoon.
Later on they had gone to Egypt, where Vincent Fitzclare had
business to transact, and thence they returned to Paris.  C. asked
a few questions about him.  He was, it appeared, the only son of an
Irish squire, but he had an uncle who owned mines in Yorkshire and
was immensely rich.  This uncle was childless and was expected to
leave everything to his nephew.  C. asked what kind of man was this
Vincent Fitzclare.  Hester Carteret said she really didn't know.
He was good-looking and was said to be doing very well in his Paris
business, which was important and lucrative.  Beyond that she knew
nothing.  She had merely shaken hands with him at the wedding.  C.
could talk about it quite calmly now.  It seemed to him to have
happened infinitely long ago.

There were a great many English visitors at Florence that year, and
the Rodens entertained frequently.  Wright spent all his mornings
studying Italian and working at his other subjects.  In the
afternoon he and C. would sometimes go for long walks to San
Miniato, to Careggi, to Fiesole, to Bellosguardo, or drive to La
Gamberaia and other picturesque places.

They went for a short expedition by themselves to Perugia, where
they spent a few days, and visited Assisi.  When they returned they
found Florence was fuller than ever.  The first person C. met the
day after his return was an old acquaintance, Lady Ralph
Dallington.  She had taken an apartment for a month in the Borgo
San Jacobo and she asked C. to luncheon the next day and told him
to bring Wright.

When they got there they found the lofty salone full of guests.
Some of them C. knew already.  Agoura, one of the Secretaries of
the Russian Embassy at Rome, two Italians whom he had met at the
Rodens' already, one of them a young man and the other a lady who
was one of the beauties of Florence, and an old Russian lady with
an unpronounceable name.  The first person C. was introduced to was
Mrs. Bucknell.  She was there with her husband, who was in the
English Foreign Office.  There was also present another Englishman,
a neat, little, dark, dapper, well-dressed, nice-looking man with
soft eyes, to whom C. was introduced.  His name was Sir Wilfrid
Clay, Bart.--a Leicestershire family.  At luncheon C. sat between
an Italian lady, Countess Montecchi, and an elderly Miss Brooke,
who possessed a lovely villa, and who was one of the permanent
features of the English colony in Florence.  He wondered where he
had seen Countess Montecchi before, and then it flashed suddenly
into his mind.  She was the Miss Burke he had heard sing at Vegas'
studio in Paris.  He remembered what Madame Orioli had said about
her.  Her prophecy had proved quite correct.  She had not gone far
in art, but she had made un beau mariage dans le monde.  Her
husband was not there.  How different she looked, thought C., in
spite of her being the same woman.  She was dressed with a
simplicity which can only be achieved by great wealth, but that was
not the only change.  She no longer looked English.  She looked
like an Italian, and she spoke like an Italian, without any effort
or pose or pretence, but with perfect naturalness and ease.  Mrs.
Bucknell was sitting on the other side of the table to C., between
an Italian and Agoura.  C. had felt a slight shock on being
introduced to her, as he recognised her as being, firstly, the
Leila whom he had played with in Hamilton Gardens, and, secondly,
the lady who had not recognised him at Stuart House.  However, she
smiled at him very graciously on this occasion, and introduced him
to her husband.  While he was carrying on a stereotyped
conversation with Miss Brooke about the visitors at Florence this
year, the sights, the gardens, and what one ought to see, and what
one ought not to see, he watched Mrs. Bucknell.  She was, he
thought, beautiful; much more beautiful than he remembered her to
be.  She was really small and short, but, although nobody would
have called her tall, nobody would have classed her in the category
of the tiny, delicate Dresden china shepherdess type, in spite of a
china-like delicacy there was about her.  She was so well
proportioned that she looked just the right height, and on the
stage she would probably have seemed as tall as Ellen Terry.  She
was dressed in black, and she wore a large bunch of fresh yellow
roses.  There was something plaintively delicate about her little,
slightly pouting face, something liquid and appealing in her eyes,
something in the extremely rare texture and whiteness of her skin,
and in the elegance of her line and the finish of her beautifully
modelled hands that seemed to make you want to take her away, and
put her out of reach of the rough possibilities of the world, and
to guard her in a crystal shrine.  One could not bear the thought
that she might be buffeted or damaged or ruffled in any way.  C.
compared her with the other women present in his mind, with his
neighbour who was undoubtedly a real beauty--a face for painters to
rave about--and with another, a real Italian, who was sitting
opposite him.  They had the more obvious attributes of beauty,
whereas Mrs. Bucknell's beauty was far less easy to define, grace
was so important a part of it, and undefinable lines and curves,
the ripple and changing lights of the chestnut hair under the large
black hat, the slanting downward look of the eyes, the very long
lashes--was it these that seemed to spread a powdery light, a kind
of star-dust over the eyes? or were there in the eyes themselves
specks of a golden colour, for what colour were they?  C. had
always thought of Leila, as a little girl, as having violet eyes,
but now he could not tell, they were like that strange gem, the
Alexandrite, which is violet in the daytime but which at night, and
at certain times, changes its colour and reveals sudden golden
glints, so that C. thought of the title of one of Balzac's stories,
La fille aux yeux d'or.

Undefinable, too, the nose, turned up without being short, and the
way the head was poised on the neck, like the bell of a proud
flower, but what flower? thought C.  What flower was she like?  A
golden flower.  But where was it to be found, and where did it
grow?  In what forbidden field, "in what hidden way," in what
secret high-walled garden?  It was, perhaps, he thought, a strange
flower that men seek for all their lives, and never find, the
hopeless quest of fairy princes; it haunts the dreams of poets, and
teases the brush of artists, and dances before the blank score of
the brooding musician, for ever just out of reach.

C. remembered a line of Greek verse he had read at Oxford which
said, "I have a fair daughter, Cleis the beloved, in aspect like a
golden flower."  What flower was that?  What had the Greek poetess
been thinking of, something fabulous and out of reach in Elysium,
or in the garden of the Hesperides, or something exquisitely
common, like the yellow poppy or the saffron crocus?

Soon his other neighbour claimed his attention.  C. recalled the
party in the studio to her, and she laughed and told him about her
youth in Paris, and how she had dreamt of being a great opera
singer, and how the masters had ended by telling her that she had
not a shadow of talent, but might accomplish something by immense
hard work.  It had been a series of disappointments, but great fun,
and now it seemed so far away.

C. detected a slightly wistful note in her voice.  He wondered
whether she regretted it, and he wondered what her husband was
like.  He wasn't there.  She asked him to come and see her.  "Come
to djeuner any day you like; we live in a large, hideous Palazzo
in the modern part of the town, near the tram line."  They talked
of the improvements that were being made in Florence, the threat
that was in the air of the whole of the old houses on this side of
the Lung' Arno being pulled down.

"Foreigners are so tactless about these things," said Miss Brooke;
"they talk of Florence and Rome as if it was their country, and, of
course, that irritates the Italians."

"Yes, that is true," said the Russian lady, who had caught the
topic, "but when you Italians," she said, addressing Mrs.
Bucknell's neighbour, whose name was Scalchi, "say you are making
these improvements to attract and please us foreigners, I wish
personally to make a protest, and to say, 'Don't bother to do it
for me.  I am quite happy without an arcade at Florence.'"

"Ah! you are an Italian--more Italian than any of us," said
Scalchi.

Lady Ralph, on the other hand, told her Italian guests quite
plainly that she had no patience with what they did to their towns.

"You all want to make an artificial and second-rate Paris," she
said, "and you can't do it."

Miss Brooke got red in the face with anger, and said the Italians
had a perfect right to do what they liked with their own cities,
and that it was most impertinent of foreigners, especially a
foreigner who lived in Italy, to interfere and to criticise.

"But you, too, are an Italian," said Scalchi.  "Too Italian to
judge."

"More Italian than any of us," said the dark Italian lady.

"Miss Brooke speaks such wonderful Italian."

After luncheon they walked out on to a large, shady loggia, and
drank coffee and green Certosa.  C. had hoped that he might find
himself next to Mrs. Bucknell, but Sir Wilfrid Clay absorbed her
attention.  Lady Ralph talked to C., and asked him after his mother
and his sisters, and his aunt.  "Your mother ought to spend the
winter in Rome," she said, "next year.  I'm sure it would be good
for her and that she would like it.  You've given up diplomacy?  I
suppose it's a pity, or that I ought to say I think it's a pity,
but I don't.  I think diplomacy is an awful life.  I oughtn't to
say that before Agoura, but he's used to me and doesn't mind.  I
congratulate you.  What are you going to do instead?  The Bar?
That's interesting, but dreadfully difficult--you'll become one of
those K.C.'s who are dreadfully clever and cross-examine people,
but please don't develop into one of those funny judges who make
jokes and tell stories.  Let me give you one piece of advice: if
you want to get on in the world, NEVER tell a story.  Nothing is so
tiresome as a raconteur, and there's no such thing as a story one
hasn't heard before."

Mr. Bucknell joined the conversation.  He belonged rather to the
stiff than the smooth type of Foreign Office official.  He had
overheard Lady Ralph's conversation, and he said he was extremely
sorry to hear that C. had given up trying for the Diplomatic
Service.  He would have found life and the work extremely
interesting.

"I don't think I should ever have passed the examination," said C.

"The truth is," said Lady Ralph, "he has just confessed to me that
he didn't want to be an ambassador."

Mr. Bucknell snorted.  "There would probably be very little chance
of that," he said stiffly.

"If Mr. Bramsley speaks other languages as well as he speaks
Italian," said Scalchi, "it is a great pity he has not gone into
the Diplomatic Service."

"Ah, you speak Italian?" said Bucknell.  "That's always useful,
although nowadays Spanish is more useful, as so much business is
done in Spanish.  And, of course, if you had learnt Russian you
would get an extra hundred a year.  It's not yet too late, you are
quite young, you will still have time to pass the examination.  I
think you will find it wiser to go on once you have begun."

"But I'm reading for the Bar," said C.

"Oh, the Bar!" said Bucknell, and he became stiffer than ever.

"The Russians are such wonderful linguists," said Lady Ralph.
"Look at Agoura."

While this conversation was going on Mrs. Bucknell and Sir Wilfrid
Clay had withdrawn to the end of the group, and their conversation,
which had been going on in an undertone, seemed to have increased
in pace, as if some divergence of opinion had occurred.  This was
perhaps the case, for it came to a sudden break.  Mrs. Bucknell
left Sir Wilfrid abruptly, and sat down next to Lady Ralph and C.

"No, alas! we're not staying on," she said in reply to a question
of Lady Ralph's.  "Terence has got to go back.  They get so little
leave, and they're so hard worked at the office.  Terence never
gets home till half-past seven and is often late for dinner.
Aren't you coming to London this summer?  What a pity!  Yes, we
live where we used to, the same poky little house in Upper Berkeley
Street.  You must come and see us when you are in London," she said
to C., smiling.  "I wish we were going to stay.  I dread the
thought of the whole summer in London.  The dinners and the balls
and the fearful rush.  Last summer was awful.  I had to go to Aix
to recover from it.  This year Terence has to go to Carlsbad.  Aix
is awful now, quite spoilt.  Everything is spoilt.  Good-bye,
dearest."  She kissed Lady Ralph on both cheeks.  "We've got to go;
we promised to meet my cousin Elsie at the Bargello."  She shook
hands with C., and gave him a melting smile.

"Usen't you to play in Hamilton Gardens years ago?" she asked.

"Yes," said C.  "I thought you didn't recognise me."

"I remember you perfectly, a little boy with curls and brown
holland knickerbockers.  We used to play flags.  I know your
brother Edward.  How are they all?  Well, I must go.  Don't forget
to come and see me."  She made for the door, but before going she
said she had one word to say to Lady Ralph, and they walked
together to the door, and their last farewell lasted for more than
five minutes.  Sir Wilfrid Clay walked after her, as if he wanted
to say something, but she took no notice of him at all.  She seemed
to talk through him, and she called her husband, and said they must
be going, as they were already late, as if he was being the cause
of the delay.

"What a good-looking boy that is," were her last whispered words to
Lady Ralph.  "Georgina Hengrave's son.  He is much better-looking
than his brother Edward, who has grown so fat.  It's funny, I
remember him a little boy with curls.  Well, goodbye, darling; and
if you do happen to come to London, don't forget us, and come to
luncheon any day.  Yes, we go to-morrow, alas! alas!  Good-bye."



CHAPTER XXXII


C. stayed at Florence till the middle of June.  He stopped, on his
way back to London, in Paris for a week, at the little hotel where
he had once stayed with Pelly.  Wright left Florence with him, and
they went together to see Lapara, who had just produced a poetical
play by a young poet.  C. was slightly disappointed with the
performance.  The poetry seemed to him stagy, and Lapara had hardly
anything to do.  In the interval after the first act he was
startled by suddenly catching sight of Beatrice.  She was sitting
with a party of people in the box next to the stage.  She had seen
him, and beckoned to him to come round.  After the second act he
went round to her box.  She was obviously pleased to see him.  She
introduced him to her party, which consisted of two elegant ladies
from the Argentine Republic.  They were friends of Vincent
Fitzclare.  C. was introduced to him also.  Beatrice asked him to
luncheon on the following day, but C. was going back to London,
and, having announced his arrival to Lady Hengrave, he did not dare
to change the arrangement.  They talked of the play, the acting,
Florence, Italy, and it seemed so strange to C.--as if they had
crossed one of the rivers of Death, and were talking in a new
world.  He was shocked by the great change in Beatrice's
appearance.  It was not that she had lost her looks, but the change
was in her expression.  C. had the impression that she had been
washed by oceans and oceans of salt tears.  She was just as
beautiful as she had been before, but the look of happy radiance,
as of apple blossom, had gone.

In the course of conversation she said, "You probably didn't hear
that I was rather ill for a time.  It is only three weeks ago that
I was allowed out, and this is the first time I have been to a play
for weeks."

Vincent Fitzclare was most amiable to C.  He was good-looking, a
little florid, with a certain Celtic volubility of language, and
melancholy eyes with a dangerous glint in them at times.  He made
on C. the impression of a not altogether reliable collie dog that
had the appearance of being well-bred, with a streak of something
not quite well-bred.

Beatrice talked and laughed as easily and as naturally as usual,
and begged C. to bring his friend round during the next entr'acte.

C. did so, and this time he found the box empty, save for Beatrice,
as Vincent Fitzclare and another male guest of his, who had arrived
in the meanwhile, had taken the Argentine ladies to the foyer.

Beatrice talked of the acting and the play.  She was, she said,
enjoying it greatly.  She asked C. after his family, and talked to
Wright about the Rodens, and they all three compared notes about
Florence.  C. asked her if she was coming to England.  "Perhaps,
later in the autumn," she said.  "We will probably have to go and
stay with Vincent's uncle.  We shan't stay in London."

She asked C. what he was doing, and was not surprised to hear that
he had given up all ideas of diplomacy.  Vincent Fitzclare came
back, and C. and Wright said good-bye.

The next day they returned to London.  This brief interview left C.
profoundly sad.  But the saddest thing about it was that he felt
incapable of feeling.  He had expected to suffer, and as it was he
felt perfectly numbed, as if his heart were dead.

When he arrived in London he found that his mother was being
greatly worried by the behaviour of her daughter-in-law, who had
made scenes about the removal of some of the bedroom furniture from
Hengrave House.  Lady Hengrave had refused to argue, discuss and
wrangle, and had told her daughter-in-law she could keep whatever
she chose.  Edward was apparently much distressed at his wife's
behaviour, but had no influence over her.  She would not hear of
Hengrave House being sold, and she vehemently urged the selling of
Bramsley rather than of the London house.  She had announced her
intention of doing up Hengrave House, and entertaining there next
year.  Edward did not want to sell Bramsley.  He managed to
temporise and to obtain a compromise for the moment.  It was let
for another six months, and no immediate decision was necessary.
Edward and his wife had violent quarrels on the subject.  She hated
the country as much as Edward disliked London.

"It is a pity," said Lady Hengrave to C. with a sigh, "that Edward
has married a vulgar little American."

Both C.'s sisters were in London.

Julia lived in Curzon Street, and seemed happy.  She had already a
one-year-old son and was expecting another baby.  Marjorie lived in
a large, dismal, pompous house in Eaton Place.  She had no children
and did not pretend to be happy.  She loathed her husband, who,
save for being antipathetic, gave her no cause for complaint, and
thus probably made matters worse.  Harry was in Ireland, but was
expected to come through London later.

C. called on the Carterets as soon as he arrived in London.  Lady
Elizabeth told him the news.  She was guarded in her references to
Beatrice, but she conveyed to him, nevertheless, that the marriage
did not seem to have been as satisfactory as was expected.
Beatrice had been very ill after a baby was born in April.  It had
died almost immediately, and this must have been a great sorrow for
Beatrice.  Mr. Lord was delighted, of course, and Mrs. Lord
accepted everything with patience, but--but--

"But what?" asked C.

"Well, they say he has violent outbursts of temper," she said.
"And some people say he drinks, and that he's very unfaithful.
That may be all gossip, he is certainly very well off and does well
in business."

Julia and Marjorie got C. some invitations to dances, but C.
refused to go.  They were boy and girl dances, and C. protested
that he knew no one.  He was wondering whether he would ever see
Mrs. Bucknell again.  She had told him to be sure to come and see
her, but he did not dare take such a step.

C. felt it difficult to settle down to work.  Malone's uncle had
died, leaving him a small legacy, and this had led him into
extravagance.  He had given up his rooms in Fetter Lane and had
taken rooms in Ryder Street.  He was supposed to be eating his
dinners.

Had he received the legacy six months sooner he would certainly
have married Cissy Tilden, but as it was they had violently
quarrelled about six months before his uncle's death and she passed
out of his life, not to come back.  Malone was doing nothing, and
C. followed his example; he had no wish at the present to make
adventures in the literary world and still less any desire to go
into the social world.  He spent his time dining with Wright and
Malone, going to various restaurants and theatres, and spending his
Sundays sometimes with the Carterets on the river, and sometimes
with the Rodens, who had returned from Florence.

It was at Mrs. Roden's he met Mrs. Bucknell again.  Mrs. Roden lent
her house one afternoon for an amateur concert in aid of a charity
and begged him to come.  He did.  For an amateur performance the
music was passable, and a celebrated actress recited The Last Ride
Together by Robert Browning.

After the concert was over there were strawberries and iced coffee
in the dining-room.

As C. walked into the dining-room the first person he saw was Mrs.
Bucknell.

She appeared to be delighted to see him, asked him when he had come
back, talked of Florence and Paris, and other things, but she did
not repeat the invitation she had made him at Florence.  She said
nothing about his coming to see her.

As she was going away she just asked him casually if he was going
to the Stuart House ball.

"No," said C.  "I'm not asked."

"Oh, that will be all right," and she said good-bye.

C. felt, as she left the room, that a ray of sunshine had gone with
her.  She had looked so cool in her fawn-coloured gown, a chain of
pearls round her neck and a large bunch of dark red carnations at
her waist; she had seemed so super-refined and delicate in that
crowd of rather faded, sthetic ladies, philanthropic spinsters,
and stately dowagers.

This fleeting vision danced in front of C. for the rest of the day.

The next day he received an invitation for Stuart House.  He told
his mother, and she said he must certainly go.  She was in mourning
and went nowhere.

He felt as he walked up the staircase of Stuart House that he was
years older than when he had entered the house two years before.
Everything seemed exactly the same as before, he knew hardly
anybody.  Not even his sisters were there, not even Lady Harriet
Clive.  He walked through the crowded rooms not admitting to
himself, but nevertheless hoping at the back of his mind, that he
would come upon Mrs. Bucknell.  He did at last catch sight of her.
She was dancing in the ballroom.  He stood for a moment in the
doorway.  He then caught sight of his sister-in-law coming towards
him, and he fled.  He went downstairs to a room in which there was
a buffet and refreshments, and there he found one or two men
friends--among others, Wright.  He then went up the staircase
again, and this time he found Mrs. Bucknell sitting in the gallery
with a tall young man who had a white gardenia in his buttonhole.
He wanted to ask her for a dance, but he did not dare.  As he was
hesitating, his sister-in-law caught him this time and introduced
him to a shy girl, whose first ball it was.  C. determined it would
be better to dance it than to sit out and he got through the dance
without doing very much damage.  When the dance was over, he
noticed that Mrs. Bucknell was dancing with Sir Wilfrid Clay, whom
he had met with her at Florence.  He despaired of ever getting a
word with her.  The Roden girls were there enjoying themselves
immensely.  They were both fair-haired, blue-eyed girls with
immensely high spirits and great simplicity.  The eldest, Alice,
came up to C. and told him she was so fearfully hungry and that
nobody suggested taking her down to supper.  He offered to do so at
once.

"Well, after this dance," she said.  "I am obliged to dance it,
and, if you like, I'll find you a partner."

"No, please don't," said C.  "I'll wait here."

After the dance was over they went down to supper.  At one of the
round tables Mrs. Bucknell was having supper with Wilfrid Clay.
The rest of the seats at that table were nearly all of them empty.
As C. and Alice Roden passed the table, Mrs. Bucknell made him an
almost imperceptible sign to sit down next to her, which he did.
She smiled at him quickly, and said, "How do you do?" and then went
on with her conversation with her neighbour.  Presently the table
began to fill up.  Mrs. Bucknell said a few words to C.  "I think
you treat your old friends very badly," she said.  "You have never
asked me to dance with you."

"You were always dancing," said C.

"I'm a little bit hurt--C.  Are you still called C.?"

C. blushed, and said it was so.  He looked at her admiringly.  She
was a dazzling vision in grey and silver, with silver lilies in her
hair, and she wore a large bunch of stephanotis on her shoulder.

Her neighbour showed signs of impatience, but Mrs. Bucknell took
little notice, and said to C.:  "Do you remember Hamilton Gardens?
I used to be so jealous because I thought you liked Freda better
than me.  You used to make me cry."

Wilfrid Clay, at that moment more impatient than ever, said
something about going upstairs.  Mrs. Bucknell and her partner left
the dining-room.  Before she left she turned back and said to C.,
"Come and see me any afternoon at 116, Upper Berkeley Street."

"Who is that?" said Clay as they walked upstairs.

"Oh, that's only a boy I used to know when we were children.  One
of the Bramsleys.  Lord Hengrave's son."

When C. took his partner back to her mother he noticed that Mrs.
Bucknell was again dancing with the young man with a gardenia in
his buttonhole, and he didn't get a chance of getting anywhere near
her.  He came across Wright, and they decided to go home.

"Come back to my rooms for a moment," said Wright.

They talked over the ball.  "I heard you being discussed," Wright
said to C.  "Some one asked an old lady who you were, and she,
after giving the facts said that you were a remarkable person, full
of promise; that you were going to be a writer and were very
clever.  When she mentioned your name it caught the attention of
that lady we met in Florence--Mrs. Bucknell--who was standing quite
close, and she at once began to listen with great interest to the
old lady's conversation."

"Oh!" said C.  "I used to know Mrs. Bucknell a long time ago, when
I was a child."

The London season was nearing its end.  The Eton and Harrow match
had come round once more, but C. did not go to it this year.  He
was thinking of Mrs. Bucknell and whether she really meant him to
go and see her.  One afternoon he did screw up his courage to go to
her house at six o'clock.  He rang the bell and waited with
expectant trepidation, and at one moment he almost ran away.  They
were a long time answering the bell, and he rang twice, and at last
a maid appeared, who said that Mrs. Bucknell had left the day
before for Carlsbad and would not be back in England until
September.  Lady Hengrave had been ordered to go to Bath by the
doctor for her rheumatism, and she was going there with her sister
Louisa; Mr. Dartrey was going there as well.  C. had been asked to
join a reading party consisting of Malone, Hallam, Wright, Wilfrid
Abbey, Blades, and some other Oxford men.

They were going there at once for a month to stay at a house near
Lynton which Blades had been lent.  C. decided that he certainly
did not want to stay in London any longer, and he accepted the
invitation.

C. enjoyed himself ecstatically at Lynton.  The dawn of a new life
seemed to be breaking.  He bathed, he rode ponies, he went out
sailing in a boat, he read books, he sat up all night talking with
Malone, Hallam and the others.  The days passed in a flash, but he
did no work whatsoever.  No more did the others.  They lived in a
little house at the top of a cliff, and every day they bathed in
the rocky sea.  Sometimes they spent the whole day on the moor, and
sometimes the whole day sailing.

C. began to take a keen interest in literature once more.  He began
to think of writing himself, and he was no longer overawed by the
criticism of Blades.  He realised that Blades was not infallible,
and it was a short step from thinking that, if he was not
absolutely right, it was just possible that he was absolutely
wrong.  C. even began to write a little verse, and he looked at
some of his old poems, written two years ago, which he had not
destroyed.  They seemed to him very bad.  One day he showed the
small typewritten sheaf of poems which he had preserved to Hallam,
to which he had added a new poem.  Hallam read them in silence, and
said nothing at the time.

An evening or two later they were all of them discussing what
constituted good or bad verse, and were talking of poets in
general.

"Nobody writes good poetry now," said Malone.

"Well," said Hallam, "I read a modern poem the other day, by a
young writer, that I thought frightfully good."

"Who by?" asked Blades.

"I forget his name, and I can't quote it, but it was good."  He
looked at C. as he said this.

"Who do you think is the best poet?" Wright asked Wilfrid Abbey.

"Homer," said Wilfrid.

"Yes; but the next best?"

"Shakespeare."

"All the same, it's all rot," said Wright, "to say there is no good
modern verse.  What about a line like this:--


     The wind of death's imperishable wing?"


"Rossetti," said Blades with a slight sniff.  "Just compare that
with this:--


     You, who men's fortunes in their faces read,
     To find out mine, look not, alas, on me."


"Is that Elizabethan?" asked Wright.  Hallam interrupted and said:
"Do you know this?"--


     It is not many miles to Mantua,
     No further than the end of this mad world."


Nobody knew, and Hallam said he had forgotten.

That conversation remained in C.'s mind and had a considerable
effect on him.  He knew now that Hallam had thought his poem good,
and from henceforth he knew that he would not care a pin for what
Blades or any one else might say.*


* One poem of C.'s which appears to belong to this period, although
it may have been written later, was found in Malone's papers:--


     A song is sighing in the breeze
       And in the wind to-night;
     Beyond the hills, across the seas,
       It calls to me:  "Take flight,
     And follow the soft singing breeze."

     Around me in the darkling air
       Its echoes call and float:
     Sad as a tear, soft as a prayer,
       And now a mocking note
     Is bidding me Beware.

     "Beware and pay no heed to me,"
       So sings the mocking tune;
     "Beyond the hills, beyond the seas,
       Beneath the phantom moon,
     There's worse than Death awaiting thee."

     O! Song, to peril I am blind,
       I'll wander o'er the earth;
     For I shall seek and I shall find
       The voice that gave thee birth;
     The lips that gave thee to the wind.



CHAPTER XXXIII


In September, after staying for a fortnight at the Rodens', C. came
back to London and resumed his legal studies, and continued to eat
his dinners at Gray's Inn.  His life slipped back into its old
groove; he saw a certain amount of his relations, and a great deal
of his Oxford friends.  He did not feel inclined for any fresh
venture into new worlds, literary or others.  One day, in November,
when he was walking down Bond Street, he met Mrs. Bucknell.

"I think it's too bad of you never to have been to see me," she
said.

C. stammered something.

"Well, come to luncheon to-morrow; you will find an old friend of
yours, Maud Dallington."

Mrs. Bucknell had an appointment at a hairdresser's, and went into
a shop.

The next day C. went to Mrs. Bucknell's house in Upper Berkeley
Street.  He was shown up into a rather small, crowded drawing-room,
where he found Mrs. Bucknell, Lady Ralph Dallington, and a Captain
Redford, whom C. recognised as being the young man with the
gardenia whom he had seen dancing with Mrs. Bucknell at Stuart
House, and a Mrs. Tryan, who was Mrs. Bucknell's eldest sister, and
who was about four years older than she was.  There was a great
resemblance between the two sisters, but the eldest sister,
although equally elegant, had none of the younger sister's beauty.

There was something rather dark about the house, especially about
the dining-room, in which there was a large, heavy mahogany
sideboard.  Over the chimney-piece there was a portrait in oils of
Mrs. Bucknell (just the head and shoulders), which at once caught
C.'s attention.  It was an amazingly competent, clever and bold
piece of work by a French artist, famous in Paris, but who had not
yet been heard of in London.  It gave an idea of her beauty and her
grace, but C. felt, nevertheless, that it was inexpressibly
inadequate and it seemed to lose all its life as he turned from it
to the reality, to Leila Bucknell herself, who looked more than
ever like a rare shining flower in this dark setting.  "She looks
always just right, whatever her surroundings," thought C.  And,
indeed, not even the nearest and severest friend of Mrs. Bucknell
would have denied her the talent of dress.  There was nothing
startling nor remarkable about her clothes; but she could not go
wrong, and her female friends said she knew exactly when and where
to put a pin; what to wear and what not to wear on every occasion,
and every day, not only taking the circumstances, but the weather
into consideration, and doing all this easily and almost
unconsciously.

On this occasion she was in harmony with the bright autumnal
weather, and her soft velvet jacket--"Mrs. Bucknell looked charming
in flame-coloured velour miroir trimmed with beaver," so "Miss
Maud" in Fashion described it--was of the colour of rowan berries
and trimmed with fur.

The room was full of white, yellow, and russet chrysanthemums and
the pears and the grapes on the dining-room table were magnificent.

C. sat between Mrs. Bucknell and Lady Ralph.  The latter was
passing through London on her way back to Rome.  She had been
spending two months in Scotland.  Mrs. Bucknell said that they had
been lent a house in Brighton for the next two months.

"Terence," she said, "hates London.  He would rather go up to the
office every day by train than live in London.  We are going there
next week.  You must come down one Sunday."

The Bucknells had no house in the country but they were often lent
a house.

All through luncheon C. could not take his eyes off Mrs. Bucknell.
He thought he discovered new beauty in her every time she spoke,
every time she lifted her eyebrows and turned her little head
towards him.

At the end of luncheon Lady Ralph said something about the
magnificence of the pears and how much one missed English fruit
abroad.

"Uncle Freddy Marryat always sends us fruit from Sillworth," Mrs.
Bucknell said.

She was extremely amiable to C.  She made him tell her everything
he had been doing.  How she envied him his life at Lynton!  They
had had a dreary autumn.  First of all a cure at Carlsbad, which
she hoped had done Terence good, and then a round of duty visits to
relations.  Terence was so fond of shooting, but they had had so
little this year.  She adored the country, but she got so little of
it.  She did not call staying with people living in the country.

Lady Ralph asked Mrs. Bucknell whether she would be likely to come
to Rome in the winter or the spring.  Mrs. Bucknell said it was
extremely unlikely.  They couldn't afford an apartment and it was
hardly worth while just spending a few days in Florence, as they
had done last year--the hotels were ruinous.

"How I envy you living in Rome, Maud!" she said, and a soft shadow
veiled her eyes.

"Dolce color d'oriental zaffiro," thought C.

"Don't envy me," said Lady Ralph, "I detest it.  I only live abroad
for economy's sake.  It is much cheaper if one lives there
regularly.  But, frankly, I hate the people.  There is not a soul
one really cares to be friends with."

"But you see such a lot of English people."

"The nice ones never stop.  I like Paris for a time, but I really
detest every other place abroad."

"I adore Paris, the shops, the restaurants," said Mrs. Tryan.

Captain Redford, too, put in a word for the Paris restaurants.

"I grant you the restaurants," said Lady Ralph.  "It's extraordinary
that there should be no such thing as a decent restaurant in
London."

"The new caf isn't bad," said Captain Redford, talking of a
restaurant that had just been opened.

"We dined there the other night," said Mrs. Bucknell, "and at the
next table to us there was that AWFUL woman, Cynthia May.  They
oughtn't to allow that sort of person to dine there."  Mrs. Tryan
and Lady Ralph joined in the chorus of indignation.  Cynthia May
was a leading light in the Demi-Monde, but she was not on the
stage.

Terence Bucknell asked C. whether he had changed his mind about the
Foreign Office.  C. said he had not.

"You are quite right," said Mrs. Bucknell smiling.  "I assure you
that to be in the Foreign Office is a slave's life.  I never see
Terence from morning till night, and when he comes back from the
office in the evening he is too tired to speak."

Terence Bucknell left in a hurry immediately after luncheon and
took a hansom back to the office.  Mrs. Bucknell said she was going
to a concert after luncheon.  It was a Saturday afternoon.  Eugene
Franck was playing at a Chopin recital and she never missed an
opportunity of hearing him play.  "He's the only man who understands
Chopin, I think," she said, and she looked serious--No, her eyes are
violet, thought C.

"You are, of course, musical like all your family.  Your aunt has
such beautiful music at her house."

C. had to disclaim once more the inheritance of his aunt's
knowledge and of his mother's taste in these things.

"I know all about you," said Mrs. Bucknell.  "Lady Harriet Clive
told me you know all about these things."

Captain Redford looked at C. with suspicion and hostility.  C. said
firmly that he was not at all musical and that he didn't know a
note of music.

"But you know all about books," said Mrs. Bucknell.  "I know," she
added mysteriously and smiled, and then changed the conversation so
as not to embarrass him.

"How tactful she is!" thought C.  "How understanding!"

Just as C. was going a messenger boy arrived with a note for Mrs.
Bucknell.  She read it.  "Wilfrid has missed his train," she said
to her sister; "how tiresome!"  She turned to C. and asked him
whether he would like to take her to the concert.  It was at St.
James's Hall.  He accepted with fervent alacrity.  The Chopin
recital turned out to be a ballad concert.

Helen Brunesi gave an impassioned rendering of Abide with Me and
some luscious settings to Persian Lyrics, and Eugene Franck played
Chopin sometimes so loudly that you feared for the instrument, and
sometimes so softly that he was almost inaudible.  C. enjoyed the
concert rapturously and he kept the programme as long as he lived.
He had marked on it the songs that Mrs. Bucknell preferred.

C. stepped along the streets with an elastic step that afternoon
after he had dropped Mrs. Bucknell at her house.  It was not owing
to any particular thing that Mrs. Bucknell had said to him, but he
felt, nevertheless, that he had been given a sip of nectar.

About a week later she asked him to spend Sunday at Brighton.
There was no one there but Terence Bucknell and a vague, diaphanous
friend, a Mrs. Evelyn, the widow of a general, who lived on the
memory of the man whom she had been forbidden to marry.  He had
afterwards died of typhoid fever.  Terence Bucknell delighted in
her society, because she seemed to listen to every word he said.
In reality she was absent-minded, and was generally thinking of
other things.  She was shrewd and observant, however, in spite of
her absent-mindedness.  Leila Bucknell had been the friend of her
youth.  Mrs. Evelyn was genuinely fond of Leila, but harboured no
illusions as to her character.

Leila told her friend everything, and Mrs. Evelyn repeated these
confidences to all whom it did not concern but whom it might
interest; not because she was purposely mischievous or indiscreet,
but because she found Leila's adventures a fruitful topic of
conversation and was convinced that the discussion of them didn't
matter.  Without her unconscious aid this part of the story, as
they say in dedications, would not have been written, or would have
been written less fully.

Mrs. Evelyn liked C., but she told Leila at once that the boy was
visibly head over ears in love with her and did she think it wise?
Life was already complicated; C. was absurdly young.  Leila pooh-
poohed the whole matter.

"Yes, but what will Wilfrid do?" said Alice Evelyn.

"Wilfrid is sensible," said Leila.  "Far too sensible to see
anything in it but what there is."

"Sensible men are sometimes the worst of all," said Alice with a
sigh.  "I know it's no use giving advice, but if I were you I
should stop it before it's too late."

Leila laughed.

"My dear Alice, I've known that boy ever since we were children."

She appeared to be determined to renew and cement her old
acquaintanceship.  Terence Bucknell had to go up to London on
Sunday afternoon, and Leila took C. for a long walk on the downs
and their old acquaintance ripened rapidly into the beginnings of
intimacy.  Leila enjoyed C.'s undisguised adoration.  She did not
admit to herself that it was serious, still less that she would
ever be to him anything else than an older, sympathetic friend.  As
for C., his heart and his mind were now full.  When he returned to
London he wrote almost the longest Collins ever penned to thank
Leila for his visit, and Leila, thinking that the progress was
being a shade too rapid, wrote him a cleverly worded short letter
pointing out how fatal exaggeration was to TRUE FRIENDSHIP.
Nevertheless, the next time she came up to London for the day, she
let him know, and they had a brief interview in the British Museum,
of all places.  Leila saying that she wished to renew her
acquaintance with the Elgin marbles.

Christmas came.  C. was obliged to spend it in London, but directly
after Christmas he was invited to stay with Mrs. Tryan, Leila's
sister, who had a large house in Gloucestershire.  It was a hunting
party.  Leila was fond of hunting, and C. enjoyed the sport for the
first time in his life.  He was well mounted.  Horace Tryan,
Leila's brother-in-law, was in the Household Brigade, a gentleman
of means; he had an admirable stable, and C. was intoxicated by the
long rides home, and thought there was no more pleasant flirtation
than that of the hunting field.  Not so Wilfrid Clay, who spent a
few days at Bridlington House.  He had a fierce scene with Leila.
She laughed at him and said he would mind her seeing her nephews in
the nursery next!  She had known C. all her life.  They had
practically been brought up together.  They were like brother and
sister.  In any case she was going to see whom she chose.  Wilfrid
Clay said that every one was talking of it and that every one
thought it ridiculous.  She was making herself ridiculous, and it
was a shame on the boy.

"Who is every one?" she asked.  "Have they said anything to you?"

No they hadn't, but he knew quite well what they were thinking.

As for C., he had entered a new world.  He no longer wanted to go
near the literary world, but all sorts of plans and ideas for
poems, lyrics and sonnets, all on the subject of Leila, buzzed in
his head.  He invested her with every good quality, every attribute
of the head and the heart, every virtue, every grace.  There was
nothing, he thought, she did not know and did not understand, did
not guess, did not feel.

Terence Bucknell was quite unconcerned about the matter.  He did
not give it a thought.  He spent a Sunday at Bridlington, but he
went up to London on the following Monday.  He did not hunt.  Leila
had never had any bother with him.

After this Christmas party was over, they all went back to London.
Harry came up to London after Christmas.  His regiment was starting
for India and C. went down to Hounslow with him the night before he
started for Southampton.  Lady Hengrave said good-bye to Harry in
London.  She showed little outward signs of emotion, but C. was
made aware by one or two little incidents that she was taking his
departure very hardly.  He heard her say to Miss Hackett that
Harry's socks were in a dreadful state and that she had better go
to Alderson's in Bond Street and buy him two dozen pairs of the
best thick woollen socks, and before Harry started, she gave him
his father's watch, a repeater, which she had kept hitherto as a
sacred relic.  C. knew that in doing this she felt she would never
see him again.  At Hounslow, in the barracks, where a deafening
sound of hammering was increasing, and where soldiers were rushing
about, hurling things into packing cases, and where every scrap of
unnecessary furniture and importunate object seemed to be in the
process of being packed, C. had the same presentiment himself, and
still more so at Southampton on the quay as he watched the
troopship get under weigh.  He saw Harry waving to him, and an icy
feeling went down his spine, a real shiver from the shores of
death.  Harry looked so radiant, so young and so happy.  As the
troopship departed and the last cheers died away, C. felt that a
portion of his life had gone, gone never to come back again.

Harry, himself, had left England in tearing spirits; he was young,
strong, good-looking, healthy, fancy-free, and not twenty-one, and
all life and all India were before him.  He was looking forward to
his five years there with the utmost impatience.

The first thing that C. did when he got back to London was to go
and see Leila, but she was not at home.  Leila, although she had
determined that nothing in the world would make her drop C.'s
acquaintance, or take steps to damp the ardour of his adoration,
nevertheless felt that for the moment it was best to proceed
carefully and prudently.  Wilfrid Clay came to see her every day of
his life; and then there was Lord Marryat, an older admirer, of
another generation, with reddish hair and grey whiskers and a
slight air of the 'eighties about him.  He had known Leila as a
child, and he treated her paternally.  She called him "Uncle
Freddy," although there was no relationship.  He was easy to deal
with, but he was a factor of no little importance in her life.  He
was a widower and extremely well off, and he supplied Leila with
everything she wanted in the way of fruit, game, and, in an
indirect way, clothes and other objects of ornament and use.  He
was a man of taste and knowledge.  The French portrait of Leila in
her dining-room was his gift.  Little Christmas presents and
birthday presents and mementoes "just to mark the day" took the
form of cheques.  If she gave a dinner, he lent her his plate and
his cook, and he sent her flowers from the country once a week.  He
accepted Wilfrid Clay, whom he looked upon as a docile slave,
necessary to Leila's comfort; but he had his particular days, his
particular hours, and on certain nights in the week he came to
dinner and played patience after dinner, and on these occasions he
resented the presence of strangers and newcomers.

Leila had during the last season one other admirer, in the shape of
Captain Redford, but soon after she made the acquaintance of C. she
began to find him wanting, and finally she dismissed him.  He was
penniless, uninteresting and rather sulky.  At first she had
thought him good-looking and attractive.  He had thought at the end
of the summer that he was getting on well.  The autumn had brought
him a harvest of disillusion, and one day, when he had ventured on
a declaration and suited the action to the word, Leila had turned
on him with immense dignity and said, "I'm not that kind of woman."
After that she had forbidden him the house.  He went away
disconsolate and discomfited and penitent, but it was too late.
Leila gave him to understand it was all over.

C. was now the chief excitement of Leila's life.  She played up to
him, although she found this difficult, but the difficulty added to
the excitement.  She cared not a rap for any of the things that C.
cared for.  She never read a book, except the novels of George
Ohnet and such books as she received from the circulating library,
which were chosen for her by the man behind the counter.  The only
poetry she cared for were the words which were married to certain
sentimental songs she was fond of.  She copied out some of these in
a book bound in pink which had a gilt lock, and which she was far
too wise to show to C., but she gave him to understand that it was
a storehouse of all the rarest poetry in French and English.  C.'s
conversation when he talked of such things was Hebrew to her, but,
nevertheless, she never committed herself to a foolish comment, nor
to an incriminating revealing criticism.  She encouraged C. to
talk, to abound in himself, and while he was pouring out fervid
quotations from Browning and Keats she mentally added up her bills
or thought out a new ball gown.  She sometimes took C. to the South
Kensington Museum, not because it interested her, but because she
was not likely to meet any of her friends there; and sometimes she
took him to a concert, where she cried whenever the music was soft.
She could cry easily, as she had a natural fund of sentiment.  She
honestly enjoyed C.'s society at this time.  In the first place,
looks always attracted her, and C. had blossomed out under the
influence of his passion.  He seemed to have broken his shell.  He
was a different person from the shy boy who had returned from Rome
so listless, and who Lady Hengrave had thought was going to develop
into a social recluse, a kind of literary Diogenes.

He had dressed carelessly, had not given a thought to such things
until now since he had left Eton; but now, under Leila's influence
(she subtly and tactfully took interest, approved--it was not
necessary to advise: he had his father's instinct for such things--
interest sufficed), he looked different, and he reminded Lady
Hengrave of his father when he had been young.  He was becoming
almost as good-looking as Harry.  And now, instead of being sullen
and shy, he was in high spirits and had become talkative and gay.
He went to a gymnasium three times a week, and fenced.  Sometimes
he got his brother Edward to lend him a horse, and he would ride in
Rotten Row in the morning.  There, sometimes, he would meet Leila.

Leila would sometimes get up parties of four to go to the play, and
take her sister or Alice Evelyn, who now accepted the fact of C.
and understood that the time for remonstrance was over.  It was far
too late.

The change in C. did not, of course, pass unnoticed either to Lady
Hengrave or to his sisters.  Lady Hengrave guessed what was
happening, and soon understood who was the agent.  She said
nothing.  She never criticised.  She considered that it was a
matter, like getting the measles, that young boys had to go
through, and that it would soon be over.  She was thankful that it
was Leila Bucknell, the daughter of some one she had known as a
girl, and not an actress.  She was devoutly thankful it was a
married woman.  "It will prepare him for marriage," she thought.
His sisters took a different line.  They told him he was making
himself ridiculous and that Leila was laughing at him and taking
him as a joke.  This, of course, fanned the flame of his passion
still more.  He quarrelled with Julia and with Marjorie and thought
about Leila all the more.  He began sending her poems which,
although addressed to anonymous beings, had a strong personal
accent.  Leila encouraged this at first, and said that she had
copied out some of his beautiful lines in her sacred pink book, in
which she only copied the most beautiful things, her most treasured
favourites, but as the poems increased in fervour and in
outspokenness, she became slightly uneasy.  She did not like things
to be expressed so crudely; she disliked dots on the i's, and she
once more administered a slight check and said that the best poets
treated friendship with greater reserve.  She not only did not
understand his verses, finding them full of obscure classical
allusions which meant nothing to her and turns of phrase which
puzzled her, but what she did understand (except when it was
directly flattering to herself, and even then not always) she did
not like.  She wished his poetry were more like that of Lord Henry
Somerset.  She agreed with the dictum that verse should be simple,
sensuous and impassioned.  She vaguely guessed C.'s effusions to
possess the last-named qualities, but to her taste they lacked
simplicity, and she sometimes suspected them of being coarse,
which, to do them justice, they were not.  What she would have
liked would have been love poems written in the style of the
Christian Year.  Leila never missed going to church on Sunday.  She
had a strong Low Church streak in her nature, but she sacrificed
her personal inclinations to what she thought, considering all
things--Terence and public opinion and the rest--was most proper
and fit by going to a church with a broad, colourless flavour near
Oxford Street, where there was a popular-preacher.  One Sunday she
took C.  They walked to church with Terence and her two children, a
little boy and a little girl (aged eight and six respectively).
She sat in the pew between her two pretty little children, dressed
in black with a fur boa round her neck, a touch of violet in her
fur toque, and a large bunch of violets very deftly pinned and
arranged in the fur of her jacket, and she followed the service
with rapt devotion.  During the hymns and at a certain allusion to
the unhappy in the sermon her eyes were wet and seemed to be like
wonderful dark flowers with dew upon them.  C. thought that he was
indeed in the presence of an angel, a creature who had been
banished from some brighter clime and condemned to a term of
imprisonment in a world that was alien to her and altogether too
hard and too rough for so rare and exquisite a being.



CHAPTER XXXIV


Things went on more or less like this until Easter, when C. was
asked to stay with the Rodens.  He said he was unable to go, as he
had promised to go and see his old friend Madame Maartens, in
Paris, who was not at all well.  She was, in fact, seriously ill,
and as she was very old one never knew what might not happen.  She
had expressed a wish to see him, and, of course, he must go.

It so happened that Terence and Leila Bucknell were going to spend
Easter in Paris as well.  They were staying with a French friend of
theirs, a Madame de Volnay, who had a charming little house on the
other side of the river.  C. stayed in the little hotel in the
street off the Rue de Rivoli, where he had always stayed before.
He went to see Madame Maartens directly he arrived, and found her
more or less convalescent after a severe attack of influenza.  She
was overjoyed at seeing him, but, after he had been with her for
about ten minutes, he saw that the effort of talking was becoming
too much for her, and he said good-bye.  M. Maartens, as he said
good-bye to C., broke down and said, between his sobs, that he knew
there was no hope.  What would he do without her?  But he would not--
that was one consolation--survive her long.  C. promised to return
again shortly.

Leila was engrossed in the serious business of buying clothes, a
duty she performed with scrupulous conscientiousness and unflagging
energy, and with which she let nothing interfere.  But in the
evenings she let her hostess take her to all the interesting plays
that were on, and C., who had been introduced to Madame de Volnay,
joined the party.  Madeleine Lapara was not in Paris, but they saw
a rather bitter emotional comedy in which Rjane was playing, and
which Leila said she thought "HORRIBLE, so CYNICAL" and a play by
Sardou that was creating some stir and in which Coquelin had the
leading part.

Madame de Volnay was a widow; she was dark, practical, inquisitive,
and well-off, with a good deal of knowledge, culture and
intelligence.  She read the story of C.'s heart in one moment.

Two days after his arrival C. called on Beatrice, but he was told
that Madame and Monsieur had gone to Rome for Easter.  The news
made C. laugh bitterly.  She could go to Rome now quite easily.
However, it was no use thinking of that--and, indeed, he had little
desire to think of the past.  He was absorbed in the present.

Every day Leila said they must really go to the Louvre, but every
day the visit to the picture gallery was put off, as the visits to
the Magasin du Louvre and other shops proved to be so time-taking,
but one day Madame de Volnay, Terence, C. and Leila drove to
Versailles (Easter was late that year) through a stretch of opening
blossom; it was a world of blossom, blossom everywhere, sheets and
flakes and delicate traceries, as of frozen foam.  C. was in the
seventh heaven of happiness.  They had luncheon at the Htel des
Rservoirs, and after luncheon, C., Leila, Terence and Madame de
Volnay, who tactfully took charge of Terence and led him away,
wandered in the park, which brought back to C. many memories of
Burstall.  He told Leila all about Burstall.  She realised from
C.'s description that he was just the kind of man whom she could
not endure and who would bore her to death, but all she said was:
"How I should like to know him!  I wonder where he is now?"

"Nobody knows," said C.  "Somewhere in the tropics, at Tahiti or
some such outlandish place."

"When he comes back you must bring him to Upper Berkeley Street,"
said Leila.  "I'm sure I should love him, although I should be
frightened to death of him, and I don't think he'd like me."

This expedition to Versailles was the only occasion on which C. had
the opportunity of having any talk with Leila alone.  All the rest
of the time she had either been shopping or out with Madame de
Volnay and Terence, and C. made the most of his opportunity, and
intoxicated as he was after the beauty of the spring drive, began
not only to be lyrical, but direct in his declarations, so that
Leila had once more to check him.  She felt he was going too far,
and she did not want that.  She begged him not to spoil everything.
The word FRIENDSHIP was again employed with dexterity.  Up to now
FRIENDSHIP was the only word which Leila allowed the use of when
their relation was mentioned.  As far as she was concerned there
was at present nothing inaccurate in its use, but it was a wild
understatement of C.'s feelings.

C. accepted the rebuke, and Leila began to talk of herself and to
convey, by a series of delicate hints and suggestions and
reticences, that her life was a very difficult one, it was a long
struggle with poverty, with unsympathetic and critical relations
and "in-laws," unpleasant surroundings, difficult conditions, and
distasteful duties and want of understanding on all sides.  She had
thought that in C. she had at last found a friend who understood,
and she did hope he was not going to disappoint her.  She was so
greatly in need of help and sympathy.  She had really no friends.
Terence was wonderful, of course, a tower of strength, but he was
so engrossed in his work and so harassed by it, and so unfairly
treated by the Office.  He ought to be in the Diplomatic Service
and to be given a Legation.  But then, could they afford it?  No.
She saw nothing for it but for him to remain in the office, and
after years he would perhaps be an Under-Secretary.  He could not
afford to exchange into the Diplomatic Service.  Of course it was a
pity.  He would have made an ideal Ambassador.  Then there was
Wilfrid Clay.  She owed him a lot, more than she could ever repay.
He had been a devoted friend and had helped her in every way.
Whenever she went abroad he looked out her trains for her, as
Terence was far too busy and was bad at Bradshaw, but Wilfrid
understood all those things, and he was so good to the children.
He understood children and always remembered their birthdays, which
was wonderful of him.  He was so faithful, so devoted.  He had had
such an unhappy life, too.  He had never married.  He had wanted to
marry, but he had been cruelly treated by a horrid girl; a girl to
whom he had been engaged and who had broken off the engagement at
the last moment.  One must always remember that.  He had suffered
greatly, and he had a heart of gold.  She, none the less, gave C.
to understand that although Wilfrid had a heart of gold, he had a
great deal of lead in his composition as well, and that he was one
of life's burdens which had to be borne with patience.  The day
before they left Paris, Wilfrid Clay arrived in person, so as to
travel back with them and see they had everything they wanted.  He
was a director of one of the railway companies, and he saw that
Leila had a carriage and a cabin to herself.  Leila explained to
him that C. had come over to see a great friend of Lady Hengrave's
who was dying, and she suggested to C. that he should spend his
last day at Versailles while Wilfrid helped her to do her final
shopping.  C. called once more on Madame Maartens, but she was in
bed and could see no one.  M. Maartens was with her, and did not
come down.  C. left a message.  The next day they all travelled
back to London.  Leila had again been lent a little house for the
summer by Lord Marryat.  She had let her London house for the
season for a high rent, too, the business having been managed by
Wilfrid.  This time it was a house on the border of Surrey and
Berkshire, not far from Ascot.  Terence, she said, could not endure
summer in London, and although Leila confessed she did enjoy going
to balls sometimes, and dining out, she was only too ready to give
all that up, and she could always go up to London for a week or so
at the end of the season and stay with her sister.  She invited C.
to spend a Sunday at Twyford, which was the name of the house, soon
after they returned.  He went, and there he found Lord Marryat,
Wilfrid Clay, Mrs. Evelyn and Mrs. Tryan.  He had hardly any talk
with Leila at all, who devoted herself entirely to Wilfrid Clay and
Lord Marryat, giving C. to understand by her looks that she was
performing a necessary, but uncongenial, duty.

C. began to receive invitations to go out.  Mrs. Tryan said he must
go to a dance that was being given at a house in Manchester Square.
C. went to the dance, but there was no Leila, and he felt utterly
forlorn and disconsolate.  Mrs. Tryan introduced him to several
people.  The dance was not for girls, but for young married women,
and was said to be very "good."

C. was asked to take some one down to supper, and he went down with
a Mrs. D'Avenant, to whom he had been introduced that evening.  She
was handsome and gay, and enjoyed the society of the young.  They
talked on and on.  C. interested and amused her by his violence and
his outspoken opinion of persons and things; his strong likes and
dislikes.  She was attracted by him; he was something new, and she
resolved to keep her discovery to herself.

The ballroom had begun to thin, and the supper-room was almost
empty.

Mrs. D'Avenant had asked her sister to wait for her and take her
home just before she met C.  Her sister came to fetch her, and was
indignant at having been kept waiting.

"It is ridiculous," said the sister, "for you, at your age, to sit
talking for hours to those young school boys."

Mrs. Evelyn watched the scene with interest from the table where
she was sitting.

C. went to one or two other entertainments, and Mrs. Evelyn
reported the facts to Leila.

"C.," she said, "is going EVERYWHERE to EVERY LIGHTED CANDLE and is
enjoying himself IMMENSELY.  Some one is sure to get hold of him
soon."

This was a gross exaggeration.  He had been, at the most, to two or
three balls, and where there was no Leila there was for him no
enjoyment; but he went because he sometimes saw people who knew
her, and he had the chance of hearing her name spoken or of saying
her name, of talking to Mrs. Evelyn or to Mrs. Tryan, or to Mrs.
D'Avenant, with all of whom he could mention Leila.  He wrote to
her regularly, and his letters had got to the stage of omitting a
beginning.

Leila, as soon as she heard this, became uneasy.  She felt an
unexpected, irrational wave of jealousy and fear.  She suddenly
realised that she could not bear the thought of C. being taken from
her.  This could not, must not, be.  She asked him down to Twyford
on the following Sunday.  Wilfrid Clay had been coming, and Leila
put him off.  She explained that some tiresome "in-laws" of
Terence's were coming.  As a matter of fact, there was no one there
at all except Mrs. Evelyn.  Terence had been invited to a political
party at the Foreign Secretary's to meet some Colonial Premiers.

Wilfrid Clay had accepted an invitation to stay at another country
house not many miles from Twyford, and, having nothing better to do
on Sunday afternoon, he bicycled over after luncheon to see Leila.
He found Leila and C. sitting on the lawn.  Mrs. Evelyn had gone to
lie down.  She had a bad headache.  When Leila saw Wilfrid
approaching, she showed the utmost sang-froid.  "Go for a little
walk in the kitchen garden," she said to C.  "I will be back
directly."

She walked indoors with Wilfrid into the little drawing-room whose
French windows looked out on to the garden, and which was full of
nick-nacks, books and flowers, and had an original picture by Mason
in a prominent place.  The owner of the house was artistic.

"Well?" said Leila.

Wilfrid Clay poured out the vessels of his indignation.  He was a
prim man, exceedingly correct in everything he said and did; he was
as honest as the day, and inexpressibly faithful and loyal.
Moreover, he had loved Leila for years, passionately, and at one
time, at any rate, she had returned his love, and during the rest
of the time, up to the present, she had pretended to do so.  He had
slaved for her, there was nothing, big or small, he had not done
for her; no wish of hers he had not guessed and forestalled; he had
thought of nothing but her; he had never looked at any one else.
She was his whole existence.

He had had many disappointments and ups and downs; she had often
treated him cruelly.  He had borne everything, accepted everything,
forgiven everything; but this was too much, that she should have
taken the trouble to deceive him in this manner, for the sake of
this boy.

Now, as he thought how often C. had been with the Bucknells, his
anger grew.  She had been deceiving him all the time.  He spoke his
mind with great bitterness.

"So that was all a pack of lies about Terence's in-laws," he said.
"I might have known."

Leila looked at him icily.

"Of course," she said, "if you like to call me names--"

"I didn't call you anything, but I do think--"

And the tide of indignant remonstrance and protest swelled and
rose, and then subsided once more.  He begged her not to treat him
like this, and not to play the fool with this boy.

Leila looked at him with a colder hardness.

Wilfrid's rage, which had spent itself for the moment, suddenly
took on a new lease of life.  Past grievances arose.  The manner
she had treated him last year; her behaviour with Redford (and here
he had done her an injustice--Leila had never given Redford a
chance); the way she had behaved about Paris, how she had prevented
his coming there till the last minute, until it was too late.

"Too late?" said Leila.  "What do you mean?"

"You know quite well what I mean."

"Well, and what if I do?" said Leila.  "What if things ARE what you
think, what you CHOOSE to think?  What business is it of yours?"

"What business is it of mine?  Oh, let's stop this ridiculous
wrangle!  Say it has all been a mistake."

"Say it's all been a mistake?" she echoed.  "What has been a
mistake?  What have I said that I have got to retract?  You come
down here, you force yourself into the house, you insult me, and
you expect me to apologise, just because I happen to have asked a
boy to the house whom I have known all my life and whom I am very
fond of."

"You are too unfair."

"Unfair?"  She laughed ironically.

"The sooner you get used to C. the better; because you will see him
here very often.  I have promised his mother to be kind to him."

"Leila, don't--"

"I like people who are civil, and he is civil.  I don't like being
treated as if I was . . . as if I was . . . I don't know what . . .
in that way.  I'm not used to it.  Don't you think you had better
go back?  Nothing is so rude as to go away from a party when one is
staying with people.  I'm sure Mildred will think it rude."

"Leila--"

"Please go away; I've got a headache.  You've given me a headache.
I am so--so tired--"

"No, I shan't go away," said Wilfrid, suddenly losing his temper.
He was a meek man as a rule, extremely good-tempered and well-
mannered, with great self-control, and a great sense not only of
the decencies of life, but profoundly sensitive to the conventions
of society and to the amenities of intercourse.  He loathed scenes,
and would sooner have died than make one in public, but at this
moment he was goaded beyond human endurance.  He was stung, wounded
to the quick, injured, and he felt capable of anything.  During
this conversation he had been walking round the room in an agitated
way, lighting cigarettes and throwing them away as soon as they
were lit.  Near a chintz armchair there was a little red three-
legged stool, painted with Aspinall's enamel, and on it there was a
bowl of roses.  He took the bowl and flung it on to the floor.  It
broke in pieces.

Leila lay back in her armchair and cried silently.

Wilfrid felt ashamed of himself, and he rushed towards Leila, but
she waved him away with a gentleness that was decisive.

"Don't," she said faintly and shuddering, "don't come near me,
please."

Wilfrid poured out apologies.  He was not a violent man.  His act
had been entirely out of keeping with his usual self, and he could
not, he did not know how to proceed on the same plane.  It was
against his nature.  He was full of more than repentance, of acute
remorse.  Leila knew this well, and exploited the situation to the
utmost.

"I beg of you to go," she said.

She got up and left the room slowly, still crying.  She went up to
her bedroom and locked the door.

Wilfrid knew there was nothing to be done.  He waited half an hour,
then an hour.  Tea was brought out to the lawn and Leila's maid
came down and said to Wilfrid that Mrs. Bucknell had told her to
tell them that she had a bad headache, had gone to bed and would
not come down.

Wilfrid took his bicycle and went back to his party.

He had not been gone long before Leila said she felt better.  She
had a cup of tea in her bedroom and then had a long talk with Alice
Evelyn in her bedroom; she recounted every detail to her friend,
who received the story with the tenacious receptivity of a
gramophone record.

"Wilfrid is impossible," said Leila.  "He is always making scenes.
I shall be obliged to give up seeing him altogether."

Alice Evelyn was sympathetic but wise, and urged her to do nothing
rash.  Leila remained talking to Alice for about half an hour, and
then she reappeared in the garden.  She asked C to read to her; she
felt, she said, very tired.

"What shall I read?" asked C.

"I should like you to read me something quite simple.  One of Hans
Andersen's fairy tales.  There is a copy in the drawing-room, the
children left it there this morning."

C. fetched the book.

"Which story shall I read?" he asked.

"Oh, the Ugly Duckling," said Leila.

C. thought it was adorable of her to like fairy tales and he read
out the story of the Ugly Duckling, as they both lay back in garden
chairs.

Leila lay back with closed eyes, but in spite of her eyes being
closed she had the appearance of listening.  She was not listening
in reality.  She was probably making up her mind as to how
inconvenient it would be for her to break with Wilfrid altogether
at this moment, and carefully weighing the pros and cons.  At any
rate he must be taught a lesson that he would never forget, and she
made up her mind either then, or soon after, to break for the
present.  After all, she knew she could always get him back just
whenever she chose, and she smiled to herself.

Leila said nothing to C. about Wilfrid, except that he had come
over from a neighbouring party and had had to go back.  Alice
Evelyn came down to dinner.  She was feeling, she said, a little
better; she was, in fact, exhilarated by the drama that she felt
was going on in the house.  She had done her best to dissuade Leila
from bringing about such a situation, but now that it had happened,
Alice could not help being interested, and enjoying it to the full.
She was not yet, she said, quite well, and would go to bed early.
It was a lovely June night; breathlessly hot, and there was a smell
of syringa in the air.  C. suggested a walk in the woods.  Leila
acquiesced, but they never got as far as the woods.  They wandered,
in fact, the other way in the garden, and they stopped to listen to
the soft orchestra of the darkness, and C. poured out to its
accompaniment all that he felt, in a tremulous stream of whispers.
This time Leila no longer checked him.

Although Leila often made a great show of resistance, and did
resist what she did not share, for a time; and could resist what
she had ceased to share, indefinitely, and with a stubbornness that
had the force of steel; she could never resist a new love, if it
were expressed with sufficient force and ardour.  On such occasions
she yielded at a touch, and let the great river swiftly bear her to
the main.  She now felt no wish to resist C.  On the contrary, she
responded to his passion with every chord of her sentimental soul
and every fibre of her soft pliant voluptuous temperament.

                          * * * * *

The next day C. went up to London, not without having made
arrangements for meeting Leila in the immediate future, and Leila
spent several hours composing a letter to Wilfrid.  It was a
masterpiece, an unconscious masterpiece, when it was finished.  It
put him entirely in the wrong and it was nicely calculated to wound
every nerve in his being.

She received several telegrams from him and a long letter by the
first post.  These she threw away.  They had often had many scenes
and quarrels before, partings and reconciliations, and Wilfrid felt
quite certain that it would be all right in a day or two--acutely
as he was suffering for the moment--but the days passed and no sign
of reconciliation was made by Leila.  He went down to Twyford and
she was out.  He went down a second time and she refused to see
him.  The week after she came up to London for the Arlington House
ball.  C. was invited to it and Leila sat out with him in the
garden most of the night and had supper with him as well.

Wilfrid Clay was there.  Leila said "How do you do" to him civilly,
as though he had been a stranger she had once met at some watering
place and whom she remembered quite well, and she talked through
him as if he were not there.



CHAPTER XXXV


The summer seemed long in the same way the epochs of childhood
seemed long to C., and yet when it was over it seemed to have gone
by in a flash.  It was for him a see-saw epoch alternating between
complete ecstasy and utter despondency.  Leila came up to London
very often, and he saw her constantly, and every now and then she
allowed him to come to Twyford, not as often as he wished.  In
July, she often stayed a night with her sister, Mrs. Tryan, and C.
went to any entertainment where he knew he would find Leila, but
this was not an unmixed pleasure, as she had to devote a certain
amount of time to other people at these entertainments, and C.
suffered acutely when she spoke to others for any length of time.
But as far as their personal relations were concerned, everything
seemed so far to be going smoothly.  Probably Leila found it a
strain; he was so young and so serious, and he could not take
things lightly.  Every now and again C. would send her poems that
he wrote, and she ended by treating these like bills; they got lost
almost before she had looked at them.  Leila took no steps to make
up things with Wilfrid Clay, who was reduced to pulp.  Finally he
left London for a month's yachting.  Leila showed no signs of
minding.  At the end of the season, in August, Leila told C. that
Terence had again been ordered to Carlsbad, and that she was going
with him.  He suggested coming there, too.  That, she said, was
impossible.  He might, if he liked, meet them at Bayreuth, where
they were going to stop on the way to hear one of the cycles.

C. met them at Bayreuth.  Mrs. Evelyn was with Leila, and they had
all their meals together.  Leila confessed to her friends that
the music bored her, and she resolved, after the first two
performances, not to stay for the rest of the cycle; she made up
her mind to sell the tickets for the remaining performances.  She
was, perhaps, wondering how she would explain this act to C.,
without letting him know that she found the music quite
intolerable, when C. received a telegram from his sister Julia,
telling him to come home at once, as Lady Hengrave was seriously
ill.  Leila was relieved and intensely sympathetic.  She said they
would meet in the autumn as soon as she came back, and he must
write to her every day.

When he got to London he found that his mother had caught a chill,
which had developed rapidly into double pneumonia.  The doctors
took a grave view of the case.  He was taken into his mother's
room.  She looked very ill, but she was just the same.  She asked
who had been at Bayreuth, said nothing about Leila, but told him
that she had heard from Sir Shreeve Mellings, who said he was
dissatisfied with C.'s attendance at his chambers during the
summer.

"I told him," she said, "it was the first summer you had been out,
and that you would work harder in the autumn."

This was the last time he saw her but one.  The day after she was
worse, but, nevertheless, she expressed a wish that C. should come
to her room for a minute.  She was coughing badly when C. went in.
She smiled, as if apologising for her bad manners.  When the
paroxysm was over, she whispered:  "Look after Harry."  The nurse
then whispered to him to go.  He never saw her again, and she died
early the next morning.  Just before she died she asked for
Gilbert, her ne'er-do-weel son, whom she had never been known to
mention since he left in disgrace for Canada.

She was buried, according to her wish, at Bramsley.  Bramsley was
still let to some American friends of Edward's wife, and the family
went down for the day and drove straight from the station to the
church and straight back to the station when the funeral was over.
They none of them went near the house.  Mrs. Roden took C. back
with her to Elladon.  He was moody and depressed.  This, of course,
seemed, under the circumstances, quite natural, but although with
his mother's death he felt as if a large part of the background of
his life had gone, and although it added to his melancholy, it was
not the real reason of his sadness.  The real reason of that was
not so much the absence of Leila, as the dawn of a suspicion that
she had not been so sad at his departure as he had expected.

The day of the funeral he received a few lines from her.


"I am thinking of you all the day," she wrote.  "I know you will be
brave.  It is so true that the darkest hour is the hour before the
dawn.  Last night I was reading some beautiful lines, and I thought
of you--


     Only the dead hearts forsake us never;
       Death's last kiss has been the mystic sign
     Consecrating Love our own for ever,
       Crowning it eternal and divine."


The Bucknells came back to London at the beginning of September.
Leila let C. know the date of her arrival and asked him to come and
see her the evening after, at six-thirty.  He was already back in
London.  His mother's house was to be sold, and he took furnished
rooms next to Gerald Malone's and Wright's in Ryder Street.

Leila appeared overjoyed to see him.  She told him about her time
abroad, how dull it had been.  In the course of the conversation
she said that Wilfrid Clay had come out.  He had been ordered by
the doctor to go to Carlsbad, and they had travelled back together.
C. had forgotten the existence of Wilfrid Clay.

"Poor Wilfrid, he means so well," she said.

She told C. her plans.  Terence had to go back to the office.  She
was going to Scotland to stay with some relations.  She would be
away for the next month.

"Then I shan't see you for years," said C.

"I shall be in London all the winter."

At that moment the butler walked in and announced Lord Marryat.

They exchanged a few banal remarks, and then C. left the house.

Leila went to Scotland.  She was to stay there a month; as it was,
she stayed away two months, until the end of October.  Nevertheless,
C. saw her once before she came back.  He travelled up to Scotland
to have ten minutes' conversation with her at Inverness Station,
where she was stopped to change trains on her way south to Glasgow.

In November, she came back from the north for good and settled down
in London.  C. was working hard for one of his law examinations.
Leila, to his surprise, had not let him know the exact day she was
coming back, and it was only after her arrival that he received a
note from her saying that she was back in London.  He found the
letter on his table when he came back from the chambers in the
evening, and he flew round in a hansom to her house.  Mrs. Bucknell
was at home.  She had finished tea and was sitting by the fire.
Every time C. saw Leila after a period of absence she seemed to him
more beautiful, and more beautiful in a different way.  Never had
she looked more radiant than on that November afternoon.  A life of
open air and exercise had given her a bath of sunshine and rest and
youth, and she seemed to be still glowing from the effects of it.

"Why didn't you tell me you were coming?" he said.

"There wasn't time; I came away a day sooner than I expected, and I
missed the post.  You couldn't have heard sooner."

There was a slight pause.

"Tell me everything you have been doing."

"What have you been doing?"

"Leila, you're different."

She laughed.

"What nonsense!"

The butler came in and announced:  "Mr. Dallas Wace."

C. had not seen him since they had met at Rome at the Embassy.  He
thought to himself, "He won't stay long."  But he was mistaken.
Mr. Dallas Wace had no intention of going away.  He, too, had been
in Scotland, where he had met Leila.  They had known each other for
a long time quite slightly, but in Scotland they had evidently made
friends.

Dallas Wace was civil to C.  He remembered having met him at Rome;
he asked after his sisters, and tried to rope him into the
conversation.  C. was boiling with inward rage, and refused to be
roped in.  He sat gloomy, sullen and silent, answering in
monosyllables.  Dallas Wace, realising the situation, then ignored
C. altogether, and talked to Leila as if he were not there, as if
he were a child or a schoolboy to whom one has done one's full duty
once one has flung them a word.

But C. was determined to sit him out.  He sat on without saying a
word, answering in monosyllables when Leila said something to him,
until half-past six, when Terence returned from the office.

Then Wace got up and took leave of Leila.

"Don't forget to-morrow night," she said, as he was going.  "Dinner
at half-past seven, here.  We've got tickets for the Gaiety.  They
say it's very good."

Terence greeted C. cordially, and then the children were brought
down to say good-night, and C. left the house.  He wrote Leila a
long letter of passionate reproach that night.  She didn't answer
it.  In the morning he had received a letter from Lady Elizabeth
Carteret, asking him to stay with her in the country from Saturday
till Monday.  If Leila was going to be in London, he thought he
would not go.  He went to see Leila again in the evening.  She was
at home and by herself.  She said nothing about the incident of the
day before and was natural and friendly.  C. asked her what she was
going to do on Sunday.

"We are staying with the Stonehenges," she said.

Lord Stonehenge was the Foreign Secretary at the time, and
Terence's chief.  Tea was brought in.

"Wilfrid's coming to see me presently," Leila said with the utmost
naturalness, "and when he comes you must leave us, because I've got
to talk business with him.  He's trying to sell some land for my
mother."

"You can't want to see him," said C.

"I can't help it, one's life has to go on," said Leila plaintively.
"You must understand that certain things have to be done.  You make
things so difficult.  You must be a little patient."

C. got up.

"The truth of the matter is," he said, "that you don't care for me
any more.  You're changed ever since you came back from Scotland."

Wilfrid Clay was announced, and this time C. went away.  Perhaps he
was wrong, he thought, as he reflected afterwards.

He wrote Leila a long letter that night, saying how sorry he was he
had behaved in such a foolish way.  Couldn't he see her before she
left the next day, which was Saturday?

She sent him round a note by a messenger boy in the morning, saying
that she was having luncheon out and that she and Terence were
going down to the country directly after luncheon.  She would see
him on Monday.

On Saturday afternoon C. went down to the Carterets.  They no
longer lived on the river now, but in the New Forest.  To his great
surprise, who should C. find there but Beatrice.  She and her
husband had been spending two months in England in the country.  He
had been obliged to go back to Paris more suddenly than he had
expected.  She was going back on Monday.  Beatrice looked a little
better than when C. had seen her in Paris, but she had not
recovered her radiance, and there was a hunted look about her.
They went for a long walk on Sunday afternoon.  They talked of
everything under the sun, as they used to do, but C. said little
about his life, and Beatrice nothing of hers.  They each of them
avoided vital issues.  But C. felt, nevertheless, that Beatrice
knew exactly what he was going through, which, indeed, she did, and
would have done even if Lady Elizabeth had not told her the facts
and painted them in no uncertain colours.

Lady Elizabeth was an old friend of Terence's, and liked him.  She
knew Leila slightly and disliked her intensely, and she had told
Beatrice that Leila would no doubt ruin C.'s life.  This meeting
with Beatrice was just at this moment like balm to C.  He felt that
she understood everything, and he knew that she would say nothing
that would jar or would hurt.  She was catching every word that he
did not say, every shade that it was unnecessary for him to
indicate.

On Monday morning they all travelled back to London together.

C. found a letter from Leila telling him to come round at six.  He
found her alone, and she asked him about his Sunday.

"Who was there?" she asked.

"Only just the family and a Mrs. Fitzclare."

"Mrs. Fitzclare?"

"She lives in Paris.  Fitzclare is in a bank in Paris."

"Was he there?"

"No, he had gone back."

Leila talked of her party.  It had been large and rather official.

"Terence enjoyed it," she said.  "The Stonehenges are very kind.
She's such a nice woman."

They discussed plans for the future, and especially Christmas
plans.  Terence and Leila were going to stay with some people in
Northamptonshire whom C. didn't know.  He was going up for his
examination in December, and when it was over, Wright, who was also
going up for an examination, wanted C. to go to Paris with him.
After Christmas, Leila was going to stay with her sister.  She
would get her to ask C.

Terence came back early from the office that evening.

"I have just met Lady Elizabeth Carteret in the street," he said to
Leila.  "I hadn't seen her for ages.  I've asked her to luncheon to-
morrow.  That's all right, I suppose?"

"Oh, yes," said Leila, "but I've got no one to meet her."

"Won't you come?" said Terence to C.

C. was engaged.  He was having luncheon with his sister-in-law.

"It doesn't matter," said Leila, "I'll get some one."

On the following evening, when C. got back from his chambers, he
found a little note from Leila, written in pencil.  C. read it
quickly and burnt it at once, but the sense of it blazed in his
brain in letters of fire.  It was to this effect: she had not
thought she had been mistaken in HIM, but found that she had made a
mistake; that she had no wish to be an obstacle, and that he must
cut her out of his life altogether.  The letter seared him like a
piece of hot iron.  He did not answer it, but the next morning,
early, he went round to Upper Berkeley Street.  Leila was out
shopping.  In the evening he went round again.  This time she was
not at home.  He walked up and down the street not knowing what he
was doing, like a man in a dream, revolving all sorts of things to
say and to do.  It was incredible, that was the main idea in his
mind.  It could not be true.  She must have meant something else.
There must be some monstrous misunderstanding somewhere.  What
could have happened?  What could be the meaning of it?  If only he
could see her he felt it would be all right in one moment.  So he
thought at one moment, the next he would be boiling over with rage.
What right had she to write to him like that, to say things like
that?  He would never see her again as long as he lived.  He would
forget that she had ever existed.  What did he care?  She was not
worth a thought.  And then, again, he realised that this was, oh,
how untrue!  He admitted how dreadfully he cared.  He would force
his way into the house; he would strangle her, he would kill her,
he would force her to shriek for mercy and beg his pardon on her
knees.  And then, again, he felt that these were the ravings of a
lunatic.  The truth was she was tired of him.  Nothing had
happened.  It was simply a pretext.  She had evidently been meaning
to do this for some time.  And yet only the day before, that last
evening, how gentle she had been to him, how softly her sad eyes
had shone upon him, what silent, rapturous electricity had been in
the touch of her hand when she had said good-bye to him, and how
divine had been her smile at that moment.  He felt certain there
had been nothing wrong then, no shadow between them.  But what
could it be, and what was the meaning and the cause of it?  As he
walked up the street and down the street, round Portman Square, and
then up the street again, all these thoughts raged and revolved in
his head.  As he walked up the street for the last time he saw some
one on the other side of the street stop at Leila's door.  It was
not Terence.  He rang the bell.  It was now dark.  The door opened,
and the light from inside the house lit up his face.  He was
allowed admittance.  It was Dallas Wace.



CHAPTER XXXVI


For three days C. was like a madman.  He wrote Leila a long letter
in which he used the most violent language, but underneath the
violence of the language, which had the ring of sincerity, there
was an apparent basis and residue of sense.  He imagined that some
one must have made mischief, and he suspected Lady Elizabeth.  He
suspected her with reason.  She did not disguise the fact that she
had tried her best to make mischief; in fact, she boasted of having
succeeded, even to C.'s friends.  The friends repeated this to C.,
and he communicated what he had learnt to Leila.  The quarrel was
made up.  C. went up for his examination, spent Christmas with the
Rodens, and after Christmas he stayed for a week with Mrs. Tryan,
and once again hunted with Leila.

In the beginning of the following year, a diplomat who had been
appointed as Second Secretary to the Embassy at Paris, and who was
unmarried, had a great longing to spend two years in England, and
tried to find some one in the Foreign Office who would like to go
abroad and exchange with him.  He asked Terence Bucknell.  Terence
consulted Leila, who was all for going to Paris but for the
question of expense.  It then turned out that Lord Marryat had
taken a flat in Paris and that he no longer wanted it, and he
proposed to Terence and Leila that they should keep it warm for
him.  He would be unable to go to Paris for more than two or three
days during the next year, and as the flat was there and doing
nothing, they might just as well use it.  The Bucknells accepted
this kind unexpected offer, and it was settled that they should go
to Paris in February.

C. was despondent when he heard the news, but resolved,
nevertheless, to go to Paris as soon as and whenever he could.

He passed his examination, but there were still several other
examinations for him to pass which would entail a considerable
amount of reading.  Terence and Leila Bucknell left London at the
end of February.  The night before they had started, C. had dined
at Upper Berkeley Street, and Terence had told him he had better
spend Easter in Paris; he wished there was room in the flat to put
him up.

C. spent the whole of the winter in London working.  He wrote to
Leila every day, and he generally received either a letter or a
note or something from her every day as well.  She liked Paris, she
said; the Ambassador was very kind, there were some nice
secretaries at the Embassy, and often friends from England came
through.  She had not made many great friends in the French world.
A little later she wrote to say she had made the acquaintance of
the Fitzclares.  Mrs. Fitzclare was so VERY pretty and SO much
admired, and Vincent Fitzclare was quite agreeable.

C. and Wright both went to Paris for Easter.  Wright had failed to
pass his examination, but was going to have a second try.  Beatrice
and Vincent Fitzclare had gone to Italy for Easter.  Leila told C.
that at the end of July she was going to take a small house for the
children in the Forest of Fontainebleau.  C. spent a very happy
fortnight in Paris.  He saw Leila all day long and there were no
disturbing elements; no Wilfrid Clay, no Dallas Wace, nobody and
nothing to interfere with his happiness.

In order to read for his next examination and not to be distracted
by London, he, Wright and Malone took a small house together which
was to be let for the summer at Chiswick.  They stayed there the
whole summer, and had a boat of their own, in which they used to
spend the evening, and sometimes the night.  C. went to no
entertainments, balls or parties that summer.  As Leila was not
there, there was no one he wished to see, and he did not even now
want to hear her even talked about by other people.

At the end of July, C. went to Fontainebleau to stay with Leila.
There he spent the most radiant and blissful fortnight, alone with
her and the children.  Terence was kept at Paris by the press of
business; they were so short-handed, but he was coming down later.
C. roamed, walked and bicycled all day with Leila in the forest.
It was like a dream that seemed too good to be true.  Never had she
been more beautiful, more charming, more gentle, more radiant, more
adorable.

C. liked to see how the French people admired her, and one day,
when he heard the old cook, Adle, who looked after the house, say,
"Madame est comme un rayon de soleil," he could have kissed her.

Leila indeed seemed to be shedding the sunshine and the sympathy
that come from great overflowing happiness.

On C.'s last evening at Fontainebleau they went for a bicycle ride
after dinner, and as they were bicycling Leila teasingly said to
C.:--

"In spite of everything you say, you know quite well that if I were
to do anything you didn't like you would never speak to me again."

"You couldn't do anything I should really dislike, because, if you
did, you wouldn't be you."

"I could do all sorts of things that would shock you, that you
would hate, that you would never understand and never forgive."

"There is nothing in the world that you could do that I should mind--
nothing, nothing!"

"Take care, C., take care!  Don't say such things; it's tempting
Providence."

"Don't you see that what I love in you is YOU, and whatever you
have done or might do in the world would never affect THAT?  I love
you because you are YOU, not for anything you think or do.  That is
nothing to do with it."

"I wonder," said Leila pensively.

They were bicycling slowly along a broad, dark avenue of tall, cool
trees.  It was a very hot evening, but in the forest it was cool.

"I don't think you will go on caring for me, C.  After all, you
were in love with Beatrice Fitzclare.  You wanted to marry her."

"That was different."

"I wonder who it will be next, and what it will feel like.  You
will marry, you will be sure to marry.  I shall hear people saying,
'I have asked the Caryl Bramsleys.'  How odd that will sound!  I
suppose I shall get used to it.  One gets used to everything in the
world."

"But don't you see that you are quite different from other people,
and that after one has been with you, other people are so
hopelessly--well, what shall I say?--nothing?  After reading
certain books one simply can't look at others."

"What kind of books?"

"Well, for instance, all love poetry after Heine; all music after
Wagner."

"Oh, Wagner!  I wonder where we shall be when we meet again?  I
don't think we shall stay very long in Paris, not more than a year.
We shall never have a time like this again as long as we live.  I
feel that.  It is the kind of thing that so rarely happens in life.
Life, especially my life, is so crowded with tiresome things I have
to do, and tiresome people I have to see.  And yours will be some
day.  But just every now and then one sometimes has an escape like
this fortnight at Fontainebleau.  It is a sort of treat that is
given one, but I'm sure it happens very seldom.  Oh, C., don't
forget me quite when you go away!  I shall be SO lonely."

"You generally have too many friends about you."

"You know, you really do know, don't you, how little they count?"

"Haven't you made any new friends in Paris?"

"Not one real friend.  I go to people's days.  I leave cards.  We
are asked out to dinner perpetually.  We go to large official
dinners; Embassy dinners, Rothschild dinners; dinners with Foreign
colleagues, or with Terence's racing friends.  We sometimes dine at
restaurants with London friends who are passing through, and go to
the play.  We sometimes dine with one or two French people or with
English people, and Americans who live here--like the Fitzclares--
and so it goes on.  So as far as FRIENDS go, the only friends I
have seen are the English people I have seen before.  The French
are very civil, of course, and sometimes very amusing, but one
could never be friends with them."

"I'm sure they must admire you."

"They don't admire English women.  They have got quite a different
standard.  They think we are, all of us, too tall and thin and
scraggy, and they think, with reason, that we are badly dressed."

"But you are not tall and scraggy, and they couldn't think you
badly dressed."

"You don't understand these things.  There are degrees.  I am well
dressed for an English woman, well dressed in London, but here it's
different.  They take much more trouble.  They know more."

"Nothing will make me believe they don't admire you.  I can see it
by the way they look at you here.  I know it by what Adle says."

"They think it rude not to flatter one, not to pay compliments and
make up to one; that is, of course, a convention.  But I could
never be really friends with a French person, either man or woman.
I feel I am too different."

"Has Dallas Wace been in Paris this year?"

"No, not once.  It's funny you should dislike him so.  I think he's
so agreeable."

"I hate him, hate the sight of him."

"I wonder what we shall all be doing this time next year."

They got off their bicycles.  The moon had risen like a large tawny
shield; they pulled their bicycles up on to the grass under the
dark stems of the trees, and they lay down on the grass, and drank
in to the full the magic of the August night.  It was the
culminating moment of C.'s youth.  He felt as if he had stepped
off the edge of the planet into an unutterable, incredible,
indescribable, unending eternity of happiness.  This, he thought,
could never be again.  If the fleeting moment could only stay.  For
it was so fair, so very fair . . .

He left Fontainebleau the next morning.  The parting was agonising.
Leila drove with him to the station.

"Think of me to-night," she said, "if you see the moonrise.  I
shall be so very lonely without you.  Perhaps you will stay the
night in Paris?"

"No, I shall go straight through, by Dieppe, to-night."

Leila was expecting Terence to luncheon that day.  The train by
which she expected him to arrive was due shortly after C.'s train
left.  As they were waiting on the platform, and just before the
train started, a little boy in a blouse, who did the odd jobs in
the house, arrived with a telegram in his hand.  He said it had
come almost directly after they had started for the station, and he
had pursued them on his bicycle.

Leila opened it.

"It's from Terence," she said.

At that moment the guard blew his little horn and shouted, "En
voiture, Mesdames et Messieurs."

C., after one last hurried good-bye, jumped into the carriage.
Leila waved at him as the train steamed out of the station.

When he got to Paris, he found the town insufferably stuffy, dusty
and hot.  He left his luggage at the Gare St. Lazare, in the cloak
room, and he began to wander about Paris in search of a place where
he might have luncheon.  He walked until he reached the Place de la
Madeleine, and then he turned into the Rue Royale, and went into
one of the cafs, where he had luncheon by himself, thinking over
his first visit to Paris and everything that had happened since.
He drank his coffee outside; he asked for some paper and a pen, and
he wrote a long letter to Leila.  Just as he was going out of the
caf whom should he meet but Freddy Calhoun, whom he had not seen,
except for a moment at his father's funeral, since he had left
Eton.  Freddy Calhoun had preceded him at Eton (Albert, the second
boy, had gone to Harrow), but they had, nevertheless, known each
other; and after that, Freddy had been to Cambridge for a short
time, and then had passed into the Diplomatic Service, and was now
Attach at Paris.  He was the eldest son and extremely well off.
He had grown up into an extremely amiable, friendly, good-natured,
good-looking young man, whom every one liked, and C. laughed to
himself when he thought how he had dreaded his company as a child.

Freddy was genuinely pleased to see his old neighbour.

"I say," he said, "you simply must come and dine with me to-night."

C. explained that he was passing through Paris on his way back from
Fontainebleau, where he had been staying with friends, and was
leaving Paris for London by the night train vi Dieppe.

"Are you in a desperate hurry to be back?"

"No, I'm not, but now I've settled to go I suppose I'd better, all
my luggage is at the station.  I haven't got a room at an hotel."

"I never heard such nonsense.  You must stay with me.  I've got a
flat not far from the Arc de Triomphe, and a spare room and spare
bathroom.  Of course, you must come.  Directly I get back to the
Embassy I'll see that your luggage is sent for."

C. was tempted to stay another night in Paris; there might--one
never knew--by some kaleidoscopic shake of circumstance, be another
chance of seeing Leila once more.

"Well, if you really mean it," he said, "I will; only don't you
bother to send for the luggage, I'll do all that myself if you tell
me where to take it to."

"No, no, you'd better let me do it.  You see, the fact is, I don't
live alone, I'm en menage.  I suppose you don't mind that, only I
must let Thrse know you're coming."

"Oh, I'm sure it's inconvenient."

"If it was I shouldn't have asked you; we often have some one to
stay, and there's nothing Thrse likes so much.  You'll like her.
She's great fun, and it really is doing her a service.  It's a dull
life here for her in summer; I want to send her to some watering
place, but she won't go by herself, and I can't get away just at
present.  The best thing for you to do is to come round to the
Embassy at half-past five.  Give me your luggage receipt now and I
will have all that arranged for you."

"Are you quite sure it's all right?" C. asked a last time.

"My dear fellow, my dear old C., I shouldn't hear of your leaving
Paris without stopping a night with me.  I wouldn't hear of it.  I
can't tell you how glad I am to see you.  It's such a comfort to
see some one here who belongs to something one has known before,--
some one I can understand.  I don't understand these people here,
and I don't pretend to.  I never go out.  I live entirely with
Thrse, so it's all right, but if it wasn't for her, I don't know
what I should do.  Well, I've got to go back to the Embassy now, we
might walk down that way together, if you've got nothing better to
do."

There was such an obviously genuine ring in Freddy's voice and a
look of such undisguised pleasure in his expression at having met
C. that the latter was convinced that he really was wanted, and he
had no afterthought of doubt, as they strolled towards the Embassy.
He was in no particular hurry to get back.  He was expected by the
Rodens towards the end of the week, but they had told him he could
arrive any day he liked; if he would telegraph the day before;--
that would be sufficient.  And who knows?  There might be another
chance of seeing Leila again.  Life was full of surprises.  Little
did he know, as such thoughts flitted through his mind, how true
they were going to prove presently.

He walked back with Freddy to the Embassy, and left him there.  He
was to call for him again at half-past five.  Until then, he spent
the time wandering about the streets and sometimes sitting outside
cafs.



CHAPTER XXXVII


Freddy drove C. home to his flat, which was on the north-east side
of the Arc de Triomphe and not far from the Avenue du Bois de
Boulogne.  It was on the third floor; it was clean, tidy, neat, and
elegant.  There was a drawing-room with light grey Louis XV.
boiseries, a cottage pianoforte, and two little bookcases, full of
a collection of modern French poets, bound in green, a great many
flowers, and everywhere you felt the influence of a feminine touch;
there was a spacious, comfortable dining-room, and a sitting-room
for Freddy, which was also used as a smoking-room, and which had
large green leather armchairs in it and a huge writing table.

Thrse was out when they arrived.  Freddy had warned her of C.'s
arrival, and she had gone out to buy a few things--some accessories
to her clothes.  C.'s luggage had arrived, and he found all his
things had been put out ready for him by Freddy's English servant.

Thrse came in about half an hour later, and C. was introduced to
her.  She had chestnut, wavy hair and soft brown eyes.  There was
an air of refinement about her.  Dinner was discussed.  Where
should it be?  It was too hot to dine indoors.  Why should they not
dine at Malmaison, a caf far out in the Bois de Boulogne?  Freddy
assented--supported by Thrse--but suggested the terrace at
Bellevue as an alternative.  Thrse voted for Malmaison, which
was, she said, cooler.  She would invite Jaqueline, she said.

"Why?" asked Freddy.

"Parcequ'elle est toute seule ce soir, et nous serons quatre, c'est
plus gai."

She would send a note, she said, but, as a matter of fact, as it
turned out afterwards, she had asked her already.

Jaqueline was a friend of Thrse.  She was the unofficial wife of
a rich banker who lived with his legitimate wife and family in the
Boulevard Hausmann.  C. had a bath, and Thrse spent an infinity
of time in dressing and appeared towards eight o'clock, very simply
dressed, but looking ravishing in a large black hat with one flower
in it.  They waited for Jaqueline.  She was late.  She was older
than Thrse and larger; she was dark, with something frank,
honest, engaging, and not super-intelligent about her expression.
She was delighted at the idea of this sudden, unexpected treat.
Freddy's carriage, an elegant brougham, which was driven by an
immobile and immaculate English coachman, was waiting for them, but
Thrse said that as it was so hot they would go in an open fiacre,
so they all drove off together, the two men sitting on the little
seat.  The restaurant was far off, but when they got there it was
at least cool.  They chose a table in a secluded part of the
garden, under a large tree.  There were but few diners.  Paris was
at that moment quite empty.  All the French frequenters of this
kind of restaurant had gone, that is to say, all who could go, and
there were not many foreigners, and no English.  The diplomats went
to their regular haunts not so far off, or stayed at home.

Freddy ordered dinner and champagne.  Thrse liked dry, and
Jaqueline sweet, champagne, so they had to have two bottles.  C.,
out of politeness to Jaqueline, said that he, too, liked sweet
champagne.  At the beginning of dinner Thrse and Jaqueline talked
to each other without taking notice of the men, as they exchanged
rapid items of information as to who were the diners--who the
female diners were "with," punctuated with comments, plentiful and
frank, as to what they were wearing and who had probably paid for
it.  Then the conversation, after this purely technical episode was
over, became general, and they talked gaily on various topics.

In a line with their table, but half concealed from them by the
stem of a tall tree, there was another table, at which a party of
four were sitting: two women and two men.  Thrse asked Jaqueline
who was sitting there, in the middle of the general conversation
and in a different tone, as of one expert questioning another
before people who did not understand.  Jaqueline said she could not
see very well, but she thought it was . . . (and the name escaped
C.) and La Bucknell, with her back turned towards their table.  C.
felt a cold shiver down his back.  For the moment he couldn't even
try to look.  He drank a whole glass of champagne at a gulp.

"Elle est sans son mari, naturellement," said Thrse.

"He's gone away," said Freddy.

"That's why he wanted to dine here," said Thrse, pointing at
Freddy mockingly.  "You know," she explained to C., "she's his new
flirt."

Freddy got scarlet.  "What nonsense!" he said.

"Avec qui est-elle ce soir?" she said to Jaqueline, once more in
the confidential expert tone.

"Fitzclare, naturellement," was the answer.

C. felt the place swimming round him.  He bent to the right, and
sure enough he had a glimpse of Vincent Fitzclare, sitting with his
profile towards their table, next to Leila, who was sitting with
her back to them.  He did not know who was her vis--vis, nor who
was the man on her left.  Jaqueline enlightened them.  Now, she
said, she could see them all: it was "Bob" and, of course, Madame
Ibanez.

"No wonder Freddy insisted on coming here," said Thrse.  "I
proposed Bellevue and lots of other places, but he insisted on
coming here.  Simplement pour voir le bout. . . ."

But Freddy interrupted her.  It was quite monstrously ridiculous,
he said.  He had suggested their dining wherever SHE liked, and it
was she who had chosen Malmaison.  "I didn't care where we dined,
did I, C.?"  C. nodded.  He wasn't listening.  The conversation
seemed to be happening in another plane, infinitely far off.

"C'est parfait!" said Thrse.

"Bucknell's had to go to London to-day," said Freddy.  "His
mother's very ill.  He left this morning suddenly, in a hurry--"

Thrse laughed.  "De mieux en mieux," she said.  He would really
be able to enjoy himself now.  The only drawback was Fitzclare.
Ah! he was a drawback.  "On ne badine pas avec celui-l."

"They hardly know each other," said Freddy, irritated.

"Mon pauvre petit, tout le monde sait qu'il est son amant.  Tout le
monde sauf son pauvre mari; elle ne le cache pas."

"All this is because I had the misfortune to say one day to
Thrse," Freddy explained to C., "that I thought Mrs. Bucknell
dressed better than most English women."

Thrse appealed to Jaqueline.  She assured her, on her word of
honour, that Freddy had been lyrical on the subject of Mrs.
Bucknell, not only on her dress but on her beauty and her charm--

"Well, if it comes to that, I do think she is very pretty," said
Freddy.  "Everybody thinks so."

"coutez, coutez.  Voil, voil bien les hommes," said Thrse.
"Once the mot d'ordre has been passed round, they all say the same
thing.  But you can be the most beautiful woman in the world, and
you won't attract the faintest attention without this mot d'ordre.
The fact is men don't admire beautiful women.  They admire women
who take them in, and how easy that is to do!  Cette Bucknell, for
instance, what has she got?  Eyes--yes--one could admit that, and a
figure which isn't bad; but then, who hasn't?  But her hair is
IMPOSSIBLE, is always done anyhow. . . .  Freddy, of course,
admires that . . . et ce nez trouv dans un accident de chemin de
fer!  And as for her clothes, anybody can have nice clothes if you
have so many people to pay for them."

Freddy interrupted her.  C., he said, knew the Bucknells, and
probably liked them very much, and they were, at any rate, friends
of his family.

Thrse apologised, but C. was hardly conscious of what she was
saying.  He was stunned by the bare fact of Leila sitting there at
that table, not fifty yards off, laughing and talking to Vincent
Fitzclare.  Leila, whom he had left this morning in tears at
Fontainebleau!--his Leila!  It was so impossible that it was comic.
He laughed out loud.  Thrse thought he was laughing at her
violence.  She laughed too.

"But you see," she explained, "it is trying sometimes, you must
admit.  One does take infinite trouble to try and make oneself look
nice, so that Freddy shouldn't be ashamed of one, and so that he
might even be a little bit PROUD of one, but does he ever notice
it?  No, never.  He never notices if I have a new hat or a new
cloak, or, in fact, anything--I might wear anything--he takes all
that for granted, but if he sees some complete stranger, or a new
friend, a new flirt--La Bucknell, for instance--in one of last
year's fashions that nobody wears any more, he comes home raving
about it."

"They're all the same," said Jaqueline.  "Arthur is just the same."

"Thrse can't bear one to mention another woman," Freddy said,
laughing.  "Isn't it true?" he said, taking her hand.

At that moment the party at the next table got up to go.  They
walked straight out, and did not pass near Freddy's table because
their way out lay at right angles to it.

C. had a good view of all of them as they went out.  Leila went
first.  She had on a white satin and black lace cloak--it was
lovely (that is to say he thought so)--and a black hat with white
flowers in it.  Then went a lady who looked like a Spaniard and who
may have been, he thought, one of the Argentine ladies he had met
with Beatrice at the play the year before.  Then there was Vincent
Fitzclare, very galant and full of attentions, and another man, a
dark, foreign-looking person whom C. did not know by sight.  Leila
did not look in their direction, nor did the others; she walked out
of the restaurant as though completely unconscious of the presence
of any other people there.

"I apologise," said Thrse to C., "if I said anything rude about
any friends of your family.  The worst of me is that I am terribly
frank.  Freddy will tell you this is true.  When I instinctively
feel antipathies or sympathies, I can't help saying so; c'est plus
fort que moi.  Je suis comme cela; and that is just what I feel
about that woman.  She has done me no harm.  She doesn't know I
exist, and she never will know, probably; but in spite of that, I
don't like her--I can't bear her.  She is antipathetic to me in the
highest degree.  I feel that she is rosse--that there is no trick
she wouldn't play you--and then she's HARD.  Oh! la la la."

"Let's talk about something else," said Freddy.

"I was only explaining," said Thrse.

C. seemed to have split into a double personality: one half of
himself was listening to Thrse, and the other half was miles
away.  They had finished dinner now, and were drinking coffee and
smoking, and Freddy had ordered some yellow Chartreuse.  C. drank
several glasses of it.  Then he began to talk quite gaily, to chaff
Thrse and Jaqueline.  They thought him delightful and so en
train.  He had, Thrse said to Freddy, none of the stiffness that
was usually the mark of an Englishman.

They stayed late.  It was, so Thrse said, so cool.  Jaqueline
drew attention to the moon, which was full; she thought it was the
full moon, or was it last night it had been full?  C. laughed.  He
was thinking of Leila's words of the night before.  And then he
drifted back to the dream stage.  Everything about him seemed
unreal, like a scene on the stage.  Freddy Calhoun--why had he met
him, and why was he with him in Paris, out of doors, with two
French women?  That was the kind of thing that happened in a dream
and did not happen in real life.  It couldn't surely happen in real
life?  He would wake up and find himself--where would he find
himself?  In London or in Rome, or at Fontainebleau?  And while he
was thinking all this he went on talking quite gaily, laughing,
chaffing, answering, arguing, as if he had been wound up like a
musical box.  It was some one else doing that, not himself.  He
himself was somewhere else; perhaps he was dead.  Perhaps this was
the next world.  Perhaps it was Hell.  That was what Hell would be
like, he had so often thought.  It would be a place with an
appearance, a false air of gaiety about it, and plenty of
champagne, and small tables.  It was a hot night.  This was the
coolest place in Paris, and even here HE thought it was stifling.
One could hardly breathe.

"Il a l'air fatigu," said Thrse to Freddy, talking of C.

After a time they made a move.  Jaqueline proposed their taking two
cabs this time.  She and C. would go in one, and Thrse and Freddy
in the other.  Before they left, Freddy whispered to C. that it
didn't matter how late he was.

C. and Jaqueline went for a drive round the Bois.  Jaqueline became
sentimental and confidential, and poured out her troubles, which
were intensely commonplace and soothing to C. under the
circumstances.  Jaqueline's was an intensely bourgeois domestic
nature.  She ought to have been the mother of a large family, with
a complicated household to run and affairs in the village to look
after.  She had missed her vocation.  And she made vain efforts to
try and shine in the world in which she lived.  With C. she made no
such efforts.  She talked of her life--the trouble she had with
servants, how she had had to send away the cook the day before.
How she wanted to go to the country.  She was going, of course, but
she did not yet know where.  She would like to go to the seaside,
but to some quiet place.  She hated the ordinary smart bains de
mer.  She would like to go to some small quiet place--le Crotoy
possibly.  Or, failing the sea, somewhere near a river, the Oise
for preference.  But all this depended on Arthur.  Arthur was very
good, and he always let her go away in the summer, but it had to be
somewhere where he could come for a few days if he could get away.
Life was very difficult.  Thrse was a fortunate girl to have
found Freddy; he was so gentil and so comme il faut, and then so
well-off.  Of course, she didn't suppose he would stay in Paris
very long.  At the most two years.  And then. . . .  He had not
been here a year yet . . . there would be time enough to think of
such things then.  He was a charming boy, and very faithful to
Thrse--trs sage.  Thrse was jealous; that had to be faced.  It
was her only fault.  He didn't really give her cause for jealousy;
that was all nonsense about Mrs. Bucknell.  It is true he did
admire her.  Of course, seeing her at the Embassy, and she being
that kind of woman, how could he help adoring her?

"What kind of woman?" asked C.

"Vous savez trs bien," she said.  "For a real bad woman commend me
to a femme du monde.  They are much worse than nous autres.  Nous
autres, nous avons le cur grand comme le monde, mais celles-l
quand elles commencent!  Oh! la la."

"Do you think she is very bad?" C. heard himself ask.

"Je ne le crois pas.  J'en suis sre," said Jaqueline.  "Just think
how she treats that wretched husband of hers; et non seulement son
mari, et son amant; mais son amant de cur, car elle a un amant de
cur.  And then, what does she live on?  Pour mener la vie qu'elle
mne.  It's money she cares for.  Where does she get those pearls,
those emeralds, those hats, and those sorties de bal?  We go to the
same dressmaker," she explained, "and so I KNOW what she orders and
what she spends, and I assure you that she spends immense sums, and
it's always paid.  She's very careful, very case; her bills are
always paid at once.  But SHE pays them herself.  For instance, she
had a new necklace, a new row of pearls, last month.  Vincent
Fitzclare gives her money.  He is very rich, and he spends what he
likes NOW . . . well, he doesn't care; he knows he is finished.  He
hasn't long to live.  I don't know what's the matter with him--some
heart disease, or perhaps worse.  So he is making the best of it.
His wife, poor thing, he has treated her very badly.  They say she
used to be pretty.  Now she's nothing; sympathique, yes.  Bonne
comme de l'or, probably.  Just the sort of wife a man like
Fitzclare would have; he is a real viveur, a real Parisien.  Il a
fait une noce  tout casser maintenant il est plus que vann; il
est fini!" He had been ruined twice, but he had always made money
again.  Now he was said to be richer than ever.  He had an
extraordinary flair and talent for business, and a very good post.
His situation was solide; Arthur had told her so, and Arthur knew.
Arthur was a sommit in le monde des affaires, and he admired
Vincent Fitzclare.  It was in his youth that Fitzclare had been
imprudent.  Now it didn't matter.  He would leave no children.
They had only had one child, and it had died.  It was just as well.
The children would have had un triste heritage.

C. said he would drive Jaqueline back to her appartement before he
went home.  She lived in a street out of the Rue Montaigne.  When
they got there, she asked him to come in for a moment.  He did.  He
found a strange comfort in Jaqueline's society.  He thought that
her heart, in any case, was grand comme le monde.  And when they
got upstairs, and she offered him a citronade or some whisky, she
saw that he was sad, and she felt that something had happened.  She
did not, of course, bother him with any questions either about that
or about anything else.  She talked and soothed him and told him
every kind of thing, and treated him like a tired child.

It was very late when he got home.  It was broad daylight.
Everything seemed more unreal than ever to C.  He walked upstairs
and threw off his clothes and fell into a deep sleep.  He did not
wake the next morning till ten o'clock.  Freddy had told the
servants not to disturb him.  When he woke he did not at first
remember where he was, and then he felt a horrible undefinable
sensation.  He knew that something disagreeable had happened, but
he had forgotten what, and then, in a flash, it all came back to
him, and he buried his face in the pillow and tried to put away the
vision and the thought of the monstrous nightmare.



CHAPTER XXXVIII


Freddy came into his room and told him not to bother to get up till
he felt inclined.  He would be back to luncheon.  Of course he must
stay a few more days, but C. said this was impossible.  He was
expected at his aunt's, and he was late already.  He insisted on
going back by the night train vi Dieppe.

Freddy and Thrse saw him off at the station.

"You must come again," they said.  C. promised he would.

The C. who returned to England was a different person from the C.
who had started for Fontainebleau.  His boyhood had been burnt away
in a night.  He felt not only a hundred years older, but a
different person; as if he had shed one personality and taken on
another.  Or, rather, as if he had passed through a furnace and a
part of his old self had been burnt away.

When he got to his rooms he found nothing from Leila awaiting him.

He went down to Elladon in the afternoon.  It was a Friday.  The
following Monday he received a letter from Leila from Fontainebleau,
dated Friday.  It ran as follows:--


I have had no word from you since you left--since you said good-bye
to me at the station.  If you had gone to London straight after
leaving me on Wednesday night, as you said you were going to do, I
could have had a letter on Friday.  I should have been surprised
not to have had a telegram, but, as it is, I QUITE understood.  I
went up to Paris on Wednesday later to try and see Terence before
he left for London, but I didn't catch him.  And quite by chance I
dined with some friends of mine (and of yours) at the Bois de
Boulogne.  There I saw you with your friends.  I couldn't believe
my eyes at first, but Mr. Fitzclare told me who you all were.  I
think you will agree there is nothing more to be said.  I QUITE
understand why you found it difficult to write.


C. sat down to answer this letter.  He wrote several letters, but
he tore them all up.  He felt that letters were indeed useless.  He
found life at Elladon impossible at this moment, and he made an
excuse to go to London.  Malone had gone to Norway with a friend to
fish, and Wright was rubbing up his German with a German family at
Heidelberg.  There was no one in London whom he knew.  At the same
time, he was happier alone than with people whom he knew well, and
with whom he was supposed to be cheerful.

He said to himself that he would concentrate on work, and pass his
next examination brilliantly, but he found that he was totally
incapable of concentration; he read, but after reading four or five
pages, he found he had retained nothing, and the vision of Leila
came between him and the printed word--an image which inspired him
with love and with hate, alternately and simultaneously.

A vicious circle of argument was burning in his brain.  He didn't
believe, he assured himself over and over again, a word of what
those French women had said about Leila.  But why had she been
there?  Why hadn't she told him she might be going to Paris?  He
was there when the telegram arrived, and she said it was from
Terence.  It was true the train was just starting, but there was
time to say that he was going away.  She might have travelled with
him; but she had no luggage, and then she wanted to stay the night.
But again, if what she said in her letter were true, she knew she
was going to stay the night.  Then, in that case, why didn't she
come with him?  Why didn't she tell him?  But, after all, supposing
all she said were true, supposing he had done her the grossest
injustice, supposing it were quite by chance that she had gone out
to dinner that night; all the same, he knew, he knew by her face--
as he had seen it then--by her manner, by her whole attitude, that
she was not the same Leila whom he had left at Fontainebleau.  Did
he know that?  Was that true?  She might be wearing a mask, just
playing up, as people did in life every day.  No, she wouldn't have
been there at all, if she had felt what she had pretended to feel.
There was nothing odd about her dining out; of course not, if she
had been in Paris--of course not.  But what was odd was her
silence, her not telling him.  If she had thought there was a
chance of her going to Paris, there was no reason why they should
not have had dinner together.  As it was, she had said nothing.
Perhaps Terence had telegraphed twice.  The day after he arrived in
London he wrote to Leila again and said he had remained in Paris
quite by chance, having met Freddy Calhoun, whom he had known all
his life, in the street.  Freddy had insisted on his staying the
night, and he had been stunned by the sight of her in the Bois de
Boulogne.  He had thought that if there had been the least chance
of her being in Paris that day she would have told him.  She had
told him nothing.  He begged her to write, if only a letter of
abuse; this silence was driving him mad.  Leila wrote to him again:--


I always thought you might change, but I never dreamt it could
happen SO quickly and SO soon; it IS so strange that nothing I say
now seems to have any effect on you.  I tell you the simple truth
and you don't believe me!  I don't know what you believe, but I am
not going to defend myself to you, as if you were a lawyer or a
judge, or as if I were in any way in the wrong.  I didn't tell you
I was going to Paris, because when I said good-bye to you I didn't
know.  I had NO idea I was going to Paris myself.  If you remember,
I hadn't even time to read Terence's telegram before your train
left.  I had just opened it when they bundled you into the train,
and I only just had time to say good-bye.  When the train left I
read his telegram.  He told me that he was going to London and I
thought he meant by the night train, of course.  That was, it
turned out, his original idea, but he found he could catch the
earlier train, so he went by it.  I went STRAIGHT to Paris by the
next train and missed him.  But I met Vincent Fitzclare in the
street and he asked me to dine with them and I accepted.  Later I
got a message that Beatrice had gone to bed with a bad headache,
but they were all dining at Malmaison, and that I was still
expected.  As I was alone, I was glad to have somewhere to dine.
There was nobody at the flat, and the cook had taken her evening
off, thinking there would be no one there.  Of course, I had no
idea you were still in Paris.  Well, that is all.  There is nothing
more to say.  There is nothing to be said, as I told you before.
You have shown me, PROVED to me, what you really think about me,
what you really feel for me, and it is just as well this should
have happened NOW--just as well FOR YOU as for me.  I already
thought this once before, but then I was weak, and thought that
perhaps I had been wrong.  Alas!  I was right--you, too, have made
a mistake about me and I want you to realise THAT.  You think I am
the sort of person who will endure anything.  That you can blow hot
and cold, but no.  It is true I was very fond of you--too fond of
you; FOOLISHLY, MADLY fond of you, no doubt.  It was silly of me!
I am older than you, and I ought to have known that such a
friendship was not likely to last.  I ought to have known better.
It was really IMPOSSIBLE, I ought to have known what people were
likely to attract you.  However, I was foolish.  I didn't think.  I
just lived in the present and now I am being cruelly punished.
Please, please don't write to me again.  When I see your
handwriting on an envelope it gives me a curious pain in the heart,
like neuralgia.  I put the letter by for a little--it hurts me to
open it.


But C. did write again.  He wrote a long letter and impassioned
defence, and at the end of it, he implored Leila to forget the
whole thing.  He had been wrong;--he admitted it to the full; but
it was only the intensity of his love that had caused him to act as
he had acted. . . .  He wrote burning words, and they were alive
and fiery with sincerity, and yet they came from a different part
of him than the same words would have come from some months ago.
Something in him had been broken, which could not be mended, and
poisonous seeds had been sown--although he would not have admitted
it.  He had torn out the plants that had grown up from these seeds,
torn them out violently by the roots, but the seeds were there,
nevertheless, and fresh weeds would grow from them in the future.

When he left the Rodens they expected him to come back in a few
days, and he had left them under the impression that he was coming
back.  He intended to go back if nothing unexpected happened, but
he felt that he must remain for the present in London.  He was
nearer Paris.  He could, if he wanted to, start at a moment's
notice for Paris, and without explanations: whereas at Elladon
there would be all sorts of difficulties, and he would have to
explain.  It was the evening of his fourth day in London when he
met Wakefield at a music hall--Wakefield, his former colleague in
Rome.  They talked together in the foyer; and when the performance
was over, Wakefield walked back with C. to his rooms.  Wakefield
was, he said, no longer at Rome, he had been at Paris since the
beginning of the year.

"I was at Paris the other day," said C.  "I had dinner with Freddy
Calhoun."

"And Thrse, I suppose?"

"Yes."

"I like Thrse, only she's rather tiresome on certain subjects."

"What subjects?" asked C.

"Oh, all that femme du monde nonsense."

"Yes, I suppose all that IS great nonsense."

"Of course, there's nothing she doesn't say about any one in that
category, especially if they are English, and, after all, she has
only seen about two of them in the distance--English women, I mean--
in her life."

"Do you know a friend of hers called--"

"Jaqueline?"

"Yes."

"I should think I did.  She's a very good sort, but rather
cramponne, very difficult to get rid of."

"Of course you know Terence Bucknell," said C., tentatively.

"Of course.  I like them so much.  They are a great addition."

"I wonder if he will try and exchange altogether?"

"I should think it improbable, they've got so many friends in
England."

"But I suppose they've got a lot of friends in Paris by now."

"Of course, but that's never quite the same thing, is it, for
people who are used to living in England?  And then Paris is
different from other posts.  They wouldn't be able to stay in
Paris.  They would have to go somewhere like Rio or Tokio."

"Yes, that's the worst of it."

"You've quite given up all idea of trying for it now?"

"Quite."

"I daresay you're right, but I don't think it's worse than other
professions."

"Oh, I suppose not."

"And if one makes up one's mind to like it, there's a good chance
of getting on."

"When are you going back to Paris?"

"Not just yet.  I've just come away on leave.  I shall be back in
about a month."

"Do you happen to know a man called Fitzclare?"

"Oh, yes, the man in the Egyptian Bank.  I know him and his wife.
He's very ill just now."

"Really?"

"He's not expected to recover.  He dined out of doors last week and
fell ill the next day."

"What is it?"

"I don't quite know, it's all sorts of things and something to do
with the heart, I think, and a chill into the bargain.  He's always
been very imprudent and never taken any precautions."

"Do you know her?"

"Yes, quite well; they've both of them been very good to me."

"I suppose she is very anxious and unhappy?"

"Ye--es--yes, of course."

That was all that Wakefield said about the Bucknells and the
Fitzclares.  C. thought he was guarded and wondered whether he had
heard anything.  A few days later he read in The Times that Vincent
Fitzclare had died in Paris.  He was buried in the Pre la Chaise
and a requiem Mass had been said for him at Saint Philippe du
Roule.  C. wrote to Beatrice.  He then thought it would be as well
for him to go back to Elladon, but when the moment for starting
came, he felt he could not really face that cheerful, boisterous
atmosphere just at the moment.  But what was he to do, and what was
he to say?

Every day he expected a letter from Leila, but as the days passed
he came to the conclusion that she wouldn't write now.  He began to
think, too, that he had been monstrously to blame.  How could he
have listened to the conversation of those French women for one
minute?  But he wasn't listening;--he was stunned by seeing Leila;
and then the old argument would begin once more to go round in his
head; the whole vicious circle of accusation and justification of
herself and himself.  Would there never be an end to it?  Evidently
she was not going to write.  What should he do?  He reflected that
six months ago he would have taken the next train to Paris, and now
he was not doing so.  Why not?  Finally, he settled to go back to
Elladon.  He couldn't work in London, and it would be better to be
there with people he was fond of, than alone in empty London,
pretending to read, and in reality doing nothing.  And who knows?
the nightmare might lift suddenly when he least expected it.

C. stayed at Elladon till the beginning of the September term, when
he came back to London once more to resume reading for his law
examinations and to eat his dinners.  He lived, as before, with
Wright and Malone; but the establishment, or rather the
partnership, was to be partly broken up before long.  Malone's
father died that autumn, leaving Gerald quite a decent competence.
There were no brothers or sisters; Gerald's mother had died a long
time ago.  He was alone and independent.  He had nearly finished
eating his dinners; he had passed two examinations, but had several
more to pass.  His father's death and the inheritance that came to
him from it had the effect of underlining his distaste for the law.
He would certainly have gone to the Colonies at this moment, or set
out on some distant travels, if he had not fallen in love with the
daughter of a professor of physical culture who had left her home,
and who had now a small walking-on part in a spectacular piece that
was going on at the Alcazar Theatre.

Her name was Esther Bliss.  She had copper-coloured hair and long
grey eyes, and the first thing that Gerald did with his inheritance
was to buy her some pearls.  He left his rooms in Ryder Street, and
moved into a flat in Knightsbridge; and there, during the winter
months, he lived a life of great gaiety and extravagance.  C. and
Wright both took part in it.  Gerald's rooms were on the top floor
in a street that was an off-shoot of Sloane Street.  One night
Gerald gave a sumptuous dinner to his old Oxford friends.  Wright,
Hallam, Wilfrid Abbey and others were there.  There was a good
deal of music and song.  After dinner some one strummed on the
piano . . . tunes that reminded them all of their Oxford days.

At the height of the fun C. walked out on to a balcony.  Round the
table, in the dining-room, there was a loud argument going on as to
whether Eastern philosophy were superior or not to Western
philosophy.  In the sitting-room, in one corner, some one was
telling Wilfrid Abbey a very long, detailed story, and Abbey was
listening with quiet attention.  Some one else was playing a song
at the pianoforte--a song called The Truthful Lover--and Gerald was
singing it at the top of his voice.  Some were listening, and some
were not.

The balcony belonged to the sitting-room, and from it C and Wright
leaned out and looked up at the stars and down on to the glistening
pavement.  It had been raining.

They stopped in their talk and listened to the music.  They had
often heard the song before.

"That reminds me of Gerald's rooms at Oxford," said Wright.  "Do
you remember that time when. . . ."

The flood-gates of reminiscence were opened--


     Once you were fair as a flower, dear,
       Tender and sweet and kind,
     And every fleeting hour, dear,
       Closer our hearts entwined;
     And I was brave and true, dear,
       A hero of chivalree,
     But _I_ have found out YOU, dear,
       And YOU have found out ME.

     And so we have played our parts, dear,
       On the lines that we chose to take;
     We have not broken our hearts, dear--
       Hearts like OURS don't break.
     I fear our love was not true, dear,
       I know we are glad to be free,
     For I am TIRED of you, dear,
       And you are TIRED of me,


sang Gerald.

Wright and C. paused in their talk.

"How easily one could fall or jump off this balcony!" said Wright.
"Shall we do it?"  He meant it as a joke, but C. astonished him by
saying quite seriously:

"Yes, let's do it.  That would be far the best solution, and the
quickest.  I will if you do."  He began to climb to the ledge.
Wright pulled him away.

"Don't be an ass!  We'll throw out a bottle instead!"  And C. threw
out a bottle of champagne, and narrowly missed hitting a policeman.



CHAPTER XXXIX


C. was never called to the Bar.  He went up for some more
examinations and failed to pass them.  Sir Shreeve Mellings told
him that he had not the legal mind, and that he would be wise to
find something else to do.  His brother Edward got him the offer of
a billet in Australia, a secretaryship to one of the Governors, but
nothing would induce C. to even consider the question of leaving
England.  In the meantime, the Rodens, so Edward said, had suffered
financial reverses.  They were not, of course, ruined, nor anything
like it, but they were embarrassed, and it was doubtful whether
Mrs. Roden would be able to continue the allowance that she had
hitherto been making to C.  (As a matter of fact, she did, for the
Roden reverses never materialised outside Edward's imagination.)
It became imperatively necessary, he said, that C. should find
something to do.

At last--again through the good offices of Edward--a billet was
found for C. in a Government office.  It was a small office, to be
found in Westminster, and which I will call the Sardine Fisheries
Department, although that was not its name, nor had it anything to
do with fish or the sea.

"Of course, it leads to nothing," Edward said.  C. said he was
quite indifferent to that.  It was a billet at any rate.  C. took
up his duties at the beginning of the New Year.  The work was not
burdensome, the hours were not overwhelming, the work was not less
interesting than could be expected, the fellow officials were
friendly.  C. preferred it to the City, that is to say, to the
thought of being in Edward's office.  His life now settled down
into a regular groove.  He had given up definitely any ideas of
literary work, although he once or twice contributed prose articles
to the provincial Press--he had an Oxford friend on the staff of a
large provincial newspaper, the Northern Argus, and his friend
sometimes sent him books to review, and he printed, too, a
descriptive article of C.'s.  C. rather liked routine work at the
office.  It distracted him.  He lived a kind of double life.  One
side of him got through the work of the day mechanically and not
unhappily, the other self lived in a world of dreams, but that
world was still suffering from the fearful havoc that the thought
of Leila was making there.

He had never heard from her again, and he had not written himself;
he felt that it would be useless.  He thought he was getting over
it; he thought he was forgetting her, that in a few months' time he
would be completely healed once more.

In February, he heard that Beatrice had come back to London.  She
was staying with her father and her mother in Ovington Square.  C.
went to the house.  It was just the same.  Terence, the butler, was
still there.  Mrs. Lord was just the same, and asked him if he was
still at the Embassy at Rome.  Mr. Lord was just the same, only he
looked far more prosperous.  He had just invented, he said, a
marvellous device which would enable the whole population of
England to dispense with coal fires altogether.

Beatrice appeared to be delighted to see him.  She was looking,
curiously enough, ten years younger than when he had last seen her,
although there was something infinitely sad in her expression.  But
it was as if some dreadful weight had been lifted--some fiery
ordeal at an end.  She was moving immediately, she said, into a
small house of her own.  She intended spending the summer in
London, and then perhaps she would go abroad.  Her father and
mother wanted her to go to Switzerland with them.  She had not yet
made up her mind.  She asked C. to look in whenever he liked at her
new house.  He went there one evening the following week, and found
her in and alone, and they had a long talk about old times, and her
life in Paris.  She talked of this in detail, superficially, but
she was quite reticent as to her husband.  She did not mention
Leila, nor did C.

This was the beginning of a new phase of intimacy between Beatrice
and C.  It was not in the least like what had been before, but they
were beginning to be friends again.  She understood C. perfectly,
and C. found rest, pleasure and solace in her company.  He wasn't
in love with her as he had been before, nor even in a new and
different way.  That faculty seemed to have been burnt out of him;
but he preferred her society to that of other people, and he looked
forward to seeing her.

She was spending Easter with the Carterets, and C. was asked as
well, and accepted.  Lady Elizabeth thought the old romance had
begun again, and she was thrilled at the prospect.  There was
nothing now, she said, to prevent them being married.  Beatrice had
been left well off, but not too well off, there were no children,
and it would be a pity if she were to waste all her money on her
absurd, sponging father.  It would be the sensible--the only
sensible--thing for her to do . . . after a decent interval, of
course.  Lady Elizabeth discussed marriage with C. in the abstract.
She told him he ought to marry, and urged him not to let the Heaven-
sent opportunity slip should it present itself.  "I don't mean
propose to the first person you see, but I do mean don't be a fool,
don't think that things will happen if you do NOTHING, don't think,
if you love some one, she will mind your telling her, or any
nonsense of that kind, or that she will think you unworthy."

The thought of marrying Beatrice, which had not entered C.'s head,
now crept into it, just as Lady Elizabeth had meant it to do.  He
did not, at first, think it possible, but at the same time he did
not think it inconceivable.

Beatrice had taken a little house in Westminster, in Palace Street,
out of Buckingham Gate, but she did not seem to be making it into a
permanent home.  At least there were no signs of that about it.
She had only taken the house for six months, and she had few of her
things there; they were all of them, she said, still in her flat in
Paris, which she had not yet got rid of.

One evening--it was towards the end of May--C. was sitting with
Beatrice in the drawing-room of the little house, and they were
talking of some friend, to whom what at the time had seemed an
overwhelming calamity had brought great eventual happiness.

"It was all the time a blessing in disguise," said C.

"Yes, I wish those blessings could be labelled 'blessings,'" said
Beatrice, "so that when they came disguised as calamities one
shouldn't worry quite so much."

"Yes," said C., "that would be a good idea," and he wondered
whether his separation from Beatrice and the whole of the Leila
episode had been a blessing in disguise, and whether he would end
by marrying Beatrice and living happily ever afterwards.  But he
said nothing at the time.  That evening, when he got back to his
rooms, he found a message from his brother Edward, saying he wanted
to see him at once.  He went round to Hengrave House.  The house
had been redecorated during the winter for the London season, and
the new Lady Hengrave had found her heart's desire.  A French firm
had been employed to do the work, but the house now looked neither
English nor French.  It looked cosmopolitan, like a smart modern
hotel.  A lift had been put in.  She had not yet got her way about
Bramsley.  It had not yet been sold, but it was still let; they
tried in the summer a smaller, a more convenient and altogether
more modern house which they had acquired on a lease.  It had the
supreme advantage of being only ten miles from London, and next to
a golf course.  This was "so convenient for Edward."  It would have
been still more so had Edward been a golf player.

C. was shown into the Blue Room, his father's old sitting-room.  It
was now called the "Blue Drawing-Room," and Edward had a smaller
sitting-room in the back part of the house.  All the old furniture
had gone, the rather shabby, comfortable, old chairs, the prints on
the walls of Morland and Hogarth had given way to framed
photographs of Lady Hengrave's friends.  Over the chimneypiece
there was now, instead of the dignified picture of the fourth Lord
Hengrave that had been there before, a large pastel portrait of the
present Lady Hengrave by a contemporary artist.  The portrait was
as lifelike as it was lifeless.

C. found Edward standing in front of the fireplace smoking a cigar.
He offered C. a cigar and told him to sit down.  He looked grave
and somewhat weather-beaten.  He was getting fatter, C. noticed,
and more Early Victorian every day, and he had a great look of his
mother.

"We've had bad news," he said, after a pause.

"Is Harry ill?" said C., with a flash of certain intuition.

Edward nodded.  C. read the worst in his face.

"We had a telegram from his colonel this evening.  He died
yesterday.  The regiment had been sent into camp for cholera.  I
suppose, but he doesn't say, it was cholera.  He says fever.  It
must have been very sudden.  Poor boy!"

"Do Julia and Marjorie know?"

"Yes, they both know.  They'll--"

At that moment Lady Hengrave came in.  She was dressed smartly in
black.  "Is this all right?" she said, giving Edward a letter.
"How do you do?" she then said solemnly to C. "It's dreadful about
Harry--dreadful.  Edward is greatly upset."  She paused.  "I think
it's odd, I must say, of Julia and Marjorie not to have come here."

"I saw them together," Edward said.  "Julia is not well, she's
lying down, and Marjorie said she would stay with her."

"They never think of others," said Lady Hengrave.

"I think that's rather unfair, Marie," said Edward.

"No, they don't," said Lady Hengrave decidedly.  "They knew, for
instance, that we were going to have our house-warming dinner . . .
you were coming, C., afterwards, weren't you? . . . to-morrow
night, and they knew that I would have to put off twenty people at
a moment's notice, and write twenty letters, and they never thought
of even asking to help me.  I've not finished them yet.  I must go
back to my work at once.  In fact, I just came to ask you whether
this would do," and she pointed to the letter she had given Edward,
which was addressed to a Royal personage.

"We will have a memorial service on Saturday, at St. Luke's," said
Edward, as C. left.

C. said good-bye.  It was a lovely evening.  Portman Square brought
back the scenes and episodes of his childhood to him vividly, and
now Harry, the source and centre of his fun as a child, was lying
cold and dead far away from home, in a camp, in the hills in India.
Perhaps his body had been burnt.  He would never see him again.
Never!  Never!

As he drew near to Oxford Street a barrel organ was playing a song
from the Geisha; cabs were beginning to take people out to dinner
and to the theatres.  London seemed very gay.  He crossed Oxford
Street, and walked down Upper Brook Street into Park Lane, and down
Park Lane to Hamilton Gardens.  He looked through the bars.  There
were no children playing.  If children still played there, it was
too late for them.  At Hyde Park Corner, he took a bus to Victoria,
and he walked quite naturally to Beatrice's house.  It was nearly
eight o'clock when he reached her house.  She was at home.

"May I have dinner with you?" he said, as he walked into her
drawing-room: a "furnished" room with pictures of The Soul's
Awakening and Diana or Christ? on the walls.

"Yes, if you don't mind there being almost nothing to eat."  She
rang the bell and made arrangements when the servant answered it.
C. sat down on a sofa and told her the news.

"I knew it would happen," he said, "when I said good-bye I knew
quite well I should never see him again."

Beatrice had always known exactly what C. felt about Harry.  He had
talked to her so often about him.

"Dear C.," she said.  "I'm sorry for you, with all my heart.  I'm
not sorry for him.  He's had a happy, cloudless life; nothing in it
he wouldn't be ready to have all over again.  But you, how you will
miss him.  It is cruel for you."

C. couldn't trust himself to speak.  All the past came over him in
an overwhelming rush, and the burden of life seemed to him to be
"Too late" and "No more."

Presently they went down to the dining-room, and during dinner
Beatrice talked quietly of other things: about her father and her
mother, the Carterets, and Hester Carteret's marriage to a Polish
pianist.

After dinner they went upstairs again.

"You believe in a future life?" C. asked.

Beatrice nodded.

"I know you do, officially, of course, but I mean, do you feel it?
Does it mean anything to you?"

"It's not a thing one can define or explain to oneself, or to any
one else," she said.  "One can't imagine what it will be like; I
only know that I feel certain that it will be, that it IS."

"But you don't believe it will be the same as this life, and if it
isn't the same, what is the point of it?  The point of this life
is--I think--its imperfection.  The point of human beings to me is
that they are full of faults and weaknesses and wickedness--it is
because of all that that they are human, made up of a thousand
things: defects, qualities, idiosyncrasies, tricks, habits,
crotchets, hobbies, little roughnesses and queer pitfalls,
unexpected quaintnesses: unexpected goodness, and unexpected
badness; take all that away, and what is left?  Nothing that I want
to see again.  Take Harry, for instance.  I was fond of Harry as he
was; rather boisterous, sometimes rash, full of high spirits, gay,
fond of the things of this life, with a temper that flared up
quickly and subsided more quickly still, leaving no rancour behind
it; his laughter and fun, his way of blushing and talking quickly,
falling over his words when he was shy, his obstinacy . . . but I
can't imagine an improved Harry, a perfected Harry, with all the
faults left out, Harry without his stammer . . . that to me would
not be Harry at all . . . it would be some one else, and then I
can't imagine Harry in Heaven--in any kind of Heaven--"

"That is because you have got the conventional idea of the next
life you learn in the nursery--hymns and crowns--but can't you
imagine, can't you take on trust, that the next life might be
better than this one, and that the best and essential part of human
beings may survive, or that they may for the first time be
complete, complete in body AND soul?  We can't think out, here and
now, how that could be, nor what it could be, but we can take on
trust that it will be better than the best of this life.  Isn't
that enough?"

"It's too much for me," said C.


     Your chilly stars I can forego,
     This warm kind world is all I know.


You know the poem, Minermus in Church.  The last lines--


     But, oh, the very reason why
     I clasp them, is because they die--


that sums up what I think.  It is because things and persons are
perishable, and mortal, and fallible, and human, and partly bad, if
you like, that I love them.  And what's more, I don't believe in
anything happening twice.  I believe that Nature never repeats
herself; and that every note that is struck in the universe is
struck once only, and for ever."

"And yet," said Beatrice, "every year there is blossom in spring,
flowers in summer, corn in autumn, rain and snow in winter."

"My point is this," said C. "I daresay immortality is true.  I know
one can't prove that it is untrue.  But I don't want it.  The
events of life seem to me irreparable.  Nothing can make up for
certain things that have been.  Nothing can be again exactly like
what it was."

"It can be better--there can be another life which is as different
from this one as a peach from a pear."

"That won't make up for the past--for the pear.  At any rate, I
don't want that consolation prize.  I don't want the peach.  I want
to go out like a candle when this life is over."

"You can't help thinking that, if you have no faith."

"But you, with your faith, do you want things to go on?"

"Yes, because--and not only because--I am taught that this is what
I should believe, and not only because I accept this belief among
other dogmas guaranteed by the authority on whose mast I have
nailed my flag, but because my own heart tells me it IS so."

The following fragments of letters from Beatrice Fitzclare to C.
are appended here, as they belong to this date and are connected
with this and similar conversations which C. had with Beatrice at
this time.  They throw light on C.'s frame of mind at this moment.
They were copied out by C. in a notebook in which there were also
notes of other conversations, on similar topics, most of which,
however, are illegible.


No. 1

"Your faith must be a wonderful thing."

Yes, faith is a wonderful gift.  But it is a gift; one must always
remember that.  It may always be taken away.  That, to me, is the
greatest mystery in the world.  I mean, why some people have faith
and others not.


No. 2

. . . When you say I must have felt in touch with something beyond
and outside me, something supernatural, and that you have felt that
kind of thing in looking at a landscape, or when hearing certain
pieces of music, or reading some things for the first time--in
Dante, for instance, and in Shakespeare.

But that is surely only delight and pleasure in beautiful things?

I know what you mean; but there is something else.  I know what one
feels face to face with a glorious landscape, or a wonderful piece
of music, or a poem--or, if you like, a flower in the garden, a ray
of sunshine in a dusty street.  But there is something else.  There
is something I have only felt at Mass, and that is a sense of final
calm and absolute content, as if one had got beyond all obstacles
and had been released from EVERYTHING--all chains; as if one had
come into a wide, calm, shining harbour after a long and stormy
voyage; and that no harm could happen to one; as if nothing could
hurt or disturb or reach or touch one any more; as if one had been
put to sleep in a safe cradle; and as if that little cradle were
all eternity and all infinity. . . .  I can't describe what I mean.
One can't describe these things, but I mean it is something MORE
than all the BEAUTY and all the art in the world can give,
something beyond and above art.  You see, I think the reason why
great art IS great is because there is in it a message from Heaven;
it is a spark of the DIVINE given to us in fleeting glimpses and
transitory hints; through a glass darkly, through an imperfect
medium--landscape or pictures or music or poetry.  But at Mass I
think the message is there, directly transmitted to us, if we are
in a state to receive it.  But I may be talking nonsense.  Lots of
people feel nothing like this at all, and yet are saints, bursting
with faith.


No. 3

I will try to answer your letter and your two points.  You say, "I
respect your religion, but I can't help thinking there is something
SHUT about it, something about your services and churches that is
walled up and stuffy, something that shuts out nature and life--the
sun and freedom and joy; something cold, hard and exclusive."  Yes,
there is something hard and cold and exclusive about a door when it
is SHUT, especially if you are standing outside it, on a cold night
when it is freezing and snowing, but if you turn the handle and
find it opens quite easily, and that inside there is a vast,
endless room, full of lights and blazing fires. . . .

. . . what I feel with regard to our Mass, for instance, is the
exact opposite of what you think you would be bound to feel.  I feel
at Mass as if I were breathing the kind of air you breathe on the
mountains in spring, or in a wood, or in the fields at dawn on a
spring day; something where the freshness is fresh beyond all
sweetness: it is more than sweetness, it is simply fresh--unspeakably
fresh . . . that is all, and that is enough. . . .  What I want you
to understand is that this is quite separate from and independent
of beautiful surroundings, and accessories--I mean it doesn't
necessarily happen in cathedrals, with music and ritual; it MAY
happen there, too, but not because of that.  It is just the same in
the tin tabernacle, or shed, or barn, in any village church where
there are the cheapest coloured statuettes of St. Joseph and the
Sacred Heart and sham stained-glass made of coloured paper, and
images of Our Lady like penny dolls dressed in tinsel . . . and all
these things help, I assure you; they don't hinder, because, don't
you see, where the object represented is Divine and indescribable
in human terms and by human means, the image is none the worse for
being childish.  After all, the best picture by the greatest artist
in the world of something like the Crucifixion, is just as
INADEQUATE as a child's picture, and a child's picture is often
more satisfactory, not as ART, but as an image of the Divine, where
the beauty is beyond human reach; the more frankly unpretentious
and naive the attempt at representation the better; it becomes then
a symbol, and I think that the people who make a picture of God as
an old man with a beard are nearer the truth than the philosophers
who write tomes on the nature of the "Supreme Director" or the
"Prime Mover."  But all that is a side issue--to tell you, to try
and explain to you, why these things to me not only don't matter,
but help rather than hinder.

You can say:  "What I can't understand, and what I think a lot of
people can't understand, is why you WANT all that; why isn't a
buttercup in a field enough for you to believe in God and worship
Him?  Why do you want churches, priests, statues, images, rosaries,
holy water, confessionals and scapulars?"

Well, you see, that is the SACRAMENTAL VIEW of life, and the
sacramental view of life is there, before us, like the Ark; nobody
can help noticing it, everybody knows if some one is a Catholic;
they may know nothing else about a person, they will be sure to
know that.  Nonconformists, atheists, agnostics, Jews, Turks, all
admit that the Ark--our Ark--is there.  You may dislike it, but you
cannot deny its existence; and the flood, namely, human life, is an
undeniable fact too.  So, to us, the people who say they have no
use for the sacramental system are, as I once heard a priest say in
a sermon, like a man who would refuse to go into the ark because he
knew how to swim.


No. 4

You say you understand that to me the Church is the Ark, the one
and only refuge, but to you it's different, for two reasons:

Firstly, you don't mind being drowned; and secondly, you have no
reason to believe my ark is real, that it isn't a phantom ark.
Call it an arc-en-ciel.  Why not believe in it as that?  But
please, never say again:  "You had better let me drown in my own
way."



CHAPTER XL


Beatrice and C. talked on that evening till late.  It was past
midnight when he left her.  He went back to see her the next day,
the day after, and very frequently during the next week.

One evening, when he was with her at tea-time, he said:--

"Lady Elizabeth Carteret has asked me to go and stay with her next
Saturday week.  She says that she is going to ask you.  Are you
going?"

"No," said Beatrice, "I am going to Paris almost at once."

"But not for good--"

"I shall be going away for good, but I'm not going to stay in
Paris.  I am only going there to make arrangements about my flat,
my furniture, and other things, and to get through some business
that Vincent left behind--"

"And after that?"

"After that I shall go away--for good."

"What, abroad?"

"Perhaps--"

"You mustn't go," said C.  "You are all I've got left in the world
now, and you mustn't leave me.  You can't.  We mustn't make the
same mistake over again.  I believe it WAS perhaps a blessing in
disguise that we didn't marry before--we were not allowed to do it
then, I think, so that we could do it NOW.  I'm not going to let
you go a second time."

"You want me to marry you, C.?"

"Of course I do.  You know it.  I'm not going to explain anything.
You know all there is to be said."

"Yes, I do," Beatrice said gravely and sadly.  "I can't marry you,
C.," she said.  "It's too late.  If, before I had married Vincent,
you had insisted; if you had taken me by main force and made me go
to the registrar's office, or to the first possible church, or any
sort of Gretna Green, I should have done it, but I can't do it now.
I know you couldn't do it reasonably then, but I think the reason
you didn't do it, in spite of all, in spite of its being
impossible, was because you didn't really love me.  You loved me
then just as you love me now, but you weren't really in love with
me in the sense that breaks down all barriers.  You thought you
were, but it wasn't a thing that filled your whole self, in spite
of yourself, beyond all control, and all reason.  That has happened
to you since.  You know what I mean.  You think that is all over;
that you have got over that and forgotten it, and that it can all
be as though it hadn't been.  But I'm sure, and I know with every
fibre in my being that I'm right about this, and that you're wrong,
that it ISN'T over.  It might begin again any minute--it will begin
again, I am positive--and think how terrible that would be, if it
happened after we were married.  I should never forgive myself, nor
would you.  How miserable you would be!"

"You're wrong, Beatrice," C. interrupted.  "You really are wrong.
That IS all over.  It's broken in a way that nothing could mend.
I'm like a person drowning, and you are there in a life-boat, and I
am calling for help; you surely can't refuse to pick me up--?"

"That is just it," said Beatrice.  "If it was the real thing you
wouldn't be calling for help; you would be climbing into the boat."

"Well, that's just what I mean to do."

"No, because I can't."

"You mean you don't love me."

"You know perfectly well, C., what I feel.  It's not that, it's
partly because of what I have already told you, and partly for
other reasons."

"What other reasons?"

"Well, I'm not sure I can TELL you my other reasons.  I might be
able to write them, but I'm not even sure of that.  They are
personal reasons to do with my own life, with the inside of my own
life.  It's too difficult to say all that I have to say; I might be
able to write it.  I'm not sure, but whether I can or not, it all
comes to the same, which is that I know it's impossible.  You
mustn't ask me.  It's impossible for you, and impossible for me.
It's too late, much too late.  You see, I'm not the Beatrice I was
when you first knew me, and you're not the C. you were when I first
knew you."

"But if we are just as fond of each other, what does it matter?"

"Because, C., you are fonder of some one else, even if it is
against your will.  I say this without any bitterness or envy, I
promise you.  But it is the sad and simple truth, and you know it."

"But, Beatrice, I swear--"

"Don't, C.; remember St. Peter.  Don't--don't say anything rash.  I
DO SO understand.  You needn't say anything more.  I know exactly
what you are feeling, and I want you to believe, even if all THAT
hadn't happened to you, it would be still impossible for me NOW.  I
couldn't do it, however much I might want to.  If she were dead I
couldn't do it."

"Will you think over it for two days?  That isn't much to ask, is
it?"

"If you like, but it won't make any difference.  It can't, I
promise you."

"It can't matter to you.  It is, after all, not much to ask."

"Very well, and if I can, I will write to you.  I shan't be able to
explain things properly in a letter, but I may be able to give you
an inkling of the position I am in.  You mustn't think me selfish,
C.  Promise me that whatever happens, you won't think me selfish;
or think me as selfish as you like about everything in the world,
but not selfish about you.  I want you to promise me that."

"But how could I think you selfish?"

"You probably will when you get my letter.  You won't understand;
if you don't understand, don't try, but just trust me; just believe
in me, just say Credo--that is all I ask of you."

At that moment Father Blacklock was announced, an oldish priest
with serene eyes, white hair, and a cheerful smile.  Beatrice
introduced C. to him, and C. sat on for a few moments talking,
while Father Blacklock was given a cup of tea, and then he went
away.  Beatrice went down to the door with C., and said:--

"If I think it over for two days, you mustn't come and see me
during those two days."

"Very well," said C.; "and promise me something else, Beatrice.
Promise me that whatever you settle, it will be you, yourself, that
will settle it; you won't do anything because you are told to do it
by one of your priests."

Beatrice laughed.

"They wouldn't think it a crime.  On the contrary, they would be
delighted," said Beatrice.

"Who is that priest?" asked C. suspiciously.

"He is a very old friend of mine.  He knows, or, rather, knew, a
friend of yours called Burstall."

"How do you mean, KNEW?"

"Didn't you know that Andrew Burstall was dead?  He died last year
at Versailles.  He was received into the Church a year before he
died."

"Do you mean to say he was in France last year?"

"Yes, on and off, he was never there for long at a time.  I used to
know him quite well.  He often spoke of you."

"He never wrote to me."

"He was very busy and had great troubles.  His wife was ill; she
got better.  I must go back.  I'll tell you about him another
time."

Two days later, in the morning, C. received a letter from Beatrice:--


I wrote to you yesterday a very long letter.  This very long letter
(fourteen pages) didn't take very long to write, but when I had
finished it, I tore it up and tried to write you another letter in
which I tried to say just the same thing on half a sheet of small
writing-paper.  That took me all day.  I tore that up too.  I am
now writing without any plan at all.  So fr mich hin.  This is,
dear, dear C., what I have settled to do.  As soon as I have got
through my business in Paris, which won't take me long, I am going
into a convent.  This doesn't mean that I am necessarily going to
become a NUN.  It means that I shall live in a convent for a year
as something more than a paying guest.  I shall be called a
POSTULANT; after that I may or may not become a NOVICE, in which
case I shall be a novice for two years.  After that I may or may
not take what are called "simple vows"--and those are not "final
vows"--but I needn't go into that at present.  I shall not do
anything final unless I feel certain that my vocation is to leave
the world and not to live in it.  I have told you enough for you to
understand that I am not doing anything irrevocable at present.
You must look upon me as some one who is taking a rest cure of the
spirit.  My spirit, C., has been BROKEN.  I don't know that it can
ever be mended.  I can't go into the WHY? and it doesn't matter.
Perhaps you will think this very selfish and very self-indulgent of
me, only you must remember this: If I am to be of any use in the
world, I must be in possession--in full possession--of my spiritual
faculties, just as a hospital nurse, say, to be any good, must be
in full possession of her physical faculties.  I mean it would be
no use her accepting work--hard, important, anxious work--at a
hospital at the time she was suffering from a severe physical
breakdown.  It wouldn't be fair--any more than it would be fair for
a man to offer to play in an important football match if he knew he
had a sprained limb.  I think there may be still some use for me in
the world--the outside world, I mean.  I don't know.  On the other
hand, I may be meant to leave the world and live apart from it.
This would be (for me personally) far the nicest course, the
happiest and the best, but I don't know whether it will be my
privilege.  You see, it is not an easy thing to be a nun.  It is
like, in the business world, trying to be a Rothschild--many are
called, few are chosen.  But although I don't know, although I may
not know for a year, or for much longer--not, perhaps, till my
noviciate is over, and not, perhaps, even then--I shall, I am sure,
ultimately know.

I am going a long way round to answer what you asked me to think
over for two days: whether I could marry you or not.  I think
perhaps I have answered it already.  I know this: I couldn't make
you happy now as I am; I wouldn't have the power, the strength, or
the life.  But even if I felt I had all that, I'm not sure I should
try, because I don't think that even with me at my best and
strongest and happiest you could ever be happy NOW.  I think I know
you better than you know yourself.  I think that in about six
months' or a year's time you will say to yourself that I was right
after all, and that you will REGRET NOTHING.  That is all for the
moment.  I shall pray for you every day of my life.  You will never
be far from my thoughts, and others far better than myself shall
pray for you too.  Of course you think this is all unessential, but
we think there is such a thing as direct answer to prayer--that,
although not all prayers are answered, there is no prayer that is
UNHEARD.  I wish you would pray for me, just mechanically, although
it may mean nothing to you, just because I ask you to.  I wish you
would say every night before you go to sleep:  "Mary, Mother, pray
for Beatrice."  I would rather you would pray for yourself, but I
feel that you would not do that.  Perhaps you wouldn't mind doing
both together?  There was an old Italian who used to be a friend of
Father's.  He was a great sceptic, and he believed in NOTHING, but
he took the trouble to go to St. Anthony's shrine in Padua, and to
put up a candle there.  This surprised his friends.  "Cela ne peut
pas faire de bien," he said.  "Mais cela ne peut pas faire de mal."
Look at it in that light if you like.  Lastly, I want to tell you
that I have decided on this course BY MYSELF.  I did not speak of
it to a priest or to any one else until I had quite made up my mind
that I wanted to do it.  I told Father Blacklock about it the day
before yesterday, just after you had gone away.  I had not said a
word about it to him before, although he is a very old and intimate
friend of mine, and although I do not mind what I say to him.  You
would like him, by the way, and you can safely go and see him if
you would like to talk about ideas and people and human nature,
without fear of being "got hold of."  He has infinite delicacy of
perception, infinite tact, and a wonderful sense of what not to
say.  He is, too, a great friend of mine, and I know he is fond of
me.  That is all for the moment.  Don't come and see me, because I
shan't be here.  I felt I couldn't face another meeting just now.
I go to Paris to-morrow for a few days; then I come back and go
straight to the Convent.  That is why I have gone away without
saying good-bye.  God bless you.--B.


"Evidently," said C., as he read this letter, "I am not going to be
thrown a life-belt from that ark."

And the old feeling of numbed indifference came back to him, mixed
with an indefinable feeling of resentment and opposition.

"Damn those priests!  Damn those Catholics!" he said to Wright, as
he read the letter at breakfast.

After all, what did it matter?  Beatrice was probably right.  He
doubtless would have made her unhappy.  She would certainly be
better on in a convent than in the world--who wouldn't?  Only it
was a little hard now, just as he thought; . . . but that was, of
course, a selfish, a purely selfish, thought.  Why should one
expect to be happy?  The ancients were far more sensible.  The best
thing, they said, was not to be born, and the next best thing was
to die as soon as possible.  But then, after all, why live?  An
overdose, and the whole thing was settled, the problem solved, the
trick done.  And if you didn't believe in a future life, what was
the obstacle?  Why not?  Well, there were several reasons.
Beatrice, he felt, would mind--might feel responsible.  If only on
account of her he couldn't do it, and then--who knows?  Who knows?

He dined with Wright that evening.  Wright had passed his
examination into the Diplomatic Service, and was now serving his
apprenticeship at the Foreign Office.  They discussed suicide.

"Do you think it is very cowardly?" asked C.

"My feeling is," said Wright, "that short cuts are no use.  I feel
it wouldn't solve the question, that one would find one had to
begin again somewhere else at another end of the stick, that one
had been sent back to the bottom of the class, and that would be
AWFUL.  I think it would be awful to kill oneself and find oneself
in another Mayfair."

"It all comes back to the Hamlet theory:  'To sleep, perchance to
dream.'  Personally, I can't think it cowardly.  My old Italian
master used to say that he thought the courage it needed to take
one's own life was DESPERATE."

"Well," said Wright, "I don't think _I_ could do it.  I should be
too interested in what is going to happen next."

"I don't care a damn what happens next," said C.; "not a damn."

This was a rash statement, as it turned out.  They had been dining
in a small restaurant in Soho, and they walked home to their rooms
past the theatres in Coventry Street, out of which people were
beginning to pour.  They passed the doors of the Imperial Theatre,
where a successful American comedy was enjoying a startling
success.  The play was just over.  There was a crowd at the doors:
commissionaires, playgoers in evening clothes, men running to get
hansoms, and women standing on the steps in opera cloaks and shawls
and lace veils.  C. and Wright pushed their way through the crowd
slowly.  Standing up near the side of one of the open doors, on the
top step of the theatre entrance, C. caught sight of a figure that
he fancied was familiar to him.  He looked again and caught sight
of some one dressed in black and wearing a black coat--you had
glimpses of, and the impression of a cloud of black tulle.

It was Leila.  There was no doubt about it.  With her was Mrs.
Evelyn, looking patient and distrait.  Wilfrid Clay appeared in the
crowd.  He waved to them.  Evidently he had been sent to fetch a
cab, and had performed the task successfully.  As soon as they
began to move it became apparent that there was also another man
belonging to the party.  A tall, good-looking, middle-aged man,
with a military upright appearance, with a look of a Lawrence
picture about him, with brown, smiling eyes and dark hair.

He was talking to Leila.

C. pretended to be lighting a cigarette, so as to have an excuse
for a slight delay, and by the time his long-drawn-out process of
lighting it, which entailed lighting and blowing out the contents
of almost a whole matchbox, was over, Leila and her party had
passed through the crowd to their cab, and C. had enjoyed a
complete view of them.  He and Wright were not, as far as he knew,
observed by them.

C. felt his heart beating very fast.  The colour, when he first saw
them, rushed to his face, and he was shaking slightly all over, so
that no pretence was needed to make the lighting of his cigarette a
long business.

A line of Dante came into his head:--


     D'antico amor senti la gran potenza.


He was thankful--it was a rueful admission--that Beatrice had
stopped him in the middle of his rash protestation; but although he
had been prevented, just in the nick of time, from voicing a formal
denial, he felt that MORALLY he had been guilty of one, and he
wished to go out into the night and weep bitterly, although he had
no remorse as far as Leila was concerned, but remorse in general,
because he had been proved untrue.

That is why, perhaps, he was so silent as they walked home to their
rooms, and why, when he got home, he said he was too tired to sit
and smoke even one cigarette.  He must, he said, go to bed.



CHAPTER XLI


The next morning C. got a note from Mrs. Evelyn asking him to
luncheon.  It was not a party; she would be quite alone, she said;
there might possibly be her brother.  C. went with a beating heart,
because he felt, although most likely he would not have admitted
this, that Leila might be there.  She was there, and there was no
one else except a brother of Mrs. Evelyn's who was working in the
Foreign Office.  Her husband always had luncheon in the City.
Leila greeted him in a friendly manner with an expression as of
some one who had suffered immensely, but who had got over it, of
some one who had borne a great, irreparable injury, but who bore,
nevertheless, no malice; she seemed to talk to him across a gulf
that nothing could bridge, although, at the same time, there was
nothing in the least hostile or cold or alien, or even unfriendly,
in her manner.

She conveyed what she wanted to convey with the unerring
spontaneous precision of a great artist, and C. was acutely
conscious of every shade she wished to indicate.

After luncheon Mrs. Evelyn took her brother into the back drawing-
room, leaving Leila and C. in full possession of the drawing-room
that looked over Manchester Square.

Leila said a few words about Harry.  "I am so sorry," she said,
very softly.  She asked a few questions about it.  She had seen in
the Morning Post that there was to be a memorial service at St.
Luke's.  She would certainly go to it.  "It's to-morrow, isn't it?
It was terribly sudden.  And one is glad in a way that your dear
mother was spared the blow and the separation.  They are happy now
together . . . above."

"Yes, if you believe all that," said C. savagely.  "I'm afraid I
don't."

"All what?" said Leila, genuinely surprised.

"About a future life and the resurrection of the body.  I don't
believe a word of it."

"But we know that it is so.  We are told so in the Bible," she said
in a tone of outraged dignity.

"I suppose we are," said C., as if this were a surprise to him, but
in reality wishing to avoid argument.  "How long are you going to
stay in London?"

"Only a day or two.  I'm here alone, without Terence."

She had come over to see her mother and her relations.  She was
staying with her sister Emmie (Mrs. Tryan).  She was obliged to
cram in a great deal in a very short time.  She talked to him
exactly as if they had not met since their first meetings in
Florence and London, treating him, that is to say, as some one she
liked the look of, and knew about, and was ready to like, but whom
she did not know at all.  Nor was C. able to break through the
intangible barrier which she erected between them.  He was
conscious of one thing, and of one thing only--however much she
might have changed with regard to him, he had not changed with
regard to her.  He loved her as much as ever--perhaps more than
ever--nor did he know or care what she had done, what her attitude
had been with regard to him.  He only knew that he loved her now.
After they had been talking for a very short while she got up to
go.

"May I come and see you," he asked, "before you go away?"

"I should love you to, only I am dreadfully full up.  Let me see,
this afternoon is impossible.  To-morrow I'm engaged all the
morning.  I'm having luncheon with Emmie, and I'm driving with her
in the afternoon.  After tea I'm engaged right up till dinner, and
then we are all dining out.  The day after to-morrow we shall be in
the country all day, and the day after that I go back.  It's a pity
we can't meet to-night at the Cleveland House ball, but you're in
mourning, of course . . . it's most unlucky.  However, if you come
through Paris you must look us up.  Good-bye," and she gave him one
of her most engaging smiles, and then, turning to Mrs. Evelyn, she
said, "If Wilfrid doesn't come soon I shan't wait for him."

"He's sure to be here in a minute."

C. said good-bye, and as he walked downstairs he crossed Wilfrid
Clay, and for the first time he felt jealous of her friend.  He had
never felt jealous of him before.

The next morning at eleven-thirty he went to the memorial service
for Harry, which was held at St. Luke's.  There he met his two
sisters, his brother Edward, his sister-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Roden,
his Uncle George and his Aunt Emma, who were in London on leave,
his Uncle Cuthbert and his Aunt Fanny, Mr. Dartrey, Albert Calhoun
and his two sisters, and various other friends of the family, among
them Leila Bucknell.

The church was a perfect example of the eighteenth century Georgian
church architecture; there was a gallery all round it, and high
shut pews in the nave.

The congregation was not large; it consisted of Lord and Lady
Hengrave's relations and friends, some of Edward's city friends,
and some of Harry's Eton friends.  The hymn Peace, Perfect Peace,
was sung at the beginning of the service; the ninetieth psalm was
sung by the choir; the lesson from the Corinthians was read, and
the service ended with another hymn, O God, Our Help in Ages Past.

C. had luncheon with his brother Edward.  Julia and Marjorie were
there, and Uncle George and Aunt Emma, whom he had not seen since
Rome.  They talked of the service.

"It was very beautiful and dignified," said Aunt Emma, "so
different from the memorial services abroad . . . we have to go to
so many of them. . . .  They are so tawdry, so theatrical."

That night when he came home from his office C. found Malone
waiting for him in a dreadful state.  He had spent all his money.
It was impossible for him to live in his rooms in Knightsbridge any
longer.  He would like to go to the colonies, but there was Esther.
How could he leave her?  It was imperative for him to find
something to do.

As they were talking Blades was announced, and Malone went on
discussing the matter and expounding the situation.  They all three
of them discussed what job Malone could possibly find in London.
He had certain qualifications and assets.

At Oxford even the Dons had thought highly of him at one time.  He
had taken a First in Mods., but his degree had been a disappointment.

"Why couldn't you be a publisher's reader?" said C. "Perhaps
Leonard Goldsmith would give you a job."

Blades said that his father knew Goldsmith intimately, and he would
ask him to see him about it, and to do what he could.

C. wrote to Goldsmith as well, and the result of this was that
Malone was given work as reader, on approbation at first.  He was
to read novels.

During the rest of that year C. saw practically no one but Malone
and Wright.

He did not see Leila again that year, nor did he hear from her.  He
was in London during the whole of the year, going every day to his
office, and working there, with the exception of one short holiday
in August, which he spent partly at Elladon with the Rodens and
partly with his sister Julia.

Christmas found him living in London with Wright and Malone.
Malone had given satisfaction to Mr. Goldsmith.  Novels bored
Gerald to death, and perhaps that was the reason that he was able
to do the work successfully.  Whether this was so, or whether it
was merely chance, the fact remained that he showed an extraordinary
flair for what pleased the novel-reading public.  He reported
favourably on a book called Eastern Windows, which dealt with the
struggles--religious, conscientious, financial, emotional and
amorous--of a curate in a London parish.  The book had been refused
by three well-known firms.  Goldsmith published the book on Gerald's
recommendation.  Gerald recommended it because he knew it was
exactly the kind of book that would please Esther.  The book was
published, and sold in its thousands, and Esther enjoyed it
immensely.  After that Gerald's position was secure.

After Christmas, Wright went to his first post, namely, Paris, and
Gerald Malone was the only friend that C. had left to him in
London.

C. did not hear from Beatrice again, and the thought of her was not
in the foreground of his mind.  Leila still occupied that place.
He wondered who the man was whom he had seen with her at the play.
The thought of her never left him for a moment during all those
autumn and winter months, although he tried to drive it away by
every kind of distraction.  But it was quite useless.  Leila was
holding him, although absent, and although she never once wrote to
him, as with a poisoned hook.

Early in January, C. received a letter from Wright, in Paris,
giving him his impressions of diplomatic life, and telling him the
news of the Embassy.  His impressions were much like those that C.
himself had received during the short time he had spent in Rome.
As for the news, there was one item which blotted out all the rest,
and that was that the Bucknells were coming home.

Wright had seen a good deal of them.  He wrote in great detail
about Leila, knowing how deeply the topic would interest C.  She
had gone out of her way to be civil and kind to him; and he said--
what was quite true--that she would be greatly missed in Paris,
both at the Embassy and outside; that the French liked and admired
her, and that the Ambassador thought her charming.  He did not
mention one fact which he imagined he had noted: that Colonel
Wilmot, the military attach, was wildly in love with her, and was
waiting impatiently for his time in Paris to be over, which would
not be until the autumn, so that he might go back to England.

Wright recognised him as being the man they had seen with Leila
coming out of the play.  Nor did he mention another little thing
which only struck him as being significant much later.  On one
occasion, when he and Leila were talking of C., a third person had
broken into their conversation, namely, Freddy Calhoun, and he had
abruptly asked Wright whether C. was married yet.  Wright had said
that he had not known there was any question or likelihood of C.
getting married.

"Oh!" said Freddy.  "I didn't mean he was engaged, or anything of
that sort, but a fellow like C. is bound to get married soon.  He's
sure to be snapped up.  I hear he's in love with a girl now."

Leila had listened to this conversation in silence.

The Bucknells arrived in London before the end of January.  Wright
reported the hour of their departure to C., but C. did not like to
make any move.  Wright reported that Leila had spoken of C., not
only with friendliness, but with eagerness; in fact, she had talked
of him constantly.  Wright knew, of course, of the break in the
relations, and he was convinced that Leila wished to close the
breach.  Whether that would conduce to the happiness of C. or not,
was another matter; that was not his business; he was merely a
spectator.  His conjecture proved to be correct.

Not long after Leila had arrived in London, C. met her, by chance,
at a dinner given by Mrs. D'Avenant.  It was a small dinner-party
of ten people.  Leila and Terence were late; and C. did not have
the chance of speaking to her before he went down to dinner.  He
sat at dinner between Mrs. Evelyn and an older lady, but opposite
Leila.  He thought she looked younger and prettier than ever.  She
was dressed, so some one said, not like people who get their
clothes in Paris, but like people who live in Paris; and her
clothes, her flowers, her jewels, the way she did her hair,
everything about her, seemed to obey the subtle rhythm of her
personality.  C. could not take his eyes off Leila during that
dinner, and he was strangely distrait.  Mrs. Evelyn guessed the
reason, sympathised, and left him alone, concentrating on her other
neighbour, who was her host.  C.'s other neighbour, a middle-aged,
hardened diner-out, did not need to be talked to; she only wished
to talk, and she never noticed if any one listened or not, and she
was perfectly satisfied with C.'s seeming silent attention, and
unconscious of the fact that he was worlds away.

Although he had exchanged no greeting with Leila, except a smile
across the drawing-room upstairs, C. had a feeling that the barrier
between him and her was no longer there; he had the same impression
during dinner, although she hardly ever looked at him, and
concentrated her whole attention on her two neighbours.

When the men went upstairs, after dinner, the guests fell into
groups, and Leila was sitting on a sofa at the end of a small back
drawing-room.  C. went straight up to her and sat down beside her.
They began to talk; and C. was at once aware that his instinct had
not played him false.  The barrier had gone.  It was the same
Leila, the Leila whom he had known at Twyford and Fontainebleau,
who was now speaking to him.

C. was like a man who wakes up after a long nightmare, and realises
that the agony he has been through, and the catastrophe that has
overwhelmed him, is nothing but a dream.  The load that had been on
his heart, ever since his return from Fontainebleau, had been
magically rolled away in one supreme second.  He was alive once
more; he was sandalled with wings, and he felt as if he was sailing
through the blue of an infinitely radiant space.  They talked till
it was time to go.  What did they talk about?  C. would not have
been able to tell even had it been a question of life and death.
No human power could have made him unwind that happy inconsequent
tangle of talk.  Before he left, Leila had told him that they were
back in their old house.  He must come and see her soon.

"May I come to-morrow?" he asked.  Leila reflected for one brief
instant.

"To-morrow?  Yes, I am going to stay the night with my sister
Emmie; she's got a little house at Windsor, where Horace is
quartered.  If you would like to come down for the night, I can
arrange it.  Terence won't be there; he's got an official dinner."

It is needless to say that C. accepted that invitation.

When C. got home that night he found Malone in his rooms.  Malone
plunged in medias res, without a moment's delay.

"I'm going to be married to-morrow morning," he said, "and you've
jolly well got to be best man.  I'm marrying Esther, of course, and
we're going to be married at the Catholic church in Maiden Lane.
You see, it's a mixed marriage."

"You're going to be married as a Catholic?"

"Of course."

"Yes, of course, I suppose; but I thought you didn't care. . . ."

"I don't believe in it, if you mean that . . . but if one is to be
married in a church, and Esther won't be married at the registrar's
office--for some reason or other she doesn't think it is legal--
well, then, I couldn't be married in a Protestant church.  I was
baptised as a Catholic, and I shall be buried as a Catholic; but I
admit it's only a clannish feeling with me, mixed with a fanatical
hatred of Protestant religious institutions."

"That always seems to be the worst thing about Catholics," said C.,
"they pretend to believe in a supernatural, Divine revelation,
which necessitates an Infallible Representative on earth.  That
representative is the universal Catholic Apostolic Church.  (Stop
me if I am saying anything wrong.)  I didn't even say Roman, you
see, so as not to confuse the issue, but I now add Roman, Roman in
that it is centred, that the visible head of it is the Bishop of
Rome, the direct successor of St. Peter, the Vicar of Christ upon
earth.  Well, here, you say, is our Catholic Church; any one can
belong to it; it's open to all, and open to all in the same way; it
is the same EVERYWHERE and EVERYWHEN, 'Quod semper, quod ubique,
quod ab omnibus.'  'Securus judicat orbis terrarum,' etc.  In
China, in Africa; yesterday, to-morrow; in the catacombs of Rome,
in the Roman villas in Britain, in the cathedrals of the Middle
Ages, in the palaces of the Renaissance, in the taverns of London,
in penal times; in tin tabernacles at Aldershot or in India; in an
Austrian village, an Australian shanty, a Canadian shack; a village
in the outer islands of Scotland or in the South Seas; there it is,
always the same, and always ready to receive any one.--Don't, for
God's sake, interrupt me yet.--Soldier, sailor, tinker, tailor,
rich man, poor man, ploughboy, thief . . . well, that is your
claim; that is the claim I have heard made by your people;--and yet
in practice, what happens?  If I were to say to you:  'I've been
converted, I'm going to be a Catholic to-morrow,' you would look on
me as the kind of man who calls himself Irish because he stays a
few months every summer in Ireland, or even, let us say, has a
house of his own in Ireland.

"It's never the same, you say, and mind you, I QUITE AGREE.  My
sister Julia has several friends among the old Catholic families of
England, and the other day I was having tea with her, and Lady
Hurstmonceux was there, who belongs to one of the oldest English
Catholic families, and they happened to mention Mrs. White, a
friend of father's, who had a villa in Cannes for years.  She has
become a Catholic.  Julia announced this piece of news to Lady
Hurstmonceux, thinking, I suppose, it would please her.  She gave a
slight sniff, just as old men do, just as my uncles do when they
hear that a nouveau riche has been elected to their favourite club.
That is what I mean, they treat it as a CLUB, a hereditary,
aristocratic club into the bargain, and I quite agree with them
that they are right.  I quite agree with them that converts,
especially English converts, are impossible; but if this is so,
bang, surely, goes the universal semper ubique . . . orbis terrarum
claim!

"But, as a matter of fact, I don't think you--I mean your people--
are sincere when they say it is necessary to be BORN a Catholic, or
when they imply it, because they are DELIGHTED ALL THE SAME TO MAKE
CONVERTS, so where is the logic?  The moment you begin to be
logical you stop being sincere--isn't that so?"

"The Church is, I believe," said Malone, "often accused of faults
that contradict one another.  Most people complain of the Church
being too logical; but all I've got to say is this--now that you
have finished proving to me, what I knew before, that the English
are incurably snobbish!--I'm going to be married in a Catholic
church, in Maiden Lane, to-morrow at eleven o'clock, and you are
going to be my best man, and a lot of jolly nuns are going to pray
for Esther and me; but what's made you so argumentative, C.?  What
HAS happened to you?  Why are you in such good spirits?  Are you
going to be married, too?"  And he hummed the tune out of Iolanthe--


     For I'm to be married to-day, to-day,
     For I'm to be married to-day.


C. answered by whistling the tune with even greater gusto than
Gerald.



CHAPTER XLII


Malone was right, C. was in good spirits; he thought that life was
about to begin again for him, that the blots of the past had been
wiped out, and the future seemed to wear a rosy mist.

Circumstances, too, seemed to be favourable.  Terence was engrossed
in his work.  Foreign affairs were peculiarly complicated at this
moment.  Wilfrid Clay had gone to America.

Everything lately had conspired to make it easy for him to see
Leila.  During the first weeks of February he saw her often, but at
the end of the month she fell ill; she was threatened, so she said,
with bronchitis, and the doctors said she must at once go to a
milder climate.

A friend of hers, Lady Wendover, had a villa at Nice.  She could
not LEND it, she could not afford to, but she did want to let it,
and if possible to a friend, it was so tiresome to have to let
one's house to a stranger.  Lord Marryat, Uncle Freddy, was going
to Nice, too, and several of her acquaintances.  Under the
circumstances it seemed madness not to take Lady Wendover's villa,
which was comparatively cheap.  The climate of Nice, her doctor
said, would be exactly right for her.

She left London at the beginning of March.  Mrs. Evelyn went with
her, and she took her little girl with her.  Basil, the boy, had
gone to school.

She wrote to C. every day.  In one of her letters, she mentioned
that Lord Marryat was ill, and just as she was about to start home
at Eastertime, she wrote to say that alarming symptoms had
developed.  She could not possibly leave Nice as long as he was so
ill; he was in danger.  Then came news that the crisis was over,
that he was out of danger, and, finally, that he was convalescent.

The Easter holidays by this time were nearly over, and Leila was
expecting to be back shortly.  C. suggested meeting her in Paris,
but she explained to him that she was coming straight through.  She
let him know, later, that she changed her plans at the last moment,
as Terence wished to spend a day in Paris and was coming to fetch
her.  As matters turned out, she was able to stay a few days at the
Embassy; Terence didn't come to fetch her until the day before she
left.  He was, at the last moment, unable to get away sooner.  They
stayed at the Embassy, and Wright met her there one day at
luncheon.

Wright still thought that Colonel Wilmot was in love with Leila,
although he had no positive evidence of the fact beyond his own
surmise, and several intangible incidents and undefinable signs:
for instance, Wilmot had spent some days at Nice--but there was
nothing very unusual in that.  During Leila's stay at the Embassy,
although she and Wilmot met, nothing occurred which lent any colour
to Wright's supposition, and yet he was more convinced of the
matter than ever, and he suspected that Leila had lost all interest
in C.--all real interest.

Colonel Wilmot was not married, but he was living with a
Mademoiselle Angle Durcis, who was a well-known personality in the
highest spheres of the demimonde; most refined and most austerely
elegant, she hardly ever wore a jewel and was never seen to eat or
drink.  She was extremely quick, as well as extremely jealous; so
if the Colonel were meditating or practising any infidelity, he
would have to be careful if he wished to deceive her.

Leila was escorted home by Terence and by Wilfrid Clay, who had
just come back from America, and when C. realised this fact (and it
was Leila who told him) he burst into an ungovernable fit of
passion.

"You never tell me anything," he said.  (This happened in Mrs.
Evelyn's house, where Leila had asked him to meet her, as Alice was
in the country--her own sitting-room wasn't quite ready--towards
six o'clock, the evening after she returned.)  "You told me a
string of lies about Paris.  You said I couldn't come, and then
that you were coming straight through, and then, after all, you go
to Paris and stay there nearly a week because, you say, of Terence--
but Wilfrid Clay comes to fetch you!"

"Of course, if you're going to be jealous of Wilfrid--" said Leila.

"Then why didn't you let me come too?"

"Because Terence would have minded.  He, of course, doesn't mind
Wilfrid, but he would mind you."  One grievance led to another.  He
believed the reason she had stayed in Paris was to see Dallas Wace.
She had mentioned in her letters that Dallas Wace was at Nice, and
was perhaps going to Paris.  Leila laughed.

"Dallas Wace?  Yes, I believe he WAS in Paris, but I never set eyes
on him.  I saw him at Nice, it's true, quite often; and why not?
You are so silly, so absurd."

She laughed and C. laughed, and they talked of other things.

But C. soon realised that a new era had begun.  It was not that she
was not charming to him; it was not that she did not see him quite
often; it was not that she did not make plans for the future, for
their future; but he felt there was something behind it all,
something he didn't know.  She was all the time subtly, intangibly
DIFFERENT.  He felt that they were dancing on a volcano, and that
at any moment the gay merrymaking of their relation might be
interrupted by a formidable catastrophe.

Leila had not been long back in England before an event happened
which upset her profoundly.  Lord Marryat, whom she had always
called "Uncle Freddy," whom she had known ever since she was a
child, whom she had always looked upon as more than a godfather,
and as being certain to leave her his country house, possibly his
London house in Berkeley Square, and a substantial income, and
certainly the family jewels, as he had no family--only a few
relations whom he hated--startled the world by marrying the nurse
who had looked after him during his illness at Nice, and by selling
his London house, and buying a villa at Cannes for the winter.
Leila told C. about it.

"I knew that nurse was a horrible woman from the first moment I set
eyes on her," she said.  "I could see she was determined to get his
money.  Poor Uncle Freddy!  It was such a shame to take advantage
of him when he was in that state.  You know he was almost
unconscious.  Of course, it's only for him I mind, although I once
thought he was interested in the children, and would probably do
something for them some day.  Of course, NOW all that's out of the
question."

It was indeed.  The weekly supplies of fruit and flowers which
hitherto used to come from Lord Marryat's country house ceased
altogether.  He was remaining for the present at Cannes, and he
intended to spend the summer in Scotland.  Leila had written to
him, and all she had received in return was a coloured postcard of
a youthful couple coming out of church, and written underneath the
following words:--


                Ring the merry wedding bells.


"SHE chose that!" said Leila when she showed the picture postcard
to C.  "It's just like her!  So vulgar!"

Leila entertained a great deal that summer.  She was constantly
giving small luncheon parties, and sometimes little dinners (never
more than eight people, as her dining-room did not hold more).

One of the most frequent guests was Sir Alfred Rooter, of
Johannesburg, a middle-aged man, who had made an immense fortune in
the South African diamond mines.  He had built himself a large
house in Kensington.  He was not socially ambitious, as his wife
was anmic and delicate and disliked going out; she was cultivated
and musical, and lived entirely in the musical and artistic world.
But Sir Alfred liked power.  He was not averse to intrigue, and he
owned a weekly newspaper, and contemplated buying a daily
newspaper.  He had the reputation of being immensely able.

Leila had got to know him through one of her impecunious female
friends, who had a sure nose for finding out the whereabouts of
money.  She at once introduced him to Terence.  The conjunction was
perfect, as Terence was delighted to make the acquaintance of this
bluff (as he thought), honest, rough diamond, who could give him
excellent advice about his investments; and Sir Alfred was
delighted to make the acquaintance and win the friendship of so
distinguished--and so discreet--a Government servant.  Leila was
charming to him, and he appreciated beauty and grace when he saw
them, especially when they were allied to wits.  He consulted her
about buying a country house in England.  He wanted a large house,
but not TOO large a house, in which he could entertain fourteen or
fifteen people if he wanted to.  He wanted a house with a large
room, as his wife was fond of music and had set her heart on a
music room, and he didn't mind a good tune either if it was
decently played.  He didn't want the house to be too far from
London, and yet he did not want anything SUBURBAN.  An hour and a
quarter's journey would be about the limit; it must not be longer.

Leila asked C. casually what had happened to Bramsley.  Had it been
sold yet?  No, not yet; it had been let to an American family; but
this family had gone back to America.  His sister-in-law, Marie,
was anxious to SELL the house; but Edward still clung to it,
although he probably knew that he would never be able to live
there.

"And what do YOU feel about it?" asked Leila.

"Oh, I don't care a rap," said C.  "I'd just as soon any one had it
as Marie.  You see, if she had it she would spoil it entirely.  You
have only to look at what she has done to the house in Portman
Square."

"Yes," said Leila, pensively, and it is more than probable that she
thought Marie Hengrave had been quite right in carrying out such
improvements as she had made; she had not, perhaps, even gone far
enough.

"Then you wouldn't mind if Edward sold it?"

"I should be sorry for Edward; and if Harry had been alive I should
be sorry for him, he loved it; but otherwise I really shouldn't
care a rap.  And I believe Edward is quite used to not living there
NOW, and to living in the suburbs--he hated it at first.  And, at
any rate, he's reconciled.  He knows he can never live at
Bramsley."

A few days after this conversation, Sir Alfred Rooter called on
Lord Hengrave one morning in the city.  The day after his visit he
went down to Bramsley.  Bramsley had been evacuated by the American
family which had rented it some time.  This family had had enough
of English country life to last it a lifetime, and the place was
now to let again.  But Sir Alfred had no wish to take a house on a
lease; he would either buy it, or not have it at all.

The present Lord Hengrave, however, had no wish to sell, although
let he must.  Sir Alfred called and made a tentative offer.  Lord
Hengrave did not mention Sir Alfred's visits to his wife.  Sir
Alfred visited Bramsley again, this time with Lady Rooter; and
after this visit, he called on Lord Hengrave again, and made
another offer, an offer still more handsome than the first, which
had been no mean one.

Lord Hengrave met Sir Alfred's second and more than handsome offer
for buying the house, with a civil, but final, Non possumus.

Sir Alfred was convinced that Lord Hengrave meant what he said, and
he reported want of progress to Leila Bucknell.  She understood
where the difficulty lay in a moment.

"Do you really want the house?" she asked.

"More than anything.  My wife has seen it, too, and it's the only
house in England that she fancies.  And she knows--"

"I'll get it for you," she said.

Sir Alfred shook his head.

"He won't part," he said.  "Believe me, I know when a man's
bluffing, and that man's not.  He's not after the dollars; it's the
house he wants to keep;--family pride, and all that.  I don't blame
him."

"I'll get it for you, all the same," said Leila.

Sir Alfred laughed.

"You don't know what I've offered him.  After my wife saw it I
almost doubled my offer.  I've offered him far more than the place
is worth, far more than he'll ever be able to get.  I tell you the
man is mad on the subject; he won't part."

"Yes he will," said Leila, "in two days it will be yours."

"Well, if it is, all I can say is that you're . . ." and he didn't
know what she was.

Leila took immediate action.  She called on Lady Hengrave, who
showed her over the improvements she had made in her house, and
they had a long, long talk.  Leila asked her to luncheon the next
day.  There she met Sir Alfred Rooter, who sat next to her.

"Edward," she said to him, "has been telling me all about your
wanting to buy Bramsley.  Of course, it will break our hearts to
have to sell it, but one really feels for the children's sake
that one would almost not have the right to refuse a really good
offer . . . only, of course, when one feels as WE do about it,
one has the right to ask a fancy price."

"And what do you consider a fancy price?" asked Sir Alfred.

"Oh, don't ask me those sort of conundrums," said Lady Hengrave, "I
know nothing about business, you must ask Edward."

"But Lord Hengrave, when I last saw him, told me he had absolutely
decided not to sell, there was nothing doing," said Sir Alfred.

"Yes, I know," said Lady Hengrave, "it was all my fault.  He'd
promised me NEVER, NEVER to sell, whatever the price offered,
because the last time there WAS an offer, and that wasn't long ago,
and they--American friends of mine are still longing to buy it--I
made SUCH a fuss; but now I've been thinking it over, I really do
see that it is unreasonable, and I told Edward yesterday, last
night, in fact, that he might think it over and write to you."

They talked a great deal more about Bramsley, and during the
conversation Lady Hengrave understood exactly what had passed
between Sir Alfred and her husband.  She took the opportunity also
to mention some of the less well-known good points about Bramsley--
the Romney on the staircase, the Raeburn, the Laurence and the
relics of Charles II.

That evening she mentioned the sale of Bramsley to her husband for
the first time.

At first Edward was firm, but his wife had too powerful weapons in
her armoury, and he knew that capitulation was only a matter of
minutes.  He saw he was beaten from the start.

"But, of course, you must ask for more," she said, "you must ask
DOUBLE."

"My dear, that's not possible," said Edward, "one couldn't do such
a thing."

Lady Hengrave laughed.

"That's why you're such a shocking man of business.  The more you
ask the more a man like Alfred Rooter will respect you.  He'll
think it's part of the game, and that you meant to sell at the
time."

"But that's just what I don't choose him to think--what I won't let
him think," said Edward.

"But it IS so silly, mixing up sentiment with business."

"Very well, I shan't sell at all," and Marie saw a peculiar,
obstinate, mulish expression come to her husband's otherwise pliant
and somewhat weak face; a look which she dreaded, as she knew when
it was there, there was nothing to be done, and that all further
argument was useless.  She knew that there is nothing in the world
more insuperable than the obstinacy of the weak.

"Very well," she said, "have it your own way and accept the lowest
offer.  But remember, I think it's madness."

"The lowest offer!" said Edward.  But he wrote to Sir Alfred,
nevertheless, that night.  He had been thinking things over--he was
ready to reconsider.

The next day the bargain was concluded.

Sir Alfred called on Leila in the evening, and his first words
were:--

"Well, you're the most wonderful little woman that's ever stepped;
and you'll have to come and help us to entertain, when we give our
first house party.  But how in the world did you do it?"

"The Bramsleys are very old friends of mine," said Leila.  "I was
brought up with them.  We have always been very great friends.
Julia and Marjorie, Edward's two sisters, used to go to the same
dancing classes as I did.  I knew all the brothers, too.  Caryl,
the youngest but one, is a great friend of mine.  Terence likes him
so much, and says it's such a pity he's not in the Foreign Office."

Before Sir Alfred took possession of Bramsley, C. went down one day
and spent a few hours at his old home by himself.  The house was
uninhabited, except for a caretaker; the morning room had been
stripped of its oak panelling, which had been sold; the late
tenants had painted the mouldings gilt and pink and blue in the
Adam breakfast room; almost all the pictures were gone.  The
bedrooms empty--some of the furniture had been removed to London or
sold.  What remained was heaped up in the middle of the rooms, and
covered with a sheet.  The garden had been utterly neglected and
was full of weeds; grass was growing on the drive; and when C.
reached the kitchen-garden he could bear it no more, and he left
the place.  This was his private memorial service for Harry, but he
had broken down before it was ended.



CHAPTER XLIII


Bramsley was sold to Sir Alfred Rooter, and he lost no time in
getting into it.  He was going to carry out considerable structural
alterations, but they were to be done by degrees, and in the course
of time.  For the moment, he was content with the house as it
stood.  In the autumn (when he meditated a trip to some French or
German watering-place) he would have the house thoroughly done up,
repainted, and a number of bathrooms inserted, which were as yet
painfully lacking.  He contented himself for the moment with
getting a little new furniture from the emporiums of the Tottenham
Court Road to brighten up the house, which was, he said, sadly in
need of brightening.  Electric light would be put in later.  Leila
chose the furniture for him, as Lady Rooter took no interest in the
kind of furniture he liked, and was far too delicate for the bustle
of those big stuffy shops.

Leila had made friends with Lady Rooter.  She dined with her and
went to her musical evenings.  She introduced C. to her, and he was
invited at once to a musical evening, on the following Wednesday.

He told Leila that he detested that kind of entertainment, but she
said it was no matter, he must come.

He went, and found himself in a palatial house.  There was a large
hall paved with marble, and a marble staircase, and a banister of
wrought steel.

Lady Rooter received her guests in a low and slightly stuffy,
panelled drawing-room, which had a certain affinity with the
sleeping carriages of the Orient Express.  Beyond this long, low
room, which was full of heavily upholstered chairs, there was a
large vaulted Gothic room, and at the end of it a platform, on
which there was a large Steinway Grand.

Lady Rooter was slim without being in the least thin, and short,
without being stunted, with dark hair, and a complexion as white as
ivory.  She had been painted by Lembach, and she was one of those
people who seem living proofs of the paradox that Nature imitates
art.  She looked as if she had been created by Lembach.  She was
languorous-looking, delicate-looking, and there was something
indefinably foreign about her accent as well as her appearance.
She was dressed in ivory satin, and round her neck there was one
row of large pearls which supported a pendant consisting of one
large yellow diamond.

In the room there was a sprinkling of celebrities, but the majority
of guests were the connoisseurs and hangers-on of the musical and
artistic world.

There were two well-known painters, one famous novelist, and one
famous American architect.  There were several of Sir Alfred's city
friends and their wives, and a certain number of people who had
been introduced into Sir Alfred's life by Leila, and a host of
people, some of whom were genuinely musical, and others who
pretended to be.

C., after exchanging a few words with his hostess, suddenly caught
sight of Mrs. Lord in the opposite corner of the room, and he at
once went and spoke to her.  He asked after Beatrice.  Mrs. Lord
said she was exceedingly happy.  She was not far off, and she went
to see her every now and again.

"It's such good air," Mrs. Lord said, "so good for the nerves,
after Paris, which is so noisy and dusty."

A man got on to the platform, and Leila at that moment, swept past
the door where C. was standing, and carried him away into a smaller
room called the library--although the only books in it were Ruff's
Guide to the Turf and the Strand Magazine--where they could talk
without disturbing any one.

They talked uninterruptedly there, without being heard or seen,
while Eugene Franck, a short-haired pianist, with the face of a
bull-dog and the fists of a prize-fighter, made the pianoforte sigh
like a ghost.  He was succeeded by a handsome contralto, who sang
some songs by Frantz and Faur, and she was succeeded by a famous
flute player and some music for flute, strings and harpsichord.

Leila and C. took no notice of the music.  They were quite
unconscious whether it had begun or ended until Dallas Wace
strolled into the room, walked up to Leila and said that he had
been asked to take her down to supper.

C. looked at him with disgust, and walked into the music room,
which was now gradually growing empty.

Sir Alfred, who had disappeared during the music, now re-appeared,
and was shepherding the guests down to supper.  He caught sight of
C., and said:--

"You've missed a treat," and he winked.  "After all that talk
you'll want some food.  You'll find the balloon-juice on the table.
Will you take down Miss Haseltine?  You don't know her? not know
Miss Haseltine?  Why, she's the jolliest girl in London."

Sir Alfred led him up and introduced him to a girl who was talking
to the pianist.

Sir Alfred was right, thought C., she had an amazingly amusing
face; the charm of it was quite undeniable, although no one would
have called her pretty.  She was no longer quite young; she was
short, she had a rather turned-up nose, a laughing mouth, and
laughing, but sometimes very serious, eyes, and there was something
radiantly honest in her expression; she had a neat figure and a
little head.

"Go on downstairs," said Sir Alfred; "don't be shy, I'll lead the
way," and he led the way, escorting a dark lady, who was the wife
of Count Anzoni, the First Secretary at the Italian Embassy.

In the dining-room, supper was being served at round tables, and C.
and Miss Haseltine found themselves at the next table to Leila and
Dallas Wace.  Leila's other neighbour was a dark, rather sleek,
young man.  C. enjoyed his supper immensely.  His companion amused
him; she teased him, she chaffed him, she read his thoughts.  They
understood each other, and began to have great fun, and all this
did not pass unobserved by Leila, who, although just out of reach
of hearing, watched them while she pretended to be enjoying an
artistic conversation with Dallas Wace into which her other
neighbour, whose name was Harold Wraith, kept on languidly breaking
in.

"Do you come here often?" asked C.

"Lady Rooter always asks me when there's music, as she knows I like
music, especially the music she has here.  You see, it's not the
ordinary professional kind, nor the sickeningly bad amateur kind,
but there's always something rather unusual and interesting about
it.  For instance, those songs that Ella Leishmann was singing to-
night, that song of Frantz's, and then the Purcell on the
harpsichord."

"You know, I'm not musical; I only like tunes."

"I'm the same; perhaps I'm worse.  I'm not sure I don't only like
BAD tunes.  I like street songs.  Only singing, when it's dramatic,
always fetches me, and Ella Leishmann is dramatic.  One trembles--"

"For Mr. Leishmann?"

"He doesn't mind, but there's an unattached Herr Curtius, also a
musician.  He's the man to be--"

"Pitied?

"Yes."

"Is he here to-night?"

"Yes, he's over there at that further table, talking to the lady in
red velvet."

"But you're not a musician, then?"

"No, I'm an artist.  I paint portraits for a living, not for
choice, and I live all alone with a friend, a cousin of mine, who
is a pianist.  We have got a studio in a place you've probably
never heard of, called Hammersmith Mansions, near Walham Green.
You must come and have tea with us one day."

"And you know the Rooters well?"

"Oh, yes, very well.  I have known her for a long time.  She is
half a Dane, and has French blood too.  But she was brought up in
Germany.  We were at the Slade together.  She is a very wonderful
woman, so cultivated, so kind, too, and so generous.  She is very-
good to us artists.  She was an artist herself when she was young,
and she was very poor, and she knows what that means."

"And I suppose he's a very wonderful man?"

"Yes, he is.  His career is almost like a fairy tale.  He started
life as a street boy.  He sold newspapers in the streets, and was a
bootblack.  He taught himself to read--and everything else; and
after that he was every kind of thing--a prize-fighter, and an
acrobat in a circus, and an engine driver.  You must ask him to
tell you his story.  I should only spoil it.  He loves telling it.
There's no pretension about him.  That's what I like.  He doesn't
want to be thought anything but what he is."

"I expect he's good-natured too?"

"Yes; but I shouldn't like to cross him.  Do you notice those lines
between his eyes, those very thick black eyebrows that almost meet,
and the steely quality in his dark eyes?  You wouldn't have noticed
all that.  I have, because, you see, I have painted his portrait."

"Really?"

"Yes; it was exhibited at the New Gallery last year.  Lady Rooter
has got it now in her sitting-room."

"I should love to see it."

"You must ask her to show it to you some day.  I don't know if it's
good, as a picture, but I think it's got something that's right; I
mean I've tried to give the idea that those who would treat Sir
Alfred as the bluff, hearty, uncultivated boor might one day have
the surprise of their lives.  You see, I think he's in some ways
the CLEVEREST man I've ever seen.  Nothing escapes him.  He sees
all the little things he's no business to see."

"Is he very fond of her?"

"I think he always takes her advice about everything."

At that moment Leila tapped C. on the shoulder.

"I'm going home," she said, and she walked upstairs with Dallas
Wace.

"I must go, too," said Miss Haseltine.  "Will you take me
upstairs?"

As they were walking upstairs she told him how to find her house,
and to be sure to come and see her some time.  He said he would.

When they got upstairs he found no trace of Leila.  He went into
all the rooms, and then he ran downstairs, into the cloak-room and
the hall, where the front door was wide open, as the guests were
beginning to go.  There, he caught sight of Leila driving away
alone, in a hansom cab.  Dallas Wace was at the door.  He had been
helping to get her a cab.

The evening after that party C. went as usual to Berkeley Street.
Leila received him icily.  After they had tea, a meal during which
they behaved like two Chinese mandarins, so perfectly polite they
were, the matter was broached, and each of them stated the case
with violence, and at the same time Leila burst into tears.  C.
walked round and round the room like a caged tiger.  Ultimately
they made it up just before Terence came back from his office.

It was from this date that a new and curious phase started in
Leila's London career.  She began to go out in the artistic world.
She saw a great deal of Lady Rooter, and went out for drives in her
victoria in the afternoon.  Through Lady Rooter she got to know one
or two of the leading lights of the artistic world, that is to say,
a sculptor, who was better known in Paris than he was in London,
Mr. Bernard Wilkes; Bellamy, the novelist, Eugene Franck, a pianist
and composer, and Harold Wraith, whom she had met at the Rooters, a
young man who was immensely well-off, and seemed to have no
particular profession.  He went to all the principal race meetings;
he had a flat in the Albany; he collected Greek coins, and was said
to be an authority on Italian pictures and English prints.  Dallas
Wace came frequently to the house, and Leila gave C. to understand
that now as far as literary and artistic matters were concerned,
she was well supplied, perfectly equipped, and in possession of
information that came from a better stable than his.  She had made
friends, she gave him to understand, with real "professionals," and
so he, being a mere amateur in such matters, had no right to look
down on her.  The truth being that she suspected that C. had once
or twice found her not so much unresponsive as inadequate in
matters of art and literature, and she had suspected that he talked
of such matters in a different way with people like Miss Haseltine,
for instance, than he did with her.  It was, indeed, the case.
Leila therefore took pains to protect herself.  Dallas Wace enjoyed
her society very much, and he gave her the latest news from the
international world of cultivated and intellectual gossip, namely,
what was being said in Paris, Rome and St. Moritz, about books,
pictures, music, and the stage; whereas Bellamy, who found her an
adorable listener, poured out all his theories to her, and she
gathered, by the opinions of others which he quoted and held up to
her ridicule, what was being said by the whole of literary London
on all contemporary topics of that kind; while Harold Wraith, who
was extremely cultivated and utterly blas, gave to the salad of
opinions that Leila was busy concocting, the necessary soupon of
indifferent cynicism and cautious scepticism.  He pointed out to
her how little there was in the modern world to admire, or in the
ancient for that matter.  He talked of C. to her as being the
crudest of Philistines, an utterly ignorant boy.  C. found this new
world of Leila's frankly unendurable.  He loathed Wace; he hated
Harold Wraith with a still fiercer hatred, and indeed, they could
scarcely carry on a conversation for more than five minutes without
almost coming to blows.  And the worst of it was that C. felt and
knew that Wraith was horribly competent on his own subjects.  He
was not a poseur.  He really knew about Greek coins and prints and
pictures.  He really knew about racing.  Everything he did he did
well; and he was an admirable card player.

But what was more than he could endure was to notice how gradually
Wraith's sceptical and nil admirari attitude was being absorbed by
Leila, and how she let him have the benefit of the reflection,
letting him feel that HE knew nothing of such things, whereas she,
if she didn't of herself, was nevertheless in a position to be able
to consult the real authorities whenever she was in doubt.

As for Bellamy, the novelist, he took no notice of C. at all; but
he took little heed of any one, so busy was he propounding his own
theories and recounting his own impressions.

Leila entertained her new friends at little dinners, and more often
still to little luncheons.  To the latter she never asked C.  It
was difficult, for one thing, for him to get away late enough, as
Leila had luncheon at two, and C. had luncheon at one with his
fellow officials at a club in Westminster.  Neither did she ask him
to her literary dinners.  But she gave him to understand that they
took place, and that she didn't ask him because she knew these
things didn't interest him.  She went out a good deal that summer
as well, and she liked meeting C. at balls.  She gave him to
understand that he was all right in that setting.  But even in
these surroundings he suffered from the presence of Harold Wraith
and Dallas Wace, who neither of them ever missed going to a big
entertainment, and, if they did, never failed to monopolise a
certain amount of Leila's time.

Sir Alfred took a house at South Ascot that year for the races, and
he invited Leila, Terence, and Harold Wraith to stay with him.  C.
was invited as well, and he went up to London every day to his
office and back again to Ascot in the evening.  Leila went to the
races.

By the end of June Bramsley was ready to receive its new owners,
and Sir Alfred gave a party to celebrate the occasion.  Terence and
Leila were invited, Dallas Wace, Sir Wilfrid Clay, several of Sir
Alfred's city friends, and some of Lady Rooter's artistic friends,
Bellamy, some musicians, and Colonel Wilmot, who had come over from
Paris for a week's leave.

C. was not asked.  Leila broke the news that she was going to
Bramsley to C. at a dinner-party at her sister's house.  He was
sitting next to her.

"Lady Rooter asked me if you would like to come," she said to him,
"but I told her I thought it would be painful for you.  I thought
it would revive too many old associations; and Emmie quite agreed."

"What nonsense!" said C.; "one has to get used to these things.
After all, everything in life changes.  Nothing remains the same,
and all good things come to an end."

"How true that is!" said Leila, "how terribly true!"

"I shall probably have to go there some time or other, so the
sooner I get used to it the better."

"It's too late for me to do anything NOW, I'm afraid," she said.
"They're full up, I know.  If I had thought you'd feel like that I
would have encouraged them to ask you, but I was so sure you
wouldn't like to go there."

"You know perfectly well," said C., "that the only thing I care for
is to be where you are.  But I believe you did it on purpose.  I
don't believe you wanted me to come.  I believe you like being with
those people, Wace and Wraith, without me.  You think I spoil your
fun."

"It's not that.  I think you dislike them so much that you make it
all very uncomfortable.  You see, although you've read such a lot,
you don't understand the people in that world.  Of course, I know
how fond you are of poetry and all that sort of thing, and how
clever you are at writing verses and guessing acrostics.  But those
people--people like Robert Bellamy and Bernard Wilkes--they, are
different.  They are PROFESSIONALS, you see."

"And Dallas Wace and Harold Wraith, are they professionals?" asked
C.

"No," said Leila, "but they know all about art and books, just like
professionals.  Robert Bellamy said he would rather have Harold
Wraith's opinion on a picture than any one's, and that he thought
Dallas Wace was the best judge of a book he knew.  You see, they
are artistic as well as literary."

"And I'm neither," said C.  "Thank God, thank God, I'm neither."

"I didn't mean that; you know quite well I didn't mean that."

But C. was too angry to speak, and Leila turned to her other
neighbour, who was old and deaf and greedy, and they talked about
food till dinner was over.  C. went away as soon as he could after
dinner, and did not say a word to Leila.  It would be the first
Sunday since her return from France that they would not be spending
either partly or wholly together, and C. felt that there was
something behind all this that he had not fathomed.  He was madly
jealous, but jealous of an unknown quantity.



CHAPTER XLIV


C. spent that Sunday alone in London, and he took the opportunity
of paying Miss Haseltine a visit in her studio in Hammersmith
Mansions.  He found her at home, and she showed him her pictures,
which he thought were bold and original.  She asked whether she
might do his portrait.  He said he was afraid he would not have
time to give her sittings.  He had to be at his office all day.

"I shouldn't want many sittings," she said.  "I would do what's
called an 'oil sketch.'  Two sittings of an hour and a half each
would be ample.  If you could give me more, so much the better."

C. laughed.  "I could give you that," he said.

She wanted him to come on the following Tuesday, but the difficulty
was to arrange a time when the light would be satisfactory.

"Would six o'clock in the evening be too late?" he said.  "I could
be here punctually by that time, or, if you would rather I came in
the morning, I could come quite early before I go to the office,
but I'm sure that would be too early for you, as I have to be there
by eleven, at the latest."

It was arranged that he should come in the evening at six.  C.
stayed a long time in the studio, and they talked about every sort
of thing.  Towards tea-time, Miss Haseltine's musical friend
arrived; she was a little dark girl, an admirable pianist, and she
was at present studying at the College of Music; her name was
Eileen Pratt.  They all three had tea together, and they boiled
some eggs and made toast.  C. enjoyed himself like a schoolboy,
more than he had done for years.  It was settled that he was to
come back on Tuesday afternoon.

He had arranged to meet Leila on the Monday evening after her
return from Bramsley at a little dance that was going to be given
at a house in Bruton Street.  Leila had asked for him to be asked.
But just before dinner there came a note from her in which she said
she was not going to the dance.  She had a bad headache and did not
feel well enough.  She would see him soon, and would let him know
when.

The next day he received another note asking him to come at six.
That was just the time he had fixed for his appointment with Miss
Haseltine, and he did not like to disappoint her, as he knew she
was busy, so he told Leila he couldn't come at six, and suggested
that they should meet some other time the next day.  He said this
in a telegram.  She answered this by a telegram, and said in it:
"See you at Wessex House Ball."

The Wessex House Ball was to happen on Wednesday night.  It was one
of the great events of that season.  C. kept his appointment with
Miss Haseltine on Tuesday, and she got through a satisfactory
amount of work.  She would, she said, want only one more sitting.
She was dining that night with the Rooters.  Would he be there?

"No," said C., "they haven't asked me."

"I think Lady Rooter has asked you," she said, "because she asked
me for your address and whether I thought you would mind being
asked at so short a notice.  I said I was sure you wouldn't mind
that, but that you would probably be engaged."

"No," said C.  "I'm doing nothing.  I shall dine by myself."

As they were saying this a messenger boy brought a note for Miss
Haseltine.  It was from Lady Rooter.  She had, she said, asked C.
to dinner by telegram, answer paid, early that morning, but had
received no answer.  If he was there, sitting for his portrait,
wouldn't she bring him to dinner?  They would dine early--at a
quarter to eight--and go to Earl's Court, or somewhere, after
dinner; or, if they felt it was too hot, they could sit in the
garden, and have some music.  He needn't dress.  Would she send
answer by bearer?

Miss Haseltine read out the letter, and C. said he would be
delighted to go.  He had not received the telegram.  He had started
very early for a walk before going to the office, and then he had
come straight from the office by Underground to the studio.  He
asked if he might write a note to Lady Rooter.  He explained
matters and said he would be delighted to dine.  By the time the
sitting was over it was time for them to start, and they took a bus
to the Albert Hall, and from there it was only a few minutes' walk
to the Rooters' house.

"Eileen is coming, too," said Miss Haseltine; "but she will meet us
there."

Sir Alfred greeted C. with boisterous cheerfulness, and made him a
cocktail.  Lady Rooter looked rather tired, and they had dinner on
a veranda which looked out on the large garden behind the house.

There were no other guests besides C. and Miss Pratt.

"How's the portrait getting on?" Sir Alfred asked.  Miss Haseltine
explained that it was only a sketch, and that it would be finished
the next sitting.

"How long would it take to make a pukka picture?" Sir Alfred asked.

"Oh, much longer.  I couldn't quite tell exactly."

"But you could finish it by the end of the summer?"

"Oh, yes, of course, I think so.  It depends on the sittings;--how
often, and what sort of sittings.  I don't think he's a very
difficult subject."

"Well, it shall be a pukka picture," said Sir Alfred.  "I give you
an order for it, and it's no good messing about with sketches.  If
you are to paint a portrait, you may as well paint a real one.
Don't you agree, Adela?" he said to his wife.

Lady Rooter agreed.

"But Mr. Bramsley won't be able to sit to me," said Miss Haseltine.
"He's too busy."

"Rubbish.  If it's too far for him to go to your studio, he can
come here, and you can paint him upstairs, in the empty room."

C. was extremely embarrassed.  What he could not explain was that
six o'clock was the time he kept for seeing Leila.  But he did not
want Miss Haseltine to lose the commission through him.

"I could come in the mornings, quite early, to your studio; perhaps
that would be more convenient for you; I'm not always sure about my
evenings," he said.

"Joan, you had much better come here in the mornings," said Sir
Alfred, with a wink, "just as you used to do, when you were
painting me.  Young men never are sure about their evenings."

Finally, it was settled that C. was to come to Sir Alfred's house
early, in the mornings, at nine o'clock.

After dinner, they all went out into the garden, but presently Lady
Rooter took Joan Haseltine and Eileen Pratt upstairs and left the
men to have a smoke together.  Sir Alfred gave C. an enormous
cigar.  Before long, as they sat in the garden, they heard the
sounds of music.

"You can't flog my old Dutch from the piano.  We'll let them play.
It pleases them and doesn't harm us; or perhaps you'd rather go
upstairs and listen."

C. said he was very happy where he was, and that he understood
nothing about classical music.

"Then you're just like me," Sir Alfred said.

First of all he talked about the picture.

"That girl's a topper," he said.  "She told me she wanted to paint
you, and thought she could make a big thing of it.  That's why I
took action.  So far she's only done a few fancy things, and a
portrait of yours truly.  But they gave her some fine notices, and
hung her well in the New Gallery, and what's-his-name thinks highly
of her, but she hasn't got many orders.  They say she's too damned
realistic, and that puts people off.  People like being flattered;
they like the chocolate-box style, and that's not Joan's line.
It's a pity it isn't; it would be a damned sight more lucrative.
On the other hand, any one can see with half an eye that the girl's
got a punch.  She gets it across, and I hope she'll make a hit with
your portrait.  She'd deserve to.  She's a topper.  She used to
support her aged Ma, a quarrelsome, querulous old ---- but she's
dead, that's one thing--"

Sir Alfred suddenly paused in his talk as he was looking at C.

"I say, you haven't got a relative in South Africa, have you?"

"Not that I know of," said C.

"It's funny, you remind me of a chap.  A chap I used to know quite
well--Yes," he went on, "it's a hard, tough job for a girl like
that to take on the professional business and compete, not only
with other artists who are all as jealous as a swarm of hornets,
but with the men into the bargain.  They get precious little
chivalry shown them, I can tell you.  It's a question of get on or
get out, and the survival of those who push hardest.  But, you see,
Joan made good, and they say she'll go right to the top of the
tree, unless she marries a crook who drinks, or bets, or gambles,
and gets away with it somehow, and that's what does happen, nine
times out of ten."

"I suppose she's got very little to live on," said C.

"Damned little now except Press notices and promises.  But mind
you, I've no children of my own, and no relations worth a cent.  I
regard her as my child, and I shall see that she doesn't starve.
But it's not that.  I want her to make good all round.  I want her
to make good at her painting job and to make good in the world--in
life--too.  However, there'll be time for that.  Joan's one in a
thousand."

They got on to other topics.  Bramsley was mentioned.  Sir Alfred
said:--

"I suppose you wouldn't care to come down there sometimes.  Too
many associations."

C. said he would be delighted to come any time Sir Alfred asked
him.  "It's nonsense expecting things never to change," he said.

Sir Alfred asked him about his work, and was surprised that C.
should be tied down to a job in a small Government department which
could not possibly lead to anything.

"It's queer, damned queer," he said.  "Why, I started life by
selling papers."

He told C. the strange epic of his life, beginning when he was a
bare-footed street urchin and which had now reached the phase when
he was a millionaire with this huge house in London and the owner
of the Bramsley estate redeemed from mortgages and restored to some
of its pristine glory.

"Don't you feel you would like to strike out a line for yourself?
Haven't you any ambition?"

C. told Sir Alfred of his early adventures.  How he had wished to
be a journalist; how he had not liked ever to mention it, knowing
his parents' invincible prejudice to anything of the kind, and also
because he had nothing to show, no assets to procure him an entry
into Fleet Street.  Then his trial of diplomacy and his attempts to
become a barrister.

"But would you like to be a journalist now?"

"Yes, I would; but I should never get a job."

"Have you tried?"

C. told him of the work he had done for the Northern Pilot.

"The Northern Pilot!  You've written for the Northern Pilot?  That,
in my opinion, is the only paper in this island worth reading, and
I'm seriously thinking . . . however, we'll talk about it later.
In the meantime, do you ever read the Saturday Despatch?"

Yes, C. did.

"That's my paper, you know, and I can do what I like with it.  I'll
tell you what, you shall write an article about anything you
like . . . a race meeting, a cricket match, a play?"

C. said he would prefer something theatrical.

"Well, I tell you what," he said; "there's Madeleine Lapara.  She's
acting all this week and the next.  On Thursday night, so Adela
says, she's playing something big and classical, for one night
only.  You understand French.  You shall go and write about that.
They say it's her best part.  If you can write about it in a way
that makes ME want to see her in the part I shall know what you can
do.  Adela and I are going another night, when she's doing
something more modern.  You just describe the whole thing.  We've
got a dramatic critic, but he probably doesn't understand the
lingo, and we've had nothing about her so far.  At any rate, you
shall do it, and he shan't.  Let me see.  It's the day after to-
morrow.  Thursday night.  Can you go?"

C. said he could.

"Capital! that's fixed.  And if you make good over that, I'll try
and get you something else, and something better.  Now I think we'd
better join the ladies, or we shall get it."

They went upstairs.

Sir Alfred led the way to the large, dark, cool music-room, and
when they got there he asked Miss Pratt to oblige with selections
from Gounod's Faust and from the Geisha, two works to which he was
extremely partial, and which C. listened to without difficulty.
Lady Rooter talked to C. and spoke to him about Bramsley, and said
she so wished not to touch it, not to alter anything.  She knew it
would be so much wiser to leave it exactly as it was, but that
Alfred was a fanatic for modernity.  He could not understand a
house without electric light and a bathroom to almost every
bedroom.  She didn't think he would be really happy till he had
installed an electric organ.  It was really so comfortable as it
was.  She thought the guests had been quite comfortable on Sunday.
It was a pity he had not been there.  She had wanted to ask him,
but had not liked to.  C. once more explained that he had no wish
not to go to Bramsley, and that it was a comfort to him to think it
was not all falling into decay.  "And then, you know," he said,
"you'll think it very odd of me, but I wasn't very happy at
Bramsley, as a child--or, at least, most of my time there.  There
were nice moments, of course--"

Lady Rooter laughed.  "I had the same kind of experience," she
said.  "I was brought up in a large castle in Denmark, and I hated
it--hated it.  My father was a Dane.  He died when I was seven
years old, and my mother married again--an Englishman who had
business in Hamburg.  We lived there, and then all the business
went wrong and I went to London and studied at the Slade School.  I
had some talent for drawing in those days--not much, not such as
Joan's, but a little--and I thought I could make a living that way;
and then I met Alfred, quite by chance, one year, and we were
married a month afterwards.  Alfred always makes up his mind about
a thing at once, and once his mind is made up he never changes.
He's made up his mind now that Joan is to paint you here, and that
it is to be her masterpiece."

C. stayed on till about eleven o'clock, when Joan and Eileen said
they must be getting home.  It was settled that C. was to come to
Sir Alfred's house in the morning in two days' time for his first
real sitting, and then every day; the sketch was to be scrapped,
and a real portrait was to be begun in its stead.

As he left the house, Sir Alfred said:--

"Don't forget the play; you'll get the tickets to-morrow; two--so
as you can take a pal, and write us some good stuff.  And you must
come here again soon."

C. thanked him and left.

He did not see Leila till the Wessex House Ball, the following
night.  It was a large ball; and the house, with its wide
staircase, and square gallery going right round the landing, on the
first floor, its fine pictures and furniture and books, looked
noble and dignified.

C. did not catch sight of Leila for a long time.  At last he found
her sitting in the corner of a long room, looking her very best in
a golden tissue,


     Robe d'or et rien ne veux,
     Qu'une rose  mes cheveux.


and talking to an old politician.

"Ours is the next," she said.

C. waited impatiently, absent-mindedly nodding and saying "How do
you do?" to friends and acquaintances, and exchanging conventional
remarks till the music should begin again, and as soon as he heard
the strains of the Monte Cristo valse strike up its light, heady
melody he went to the corner where Leila was sitting, and they
walked away till they found a convenient spot right at the end of
the gallery.

"Shall we sit here or dance?" he asked.

"We'll sit here," she said, "for the present."

"Well, tell me all about the party," said C.

"Oh," said Leila, "it wasn't so bad.  I like her so much.  I must
say they haven't done any harm to the house, NOT YET, but I'm
fearfully afraid they will spoil it.  I had luncheon there to-day,
and they told me all about your picture that is going to be painted
by Miss Haseltine."

"It's only going to be a sketch," said C., blushing.

"I think it's such a good idea.  Sir Alfred said that Miss
Haseltine thought you were one of the most interesting subjects to
paint she had come across.  And he said he thought you had a
capable-looking head, but that it was a pity you were wasted in one
of those silly little offices.  He said you ought to go out to the
Colonies."

"I daresay I ought," said C.; "but I would rather die than do it.
What should I do in the Colonies?"

"I think you would soon make your mark.  Sir Alfred thought so
too."

"Do you mean you want me to go?"

"Of course _I_ don't want you to go; I was thinking of what would
be best for you."

"Well, you know why I COULDN'T go, couldn't want to go."

"I shouldn't like to think I was spoiling your life."  She smiled
at him.

"Spoiling it!  Good gracious!"

At that moment, as they caught the opening bars of the Valse Bleue
there was a slight stir and a rustling of skirts near them of
people moving, getting up and finding fresh partners.

A young Guardsman came up to Leila and reminded her that it was
their dance.

Before she got up, she said:--

"We'll dance not the one after next, but the one after THAT, and
we'll DANCE it.  I shall be near the door, and, by the way, before
I forget it, I want you to dine with us to-morrow night, VERY
PARTICULARLY."

She went off.  C. smiled his assent.  "Of course," he said.  Then
he remembered it was the night he was going to hear Lapara.

C. looked round.  It was a lovely sight.  The gallery was crowded
with beautiful people.  He felt so differently now than he used to
feel on these occasions; now he knew almost everyone by sight.  How
things had changed, he thought, in the last six years!  Both the
Roden girls were married.  He caught sight of a dbutante cousin of
his, whom he had been introduced to that year.  She was sitting
solitary and melancholy-looking (next to her aunt, an old lady with
a high tiara), so pretty and young, with a wreath of gold leaves in
her hair.  He asked her to dance, and they whirled round the
ballroom.  C. was not a good dancer, but he could dance just well
enough not to run into people, and not to tread on their gowns.
When the dance was over, they walked downstairs to a large room,
where there was a table with lemonade and tea.  It was the library;
all round the room there were shelves full of rare editions and
wonderful bindings.  The library opened on to a garden which was
lit up with little coloured lights, hanging in festoons from tree
to tree.  Both C. and his partner were very hot and out of breath.
They drank some lemonade and then they strolled out into the
garden.

"How delicious it is here," she said.  "I should like to stay here
all night."

They sat down on two chairs and watched the people go by, and their
conversation proceeded more or less on stereotyped lines.  "Are you
going to So-and-so's and to So-and-so's?  No, but to So-and-so's.
It's sure to be good," etc., etc.

Presently they heard the music beginning again, and the girl leapt
to her feet, saying, "I'm dancing this."



CHAPTER XLV


C. went upstairs and sat out the next dance with Mrs. D'Avenant,
and after that he went to look for Leila, and they danced a valse
together, but she was slightly critical of his dancing to-night,
which, as a rule, she used not to be.

"I think you really must have some more dancing lessons, C.," she
said, as they walked into one of the large rooms.  "It's such a
pity not to dance as well as you might.  You could dance perfectly
if you just had one or two lessons."

"I shall never be a very good dancer," said C.  "Let's go down and
sit in the garden."

They walked downstairs.  Supper had begun.  They passed several
couples going down to supper.  At the corner of the staircase a
very tall figure was standing by herself, waiting for some one.  It
was the famous Lady Vanburg.  She was dark, her head was very
small, she was dressed in white satin, and wore many rows of pearls
round her neck.  She had the quality and the authority of ABSOLUTE
beauty about her.  It was impossible to say exactly where her
beauty lay; whether in her features, or in her eyes, or her skin,
her shoulders, her figure, or her expression--the only thing
certain was that the effect was overwhelming.

"Isn't she beautiful?" said Leila.  "Still much more beautiful than
any one else."

"Yes," said C., absent-mindedly, "quite beautiful," he agreed, but
he thought Leila was far more beautiful.

"Let's go and have supper," said C.

"Not now, later; we'll go into the garden for a moment."

They walked out.

Leila looked like a lovely ghost, C. thought, in the warm darkness,
so faintly lit by the twinkling coloured lights.  Her eyes were
like stars to-night.  They talked almost in a whisper.  They
talked, were silent, and talked again, but there was nothing
wanting, nor empty, nor embarrassing, nor tedious (so C. thought)
about their silences.  Their silences (again in C.'s opinion) at
least were far more expressive than their words.  Time seemed to
rush by, and C. felt sad--"sad from the whole of pleasure," but he
did not experience the shadow of satiety.  This, he thought, is too
good to last, but oh! how delicious!  Oh! how wonderful!

A remark of Leila's suddenly recalled him to earth.

"You will come to dinner to-morrow, won't you?"

C. explained that he couldn't.  He was obliged to go to the play to
see Lapara.

"Can't you come with me?"

"No," said Leila, "that's quite impossible; besides, I've got a
dinner party.  Surely you could go to the play another night!"

"I can't," said C.  "It's a special night.  Lapara's doing Phdre
for one night only, and I've been given tickets."

"But surely you can go and see her any night!  And who wants to see
her NOW, in any case?  She's old and passe.  DO come; I want you."

"I'm afraid I can't, really.  I've promised to go."

"Who made you promise?"

"Sir Alfred Rooter has given me tickets."

"Oh, I see; you're going with Miss Haseltine!"

"No, I'm not, I swear," said C., getting scarlet.

Leila laughed.  "I see," she said.

"He's given me tickets because he wants me to write about it in his
newspaper.  I've not got any one to go with me yet.  I shall try
and get Gerald Malone."

"Well, I think you might put it off, as I ask you to.  I don't
often ask you to do anything for me.  Do, C., please.  To please
me."

"Any other night I would, but not THIS night.  I promised Sir
Alfred."

"But I'll arrange that with him.  I'll make it all right."

"No, I can't, Leila.  I can't, really."

"Oh, very well!"

"You see, he wants me to write an article in the Saturday
Despatch."

"I quite understand.  You're quite right.  Of course, you must go."

"Of course, if you really insist, I will come."

"I don't want you to come if you don't want to.  That's the last
thing I want.  I wouldn't hear of it."

"All right, I'll come."

"No, C., I don't want you to.  I promise you, I'd rather you
didn't."

"Please let me.  I'll write and tell Sir Alfred I can't go that
night."

"No, no!  I really don't want you to.  Let's go upstairs.  I'm
dancing the next dance."

They walked back in silence.  Up to that moment everything had been
to C. like fairyland: the music, the people, the garden, the
lights, the soft warm night, the flowers, the smell of the fruit in
the supper-room; but now there seemed to be a blight on everything.
The lights seemed to be dim, the flowers faded, everything tawdry,
sham; all those dazzling people, in coloured satins and jewels,
were now, he thought, like a gallery of waxworks.  The very music
seemed unreal.  And yet, not five minutes ago, how intoxicating it
had been when he was whirling round the room with Leila, and
whispering in the garden; and Leila in that galaxy of beauty had
seemed to him the queen of the evening, the centre of the
festivity, in her shimmering gold satin gown with the one pink rose
in her hair and the single row of chosen pearls round her lovely
neck!  Never had he felt so near to her.  And now, instead of being
his own, she seemed far away, further than the furthest star;
inaccessible, aloof, and separated from him by ons of time and
infinities of space.

He tried one final appeal.

"Don't," he said, "don't, please, Leila.  You know I'm longing to
come.  I didn't mean to be so silly.  Do, please, let me come."

"No, no," she said.  They had reached the top of the staircase.
"I'm dancing this with Wilfrid," she said.  "Ah, there he is!"

"Will you have supper later?"

"I'm afraid I'm engaged for supper."

"Well, then, afterwards--later--will you dance with me later?"

"Yes, later, perhaps," she said.  She seemed to have relented, at
any rate; C. thought that all MIGHT be well--presently.

He caught sight of Lady Elizabeth Carteret.  He asked her if she
would like to go down to supper.  She accepted with alacrity.  They
went downstairs.  Lady Elizabeth told him one piece of news after
another about mutual acquaintances.  After they had been at supper
some little while Leila came into the room with Colonel Wilmot.  C.
did not know who he was, but recognised him as being the man he had
seen with Leila coming out of the theatre.  He was longing to ask
who he was, but he noticed that Lady Elizabeth looked at them with
the look of the hungry but now satisfied gossip-hunter, and he
could not bring himself to ask--he was afraid of what the answer
might be.  He said rather abruptly:--

"I must go upstairs.  I've promised to dance with one of my
cousins."

They left the dining-room.  C. danced with one or two people he
knew; the whole time he was waiting and watching for Leila to come
back, but he saw no sign of her.  It was getting late.  The rooms
were less crowded than they had been, but it was evidently going to
be a very late ball.  The people, however, showed no signs of going
away.  C. walked down the stairs and looked into the supper-room.
He could not find Leila anywhere.  He walked through all the rooms
downstairs; he saw no sign of her there.  He went upstairs again.
There was no one he wished to talk to or to dance with.  Once more,
he had the sensation of blight; as if some one had put out all the
lights, and had stopped the spring that gave life and gaiety to the
entertainment.  Sitting all round the room, the tired chaperons
looked more than ever like waxworks, he thought, and the dancers,
too, were they not all of them mechanical toys wound up for the
occasion?  He felt a sense of immense weariness and disgust.  They
evidently did not share this sensation; they were intoxicated with
enjoyment.  The ball reached its climax at that moment.  A new
dance was just beginning, and as the first bars of the valse
Sourire d'Avril were played Leila came into the ballroom with
Colonel Wilmot, and they began to dance.

That tune, Sourire d'Avril, was the most popular of all the dance
tunes that summer, and no sooner were its opening bars heard than
there were clappings, and a buzz of applause, and people came into
the ballroom from all the other rooms and began to dance; and the
room was once more crowded, almost as crowded as it had been at the
beginning of the evening.  Nearly all the dancers now were really
good dancers, and dancers who were dancing because they enjoyed it.
There were at least four remarkable beauties--not counting Leila--
and a number of extremely pretty girls.

C. noticed at once that George Wilmot's dancing was in a very
different category from his own.  He noted bitterly what a
wonderfully graceful couple they made.  George Wilmot was one of
those rather inarticulate people who are born not only musical, but
with an infallible sense of rhythm.  They are common enough in
Austria, but rare in England.  He couldn't go wrong; he danced as
if the music had been composed especially for him, with absolute
certainty and, at the same time, without any stiffness.  Round and
round they went.  Would the dance never come to an end?  But when
the valse did finally stop--and the band had played it as if
inspired--the dancers clamoured for more, and the band acquiesced
and began the same tune again.  C. could hardly bear it; he had
only one thought--to find out the name of the man who was dancing
with Leila; and as he watched her and her partner from the doorway
he felt he would have given worlds if, like Samson, he could have
pulled the whole ballroom down and overwhelmed Leila, himself and
every one in a common destruction.

Who was there who would know?  At that moment Freddy Calhoun came
into the room.

"Why aren't you dancing?" said C.

"Hullo, how are you, C., old man?  I can't dance any more.  I'm so
hot I can't breathe.  I've been dancing all the evening like a
dervish."  They both walked to the window.

"Are you on leave for long?" asked C.

"Not very long, only a month;--here, that's to say.  I'm going to
spend the rest of my leave with Thrse in the Pyrenees.  She's at
St. Sebastian at this moment."

"How is she?"

"Oh, awfully well.  She often asks after you, and why you don't
come and stay with us.  You haven't been to Paris at all lately,
have you?"

"Not since that time I stayed with you."

"Hullo, there's Mrs. Bucknell.  Do you remember how jealous Thrse
was because I said she was pretty?  She IS pretty, too, isn't she?
I think she's the best-looking woman here."

"Who's that she's dancing with?"

"Don't you know?  I suppose you wouldn't.  That's George Wilmot.
He's our Military Attach at Paris.  He's only over here for a few
days."  Freddy laughed.

"Why are you laughing?"

"Well, you see, his chre amie is Angle Durcis.  You haven't heard
of her?  She's a great person in Paris, in Thrse's world.  The
other women all hate her.  Thrse won't speak to her.  And they're
fearfully jealous of her.  She's the last word of what's chic and
nouveau jeu and all that.  But she leads poor old George rather a
life, don't you know.  She's rather difficult and all that.  Always
flaring up and making scenes, what?  And can't bear him to look at
any one else, and always suspecting him even when he isn't.  I was
laughing to think what she would say if she could see him now."

"Yes," said C., nervously.

Freddy lowered his voice.

"They say old George has been in love with Mrs. Bucknell all this
year, and that he's quite mad about her."

"Oh, really!" said C., and there was a strain in his voice.  "But
they can't have seen much of each other!"

"Well," said Freddy, "he went to Nice, only for a day or two, this
year, and they say he went just to see her, as he hates the Riviera
like sin, and Angle never could get him to go there as a rule."

"But she let him go this year?"

"Well, he arranged it like this: he's a great pal of the--"

Here their conversation was interrupted.  The dance had come to an
end, and Freddy was caught by one of his relations and taken into
the next room.

Leila and Wilmot had walked out on to the landing.

C. waited a reasonable time, standing out on the balcony.  It was
not yet daylight, but the sky had that peculiar, intensely jewel-
like blue which precedes the earliest dawn,


     Dolce color d'oriental zaffiro,


thought C., and there was a breath of freshness in the air after
the great heat of the night.

As soon as the music began again (and there were not many dancers
now) C. walked up to Leila, and said:--

"This is our dance."

"Is it?" said Leila.  "I believe it is.  I'm too tired to dance,
but we'll go downstairs, and I should like just one glass of
lemonade or a little hot soup before I go.  I'm going home."

She then said good-night to George Wilmot, who in return said "Good-
night, I'm going home," in a matter-of-fact tone of voice, which
slightly reassured C.

"I think we'll go into the supper room and I'll have a little
soup," said Leila.

There were still several dancers having supper, and the men were
beginning to smoke cigarettes.

"Well, you have been beastly to me," said C. "What have you been
doing the whole evening?"

"I'll tell you exactly," said Leila.  "I danced with Harold Wraith
and Bobby Redford, and then I had supper with Fritz Adelberg, and
afterwards we had a dance; then I went out into the garden and we
sat there for a little, and then he left me and I talked to Dallas
Wace and to Wilfrid.  Then I had to be civil to Sir Alfred Rooter
for a little, because I got him asked, and he didn't know any one.
Then I danced with George Wilmot, and that's all.  Now you know."

"I didn't see Sir Alfred to-night."

"No, he only stayed a very short time.  She wouldn't come, she said
she'd got a headache, and she loathes going out to balls or to
anything big."

"Well, I think you might have been a little bit kinder to me," said
C.  "I was looking forward to to-night.  I haven't seen you
properly for days.  You treat me like dirt.  You dance the whole
evening either with foreigners or with Wilmot."

"But, my dear C., I love dancing, and you must admit that I seldom
get a chance of it when I'm at a ball with you; and Fritz Adelberg
and George Wilmot both of them dance quite divinely."

"He's in love with you."

"Who, Fritz?"

"No, the other one."

"Is he?  I do hope he is.  I like him so much--to dance with, that
is to say--of course he never speaks; he's quite silent.  But, as a
matter of fact, he's more in love with a beautiful person called
Angle Durcis than any one has ever been known to be in love."

"Everybody says he's in love with you."

"Who's everybody?"

"I don't know, the people in Paris."

"Your lady friends you mean, those people I saw you dining with at
Malmaison.  Yes, I know the kind of thing they say about all of us,
especially about Englishwomen.  But, my dear child, if you were a
little bit older, and a little bit more a man of the world, you
would know what all that counts and how little it means."

"But why has Wilmot come over here now?"

"He always comes over to see his friends.  He's passionately fond
of racing, too."

"But he went to Nice, to see you."

"You probably don't know that Uncle Freddy Marryat is his great
friend, and when Uncle Freddy was said to be dying they sent for
him.  Directly he was out of danger, he went back.  But really, my
dear C., you are impossible with your questions and your
suspicions.  You're mad.  I must go home."

"But you will let me come to-morrow night to dinner, won't you?"

"I'm very sorry, it's too late now.  We can only be eight, and now
I have filled up your place.  Besides which I talked to Alfred
Rooter about you, and he said he particularly wanted you to do that
article; so it's just as well.  It wouldn't have done at all for
you to chuck that."

"And what about Saturday?"

"I think Alice Evelyn is expecting us both," said Leila.  "I'll let
you know definitely about that to-morrow."

"But when shall I see you?"

"If you would like to look in to-morrow quite early, on your way to
the office--about half past ten."

"I'm afraid I can't," said C.  "Can't I come at six?"

"Not to-morrow.  I'm selling at a sale of work.  I shall be there
till seven."

"Can't I come to it?"

"You'd better not.  I shouldn't be able to talk to you.  There'll
be a large crowd, and nothing but women.  I think you'd really
better not."

"Then, when shall I see you?" he asked savagely.

"Saturday, at any rate."

"I must see you before Saturday."

"Yes, you shall, some time on Friday.  I'll let you know.  Are you
going to the Eton and Harrow match on Friday?"

"I can't get away."

"That's a pity, because I'm going to the Calhouns' box, and as you
know them so well you might have come too."

"I can't possibly."

"Well, anyhow, I'll let you know, and I'm going to bed.  Terence
went away ages ago.  Fortunately, I remembered the latch-key.
Perhaps you'll get me a four-wheeler."

They went into the hall.  It was daylight now; one star was shining
very brightly in the luminous blue of the dawn.  The guests were
going fast; the ball was nearly at its last gasp, although a few
couples still remained on in the supper-room and you could still
hear the sound of music.

C. had never enjoyed himself so much and so little in the space of
one evening.  He swore that he would never go to a ball again as
long as he lived.  It was not worth the acute misery.  It is the
kind of rash vow that is often made and that is rarely fulfilled by
those who make it.  In C.'s case he spoke truer words than he knew,
and had he been told, at that moment, how literally his wish was to
be fulfilled, he would have been astonished.  It was as if he had
been overheard in Heaven, and taken at his word, for he never went
to another ball.

The next morning, before he went to the office, he received a note
from Leila saying that she begged him to come to dinner.  It was a
kind letter.  He answered in the affirmative, and sent back the
tickets he had received from Sir Alfred, saying that he had hoped
to be able to get out of a dinner engagement, but had not found it
possible to do so.  He hoped he might be given another chance of
writing something for the Saturday Despatch.  He was free to see
Lapara act on any other night.

C. thought that Leila wanted to show that their reconciliation was
complete.  Perhaps she did, but it was also true that some one had
failed her, as C. afterwards learnt, and she was for the moment a
man short.



CHAPTER XLVI


C. dined with Leila instead of going to the play.  He was surprised
when he arrived at her house and realised the nature of the dinner
and the guests, but he thought that she had really wished to ratify
their reconciliation, and he did not regret having come.

There was at that moment in London a "Foreign Mission," which had
arrived from Japan.  It was being entertained by the Foreign
Office.  Nobody quite knew why.  They had been received by the
Queen, at Windsor, and Terence was attached to them; and wherever
they went, he went, too; he had felt bound to entertain certain of
their members, and that was, no doubt, one of the reasons why
Leila, after Harold Wraith had thrown her over, was especially
anxious that C. should attend this dinner, as the "Mission" spoke
English imperfectly, and preferred French as a vehicle of
communication.  Leila had asked none of her literary acquaintances.
The dinner was political and social.

C. was quite happy; and it was settled that evening that they
should both go down together to Mrs. Evelyn's house on Saturday
afternoon.  Mrs. Evelyn had taken a house near Oxford.  Terence
would not be able to come, as the Foreign Mission were being
entertained by the Prime Minister during the week end.  Madeleine
Lapara was giving a matine on Saturday afternoon, and C. suggested
that they should go to that first.

Leila said she would rather not.  "You see," she said, "I saw
Madeleine Lapara years ago, the year after I married, and she was
so wonderful then that I wouldn't have the impression I had of her,
as she was then, spoiled; no, not for anything in the world."

"Yes, I understand that," said C.  "I only heard her recite, and
that was seven years ago."

"They say she rants now," said Leila, "and that her voice has gone.
What is she doing on Saturday?"

"It's La Dame aux Camlias."

"Oh, such a silly play!"

Saturday came, and just before C. started for the station, he got a
note from Leila, sent in a hansom, saying that she might miss the
train;--there were complications.  She had to wait to see Terence,
but she would come by the next train, or later; in any case, in
time for dinner; but he must on no account wait; Alice was sending
to the station to meet him, and he must explain matters to her.
She would send a telegram as soon as she knew what train she could
arrive by.

When C. arrived at Mrs. Evelyn's house he found that Leila had
telegraphed to say that she would not be able to come at all.
Terence's sister was not well, and she had promised him that she
would look after her, as he was obliged to go away.  It was nothing
very serious, she hoped, but they were rather anxious.

Staying with Mrs. Evelyn there was no one but an old friend of hers
and Leila's, an old man with white hair, who belonged not only to
another generation, but to another world.  He had been a secretary
to a well-known politician in the days of Lord Palmerston.  Alfred
Evelyn, Mrs. Evelyn's husband, who was in the City, was there, too,
and her younger sister, who had married a sailor.

C. had a long talk with Mrs. Evelyn on Sunday afternoon.  They
talked of nothing but Leila, and C. poured out his troubles.  Mrs.
Evelyn was sympathetic and did not consciously make matters any
worse than they were already, but she did actually.  She liked
every one she knew to think that the whole world was in love with
Leila, and when C. mentioned Wilmot, and remarked that, of course,
all that was nonsense, that it was well known that he was madly
devoted to Angle Durcis, Mrs. Evelyn couldn't help saying that she
HAD heard in Paris that Colonel Wilmot WAS in love with Leila.  It
was not to be wondered at.  After all, Leila had lived two years in
Paris, and he must have seen a great deal of her.  It was unlikely
that he should not have been attracted.

"Then you think he is in love with her?" said C.

"I would think it very odd if he wasn't.  Leila is, of course,
quite unconscious of her power.  And, after all, she is far more
beautiful than any of the Frenchwomen one sees, and so much more
attractive."

"However, he won't be here long.  He can't be, can he?"

"They say his time in Paris is up this autumn."

"Oh, I suppose he'll come back for good then?"

"I expect he will."

"But you don't think she cares for him?"

"Oh, no," she said, laughing.  "You needn't really give it a
thought; but it's no good pretending we don't all of us like
admiration and devotion, and Leila especially.  You can't blame
her, can you?  And he IS very devoted.  You see, he went to Nice,
just to see her for five minutes."

"Did Leila tell you that?"

"Yes, of course she did.  She told me the whole thing.  She often
talks about it.  Of course, it all means nothing to her.  It just
amuses her.  She doesn't care for him at all; in fact, she thinks
he's rather a bore.  She says he dances very well, but that's all.
And then he's got a very bad temper and makes scenes.  And Leila
hates scenes.  But don't you be so foolish as to mind, or don't
look as if you minded, or don't show it if you DO mind.  That would
be a great mistake, it would only irritate her.  Men are so silly,
they NEVER WILL let well alone.  Nobody likes being bullied and
worried and suspected."

"But how can I help minding if she sees so much of him?"

"She sees very little of him."

"She danced with him all night the other night, at the Wessex House
ball."

"She told me she only danced with him once, and she said you had
been so unkind to her.  People are so unfair about Leila.  Look how
disgracefully Lord Marryat has behaved to her."

"By marrying?"

"Well, when one thinks of all that Leila had done for him;--if it
hadn't been for her he would probably have died of drink years ago.
She SAVED him.  She brought him back to life.  And now he's married
that common woman, and he won't probably leave Leila a penny, and
after all he IS her godfather;--when one thinks how angelic she
used to be to him, and how she put up with him for years and let
him come and do his horrible patiences in her house, which wasn't
great fun for her!  He's the most selfish man who has ever lived.
But you are all just the same.  You would be just the same, C.  You
are ready to suspect Leila at the slightest provocation, and
everything she has done for you in the past would suddenly go by
the board and not count.  You are all of you terribly spoilt and
ungrateful."

"I'm not ungrateful to Leila, you know I'm not; but it drives me
mad when I see her surrounded by all those sham literary people."

"You can't bear her to talk to any one but yourself.  Of course, I
understand that in a way, and in a way it's quite right.  It's as
it should be.  But she must talk to other people sometimes, and
what does it matter, really?"

"No, I suppose it doesn't--if only--"

"Of course it doesn't, and I only pray and beseech you not to be
foolish, and never to do anything foolish."

"If only she would tell me the whole truth about things."

"There you go again.  How can people tell you the truth?  You
simply force and drive them into telling lies by not letting things
that don't matter alone.  Why can't you have more tact?  How would
you like to be perpetually cross-examined and suspected?"

"I'm not suspicious, only some things are forced upon one's
notice."

"I think that Leila has shown wonderful patience with you,
sometimes.  If any one else had done and said the kind of things to
her that you have done and said, she would never have spoken to
them again."

"What kind of things?"

"Oh, you know quite well what you did in Paris that time."

"That really wasn't my fault.  It was quite an accident."

"It never is your fault.  However, all I say is, be careful and
don't try her too highly."

The result of this conversation--and, of course, it was far longer
and more detailed--was that Mrs. Evelyn, instead of having done, as
she thought, a great deal of good, instead of having eased the
situation, had really made matters far worse.  A few casual words
she had dropped had made C. far more jealous, far more suspicious,
far more irritable and far more miserable than ever.

Mrs. Evelyn liked C., but she liked C. as an appanage of Leila, and
she thought it the duty of every Englishman and every Frenchman to
be slavishly in love with Leila, and she took a fearful joy in
dramatic developments.  She did not suffer from jealousy, and
although Leila was her best friend, she had made a scientific,
lasting and final conquest of Terence, who worshipped the ground
she trod on.  Leila knew it, and although she said nothing, and,
indeed, found it convenient, it irritated her.

Mrs. Evelyn liked C., but she still considered him to belong to the
schoolboy, calf-love category, and she had deplored Leila taking
him at all seriously.  She was in her heart of hearts thrilled by
the Wilmot episode.  Colonel Wilmot was just such a lover she
considered Leila ought to have, and she expected the worst with a
pious hope.  She knew that C., too, was very violent-tempered, and
she felt that the situation was fraught with dramatic possibilities.

On Monday morning C. went back to his office, and on Monday
afternoon, he went to see Leila.  She appeared to be delighted to
see him.  She had, she said, spent a miserable Sunday, sitting with
Terence's sister, who lived in a gloomy house in Eaton Square.  She
was much better and quite out of danger.  They had known she was
out of danger on Saturday night, and she had been able to send
Terence a reassuring message early on Sunday morning.  So really
she needn't have stayed.  But it was just as well she did.  One
never knew.  She had thought of coming down to Oxford on Sunday
morning, but the trains were so bad.  They talked about the party,
and C. said he had been miserable without her, and had missed her
during every moment of the visit, which had seemed to him to be
interminable.  Leila had a box at the opera that night, and asked
C. to come.  She and Terence were taking two members of the
Mission, and there would be room for him at the back of the box.

It was at the opera, during one of the entr'actes of Carmen when
Terence had taken the Japanese Emissary to smoke, that Leila gently
broke the news to C. that she was going to Newmarket for three
days.

C. was on the point of saying, "To see George Wilmot?" but,
remembering Mrs. Evelyn's advice, he refrained.  If it were not so,
why disturb the state of their relations, which had just become
once more peaceful after a storm?  He said nothing more than:--

"Will you come back on Thursday or Friday?"

"Thursday, I hope."

"I'm staying," she said, "with Uncle Freddy and his wife.  He
begged me to come, so I thought I must.  They say she's really
quite a nice woman, and one MUST be civil to her."

"I didn't know he'd a house there."

"Yes, he's always had a house at Newmarket."

"Is Terence going too?"

"No, Terence has still got these people to look after.  They stay
till Wednesday.  But he couldn't get away in any case."

"Well, then, I shan't see you for three whole days."

"I shall try and get away on Thursday.  I will let you know."

Terence and his Japanese charge came back into the box, and C. did
not have any more talk with Leila that evening, and during the next
entr'acte Wilmot, who was in the stalls, paid her a visit.

The next morning he went early to Sir Alfred Rooter's house for his
sitting.  He was there at nine punctually, and he found Miss
Haseltine waiting for him, and everything ready in a large empty
room which had a splendid light and a square canvas fixed on an
easel.

"I'm only going to do your head and shoulders," she said, "like the
sketch I began."

C. sat down in a chair.  He was made to try several positions.  The
light in one place was compared with that in another; but Miss
Haseltine made up her mind rapidly, and she had soon finished
arranging him as she wished and had begun to work.  For some time
she worked in silence; then she began to talk a little.  They
talked of various things, among others of Madeleine Lapara.

"There was a matine on Saturday afternoon," she said; "Eileen and
I went together.  Sir Alfred gave us a box.  They went down to the
country early, or at least they said so.  I don't believe they ever
thought of going--at least I don't think he did--and they went one
night last week.  I think they got the box as a treat for us.  They
are always doing that kind of thing."

"It was La Dame aux Camlias, wasn't it?"

"Yes."

"Did you enjoy it?"

"I thought her wonderful, and I thought she looked wonderful.
Everybody was crying at the end, even the other actors on the
stage.  She's got such a wonderful face, I think.  I've never seen
so expressive a face.  I did some sketches of her while it was
going on.  Only one can't draw her; at least I can't."

"Sir Alfred wanted me to go the other night and write something
about her for his newspaper.  Unfortunately I couldn't."

"I know; he told me."

"Was he annoyed?"

"Not a bit.  He said you must go another time.  You ought to go
this week.  She's acting every night, and I think it's her last
week."

"I must."

They talked of other things.  When half-time came she said he could
get up and walk about if he liked.  He got up and smoked a
cigarette.  He walked up and down the room.  Near Joan Haseltine's
hat, cigarette case and other belongings, on a table, was an oblong
sketch book.

"Are these your sketches?" said C.  "May I look?"

"Yes," she said absent-mindedly.

He opened the book.  It was full of sketches of heads, and now and
again there was the outline of a house or an interior, and
sometimes a bit of landscape.

"We were sitting in the stage box," she said, "and I could draw in
the corner without any one seeing me.  It was most convenient.  Of
course, these are only the roughest of sketches, and it's
impossible to get her expression."

There was a striking sketch of Lapara, looking into a hand looking-
glass.  C. had seen a photograph of her in this pose, and he
thought the sketch vastly superior to the photograph.  There were
one or two other rough indications.  One faint suggestion of the
head, in which you saw the eyes turned up to heaven with all the
sorrow of the world in them.

"That's marvellous," said C., "she looked just like that when I saw
her."

He turned over the page.  On the next page there was a series of
heads.

"Oh, those are nothing," she said; "those are only some sketches of
a few heads of the people in the stalls that I did in one of the
entr'actes."  There, among the sketches of strange people, there,
quite unmistakably, was the head of Leila, or of her double.

Joan took the book from his hands rather abruptly.

"They're not worth looking at," she said, "and now we must go on."
She laughed a little nervous laugh.

C. felt somehow at that as if he were made of glass, and as if Joan
could see the very pulse of his machine.  But he said nothing.  He
did not ask whether she knew who the original of that sketch was.
He knew it was Leila, and he knew that she knew that he had
recognised her.  He felt she had forgotten it was there.  He also
knew that she knew about his feeling for Leila.  She had probably
met Leila quite often at the Rooters.  Leila was always talking of
Lady Rooter, and saying how nice she was, and driving with her.
But C. did not say a word.  The rest of the sitting passed in
comparative silence.  There had been other heads next to the one of
Leila, heads of men; but Joan had taken the book from his hands
before he had time to look at them.  He was haunted by the fear
that he might have recognised one of those male heads.

That night he dined with Gerald Malone and Esther at a restaurant
in Soho.

Esther was in one of her worst moods; peevish, and on the
defensive.  She tried to flirt with C. and to annoy Gerald.  Gerald
took no notice.  He was only too well used to her tantrums, and he
scented the dawn of a familiar scene.  C. kept on wondering to
himself whether, if Leila had been in the same circumstances as
Esther, she would have been just the same kind of woman.  There was
a strange likeness and affinity between them, he thought.  Esther
felt that as C. was looking at her he was comparing her with some
one else--and unfavourably, and she resented this.  She ceased
trying to cajole him and began to try and annoy and exasperate.

"We never see you now," she said to C., "do we, Gerald?  You're far
too much taken up with all your grand friends.  We saw you last
night at the opera, didn't we, Gerald?  You didn't see us, you
didn't choose to see us, you wouldn't look at us, would he?"

"I wish I'd seen you," said C.  "Where were you sitting?"

"We were in a box, right up in the top circle, complimentary, too."

"It was a jolly opera, wasn't it?" Gerald interrupted, wanting to
change the conversation, "and I think Dalbiac is a ripping singer,
isn't she?"

Esther ignored the interruption, and went on:--

"He was far too busy to take any notice of us, wasn't he?  Far too
busy with the beautiful Leila.  You were going it, and the husband
and a Japanese gentleman there, and all.  I wonder what he thought
of it?"

"Oh, shut up, Esther," said Gerald.  "We've had enough of that.
It's so boring.  Have a glass of fizz and let's talk about
something else."

"No, I shan't talk of something else," said Esther, getting red
with passion.  "I mayn't mention Her Royal Highness now, mayn't I?
But YOU may talk about her as much as you like; YOU may admire her,
too, and tell me all about her, and her goings on; but if I put in
a word I'm put in my place.  I may tell you," she said, turning to
C., "that Gerald dragged me to Kew Gardens on Sunday afternoon, and
there we spent the whole blessed afternoon looking at the plants.
Oh, beautiful they are!  A treat!  Only I've been there with Gerald
till I know the whole place better than the keepers, if that's what
they're called.  Well, as we were there, inspecting the Phyloxera
maxima--"

"Oh, stop," said Gerald, "for pity's sake, stop!"

"Oh, it's 'stop' now, is it?  Well, that's better than 'shut up,'
but I shan't stop nor shut up neither.  While we were there, as I
was saying, who should pass by but Mrs. Bucknell, the beautiful
Mrs. Terence Bucknell, and not her husband, oh dear no! and not, as
I should have expected, the Honourable Caryl Bramsley, but a
handsome military gentleman, and I said to Gerald, 'Who's that?' I
said, and Gerald said--"

"The whole thing's a lie," said Gerald savagely, and he kicked
Esther hard under the table.

"It's no good kicking me," she went on relentlessly.  "And Gerald
said:  'That's the new man Leila's got hold of, he's the military
attach at Paris,' he said:  'Poor old C.!'--that's what Gerald
said--'Poor old C.!' he said."

Gerald turned white with rage, and looked as if he could kill her;
he looked fit and ready for murder.

"That's all a damned lie," he said, with deadly, icy quiet, "and
you will own up that it is, now, or else, by God!  I swear I'll
kill you."

He meant it, and she knew he meant it.

It was Esther's turn to grow pale.

"I only said it to tease," she half whined.  "Don't be so silly,"
and as in her fright she said this phrase, the fundamental
commonness of her nature seemed to attain its full and complete
expression.



CHAPTER XLVII


C. received a telegram from Leila the next day telling him that she
would not be back till Friday, and that she was going to stay at
Bramsley from Saturday till Monday.  "Hope to see you there," she
said.  He inferred from this that he would be asked, but so far he
had heard nothing from Sir Alfred, who was at Newmarket, nor from
Lady Rooter.

He felt that the crisis had come in his relations with Leila.  He
felt that, even if Esther had invented that story about Kew from
beginning to end, it was true all the same, morally true.  Far
worse than that had been Miss Haseltine's embarrassment when he had
found the sketch of Leila in her book.  He felt that she had
divined the situation, and that, therefore, the situation was there
to divine; and now that he had pieced everything together, it was
all so plain.  She was in love with George Wilmot.  He had better
face it.  And as he thought of her, he was overwhelmed by a surging
wave of hate, and at the same time he felt certain, if he were to
see her, to see her even for two minutes, that he would forget all
this, perhaps, or perhaps he might kill her.  Who knows?  His head
was in a whirl.  He did not answer her telegram.  This was the
first time in his life that he had not answered a communication
from Leila within five minutes.

Nor did he write; but he received a little letter from her saying
that Uncle Freddy's wife was QUITE a good sort, and that it was
very hot, that there were a lot of people she knew, and that she
had won 10.  There was a faint scent of stephanotis about this
letter--Leila's favourite flower and favourite scent--that went to
his head and made him dizzy with love, and hate, and memory;
terrible questions, unbearable wonder, and excruciating perplexity.
The letter ended:  "Could you bear to come to Bramsley, or would it
be too PAINFUL?  I should like to be there with you.  I think Sir
Alfred is going to ask you.  I threw out a hint.  But he has said
nothing definite.  DO come if you can.  There won't be many people,
only some of his city friends, who don't matter, and Lady Rooter's
pianist, and possibly Dallas Wace!  You won't mind him NOW!
Write."

C. went to his club, meaning to dine by himself that night.  He met
Freddy Calhoun, who had been to Newmarket for the day.

"Are you dining here?" he said.  "Let's have dinner together."

They dined together.  Freddy said he was going back to Paris the
next morning.  "So is George Wilmot," he said.  "He says he's got
to go back to be present at General Valmont's funeral, which is the
day after to-morrow, but I expect the real reason is that Angle
has got wind of his goings on, and is putting on the screw."

"Yes," said C. blankly.

"You see," said Freddy, "she's as sharp as a needle, and, although
she knows nobody here, you can bet she guesses exactly what is
going on.  And then there are some Frenchmen at Newmarket, and all
that news gets round in Paris so quickly."

"What news?" asked C.

Freddy suddenly remembered that some one had said something before
him about C. and Leila; he couldn't remember quite what, and he did
not know the story, but he was suddenly frightened of having put
his foot in it, so he said:--

"Oh, only his having a good time!  You see, he used to be
frightfully in love with Lottie Playfair, and Angle knew all about
it, and I daresay it's still going on.  You see, Lottie Playfair
was at Newmarket to-day."

"Staying there?" C. asked listlessly.

"Oh, no!  She has to get back in time for her evening performance.
Let's go and see her.  She's acting in the Girl from San Francisco.

"All right," said C.  "We might try."

He felt a vague curiosity to see the person who had preceded Leila
in George Wilmot's affection.  They hurried through dinner, and
drove to the Leicester Theatre and managed to get two stalls at the
end of the first row.

When Lottie Playfair came on and sang her first song--


     I'm naughty little Susie
     From the port of Vera Cruzie,


Freddy Calhoun said:--

"She is a taking woman, isn't she?  No wonder George is still in
love with her!"

Freddy thought, in his nave way, that he had put things right.
Unfortunately, C. knew more about Lottie Playfair's love affairs
than he did, and he knew that her present protector was Sir Alfred
Rooter's partner, Mr. Felix Hershell, but he said nothing of this.

The next morning he received a telegram from Leila; it ran:--


     "No letter to day.  Write."


C. did not answer this either.

On Thursday night Lady Rooter, who did not go racing and who was
alone in London, asked him to go with her and Miss Haseltine to see
Lapara, who, it was announced, would give an extra and final
performance of Phdre.

C. dined with them first at Lady Rooter's house, and during dinner
Lady Rooter said:--

"Alfred tells me I am to ask you whether you would like to come to
Bramsley on Saturday; there will be a few people, not very many:
Mrs. Bucknell, Mr. Dallas Wace, Eugene Franck, and a few friends of
Alfred's; but he says perhaps you would rather come next Saturday,
when there will be no one except ourselves; and I must confess to
you, also, that Joan is very anxious for you to stay in London this
Sunday; because she thinks if you could give her a sitting on
Sunday, she might finish the portrait, and she's going away to
Germany for a holiday to Bonn with Eileen, who is desperately
anxious to see Beethoven's birthplace, and she wants to finish the
picture before she goes."

C. said he would rather go to Bramsley on the Saturday after, when
there would be no party.

"Oh, I'm so glad!" said Lady Rooter.  "We shall have so much more
fun when there is no party.  I do so dislike parties when I have to
give them in my own house.  I'm always so afraid of the people
being bored, and Joan will be so glad.  She was so longing to
finish the picture."

They went to see Lapara and sat in a large box opposite to the
Royal Box.  C. was swept off his feet, overwhelmed by the beauty of
the performance, and Joan Haseltine was in tears.  Lady Rooter
admired it, too, but she was slightly more critical.

"I don't say she's too old," she said; "because there's no doubt
she does act it better than she did when she first came to England
in 1879, and I saw her then.  She's more force and more experience;
but I do think that, on the whole, I prefer Zechetti, and still
more the acting at the Burg Theatre at Vienna."

C. and Joan were too much moved to argue.

When C got home that night he sat down and wrote an account of his
impressions of the performance.  He stayed up till half-past two
writing, and, when he had finished, he sent off what he had written
to the editor of Sir Alfred's weekly newspaper.

On Friday morning he received a short note from Leila in pencil,
which ran:--


     "C., what is the matter?"


He did not answer this either; but he did not tear it up.  He
locked it up in the despatch box in which he kept all the letters
that Leila had ever written to him.

On Friday he received a telegram saying:  "Shall be in at six."
But C. did not go.  It is true that he took a cab and told the
cabman to drive to Upper Berkeley Street, but when he got as far as
Portman Square he told the driver to stop, and he got out and
walked home.

On Saturday he received no letter from Leila.  That Saturday, and,
indeed, all the days that immediately followed, were to C. like a
vague dream.  He remembered going to the Rooters' house and sitting
to Joan Haseltine for the last time, and he had a dim recollection
of a dignified and austere lady arriving towards the end of the
sitting and congratulating them both on the picture and taking them
off to luncheon at Hampstead; and there he met rather a fierce-
looking scholar with a hatchet face and clear grey eyes who made
one remark that stuck in his memory; they were discussing the
situation in South Africa, and Joan said Sir Alfred Rooter thought
there would be a war, and the stranger agreed and said that that
would mean the end of England.

"Do you mean," Joan had asked, "that we should be defeated?"

"No," was the answer.  "I mean that we shall win," and he had
buried his face in his hands, and C. had the impression that he was
in the presence of one of the most unaffectedly and completely sad
men he had ever met--a soul in exile; but these were afterthoughts.
At the time, he had taken no interest; he had not joined in the
conversation except mechanically with the outward part of his mind.

On Monday morning he received a short letter from Leila.  She quite
understood, she said, and she was all in favour of his marrying
Miss Haseltine, who was a charming girl, and would make him an
admirable wife, besides being a great heiress.

He sent no answer.

On the following Monday, he received a note from Sir Alfred Rooter
asking him to come and see him.  Sir Alfred told him that his
editor had sent him the article he had written about Lapara; he had
thought it good and well worth publishing; unfortunately, that week
they had had a "middle" about Lapara--they couldn't very well have
another; it was just too late.

"But," said Sir Alfred, "don't worry.  It's served its purpose.  I
can see that you can write."  In a week's time, Sir Alfred told
him, he was starting for Aix-les-Bains for a month.  Lady Rooter
was going to stay at Bramsley.  If C., Sir Alfred said, cared to go
down to Bramsley on the next Saturday, he would be welcome; he
would be there himself, as he was not starting for France till the
following Monday.  There might possibly be one or two other
friends, but no party.

C. said he would like to go.

He received in the evening his article on Lapara from the editor of
the Saturday Despatch.  He tore it up and threw it into the waste-
paper basket.  He spent the whole of that week in solitude.  He did
not even want to see Gerald Malone.

He heard nothing from Leila, and life seemed to be singularly
empty, as if he had been through a moral earthquake, and nothing of
the former buildings, the tall palaces, the stately temples, the
well-known streets and squares, had been left, nothing but a heap
of smoking ruins, and he knew it was his duty to set about, out of
all this rubbish, to try and build a little hut; only he hadn't the
energy, he couldn't begin--not yet.

On the following Friday evening, he had been to see his brother
Edward, who wanted to see him on some business matter of no great
importance.  After his interview was over, and he walked out into
Portman Square, he could not resist walking up into Upper Berkeley
Street.  He passed Leila's house and as he looked at the front door
his heart seemed to beat in a peculiar way.  The house did not look
as if it were shut up.  Almost mechanically, as if not he himself,
but his subconscious self, were acting, he went up to the door and
rang the bell.  It was answered almost at once.

"Is Mrs. Bucknell at home?"--the phrase seemed so natural, the
answer had always been such a matter of course, and it seemed
unbelievable that Wilkins, the butler, would do anything else than
silently assent.

But to-day he said that Mrs. Bucknell was not at home, in his most
formal manner, and then, after a slight pause, he said:--

"Mr. and Mrs. Bucknell are leaving to-morrow morning for Aix-les-
Bains."

C. said "Oh!" and made a step back.

"Shall I say you called, sir?" asked Wilkins.

"Oh, it doesn't matter."

On Saturday afternoon he went down to Bramsley.

Bramsley was, as yet, unchanged structurally.  Sir Alfred had
bought it lock, stock and barrel, but the difference in the
interior of the house was immense and indescribable.  Even such
furniture and pictures as Edward had not taken to London looked now
quite different.  But C. minded seeing it as it was now far less
than when he had seen it empty.  It had seemed then like the old
home derelict and full of ghosts; now it was a different house.

The bedrooms had been smartened up by a few pieces of modern
furniture, and Lembach's portrait of Lady Rooter hung in the
drawing-room, where there had once been a portrait of one of the
Hengraves by Lawrence.

The drawing-rooms were smartened up by modern cushions from Liberty
and a few rather gaudy stand-up brass lamps.

The guests besides himself were Sir Alfred's partner, Felix
Hershell--Miss Haseltine had started for Germany--Joshua Jones, the
editor of Sir Alfred's weekly, Hiram Sykes, a racing friend, and
Eugene Franck, the pianist.

It was, of course, an extraordinary sensation for C. to find
himself once more in these familiar surroundings under such
different conditions, and, indeed, it seemed to him the kind of
thing that only happens in an absurd dream.  It was all the same,
and yet so different.  You could not have had a sharper contrast
than that between his father and Sir Alfred at the head of the
table, between Lady Rooter and Lady Hengrave.  The card tables in
the drawing-room, Sir Alfred and the other men playing bridge while
they smoked cigars . . . cigars in that drawing-room! . . . and
Eugene Franck playing Wagner on the pianoforte in the hall, which
had been converted into a sort of living-room and modernised,
seemed to strike such an alien note.  The Romney on the staircase
was no longer there.  Although the present Lady Hengrave had made
so much of it in her description, it was entailed and could not be
sold.  It was now in Portman Square, and in its place there was a
life-size portrait of Sir Alfred by Bonnat.

After dinner C. and Lady Rooter listened to the music.

"Eugene," she said, "is one of the few people who can play Wagner
on the piano; he gets the sound of the instruments."

C. looked as if he were listening intently; but he was far away.
The place was far too full of ghosts and unheard melodies for him
to listen to any audible music.

The men sat up late discussing the political situation in South
Africa.  They all agreed that war was inevitable.

The next morning Lady Rooter asked C. whether he would like to go
to church.  He said he would, and she took him.  The other guests
remained behind.  The church looked at first sight the same.  They
sat in the Hengrave pew.  The large red prayer-books were still
there, but the old clergyman, the Reverend Stephen Hawley, who
never missed a meet if he could help it, and who had such
beautiful, clean hands and polished nails, and such a dignified
white tie, and who preached in a black gown, was dead; and he had
been replaced by a young High Church vicar who turned to the east
when he said the Creed, and had surreptitiously introduced a
coloured reproduction of the Madonna del Gran Duca into the side
aisle, and whose ultimate ambition it was to convert the south-
eastern end of the church--where the school children still sat--
into a Lady Chapel.

The choir no longer consisted of schoolgirls, but of little boys in
cassocks; they intoned the responses and struggled with an
elaborate Te Deum and an all too complicated anthem.  The sermon,
instead of being read from a book, was now extempore, breezy and
topical, with allusions to Ibsen and a new novel that was being
talked of--The Perilous City--which left the congregation cold.
The Communion table now boasted of a green altar-cloth.  There were
several broad green ribbons hanging out of the prayer books.  There
was a brass lectern--an eagle with carbuncles for eyes--at which
the vicar read the lessons, and a special reading desk for the
Litany in front of the chancel steps.  The wheezy harmonium had
been replaced by a "positive" organ, on which the new organist
played a voluntary from Parsifal.  The hymns sung had tunes taken
from the Hymnary and the seven-fold Amen was sung at the end of the
service.

The hatchments which had been put up in the memory of the various
members of the Hengrave family had disappeared.

After church was over, C. walked by himself in the garden, and
spent an hour rambling about familiar places.  This time he carried
out his memorial service to Harry to the end, and the familiar
sights no longer gave him pain.  He found the summer-house, in
front of which Harry and he had their gardens as children,
completely buried in ivy; otherwise the garden was much the same.

After luncheon they all sat in the garden.  A rather languid game
of croquet was being played, which Franck, the pianist, took very
seriously.  They all had tea in the garden, and after tea Sir
Alfred took C. for a stroll.  He told him he felt quite certain
there was going to be a war in South Africa.  He also told him, in
confidence, that he had just engaged in an important negotiation.
He was going to buy the Northern Pilot.  The deal was not actually
done, but it was practically done.

"And," he said, "if this comes off and if there's a correspondent,
you shall go.  I shall see that you lose nothing.  Even if they
won't take you back at your miserable office when the war is over,
which I think, as a matter of fact, they would do.  But if they
don't, I will see that you get a job.  Would you like to do that?"

"I know nothing about war," said C.

"That's just what I want--a man who has never been to a war, who
knows nothing about it, and KNOWS he doesn't, but who can write.
You are the very man I want for the job."

C. said that nothing would please him better than to leave England
for good, and never to come back.

Sir Alfred looked at him curiously as he said this.

"Well," he said, "I shall be away for the next month, unless I'm
called back on urgent business, and I may stop a few days in Paris
as well, but I expect to be back in London by the end of September,
and I'll let you know what happens."



CHAPTER XLVIII


C. stayed on in London.  He refused to go and stay with his eldest
sister in Wiltshire, or with his second sister in Berkshire, or
with his eldest brother in Middlesex.  He explained that the
arrangement of the clerks' holidays in his office was such as
necessitated his remaining, this year, in London during the month
of August.  At the beginning of September Wright arrived in England
for two weeks' unofficial leave, and he and C. went down to
Cornwall, and stayed for a fortnight in a village not far from St.
Ives, where they enjoyed some sea-fishing and bathing.

Wright, from what he had heard, surmised more or less what had
occurred between C. and Leila.  He knew there had been a breach,
and, although he did not know the immediate cause of it, he knew it
must be connected with George Wilmot.  After staying a month at Aix-
les-Bains, Leila had taken a small house at Chantilly for a month.
Terence had returned to London.  Sir Alfred Rooter was staying on
in Paris.  He had business there, and as he had a flat in Paris of
his own, he could go backwards and forwards from London to Paris
without inconvenience and at the shortest notice.

C. asked Wright whether he had seen anything of Leila, and Wright
was truthfully able to say that he had seen nothing of her in
Paris.  George Wilmot had been away, he said, at Luchon with Angle
Durcis, but he had now come back.

C. asked him whether people in Paris thought there was going to be
a war, and Wright reported the usual eddies, fluctuations and
conflicts of opinion.

Wright asked C. whether he had given up all thought of literature.
He said he had, although he still looked upon journalism as a
possible refuge.

"I wrote," he said, "a lot of poems, but I've thrown them all
away."

When they returned to London from Cornwall, Lady Rooter asked C. to
bring Wright (who had met Sir Alfred in Paris) to Bramsley.  They
spent a few days there, and met Miss Haseltine.  Sir Alfred was
away during most of C.'s visit, but he came down for one night.
The Northern Pilot was now his own, and he said to C.:  "I have not
forgotten my promise to you in the event of war--and there will be
a war.  Don't forget to keep your pen sharp!"

At the end of September, Wright went back to Paris, and C., after a
few days with the Rodens at Elladon, was once more at work at his
office.  He no longer thought there would be a war, in spite of
what Sir Alfred said, and he had dismissed Sir Alfred's promise as
one of those dreams that never come true; so that, when war was
declared in October, what many people had for so long said was
inevitable came to him with a shock of surprise.

He received a telegram from Sir Alfred, asking whether he could
start at once as correspondent for the Northern Pilot.  He answered
"Yes."

Sir Alfred instructed him to go and see the editor and the business
manager of the Northern Pilot, whose headquarters were in the
north, at Barminster.  C. spent the night there, and arranged
everything with the editor and the business manager.  He met Sir
Alfred there, too, who gave him many hints and instructions.  He
was to start as soon as possible.  Gerald Malone helped him to buy
his kit.  C. was in a state of excitement and elation.  He had
taken leave of his chief at his office, who had kindly offered to
keep his place for him.  He had announced the fresh and unexpected
revolution in his career to his brother Edward, who was mildly
surprised, but who did not venture to criticise it, or to make any
special comment, and to his sisters, who thought that it was a pity
to go to such an outlandish country when you had a safe job in
England.

"It's not as if you were a soldier, like Harry," said Julia.

Mixed with the feelings of exhilaration and excitement that he was
experiencing, there was also at the back of his mind, and at the
bottom of his heart, a dull, leaden sediment of misery.  He felt
like a child who is being banished from home, and sent to a school
full of unknown boys, and where every situation would be new, and
like a child who would not even have the satisfaction of missing
those whom he left behind: a homeless child going into a larger,
stranger homelessness.

And then, through and in, and behind and over everything, there was
the thought of Leila.

How he longed to see her before he started!  She was in London, he
knew.  He had walked past her house in Upper Berkeley Street, and
he had noticed that it was occupied.  He wanted to say good-bye to
her.  He wanted to see her face again.  What, after all, did all
the rest matter?  What did anything matter?  He might not come
back . . . that, indeed, would, he thought, be too good to be
true . . . but if he didn't--he would like to see her once more,
if only for a minute . . . but would she see him?

He wrote and told her what he was about to do.  He begged her to
see him, if only for one moment, before he left England.  He only
wanted, he said, to say good-bye to her.  He was sailing on
Thursday.  He wrote this on Sunday evening.  She answered it in a
hurried pencil note.  She said that she was full up with
engagements, and that she could promise nothing, but that if he
cared to look in on the chance she might possibly be able to see
him for a minute on Wednesday at six.  Wednesday at six!

C. could not understand from her letter what she was feeling, nor
how she was disposed towards him.  The letter had no beginning, and
was signed "L."

But, Wednesday at six!  How familiar that phrase seemed to sound!
Just as in old days, when everything was so happy, when everything
was different.  As C. walked past the Marble Arch to Great
Cumberland Place, the newspaper boys were shouting the winner of
the Cambridgeshire.  The dates of the Csarewitch and the
Cambridgeshire had always been landmarks in the Bramsley family,
and to C. they marked the seasons more than anything else; they
meant for him the actual approach and presence of autumn and
winter.

He bought a newspaper, and saw that Irish Ivy had won.

Here he was at Leila's door!  How strange it seemed.  Had he been
dreaming these last months, and would he now suddenly wake up?  He
rang the bell, and Wilkins opened the door, just as usual, and in
his most impressive manner said that Mrs. Bucknell was very sorry
she would be unable to see Mr. Bramsley.  Lady Fairleigh was with
her at present.

The same evening he received a long letter from Leila.  It ran as
follows:--


                                             UPPER BERKELEY STREET.
                                                            Monday.

DEAR C.,

I was, of course, most awfully surprised to hear from you after all
these months! and to hear your news!  I confess that I was, and
still am, altogether PUZZLED by your behaviour!  I couldn't
understand it at the time, and cannot understand it NOW!  I suppose
some one made mischief, but I really do not think that is an
excuse,--You cannot expect me to understand and to BEAR such sudden
changes!  At first I suffered DREADFULLY and went through a great
deal!  I wasn't well at the time, and the doctors were quite
frightened, and they said they were sure I must have had a severe
shock!  Of course I said they were wrong, but it was ONLY TOO TRUE.
I was very ill, later and all that time at Aix--.  I don't suppose
you suspected this for a moment, for you never even once asked
after me and, at the time, I DID think it rather thoughtless and
callous and cruel of you.  Now I am gradually getting over it, but,
in a way, I feel quite DEAD, and I DO find it hard to take an
interest in anything.  I wish I could have seen you just for a
minute, to have one word with you before you leave on that long
journey, and go to meet Heaven only knows what dangers and
difficulties in that dreadful Africa!  I should have liked to see
you just for a moment to say one good-bye, although, of course,
NOTHING can or could ever be the same again as before, as you know
very well yourself, but it was YOU who did not even give ME the
chance of seeing you by not telling me till the last minute--till
it was, in fact, TOO LATE--that you were going away.  I could not
guess, could I? that you would be likely to go to the war!  Indeed,
it was the last thing I thought LIKELY ever to happen.  I tried to
keep a moment on Wednesday evening free, but Mother wanted to see
me so badly all that evening and I had promised, and Terence was
coming I knew at seven, and I felt that if I saw you at all, I MUST
see you alone.  But, perhaps, it is all for the best.  After all,
the past is the past.  You broke our friendship, just as you might
have broken a valuable piece of china.  Nothing, NOTHING could ever
mend it again IN THIS WORLD, and it could never be the same again,
but in spite of that, from the poor broken pieces of china there is
STILL SOMETHING THERE, just a faint breath from the past happy
days, which I shall never be able to forget QUITE.  I wish you all
possible good luck and happiness, and I hope that everything may go
well with you, and that you will take care of yourself, and be a
great SUCCESS.  We will all take in the North Pilot, and look
forward to all you write.  Terence says it's a very good newspaper.
He thinks very highly of Sir Alfred Rooter.  Well, I've nothing
more to say, except that I feel VERY, VERY TIRED.  In old days you
would have understood.  Good-bye, C.

                                                       Your friend,

                                                                 L.

     Ah, Love! could thou and I with Fate conspire
     To grasp this sorry Scheme of Things entire,
     Would not we shatter it to bits--and then
     Re-mould it nearer to the Heart's Desire.


C. dined that night--it was the night before he was to sail--with
his sister Julia; Marjorie and her husband, Edward and his wife,
were there, as well as other guests.  The only incident of the
dinner that he remembered, was a conversation between his brother,
Tommy Holborn, and one of the other guests, as the men were
drinking port after dinner.  Some one said that George Wilmot had
come back to London, and some one else had said, "I suppose he is
going out to South Africa?"

"No," said Tommy Holborn, "he's got a job at the War Office now.
Leila Bucknell won't let him go to Africa."

After dinner, C. got away as soon as he could, and drove round to
Gray's Inn to see Gerald Malone.  He found that he, too, was
longing to go to South Africa, but that Esther would not hear of
it.  They talked about the war.  They both were inclined to think
that the cause of the Uitlanders was not a cause at all, and that
our dealings with the Boers were those of the wolf and the lamb.

"I wish we were fighting for any one and anything else," said
Gerald.  "For, after all, if they hadn't discovered gold there, all
this situation wouldn't have come about."

"But we're in for it NOW, and there's nothing to be done.  It may
turn out that we were right, after all, in the long run.  We have
an amazing knack of doing the right thing in the wrong way--IN THE
LONG RUN."

"Yes," said Gerald, "but it all looks pretty bad and beastly at
present; I wish I could go out, all the same.  I'd give my eyes
to."

"Perhaps you will be able to come out later."

"No," said Gerald, "not as long as that goes on," and he pointed to
the next room in which Esther was singing a song from a new musical
comedy to her own accompaniment.  "And the worst of the matter is,
I can't live without her.  I hate her, hate her like hell, but I
can't live without her, because I love her!  Can you understand
that?"

"Yes," said C.  "I can understand that."

C. said good-bye to Esther and went home.  When he got home he
thought he would like to write to Beatrice, and he sat down and
wrote her a letter, of which the following passages are extracts:--


There is one thing--want you to know in case I shouldn't come
back . . . although THAT, in a way, would be too good to be
true . . . too easy a solution. . . .  These things don't
happen. . . .  When Andrew Burstall died in France, or rather some
time after, his wife sent me a small parcel, and in it was a copy
of the Imitation in Latin and the Dies Irae, copied out in his own
scholarly handwriting (that looked as if it had been written by a
monk), and a slip of paper, asking me to go to a Requiem that was
to be said for him every year at the church in Maiden Lane on the
day of his death.  He asked me, too, to buy a penny copy of the
Mass for the Dead, and to read the prayers at the end.  As you
know, he's only been dead a year, so I've only been once.  But
I bought the penny book and studied it enough to follow the
service. . . .

I had always heard my Protestant relations and friends criticise
your services, and especially your funeral services, comparing
unfavourably what they called either a "theatrical" or
"meaningless"--[word illegible]--with the simple dignity of the
Anglican rite. . . .  I used to agree, or think there was something
in it, although, at the same time, I always felt there MUST be
something in YOUR service that escaped us, or that we didn't
understand, and you used to speak of the WANT of, as you used to
say, "Everything that mattered" in ours.  And certainly, at my
mother's funeral, and still more at Harry's memorial service, I
felt there WAS something wanting.  Well, when I read that little
penny book, and especially the prayers at the end of it, I seemed
to begin to understand what you meant--[four words undecipherable]--
the reason Protestants thought as they did, or, rather, received
the impressions they received, when they went to Catholic services
was that they had not the slightest idea what it was all about.  It
was to them a meaningless and rather tawdry or depressing Punch and
Judy show.  They did not know what a Mass meant; they did not
understand that in a Requiem the dead person, the soul of the dead
person, plays a real part, and that it is a means of communication
. . . a kind of divine telephone . . . between the Living and the
Dead, and not a beautiful external tribute--or--[?]--like a concert
or a--[?]--paid ONCE and FOR ALL to the memory of the Dead Person.
You used to tell me when people criticised your services because
they were in Latin and not everybody could understand and follow
the words of the Mass, that it didn't matter whether they did or
not; that the Mass was a Drama, and the people did not need to
follow the words in their book; they could follow the action and
say any prayers they liked.  When you used to say this, I wondered
what you meant. . . .  After reading the penny book, I began for
the first time to have an inkling, and especially after that
Requiem for Andrew Burstall.  (It was after Harry's memorial
service I first really began to realise what was wanting in ours.)
So what I want to ask you is this.  Supposing I die in Africa (or
anywhere else), would it be possible for you to have a Requiem said
for me?  Or is it impossible . . . heretic? . . .  If I could
believe in anything, I think I should believe in your Church.  I
feel it is a solid fact, a reality, something different from all
the others ( . . . "Authority, not as the Scribes").  The moment I
go into a Catholic church I feel this (wherever it is--
[unintelligible words]--Rome, Paris, or Maiden Lane) but, at the
same time, I couldn't belong to it NOW MYSELF, as I really don't
believe, well, in what?  In God?  I certainly don't DISBELIEVE in
God.  I don't suppose any one over twenty-one does?  When Faust
asked Gretchen whether she believed in God, you remember . . . "Wer
darf Ihn nennen?" etc. . . . not the dogmas I find difficult, least
of all those peculiar to your Church--I mean if people can believe
what they say when they repeat the STAGGERING affirmations of the
Nicene Creed, as my relations and acquaintances do every Sunday in
church, the extra little stretch to one's Faith in believing, say,
in Purgatory (when you've already got to believe in and swallowed
Hell!), or in the Immaculate Conception or Transubstantiation, or
the Infallibility of the Pope's decisions (i.e., guidance of the
Holy Ghost, when you have accepted the Trinity--gnats after the
camel), would be nothing.  Nor do I think the dogmas, the main
dogmas common to all the Christian churches, especially impossible;
there is nothing, to my mind, unthinkable in the idea of Hell,
once you accept the idea of the Christian revelation.  But--
[unintelligible]--There's the rub.  Can I accept the idea of this
particular revelation, this unique claim?  Can I believe this and
this only is true; truer in a different, more special way than,
say, Buddhism or any other of the hundreds of religions,
philosophies and creeds, that have been woven out of the dreams and
desires of mankind in the huge, rolling, endless stretch of time
that lies behind us . . . India, Nineveh, Mexico, Egypt, China,
Tyre, Rome, Carthage, Etruria, Atlantis?  God knows how many more!--
[words missing]--not a question with me of THIS difficulty, or of
THAT doubt or of the stock problems--free will, predestination and
Grace, or of the problem of Evil . . . God Almighty and All-Good
permitting--evil, sin, punishment--eternal.  "Ihr fhrt ins Leben
uns hinein--Ihr lsst den Armen schuldig werden."  [Unintelligible]
beside the point--real point TO ME--is that I can't respond to the
appeal . . . my heart doesn't tell me that the thing is true, it
doesn't help my reason.  My reason is quite willing to be convinced
and my heart remains neutral.  It doesn't, that is to say, play up--
it doesn't ANSWER.  And although, with all my WILL, I should like
to share your Faith, the result is, try as I may, I CAN'T.  You
will say I haven't got the gift.  What can I do to get it?  Pray
that I may get it some day, for at--[words scratched out]--in a
ship that is without a rudder--[unintelligible]--I only wanted to
be allowed to drown in my own way.  That will have to be my fate
unless . . . unless I could suddenly be convinced that what YOU
think is the Ark IS the Ark, and, of course, I would. . . .  It has
taken me all this time to unlearn what I thought I knew about your
religion.  I find that all that I thought I knew was wrong.  If it
had been right (and I suspected this when I first knew you), YOU
could never have been a Catholic all your life long, nor could a
man like Andrew Burstall have possibly been a convert.  And, after
all, what was my authority?  Where had I got what I thought I knew
about your Church?  My only authority the traditions of the nursery
and what I heard Protestants say at dinner--that was my authority--
and a few remarks from school history books--[three lines scratched
out]--because I have found out, because I am convinced that all
that I had taken for granted, all that so many people take for
granted about your religion and your co-religionists, IS all wrong,
that doesn't make it any easier for me to assent to what is the
corner-stone of your religion--[illegible sentence]--I find there
is a thing called the Catholic Church in the world.  I am aware of
this when I am quite small in the nursery.  My nurses tell me it is
wicked.  Later, my governesses tell me it is not always nor
altogether wicked, but misguided or, at any rate, partly mistaken.
At school I am told that it is historically wrong; that it is not a
tree, as it claims to be, and as you might think it looks like, but
a distorted branch, and that what was once only a branch is NOW the
real tree.  At the university I am told that it is an entirely
exploded superstition, that one needn't bother about it, that no
one who has ever dipped into Kant can take it seriously, and that
the only people who believe in it are women, foreigners, priests or
fools . . . [as] life goes on I come against the fact myself that
there are Catholics who are not necessarily either (a) foreigners
or women or priests, and (b) if they are either foreigners, priests
or women, they are not necessarily and by no means always FOOLS,
and that people I know and respect either for their characters or
their--[?]--and sometimes for both, actually become Catholics of
their own free will, at great personal inconvenience.  Well, I make
the acquaintance of some of these--R. for instance . . . what do I
find out?  I find out that all I have thought to be true about this
Catholic Church, all that I have taken for granted . . . is not
true.  I find I have to make a clean sweep of all that, as an
outsider, I have been taught to hold true about it.  But granted I
can do this, that I have done it . . . and I have done it . . .
this is my--[word illegible]--I say to myself:  "Here is a Church
in which I was told people worshipped plaster images" . . . I know
now that they don't, that they worship God (as Dr. Johnson said,
'Sir, they believe God to be there, and they worship Him'), but
that doesn't make it any easier for me now that I have discovered
and realised this mistake, this mistake in PUBLIC OPINION OUTSIDE
THE CHURCH, ABOUT THE CHURCH, it doesn't make it easier for me to
believe in the dogmas on which the Church is founded, for me to
believe that GOD CAME DOWN FROM HEAVEN AND WAS MADE MAN, died upon
the Cross, rose from the Dead, and will come again to judge the
world.  That, and not in the efficacy of wooden images, is what you
believe.  That, and that GOD IS THERE, present to-day and every day
in the Sacrifice of the Mass in every Catholic Church all over the
world and, if one can believe the first proposition, the second,
and all the others, are child's play, I think;--but I can't believe
in the first. . . .  Do I want to really?  That is the point.  I
used most certainly NOT to want to.  I used to long to be drowned
in the nothingness, the Nant, Nirvana, whatever you call it.  Nox
est una.  Lucretius, etc.  But now, to-night, I confess I would
like to feel there was a bridge between me and something else . . .
across the abyss which seems to be everywhere;--above, below, in
front, behind. . . .  Is it fright?  Not entirely, I think.


     Ay, but to die and go we know not where,
     To lie in cold obstruction, and to rot.


How does it go on?  Something about the "delighted spirit"


     To bathe in fiery floods, or to reside
     In thrilling region of thick-ribbed ice;
     To be imprison'd in the viewless winds.


Did Shakespeare, do you think, read Dante? because this is like a
summary of the chief elements in the Inferno, especially the
"viewless winds."  Paolo and Francesca--[illegible sentence
follows]--Beatrice Cenci . . .


     No God, no Heaven, no Earth in the void world,
     The wide, grey, lampless, deep unpeopled world. . . .


Pray . . . one day find the Bridge or the lamp. . . .  Pray with
all your might . . . because I . . .


C. never sent off this letter.  It was found in Gerald Malone's
collection of papers.  It was all of it difficult to read and had
evidently been hurriedly written, with many words scratched out,
and here and there an afterthought put in.  Some sentences it is
impossible to decipher or even to guess at.  Other passages have
been left out.  The letter was in a large envelope directed to
Beatrice Fitzclare in her convent, and marked "To be forwarded."
But C. did write to her that night a few lines which he sent off,
asking her to pray for him, and to pray that he might one day learn
to pray for himself.

The next morning, before he started for Southampton, he received
not an answer, but a letter she had written him spontaneously.  She
had heard he was going from her mother, who had heard it from Lady
Elizabeth Carteret.  In the envelope there was a little medal with
an image stamped on it of Notre Dame des Victoires, and with it a
slip of paper, on which was written:--


Thou shalt not be afraid of the terror of the night--of the arrow
that flieth in the day, of the business that walketh about in the
dark, of invasion, or of the noonday devil.


C. left that morning for South Africa, and Gerald Malone saw him
off at the station.



CHAPTER XLIX


Extremely little is known about C.'s life in South Africa, nor is
it possible from his despatches to the Northern Pilot to
reconstruct anything of his personal history.  His work consisted
almost entirely of telegrams.  He rarely wrote a postal despatch,
and then only of the most impersonal kind--the distance made things
so easily out of date.  The editor of the Northern Pilot was
thoroughly satisfied with his work, which he considered to be
unexpectedly professional and competent.  Telegraphic news, too,
was what he wanted.  C. wrote a certain number of private letters
to Walter Wright, and to Gerald Malone; but in these he did not
mention the war, nor his own war impressions or experiences.  He
wrote about books and common acquaintances.  His letters were
extremely short and scrappy.

He was slightly wounded at Spion Kop, but he only remained a short
time in hospital.  Later on, he had a bad attack of enteric, and he
was nearly six months in hospital at Cape Town.  He came home to
England in the winter before the end of the war.  He took a room in
the top floor of a lodging-house in Bury Street.

When C. arrived, Sir Alfred and Lady Rooter were in London, and C.
informed Sir Alfred of his arrival.  Sir Alfred asked him to
luncheon at his club the same day.  He welcomed C. cordially.

"You did well," he said, "damned well, and now I've got another job
I want you to do.  I want you to go as Special Correspondent to
Berlin for us."

C. said he had thought of going back to his office.  They were
willing to take him back.

"Office be damned!" said Sir Alfred.

"I want to stay in England--for a bit."

"Well, stay in England for a bit.  I'm in no hurry.  Stay a few
months, till you're sick of it; and then I'll see what I can do for
you; but it probably won't be Berlin.  I can't promise.  I've got
to fill up the billet as soon as I can--I mean if I find some one
else who suits I shall have to give it him.  Think over it till to-
morrow, and let me know."  Then they talked of other things.

Miss Haseltine's portrait of C., Sir Alfred Rooter told him, had
been greatly admired.  It had been hung at the New Gallery in a
good place.

"It's at Bramsley now," he said.  "She's doing very well.  But
she's not married yet."

"Is she in London?" asked C.

"Well, no, not at this moment.  At this moment she's in Germany--
Munich, Dresden, Leipzig--all over the place,--I think; with her
friend Eileen Pratt.  They'll be back in the summer."

Sir Alfred said he was taking his wife to the Riviera in a few
days' time.  He had taken a villa at Cannes for the winter.

"Believe me," he said, when C. said good-bye to him, "you'll make a
great mistake if you stop in England."

That evening C. had dinner with Gerald Malone.  They dined
together, that is to say, at a restaurant in Soho by themselves.
Esther, Gerald said, was engaged till ten.  She was rehearsing for
something.  C. discussed Sir Alfred's offer.

"You see," he said, "I'm not a journalist.  I don't care a fig for
news; and I've no ambition.  I used to have, or thought I had, a
kind of ambition to write.  But that's all over.  On the other
hand, I don't particularly want to stay here.  The office is as
dull as ditch water.  There's nobody here I want to see, and I
daresay Berlin would be interesting,--the job would be well paid,
and I should live comfortably while it lasted.  So, perhaps, it
would be rather foolish to say 'No.'  But I should like to stay
here just for a little, not go abroad at once.  All this sounds
contradictory.  It is."

Gerald said he didn't think C. need hurry; he was sure that if in
six months he were to be sick of London Sir Alfred would be able to
find him a job.

"But you wouldn't go," said C., "if you were offered the job?"

"I should, if it wasn't for Esther," said Gerald.

C. gathered that there was no change in that situation.  Indeed,
towards ten o'clock Esther walked into the restaurant herself, and
sat down at their table.  She was, C. reflected, intoxicatingly
pretty, and very charming when she chose.  That night she chose.
Later on they all drove back to Gerald's rooms at Gray's Inn.

"It's quite like old times," said Esther, and sat down at the
pianoforte and sang them her new song.

C. slept on the problem that night, and when he woke up the next
morning he made up his mind to accept the offer.  He wrote to Sir
Alfred to that effect before he had breakfast.

As he was glancing at the newspaper, two bits of news caught his
eye.  One was, that Lady Holborn had been safely delivered of a boy
at her house in Curzon Street.  This was, C. reflected, her fourth
child.  And the other that Mrs. Terence Bucknell was leaving London
for the south of France.  He then threw the newspaper away.

He looked at his letters; they appeared to be mostly bills.  There
was one large envelope directed in a slanting, slightly illiterate
handwriting.

"Another bill," thought C.  He opened it, but it was not a bill; an
enclosure, another letter, fell from the envelope.  It was a letter
originally directed "care of the Editor of the Northern Pilot."  It
had been sent from the Northern Pilot's country office to their
London office; from the London office to his club; from his club to
his office in Westminster; from his office to Lord Hengrave in the
City, and from the City to Hengrave House, where the butler had put
it into a fresh envelope.

It was in Leila's handwriting, and there was a faint smell of
stephanotis about the letter.  It was written in pencil.  She had
heard from Sir Alfred that he was on his way home.  This was a
little word of welcome.


I am just leaving for Cannes.  Alice Evelyn and I are going to stay
there with Adela Rooter at her villa.  We start on Thursday, and if
this reaches you in time do come and see me.  I shall be in every
evening--late, after seven--


He took up the newspaper again to look at the date.  It was
Friday's newspaper.  She had started the day before.  Her letter
was dated Monday.

C. tore up the letter he had written to Sir Alfred and wrote
another.  He said he did not feel he wanted to go abroad at once.
He would like, after being away so long, to stop for a little while
in England.  If a little later Sir Alfred still had a job which he
thought he could do successfully, perhaps he would be kind enough
to think of him.  He was not ungrateful, but . . .

He asked Sir Alfred to give him his direction at Cannes.  Sir
Alfred wrote back and said:--


It's as I feared.  I think it's a pity, but we'll see whether
you're just as anxious to stop in London in six months' time.  And
whether anything can be fixed then.  Our address is "Villa Beau
Site, Cannes."  We shall stay abroad till after Easter, and we may
put in a week or two in Gay Paree on our way home.


C. at once wrote to Leila telling her that her letter had arrived
too late for him to act upon it.

A fortnight later she sent him a postcard, thanking him for his
letter.  "It's lovely here," she ended, "and we all wish you were
here, too."  C. wrote again, but she did not write back to him; and
there the correspondence ended for the time.

C. went back to his office life.  He saw his family; he dined with
his sisters and with Edward; he stayed with the Rodens and with the
Carterets; and soon he began to feel that he had never left England
at all.

It was one day in April that he found a note from Lady Elizabeth
Carteret saying:   "Come to luncheon on Sunday.  I have got a
surprise for you."

The Carterets had an elaborate house near Regent's Park.  It had a
green marble staircase, a drawing-room with black walls and a
silver ceiling, and a dining-room painted in tempera by Gabriel
Carteret himself.  The first person C. noticed as he walked into
the room was Beatrice.  He was immensely surprised.  At luncheon he
sat next to her.

"I won't explain anything now to you," she said, "I will write to
you to-night, and then you can come and see me.  I've got a house
in Kensington, near Campden Hill.  I'm looking after a sister of
Vincent's who has been fearfully ill.  I'm generally there all day,
but I get away for a little every now and then.  I'll write and
tell you when to come."

Beatrice was changed, but changed for the better.  C. thought she
had never looked more beautiful, although she looked different.
She had not the youthful, dazzling freshness she had had when she
was quite young at Oxford, but there was now something serene about
her, and something radiant and infinitely soft.  The look of
weariness and of strain had left her.  There was still an immense
sadness in her expression, but a softer sadness; there was nothing
of the worn-out, battered look which had struck him the last time
he had seen her in London, nor the hunted look in her eyes which he
had noticed with pain when he saw her in Paris.  The conversation
was mostly general at this luncheon, and there were one or two well-
known literary people present, but as C. left to go back to his
office Beatrice said:--

"I'll write to you to-night, and you shall come and see me."

Lady Elizabeth seemed gratified and satisfied as C. said good-bye
to her, like a person who feels she has done a good piece of work.

The next day C. received a letter from Beatrice.


I finished my period of postulancy, and my noviciate at the
convent, and I decided not to take vows, but to leave the convent
and to return to the world.  I want you to know all this . . .
these main facts, before we meet again. . . .  It will make
everything much easier.  It will be just as difficult for you, I
expect, to understand why I am leaving the convent now as it was
for you to understand why I went there at all . . . if that was
difficult.  The simple truth is I was TOO happy there.  I liked it
too much.  If I were to say that to some people, and even to some
people I am very fond of--to S., for instance--they would say (and
I have heard them say it, not about me), "Of course, that's what we
always say about NUNS; they have far too easy a time, sheltered as
they are from the world and everything in it that is disagreeable
and difficult," but I don't mind telling you, and I expect you
know already that it isn't so.  A nun's life isn't EASY in the way
they think.  It may be radiantly happy; . . . that's another
question. . . .  But, of course, it's no use trying to explain this
to people; some things you must experience from the inside to
understand at all--marriage, for instance.  In fact, I never would
dream of trying to explain, only I want you to know.  I came to
believe and I was finally certain that my vocation lay and lies
outside that (for me) citadel of happiness . . . at present, at any
rate.


C. went to see Beatrice the next day.  He did not allude to her
convent life, except to say that he had quite understood what she
meant, but they talked of everything else, and he found that he was
able to take up the thread of intimacy without any difficulty at
all, and to go on just where they had left off.  Walter Wright had
been moved from Paris to Berlin, and C. heard from him frequently.
In one of his letters he mentioned that he had met a charming
English artist, a Miss Haseltine, who had come to Berlin to see the
picture galleries, and they had talked of him.

"She told me," he said, "that she's painted your picture.  She and
a Miss Pratt are living together at a pension.  Miss Pratt is
working at the Hochschule (music), and they are both of them going
to stay here for the rest of the year."

C. soon fell into the habit of seeing Beatrice quite often; but
after Easter she was leaving London, as she had to move her sister-
in-law, who was better and had been ordered country air, and so she
had taken a house for them both near Farnborough.

C. was not looking forward to the summer in London.  He decided
that it would be quite impossible for him to begin once more the
old routine of balls and parties, the life of which Leila had been
for him the centre.  For, although the thought and, still more, the
handwriting of Leila affected him strangely, he, nevertheless, felt
that this chapter in his life was definitely and finally closed.
He did not hear her name mentioned much.  Lady Elizabeth had
conveyed to him that George Wilmot was still devoted to her.  She
had told him that George Wilmot was at the War Office, "and just as
sad as ever, poor man; he did so want to go to the war."

C. met Freddy Calhoun one day, but Freddy had learnt wisdom and had
acquired experience, and no longer burnt his fingers over that
topic.  He had left Paris and was now at the Embassy at Madrid.
The Thrse idyll was over, but he had left her well provided for;
she had found consolation and substantial support and protection.
He was taking, he said, a little well-earned leave.  But, although
Freddy did not mention Leila, some unconscious train of thought in
which Leila was evidently a link, led him to tell C. that Wilfrid
Clay, who had gone out to South Africa in the Yeomanry (C. had come
across him once or twice in Africa) and had been seriously wounded
and invalided home a year ago, was now in London.

Just before Easter, C., to his surprise, met Mrs. Evelyn one
morning in St. James' Street.

"I thought you were at Cannes," he said.

"So I was, but I had to come home because of Jimmy (her husband).
I was sorry to come back; it was so delicious there.  Leila was
enjoying it.  She was ordered to go by the doctors.  It was doing
her so much good, too.  She was very ill while you were away at the
war."

"Really?  I had no idea of that."

"Yes, she was ill twice, once very badly."

"What was it?"

"Only influenza--both times--but the after-effects were so bad.  It
left her so terribly weak."

"Some one told me that Wilfrid Clay has come back."

"Oh, has he?" she said, with a frigid indifference.

"I thought he was a friend of yours?"  C. laughed.

"He was, but after the way he behaved to

"What did he do?"

"Leila MADE Wilfrid Clay.  Without her he would never have existed.
And now he never looks at her.  He's over head and ears in love
with a horrible little South African woman called Mrs. Weltheim.
It's really unbelievable, isn't it?  The more one sees of men--"

Mrs. Evelyn left her sentence unfinished.

"Come and see me some time.  Leila's not coming back till after
Easter.  Terence is going out to fetch her, and they will probably
stay in Paris for Easter."

C. felt that Mrs. Evelyn looked upon him with disapproval.  He had
the feeling that she considered him also to belong to the class of
men who had been created by Leila and who had not shown any
gratitude to their creator.  This casual meeting convinced C. that
whatever happened he could not stay in London.  On the other hand,
he had to be at his office every day, so what was to be done?
While he was pondering over this problem it was suddenly solved
from the outside by what seemed to be the direct intervention of
Providence.

Miss Haseltine had two married sisters, both of whom C. had met
frequently while she had been painting his portrait.  One was the
wife of a Norfolk country gentleman, who lived almost entirely in
the country, and farmed; and the second had married a sailor called
Gambier, who had just come back from South Africa, where he had
taken part in certain operations in which the Navy had been
concerned.  They had a house in London and a small house near
Farnborough; they were relatively well-to-do, and had one daughter.
Gambier came back from South Africa suffering from some slight lung
trouble, and was advised by a doctor to stay for a month or so in
Cornwall, which he decided to do.  They were going to stay with
some cousins who had a house near Falmouth.

Mrs. Gambier, who had seen C. quite often and liked him, had heard
of him still more often from her sister, and had now heard of his
return from Africa, where, at the beginning of the war, he had met
Captain Gambier and made great friends with him.  C. met Gambier at
his club and Gambier asked him to dinner.  The Gambiers lived in a
little house in Cheyne Walk.  They discussed the past and the
future, their plans and prospects.  Mrs. Gambier talked a great
deal about her sister, and what fun she was having in Germany, and
how she was going to have a permanent studio in Munich, and all the
interesting artists she had met; and C. told them of the work he
had been offered in Germany, which he had refused because he wanted
to stay just a little while in England, after having been away such
a long time.

"At the same time," he said, "I loathe London.  I have to be at the
office all day, and when I get out of it I hate everything and
everybody.  I would give anything to live in the country, even if I
had to come to London every day.  I shouldn't care how long the
journey was."

"Why shouldn't he live at Holmhurst?" said Mrs. Gambier to Gambier.

"Why not?" was Gambier's answer.

They explained to C. that they had got a little house.  There was a
housekeeper who lived there, and who knew how to cook.  They were
not going to let it.  They had no one they wished to let it to, so
that if he cared to go and live there for a month or two he was
welcome to do so.

Finally it was arranged.  He was to go there as soon as he liked
and stay there all the month of June and possibly July as well.
They might come back in the middle of July, but not before.  It was
a short journey to London.  The trains were excellent.  The house
was full of books.  There was a garden.  The air was very healthy.
He would be quite happy there, and there was a spare bedroom, if he
cared to ask a friend to spend Sundays, or any night with him.

C. was delighted at the idea, and soon after Easter he found
himself established at Holmhurst.

He would have the great advantage, he thought, of being near to
Beatrice Fitzclare.  But until he got there he did not realise how
near she would be.  She lived actually next door, and the Gambiers'
garden was not a hundred yards from the garden of the house where
Beatrice Fitzclare was living with her sister-in-law.



CHAPTER L


C. kept his relations in the dark about this arrangement.  He told
them that he was staying with Gerald Malone in the country, but was
coming up to London every morning, and he had all his letters sent
either to the club or the office.  Beatrice was exceedingly
surprised to see him.  Her sister-in-law was making a slow
recovery.  She had a trained nurse to look after her as well as
Beatrice, and she sat in the daytime for a few hours every day in
the garden in a wheeled chair.  She went to bed before dinner in
the evening, and liked to be left alone then, so that Beatrice had
her evenings to herself, and either C. would stroll over to her
house or she would stroll over to his.  Sometimes Malone would come
down and stay the night, if he could arrange matters with Esther.
Malone was delighted to see Beatrice again, and the three old
friends spent some delightful hours together.  Sometimes Malone and
Beatrice had talks together alone.  They were both of them struck
by C.'s reticence about South Africa and his life there.  He never
seemed to wish to talk of it at length, and seldom alluded to it.
They wondered whether he had disliked the life there very much.  He
never told them.  Nor did C. ask Beatrice any questions about her
religious life, and her experience at the convent, nor did he ever
allude to his own religious beliefs or disbeliefs; nevertheless the
old intimacy between them was renewed, and it began to ripen
quietly in a way it had never ripened before.

C. arrived there at the end of May, and May and June went by
quickly.  The Rooters had come back to London, and C. presumed that
the Bucknells were there also.  He wrote to Sir Alfred, and told
him he was living in the country, and Sir Alfred discreetly asked
no questions.  Towards the end of June, Walter Wright came back
from Berlin on leave, and intended to spend the rest of the summer
in London.  It was the first long stretch of leave he had had since
he had been in the Service.  C. asked him to spend a Sunday at
Farnborough, and he accepted.  As they were talking together on
Saturday evening, after dinner, Walter Wright asked him whether he
had had any very interesting experiences in South Africa.

"I had one extraordinary experience," said C.

"What was that?"

"I met my brother."

"What brother?  Your brother Edward?"

"No, my second brother, Gilbert.  One you have never heard of.  He
got into some money scrape when he was quite young, and working for
the Diplomatic Service.  He quarrelled with my father, and he was
sent out to Canada.  My father would never see him again.  We never
heard him spoken of.  I believe the lawyer used to send him a
remittance every now and then.  He never came back to England.  He
was my mother's favourite son, all the same."

"Did she like him better than Harry?"

"Yes.  She tried to think that Harry did as well instead of him,
and she gave all she had to give to Harry, but the one she was
really fondest of was Gilbert."

"How did you meet him?"

"At Cape Town, at the bar of the Mount Nelson Hotel.  He just
walked in, and I thought I had seen a ghost at first.  You see, I
was about nine years old when Gilbert went away.  And he was at a
public school and at a crammer's or abroad, when I was still in the
schoolroom, and we seldom saw him, even in the holidays.  I think
he must have left school early and been sent abroad to learn
languages, and then I never saw him again nor heard him spoken of
till the other day.  This man looked extraordinarily like Harry.
He'd got all Harry's looks--he's awfully burnt and hard and fit and
strong, only--"

"Only what?"

"I don't know.  There's something wrong about him, something just a
little wrong.  Especially when he talks.  Of course, he's knocked
about so much that he doesn't talk like an Englishman."

"Did he recognise you?"

"At once.  I don't know what he was doing.  He was selling horses,
I think.  He's a great man out there in some ways.  He's very rich,
they told me, VERY rich indeed.  We had some talk.  He told me he
meant to come back here when the war was over."

"How extraordinary!"

"Yes, it is; and he's had an extraordinary life.  He didn't tell me
much about it.  He hadn't time."

"Did you see him again?"

"No, I didn't.  I was leaving the next day, and he was leaving that
night.  Somebody once told me that it was fearfully bad luck on him--
that scrape, I mean--and that really he had done nothing; only,
you see, the suspicion was enough for father."

They talked of other things.  Wright gave C. news of Miss
Haseltine.  He liked her very much.  C. discussed Rooter's
proposal.  Wright strongly urged him to come out to Berlin, if
possible.

"I'm afraid it's too late now.  He's probably got some one else."

Wright did not mention the Bucknells nor George Wilmot.  He had
heard in London that George Wilmot was still desperately devoted to
Leila, but C. surprised him by talking of the Bucknells in the
calmest and most natural manner.  They had come back to London, he
said, but he had not seen them.  Wright wondered whether all that
was over and whether C. was definitely cured.  The next day they
went to see Beatrice.  She was busy with her patient, but she sent
them a message, asking them to look in after dinner, which they
did.  Wright was delighted to see Beatrice again, and he thought
that she and C. seemed perfectly happy and comfortable together;
were they too comfortable for it to lead to anything satisfactory?
That's what he wondered.  Otherwise, what a perfect solution it
would be if they could be married!  Wright couldn't help thinking
that C. must be looking forward to such a possibility at the back
of his mind.  But then there was Leila.  He wondered whether she
knew anything about it.  In London, during the next few days, he
met several of C.'s friends, but they did not seem to know anything
about him nor of his movements.

"He never goes out now."  "He's disappeared completely."  "He's not
been well since the war."  Those were the remarks one heard made
about him.

One night, towards the beginning of July, Wright went to a dance
that was given at a house in Belgrave Square.  He had been there
some time, and he was sitting in a sort of hall with his partner
when he caught sight of Leila Bucknell in the distance, talking to
some one on the staircase.  It was, he saw, George Wilmot.  He was
talking quickly and vehemently, and she was listening with a look
of great calm and patience.  Wright admired her greatly.  She had,
if anything, improved, he thought, as time went on; there was
something finished about her, something that seemed to belong to
the periods of refined elegance; Louis XV. or Charles II., which
was it?  Versailles or Hampton Court?  He saw her at both; on the
Thames in a barge, all ivory satin and pearls and point lace, or he
saw her equally well and appropriately, in Watteau-like scenes:


     Frle parmi les nuds normes de rubans,


. . . but all this reverie, carried on while he was discussing a
play with his partner, was suddenly cut short.

George Wilmot had evidently asked her to do something which she had
refused to do; for, quite suddenly, he left her by herself in the
middle of the staircase, walked downstairs, at an abnormal rate,
made a dart for the cloakroom, and walked straight out of the house
with his coat in his hand, and did not wait one moment, although it
happened to be raining hard at the time.  Wright could not see what
happened to Leila, as there was rather a crowd of people on the top
of the staircase, and she had evidently gone upstairs again.  But
presently, before the next dance began, the supper doors were
thrown open, and the host and an ambassadress went down to supper
arm in arm; others followed, and presently Leila walked down on the
arm of Sir Alfred Rooter.

Later on in the evening, he had a very little talk with Leila
upstairs on the landing.  She asked after C., and said:

"He's living in the country with a friend, isn't he?"

"No, he's alone, he's been lent a house."

"I thought his friend, Gerald Malone, was there, too."

Leila asked him to come and see her . . . to come to luncheon any
day he liked.  It would be nice to talk over old times in Paris.

Two days later, Wright heard at the Foreign Office that George
Wilmot had accepted the post of Military Attach at St. Petersburg,
and was going out there almost directly.

In the meantime, Mrs. Gambier wrote to C., and told him that they
would be obliged to come back to their house for the last week in
July, so C. made arrangements to go back to London at once.  He
spent his last evening at Farnborough with Beatrice, and stayed on
for dinner.  He talked of the past and how strange everything had
been; how widely their paths had diverged.  They had each of them
seemed to be going off in entirely opposite directions, and yet
Fate or Providence had brought them together again.

"Wouldn't it be silly for us to throw away this third chance?" he
said.  "So few people are given even a second chance, and we have
been given three.  We never took them.  I own it was MY fault,
entirely my fault, but perhaps if you had said 'Yes' before, the
second time, perhaps all would have been well; and yet, somehow, I
feel that it was all meant to happen as it has happened.  I think
you were meant to go into the convent, and to come out again, and I
think I was meant to go to the war, and to come back again.  I
think we were both of us meant to travel all round the world of
life, in a way, and then to come back, to a still calm harbour,
before we could be happy together."

"Do you think you have reached that still calm harbour?" she asked.

"I feel sure of it.  I'm cured.  I thought I perhaps wasn't till I
came down here, I mean even after I came back from the war.  I
wasn't sure when I first came back.  I wasn't sure when I refused
to go to Berlin whether the real reason wasn't that I wanted to
stay here because . . . because I wasn't cured . . . but now it's
different.  I know,--and I believe that was meant . . . that it was
providential that I didn't go to Berlin just at that moment.  Could
you do it?  Could you marry me, Beatrice?"

"I don't know.  I feel I am MENDED to a certain extent, and that,
in a way, I could and can and must begin life all over again.  I
feel quite sure and confident about all that.  On the other hand, I
don't feel sure about you.  I mean, I know you mean what you say
now, but I feel, all the same, it would be wrong for me to say
'Yes.'  And even if not wrong, I don't know that I could. . . ."

"I know it's asking, oh! such a lot!"

"No, it's not that . . . I'm afraid--what I am afraid of is
bringing about some great calamity for you."

"You mean you feel as you did before you went into the convent?"

"Yes, only this time I have the extra knowledge that I was proved
right by experience."

"Yes, only it was different then.  I wasn't cured.  You see, I've
been away now, how long?  Nearly three years.  That's a long time.
Besides which, you must remember you left me to my own devices
before."

"Were you left for long to your own devices?" she asked, with a
smile.

"It's all so different now.  I'm much older for one thing.  I've
been through a long, long tunnel, and came out at the other end.
Don't send me back into it.  Don't say 'No.'"

"If it hurts you that I should say 'No,' this is what I will do.  I
will wait till next year, and if you still want to then, I will say
'Yes'; but, but, promise me this; don't be sad nor ashamed of
yourself, nor miserable if in a year's time you no longer want to
ask, and in that case DO NOTHING and say NOTHING; don't blame
yourself; just say to yourself, in that case, that it was _I_ who
said 'No,' and it will be true, because, you see, the only reason
why I don't say 'No' NOW is that I am QUITE sure, quite convinced,
that in a year's time you won't want to ask me."

C. was about to say something.

"It's not that you will have forgotten me.  You will never quite
forget me.  You have never forgotten me.  You would always like to
come back, but you will find, you may find, that all sorts of
things that you thought dead after all, or that new things, things
you didn't suspect, you couldn't dream of, nor guess at, are
suddenly there, and that all is suddenly different.  I know I am
right.  I'm sure if it had been meant to be it would have happened
before.  I feel quite certain it is not meant to be, but I won't
shut the door for you now.  I will leave it open for a year, and if
in a year's time from to-day, if at the end of July next year you
still want to marry me, I will marry you, and I think it would be
best for us not to see each other, and not to write, and if at the
end of next July I don't hear from you, then I shall know."

"But why can't we make certain of things now?  One fact, one fait
accompli, prevents a thousand others."

"I love you too much to do that.  I couldn't.  Don't ask me any
more, C., because the temptation is almost stronger than I can
bear."

"If that's so," he said triumphantly, "you must say 'Yes,' and here
and now; twice in our lives we have behaved like fools, and twice
we have been punished; don't let's make fools of ourselves a third
time.  That one couldn't possibly expect the gods to forgive, could
one?"

They had been sitting in low basket-chairs in the garden.  It was a
soft, warm June evening.  C. remembered the evening on the river
long ago near Datchet, and before that the evenings at Oxford.  All
that seemed to have happened a very long time ago.  He felt that
now he ought to be able to convince Beatrice, to sweep her away, to
carry her off her feet, as he had wanted once to sweep her away on
the torrent of his love . . . and yet he no longer had the
necessary driving power at his command, much as he wanted to.  He
suddenly saw there in front of him, here and now, the possibility
of real true happiness, love and peace, security and final content--
ideal married life.  There it was for him to have and to hold, for
ever.  He had--it seemed--but one little step to make to grasp it,
and it would be his for ever.

"Say 'Yes,'" he whispered.

"No, no," said Beatrice.  "I can't; I mustn't."

"It's nothing to do with MUSTN'T," said C. triumphantly.  He felt
that he had now been given what was lacking before.  Now nothing
could impede him; he would carry everything before him; he would
break down all obstacles and all opposition.

"You can, and you shall, and you must!" he cried out exultantly as
he got up from his chair and walked towards her.

At that moment the parlour-maid came out of the house and said to
Beatrice:--

"Miss Fitzclare would like to speak to you a moment, ma'am," and
then, turning to C., she handed him a telegram on a little tray,
saying:--

"They've brought this from Holmhurst.  It came last thing."

"May I open it?" said C.

Beatrice nodded and said:--

"I must go and see what Mary wants.  I'll be down directly.  Don't
go away."

She went into the house and C. opened the telegram, but it was too
dark for him to read in the garden, so he went into the drawing-
room, where there were two lamps burning.  He read the telegram.
It ran as follows:--


Please come and see me as soon as possible.  If possible, to-morrow
at six; in great trouble.--L.


C. tore it up and threw it into the fireplace, and said to himself:
"I'm damned if I will."  Then he laughed.  "That," he said to
himself, "just proves it."

In the meantime Beatrice had come down from seeing her patient.

"It was nothing," she said as she came into the room.  "She only
wanted a book that she had left downstairs."

She looked at C., surprised to find him there in the room, and not
out of doors.  Then she looked at the fireplace and saw the
crumpled telegram there, and she remembered.  There was a slight
pause.  She thought C. looked white and strange, and his teeth were
clenched with an odd kind of determination in the dimly-lit pitch-
pine drawing-room.

"Not bad news, I trust?" she said.

C. laughed.

"Oh, no, not bad news, not bad news at all, but good news, very
good news!  Beatrice, you're wrong.  If you like to make this
absurd condition, you can, but I swear it's unnecessary.  I shall
come in a year's time from to-day, if we are both of us still
alive, and insist on your keeping your promise.  Do you agree?"

"Yes," said Beatrice very sadly.  "I agree.  Of course, I agree.
It was, after all, my idea.  And now I must go up to Mary, because
I promised to read to her a little before she goes to sleep.
You're going away to-morrow--to-morrow morning, so it's good-bye.
I shall be here till the end of August.  Then I'm going to
Switzerland with father and mother.  I shall be back in the autumn
in London.  I've got a lot of work I've promised to do, but I shall
be living where I was living before in Kensington, near Campden
Hill."

The parlour-maid came back.

"Could you come up to Miss Fitzclare?" she said.

"She says that's not the book she wanted, and she would like to
speak to you herself."

"I'm coming," said Beatrice.

"Well, then, it's good-bye."

"Good-bye," said C., "and don't forget your promise."

"I shan't forget . . . and don't forget . . . everything I told
you.  Good-bye."

C. walked back to the garden of the Gambiers' house and climbed
over the railings into the garden, of which he was, for the last
time in his life, the temporary tenant.



CHAPTER LI


C. did not answer Leila's telegram.  At first he decided that
nothing would compel him to go and see her.  He would write and
make a civil conventional excuse.  But then, he thought, wasn't it
very cowardly not to go?  Was he afraid of her and of himself?  If
it was impossible for him to risk seeing Leila, if he couldn't meet
her on natural terms, well, wasn't Beatrice right?  No, he would
go, and he would prove to Beatrice that she was wrong once and for
all.

At one o'clock, just as he was leaving his office for luncheon, a
messenger brought him a telegram:--


Very sorry cannot see you after all this afternoon.  Leaving to-
morrow for Salza Maggiore.  Writing.--L.


The next day he found a letter in that well-known handwriting on
the table.  He looked at the envelope and wondered what an expert
in character reading by handwriting would say about it.  There was
nothing cryptic about it; nothing subtle or mysterious about the
rather florid curves and long flourishes, and it went smoothly on
at the orthodox angle and slope; there was something candid and
ingenuous about it . . . so thought C.  He opened the envelope, and
what was lacking in the handwriting was compensated by the aromatic
hint of stephanotis that came from the paper.

It was a short letter.


Terence and I had been going to leave a week later, but it was more
convenient, owing to things at the F.O., for Terence to go AT ONCE.
We shall be there about three weeks, at the "Grande Bretagne."
After that plans are uncertain.  I have been through a DREADFUL
time.  I won't go into it now, but I DID want to see YOU.  However,
as things turned out it was quite IMPOSSIBLE, as last night Terence
wanted me all the evening, and there were other complications.
Must stop.--L.


C. read the letter calmly, so he said to himself.  It seemed like
the lilt of a forgotten tune, a page out of a chapter that is
finished.

Two or three days later, Sir Alfred Rooter asked C. to luncheon.
He told him that his wife was going to Venice.

"I shall spend a few days there, too, very likely, but I hate the
place at this time of year, it's too smelly."

He asked C. whether he still wanted to stay on in England or
whether he had had enough of it.  The Berlin vacancy was filled.
C. regretted now that he had not gone; but it was too late to think
of that.  So he said that, for the moment, he was quite happy in
London.  They talked of South African affairs, and C. mentioned his
brother, Gilbert, and told him of his meeting with him.  Rooter was
puzzled at first.

"Your brother Gilbert?"

C. explained how and where he had met him, who he was, and the
whole story.

"Oh!" Sir Alfred said, suddenly understanding.  "Now I know who you
mean, and now I know who it is you have always reminded me of."

"You know him then?"

"Yes, I used to know him very well in old days, but he used to call
himself Gilbert Gordon then."

"Gordon's his second name.  He said he was coming back to England
next year."

"To England!  Oh!"

Sir Alfred said nothing further on the subject of Gilbert, and C.
felt that he had been surprised at the news.

C. heard nothing further from Leila.  He spent the month of
September partly at his sister's houses and partly with the Rodens,
and in October he was settled in London once more.

It was in the middle of October that he went down to Eton for a
Saturday and Sunday.  He was staying with one of his Eton
contemporaries, Bentham, the boy with whom he and Calmady had
written a book of verse when they were boys, who had now become a
master.  He had not yet got a house.  On Saturday night they had a
cheerful dinner, discussing old times, and on Sunday morning C.
went to chapel; in the afternoon he went to tea with his tutor.  He
was shown into the well-known drawing-room with the books he knew
so well; those which used to be lent to the boys when they were
staying out by the matron (Treasure Island and Oliver Twist and
Peter Simple).  His tutor greeted him with the same slightly
satirical, bantering tone, but now C. found him charming, and
wondered why he had ever felt alarmed or annoyed by him.  They had
not been talking for long when the butler announced Mrs. Bucknell.
Her son, Basil, was at Pringle's.  It was his first half, and he
shyly escorted his mother into his tutor's drawing-room.  It was
the first time C. had seen Leila since the war, and it was quite
useless for him to pretend that he felt she belonged to the past or
to a closed chapter.  She seemed to him to belong more undeniably,
more superlatively to the present than ever; there was, too, a look
of melting sadness in her eyes, that became her better than
anything.  She greeted him naturally without a hint of any
reservation in the background.  They all talked except the boy, who
remained mute as a stone and blushed scarlet whenever he was spoken
to.  He was the image of his father, and already showed signs of
having a bureaucratic mind.  Mr. Pringle and Leila discussed him,
and Mr. Pringle said:--

"He's doing well, far better than that scamp did when he first came
to me."  He pointed at C., and the boy giggled.

"I daresay," said Leila, "C. gave you a great deal of trouble.  I
knew him as a little boy, before he went to school at all, and he
was a DREADFULLY naughty boy.  He used to play with us and pull our
hair."

They talked on various topics, and they had tea, but before Leila
went she said to C.:--

"Are you staying till Monday?"

C. said he was going back that evening before dinner.

"By the six o'clock train?"

"Yes."

"We'll travel together.  We'll meet at the station."

Leila went off to the boys' part of the house with her son.  C.
went to fetch his things and to say good-bye to Bentham.  He was
pleased, pleased with himself and with the world; he had seen Leila
and all had been well.  He had felt no sadness and no regret.

"We shall just be able to be the best of friends," he said to
himself, "and everything will be all right and quite comfortable."

He met her at the station, and they travelled up in the same
carriage.  There was nobody else with them.  Leila said she had
been abroad.  She had passed through Venice, and then she had
stayed with her sister till the holidays were over, and she had
taken Basil to Eton.

"I had a terrible time at the end of the summer," she said, and
tears came into her eyes.  "I can't tell you about it now.  I may
some day."

"Tell me now," said C.

Leila looked at him with wonder.

"I didn't think you would care any more about anything that could
happen with me.  I thought all THAT was finished, done with for
ever, and that you had quite forgotten."

"I have never forgotten anything."

"I used to think that whatever and whoever changed you would always
be the same--and then you . . ."

"I never changed."

"Didn't you?"

"Never."

"Have you forgiven me?" she asked very softly.

"Yes."

"I was so, so sorry.  I AM so, so sorry."

C. took her hand.  He felt once more the touch of Leila's hand in
his, and everything that had happened since he last saw her, either
between them or to him, or between him and Beatrice, was forgotten,
flung away, annihilated.  He only knew that he loved her to
distraction, that he didn't care what she had done, or what had
happened, or what he had gone through.  He loved her here and now,
and as she was.  How foolish it was to want people to be perfect,
to be different from what they were! and who was he to judge her?
After all, did he know her side of the question?  He was probably
just as much to blame as she was.  It had been his fault; he had
been young, silly, oafish, but what did that matter?  That was all
over and done with now; now what mattered was that Leila was in his
arms once more for him to love and worship as he had always loved
her.

He drove Leila home.  Terence was away playing golf with the
Evelyns, and was not coming back till late.  He was expected at
eleven.  C. stayed to dinner, and after dinner Leila and he
remained together for long, and, as in old days, time was
annihilated for C.; only he felt that his love then was nothing to
what it was now.  Then he had felt like a child; now he was a grown-
up man.  He was never going to let anything childish spoil their
relations again.  When he got home a reaction set in.  He thought
of Beatrice, and he seemed to feel that she knew already that it
was all over.  How clear-sighted and how far-sighted she had been!
Then he seemed to see her sad, tear-washed, celestial blue eyes
looking at him, those soft, soft eyes, full now of an unearthly
radiance.  They were looking at him without reproach, but with
infinite sadness, and, like Saint Peter, he felt inclined to go out
and weep bitterly.  Then he thought about Leila, and he saw the
whole of their past unfurl before him like a pictured scroll.
There was no doubt that, making every possible allowance, she had
treated him abominably; and there was no doubt that she had at one
moment got tired of him and had simply loved some one else; but
that was not his fault . . . but even then . . . however that might
be, he had no illusions now with regard to her.  He did not know
why she was behaving now as she had done.  Perhaps George Wilmot
and she had quarrelled; perhaps she was lonely; perhaps she was
acting out of revenge . . . there might be a thousand motives and
reasons, but he didn't care . . . he didn't care whether she was in
earnest or whether it was all only a game.  He knew only that he
adored her, and that he was not going to, that he couldn't, however
much he wanted to, resist the tide that was carrying him away.
Then he sat down and wrote to Beatrice:--


"I am worse than you thought"--he began--


Then once more he cursed himself.  "I ought to be shot," he
thought.  The future appeared before him, with all its ghastly
possibilities.  He knew now, only too well, what Leila was capable
of.  "Even if she loves me now"--and he was convinced that she
loved him now, just as he had been convinced, and was still
convinced, that she had loved him when he had first known her the
summer when she had lived at Twyford--"even if she still loves me
now, she may love some one else next week, and she will throw me
away like a broken toy.  It's not her fault.  She's made like that,
and she's beautiful enough for it not to matter."  But yet, at the
thought of Leila loving some one else now, he felt himself
trembling and shaking all over.  Of course it would happen.  It had
happened already how many times?  She had probably loved Vincent
Fitzclare, she had certainly loved George Wilmot, and then there
were all the others, all those others who must have been there
before he knew her--Wilfrid Clay, for instance.  And then C. felt
himself get cold all over, cold with a sudden feeling of hatred for
her.  How had she dared be so cruel?  How had she dared to behave
like that?  How had she dared to go on, to trifle, to pretend, to
lie?  She was a tissue of lies . . . her life was one long lie,
everything she said and did was a lie.  She was the queen of liars.
She was THE liar, the type of all women, just as Meredith's Egoist
was the type of all men.  And then he felt he hated her.  He would
like to kill her.  What a pity it was they weren't living in the
past when people did such things!  But they did sometimes now;
after all, one read in the newspapers of such things . . . they
were rarely people you knew, but there were dramas, passionate,
bitter, vital dramas, for all that--sordid, if you like, but
dealing in life and death, and sometimes in poison and murder.

Then he laughed at himself; laughed at the thought of thinking that
he could kill Leila.

"Why," he thought, "if she came into this room at this moment, I
should be on my knees to her."  And, after all, why not?  What was
he fussing about?  Why need he be so complicated?  Why couldn't he
take the gifts the gods gave and pass on?  Because--and that was
just it--he couldn't pass on.  He was not built like that.  Why
should he be flattened out and broken?  Perhaps because there was
something wanting in him.  If he had had some little extra thing he
would have been different; he would have been a stronger
personality--if he had only been made of sterner stuff.  But he
wasn't, and there was nothing to be done.  He was what he was, and
Leila was what she was, and there was no help for it.  No help; and
it would always be like that, he felt and he knew, till he died.
Nothing to mend, no cure for this disease.  All sorts of strange
thoughts passed through his mind.  A rhyme kept on buzzing in his
head about the parson pocketing his fees, and he said over and over
again:


     Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased?


He went into his bedroom and began to undress, and as he sat down
on his bed he burst into tears, those bitterest of all tears that
are witnessed by none but the angels and the devil--by the angels
with pity, by the devil with interest, for who knows what they may
not lead to?

And he thought of Goethe's poem:--


     Wer nie sein Brod mit Thrnen ass,
     Wer nie die kummervollen Nchte,
     Auf seinem Bette weinend sass--.


That was what Goethe meant.  Goethe knew.  It is sitting on one's
bed in the silence of the night that these moments occur.  If only,
like Beatrice, he could see daylight somewhere . . . if only there
was for him a bridge.  But there was no bridge; there was at least
an exit, a way out.  Why not make an end of it?  And he remembered
the evening at Malone's rooms, when they had leant out from the
balcony and thought of jumping out into the street.  If he had done
that then, all would now have been over, and there would be nothing
to bother about.  It was such a quick way.  He looked out of the
window.  Was it high enough up?  Yes.  Should he do it, and finish
everything once and for all?  Would it FINISH everything?  He
remembered Wright saying, when they discussed the matter, that
short cuts were no use, and that suicide might mean beginning again
further back, being sent to the bottom of the class.  Well, even if
one did have to begin again, even if it meant making everything
longer, one would, in any case, get out of this.  It would cut this
particular knot, even if there were a worse one in store for him
elsewhere.

Was he afraid to do it?  How could he do it?  He thought of a
little case of medicines he had been given by one of his sisters to
take to the war with him.  It contained medicines in little flat
squares of paper, stuff looking like thick postage stamps.  One of
them was cocaine; another laudanum.  He felt that if he took five
or six squares of either of these it would probably do the trick.
But that was too decisive.  He would rather have something in which
chance had a chance, something which might be fatal or might not
be, so that, if it were not, at least he might have the
satisfaction of thinking that he was meant to live.

And again he thought:  "That is all wrong.  If I really feel like
that, and if I really have made up my mind I don't want to live,
like the old Romans used to do when they felt the moment had come,
I shouldn't leave a possible loophole."  His thoughts again went
back to Leila.  "If only," he thought, "she loved me BEST, how
little I should care what she had done, or what she did, but I feel
she never DID love me best, and never will, and that, even if she
loves me now, there will be another best soon.  How soon?  And
then, at first, I shan't know, and then the old torture will begin
again, and I shall be imprisoned once more in the vicious circle of
protest and recrimination, and suspicion, and explanation, and
quarrel, and reconciliation, and alternate love and hate, and
finally of simultaneous love and hate."  Could he bear that all
over again?  Would nothing ever set him free from this chain?
Would nobody take out the thorn from the flesh, and cleanse his
bosom of the perilous stuff?  And then, at the thought of this, he
cried out in the dark:  "I don't want to be cured.  I don't want
the thorn taken out.  I don't want to be released.  Oh, Leila,
deceive me, deceive me once again!"

He had got into bed and put out the lights, and all these thoughts
were racing through his mind, and the image of Leila was never
absent.

"What a fool I was to think I could ever be cured!" he said to
himself.  "Nothing can cure me except death, and as that cure is
here ready to my hand, here in this room, within my reach, it
proves, if I don't make use of it, that I don't want to be cured."

He remained awake about two hours, and then drowsiness began to
steal over him, and at last he fell asleep murmuring, "I don't want
to be cured."

The next morning he tore up the letter he had written to Beatrice.
"It's useless," he said to himself.  "I feel certain she knows
already."



CHAPTER LII


And now began another phase in the history of C.'s and Leila's
relations.  She was kinder to him, more loving and gentle, and
altogether more adorable than she had ever been, and her whole
nature seemed to have mellowed and deepened by an undefinable
hidden sadness.  Yet she did not allow him to see her nearly as
often as before.  She did not appear, as far as C. knew, to see
other people either.  She stayed in London all the autumn, and she
spent Christmas with her sister, Mrs. Tryan, in Somersetshire.  C.
spent a few days there--as long as he could stay--after Christmas,
but this year Leila did not hunt.  She did not, she said, feel
quite up to it.  In January, she came back to London, and, loving
as she was to him when they met, he found it increasingly difficult
to see her.  Terence was far more to the fore than he used to be
for one thing.  Mrs. Evelyn had not been well, and owing to this he
was rather at a loose end.  But there was something else, something
that C. could not fathom, which from time to time seemed to be
erecting an invisible barrier between them.

Leila seemed to manage and arrange their meetings--so far--more
carefully than ever before.  It was as if they were being fitted
into some plan of which he knew nothing.  Not that he suspected her
of any infidelity.  Whom should he suspect?  There was nobody
there.  Dallas Wace never came near the house now.  Leila was bored
to death with the artistic acquaintances she had made through him,
and said so openly.

Wilfrid Clay she saw very seldom.  George Wilmot was in St.
Petersburg.  She had, as far as he knew, no new friends, and yet
her life, which on the surface seemed to be much emptier, was in
reality fuller than ever before.  It was a mystery to C., and he
did not attempt to solve it.  As long as she was nice to him what
did it matter?  And yet he was from time to time caught as by the
shadow of coming possibilities, and he would feel cold all over.
It was in a way too good to last, and yet at the same time it was
so profoundly unsatisfactory and unsatisfying; do what he could,
and in spite of everything Leila could do and did, the relation for
C. was one of unceasing anguish and permanent torture . . . quite
apart from anything he might suspect or dread or anticipate.  At
the end of January, she had a slight bout of bronchitis, and was
advised to go abroad.  Lady Rooter came to the rescue, and offered
to put her up at their villa, which they had again taken for two
months.  C. wanted to go out there, too, if only for a few days,
but Leila said that, for one thing, there wouldn't be room in the
villa.

"I could stay at the hotel," he said, but Leila said it would be a
pity, as he had so little leave, to waste it in driblets.  He had
much better save it up for the summer.

He saw Sir Alfred Rooter once or twice.  He was keener than ever
now on sending C. abroad for his newspaper, and said that if he
liked he could go to Paris.  He could not give him the job of first
correspondent there, at once, but he could work under the man who
was there now for a year to begin with, and then, later, if he made
good, he would send the other man to St. Petersburg, which he had
long wished to do.  But this time C. was quite decidedly sure that
he did not wish to go abroad.  He was quite certain that he wanted
to stay in London.  Sir Alfred was almost annoyed; he spent over
two hours one night at his house, after dinner, trying to persuade
C. to accept the post, explaining to him what a wonderful offer it
was; how lucrative to begin with, how interesting in the second
place, how conveniently near to London he would be in Paris; in
fact, it had every advantage.  But C. was as obstinate as a mule.
He said he had no vocation and no talent for that kind of
journalism; no "nose" for news, and that he was quite happy where
he was in his office.  So Sir Alfred gave it up.  Miss Haseltine,
C. learnt, had left Berlin and was now in Paris, where she had a
studio.  She was going to stay there for two or three years, and
she was said to be doing very well, and to be making a name for
herself in the Paris world of art.

Leila left for the Riviera in February.  Lady Rooter had gone out
there already.  Sir Alfred was to join them later for a short time.
"Just for a few days," he said.  Terence remained in London.  Leila
came back for the Easter holidays, which she spent with her
children at the Rooters' at Bramsley.  She told C. that Sir Alfred
was certain to ask him, too, but Sir Alfred did nothing of the
kind.

"I can't understand it," said Leila.  "I think you must have
annoyed him."

"Yes, I have," said C., and he told her the whole story of the
correspondentship.

"Of course that's it," she said.  "It's just the sort of thing he
can't understand."

She stayed at Bramsley for a fortnight.

It was at the end of the Easter holidays that C. got an urgent
summons on the telephone in his office from his brother Edward.

C. went round after the day's work was done and found Edward in a
state of excitement.

"Do you know what's happened?" he said.  "Gilbert's turned up from
South Africa, and, what's more, he's a millionaire, and has bought
a house in Park Lane."

"I knew he was coming," said C., and he told him of their meeting
in Africa.

"Why the devil didn't you tell me this before?"

"Because if Gilbert was ever mentioned in the family there was such
a deadly silence that I never dared talk of him."

"The question is, what are we to do?" said Edward.

C. said nothing.

"We shall have to see him."

"I think," said C., "it's more a question of what he thinks about
us than of what we think about him.  I don't think he will feel at
all embarrassed or shy."

"No, quite," said Edward, "and after all, it was a very long time
ago, and he's made good, and they say nothing against him in the
City."

"But what did he actually do?" asked C.

"I'm damned if I know, really.  All I know is father said he did
something which no son of his could do and expect him ever to see
him or to have anything to do with him again.  In any case, he lost
ten thousand pounds, and father had to sell the tapestry, and then,
whether he was in the wrong or the right, he was foolish enough to
get angry and to quarrel with father."

"But people have told me that it was most unfair, that he was
accused of doing something he hadn't done."

"He said so at the time, but father didn't believe it; and if
father didn't believe a thing there was nothing to be done.
Perhaps he had done other things that father knew about.  Perhaps
it was all about something else."

"But that's all a private matter, and it doesn't concern the
world."

"Oh, not in the least.  Well, I shall ask him here, and I hope
he'll come."

Edward appeared to be relieved at C.'s attitude.  He had thought
that perhaps C. was going to maintain the necessity of carrying on
the tradition of his father's attitude to the end.

As it was, Edward needn't have bothered.  London received Gilbert
Bramsley with open arms.  It was said there had been some
unpleasantness at a club years ago; but it was when he was quite a
boy, and it was very doubtful whether he hadn't been the victim of
jealous spite.  He had quarrelled with his father; but it was well
known that Lord Hengrave was as obstinate as a mule; all the
Bramsleys were that, but he was the worst of them in that respect.
He would certainly never have admitted that he was wrong.  He was a
martinet, too, and a man of ungovernable temper.  In fact, he
belonged to another age.  At any rate, Gilbert had made good.
Nobody said a word against him in the City; and there he was, a man
who had started as a remittance man, and who, entirely owing to his
own wits, grit, determination and hard work, had become a
millionaire; although he had had everything and every one against
him, and had started with every possible disadvantage.

That was what the world said; and people were only waiting to be
asked to the large house in Park Lane that Gilbert had taken.  But
Gilbert did not appear to be particularly eager to see any one, and
he certainly had no social ambitions.  He called on his brother
Edward in the City, and he asked C. and his sisters to luncheon.
His sisters disapproved of his colonial expressions, his strange
accent, and of his too easy manners; but he stood no nonsense from
them, and he chaffed their heads off, and ended by giving each of
them a large diamond, in return for which they forgave him his
alien ways and unfamiliar vocabulary.

The only man who did not seem to be over-enthusiastic about the
return of the prodigal was Sir Alfred Rooter, who, when C.
mentioned the news of Gilbert's arrival, merely said:

"I knew him very well," and made no further comment.

The first time C. saw Gilbert the latter mentioned Bramsley, and
when he heard that Rooter had bought it he swore in the most
unmeasured terms and with a wealth of picturesque abuse.

"Do you hate him?" said C.  "He's been very good to me."

"I don't hate Alfred Rooter, I've known him all my life; but what I
say is:  Alfred Rooter has no business to own Bramsley, that's all.
And he shan't own it for long, what's more."  Gilbert looked grimly
determined.  Then he chuckled to himself.  "Fancy mother's
feelings," he said, "if she saw Alf there at the head of the table.
However, we'll get him out, don't you worry."

Gilbert laughed immoderately, and there was something about his
laugh that C. did not altogether like.

C. told him of his personal relations with Alfred Rooter, and how
it was owing to him he had been to Africa, and what he had done for
him since.

"That's all right," said Gilbert, "Alf's a white man.  The only
knock I've got on him is that he lives at Bramsley.  It's not his
house, it's ours."

Edward and Marie asked Gilbert to dinner, and Gilbert said he would
come on condition it wasn't too pompous and too swagger an affair.
After much deliberation, a small dinner party was arranged, to
which the following guests were bidden: Lionel Mells (Edward's
partner), representing the City, and his wife, a pretty Irishwoman;
Terence Bucknell, representing the Foreign Office, and his wife;
Lord and Lady Holborn, representing the aristocracy and the
Bramsley family as well; Mr. Dallas Wace, representing the
cultivated man-in-the-street; Lady Harriet Clive, the past
generation; Walter Wright, youth and diplomacy; and Mrs. Evelyn
(without her husband), the essence of London.

Lady Hengrave was proud of Hengrave House that night.  It had
suffered a third partial "doing up" last winter, and the style had
been slightly changed; but the French influence predominated still;
the large pastel of herself had disappeared and been replaced by a
portrait in a more modern style by an Austrian artist.

C. had been asked to dinner; he was engaged, but he was to look in
afterwards if he could.  Walter Wright had just come back from
Berlin, and had exchanged for a year into the Foreign Office.  He
and C. had decided to share rooms, and C. had moved from Bury
Street into a flat over a shop in Baker Street.

The dinner went off well.  Marie Hengrave had not disguised her
apprehensions to her husband before Gilbert's arrival.

"I hope," she had said, "that he won't do anything ODD."

"Why should he?" said Edward.  "After all, he was brought up at
home and at Eton, so I suppose he ought to know how to behave."

"Yes," said Marie, "but he has been away for so long and in such
dreadful surroundings, with such awful people."

When Gilbert entered the room, however--he came rather early,
before the other guests--absolutely at his ease, and as if the
house belonged to him, Lady Hengrave was slightly taken aback.  She
was taken aback, too, by his extreme good looks; although she
disapproved of the black pearl stud in his shirt-front, which she
thought was too large.

She had meant to introduce a soupon of coldness into the
friendliness of her greeting, as much as to say:  "Although we are
killing the fatted calf for you, you mustn't take advantage of it;
and you must remember that you are here on approbation, that it
behoves you to be careful."

But Gilbert, whether he was conscious of this or not, swept it
aside with a breezy familiarity.  He chaffed Edward; he told him he
was growing too fat and should try Swedish exercises or a month on
the veldt; and when he was introduced to the other guests as they
arrived, he was just as much at his ease with them.  It was clear
that he was chez soi, and his sister-in-law was rapidly obliged to
revise her policy.  The projected attitude was frankly of no use.
At dinner he sat on his hostess's right, next to Leila.  She had on
her other side Tommy Holborn, who was not famous for conversation.
Leila talked to him feverishly during the soup and the fish; and
she then left him to his charming and pretty Irish neighbour, with
whom he was quite happy, and roars of chaff soon came from the
middle of the table.  Then Leila turned to Gilbert, who was being
riddled with questions by his hostess.  He was puzzling her by
answering them in a way which baffled her; she never knew whether
he was serious or not.  Just at that moment Lionel Mells, who was
at her left, was telling Lady Holborn an anecdote that seemed to
amuse her, in a loud voice; he evidently wanted an audience, and
Lady Hengrave could not help listening; she turned towards Lionel
Mells for a second, and his laughing eye and infectious laugh roped
her into his conversation.  Leila took advantage of that moment to
snatch Gilbert's attention, and from that moment she talked to him
without stopping till the end of dinner.

Wright was sitting next to Mrs. Evelyn, and he asked her whether
she thought Gilbert was like C.

"They are all rather alike, the Bramsleys," she said, "but I think
he is more like Harry: the one who died; as a matter of fact, he's
less like his father and mother than any of them, I don't think
he's at all like his mother.  He is very good-looking, very--IN A
WAY, isn't he?"

"What do you think is wrong?"

"Well--everything--in a way.  I think there's something a little
bit--I don't know what--flashy, second-rate, about him, which is
very odd, considering--"

"He seems to be getting on very well--"

"Leila can't resist good looks," she said with a sigh, and added,
"Why isn't C. here?"

"He's coming afterwards.  He couldn't dine, as he's dining with
some Italians who were kind to him in Rome."

Leila seemed indeed to be enjoying herself immensely, and so did
Gilbert.  The fact of the matter, Wright thought as he watched
them, although he did not say so to Mrs. Evelyn, was that they
suited each other far better than Leila and C. did.  Gilbert had
all the qualities she liked in C., with an added dash; an added
spice, a touch of the devil, something reckless and wild and break-
neck; and then he had none of the culture, the mere hidden presence
of which Leila found a difficulty.  It was a thing she felt she had
to play up to.  It made her uncomfortable, and she didn't like it.
She disagreed with C.'s taste, whereas with Gilbert everything was
plain sailing.  There was no hidden culture; and there was a
certain amount of undisguised, unvarnished frankness in his
conversation, and something more than frankness and less than
coarseness.  He went further than other people; and yet there was
something engaging about him.  And then she was, as Mrs. Evelyn
said, highly susceptible to looks, and Gilbert's looks were just
the kind that appealed to her most:--the dark, rich, bronzed,
tanned, rather florid kind.  Besides all this, he was new and
unexpected.  His strange experiences and his roving life had given
him an odd flavour, and a curious mixed, picturesque vocabulary in
which the slang of all nations met.  Added to that, there was the
Bramsley soil in his character as a foundation; an element which
she had already found most attractive and which she was used to.

She found Gilbert frankly irresistible.  He also had an asset which
she was certain to prize, Wright reflected.  He was immensely,
carelessly rich, and he meant to spend his money.  Mrs. Evelyn's
attention was presently caught by her neighbour, Terence, and Julia
Holborn was still talking, or rather listening, to Lionel Mells, so
that Wright had ample time for observation and reflection; and he
concluded that a perilous situation was being prepared; not only
was he aware that Leila was finding her neighbour attractive but
there was a look in Gilbert's eye that meant something very
definite.  It was a look in which there was a blend of Bramsley
obstinacy, reckless desire, and the determination to get, and
acquire, and possess at all costs; and by all means, whether fair
or foul, mixed with a slightly cynical appraisement.  He seemed to
be appraising Leila at her just value, without illusion, and in the
coolest manner, in spite of his feelings.

But Wright was startled from his reverie by his other neighbour,
Lady Holborn, who asked him if he was going to Ascot this year.

When the men were left to themselves after dinner, Mells and
Gilbert moved up to the other end of the table to be nearer Edward,
and Wright listened while Gilbert, deftly cross-questioned by Wace,
exposed what he considered would be the future of South Africa now
that peace had been declared.  Wright noticed that Gilbert seemed
to anticipate Wace's skilful questions, and while he appeared to
answer them with a frank volubility, in reality he said nothing.

When they went upstairs, two bridge tables were arranged.  By this
arrangement it happened that Leila, who seldom played, Gilbert, and
the host and hostess were left out.  Edward took Lady Harriet into
the back drawing-room; Lady Hengrave took Wright into a corner and
began to discuss la haute politique with him; and Gilbert and Leila
were left.

"Wouldn't you like to cut in?" Lady Hengrave said to Gilbert.

"Oh, no!" he said, "I never play cards for money."

C. didn't appear, after all, that night, and when Wright got home
he was not yet back.  He came in later, saying that he had been
taken to the play and his party had insisted on having supper at
the Savoy.



CHAPTER LIII


C. asked Wright about the dinner.  He wanted to hear every detail.
Had they been nice to Gilbert?  Where had he sat?  When he heard he
had sat next to Leila he said:--

"I'm sure she was nice to him."

That afternoon he went round to Upper Berkeley Street, when he left
the office.  He had said he was coming, but he found a note from
Leila saying she was obliged to go to Mrs. Evelyn, who wasn't well.
The next day he got a letter from her saying that she was taking
Mrs. Evelyn down to Brighton for a few days' change of air.  It was
the only thing, she thought, that would cure Alice of her constant
headaches.  She would be back before the end of the week.  But the
end of the week came, and there was no sign of Leila.  C.
telegraphed to her:  "When are you coming back?"  She answered:
"Terence is coming here till Monday.  Hope arrive Monday."  After
once more putting off her arrival for a day, she did come back the
next week, and she asked C. to dinner the night after her arrival.
C. went; and there he found Mrs. Evelyn, a girl who was a cousin of
Terence's, Anne Bucknell, who was pretty, and who had not been out
long; and Gilbert.

Leila managed to find the opportunity of explaining to C. that she
thought it would be such a good thing if Gilbert married Terence's
cousin, Anne, who was so pretty, so nice, and quite penniless.

After dinner, Leila played the piano and sang, or, rather, hummed,
the words of a French song, slurring over the difficulties of the
accompaniment, and by an adroit use of the loud and soft pedals
sometimes alternately and sometimes both together, concealing a
certain sloppiness and uncertainty in the bass--


     Allez chercher loin dans l'espace
       Les perles d'or;
     Je ne veux rien de ce qui passe;
       J'ai mon trsor.


"That's very pretty," said Gilbert, "but sing something English."

"I can't sing," she said, "but what would you like me to play?"

"Oh, any old thing! something old."

"Do you know this?" she said, and she began to play and to hum The
Garden of Sleep, and after that a song of Lord Henry Somerset's,
and then Tosti's Good-bye, only the accompaniment of the latter
proved a little too difficult towards the end, and she had to end
abruptly before the climax.

C. was left to talk with Terence's cousin, while Leila and Gilbert
sat and made music; but he hardly knew what he was saying as he had
such a splitting headache.  Terence and Mrs. Evelyn were talking in
the next room.  When Gilbert and C. left, Gilbert suggested taking
C. round to his house for a moment and having a drink.  They drove
there in his electric brougham.

"Pretty little woman that," said Gilbert, "and cute, too, damned
cute."

C. said nothing.

"She's staying at Bramsley next Saturday!"

"Who?  Mrs. Bucknell?"

"Yes--funny, isn't it?"

They talked of other things.  Gilbert told C. some of his plans and
projects.

"If Rooter goes back to Africa," he said, "I'll buy Bramsley."

"But is he thinking of going back?"

"I guess he will.  Do you think Edward would feel badly if I bought
it?"

"No," said C.  "I'm sure he wouldn't.  He could never buy it
himself, and even if he could, Marie would never let him.  She
hates the country--that sort of country, at least."

"It's just as well to be put wise."

They had reached the house in Park Lane.  It had belonged, after
passing through various hands, to a South American who had lately
gone bankrupt.  Gilbert had bought it just as it stood, and it was
full of rather startling pictures and bright gilt furniture.

"I shall change all this, of course," he said.  "Have a high-ball,"
and he poured out two generous doses of Bourbon whisky for himself
and C.

"Here's how," he said, as he drank, looking C. straight in the
face.  "I say, you don't look at the top of your form.  Feeling
like thirty cents--mouldy?"

"I've had a splitting headache for the last three days."

"Get outside this," and he poured out another dose of whisky for
C., who took it and drank it mechanically.

"Yes," Gilbert resumed, "as I figure it, Rooter will beat it."

"What?"

"Beat it, fade, quit, what we used to call 'do a bunk' at school."

"But why should he?"

"One can't have two lions in one cage."

He didn't explain this cryptic remark, and C. said good-night.
Gilbert sent him home in his electric brougham.

C. couldn't sleep that night and the next morning he felt so seedy
that he allowed Wright to send for the doctor.  The doctor
diagnosed a violent form of influenza, such as C. had had once or
twice before in his life.  For three days he was very ill with a
high temperature, and at moments he was on the verge of delirium.
Then the fever subsided, leaving him very weak.  He was, the doctor
said, to stay in bed.  He was not to make any exertion or see more
people than was necessary.  Wright looked after him, and his
sisters came to see how he was every day.  Leila wrote to him as
soon as she heard he was well enough to read letters, and sent him
fruit and flowers.  She told him what she had been doing.  She
spoke of Gilbert and said that every one liked him so much.  She
thought he would have a great success.


I want him to give a ball, but he won't; he's too shy!  He is very
shy really, although people don't know it.  He ought to marry a
nice girl.  It would be a great thing if he could marry Anne
Bucknell, she is so nice.  I'm going to Bramsley on Saturday.  It's
such a pity you're not well.  Sir Alfred would certainly have asked
you.  I saw Lady Rooter in the park and she was sorry you were ill,
and wanted to know whether there was anything she could do.


She wrote to him from Bramsley.


It's delicious here; so cool after the fearful heat of the last few
days, which must have been very trying for you.  It's a nice party,
not too big.  Several of HIS friends and of hers and of yours--Maud
Dallington.  We had some lovely music last night.  Eugene Franck
played the whole of Tristan, while the others played bridge.  I had
a long talk with Adela.  She asked after you a good deal, and is so
glad you are better.  She says you must go down to the sea to get
strong.  Your picture has been lent to an exhibition in Paris.
Miss Haseltine, she says, is coming home.  I have been walking
about in the garden this morning wondering which were the spots
where you used to play, you, Marjorie and Julia.  How strange it
seems!  They're calling me now so I must stop.  Get well quickly,
and don't QUITE forget me.  I shall come and see you as soon as I
possibly can and am allowed to when I get back.


C. hoped to be up early the next week, but he was more ill than he
thought, and the doctor kept him in bed during the whole week.
Gerald Malone came to see him often.  Leila looked in to see him
once; but his sister, Julia, was there; and she was very severe if
visitors stayed more than a few minutes.  Then came Ascot, and
Leila went away.  Gilbert had taken a house there.  He asked C. to
come, but he couldn't.  He had invited Leila and Terence, who could
only come down for the night, Edward and his wife (Edward couldn't
go, but Marie was going), Julia and her husband, Marjorie and her
husband, Mr. and Mrs. Evelyn, and young Freddy Calhoun, who was
over on leave, and to whom Leila had introduced him.  Just before
Ascot Leila wrote to C. as follows:--


The Rooters have taken a house in Ascot too, and Sir Alfred is
annoyed at my not staying with him.  But I never told him I would,
and because I stayed with him last year, no, not last year, I
didn't go, but THE YEAR BEFORE LAST, it is TOO silly to think I
MUST stay with him EVERY year.  He only sprang this on me two days
ago, at the LAST minute, when I had made all my arrangements.
Don't you think it's silly of him?  Besides which, Adela hates the
races and she's VERY TIRED, and I think it's doing HER a kindness
NOT to go.  I mean the fewer guests she has the better.


She wrote just a line from Ascot saying there was no time to write,
but that Gilbert was being a perfect host and enjoying himself very
much.  When Ascot was over she wrote to him, saying:--


I've been asked not to see you yet.  They say you've seen too many
people, and that it puts you back, so Julia says.  Sir Alfred has
been rather tiresome.  I am afraid I shall be obliged to drop him
ALTOGETHER.  He had made a scene at the races and you know I can't
bear SCENES.  Surely I can stay where I like.  Marie Hengrave and
Edward asked me as a favour to be kind to your Gilbert.  As he is
your brother I would of course want to do anything I could for him,
and Edward and all your family have always been so good to me.
Besides that, I like him for himself.  I think he's very ORIGINAL,
and so full of life.  Sir Alfred seems to think that an invitation
from him is like a royal command, something one can't refuse.  I
will come and see you directly they let me.  It was all great fun,
but I missed you.


As C. lay in bed thinking over things he was filled with longing,
melancholy and apprehension, and a dread of he knew not what.  Life
seemed to have an extraordinarily bitter taste just at this moment,
and the one short glimpse he had had of Leila, followed by a
prolonged absence, made things worse.  He felt that, in spite of
her kindness to him when she saw him, (perhaps because of it), her
thoughtfulness (she sent him flowers and fruit every day), that she
was slipping, or had slipped, away from him.  Something had
happened; what was it?

There was some barrier; something he didn't know.  She was, for
some reason or other, worlds away; and it was as if she were
putting off the moment of letting him know it.  If he could only
get up, and be well and about, he would soon know.  These kind
of thoughts made him brood and fret; and then the thought of
Beatrice used to recur to him, and fill him with shame and self-
loathing . . . how right she had been. . . .  The doctor saw that
he was worrying, and told him that if he worried he would never
get well, so he made a supreme effort not to worry, and after he
had been in bed a fortnight, the doctor said to him:--

"To-day you can get up for an hour or so, and then we'll get you
out, and then to the seaside, as soon as we can manage it."

What was worrying him most, of course, was not seeing Leila.
Unfortunately his sister came just at the only moments when Leila
could have come, and Leila wrote saying how increasingly difficult
her life had become; the thousand things she had to do, and how
plain Julia and Marjorie had made it that she had better not visit
him.

There was nothing to be done, C. thought, but to get well as soon
as possible; as long as he was kept in bed, he was at the mercy of
the doctor and of his sisters.  They had wanted him at first to
have a nurse.  There was, however, no room in the house for her;
and the doctor said it wasn't really necessary if he didn't want
it, and C. wouldn't hear of it.

The evening of the day he was allowed up, Freddy Calhoun came to
see him.  But he had gone back to bed and was asleep when Freddy
arrived.  Wright was in the sitting-room next door.  Freddy sat
down and talked to him; the door between the sitting-room and C.'s
bedroom was open, and Wright asked Freddy to wait.  "He's sure to
wake up presently.  He will have his dinner presently and he'll be
very angry if I let you go without his having seen you."

"How is he?" asked Freddy.

"Oh, he's getting on very well."

"But he was very bad, wasn't he?"

"Just the first two days, but I don't think the doctor was anxious.
He was really afraid there might be after-effects, but there don't
appear to be so far."

"Has he got up yet?"

"Yes.  This morning for the first time.  Tomorrow he's going out
for a drive with his sister.  And then he's going down to
Brighton."

"I suppose he's not seen many people."

"No, not many."

"I've been staying with his brother, at Ascot."

"Oh, yes, of course!  What was it like?"

"Oh, I enjoyed it; but, I say, he is a rum fellow.  I've never seen
any one quite like him.  Awfully decent to me, don't you know.  I
mean awfully anxious to do one well, and all that."

"Yes, I know.  I've seen him once or twice.  He's been here to see
his brother.  Who else was staying there?"

"Nearly all the Bramsley family, and the Bucknells."

"Gilbert gets on with her, doesn't he?"

"Yes, by Jove! she's met her match there.  But poor old Alfred
Rooter is taking it awfully badly; and, I say, it's lucky that her
little affair with C. is all over, isn't it?  George Wilmot was at
the races; he's over on leave, and she didn't look at him, so poor
old C.'s well out of it, what?  And I think we needn't pity the
brother.  He can take care of himself, what?"

"Hush!" said Wright, pointing to the open door.  "You'll wake him
up."

A few moments later C. called to them and insisted on Freddy going
to see him.  Wright wondered whether C. had heard what Freddy had
been saying.  He thought not, for he was obviously only just awake;
but he had heard the conversation.  He told Wright so some time
afterwards; only he was not certain at the time whether he was not
dreaming.  He heard it, and it seemed to belong to his dream,
because he had been dreaming about Leila.  In his dream, oddly
enough, he had seen Leila sitting at the head of the table at
Bramsley, and Gilbert sitting at the other end of it.  Sir Alfred
Rooter was handing round the port, dressed as a butler.  And then
his dream had changed, and he was at the caf in the Bois de
Boulogne with Freddy and Thrse, and his two sisters; and Leila
had walked in on the arm of a stranger, and had said to him:  "I am
going to be married; let me introduce you to my new husband," she
had pointed to the stranger, and the stranger had changed into
Gilbert.  And then Sir Alfred Rooter had appeared, and Gilbert had
said to him:  "Beat it, fade, get back to Africa!"  And in the
middle of all this the people had literally faded; and only Freddy
and Thrse and himself were left, and he seemed to hear the
conversation, or a fragment of the conversation, which he did hear,
and then he woke up definitely, and called to them.  At the time,
he said to himself, "I was dreaming," but it was a dream which
opened out a whole vista of new possibilities.  Oddly enough,
instead of making him feel worse, it braced him up with a sense of
possible action, of something to be done.  He was determined to get
well.  The next day he got up and dressed about eleven, and he sent
round a note to Leila's house telling her that he was getting up.
Could she come and see him?  He mentioned times in the morning or
evening; he was going out driving with Julia in the afternoon.
Leila wrote back to say that the afternoon was her only possible
time.  She would try and arrange something for the next day.

He went out for a drive with Julia in the afternoon, and in the
evening who should call to see him but Sir Alfred Rooter.

"I've been wanting to look you up for some time," he said, "but I
was told by your relations that the fewer people you saw the
better.  I'm glad you're all right again."

C. asked after Lady Rooter.

"She's fairly well, but the truth is, the life here doesn't suit
her.  It's too much for her; the doctor says she must absolutely
stop entertaining and all that, and as she hates it, and as I don't
want her to do it, and as we only do it for a crowd of greedy,
ungrateful sponging hangers-on who laugh at us behind our backs,
what's the use of it?  So I've made up my mind to chuck the whole
bally business."

"What, are you going away?"

"Yes.  Back to South Africa, and for good this time.  Of course, I
may come over to England again, from time to time, but I shan't
live here any more."

"And what about Bramsley?"

"I've sold it.  To your brother Gilbert.  That's all as it should
be, isn't it?  Poetic justice has been done."

"And what about your newspaper, the Northern Pilot?"

"I'm keeping that for the time.  Armstrong can look after that all
right for me.  But I've got a proposition to make to you.  Why not
come with us right now?  I'll find you plenty of jobs out there.
It will set you up again, and don't pretend to me you're not sick
of England, for I'm sure you are.  Come with us.  Chuck this silly,
rotten life you're leading here, and I'll find you plenty to do out
there.  You can go back if you don't like it.  They say you want
sea air; come for the voyage, and see how you like it."

"It's too late," said C., "too late.  I can't now."

"I thought as much," said Sir Alfred, with a sigh.  "Well, my last
words to you are these--If you stay here, don't be a fool, but
marry Joan Haseltine."

"Miss Haseltine?  What could have put such a thing in your head?  I
don't suppose she'd ever dream of such a thing."

"Yes she would.  She would marry you at once if you asked her.
Adela says so, and Adela knows.  She's a good girl, and a clever
girl, and as straight as steel, and she's fond of you; and you like
her, and if you think you have not got enough to live on, well I
shall fix that as far as she is concerned; because I regard her as
my daughter, and even if I didn't, I guess your brother Gilbert
would fix it, because he'll soon be glad to get you fixed."

"What do you mean?"

"Only what I say; that he'll be glad to get you fixed;--married,
settled down for life instead of working at that miserable office--
what's it called, 'Sardine Fisheries?' or some such damned
tomfoolery--when you're a man with brains and capable of doing all
sorts of things, and you know how to write."

"It's awfully good of you to tell me all this, but I don't want to
marry, and I don't want to leave England."

"That may be, but if the time comes presently when you should
change your mind, and if you'd like then to come out to Africa, and
take a real rest, and think things over, you're welcome to come to
us;--you've only got to cable; and if you think of the other
proposition, let me know; but, of course, if you wait too long it
may be too late.  And now I've stayed here long enough.  Good-bye.
We sail in a fortnight."



CHAPTER LIV


That evening C. sent round a note by hand to Leila, saying that he
would go to see her the next evening at six o'clock.  She didn't
answer, and he supposed that he was expected.  He went round at
six, and asked if Leila was at home.  Wilkins said that Mrs.
Bucknell was not at home to any visitors.

"It's all right," said C., "she's expecting me," and before the
butler could do anything he ran upstairs and opened the door.

There was in Leila's house a drawing-room with three windows
looking on to the street, and a small back drawing-room.  The door
on the landing led into the front drawing-room.  As C. opened the
door he saw no one in the front drawing-room, but his eye caught
the tall looking-glass framed in gilt, a wedding present, Leila
used to say, from Uncle Freddy (in that case it must have been a
belated one), which hung between the two windows nearest to the
chimney-piece.  In this looking-glass he saw the reflection of two
persons--a man and a woman who were in the back drawing-room.  The
man was the taller of the two, and he was looking down and holding
the hand of the woman, who was looking up at him with an expression
of mute ecstasy.  They made an interesting picture.  He was looking
down at her, and his expression was unmistakable, too.  The woman
was Leila, the man was Gilbert.  All this lasted for the flash of a
second; as they heard the door open, Leila drew away her hand with
a swiftness in which there was no clumsiness, and in a second, her
expression was changed.  She was another woman; she walked into the
front drawing-room to see who it could be disturbing her at this
moment.

"C.!" she cried out in intense astonishment.

"Weren't you expecting me?" asked C., and there was a curious
strain in his voice.  "I sent round a note by hand, last night,
saying I was coming round here, and telling you not to answer if it
was all right.  I got no answer, so I came."

"I never got it," said Leila, and then she turned to Gilbert and
said, as he came into the room:  "This is a surprise, isn't it?"

"I guess it is," said Gilbert, and the accent with which he said
the words jarred horribly on C.

Gilbert was standing near the tea-table.

"Do smoke if you want to," said Leila to Gilbert, handing him a
silver box full of cigarettes.

"Thank you, I only smoke cigars," he said, "and I won't smoke now,
any way."

"I don't mind cigars," said Leila.  "I like them."

C. was still standing up in the middle of the room.  Leila sat down
on a little sofa which was behind the tea-table, between the
windows.

"Do sit down," she said, smiling.

Gilbert sat down near the tea-table.  C. looked all round the room,
and took in every detail with one quick glance, and in his mind he
registered another picture that could not be forgotten.  He had
already registered one as he came into the room.

There was Leila, cool and soft and lovely, in the thinnest of
muslin, with a rope of pearls round her neck.  The room was full of
rather too 'expensive' pink roses, and pink carnations.  There were
masses of them everywhere.  Outside in the street a barrel organ
was playing The Soldiers of the Queen.  It was a very hot June
evening; and the newspaper boys were yelling "Special!" with regard
to a piece of news of public importance.

There was Gilbert sitting in a chair, equally cool.  He was wearing
a grey frock-coat, a white waistcoat, and a black satin stock tie,
in which he had a very large emerald pin, and a large white
carnation in his button-hole.  And as C. looked at him he was
certain, with that perspicacity with which only brothers can read
each other, that Gilbert knew that he knew; and also that Gilbert
knew exactly what he was feeling, and why.  He also felt that all
his past relation to Leila in the last minute had been as suddenly
revealed to Gilbert, as surely, as certainly, as Gilbert's present
relation to Leila had been revealed to himself, at the moment when
he had caught sight of them in the looking-glass.

All this flashed through his mind; and he was convinced of
something else; something that he felt with all the intuition of a
lover, especially when a brother is concerned, and that was that
Leila loved Gilbert; and loved him as perhaps she had never loved
any one else.  He saw, too, in a flash what the world would
say . . . the glib summing up of the situation as the capture of a
millionaire . . . and he felt that, whatever Leila might have done
in the past, whatever might have been her guilt in that way;--
supposing everything, for instance, that Freddy's French friends--
Thrse and Jaqueline--had said that night in the Bois de Boulogne,
were true, and more than true,--it was NOT true, he felt, in this
case.  He knew that she loved Gilbert with all her being; and he
would have persisted in believing it even if an angel had told him
the contrary.

"Well, the end has come at last"--he said to himself in the brief
moment during which he stood in that room--"I knew it would come.
I knew it was coming soon," and the words that he thought he had
dreamt, that Freddy Calhoun had said to Wright, as he lay in bed,
came back to him.  "By Jove, she's met her match!"  This was about
Leila and Gilbert.  He understood now, and, what's more, he agreed.
She had met her match; of that he felt certain.

She would have no control over Gilbert.  It would be he who would
be able to do what he liked with her.  Had she guessed what he
knew, what he was feeling?  He was not sure; but he was sure of
this; that, even if she had guessed, she would not, she could not
possibly, care.  Leila was a person who thought of one person, and
only one person, in one particular way, at a time; and as she only
looked upon every human being in one light, it was easy to know
what she was thinking of now; at least so he thought.  All this and
more passed through his mind in a few seconds, but he said, in the
most ordinary voice:--

"I can't possibly stay.  They make me go to bed early.  I only came
to say I was going to Brighton to-morrow."

"That will do you good," said Leila.  "I'm so glad.  You look so
pulled down, doesn't he, Mr. Gilbert?"

C. admired the phrasing.

"Yes, he does," drawled Gilbert.  "To-morrow afternoon?"

"Yes," said C.

"Then I'll be looking in on you to-morrow morning at twelve," he
said, and he got up and said good-bye, as if it were an understood
thing that in that house he was the person who stayed, and C. was
the person who went.

C. went home.  He felt quite light-headed in a way.  He had no
sense of the reality of things, and he felt very tired, and a
hundred years older.  Also, he experienced a feeling of relief, as
if an impending catastrophe which was surely expected, but whose
nature was known, had at last happened.  He knew the worst, so he
thought.  As a matter of fact, he did not know the worst.

When he got home, he found Wright sitting in an armchair and
reading the newspaper.

As C. came in Wright said to him:

"You look fagged.  You've been doing too much too soon.  You'd
better go to bed."

"Yes, I am rather tired to-night," said C., and he went to bed.  He
couldn't eat anything, but he drank a pint of champagne.  He slept
that night the sleep that schoolboys sleep when they have arrived
at school for the first time; a sleep the numbness of which has no
equal.  His awakening the next morning was like the awakening the
morning after the first night spent at school, with the little
interval of grace in which the mind wanders in limbo before it is
definitely aware of what is the disagreeable thing that has
happened.  He stayed in bed late.  When the post was brought, the
first thing that he noticed was a long letter from Leila; at least
he thought it must be long, as it was fat.  It WAS a long letter,
and at first he thought of not reading it, and sending it back
unopened.  He then reflected that would be CRUDE indeed.  Whatever
move the rules of the game demanded, that, he felt, would be the
wrong one.  He began to read the letter.  It was different from
anything he had expected.  Here it is:--


MY VERY DEAR C.,

You must have thought it so strange of me, so thoughtless and
HORRID not to have made every effort to see you while you were so
ill, or at least as soon as you were allowed visitors, but I was
really waiting till you were better to tell you something which I
have known I HAD to tell you for a long time.  Only it was SO
difficult!  It still is VERY, VERY difficult.  I don't know how to
begin.  There's so much to say, and words seem so helpless.  I felt
I couldn't say it, and now it's just as difficult to write.  I have
been thinking everything over lately, and while you were ill I had
some long talks with Julia and Marjorie, and with Sir Alfred
Rooter, who has always taken such an interest in you, before he
became impossible.  Julia and Marjorie are very anxious that you
should marry some time, and they think our friendship is a mistake
NOW--they thought it was all right BEFORE--but they think, and I do
think they are right, that it would be a pity for you to depend so
much on me, and in the long run it is very unsatisfactory, isn't
it?  It is so little I can give you.  I can, as things are now,
hardly ever see you.  Terence usen't to mind my seeing you, but
that was when you were younger and quite a BOY!  And now he does
mind it so, and I don't like him MINDING things.  Everything is
different NOW for me, and for YOU, and I think it's more honest to
FACE things, to face EVERYTHING, and to tell the truth.  You and I
have never been afraid of that, have we?  And I have always told
YOU the truth, and you have always been so truthful.  We have
nothing to be ashamed of.  I feel perhaps I was wrong ever to let
our friendship start, or get so far, as nothing COULD come of it,
but then you know one is SO weak one doesn't think and calculate,
and I was and am SO, SO fond of you, and I can't regret anything,
or look back on it all without a pang of GREAT, GREAT thankfulness.
It was all SO beautiful.  We had ups and downs and a few little
misunderstandings, but these were like specks, weren't they?
Specks in the sun?  You always UNDERSTOOD afterwards, and I think I
did.  After all, no real friendship can exist without these ups and
downs, otherwise it means that the friends don't care, that they're
not friends at all.  Well, it's all very sad when one looks back,
but you must remember that I'm getting old! my children are growing
up.  I've got a boy at Eton now, but you are still SO young, still
quite a boy, and the world is still all before you.  You are only
just beginning life.  You will have many more friends and love many
more people I'm sure, and I'm sure, too, that one day you'll marry
and be very happy.  Of course, when that happens, I shall not be
able to help feeling a pang of sadness, but that must be faced.
That's life, isn't it?  I shall always look back on everything with
joy and thanksgiving, and always thank God in my prayers that He
let me know you, my dear, dear C.  I won't say to you "Don't be
sad," because I know you won't be able to help being a little sad,
and I should feel rather sad myself if you didn't feel anything at
all.  But I do ask of you to think of it all in the same way, and
to think of me as I shall always think of you.  I have thought over
this a long time, and I feel, I know, my dear, dear C., that I'm
doing right, however hard, and it IS always so hard to do right.

Do you know these verses from the "Triumph of Time"?--I think they
are so TRUE.


     I wept that all must die--
     "Yet Love," I cried, "doth live, and conquer death--"
     And Time passed by,
     And breathed on Love, and killed it with his breath
     Ere Death was nigh.

     More bitter far than all
     It was to know that Love could change and die--
     Hush! for the ages call
     "The Love of God lives through eternity,
     And conquers all!"


Whatever happens to you afterwards, I only ask you to keep one
LITTLE TINY corner in your heart where I shan't be QUITE forgotten.
That's all I ask.  I needn't tell you that it has cost me a good
deal to write this letter!


     The cord is frayed--the cruse is dry,
     The link must break, and the lamp must die.


I, of course, shall never forget.  How could I?  Dear, dear C.

                                                   Your friend.--L.


That was Leila's letter, and C. read it and re-read it several
times.  Then he put it away in a box where he kept such papers as
he did not wish to destroy.

Gilbert came to see him punctually at twelve.  He asked C. first
about Brighton.  He wanted to take rooms for him there.  C. thanked
him very much, but he had made other arrangements, now.  Their
aunt, Mrs. Roden, wanted him to go there, and he was going.  He
would be more comfortable than in an hotel, and the air was very
good at Elladon.  So he had given up Brighton altogether.

Gilbert sat down in a chair and smoked a cigar.

"If ever you want any cash you've only got to ask.  But--sorry--
that's a mug's speech, isn't it?  Nobody does ask.  At least, not
your sort.  Well, I've bought Bramsley.  That's fixed."

"So I heard," said C.  "How did you do it?"

"Well, it was this way.  I've known Alfred Rooter for years; we
were mates; in Africa years ago, and we never parted rags in the
ordinary course of things.  But there was one queer thing about our
intercourse, and it was this.  We more than once got fond of the
same girl, and in those contests I came out top, and he came off
second best.  Do you get me?  There seemed to be some fatality
about it.  If ever he loved some one, I would be sure to love her,
too; and the girl would be sure in time to turn him down for me.
Quaint, wasn't it?  And, mind you, it weren't my fault.  I never
tried to butt in.  I did nothing.  It just happened so.  It
happened more than once.  I guess he was rather sore once or twice,
but he never bore malice.  Alfred Rooter's white all through.  Then
he went home and married that Danish girl, and so that was all.
They say she was a high-stepper when she was young, maybe.  I guess
she was, or else Alfred Rooter would never have married her.  But
her game wasn't his game.  She was on in the high art act:--Wagner-
stuff, impressionist pictures and Norwegian plays about doctors
with tuberculosis and nervy women in the suburbs of Spitzbergen.
That wasn't Alfred Rooter's act.  Then he comes here to England,
and buys Bramsley.  Then I butt in, too late to buy Bramsley, after
having worked all my life with that one object in view, and I say
to myself, 'It's up to me to get it, all the same, and to get it
without making Alfred Rooter feel sore or envious, or he'd stick to
it like a horse-leech.'  Get me?  So I say to myself, say I:  'Why
is he in London, anyway?'  Not 'Why did he come?' but 'Why is he
staying?  There must be some reason, some pretty good reason,
otherwise Alfred Rooter would never come to London, and buy a
London house and a country house, too, with his wife an invalid and
hating all society except that of pianists with hair like monkeys,
and sea-green painters who paint puce portraits of has-beens.'  So
I figured out there must be a girl in the matter, and, of course,
there was.  I nosed around to find out who it might be.  I didn't
have to look long.  It wasn't harder than looking for St. Paul's
Cathedral near Ludgate Hill.  Well, I needn't tell you who the girl
was.  Every one knew it and all about her.  She was married, good-
looking, and poor.  Her husband was all right, but a four-flusher
and a tight-wad.  But in other affairs she had a regular protector,
who provided her with all she needed.  It appears he was an old
guy; I don't know and don't care.  Anyway, that had come to an end,
and Alfred had come along, and he'd fallen to her in no time, and
he was just what she needed.  He fixed up a little flat for her in
Knightsbridge, where she could do the double-life stunt when she
pleased, but she didn't please quite often enough to please Alfred.
However, for a time, all was merry and bright, and nobody a penny
the worse, and the tight-wad none the wiser, and never stopping to
think where it all came from.  But I guess she was clever enough
not to let it show, and to keep up appearances and all that stuff.
Besides which, she was the sort that spends a thousand dollars on
sleeve linings no one ever sees.  You may wonder how I came to know
so much.  Well, Alfred Rooter could never keep anything hidden from
me, and that's all there is to it.  And I said to him:  'Aren't you
scared, Alfred, of the old ju-ju working, the old fatality?'  He
said, 'It won't work this time,' and he laughed.  'What do you
bet?' I asked.  'I won't take your, money off you,' he said.  'It
won't work THIS time for a very good reason; she may get sick of me
any day--I'm not saying she doesn't--but she won't go for you.
There's reasons for that; she's been inoculated against Bramsley
fever,' he said, whatever he might mean by that.  'Very well,' I
said to him.  'You let me make her acquaintance, and you see.'
'You can make her acquaintance whenever you like and be damned,' he
said.  'You won't get me to introduce you.  But I tell you one
thing, Gilbert Bramsley,' he said, 'if you do get to know her and
the old game comes off this time, I'll quit.  I'll sell Bramsley
and leave England.'  'Done,' said I; 'and if you sell Bramsley,
will you give me the refusal?'  'I will,' he said.  'Done,' I said.
Well, then I met the goods, without any difficulty, and then what
happened?  Alfred was fired at Ascot.  He got it good and plenty,
and he owned up that he was beat, down and out, at once, and he
kept his word, and he sold me the house and the estate; and,
between ourselves, he's thankful.  None of it was in his line,
neither Bramsley nor London nor the girl.  But they're all in my
line . . . for the present, at least.  So that's all there is to
it.  Good-bye for the present, and I shall see your account never
gets too high--on the wrong side of the ledger."

Gilbert left.  C. had said good-bye, and saw him out.  He had
listened to the whole story in silence, and he had no doubt of its
truth.  When he came to think of it, he realised that he had really
known it all before, or most of it, although in a way, till the
night before, he had not really known any of it.  It had been a
gradual process.  But whenever he had acquired an extra piece of
knowledge, whenever the curtain had been lifted for a moment, he
had pulled over the newly-revealed prospect a curtain of his own
making.

Now he knew everything; and the first thing he did was to laugh--it
all seemed to him so comic, so utterly fantastically comic; but
there was little enough mirth in his laughter.  And as he looked
out of the window, he thought to himself:  "There's the world, and
life, waiting for me, and I've only just begun; and yet I feel and
know that for me it is over, irrevocably over.  La commedia 
finita, and yet I've got to go on.  I've only just begun."

In the meantime the Rodens had asked Wright to Elladon.  He
couldn't go during the week, but he was going down on Saturday.  C.
wrote Leila a short note.  He thanked her for her letter and her
good wishes, and he reciprocated them; he said that he quite
understood everything.  He thanked her, too, for the verse, which
was new to him.



CHAPTER LV


C. went down to Elladon the next day.  There was no one there but
Mr. and Mrs. Roden.  Both their daughters were married and in
London, and the Rodens themselves now rarely came to London.  On
the following Saturday Wright joined him, and they had long, long
talks together.  C. couldn't do very much at present, and he sat on
the terrace and talked to Wright.  It was there, during these days,
that C. told Wright as much of his story as he ever told any one,
and that was not much--a few glimpses into one or two chapters:
stories of childhood, detailed full reminiscences of school and
Eton:--about his later life, only a few illuminating details and
suggestive silences.

He stayed at Elladon a month.  That brought him very nearly to the
end of July.  He wrote to Beatrice and told her that she had been
right, and that, although he was now free, and everything that
might once have been an obstacle was no longer there, he realised
now that he was finished, and the whole sad truth.  He was
incurable.  He had always been incurable, but only she had known
it.

She wrote to him and implored him not to worry as far as she was
concerned.  She was at present in Ireland, with her sister-in-law,
and she was going to take her in the winter to Algiers, as she was
not strong enough to face an English winter.


"Don't," she wrote, "ever think that you are in any way to blame.
I couldn't have done it either; and the only reason I did not shut
the door last year was because I knew it must shut of itself, as I
think I told you then.  You see I'm incurable, too, in a way.  It
was not meant to be."


C. was more or less well again at the end of July, but he was
advised not to go back to London, and it so happened that he was
able to take a month's holiday at this moment without difficulty,
so, after staying a month with the Rodens, he went for a short
walking tour with Gerald Malone in Devonshire.  By the middle of
September, he was back again in London.  Gilbert asked him to come
to Bramsley during the autumn and shoot partridges, but C. said he
could not get away.  Gilbert had a large family party at Christmas,
and C. was asked to that, but he and Wright had both promised to
stay in Paris with Sir Hedworth Lawless, who had just been
appointed Ambassador there.  Sir Hedworth Lawless told him that if
he would like to come back as Honorary Attach, or even Private
Secretary, at any time, he would be delighted to have him; and C.
seriously thought of accepting the offer later on.

There was no one at the present moment on the staff of the Embassy
that C. knew.  There was a First Secretary called Napier, whom he
liked and got on with easily.  Lady Lawless was extremely kind to
him.  She scented something of a romantic adventure, and this gave
him a special prestige in her eyes.  He got to know her now better
than he had ever known her before.

Beatrice Fitzclare passed through Paris while C. was there, on her
way to Algiers, and she was asked to dinner at the Embassy.  Lady
Lawless was an old friend of her mother's.

When C. saw her as he walked into the drawing-room, it was a shock
to him, a shock as of meeting some one on the other side of a gulf,
a gulf of the irreparable.  He felt he was no longer the same
person he had been when he last saw her--not that he had changed
with regard to her; it was the universe which had changed.

She sat next to C. at dinner.  It was rather a large dinner-party,
with several French people, a well-known man of letters, and some
of the staff of the Embassy, as well as one or two English people
who were passing through.

Beatrice and C. were not able to have much conversation during
dinner, because they were near the end of the table, and they were
involved in a general conversation which was dominated by a French
official belonging to the Quai d'Orsay, who described a house he
had recently purchased in the environs of Paris, at the greatest
length; beginning with the attics, and ending with the drains, till
Beatrice and C. could scarcely keep their countenances.  They did
manage, however, every now and then to get a few words in to each
other; and C. was once more aware of the delicious balm of
Beatrice's sympathy.  She felt, she understood everything.  He told
her Gilbert had bought Bramsley, but she asked no questions about
him.  She was so skilful and clever, too, in making the most of the
general conversation into which they got caught at every moment.
She made it amusing and she created out of the unpromising material
intimate personal fun between her and C.; and all this, to C., was
pain, unmixed pain, infinite bitterness, and a tragic Shakesperean
realisation of the pity and waste of things.

After dinner, several other people looked in, and Lady Lawless had
some music.  A pianist played "to get," she said to C., "people
used to it; he doesn't expect you to listen."  Whether he did or
not, the audience certainly took but little notice of the noise,
but it attuned them to what was to come, and prepared them, as Lady
Lawless said, for hearing what was to come.  She considered that
the art of entertaining, like that of writing plays, was the art of
preparation.

When he had finished, Foscoli, the composer, sat down at the
pianoforte and sang some songs.  His opera Ninon de Lenclos had
just been produced at the Opra Comique.  He had not a strong
voice, but its quality, its timbre, was warm and captivating, and
his singing was exquisitely appropriate, his phrasing, his
interpretation unobtrusively right, whether he sang a song of his
own, a Neapolitan street song, or an air of Mozart, a song of
Schubert or of Brahms.

He started by singing a Neapolitan song, the song of an excruciated
lover; desperate, sick, mad with love; the singer gave just the
right nasal sharpness and metallic tang which expressed the bitter
sweetness and sweet pain of the utterance.  After that he sang a
song from Mozart's Seraglio, then Maid of Athens in English, and
then Faur's Tristesse.

As he sang:--


     Avril est de retour.
     La premire des roses,
     De ses lvres mi-closes,
     Sourit au premier jour;
     La terre bien heureuse
     S'ouvre et s'panouit,
     Tout aime, tout jouit,
     Hlas!  J'ai dans le cur une tristesse affreuse!

     Les buveurs en gait,
     Dans leurs chansons vermeilles,
     Clbrent sous les treilles
     Le vin et la beaut;
     La musique joyeuse
     Avec leur rire clair
     S'parpille dans l'air.
     Hlas!  J'ai dans le cur une tristesse affreuse!


Did ever singer, thought C., combine before such exquisite
lightness of manner with so heartrending an interpretation of the
sad business that lay behind and beneath, the sorrow that hurt, the
passion that seared?


     En deshabills blancs,
     Les jeunes demoiselles
     S'en vont sous les tonnelles
     Au bras de leurs galants;
     La lune langoureuse
     Argente leurs