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Title:      Lucia in London (1927)
Author:     E. F. Benson
eBook No.:  0500891.txt
Edition:    1
Language:   English
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Date first posted:          September 2005
Date most recently updated: September 2005

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Title:      Lucia in London (1927)
Author:     E. F. Benson


Considering that Philip Lucas's aunt who died early in April was no
less than eighty-three years old, and had spent the last seven of
them bedridden in a private lunatic asylum, it had been generally
and perhaps reasonably hoped among his friends and those of his
wife that the bereavement would not be regarded by either of them
as an intolerable tragedy.  Mrs. Quantock, in fact, who, like
everybody else at Riseholme, had sent a neat little note of
condolence to Mrs. Lucas, had, without using the actual words
"happy release," certainly implied it or its close equivalent.

She was hoping that there would be a reply to it, for though she
had said in her note that her dear Lucia mustn't dream of answering
it, that was a mere figure of speech, and she had instructed her
parlour-maid who took it across to 'The Hurst' immediately after
lunch to say that she didn't know if there was an answer, and would
wait to see, for Mrs. Lucas might perhaps give a little hint ever
so vaguely about what the expectations were concerning which
everybody was dying to get information. . . .

While she waited for this, Daisy Quantock was busy, like everybody
else in the village on this beautiful afternoon of spring, with her
garden, hacking about with a small but destructive fork in her
flower-beds.  She was a gardener of the ruthless type, and went for
any small green thing that incautiously showed a timid spike above
the earth, suspecting it of being a weed.  She had had a slight
difference with the professional gardener who had hitherto worked
for her on three afternoons during the week, and had told him that
his services were no longer required.  She meant to do her
gardening herself this year, and was confident that a profusion of
beautiful flowers and a plethora of delicious vegetables would be
the result.  At the end of her garden path was a barrow of rich
manure, which she proposed, when she had finished the slaughter of
the innocents, to dig into the depopulated beds.  On the other side
of her paling her neighbour Georgie Pillson was rolling his strip
of lawn, on which during the summer he often played croquet on a
small scale.  Occasionally they shouted remarks to each other, but
as they got more and more out of breath with their exertions the
remarks got fewer.  Mrs. Quantock's last question had been "What do
you do with slugs, Georgie?" and Georgie had panted out, "Pretend
you don't see them."

Mrs. Quantock had lately grown rather stout owing to a diet of sour
milk, which with plenty of sugar was not palatable; but sour milk
and pyramids of raw vegetables had quite stopped all the symptoms
of consumption which the study of a small but lurid medical manual
had induced.  To-day she had eaten a large but normal lunch in
order to test the merits of her new cook, who certainly was a
success, for her husband had gobbled up his food with great avidity
instead of turning it over and over with his fork as if it was hay.
In consequence, stoutness, surfeit, and so much stooping had made
her feel rather giddy, and she was standing up to recover,
wondering if this giddiness was a symptom of something dire, when
de Vere, for such was the incredible name of her parlour-maid, came
down the steps from the dining-room with a note in her hand.  So
Mrs. Quantock hastily took off her gardening gloves of stout
leather, and opened it.

There was a sentence of formal thanks for her sympathy which Mrs.
Lucas immensely prized, and then followed these ridiculous words:

It has been a terrible blow to my poor Pepino and myself.  We
trusted that Auntie Amy might have been spared us for a few years

                                   Ever, dear Daisy, your sad


And not a word about expectations! . . .  Lucia's dear Daisy
crumpled up the absurd note, and said "Rubbish," so loud that
Georgie Pillson in the next garden thought he was being addressed.

"What's that?" he said.

"Georgie, come to the fence a minute," said Mrs. Quantock.  "I want
to speak to you."

Georgie, longing for a little gossip, let go of the handle of his
roller, which, suddenly released, gave a loud squeak and rapped him
smartly on the elbow.

"Tarsome thing!" said Georgie.

He went to the fence and, being tall, could look over it.  There
was Mrs. Quantock angrily poking Lucia's note into the flower-bed
she had been weeding.

"What is it?" said Georgie.  "Shall I like it?"

His face red and moist with exertion, appearing just over the top
of the fence, looked like the sun about to set below the flat grey
horizon of the sea.

"I don't know if you'll like it," said Daisy, "but it's your Lucia.
I sent her a little note of condolence about the aunt, and she says
it has been a terrible blow to Pepino and herself.  They hoped that
the old lady might have been spared them a few years yet."

"No!" said Georgie, wiping the moisture off his forehead with the
back of one of his beautiful pearl-grey gloves.

"But she did," said the infuriated Daisy, "they were her very
words.  I could show you if I hadn't dug it in.  Such a pack of
nonsense!  I hope that long before I've been bedridden for seven
years, somebody will strangle me with a bootlace, or anything
handy.  Why does Lucia pretend to be sorry?  What does it all

Georgie had long been devoted henchman to Lucia (Mrs. Lucas, wife
of Philip Lucas, and so Lucia), and though he could criticise her
in his mind, when he was alone in his bed or his bath, he always
championed her in the face of the criticism of others.  Whereas
Daisy criticised everybody everywhere. . . .

"Perhaps it means what it says," he observed with the delicate
sarcasm that never had any effect on his neighbour.

"It can't possibly do that," said Mrs. Quantock.  "Neither Lucia
nor Pepino have set eyes on his aunt for years, nor spoken of her.
Last time Pepino went to see her she bit him.  Sling for a week
afterwards, don't you remember, and he was terrified of blood-
poisoning.  How can her death be a blow, and as for her being

Mrs. Quantock suddenly broke off, remembering that de Vere was
still standing there and drinking it all in.

"That's all, de Vere," she said.

"Thank you, ma'am," said de Vere, striding back towards the house.
She had high-heeled shoes on, and each time she lifted her foot,
the heel which had been embedded by her weight in the soft lawn
came out with the sound of a cork being drawn.  Then Daisy came
closer to the fence, with the light of inductive reasoning, which
was much cultivated at Riseholme, veiling the fury of her eye.

"Georgie, I've got it," she said.  "I've guessed what it means."

Now though Georgie was devoted to his Lucia, he was just as devoted
to inductive reasoning, and Daisy Quantock was, with the exception
of himself, far the most powerful logician in the place.

"What is it, then?" he asked.

"Stupid of me not to have thought of it at once," said Daisy.
"Why, don't you see?  Pepino is Auntie's heir, for she was
unmarried, and he's the only nephew, and probably he has been left
piles and piles.  So naturally they say it's a terrible blow.
Wouldn't do to be exultant.  They must say it's a terrible blow, to
show they don't care about the money.  The more they're left, the
sadder it is.  So natural.  I blame myself for not having thought
of it at once.  Have you seen her since?"

"Not for a quiet talk," said Georgie.  "Pepino was there, and a man
who, I think, was Pepino's lawyer.  He was frightfully deferential."

"That proves it," said Daisy.  "And nothing said of any kind?"

Georgie's face screwed itself up in the effort to remember.

"Yes, there was something," he said, "but I was talking to Lucia,
and the others were talking rather low.  But I did hear the lawyer
say something to Pepino about pearls.  I do remember the word
pearls.  Perhaps it was the old lady's pearls."

Mrs. Quantock gave a short laugh.

"It couldn't have been Pepino's," she said.  "He has one in a tie-
pin.  It's called pear-shaped, but there's little shape about it.
When do wills come out?"

"Oh, ages," said Georgie.  "Months.  And there's a house in London,
I know."

"Whereabouts?" asked Daisy greedily.

Georgie's face assumed a look of intense concentration.

"I couldn't tell you for certain," he said, "but I know Pepino went
up to town not long ago to see about some repairs to his aunt's
house, and I think it was the roof."

"It doesn't matter where the repairs were," said Daisy impatiently.
"I want to know where the house was."

"You interrupt me," said Georgie.  "I was telling you.  I know he
went to Harrod's afterwards and walked there, because he and Lucia
were dining with me and he said so.  So the house must have been
close to Harrod's, quite close I mean, because it was raining, and
if it had been any reasonable distance he would have had a taxi.
So it might be Knightsbridge."

Mrs. Quantock put on her gardening-gloves again.

"How frightfully secretive people are," she said.  "Fancy his never
having told you where his aunt's house was."

"But they never spoke of her," said Georgie.  "She's been in that
nursing-home so many years."

"You may call it a nursing-home," observed Mrs. Quantock, "or, if
you choose, you may call it a post office.  But it was an asylum.
And they're just as secretive about the property."

"But you never talk about the property till after the funeral,"
said Georgie.  "I believe it's to-morrow."

Mrs. Quantock gave a prodigious sniff.

"They would have, if there hadn't been any," she said.

"How horrid you are," said Georgie.  "How--"

His speech was cut off by several loud sneezes.  However beautiful
the sleeve-links, it wasn't wise to stand without a coat after
being in such a heat.

"How what?" asked Mrs. Quantock, when the sneezing was over.

"I've forgotten now.  I shall get back to my rolling.  A little
chilly.  I've done half the lawn."

A telephone-bell had been ringing for the last few seconds, and
Mrs. Quantock localised it as being in his house, not hers.
Georgie was rather deaf, however much he pretended not to be.

"Your telephone bell's ringing, Georgie," she said.

"I thought it was," said Georgie, who had not heard it at all.

"And come in presently for a cup of tea," shouted Mrs. Quantock.

"Should love to.  But I must have a bath first."

Georgie hurried indoors, for a telephone call usually meant a
little gossip with a friend.  A very familiar voice, though a
little husky and broken, asked if it was he.

"Yes, it's me, Lucia," he said in soft firm tones of sympathy.
"How are you?"

Lucia sighed.  It was a long, very audible, intentional sigh.
Georgie could visualise her putting her mouth quite close to the
telephone, so as to make sure it carried.

"Quite well," she said.  "And so is my Pepino, thank heaven.
Bearing up wonderfully.  He's just gone."

Georgie was on the point of asking where, but guessed in time.

"I see," he said.  "And you didn't go.  I'm very glad.  So wise."

"I felt I couldn't," she said, "and he urged me not.  It's to-
morrow.  He sleeps in London to-night--"

(Again Georgie longed to say "where," for it was impossible not to
wonder if he would sleep in the house of unknown locality near

"And he'll be back to-morrow evening," said Lucia without pause.
"I wonder if you would take pity on me and come and dine.  Just
something to eat, you know: the house is so upset.  Don't dress."

"Delighted," said Georgie, though he had ordered oysters.  But they
could be scolloped for to-morrow. . . .  "Love to come."

"Eight o'clock then?  Nobody else of course.  If you care to bring
our Mozart duet."

"Rather," said Georgie.  "Good for you to be occupied, Lucia.
We'll have a good go at it."

"Dear Georgie," said Lucia faintly.  He heard her sigh again, not
quite so successfully, and replace the earpiece with a click.

Georgie moved away from the telephone, feeling immensely busy:
there was so much to think about and to do.  The first thing was to
speak about the oysters, and, his parlour-maid being out, he called
down the kitchen-stairs.  The absence of Foljambe made it necessary
for him to get his bath ready himself, and he turned the hot water
tap half on, so that he could run downstairs again and out into the
garden (for there was not time to finish the lawn if he was to have
a bath and change before tea) in order to put the roller back in
the shed.  Then he had to get his clothes out, and select something
which would do for tea and also for dinner, as Lucia had told him
not to dress.  There was a new suit which he had not worn yet,
rather daring, for the trousers, dark fawn, were distinctly of
Oxford cut, and he felt quite boyish as he looked at them.  He had
ordered them in a moment of reckless sartorial courage, and a quiet
tea with Daisy Quantock, followed by a quiet dinner with Lucia, was
just the way to make a beginning with them, far better than wearing
them for the first time at church on Sunday, when the whole of
Riseholme simultaneously would see them.  The coat and waistcoat
were very dark blue: they would look blue at tea and black at
dinner; and there were some grey silk socks, rather silvery, and a
tie to match them.  These took some time to find, and his search
was interrupted by volumes of steam pouring into his bedroom from
his bathroom; he ran in to find the bath full nearly to the brim of
boiling water.  It had been little more than lukewarm yesterday,
and his cook had evidently taken to heart his too-sharp words after
breakfast this morning.  So he had to pull up the plug of his bath
to let the boiling contents subside, and fill up with cold.

He went back to his bedroom and began undressing.  All this news
about Lucia and Pepino, with Daisy Quantock's penetrating comments,
was intensely interesting.  Old Miss Lucas had been in this nursing-
home or private asylum for years, and Georgie didn't suppose that
the inclusive charges could be less than fifteen pounds a week, and
fifteen times fifty-two was a large sum.  That was income too, and
say it was at five per cent., the capital it represented was
considerable.  Then there was that house in London.  If it was
freehold, that meant a great deal more capital: if it was on lease
it meant a great deal more income.  Then there were rates and
taxes, and the wages of a caretaker, and no doubt a margin.  And
there were the pearls.

Georgie took a half-sheet of paper from the drawer in a writing-
table where he kept half-sheets and pieces of string untied from
parcels, and began to calculate.  There was necessarily a good deal
of guesswork about it, and the pearls had to be omitted altogether,
since nobody could say what "pearls" were worth without knowing
their quantity or quality.  But even omitting these, and putting
quite a low figure on the possible rent of the house near Harrod's,
he was astounded at the capital which these annual outgoings
appeared to represent.

"I don't put it at a penny less than fifty thousand pounds," he
said to himself, "and the income at two thousand six hundred."

He had got a little chilly as he sat at his figures, and with a
luxurious foretaste of a beautiful hot bath, he hurried into his
bathroom.  The whole of the boiling water had run out.

"How tarsome!  Damn!" said Georgie, putting in the plug and turning
on both taps simultaneously.

His calculations, of course, had only been the materials on which
his imagination built, and as he dressed it was hard at work,
between glances at his trousers as reflected in the full-length
mirror which stood in his window.  What would Lucia and Pepino do
with this vast increase of fortune?  Lucia already had the biggest
house in Riseholme and the most Elizabethan decor, and a motor, and
as many new clothes as she chose.  She did not spend much on them
because her lofty mind despised clothes, but Georgie permitted
himself to indulge cynical reflections that the pearls might make
her dressier.  Then she already entertained as much as she felt
disposed; and more money would not make her wish to give more
dinners.  And she went up to London whenever there was anything in
the way of pictures or plays or music which she felt held the seed
of culture.  Society (so-called) she despised as thoroughly as she
despised clothes, and always said she came back to Riseholme
feeling intellectually starved.  Perhaps she would endow a
permanent fund for holding May-day revels on the village green, for
Lucia had said she meant to have May-day revels every year.  They
had been a great success last year, though fatiguing, for everybody
dressed up in sixteenth century costume, and danced Morris dances
till they all hobbled home dead lame at the merciful sunset.  It
had all been wonderfully Elizabethan, and Georgie's jerkin had hurt
him very much.

Lucia was a wonderful character, thought Georgie, and she would
find a way to spend two or three thousand a year more in an
edifying and cultured manner.  (Were Oxford trousers meant to turn
up at the bottom?  He thought not: and how small these voluminous
folds made your feet look.)  Georgie knew what he himself would do
with two or three thousand a year more: indeed he had often
considered whether he would not try to do it without.  He wanted,
ever so much, to have a little flat in London (or a couple of rooms
would serve), just for a dip every now and then in the life which
Lucia found so vapid.  But he knew he wasn't a strong, serious
character like Lucia, whose only frivolities were artistic or

His eye fell on a large photograph on the table by his bedside in a
silver frame, representing Brunnhilde.  It was signed "Olga to
beloved Georgie," and his waistcoat felt quite tight as, drawing in
a long breath, he recalled that wonderful six months when Olga
Bracely, the prima donna, had bought Old Place, and lived here, and
had altered all the values of everything.  Georgie believed himself
to have been desperately in love with her, but it had been a very
exciting time for more reasons than that.  Old values had gone: she
had thought Riseholme the most splendid joke that had ever been
made; she loved them all and laughed at them all, and nobody minded
a bit, but followed her whims as if she had been a Pied Piper.  All
but Lucia, that is to say, whose throne had, quite unintentionally
on Olga's part, been pulled smartly from under her, and her sceptre
flew in one direction, and her crown in another.  Then Olga had
gone off for an operatic tour in America, and, after six triumphant
months there, had gone on to Australia.  But she would be back in
England by now, for she was singing in London this season, and her
house at Riseholme, so long closed, would be open again. . . .  And
the coat buttoned beautifully, just the last button, leaving the
rest negligently wide and a little loose.  Georgie put an amethyst
tie-pin in his grey tie, which gave a pretty touch of colour,
brushed his hair back from his forehead, so that the toupe was
quite indistinguishable from his own hair, and hurried downstairs
to go out to tea with Daisy Quantock.

Daisy was seated at her writing-table when he entered, very busy
with a pencil and piece of paper and counting something up on her
fingers.  Her gardening-fork lay in the grate with the fire-irons,
on the carpet there were one or two little sausages of garden-
mould, which no doubt had peeled off from her boots, and her
gardening gloves were on the floor by her side.  Georgie instantly
registered the conclusion that something important must have
occurred, and that she had come indoors in a great hurry, because
the carpet was nearly new, and she always made a great fuss if the
smallest atom of cigarette ash dropped on it.

"Thirty-seven, forty-seven, fifty-two, and carry five," she
muttered, as Georgie stood in front of the fire, so that the entire
new suit should be seen at once.  "Wait a moment, Georgie--and
seventeen and five's twenty-three--no, twenty-two, and that's put
me out: I must begin again.  That can't be right.  Help yourself,
if de Vere has brought in tea, and if not ring--Oh, I left out the
four, and altogether it's two thousand five hundred pounds."

Georgie had thought at first that Daisy was merely doing some
belated household accounts, but the moment she said two thousand
five hundred pounds he guessed, and did not even go through the
formality of asking what was two thousand five hundred pounds.

"I made it two thousand six hundred," he said.  "But we're pretty
well agreed."

Naturally Daisy understood that he understood.

"Perhaps you reckoned the pearls as capital," she said, "and added
the interest."

"No I didn't," he said.  "How could I tell how much they were
worth?  I didn't reckon them in at all."

"Well, it's a lot of money," said Daisy.  "Let's have tea.  What
will she do with it?"

She seemed quite blind to the Oxford trousers, and Georgie wondered
whether that was from mere feebleness of vision.  Daisy was short-
sighted, though she steadily refused to recognise that, and would
never wear spectacles.  In fact, Lucia had made an unkind little
epigram about it at a time when there was a slight coolness between
the two, and had said "Dear Daisy is too short-sighted to see how
short-sighted she is."  Of course it was unkind, but very
brilliant, and Georgie had read through "The Importance of Being
Earnest" which Lucia had gone up to town to see, in the hopes of
discovering it. . . .  Or was Daisy's unconsciousness of his
trousers merely due to her preoccupation with Lucia's probable
income? . . .  Or were the trousers, after all, not so daring as he
had thought them?

He sat down with one leg thrown carelessly over the arm of his
chair, so that Daisy could hardly fail to see it.  Then he took a
piece of tea-cake.

"Yes, do tell me what you think she will do with it?" he asked.
"I've been puzzling over it too."

"I can't imagine," said Daisy.  "She's got everything she wants
now.  Perhaps they'll just hoard it, in order that when Pepino dies
we may all see how much richer he was than we ever imagined.
That's too posthumous for me.  Give me what I want now, and a
pauper's funeral afterwards."

"Me too," said Georgie, waving his leg.  "But I don't think Lucia
will do that.  It did occur to me--"

"The house in London, you mean," said Daisy, swiftly interrupting.
"Of course if they kept both houses open, with a staff in each, so
that they could run up and down as they chose, that would make a
big hole in it.  Lucia has always said that she couldn't live in
London, but she may manage it if she's got a house there."

"I'm dining with her to-night," said Georgie.  "Perhaps she'll say

Mrs. Quantock was very thirsty with her gardening, and the tea was
very hot.  She poured it into her saucer and blew on it.

"Lucia would be wise not to waste any time," she said, "if she
intends to have any fun out of it, for, you know, Georgie, we're
beginning to get old.  I'm fifty-two.  How old are you?"

Georgie disliked that barbarous sort of question.  He had been the
young man of Riseholme so long that the habit was ingrained, and he
hardly believed that he was forty-eight.

"Forty-three," he said, "but what does it matter how old we are, as
long as we're busy and amused?  And I'm sure Lucia has got all the
energy and life she ever had.  I shouldn't be a bit surprised if
she made a start in London, and went in for all that.  Then, of
course, there's Pepino, but he only cares for writing his poetry
and looking through his telescope."

"I hate that telescope," said Daisy.  "He took me up on to the roof
the other night and showed me what he said was Mars, and I'll take
my oath he said that the same one was Venus only a week before.
But as I couldn't see anything either time, it didn't make much

The door opened, and Mr. Quantock came in.  Robert was like a
little round brown sarcastic beetle.  Georgie got up to greet him,
and stood in the full blaze of the light.  Robert certainly saw his
trousers, for his eyes seemed unable to quit the spreading folds
that lay round Georgie's ankles: he looked at them as if he was
Cortez and they some new planet.  Then without a word he folded his
arms and danced a few steps of what was clearly meant to be a
sailor's hornpipe.

"Heave-ho, Georgie," he said.  "Belay there and avast."

"What is he talking about?" said Daisy.

Georgie, quite apart from his general good-nature, always strove to
propitiate Mr. Quantock.  He was far the most sarcastic person in
Riseholme and could say sharp things straight off, whereas Georgie
had to think a long time before he got a nasty edge to any remark,
and then his good-nature generally forbade him to slash with it.

"He's talking about my new clothes," he said, "and he's being very
naughty.  Any news?"

"Any news?" was the general gambit of conversation in Riseholme.
It could not have been bettered, for there always was news.  And
there was now.

"Yes, Pepino's gone to the station," said Mr. Quantock.  "Just like
a large black crow.  Waved a black hand.  Bah!  Why not call a
release a release and have done with it?  And if you don't know--
why, I'll tell you.  It's because they're rolling in riches.  Why,
I've calculated--"

"Yes?" said Daisy and Georgie simultaneously.

"So you've been calculating too?" said Mr. Quantock.

"Might have a sweepstake for the one who gets nearest.  I say three
thousand a year."

"Not so much," said Georgie and Daisy again simultaneously.

"All right.  But that's no reason why I shouldn't have a lump of
sugar in my tea."

"Dear me, no," said Daisy genially.  "But how do you make it up to
three thousand?"

"By addition," said this annoying man.  "There'll be every penny of
that.  I was at the lending library after lunch, and those who
could add made it all that."

Daisy turned to Georgie.

"You'll be alone with Lucia then to-night," she said.

"Oh, I knew that," said Georgie.  "She told me Pepino had gone.  I
expect he's sleeping in that house to-night."

Mr. Quantock produced his calculations, and the argument waxed hot.
It was still raging when Georgie left in order to get a little rest
before going on to dinner, and to practise the Mozart duet.  He and
Lucia hadn't tried it before, so it was as well to practise both
parts, and let her choose which she liked.  Foljambe had come back
from her afternoon out, and told him that there had been a trunk
call for him while he was at tea, but she could make nothing of it.

"Somebody in a great hurry, sir," she said, "and kept asking if I
was--excuse me, sir, if I was Georgie--I kept saying I wasn't, but
I'd fetch you.  That wouldn't do, and she said she'd telegraph."

"But who was it?" asked Georgie.

"Couldn't say, sir.  She never gave a name, but only kept asking."

"She?" asked Georgie.

"Sounded like one!" said Foljambe.

"Most mysterious," said Georgie.  It couldn't be either of his
sisters, for they sounded not like a she but a he.  So he lay down
on his sofa to rest a little before he took a turn at the Mozart.

The evening had turned chilly, and he put on his blue cape with the
velvet collar to trot across to Lucia's house.  The parlour-maid
received him with a faint haggard smile of recognition, and then
grew funereal again, and preceding him, not at her usual brisk
pace, but sadly and slowly, opened the door of the music-room and
pronounced his name in a mournful whisper.  It was a gay cheerful
room, in the ordinary way; now only one light was burning, and from
the deepest of the shadows, there came a rustling, and Lucia rose
to meet him.

"Georgie, dear," she said.  "Good of you."

Georgie held her hand a moment longer than was usual, and gave it a
little extra pressure for the conveyance of sympathy.  Lucia, to
acknowledge that, pressed a little more, and Georgie tightened his
grip again to show that he understood, until their respective
finger-nails grew white with the conveyance and reception of
sympathy.  It was rather agonising, because a bit of skin on his
little finger had got caught between two of the rings on his third
finger, and he was glad when they quite understood each other.

Of course it was not to be expected that in these first moments
Lucia should notice his trousers.  She herself was dressed in deep
mourning, and Georgie thought he recognised the little cap she wore
as being that which had faintly expressed her grief over the death
of Queen Victoria.  But black suited her, and she certainly looked
very well.  Dinner was announced immediately, and she took
Georgie's arm, and with faltering steps they went into the dining-

Georgie had determined that his role was to be sympathetic, but
bracing.  Lucia must rally from this blow, and her suggestion that
he should bring the Mozart duet was hopeful.  And though her voice
was low and unsteady, she did say, as they sat down,

"Any news?"

"I've hardly been outside my house and garden all day," said
Georgie.  "Rolling the lawn.  And Daisy Quantock--did you know?--
has had a row with her gardener, and is going to do it all herself.
So there she was next door with a fork and a wheelbarrow full of

Lucia gave a wan smile.

"Dear Daisy!" she said.  "What a garden it will be!  Anything

"Yes, I had tea with them, and while I was out, there was a trunk-
call for me.  So tarsome.  Whoever it was couldn't make any way,
and she's going to telegraph.  I can't imagine who it was."

"I wonder!" said Lucia in an interested voice.  Then she
recollected herself again.  "I had a sort of presentiment, Georgie,
when I saw that telegram for Pepino on the table, two days ago,
that it was bad news."

"Curious," said Georgie.  "And what delicious fish!  How do you
always manage to get better things than any of us?  It tastes of
the sea.  And I am so hungry after all my work."

Lucia went firmly on.

"I took it to poor Pepino," she said, "and he got quite white.  And
then--so like him--he thought of me.  'It's bad news, darling,' he
said, 'and we've got to help each other to bear it!'"

"So like Pepino," said Georgie.  "Mr. Quantock saw him going to the
station.  Where is he going to sleep to-night?"

Lucia took a little more fish.

"In Auntie's house in Brompton Square," she said.

"So THAT'S where it is!" thought Georgie.  If there was a light
anywhere in Daisy's house, except in the attics, he would have to
go in for a minute, on his return home, and communicate the news.

"Oh, she had a house there, had she?" he said.

"Yes, a charming house," said Lucia, "and full, of course, of dear
old memories to Pepino.  It will be very trying for him, for he
used to go there when he was a boy to see Auntie."

"And has she left it him?" asked Georgie, trying to make his voice
sound unconcerned.

"Yes, and it's a freehold," said Lucia.  "That makes it easier to
dispose of if Pepino settles to sell it.  And beautiful Queen Anne

"My dear, how delicious!" said Georgie.  "Probably worth a

Lucia was certainly rallying from the terrible blow, but she did
not allow herself to rally too far, and shook her head sadly.

"Pepino would hate to have to part with Auntie's things," she said.
"So many memories.  He can recollect her sitting at the walnut
bureau (one of those tall ones, you know, which let down in front,
and the handles of the drawers all original), doing her accounts in
the morning.  And a picture of her with her pearls over the
fireplace by Sargent; quite an early one.  Some fine Chinese
Chippendale chairs in the dining-room.  We must try to keep some of
the things."

Georgie longed to ask a hundred questions, but it would not be
wise, for Lucia was so evidently enjoying letting these sumptuous
details leak out mingled with memories.  He was beginning to feel
sure that Daisy's cynical suggestion was correct, and that the
stricken desolation of Pepino and Lucia cloaked a very substantial
inheritance.  Bits of exultation kept peeping out, and Lucia kept
poking them back.

"But where will you put all those lovely things, if you sell the
house?" he asked.  "Your house here is so perfect already."

"Nothing is settled yet," said Lucia.  "Neither he nor I can think
of anything but dear Auntie.  Such a keen intelligent mind she had
when Pepino first remembered her.  Very good-looking still in the
Sargent picture.  And it was all so sudden, when Pepino saw her
last she was so full of vigour."

("That was the time she bit him," thought Georgie.)  Aloud he said:

"Of course you must feel it dreadfully.  What is the Sargent?  A
kit-cat or a full length?"

"Full length, I believe," said Lucia.  "I don't know where we could
put it here.  And a William III whatnot.  But of course it is not
possible to think about that yet.  A glass of port?"

"I'm going to give you one," said Georgie, "it's just what you want
after all your worries and griefs."

Lucia pushed her glass towards him.

"Just half a glass," she said.  "You are so dear and understanding,
Georgie; I couldn't talk to anyone but you, and perhaps it does me
good to talk.  There is some wonderful port in Auntie's cellar,
Pepino says."

She rose.

"Let us go into the music-room," she said.  "We will talk a little
more, and then play our Mozart if I feel up to it."

"That'll do you good too," said Georgie.

Lucia felt equal to having more illumination than there had been
when she rose out of the shadows before dinner, and they
established themselves quite cosily by the fire.

"There will be a terrible lot of business for Pepino," she said.
"Luckily his lawyer is the same firm as Auntie's, and quite a
family friend.  Whatever Auntie had, so he told us, goes to Pepino,
though we haven't really any idea what it is.  But with death
duties and succession duties, I know we shall have to be prepared
to be very poor until they are paid off, and the duties increase so
iniquitously in proportion to the inheritance.  Then everything in
Brompton Square has to be valued, and we have to pay on the entire
contents, the very carpets and rugs are priced, and some are
beautiful Persians.  And then there's the valuer to pay, and all
the lawyer's charges.  And when all that has been paid and
finished, there is the higher super-tax."

"But there's a bigger income," said Georgie.

"Yes, that's one way of looking at it," said Lucia.  "But Pepino
says that the charges will be enormous.  And there's a beautiful

Lucia gave him one of her rather gimlet-like looks.

"Georgino, I suppose everybody in Riseholme is all agog to know
what Pepino has been left.  That is so dreadfully vulgar, but I
suppose it's natural.  Is everybody talking about it?"

"Well, I have heard it mentioned," said Georgie.  "But I don't see
why it's vulgar.  I'm interested in it myself.  It concerns you and
Pepino, and what concerns one's friends must be of interest to

"Caro, I know that," said Lucia.  "But so much more than the actual
money is the responsibility it brings.  Pepino and I have all we
want for our quiet little needs, and now this great increase of
wealth is coming to us--great, that is, compared to our modest
little income now--and, as I say, it brings its responsibilities.
We shall have to use wisely and without extravagance whatever is
left after all these immense expenses have been paid.  That meadow
at the bottom of the garden, of course, we shall buy at once, so
that there will no longer be any fear of its being built over and
spoiling the garden.  And then perhaps a new telescope for Pepino.
But what do I want in Riseholme beyond what I've got?  Music and
friends, and the power to entertain them, my books and my flowers.
Perhaps a library, built on at the end of the wing, where Pepino
can be undisturbed, and perhaps every now and then a string
quartette down from London.  That will give a great deal of
pleasure, and music is more than pleasure, isn't it?"

Again she turned the gimlet-look onto Georgie.

"And then there's the house in Brompton Square," she said, "where
Auntie was born.  Are we to sell that?"

Georgie guessed exactly what was in her mind.  It had been in his
too, ever since Lucia had alluded to the beautiful music-room.  Her
voice had lingered over the beautiful music-room: she had seemed to
underline it, to caress it, to appropriate it.

"I believe you are thinking of keeping the house and partly living
there," he said.

Lucia looked round, as if a hundred eavesdroppers had entered

"Hush, Georgie," she said, "not a word must be said about that.
But it has occurred to both Pepino and me."

"But I thought you hated London," he said.  "You're always so glad
to get back, you find it so common and garish."

"It is, compared to the exquisite peace and seriousness of our
Riseholme," she said, "where there never is a jarring note, at
least hardly ever.  But there is in London a certain stir and
movement which we lack here.  In the swim, Georgie, in the middle
of things!  Perhaps we get too sensitive here where everything is
full of harmony and culture, perhaps we are too much sheltered.  If
I followed my inclination I would never leave our dear Riseholme
for a single day.  Oh, how easy everything would be if one only
followed one's inclination!  A morning with my books, an afternoon
in my garden, my piano after tea, and a friend like you to come in
to dine with my Pepino and me and scold me well, as you'll soon be
doing for being so bungling over Mozartino."

Lucia twirled round the Elizabethan spit that hung in the wide
chimney, and again fixed him rather in the style of the Ancient
Mariner.  Georgie could not choose but hear . . . Lucia's eloquent
well-ordered sentences had nothing impromptu about them; what she
said was evidently all thought out and probably talked out.  If she
and Pepino had been talking of nothing else since the terrible blow
had shattered them, she could not have been more lucid and crystal-

"Georgie, I feel like a leisurely old horse who has been turned out
to grass being suddenly bridled and harnessed again.  But there is
work and energy in me yet, though I thought that I should be
permitted to grow old in the delicious peace and leisure of our
dear quiet humdrum Riseholme.  But I feel that perhaps that is not
to be.  My conscience is cracking the whip at me, and saying
'You've got to trot again, you lazy old thing.'  And I've got to
think of Pepino.  Dear, contented Pepino would never complain if I
refused to budge.  He would read his paper, and potter in the
garden, and write his dear little poems--such a sweet one,
'Bereavement,' he began it yesterday, a sonnet--and look at the
stars.  But is it a life for a man?"

Georgie made an uneasy movement in his chair, and Lucia hastened to
correct the implied criticism.

"You're different, my dear," she said.  "You've got that wonderful
power of being interested in everything.  Everything.  But think
what London would give Pepino!  His club: the Astronomer-Royal is a
member, his other club, political, and politics have lately been
quite an obsession with him.  The reading-room at the British
Museum.  No, I should be very selfish if I did not see all that.  I
must and I do think of Pepino.  I mustn't be selfish, Georgie."

This idea of Lucia's leaving Riseholme was a live bomb.  At the
moment of its explosion, Georgie seemed to see Riseholme fly into a
thousand disintegrated fragments.  And then, faintly, through the
smoke he seemed to see Riseholme still intact.  Somebody, of
course, would have to fill the vacant throne and direct its
affairs.  And the thought of Beau Nash at Bath flitted across the
distant horizon of his mind.  It was a naughty thought, but its
vagueness absolved it from treason.  He shook it off.

"But how on earth are we to get on without you?" he asked.

"Sweet of you to say that, Georgie," said she, giving another twirl
to the spit.  (There had been a leg of mutton roasted on it last
May-day, while they all sat round in jerkins and stomachers and
hose, and all the perfumes of Arabia had hardly sufficed to quell
the odour of roast meat which had pervaded the room for weeks
afterwards.)  "Sweet of you to say that, but you mustn't think that
I am deserting Riseholme.  We should be in London perhaps (though,
as I say, nothing is settled) for two or three months in the
summer, and always come here for weekends, and perhaps from
November till Christmas, and a little while in the spring.  And
then Riseholme would always be coming up to us.  Five spare
bedrooms, I believe, and one of them quite a little suite with a
bathroom and sitting-room attached.  No, dear Georgie, I would
never desert my dear Riseholme.  If it was a choice between London
and Riseholme, I should not hesitate in my choice."

"Then would you keep both houses open?" asked Georgie, thrilled to
the marrow.

"Pepino thought we could manage it," she said, utterly erasing the
impression of the shattered nephew.  "He was calculating it out
last night, and with board wages at the other house, if you
understand, and vegetables from the country, he thought that with
care we could live well within our means.  He got quite excited
about it, and I heard him walking about long after I had gone to
bed.  Pepino has such a head for detail.  He intends to keep a
complete set of things, clothes and sponge and everything in
London, so that he will have no luggage.  Such a saving of tips and
small expenses, in which as he so truly says, money leaks away.
Then there will be no garage expenses in London: we shall leave the
motor here, and rough it with tubes and taxis in town."

Georgie was fully as excited as Pepino, and could not be discreet
any longer.

"Tell me," he said, "how much do you think it will all come to?
The money he'll come into, I mean."

Lucia also threw discretion to the winds, and forgot all about the
fact that they were to be so terribly poor for a long time.

"About three thousand a year, Pepino imagines, when everything is
paid.  Our income will be doubled, in fact."

Georgie gave a sigh of pure satisfaction.  So much was revealed,
not only of the future, but of the past, for no one hitherto had
known what their income was.  And how clever of Robert Quantock to
have made so accurate a guess!

"It's too wonderful for you," he said.  "And I know you'll spend it
beautifully.  I had been thinking over it this afternoon, but I
never thought it would be as much as that.  And then there are the
pearls.  I do congratulate you."

Lucia suddenly felt that she had shown too much of the silver (or
was it gold?) lining to the cloud of affliction that had
overshadowed her.

"Poor Auntie!" she said.  "We don't forget her through it all.  We
hoped she might have been spared us a little longer."

That came out of her note to Daisy Quantock (and perhaps to others
as well), but Lucia could not have known that Georgie had already
been told about that.

"Now, I've come here to take your mind off these sad things," he
said.  "You mustn't dwell on them any longer."

She rose briskly.

"You've been ever so good to me," she said.  "I should just have
moped if I had been alone."

She lapsed into the baby-language which they sometimes spoke,
varying it with easy Italian.

"Ickle music, Georgie?" she said.  "And you must be kindy-kindy to
me.  No practice all these days.  You brought Mozart?  Which part
is easiest?  Lucia wants to take easiest part."

"Lucia shall take which ever part she likes," said Georgie who had
had a good practise at both.

"Treble then," said Lucia.  "But oh, how diffy it looks!  Hundreds
of ickle notes.  And me so stupid at reading!  Come on then.  You
begin, Uno, due, tre."

The light by the piano was not very good, but Georgie did not want
to put on his spectacles unless he was obliged, for he did not
think Lucia knew that he wore them, and somehow spectacles did not
seem to 'go' with Oxford trousers.  But it was no good, and after
having made a miserable hash of the first page, he surrendered.

"Me must put on speckies," he said.  "Me a blind old man."

Then he had an immense surprise.

"And me a blind old woman," said Lucia.  "I've just got speckies
too.  Oh, Georgie, aren't we getting vecchio?  Now we'll start
again.  Uno, due--"

The Mozart went beautifully after that, and each of them inwardly
wondered at the accuracy of the other's reading.  Lucia suspected
that Georgie had been having a try at it, but then, after all, she
had had the choice of which part she would take, and if Georgie had
practised already, he would have been almost certain to have
practised the treble; it never entered her head that he had been so
thorough as to practise both.  Then they played it through again,
changing parts, and again it went excellently.  It was late now,
and soon Georgie rose to go.

"And what shall I say if anybody who knows I've been dining with
you, asks if you've told me anything?" he asked.

Lucia closed the piano and concentrated.

"Say nothing of our plans about the house in Brompton Square," she
said, "but there's no reason why people shouldn't know that there
is a house there.  I hate secretiveness, and after all, when the
will comes out, everyone will know.  So say there is a house there,
full of beautiful things.  And similarly they will know about the
money.  So say what Pepino thinks it will come to."

"I see," said Georgie.

She came with him to the door, and strolled out into the little
garden in front where the daffodils were in flower.  The night was
clear, but moonless, and the company of stars burned brightly.

"Aldebaran!" said Lucia, pointing inclusively to the spangled arch
of the sky.  "That bright one.  Oh, Georgie, how restful it is to
look at Aldebaran if one is worried and sad.  It lifts one's mind
above petty cares and personal sorrows.  The patens of bright gold!
Wonderful Shakespeare!  Look in to-morrow afternoon, won't you, and
tell me if there is any news.  Naturally, I shan't go out."

"Oh, come and have lunch," said Georgie.

"No, dear Georgie: the funeral is at two.  Putney Vale.  Buona

"Buona notte, dear Lucia," he said.

Georgie hurried back to his house, and was disappointed to see that
there were no lights in Daisy's drawing-room nor in Robert
Quantock's study.  But when he got up to his bedroom, where
Foljambe had forgotten to pull down the blinds, he saw a light in
Daisy's bedroom.  Even as he looked the curtains there were drawn
back, and he saw her amply clad in a dressing-gown, opening windows
at top and bottom, for just now the first principle of health
consisted in sleeping in a gale.  She too must have seen his room
was lit, and his face at the window, for she made violent signs to
him, and he threw open the casement.

"Well?" she said.

"In Brompton Square," said George.  "And three thousand a year!"

"No!" said Daisy.


This simple word 'No' connoted a great deal in the Riseholme
vernacular.  It was used, of course, as a mere negative, without
emphasis, and if you wanted to give weight to your negative you
added 'Certainly not.'  But when you used the word 'No' with
emphasis, as Daisy had used it from her bedroom window to Georgie,
it was not a negative at all, and its signification briefly put was
"I never heard anything so marvellous, and it thrills me through
and through.  Please go on at once, and tell me a great deal more,
and then let us talk it all over."

On that occasion Georgie did not go on at once, for having made his
climax he, with supreme art, shut the window and drew down the
blind, leaving Daisy to lie awake half the night and ponder over
this remarkable news, and wonder what Pepino and Lucia would do
with all that money.  She arrived at several conclusions: she
guessed that they would buy the meadow beyond the garden, and have
a new telescope, but the building of a library did not occur to
her.  Before she went to sleep an even more important problem
presented itself, and she scribbled a note to Georgie to be taken
across in the morning early, in which she wrote, "And did she say
anything about the house?  What's going to happen to it?  And you
didn't tell me the number," exactly as she would have continued the
conversation if he had not shut his window so quickly and drawn
down the blind, ringing down the curtain on his magnificent climax.

Foljambe brought up this note with Georgie's early morning tea and
the glass of very hot water which sometimes he drank instead of it
if he suspected an error of diet the night before, and the little
glass gallipot of Kruschen salts, which occasionally he added to
the hot water or the tea.  Georgie was very sleepy, and, only half
awake, turned round in bed, so that Foljambe should not see the
place where he wore the toupe, and smothered a snore, for he would
not like her to think that he snored.  But when she said "Telegram
for you, sir," Georgie sat up at once in his pink silk pyjamas.

"No!" he said with emphasis.

He tore the envelope open, and a whole sheaf of sheets fell out.
The moment he set eyes on the first words, he knew so well from
whom it came that he did not even trouble to look at the last sheet
where it would be signed.

Beloved Georgie (it ran),

I rang you up till I lost my temper and so send this.  Most
expensive, but terribly important.  I arrived in London yesterday
and shall come down for week-end to Riseholme.  Shall dine with you
Saturday all alone to hear about everything.  Come to lunch and
dinner Sunday, and ask everybody to one or other, particularly
Lucia.  Am bringing cook, but order sufficient food for Sunday.
Wonderful American and Australian tour, and I'm taking house in
London for season.  Shall motor down.  Bless you.


Georgie sprang out of bed, merely glancing through Daisy's
pencilled note and throwing it away.  There was nothing to be said
to it in any case, since he had been told not to divulge the
project with regard to the house in Brompton Square, and he didn't
know the number.  But in Olga's telegram there was enough to make
anybody busy for the day, for he had to ask all her friends to
lunch or dinner on Sunday, order the necessary food, and arrange a
little meal for Olga and himself to-morrow night.  He scarcely knew
what he was drinking, tea or hot water or Kruschen salts, so
excited was he.  He foresaw too, that there would be call for the
most skilled diplomacy with regard to Lucia.  She must certainly be
asked first, and some urging might be required to make her consent
to come at all, either to lunch or dinner, even if due regard was
paid to her deep mourning, and the festivity limited to one or two
guests of her own selection.  Yet somehow Georgie felt that she
would stretch a point and be persuaded, for everybody else would be
going some time on Sunday to Olga's, and it would be tiresome for
her to explain again and again in the days that followed that she
had been asked and had not felt up to it.  And if she didn't
explain carefully every time, Riseholme would be sure to think she
hadn't been asked.  'A little diplomacy' thought George, as he
trotted across to her house after breakfast with no hat, but a fur
tippet round his neck.

He was shown into the music-room, while her maid went to fetch her.
The piano was open, so she had evidently been practising, and there
was a copy of the Mozart duet which she had read so skilfully last
night on the music-rest.  For the moment Georgie thought he must
have forgotten to take his copy away with him, but then looking at
it more carefully he saw that there were pencilled marks for the
fingering scribbled over the more difficult passages in the treble,
which certainly he had never put there.  At the moment he saw Lucia
through the window coming up the garden, and he hastily took a
chair far away from the piano and buried himself in The Times.

They sat close together in front of the fire, and Georgie opened
his errand.

"I heard from Olga this morning," he said, "a great long telegram.
She is coming down for the week-end."

Lucia gave a wintry smile.  She did not care for Olga's coming
down.  Riseholme was quite silly about Olga.

"That will be nice for you, Georgie," she said.

"She sent you a special message," said he.

"I am grateful for her sympathy," said Lucia.  "She might perhaps
have written direct to me, but I'm sure she was full of kind
intentions.  As she sent the message by you verbally, will you
verbally thank her?  I appreciate it."

Even as she delivered these icy sentiments, Lucia got up rather
hastily and passed behind him.  Something white on the music-rest
of the piano had caught her eye.

"Don't move, Georgie," she said, "sit and warm yourself and light
your cigarette.  Anything else?"

She walked up the room to the far end where the piano stood, and
Georgie, though he was a little deaf, quite distinctly heard the
rustle of paper.  The most elementary rudiments of politeness
forbade him to look round.  Besides he knew exactly what was
happening.  Then there came a second rustle of paper, which he
could not interpret.

"Anything else, Georgie?" repeated Lucia, coming back to her chair.

"Yes.  But Olga's message wasn't quite that," he said.  "She
evidently hadn't heard of your bereavement."

"Odd," said Lucia.  "I should have thought perhaps that the death
of Miss Amy Lucas--however, what was her message then?"

"She wanted you very much--she said 'particularly Lucia'--to go to
lunch or dine with her on Sunday.  Pepino, too, of course."

"So kind of her, but naturally quite impossible," said Lucia.

"Oh, but you mustn't say that," said Georgie.  "She is down for
just that day, and she wants to see all her old friends.
Particularly Lucia, you know.  In fact she asked me to get up two
little parties for her at lunch and dinner.  So, of course, I came
to see you first, to know which you would prefer."

Lucia shook her head.

"A party!" she said.  "How do you think I could?"

"But it wouldn't be THAT sort of party," said Georgie.  "Just a few
of your friends.  You and Pepino will have seen nobody to-night and
all to-morrow.  He will have told you everything by Sunday.  And so
bad to sit brooding."

The moment Lucia had said it was quite impossible she had been
longing for Georgie to urge her, and had indeed been prepared to
encourages him to urge her if he didn't do so of his own accord.
His last words had given her an admirable opening.

"I wonder!" she said.  "Perhaps Pepino might feel inclined to go,
if there really was no party.  It doesn't do to brood: you are
right, I mustn't let him brood.  Selfish of me not to think of
that.  Who would there be, Georgie?"

"That's really for you to settle," he said.

"You?" she asked.

"Yes," said Georgie, thinking it unnecessary to add that Olga was
dining with him on Saturday, and that he would be at lunch and
dinner on Sunday.  "Yes: she asked me to come."

"Well, then, what if you asked poor Daisy and her husband?" said
Lucia.  "It would be a treat for them.  That would make six.  I
think six would be enough.  I will do my best to persuade Pepino."

"Capital," said Georgie.  "And would you prefer lunch or dinner?"

Lucia sighed.

"I think dinner," she said.  "One feels more capable of making the
necessary effort in the evening.  But, of course, it is all
conditional on Pepino's feeling."

She glanced at the clock.

"He will just be leaving Brompton Square," she said.  "And then,
afterwards, his lawyer is coming to lunch with him and have a talk.
Such a lot of business to see to."

Georgie suddenly remembered that he did not yet know the number of
the house.

"Indeed there must be," he said.  "Such a delightful Square, but
rather noisy, I should think, at the lower end."

"Yes, but deliciously quiet at the top end," said Lucia.  "A curve
you know, and a cul de sac.  Number twenty-five is just before the
beginning of the curve.  And no houses at the back.  Just the
peaceful old churchyard--though sad for Pepino to look out on this
morning--and a footpath only up to Ennismore Gardens.  My music-
room looks out at the back."

Lucia rose.

"Well, Georgie, you will be very busy this morning," she said,
"getting all the guests for Sunday, and I mustn't keep you.  But I
should like to play you a morsel of Stravinski which I have been
trying over.  Terribly modern, of course, and it may sound hideous
to you at first, and at best it's a mere little tinkle if you
compare it with the immortals.  But there is something about it,
and one mustn't condemn all modern work unheard.  There was a time
no doubt when even Beethoven's greatest sonatas were thought to be
modern and revolutionary."

She led the way to the piano, where on the music-rest was the
morsel of Stravinski, which explained the second and hitherto
unintelligible rustle.

"Sit by me, Georgie," she said, "and turn over quick, when I nod.
Something like this."

Lucia got through the first page beautifully, but then everything
seemed to go wrong.  Georgie had expected it all to be odd and
aimless, but surely Stravinski hadn't meant quite what Lucia was
playing.  Then he suddenly saw that the key had been changed, but
in a very inconspicuous manner, right in the middle of a bar, and
Lucia had not observed this.  She went on playing with amazing
agility, nodded at the end of the second page, and then luckily the
piece changed back again into its original clef.  Would it be wise
to tell her?  He thought not: next time she tried it, or the time
after, she would very likely notice the change of key.

A brilliant roulade consisting of chromatic scales in contrary
directions, brought this firework to an end, and Lucia gave a
little shiver.

"I must work at it," she said, "before I can judge of it. . . ."

Her fingers strayed about the piano, and she paused.  Then with the
wistful expression Georgie knew so well, she played the first
movement of the Moonlight Sonata.  Georgie set his face also into
the Beethoven-expression, and at the end gave the usual little

"Divine," he said.  "You never played it better.  Thank you,

She rose.

"You must thank immortal Beethoven," she said.

Georgie's head buzzed with inductive reasoning, as he hurried about
on his vicariously hospitable errands.  Lucia had certainly
determined to make a second home in London, for she had distinctly
said 'my music room' when she referred to the house in Brompton
Square.  Also it was easy to see the significance of her deigning
to touch Stravinski with even the tip of one finger.  She was
visualising herself in the modern world, she was going to be up-to-
date: the music-room in Brompton Square was not only to echo with
the first movement of the Moonlight. . . .  "It's too thrilling,"
said Georgie, as, warmed with this mental activity, he quite forgot
to put on his fur tippet.

His first visit, of course, was to Daisy Quantock, but he meant to
stay no longer than just to secure her and her husband for dinner
on Sunday with Olga, and tell her the number of the house in
Brompton Square.  He found that she had dug a large trench round
her mulberry tree, and was busily pruning the roots with the wood-
axe by the light of Nature: in fact she had cut off all their ends,
and there was a great pile of chunks of mulberry root to be
transferred in the wheel-barrow, now empty of manure, to the wood-

"Twenty-five, that's easy to remember," she said.  "And are they
going to sell it?"

"Nothing settled," said Georgie.  "My dear, you're being rather
drastic, aren't you?  Won't it die?"

"Not a bit," said Daisy.  "It'll bear twice as many mulberries as
before.  Last year there was one.  You should always prune the
roots of a fruit tree that doesn't bear.  And the pearls?"

"No news," said Georgie, "except that they come in a portrait of
the aunt by Sargent."

"No!  By Sargent?" asked Daisy.

"Yes.  And Queen Anne furniture and Chinese Chippendale chairs,"
said Georgie.

"And how many bedrooms?" asked Daisy, wiping her axe on the grass.

"Five spare, so I suppose that means seven," said Georgie, "and one
with a sitting-room and bathroom attached.  And a beautiful music-

"Georgie, she means to live there," said Daisy, "whether she told
you or not.  You don't count the bedrooms like that in a house
you're going to sell.  It isn't done."

"Nothing settled, I tell you," said Georgie.  "So you'll dine with
Olga on Sunday, and now I must fly and get people to lunch with

"No!  A lunch-party too?" asked Daisy.

"Yes.  She wants to see everybody."

"And five spare rooms, did you say?" asked Daisy, beginning to fill
in her trench.

Georgie hurried out of the front gate, and Daisy shovelled the
earth back and hurried indoors to impart all this news to her
husband.  He had a little rheumatism in his shoulder, and she gave
him Cou treatment before she counterordered the chicken which she
had bespoken for his dinner on Sunday.

Georgie thought it wise to go first to Olga's house, to make sure
that she had told her caretaker that she was coming down for the
week-end.  That was the kind of thing that prima-donnas sometimes
forgot.  There was a man sitting on the roof of Old Place with a
coil of wire, and another sitting on the chimney.  Though listening-
in had not yet arrived at Riseholme, Georgie at once conjectured
that Olga was installing it, and what would Lucia say?  It was
utterly un-Elizabethan to begin with, and though she countenanced
the telephone, she had expressed herself very strongly on the
subject of listening-in.  She had had an unfortunate experience of
it herself, for on a visit to London not long ago, her hostess had
switched it on, and the company was regaled with a vivid lecture on
pyorrhea by a hospital nurse. . . .  Georgie, however, would see
Olga before Lucia came to dinner on Sunday and would explain her
abhorrence of the instrument.

Then there was the delightful task of asking everybody to lunch.
It was the hour now when Riseholme generally was popping in and out
of shops, and finding out the news.  It was already known that
Georgie had dined with Lucia last night and that Pepino had gone to
his aunt's funeral, and everyone was agog to ascertain if anything
definite had yet been ascertained about the immense fortune which
had certainly come to the Lucases. . . .  Mrs. Antrobus spied
Georgie going into Olga's house (for the keenness of her eyesight
made up for her deafness), and there she was with her ear-trumpet
adjusted, looking at the view just outside Old Place when Georgie
came out.  Already the popular estimate had grown like a gourd.

"A quarter of a million, I'm told, Mr. Georgie," said she, "and a
house in Grosvenor Square, eh?"

Before Georgie could reply, Mrs. Antrobus's two daughters, Piggy
and Goosey came bounding up hand in hand.  Piggy and Goosey never
walked like other people: they skipped and gambolled to show how
girlish an age is thirty-four and thirty-five.

"Oh stop, Mr. Georgie," said Piggy.  "Let us all hear.  And are the
pearls worth a Queen's ransom?"

"Silly thing," said Goosie.  "I don't believe in the pearls."

"Well, I don't believe in Grosvenor Square," said Goosie.  "So
silly yourself!"

When this ebullition of high spirits had subsided, and Piggy had
slapped Goosie on the back of her hands, they both said "Hush!"

"Well, I can't say about the pearls," said Georgie.

"Eh, what can't you say?" said Mrs. Antrobus.

"About the pearls," said Georgie, addressing himself to the end of
Mrs. Antrobus's trumpet.  It was like the trunk of a very short
elephant, and she waved it about as if asking for a bun.

"About the pearls, mamma," screamed Goosie and Piggy together.
"Don't interrupt Mr. Georgie."

"And the house isn't in Grosvenor Square, but in Brompton Square,"
said Georgie.

"But that's quite in the slums," said Mrs. Antrobus.  "I am

"Not at all, a charming neighbourhood," said Georgie.  This was not
at all what he had been looking forward to: he had expected cries
of envious surprise at his news.  "As for the fortune, about three
thousand a year."

"Is that all?" said Piggy with an air of deep disgust.

"A mere pittance to millionaires like Piggy," said Goosie, and they
slapped each other again.

"Any more news?" asked Mrs. Antrobus.

"Yes," said Georgie, "Olga Bracely is coming down to-morrow--"

"No!" said all the ladies together.

"And her husband?" asked Piggy.

"No," said Georgie without emphasis.  "At least she didn't say so.
But she wants all her friends to come to lunch on Sunday.  So
you'll all come, will you?  She told me to ask everybody."

"Yes," said Piggy.  "Oh, how lovely!  I adore Olga.  Will she let
me sit next her?"

"Eh?" said Mrs. Antrobus.

"Lunch on Sunday, mamma, with Olga Bracely," screamed Goosie.

"But she's not here," said Mrs. Antrobus.

"No, but she's coming, mamma," shouted Piggy.  "Come along, Goosie.
There's Mrs. Boucher.  We'll tell her about poor Mrs. Lucas."

Mrs. Boucher's bath-chair was stationed opposite the butcher's,
where her husband was ordering the joint for Sunday.  Piggy and
Goosie had poured the tale of Lucia's comparative poverty into her
ear, before Georgie got to her.  Here, however, it had a different
reception, and Georgie found himself the hero of the hour.

"An immense fortune.  I call it an immense fortune," said Mrs.
Boucher, emphatically, as Georgie approached.  "Good morning, Mr.
Georgie, I've heard your news, and I hope Mrs. Lucas will use it
well.  Brompton Square, too!  I had an aunt who lived there once,
my mother's sister, you understand, not my father's, and she used
to say that she would sooner live in Brompton Square than in
Buckingham Palace.  What will they do with it, do you suppose?  It
must be worth its weight in gold.  What a strange coincidence that
Mr. Lucas's aunt and mine should both have lived there!  Any more

"Yes," said Georgie.  "Olga is coming down to-morrow--"

"Well, that's a bit of news!" said Mrs. Boucher, as her husband
came out of the butcher's shop.  "Jacob, Olga's coming down to-
morrow, so Mr. Georgie says.  That'll make you happy!  You're madly
in love with Olga, Jacob, so don't deny it.  You're an old flirt,
Jacob, that's what you are.  I shan't get much of your attention
till Olga goes away again.  I should be ashamed at your age, I
should.  And young enough to be your daughter or mine either.  And
three thousand a year, Mr. Georgie says.  I call it an immense
fortune.  That's Mrs. Lucas, you know.  I thought perhaps two.  I'm
astounded.  Why, when old Mrs. Toppington--not the wife of the
young Mr. Toppington who married the niece of the man who invented
laughing gas--but of his father, or perhaps his uncle, I can't be
quite sure which, but when old Mr. Toppington died, he left his son
or nephew, whichever it was, a sum that brought him in just about
that, and he was considered a very rich man.  He had the house just
beyond the church at Scroby Windham where my father was rector, and
he built the new wing with the billiard-room--"

Georgie knew he would never get through his morning's work if he
listened to everything that Mrs. Boucher had to say about young Mr.
Toppington, and broke in.

"And she wants you and the colonel to lunch with her on Sunday," he
said.  "She told me to ask all her old friends."

"Well, I do call that kind," said Mrs. Boucher, "and of course
we'll go. . . .  Jacob, the joint.  We shan't want the joint.  I
was going to give you a veal cutlet in the evening, so what's the
good of a joint?  Just a bit of steak for the servants, a nice
piece.  Well, that will be a treat, to lunch with our dear Olga!
Quite a party, I daresay."

Mrs. Quantock's chicken, already countermanded, came in nicely for
Georgie's dinner for Olga on Saturday, and by the time all his
errands were done the morning was gone, without any practise at his
piano, or work in his garden, or a single stitch in his new piece
of embroidery.  Fresh amazements awaited him when he made his
fatigued return to his house.  For Foljambe told him that Lucia,
had sent her maid to borrow his manual on Auction Bridge.  He was
too tired to puzzle over that now, but it was strange that Lucia,
who despised any form of cards as only fit for those who had not
the intelligence to talk or to listen, should have done that.
Cards came next to cross-word puzzles in Lucia's index of
inanities.  What did it mean?

Neither Lucia nor Pepino were seen in public at all till Sunday
morning, though Daisy Quantock had caught sight of Pepino on his
arrival on Friday afternoon, walking bowed with grief and with a
faltering gait through the little paved garden in front of The
Hurst, to his door.  Lucia opened it for him, and they both shook
their heads sadly and passed inside.  But it was believed that they
never came out the whole of Saturday, and their first appearance
was at church on Sunday, though indeed, Lucia could hardly be said
to have appeared, so impenetrable was her black veil.  But that, so
to speak, was the end of all mourning (besides, everybody knew that
she was dining with Olga that night), and at the end of the
service, she put up her veil, and held a sort of little reception
standing in the porch, and shaking hands with all her friends as
they went out.  It was generally felt that this signified her re-
entry into Riseholme life.

Hardly less conspicuous a figure was Georgie.  Though Robert had
been so sarcastic about his Oxford trousers, he had made up his
mind to get it over, and after church he walked twice round the
green quite slowly and talked to everybody, standing a little away
so that they should get a complete view.  The odious Piggy, it is
true, burst into a squeal of laughter and cried, "Oh, Mr. Georgie,
I see you've gone into long frocks," and her mother put up her ear-
trumpet as she approached as if to give a greater keenness to her
general perceptions.  But apart from the jarring incident of Piggy,
Georgie was pleased with his trousers' reception.  They were
beautifully cut too, and fell in charming lines, and the sensation
they created was quite a respectful one.  But it had been an
anxious morning, and he was pleased when it was over.

And such a talk he had had with Olga last night, when she dined
alone with him, and sat so long with her elbows on the table that
Foljambe looked in three times in order to clear away.  Her own
adventures, she said, didn't matter; she could tell Georgie about
the American tour and the Australian tour, and the coming season in
London any time at leisure.  What she had to know about with the
utmost detail was exactly everything that had happened at Riseholme
since she had left it a year ago.

"Good heavens!" she said.  "To think that I once thought that it
was a quiet back-watery place where I could rest and do nothing but
study.  But it's a whirl!  There's always something wildly exciting
going on.  Oh, what fools people are not to take an interest in
what they call little things.  Now go on about Lucia.  It's his
aunt, isn't it, and mad?"

"Yes, and Pepino's been left her house in Brompton Square," began

"No!  That's where I've taken a house for the season.  What

"Twenty-five," said Georgie.

"Twenty-five?" said Olga.  "Why, that's just where the curve
begins.  And a big--"

"Music-room built out at the back," said Georgie.

"I'm almost exactly opposite.  But mine's a small one.  Just room
for my husband and me, and one spare room.  Go on quickly."

"And about three thousand a year and some pearls," said Georgie.
"And the house is full of beautiful furniture."

"And will they sell it?"

"Nothing settled," said Georgie.

"That means you think they won't.  Do you think that they'll settle
altogether in London?"

"No, I don't think that," said Georgie very carefully.

"You are tactful.  Lucia has told you all about it, but has also
said firmly that nothing's settled.  So I won't pump you.  And I
met Colonel Boucher on my way here.  Why only one bull-dog?"

"Because the other always growled so frightfully at Mrs. Boucher.
He gave it away to his brother."

"And Daisy Quantock?  Is it still spiritualism?"

"No; that's over, though I rather think it's coming back.  After
that it was sour milk, and now it's raw vegetables.  You'll see to-
morrow at dinner.  She brings them in a paper bag.  Carrots and
turnips and celery.  Raw.  But perhaps she may not.  Every now and
then she eats like anybody else."

"And Piggie and Goosie?"

"Just the same.  But Mrs. Antrobus has got a new ear-trumpet.  But
what I want to know is, why did Lucia send across for my manual on
Auction Bridge?  She thinks all card-games imbecile."

"Oh, Georgie, that's easy!" said Olga.  "Why, of course, Brompton
Square, though nothing's settled.  Parties, you know, when she
wants people who like to play Bridge."

Georgie became deeply thoughtful.

"It might be that," he said.  "But it would be tremendously

"How else can you account for it?  By the way, I've had a listening-
in put up at Old Place."

"I know.  I saw them at it yesterday.  But don't turn it on to-
morrow night.  Lucia hates it.  She only heard it once, and that
time it was a lecture on pyorrhea.  Now tell me about yourself.
And shall we go into the drawing-room?  Foljambe's getting

Olga allowed herself to be weaned from subjects so much more
entrancing to her, and told him of the huge success of the American
tour, and spoke of the eight weeks' season which was to begin at
Covent Garden in the middle of May.  But it all led back to

"I'm singing twice a week," she said.  "Brunnhilde and Lucrezia and
Salome.  Oh, my dear, how I love it!  But I shall come down here
every single week-end.  To go back to Lucia: do you suppose she'll
settle in London for the season?  I believe that's the idea.  Fresh
worlds to conquer."

Georgie was silent a moment.

"I think you may be right about the Auction Bridge," he said at
length.  "And that would account for Stravinski too."

"What's that?" said Olga greedily.

"Why, she played me a bit of Stravinski yesterday morning," said
Georgie.  "And before she never would listen to anything modern.
It all fits in."

"Perfect," said Olga.

Georgie and the Quantocks walked up together the next evening to
dine with Olga, and Daisy was carrying a little paper parcel.  But
that proved to be a disappointment, for it did not contain carrots,
but only evening shoes.  Lucia and Pepino, as usual, were a little
late, for it was Lucia's habit to arrive last at any party, as
befitted the Queen of Riseholme, and to make her gracious round of
the guests.  Everyone of course was wondering if she would wear the
pearls, but again there was a disappointment, for her only
ornaments were two black bangles, and the brooch of entwined
sausages of gold containing a lock of Beethoven's hair.  (As a
matter of fact Beethoven's hair had fallen out some years ago, and
she had replaced it with a lock of Pepino's which was the same
colour. . . .  Pepino had never told anybody.)  From the first it
was evident that though the habiliments of woe still decked her,
she had cast off the numb misery of the bereavement.

"So kind of you to invite us," she said to Olga, "and so good," she
added in a whisper, "for my poor Pepino.  I've been telling him he
must face the world again and not mope.  Daisy, dear!  Sweet to see
you, and Mr. Robert.  Georgie!  Well, I do think this is a
delicious little party."

Pepino followed her: it was just like the arrival of Royal
Personages, and Olga had to stiffen her knees so as not to curtsey.

Having greeted those who had the honour to meet her, Lucia became
affable rather than gracious.  Robert Quantock was between her and
Olga at dinner, but then at dinner, everybody left Robert alone,
for if disturbed over that function, he was apt to behave rather
like a dog with a bone and growl.  But if left alone, he was in an
extremely good temper afterwards.

"And you're only here just for two days, Miss Olga," she said, "at
least so Georgie tells me, and he usually knows your movements.
And then London, I suppose, and you'll be busy rehearsing for the
opera.  I must certainly manage to be in London for a week or two
this year, and come to 'Siegried,' and The 'Valkyrie,' in which, so
I see in the papers, you're singing.  Georgie, you must take me up
to London when the opera comes on.  Or perhaps--"

She paused a moment.

"Pepino, shall I tell all our dear friends our little secret?" she
said.  "If you say 'no,' I shan't.  But, please, Pepino--"

Pepino, however, had been instructed to say 'yes,' and accordingly
did so.

"You see, dear Miss Olga," said Lucia, "that a little property has
come to us through that grievous tragedy last week.  A house has
been left to Pepino in Brompton Square, all furnished, and with a
beautiful music-room.  So we're thinking, as there is no immediate
hurry about selling it, of spending a few weeks there this season,
very quietly of course, but still perhaps entertaining a few
friends.  Then we shall have time to look about us, and as the
house is there, why not use it in the interval?  We shall go there
at the end of the month."

This little speech had been carefully prepared, for Lucia felt that
if she announced the full extent of their plan, Riseholme would
suffer a terrible blow.  It must be broken to Riseholme by degrees:
Riseholme must first be told that they were to be up in town for a
week or two, pending the sale of the house.  Subsequently Riseholme
would hear that they were not going to sell the house.

She looked round to see how this section of Riseholme took it.  A
chorus of the emphatic 'No' burst from Georgie, Mrs. Quantock and
Olga, who, of course, had fully discussed this disclosure already;
even Robert, very busy with his dinner, said 'No' and went on

"So sweet of you all to say 'No,'" said Lucia, who know perfectly
well that the emphatic interjection meant only surprise, and the
desire to hear more, not the denial that such a thing was possible,
"but there it is.  Pepino and I have talked it over--non e vero,
carissimo--and we feel that there is a sort of call to us to go to
London.  Dearest Aunt Amy, you know, and all her beautiful
furniture!  She never would have a stick of it sold, and that seems
to point to the fact that she expected Pepino and me not to wholly
desert the dear old family home.  Aunt Amy was born there, eighty-
three years ago."

"My dear!  How it takes one back!" said Georgie.

"Doesn't it?" said Olga.

Lucia had now, so to speak, developed her full horsepower.
Pepino's presence stoked her, Robert was stoking himself and might
be disregarded, while Olga and Georgie were hanging on her words.

"But it isn't the past only that we are thinking of," she said,
"but the present and the future.  Of course our spiritual home is
here--like Lord Haldane and Germany--and oh, how much we have
learned at Riseholme, its lovely seriousness and its gaiety, its
culture, its absorption in all that is worthy in art and
literature, its old customs, its simplicity."

"Yes," said Olga.  (She had meant long ago to tell Lucia that she
had taken a house in Brompton Square exactly opposite Lucia's, but
who could interrupt the splendour that was pouring out on them?)

Lucia fumbled for a moment at the brooch containing Beethoven's
hair.  She had a feeling that the pin had come undone.  "Dear Miss
Olga," she said, "how good of you to take an interest, you with
your great mission of melody in the world, in our little affairs!
I am encouraged.  Well, Pepino and I feel--don't we? sposo mio--
that now that this opportunity has come to us, of perhaps having a
little salon in London, we ought to take it.  There are modern
movements in the world we really know nothing about.  We want to
educate ourselves.  We want to know what the cosmopolitan mind is
thinking about.  Of course we're old, but it is never too late to
learn.  How we shall treasure all we are lucky enough to glean, and
bring it back to our dear Riseholme."

There was a slight and muffled thud on the ground, and Lucia's
fingers went back where the brooch should have been.

"Georgino, my brooch, the Beethoven brooch," she said; "it has

Georgie stooped rather stiffly to pick it up: that work with the
garden roller had found out his lumbar muscles.  Olga rose.

"Too thrilling, Mrs. Lucas!" she said.  "You must tell me much
more.  Shall we go?  And how lovely for me: I have just taken a
house in Brompton Square for the season."

"No!" said Lucie.  "Which?"

"Oh, one of the little ones," said Olga.  "Just opposite yours.
Forty-two A."

"Such dear little houses!" said Lucia.  "I have a music-room.
Always yours to practise in."

"Capital good dinner," said Robert, who had not spoken for a long

Lucia put an arm round Daisy Quantock's ample waist, and thus
tactfully avoided the question of precedence.  Daisy, of course,
was far, far the elder, but then Lucia was Lucia.

"Delicious indeed," she said.  "Georgie, bring the Beethoven with

"And don't be long," said Olga.

Georgie had no use for the society of his own sex unless they were
young, which made him feel young too, or much older than himself,
which had the same result.  But Pepino had an unpleasant habit of
saying to him 'When we come to our age' (which was an unreasonable
assumption of juvenility), and Robert of sipping port with the
sound of many waters for an indefinite period.  So when Georgie had
let Robert have two good glasses, he broke up this symposium and
trundled them away into the drawing-room, only pausing to snatch up
his embroidery tambour, on which he was working at what had been
originally intended for a bedspread, but was getting so lovely that
he now thought of putting it when finished on the top of his piano.
He noticed that Lucia had brought a portfolio of music, and peeping
inside saw the morsel of Stravinski. . . .

And then, as he came within range of the conversation of the
ladies, he nearly fell down from sheer shock.

"Oh, but I adore it," Lucia was saying.  "One of the most
marvellous inventions of modern times.  Were we not saying so last
night, Pepino?  And Miss Olga is telling me that everyone in London
has a listening-in apparatus.  Pray turn it on, Miss Olga; it will
be a treat to hear it!  Ah, the Beethoven brooch: thank you,
Georgie--mille grazie."

Olga turned a handle or a screw or something, and there was a short
pause: the next item presumably had already been announced.  And
then, wonder of wonders, there came from the trumpet the first bars
of the Moonlight Sonata.

Now the Moonlight Sonata (especially the first movement of it) had
an almost sacred significance in Riseholme.  It was Lucia's tune,
much as God Save the King is the King's tune.  Whatever musical
entertainment had been going on, it was certain that if Lucia was
present she would sooner or later be easily induced to play the
first movement of the Moonlight Sonata.  Astonished as everybody
already was at her not only countenancing but even allowing this
mechanism, so lately abhorred by her, to be set to work at all, it
was infinitely more amazing that she should permit it to play Her
tune.  But there she was composing her face to her well-known
Beethoven expression, leaning a little forward, with her chin in
her hand, and her eyes wearing the far-away look from which the
last chord would recall her.  At the end of the first movement
everybody gave the little sigh which was its due, and the wistful
sadness faded from their faces, and Lucia, with a gesture, hushing
all attempt at comment or applause, gave a gay little smile to show
she knew what was coming next.  The smile broadened, as the Scherzo
began, into a little ripple of laughter, the hand which had
supported her chin once more sought the Beethoven brooch, and she
sat eager and joyful and alert, sometimes just shaking her head in
wordless criticism, and once saying "Tut-tut" when the clarity of a
run did not come up to her standard, till the sonata was finished.

"A treat," she said at the end, "really most enjoyable.  That dear
old tune!  I thought the first movement was a little hurried:
Cortot, I remember, took it a little more slowly, and a little more
legato, but it was very creditably played."

Olga at the machine, was out of sight of Lucia, and during the
performance Georgie noticed that she had glanced at the Sunday
paper.  And now when Lucia referred to Cortot, she hurriedly
chucked it into a window-seat and changed the subject.

"I ought to have stopped it," she said, "because we needn't go to
the wireless to hear that.  Do show us what you mean, Mrs. Lucas,
about the first movement."

Lucia glided to the piano.

"Just a bar or two, shall I?" she said.

Everybody gave a sympathetic murmur, and they had the first
movement over again.

"Only just my impression of how Cortot plays it," she said.  "It
coincides with my own view of it."

"Don't move," said Olga, and everybody murmured 'Don't,' or
'Please.'  Robert said 'Please' long after the others, because he
was drowsy.  But he wanted more music, because he wished to doze a
little and not to talk.

"How you all work me!" said Lucia, running her hands up and down
the piano with a butterfly touch.  "London will be quite a rest
after Riseholme.  Pepino mio, my portfolio on the top of my cloak;
would you? . . .  Pepino insisted on my bringing some music: he
would not let me start without it."  (This was a piece of
picturesqueness during Pepino's absence: it would have been more
accurate to say he was sent back for it, but less picturesque.)
"Thank you, carissimo.  A little morsel of Stravinski; Miss Olga, I
am sure, knows it by heart, and I am terrified.  Georgie, would you
turn over?"

The morsel of Stravinski had improved immensely since Friday: it
was still very odd, very modern, but not nearly so odd as when, a
few days ago, Lucia had failed to observe the change of key.  But
it was strange to the true Riseholmite to hear the arch-priestess
of Beethoven and the foe of all modern music, which she used to
account sheer Bolshevism, producing these scrannel staccato
tinklings that had so often made her wince.  And yet it all fitted
in with her approbation of the wireless and her borrowing of
Georgie's manual on Auction Bridge.  It was not the morsel of
Stravinski alone that Lucia was practising (the performance though
really improved might still be called practice): it was modern
life, modern ideas on which she was engaged preparatory to her
descent on London.  Though still in harbour at Riseholme, so to
speak, it was generally felt that Lucia had cast off her cable, and
was preparing to put to sea.

"Very pretty: I call that very pretty.  Honk!" said Robert when the
morsel was finished, "I call that music."

"Dear Mr. Robert, how sweet of you," said Lucia, wheeling round on
the music-stool.  "Now positively, I will not touch another note.
But may we, might we, have another little tune on your wonderful
wireless, Miss Olga!  Such a treat!  I shall certainly have one
installed at Brompton Square, and listen to it while Pepino is
doing his cross-word puzzles.  Pepino can think of nothing else now
but Auction Bridge and cross-word puzzles, and interrupts me in the
middle of my practice to ask for an Athenian sculptor whose name
begins with P and is of ten letters."

"Ah, I've got it," said Pepino, "Praxiteles."

Lucia clapped her hands.

"Bravo," she said.  "We shall not sit up till morning again."

There was a splendour in the ruthlessness with which Lucia bowled
over, like ninepins, every article of her own Riseholme creed,
which saw Bolshevism in all modern art, inanity in crossword
puzzles and Bridge, and aimless vacuity in London. . . .
Immediately after the fresh tune on the wireless began, and most
unfortunately, they came in for the funeral March of a Marionette.
A spasm of pain crossed Lucia's face, and Olga abruptly turned off
this sad reminder of unavailing woe.

"Go on: I like that tune!" said the drowsy and thoughtless Robert,
and a hurried buzz of conversation covered this melancholy

It was already late, and Lucia rose to go.

"Delicious evening!" she said.  "And lovely to think that we shall
so soon be neighbours in London as well.  My music-room always at
your disposal.  Are you coming, Georgie?"

"Not this minute," said Georgie firmly.

Lucia was not quite accustomed to this, for Georgie usually left
any party when she left.  She put her head in the air as she swept
by him, but then relented again.

"Dine to-morrow, then?  We won't have any music after this feast to-
night," said she forgetting that the feast had been almost
completely of her own providing.  "But perhaps little game of cut-
throat, you and Pepino and me."

"Delightful," said Georgie.

Olga hurried back after seeing off her other guests.

"Oh, Georgie, what richness," she said.  "By the way, of course it
WAS Cortot who was playing the Moonlight faster than Cortot plays

Georgie put down his tambour.

"I thought it probably would be," he said.  "That's the kind of
thing that happens to Lucia.  And now we know where we are.  She's
going to make a circle in London and be its centre.  Too thrilling!
It's all as clear as it can be.  All we don't know about yet is the

"I doubt the pearls," said Olga.

"No, I think there are pearls," said Georgie, after a moment's
intense concentration.  "Otherwise she wouldn't have told me they
appeared in the Sargent portrait of the aunt."

Olga suddenly gave a wild hoot of laughter.

"Oh, why does one ever spend a single hour away from Riseholme?"
she said.

"I wish you wouldn't," said Georgie.  "But you go off to-morrow?"

"Yes, to Paris.  My excuse is to meet my Georgie--"

"Here he is," said Georgie.

"Yes, bless him.  But the one who happens to be my husband.
Georgie, I think I'm going to change my name and become what I
really am, Mrs. George Shuttleworth.  Why should singers and
actresses call themselves Madame Macaroni or Signora Semolina?
Yes, that's my excuse, as I said when you interrupted me, and my
reason is gowns.  I'm going to have lots of new gowns."

"Tell me about them," said Georgie.  He loved hearing about dress.

"I don't know about them yet; I'm going to Paris to find out.
Georgie, you'll have to come and stay with me when I'm settled in
London.  And when I go to practise in Lucia's music-room you shall
play my accompaniments.  And shall I be shingled?"

Georgie's face was suddenly immersed in concentration.

"I wouldn't mind betting--" he began.

Olga again shouted with laughter.

"If you'll give me three to one that I don't know what you were
going to say, I'll take it," she said.

"But you can't know," said Georgie.

"Yes I do.  You wouldn't mind betting that Lucia will be shingled."

"Well, you are quick," said Georgie admiringly.

It was known, of course, next morning, that Lucia and Pepino were
intending to spend a few weeks in London before selling the house,
and who knew what THAT was going to mean?  Already it was time to
begin rehearsing for the next May Day revels, and Foljambe, that
paragon of all parlour-maids, had been overhauling Georgie's jerkin
and hose and dainty little hunting boots with turn-down flaps in
order to be ready.  But when Georgie, dining at The Hurst next
evening, said something about May Day revels (Lucia, of course,
would be Queen again) as they played Cut-throat with the Manual on
Auction Bridge handy for the settlement of such small disputes as
might arise over the value of the different suits, she only said:

"Those dear old customs!  So quaint!  And fifty to me above,
Pepino, or is it a hundred?  I will turn it up while you deal,

This complete apathy of Lucia to May Day revels indicated one of
two things, that either mourning would prevent her being Queen, or
absence.  In consequence of which Georgie had his jerkin folded up
again and put away, for he was determined that nobody except Lucia
should drive him out to partake in such a day of purgatory as had
been his last year. . . .  Still, there was nothing conclusive
about that: it might be mourning.  But evidence accumulated that
Lucia meant to make a pretty solid stay in London, for she
certainly had some cards printed at 'Ye Signe of Ye Daffodille' on
the Village Green where Pepino's poems were on sale, with the

                  Mr. and Mrs. Philip Lucas
           request the pleasure of the company of


    25 Brompton Square.                          R.S.V.P.

Daisy Quantock had found that out, for she saw the engraved copper-
plate lying on the counter, and while the shopman's back was
turned, had very cleverly read it, though it was printed the wrong
way round, and was very confusing.  Still she managed to do so, and
the purport was plain enough: that Lucia contemplated formally
asking somebody to something some time at 25 Brompton Square.  "And
would she," demanded Daisy, with bitter irony, "have had cards
printed like that, if they were only meaning to go up for a week or
two?"  And if that was not enough Georgie saw a postcard on Lucia's
writing table with "From Mrs. Philip Lucas, 25 Brompton Square,
S.W.3," plainly printed on the top.

It was getting very clear then (and during this week Riseholme
naturally thought of nothing else) that Lucia designed a longer
residence in the garish metropolis than she had admitted.  Since
she chose to give no information on the subject, mere pride and
scorn of vulgar curiosity forebade anyone to ask her, though of
course it was quite proper (indeed a matter of duty) to probe the
matter to the bottom by every other means in your power, and as
these bits of evidence pieced themselves together, Riseholme began
to take a very gloomy view of Lucia's real nature.  On the whole it
was felt that Mrs. Boucher, when she paused in her bath-chair as it
was being wheeled round the green, nodding her head very
emphatically, and bawling into Mrs. Antrobus's ear-trumpet,
reflected public opinion.

"She's deserting Riseholme and all her friends," said Mrs. Boucher,
"that's what she's doing.  She means to cut a dash in London, and
lead London by the nose.  There'll be fashionable parties, you'll
see, there'll be paragraphs, and then when the season's over she'll
come back and swagger about them.  For my part I shall take no
interest in them.  Perhaps she'll bring down some of her smart
friends for a Saturday till Monday.  There'll be Dukes and
Duchesses at The Hurst.  That's what she's meaning to do, I tell
you, and I don't care who hears it."

That was lucky, as anyone within the radius of a quarter of a mile
could have heard it.

"Well, never mind, my dear," said Colonel Boucher, who was pushing
his wife's chair.

"Mind?  I should hope not, Jacob," said Mrs. Boucher.  "And now let
us go home, or we'll be late for lunch and that would never do, for
I expect the Prince of Wales and the Lord Chancellor, and we'll
play Bridge and cross-word puzzles all afternoon."

Such fury and withering sarcasm, though possibly excessive, had, it
was felt, a certain justification, for had not Lucia for years
given little indulgent smiles when anyone referred to the cheap
delights and restless apish chatterings of London?  She had always
come back from her visits to that truly provincial place which
thought itself a centre, wearied with its false and foolish
activity, its veneer of culture, its pseudo-Athenian rage for any
new thing.  They were all busy enough at Riseholme, but busy over
worthy objects, over Beethoven and Shakespeare, over high thinking,
over study of the true masterpieces.  And now, the moment that Aunt
Amy's death gave her and Pepino the means to live in the fiddling
little ant-hill by the Thames they were turning their backs on all
that hitherto had made existence so splendid and serious a reality,
and were training, positively training for frivolity by exercises
in Stravinski, Auction Bridge and cross-word puzzles.  Only the day
before the fatal influx of fortune had come to them, Lucia,
dropping in on Colonel and Mrs. Boucher about tea-time, had found
them very cosily puzzling out a Children's Cross-word in the
evening paper, having given up the adult conundrum as too
difficult, had pretended that even this was far beyond her poor
wits, and had gone home the moment she had swallowed her tea in
order to finish a canto of Dante's Purgatorio. . . .  And it was no
use Lucia's saying that they intended only to spend a week or two
in Brompton Square before the house was sold: Daisy's quickness and
cleverness about the copper-plate at 'Ye Signe of Ye Daffodille'
had made short work of that.  Lucia was evidently the prey of a
guilty conscience too: she meant, so Mrs. Boucher was firmly
convinced, to steal away, leaving the impression she was soon
coming back.

Vigorous reflections like these came in fits and spurts from Mrs.
Boucher as her husband wheeled her home for lunch.

"And as for the pearls, Jacob," she said, as she got out, hot with
indignation, "if you asked me, actually asked me what I think about
the pearls, I should have to tell you that I don't believe in the
pearls.  There may be half a dozen seed pearls in an old pill-box:
I don't say there are not, but that's all the pearls we shall see.


Georgie had only just come down to breakfast and had not yet opened
his Times, one morning at the end of this hectic week, when the
telephone bell rang.  Lucia had not been seen at all the day before
and he had a distinct premonition, though he had not time to write
it down, that this was she.  It was: and her voice sounded very
brisk and playful.

"Is that Georgino?" she said.  "Zat oo, Georgie?"

Georgie had another premonition, stronger than the first.

"Yes, it's me," he said.

"Georgie, is oo coming round to say Ta-ta to poor Lucia and
Pepino?" she said.

('I knew it,' thought Georgie.)

"What, are you going away?" he asked.

"Yes, I told you the other night," said Lucia in a great hurry,
"when you were doing cross-words, you and Pepino.  Sure I did.
Perhaps you weren't attending.  But--"

"No, you never told me," said Georgie firmly.

"How cwoss oo sounds.  But come round, Georgie, about eleven and
have 'ickle chat.  We're going to be very stravvy and motor up, and
perhaps keep the motor for a day or two."

"And when are you coming back?" asked Georgie.

"Not quite settled," said Lucia brightly.  "There's a lot of bizz-
bizz for poor Pepino.  Can't quite tell how long it will take.
Eleven, then?"

Georgie had hardly replaced the receiver when there came a series
of bangs and rings at his front door, and Foljambe coming from the
kitchen with his dish of bacon in one hand, turned to open it.  It
was only de Vere with a copy of the Times in her hand.

"With Mrs. Quantock's compliments," said de Vere, "and would Mr.
Pillson look at the paragraph she has marked, and send it back?
Mrs. Quantock will see him whenever he comes round."

"That all?" said Foljambe rather crossly.  "What did you want to
knock the house down for then?"

De Vere vouchsafed no reply, but turned slowly in her high-heeled
shoes and regarded the prospect.

Georgie also had come into the hall at this battering summons, and
Foljambe gave him the paper.  There were a large blue pencil mark
and several notes of exclamation opposite a short paragraph.

"Mr. and Mrs. Philip Lucas will arrive to-day from The Hurst,
Riseholme, at 25 Brompton Square."

"No!" said Georgie.  "Tell Mrs. Quantock I'll look in after
breakfast," and he hurried back, and opened his copy of the Times
to see if it were the same there.  It was: there was no misprint,
nor could any other interpretation be attached to it.  Though he
knew the fact already, print seemed to bring it home.  Print also
disclosed the further fact that Lucia must have settled everything
at least before the morning post yesterday, or this paragraph could
never have appeared to-day.  He gobbled up his breakfast, burning
his tongue terribly with his tea. . . .

"It isn't only deception," said Daisy the moment he appeared
without even greeting him, "for that we knew already, but it's funk
as well.  She didn't dare tell us."

"She's going to motor up," said Georgie, "starting soon after
eleven.  She's just asked me to come and say goodbye."

"That's more deception then," said Daisy, "for naturally, having
read that, we should have imagined she was going up by the
afternoon train, and gone round to say goodbye after lunch, and
found her gone.  If I were you, I shouldn't dream of going to say
goodbye to her after this.  She's shaking the dust of Riseholme off
her London shoes. . . .  But we'll have no May Day revels if I've
got anything to do with it."

"Nor me," said Georgie.  "But it's no use being cross with her.
Besides, it's so terribly interesting.  I shouldn't wonder if she
was writing some invitations on the cards you saw--"

"No, I never saw the cards," said Daisy, scrupulously.  "Only the

"It's the same thing.  She may be writing invitations now, to post
in London."

"Go a little before eleven then, and see," said Daisy.  "Even if
she's not writing them then, there'll be envelopes lying about

"Come too," said Georgie.

"Certainly not," said Daisy.  "If Lucia doesn't choose to tell me
she's going away, the only dignified thing to do is to behave as if
I knew nothing whatever about it.  I'm sure I hope she'll have a
very pleasant drive.  That's all I can say about it; I take no
further interest in her movements.  Besides, I'm very busy: I've
got to finish weeding my garden, for I've not been able to touch it
these last days, and then my Planchette arrived this morning.  And
a Ouija board."

"What's that?" said Georgie.

"A sort of Planchette, but much more--much more powerful.  Only it
takes longer, as it points at letters instead of writing," said
Daisy.  "I shall begin with Planchette and take it up seriously,
because I know I'm very psychic, and there'll be a little time for
it now that we shan't be trapesing round all day in ruffs and
stomachers over those May-Day revels.  Perhaps there'll be May-Day
revels in Brompton Square for a change.  I shouldn't wonder:
nothing would surprise me about Lucia now.  And it's my opinion we
shall get on very well without her."

Georgie felt he must stick up for her: she was catching it so
frightfully hot all round.

"After all, it isn't criminal to spend a few weeks in London," he

"Whoever said it was?" said Daisy.  "I'm all for everybody doing
exactly as they like.  I just shrug my shoulders."

She heaved up her round little shoulders with an effort.

"Georgie, how do you think she'll begin up there?" she said.
"There's that cousin of hers with whom she stayed sometimes, Aggie
Sandeman, and then, of course, there's Olga Bracely.  Will she just
pick up acquaintances, and pick up more from them, like one of
those charity snowballs?  Will she be presented?  Not that I take
the slightest interest in it."

Georgie looked at his watch and rose.

"I do," he said.  "I'm thrilled about it.  I expect she'll manage.
After all, we none of us wanted to have May Day revels last year
but she got us to.  She's got drive."

"I should call it push," said Daisy.  "Come back and tell me
exactly what's happened."

"Any message?" asked Georgie.

"Certainly not," said Daisy again, and began untying the string of
the parcel that held the instruments of divination.

Georgie went quickly down the road (for he saw Lucia's motor
already at the door) and up the paved walk that led past the
sundial, round which was the circular flower-border known as
Perdita's border, for it contained only the flowers that Perdita
gathered.  To-day it was all a-bloom with daffodils and violets and
primroses, and it was strange to think that Lucia would not go
gassing on about Perdita's border, as she always did at this time
of the year, but would have to be content with whatever flowers
there happened to be in Brompton Square: a few sooty crocuses
perhaps and a periwinkle. . . .  She was waiting for him, kissed
her hand through the window, and opened the door.

"Now for little chat," she said, adjusting a very smart hat, which
Georgie was sure he had never seen before.  There was no trace of
mourning about it: it looked in the highest spirits.  So, too, did

"Sit down, Georgie," she said, "and cheer me up.  Poor Lucia feels
ever so sad at going away."

"It is rather sudden," he said.  "Nobody dreamed you were off to-
day, at least until they saw The Times this morning."

Lucia gave a little sigh.

"I know," she said, "but Pepino thought that was the best plan.  He
said that if Riseholme knew when I was going, you'd all have had
little dinners and lunches for us, and I should have been
completely worn out with your kindness and hospitality.  And there
was so much to do, and we weren't feeling much like gaiety.  Seen
anybody this morning?  Any news?"

"I saw Daisy," said Georgie.

"And told her?"

"No, it was she who saw it in The Times first, and sent it round to
me," said Georgie.  "She's got a Ouija board, by the way.  It came
this morning."

"That's nice," said Lucia.  "I shall think of Riseholme as being
ever so busy.  And everybody must come up and stay with me, and you
first of all.  When will you be able to come?"

"Whenever you ask me," said Georgie.

"Then you must give me a day or two to settle down, and I'll write
to you.  You'll be popping across though every moment of the day to
see Olga."

"She's in Paris," said Georgie.

"No!  What a disappointment!  I had already written her a card,
asking her to dine with us the day after tomorrow, which I was
taking up to London to post there."

"She may be back by then," said Georgie.

Lucia rose and went to her writing table, on which, as Georgie was
thrilled to observe, was a whole pile of stamped and directed

"I think I won't chance it," said Lucia, "for I had enclosed
another card for Signor Cortese which I wanted her to forward,
asking him for the same night.  He composed 'Lucrezia' you know,
which I see is coming out in London in the first week of the Opera
Season, with her, of course, in the name-part.  But it will be
safer to ask them when I know she is back."

Georgie longed to know to whom all the other invitations were
addressed.  He saw that the top one was directed to an M. P., and
guessed that it was for the member for the Riseholme district, who
had lunched at The Hurst during the last election.

"And what are you going to do to-night?" he asked.

"Dining with dear Aggie Sandeman.  I threw myself on her mercy, for
the servants won't have settled in, and I hoped we should have just
a little quiet evening with her.  But it seems that she's got a
large dinner-party on.  Not what I should have chosen, but there's
no help for it now.  Oh, Georgie, to think of you in dear old quiet
Riseholme and poor Pepino and me gabbling and gobbling at a huge

She looked wistfully round the room.

"Good-bye, dear music-room," she said, kissing her hand in all
directions.  "How glad I shall be to get back!  Oh, Georgie, your
Manual on Auction Bridge got packed by mistake.  So sorry.  I'll
send it back.  Come in and play the piano sometimes, and then it
won't feel lonely.  We must be off, or Pepino will get fussing.
Say goodbye to everyone for us, and explain.  And Perdita's border!
Will sweet Perdita forgive me for leaving all her lovely flowers
and running away to London?  After all, Georgie, Shakespeare wrote
'The Winter's Tale' in London, did he not?  Lovely daffies!  And
violets dim.  Let me give you 'ickle violet, Georgie, to remind you
of poor Lucia tramping about in long unlovely streets, as Tennyson

Lucia, so Georgie felt, wanted no more comments or questions about
her departure, and went on drivelling like this till she was safely
in the motor.  She had expected Pepino to be waiting for her and
beginning to fuss, but so far from his fussing he was not there at
all.  So she got in a fuss instead.

"Georgino, will you run back and shout for Pepino?" she said.  "We
shall be so late, and tell him that I am sitting in the motor
waiting.  Ah, there he is!  Pepino, where have you been?  Do get in
and let us start, for there are Piggie and Goosie running across
the green, and we shall never get off if we have to begin kissing
everybody.  Give them my love, Georgie, and say how sorry we were
just to miss them.  Shut the door quickly, Pepino, and tell him to
drive on."

The motor purred and started.  Lucia was gone.  "She had a bad
conscience too," thought Georgie, as Piggy and Goosie gambolled up
rather out of breath with pretty playful cries, "and I'm sure I
don't wonder."

The news that she had gone of course now spread rapidly, and by
lunch time Riseholme had made up its mind what to do, and that was
hermetically to close its lips for ever on the subject of Lucia.
You might think what you pleased, for it was a free country, but
silence was best.  But this counsel of perfection was not easy to
practice next day when the evening paper came.  There, for all the
world to read were two quite long paragraphs, in "Five o'clock Chit-
Chat," over the renowned signature of Hermione, entirely about
Lucia and 25 Brompton Square, and there for all the world to see
was the reproduction of one of her most elegant photographs, in
which she gazed dreamily outwards and a little upwards, with her
fingers still pressed on the last chord of (probably) the Moonlight
Sonata. . . .  She had come up, so Hermione told countless readers,
from her Elizabethan country seat at Riseholme (where she was a
neighbour of Miss Olga Bracely) and was settling for the season in
the beautiful little house in Brompton Square, which was the
freehold property of her husband, and had just come to him on
the death of his aunt.  It was a veritable treasure house of
exquisite furniture, with a charming music-room where Lucia had
given Hermione a cup of tea from her marvellous Worcester tea
service. . . .  (At this point Daisy, whose hands were trembling
with passion, exclaimed in a loud and injured voice, "The very day
she arrived!") Mrs. Lucas (one of the Warwickshire Smythes by birth)
was, as all the world knew, a most accomplished musician and
Shakespearean scholar, and had made Riseholme a centre of culture
and art.  But nobody would suspect the blue stocking in the
brilliant, beautiful and witty hostess whose presence would lend an
added gaiety to the London season.

Daisy was beginning to feel physically unwell.  She hurried over
the few remaining lines, and then ejaculating "Witty!  Beautiful!"
sent de Vere across to Georgie's with the paper, bidding him to
return it, as she hadn't finished with it.  But she thought he
ought to know. . . .  Georgie read it through, and with admirable
self restraint, sent Foljambe back with it and a message of thanks--
nothing more--to Mrs. Quantock for the loan of it.  Daisy, by this
time feeling better, memorised the whole of it.

Life under the new conditions was not easy, for a mere glance at
the paper might send any true Riseholmite into a paroxysm of
chattering rage or a deep disgusted melancholy.  The Times again
recorded the fact that Mr. and Mrs. Philip Lucas had arrived at 25
Brompton Square, there was another terrible paragraph headed
'Dinner,' stating that Mrs. Sandeman entertained the following to
dinner.  There was an Ambassador, a Marquis, a Countess (dowager),
two Viscounts with wives, a Baronet, a quantity of Honourables and
Knights, and Mr. and Mrs. Philip Lucas.  Every single person except
Mr. and Mrs. Philip Lucas had a title.  The list was too much for
Mrs. Boucher, who, reading it at breakfast, suddenly exclaimed:

"I didn't think it of them.  And it's a poor consolation to know
that they must have gone in last."

Then she hermetically sealed her lips again on this painful
subject, and when she had finished her breakfast (her appetite had
quite gone) she looked up every member of that degrading party in
Colonel Boucher's "Who's Who."

The announcement that Mr. and Mrs. Philip Lucas had arrived at 25
Brompton Square was repeated once more, in case anybody had missed
it (Riseholme had not), and Robert Quantock observed that at this
rate the three thousand pounds a year would soon be gone, with
nothing to show for it except a few press-cuttings.  That was very
clever and very withering, but anyone could be withering over such
a subject.  It roused, it is true, a faint and unexpressed hope
that the arrival of Lucia in London had not spontaneously produced
the desired effect, or why should she cause it to be repeated so
often?  But that brought no real comfort, and a few days
afterwards, there fell a further staggering blow.  There was a
Court, and Mrs. Agnes Sandeman presented Mrs. Philip Lucas.  Worse
yet, her gown was minutely described, and her ornaments were
diamonds and pearls.

The vow of silence could no longer be observed: human nature was
human nature, and Riseholme would have burst unless it had spoken,
Georgie sitting in his little back parlour overlooking the garden,
and lost in exasperated meditation, was roused by his name being
loudly called from Daisy's garden next door, and looking out, saw
the unprecedented sight of Mrs. Boucher's bath-chair planted on
Daisy's lawn.

"She must have come in along the gravel path by the back-door," he
thought to himself.  "I shouldn't have thought it was wide enough."
He looked to see if his tie was straight, and then leaned out to

"Georgie, come round a minute," called Daisy.  "Have you seen it?"

"Yes," said Georgie, "I have.  And I'll come."

Mrs. Boucher was talking in her loud emphatic voice, when he

"As for pearls," she said, "I can't say anything about them, not
having seen them.  But as for diamonds, the only diamonds she ever
had was two or three little chips on the back of her wrist-watch.
That I'll swear to."

The two ladies took no notice of him: Daisy referred to the
description of Lucia's dress again.

"I believe it was her last dinner-gown with a train added," she
said.  "It was a sort of brocade."

"Yes, and plush is a sort of velvet," said Mrs. Boucher.  "I've a
good mind to write to The Times, and say they're mistaken.
Brocade!  Bunkum!  It's pushing and shoving instead of diamonds and
pearls.  But I've had my say, and that's all.  I shouldn't a bit
wonder if we saw that the King and Queen had gone to lunch quite
quietly at Brompton Square."

"That's all very well," said Daisy, "but what are we to do?"

"Do?" said Mrs. Boucher.  "There's plenty to do in Riseholme, isn't
there?  I'm sure I never suffered from lack of employment, and I
should be sorry to think that I had less interests now than I had
before last Wednesday week.  Wednesday, or was it Thursday, when
they slipped away like that?  Whichever it was, it makes no
difference to me, and if you're both disengaged this evening, you
and Mr. Georgie, the Colonel and I would be very glad if you would
come and take your bit of dinner with us.  And Mr. Quantock too, of
course.  But as for diamonds and pearls, well, let's leave that
alone.  I shall wear my emerald tiara to-night and my ruby
necklace.  My sapphires have gone to be cleaned."

But though Riseholme was justifiably incensed over Lucia's
worldliness and all this pushing and shoving and this self-
advertising publicity, it had seldom been so wildly interested.
Also, after the first pangs of shame had lost their fierceness, a
very different sort of emotion began to soothe the wounded hearts:
it was possible to see Lucia in another light.  She had stepped
straight from the sheltered and cultured life of Riseholme into the
great busy feverish world, and already she was making her splendid
mark there.  Though it might have been she who had told Hermione
what to say in those fashionable paragraphs of hers (and those who
knew Lucia best were surely best competent to form just conclusions
about that) still Hermione had said it, and the public now knew how
witty and beautiful Lucia was, and what a wonderful house she had.
Then on the very night of her arrival she had been a guest at an
obviously superb dinner-party, and had since been presented at
Court.  All this, to look at it fairly, reflected glory on
Riseholme, and if it was impossible in one mood not to be ashamed
of her, it was even more impossible in other moods not to be proud
of her.  She had come, and almost before she had seen, she was
conquering.  She could be viewed as a sort of ambassadress, and her
conquests in that light were Riseholme's conquests.  But pride did
not oust shame, nor shame pride, and shuddering anticipations as to
what new enormity the daily papers might reveal were mingled with
secret and delighted conjectures as to what Riseholme's next
triumph would be.

It was not till the day after her presentation that any news came
to Riseholme direct from the ambassadress's headquarters.  Every
day Georgie had been expecting to hear, and in anticipation of her
summons to come up and stay in the bedroom with the bathroom and
sitting-room attached, had been carefully through his wardrobe, and
was satisfied that he would present a creditable appearance.  His
small portmanteau, Foljambe declared, would be ample to hold all
that he wanted, including the suit with the Oxford trousers, and
his cloth-topped boots.  When the long expected letter came, he
therefore felt prepared to start that very afternoon, and tore it
open with the most eager haste and propped it against his teapot.


Such a whirl ever since we left, that I haven't had a moment.  But
to-night (Oh such a relief) Pepino and I have dined alone quite 
la Riseholme, and for the first time I have had half an hour's
quiet practice in my music-room, and now sit down to write to you.
(You'd have scolded me if you'd heard me play, so stiff and rusty
have I become.)

Well, now for my little chronicles.  The very first evening we were
here, we went out to a big dinner at dearest Aggie's.  Some
interesting people: I enjoyed a pleasant talk with the Italian
Ambassador, and called on them the day after, but I had no long
conversation with anyone, for Aggie kept bringing up fresh people
to introduce me to, and your poor Lucia got quite confused with so
many, till Pepino and I sorted them out afterwards.  Everyone
seemed to have heard of our coming up to town, and I assure you
that ever since the tiresome telephone has been a perfect nuisance,
though all so kind.  Would we go to lunch one day, or would we go
to dinner another, and there was a private view here, and a little
music in the afternoon there: I assure you I have never been so
petted and made so much of.

We have done a little entertaining too, already, just a few old
friends like our member of Parliament, Mr. Garroby-Ashton.  ("She
met him once," thought Georgie in parenthesis.)  He insisted also
on our going to tea with him at the House of Commons.  I knew that
would interest Pepino, for he's becoming quite a politician, and so
we went.  Tea on the terrace, and a pleasant little chat with the
Prime Minister who came and sat at our table for ever so long.  How
I wanted you to be there and make a sketch of the Thames: just the
sort of view you do, so beautifully!  Wonderful river, and I
repeated to myself 'Sweet Thames, run softly, till I end my song.'
Then such a scurry to get back to dine somewhere or other and go to
a play.  Then dearest Aggie (such a good soul) had set her heart on
presenting me and I couldn't disappoint her.  Did you see the
description of my dress?  How annoyed I was that it appeared in the
papers!  So vulgar all that sort of thing, and you know how I hate
publicity, but they tell me I must just put up with it and not

The house is getting into order, but there are lots of little
changes and furbishings up to be done before I venture to show it
to anyone as critical as you, Georgino.  How you would scream at
the carpet in the dining-room!  I know it would give you
indigestion.  But when I get the house straight, I shall insist on
your coming, whatever your engagements are, and staying a long,
long time.  We will fix a date when I come down for some week-end.

Your beloved Olga is back, but I haven't seen her yet.  I asked
Signor Cortese to dine and meet her one night, and I asked her to
meet him.  I thought that would make a pleasant little party, but
they were both engaged.  I hope they have not quarrelled.  Her
house, just opposite mine, looks very tiny, but I daresay it is
quite large enough for her and her husband.  She sings at the
opening night of the Opera next week, in "Lucrezia."  I must manage
to go even if I can only look in for an act or two.  Pepino (so
extravagant of him) has taken a box for two nights in the week.  It
is his birthday present to me, so I couldn't scold the dear!  And
after all, we shall give a great deal of pleasure to friends, by
letting them have it when we do not want it ourselves.

Love to everybody at dear Riseholme.  I feel quite like an exile,
and sometimes I long for its sweet peace and quietness.  But there
is no doubt that London suits Pepino very well, and I must make the
best of this incessant hustle.  I had hoped to get down for next
Sunday, but Mrs. Garroby-Ashton (I hear he will certainly be raised
to the peerage when the birthday honours come out) has made a point
of our spending it with them. . . .  Good-night, dear Georgino.  Me
so so sleepy.


Georgie swallowed this letter at a gulp, and then, beginning again,
took it in sips.  At first it gave him an impression of someone
wholly unlike her, but when sipped, every sentence seemed
wonderfully characteristic.  She was not adapting herself to new
circumstances, she was adapting new circumstances to herself with
all her old ingenuity and success, and with all her invincible
energy.  True, you had sometimes to read between the lines,
and divide everything by about three in order to allow for
exaggerations, and when Lucia spoke of not disappointing dearest
Aggie, who had set her heart on presenting her at Court, or of Mrs.
Garroby-Ashton making a point of her going down for the week-end
which she had intended to spend at Riseholme, Georgie only had to
remember how she had been forced (so she said) to be Queen at those
May Day revels.  By sheer power of will she had made each of them
become a Robin Hood or a Maid Marian, or whatever it was, and then,
when she had got them all at work she said it was she who was being
worked to death over THEIR May Day revels.  They had forced her to
organise them, they had insisted that she should be Queen, and lead
the dances and sing louder than anybody, and be crowned and
curtsied to.  They had been wax in her hands, and now in new
circumstances, Georgie felt sure that dearest Aggie had been
positively forced to present her, and no doubt Mrs. Garroby-Ashton,
cornered on that terrace of the House of Commons, while sweet
Thames flowed softly, had had no choice but to ask her down for a
Sunday.  Will-power, indomitable perseverance now, as always, was
getting her just precisely what she had wanted: by it she had
become Queen of Riseholme, and by it she was firmly climbing away
in London, and already she was saying that everybody was insisting
on her dining and lunching with them, whereas it was her moral
force that made them powerless in her grip.  Riseholme she had no
use for now: she was busy with something else; she did not care to
be bothered with Georgie, and so she said it was the dining-room

"Very well," said Georgie bitterly.  "And if she doesn't want me, I
won't want her.  So that's that."

He briskly put the letter away, and began to consider what he
should do with himself all day.  It was warm enough to sit out and
paint: in fact, he had already begun a sketch of the front of his
house from the Green opposite; there was his piano if he settled to
have a morning of music; there was the paper to read, there was
news to collect, there was Daisy Quantock next door who would be
delighted to have a sitting with the planchette, which was really
beginning to write whole words instead of making meaningless dashes
and scribbles, and yet none of these things which, together with
plenty of conversation and a little housekeeping and manicuring,
had long made life such a busy and strenuous performance, seemed to
offer an adequate stimulus.  And he knew well enough what rendered
them devoid of tonic: it was that Lucia was not here, and however
much he told himself he did not want her, he like all the rest of
Riseholme was beginning to miss her dreadfully.  She aggravated and
exasperated them: she was a hypocrite (all that pretence of not
having read the Mozart duet, and desolation at Auntie's death), a
poseuse, a sham and a snob, but there was something about her that
stirred you into violent though protesting activity, and though she
might infuriate you, she prevented your being dull.  Georgie
enjoyed painting, but he knew that the fact that he would show his
sketch to Lucia gave spice to his enjoyment, and that she, though
knowing no more about it than a rhinoceros, would hold it at arm's
length with her head a little on one side and her eyes slightly
closed, and say:

"Yes, Georgie, very nice, very nice.  But have you got the value of
your middle-distance quite right?  And a little more depth in your
distance, do you think?"

Or if he played his piano, he knew that what inspired his
nimbleness would be the prospect of playing his piece to her, and
if he was practising on the sly a duet for performance with her,
the knowledge that he was stealing a march on her and would
astonish her (though she might suspect the cause of his facility).
And as for conversation, it was useless to deny that conversation
languished in Riseholme if the subject of Lucia, her feats and her
frailties was tabooed.

"We've got to pull ourselves together," thought Georgie, "and start
again.  We must get going and learn to do without her, as she's
getting on so nicely without us.  I shall go and see how the
planchette is progressing."

Daisy was already at it, and the pencil was getting up steam.  A
day or two ago it had written not once only but many times a
strange sort of hieroglyphic, which might easily be interpreted to
be the mystic word Abfou.  Daisy had therefore settled (what could
be more obvious?) that the name of the control who guided these
strange gyrations was Abfou, which sounded very Egyptian and
antique.  Therefore, she powerfully reasoned, the scribbles which
could not be made to fit any known configuration of English letters
might easily be Arabic.  Why Abfou should write his name in English
characters and his communications in Arabic was not Daisy's
concern, for who knew what were the conditions on the other side?
A sheet was finished just as Georgie came in, and though it
presented nothing but Arabic script, the movements of the
planchette had been so swift and eager that Daisy quite forgot to
ask if there was any news.

"Abfou is getting in more direct touch with me every time I sit,"
said Daisy.  "I feel sure we shall have something of great
importance before long.  Put your hand on the planchette too,
Georgie, for I have always believed that you have mediumistic
powers.  Concentrate first: that means you must put everything else
out of your head.  Let us sit for a minute or two with our eyes
shut.  Breathe deeply.  Relax.  Sometimes slight hypnosis comes on,
so the book says, which means you get very drowsy."

There was silence for a few moments: Georgie wanted to tell Daisy
about Lucia's letter, but that would certainly interrupt Abfou, so
he drew up a chair, and after laying his hand on Daisy's closed his
eyes and breathed deeply.  And then suddenly the most extraordinary
things began to happen.

The planchette trembled: it vibrated like a kettle on the boil, and
began to skate about the paper.  He had no idea what its antic
motions meant: he only knew that it was writing something, Arabic
perhaps, but something firm and decided.  It seemed to him that so
far from aiding its movement, he almost, to be on the safe side,
checked it.  He opened his eyes, for it was impossible not to want
to watch this manifestation of psychic force, and also he wished to
be sure (though he had no real suspicions on the subject) that his
collaborator was not, to put it coarsely, pushing.  Exactly the
same train of thought was passing in Daisy's mind, and she opened
her eyes too.

"Georgie, my hand is positively being dragged about," she said
excitedly.  "If anything, I try to resist."

"Mine too; so do I," said Georgie.  "It's too wonderful.  Do you
suppose it's Arabic still?"

The pencil gave a great dash, and stopped.

"It isn't Arabic," said Daisy as she examined the message, "at
least, there's heaps of English too."

"No!" said Georgie, putting on his spectacles in his excitement,
and not caring whether Daisy knew he wore them or not.  "I can see
it looks like English, but what a difficult handwriting!  Look,
that's 'Abfou', isn't it?  And that is 'Abfou' again there."

They bent their heads over the script.

"There's an 'L,'" cried Daisy, "and there it is again.  And then
there's 'L from L.'  And then there's 'Dead' repeated twice.  It
can't mean that Abfou is dead, because this is positive proof that
he's alive.  And then I can see 'Mouse'?"

"Where?" said Georgie eagerly.  "And what would 'dead mouse' mean?"

"There!" said Daisy pointing.  "No: it isn't 'dead mouse.'  It's
'dead' and then a lot of Arabic, and then 'mouse.'"

"I don't believe it is 'Mouse,'" said Georgie, "though of course,
you know Abfou's handwriting much better than I do.  It looks to me
far more like 'Museum.'

"Perhaps he wants me to send all the Arabic he's written up to the
British Museum," said Daisy with a flash of genius, "so that they
can read it and say what it means."

"But then there's 'Museum' or 'Mouse' again there," said Georgie,
"and surely that word in front of it--It is!  It's Riseholme!
Riseholme Mouse or Riseholme Museum!  I don't know what either
would mean."

"You may depend upon it that it means something," said Daisy, "and
there's another capital 'L.'  Does it mean Lucia, do you think?
But 'dead' . . ."

"No: dead's got nothing to do with the 'L,'" said Georgie.  "Museum
comes in between, and quantities of Arabic."

"I think I'll just record the exact time; it would be more
scientific," said Daisy.  "A quarter to eleven.  No, that clock's
three minutes fast by the church time."

"No, the church time is slow," said Georgie.

Suddenly he jumped up.

"I've got it," he said.  "Look!  'L from L.'  That means a letter
from Lucia.  And it's quite true.  I heard this morning, and it's
in my pocket now."

"No!" said Daisy, "that's just a sign Abfou is giving us, that he
really is with us, and knows what is going on.  Very evidential."

The absorption of them both in this script may be faintly
appreciated by the fact that neither Daisy evinced the slightest
curiosity as to what Lucia said, nor Georgie the least desire to
communicate it.

"And then there's 'dead'," said Georgie, looking out of the window.
"I wonder what that means."

"I'm sure I hope it's not Lucia," said Daisy with stoical calmness,
"but I can't think of anybody else."

Georgie's eyes wandered over the Green; Mrs. Boucher was speeding
round in her bath-chair, pushed by her husband, and there was the
Vicar walking very fast, and Mrs. Antrobus and Piggy and Goosey . . .
nobody else seemed to be dead.  Then his eye came back to the
foreground of Daisy's front garden.

"What has happened to your mulberry-tree?" he said parenthetically.
"Its leaves are all drooping.  You ought never to have pruned its
roots without knowing how to do it."

Daisy jumped up.

"Georgie, you've got it!" she said.  "It's the mulberry-tree that's
dead.  Isn't that wonderful?"

Georgie was suitably impressed.

"That's very curious: very curious indeed," he said.  "Letter from
Lucia, and the dead mulberry tree.  I do believe there's something
in it.  But let's go on studying the script.  Now I look at it
again I feel certain it is Riseholme Museum, not Riseholme Mouse.
The only difficulty is that there isn't a Museum in Riseholme."

"There are plenty of mice," observed Daisy, who had had some
trouble with these little creatures.  "Abfou may be wanting to give
me advice about some kind of ancient Egyptian trap. . . . But if
you aren't very busy this morning, Georgie, we might have another
sitting and see if we get anything more definite.  Let us attain
collectedness as the directions advise."

"What's collectedness?" asked Georgie.

Daisy gave him the directions.  Collectedness seemed to be a sort
of mixture of intense concentration and complete vacuity of mind.

"You seem to have to concentrate your mind upon nothing at all,"
said he after reading it.

"That's just it," said Daisy.  "You put all thoughts out of your
head, and then focus your mind.  We have to be only the instrument
through which Abfou functions."

They sat down again after a little deep breathing and relaxation,
and almost immediately the planchette began to move across the
paper with a firm and steady progression.  It stopped sometimes for
a few minutes, which was proof of the authenticity of the
controlling force, for in spite of all efforts at collectedness,
both Daisy's and Georgie's minds were full of things which they
longed for Abfou to communicate, and if either of them was
consciously directing those movements, there could have been no
pause at all.  When finally it gave that great dash across the
paper again, indicating that the communication was finished, they
found the most remarkable results.

Abfou had written two pages of foolscap in a tall upright hand,
which was quite unlike either Daisy's or Georgie's ordinary script,
and this was another proof (if proof were wanted) of authenticity.
It was comparatively easy to read, and, except for a long passage
at the end in Arabic, was written almost entirely in English.

"Look, there's Lucia written out in full four times," said Daisy
eagerly.  "And 'Pepper.'  What's Pepper?"

Georgie gasped.

"Why Pepino, of course," he said.  "I do call that odd.  And see
how it goes on--'Muck company ', no 'Much company, much grand
company, higher and higher.'"

"Poor Lucia!" said Daisy.  "How sarcastic!  That's what Abfou
thinks about it all.  By the way, you haven't told me what she says
yet; never mind, this is far more interesting. . . .  Then there's
a little Arabic, at least I think it's Arabic, for I can't make
anything out of it, and then--why, I believe those next words are
'From Olga.'  Have you heard from Olga?"

"No," said Georgie, "but there's something about her in Lucia's
letter.  Perhaps that's it."

"Very likely.  And then I can make out Riseholme, and it isn't
'mouse,' it's quite clearly 'Museum,' and then--I can't read that,
but it looks English, and then 'opera,' that's Olga again, and
'dead,' which is the mulberry tree.  And then 'It is better to work
than to be idle.  Think not--' something--"

"Bark," said Georgie.  "No, 'hard.'"

"Yes.  'Think not hard thoughts of any, but turn thy mind to
improving work.'--Georgie, isn't that wonderful?--and then it goes
off into Arabic, what a pity!  It might have been more about the
museum.  I shall certainly send all the first Arabic scripts to the
British Museum."

Georgie considered this.

"Somehow I don't believe that is what Abfou means," said he.  "He
says Riseholme Museum, not British Museum.  You can't possibly get
'British' out of that word."

Georgie left Daisy still attempting to detect more English among
Arabic passages and engaged himself to come in again after tea for
fresh investigation.  Within a minute of his departure Daisy's
telephone rang.

"How tiresome these interruptions are," said Daisy to herself, as
she hurried to the instrument.  "Yes, yes.  Who is it?"

Georgie's voice had the composure of terrific excitement.

"It's me," he said.  "The second post has just come in, and a
letter from Olga.  'From Olga,' you remember."

"No!" said Daisy.  "Do tell me if she says anything about--"

But Georgie had already rung off.  He wanted to read his letter
from Olga, and Daisy sat down again quite awestruck at this further
revelation.  The future clearly was known to Abfou as well as the
past, for Georgie knew nothing about Olga's letter when the words
'From Olga' occurred in the script.  And if in it she said anything
about 'opera' (which really was on the cards) it would be more
wonderful still.

The morning was nearly over, so Daisy observed to her prodigious
surprise, for it had really gone like a flash (a flash of the
highest illuminative power), and she hurried out with a trowel and
a rake to get half an hour in the garden before lunch.  It was
rather disconcerting to find that though she spent the entire day
in the garden, often not sitting down to her planchette till dusk
rendered it impossible to see the mazes of cotton threads she had
stretched over newly-sown beds, to keep off sparrows (she had on
one occasion shattered with a couple of hasty steps the whole of
those defensive fortifications) she seemed, in spite of blistered
hands and aching back, to be falling more and more into arrears
over her horticulture.  Whereas that ruffian Simkinson, whom she
had dismissed for laziness when she found him smoking a pipe in the
potting-shed and doing a cross-word puzzle when he ought to have
been working, really kept her garden in very good order by
slouching about it for three half-days in the week.  To be sure,
she had pruned the roots of the mulberry tree, which had taken a
whole day (and so incidentally had killed the mulberry tree) and
though the death of that antique vegetable had given Abfou a fine
opportunity for proving himself, evidence now was getting so
abundant that Daisy almost wished it hadn't happened.  Then, too,
she was beginning to have secret qualms that she had torn up as
weeds a quantity of seedlings which the indolent Simkinson had just
pricked out, for though the beds were now certainly weedless, there
was no sign of any other growth there.  And either Daisy's little
wooden labels had got mixed, or she had sown Brussels sprouts in
the circular bed just outside the dining-room window instead of
Phlox Drummondi.  She thought she had attached the appropriate
label to the seed she had sown, but it was very dark at the time,
and in the morning the label certainly said 'Brussels sprouts.'  In
which case there would be a bed of Phlox at the far end of the
little strip of kitchen garden.  The seeds in both places were
sprouting now, so she would know the worst or the best before long.

Then, again, there was the rockery she had told Simkinson to build,
which he had neglected for cross-word puzzles, and though Daisy had
been working six or eight hours a day in her garden ever since, she
had not found time to touch a stone of it, and the fragments lying
like a moraine on the path by the potting-shed still rendered any
approach to the latter a mountaineering feat.  They consisted of
fragments of medival masonry, from the site of the ancient abbey,
finials and crockets and pieces of mullioned windows which had been
turned up when a new siding of the railway had been made, and
everyone almost had got some with the exception of Mrs. Boucher,
who called them rubbish.  Then there were some fossils, ammonites
and spar and curious flints with holes in them and bits of talc,
for Lucia one year had commandeered them all into the study of
geology and they had got hammers and whacked away at the face of an
old quarry, detaching these petrified relics and hitting themselves
over the fingers in the process.  It was that year that the Roman
camp outside the village had been put under the plough and
Riseholme had followed it like a bevy of rooks, and Georgie had got
several trays full of fragments of iridescent glass, and Colonel
Boucher had collected bits of Samian ware, and Mrs. Antrobus had
found a bronze fibula or safety-pin.  Daisy had got some chunks of
Roman brickwork, and a section of Roman drainpipe, which now
figured among the materials for her rockery; and she had bought,
for about their weight in gold, quite a dozen bronze coins.  These,
of course, would not be placed in the rockery, but she had put them
somewhere very carefully, and had subsequently forgotten where that
was.  Now as these archological associations came into her mind
from the contemplation of the materials for the rockery, she
suddenly thought she remembered that she had put them at the back
of the drawer in her card-table.

The sight of these antique fragments disgusted Daisy; they littered
the path, and she could not imagine them built up into a rockery
that should have the smallest claim to be an attractive object.
How could the juxtaposition of a stone mullion, a drain-pipe and an
ammonite present a pleasant appearance?  Besides, who was to
juxtapose them?  She could not keep pace with the other needs of
the garden, let alone a rockery, and where, after all, was the
rockery to stand?  The asparagus-bed seemed the only place, and she
preferred asparagus.

Robert was bawling out from the dining-room window that lunch was
ready, and as she retraced her steps to the house, she thought that
perhaps it would be better to eat humble pie and get Simkinson to
return.  It was clear to Daisy that if she was to do her duty as
medium between ancient Egypt and the world of to-day, the garden
would deteriorate even more rapidly than it was doing already, and
no doubt Robert would consent to eat the humble pie for her, and
tell Simkinson that they couldn't get on without him, and that when
she had said he was lazy, she had meant industrious, or whatever
else was necessary.

Robert was in a very good temper that day because Roumanian oils
which were the main source of his fortunes had announced a higher
dividend than usual, and he promised to seek out Simkinson and
explain what lazy meant, and if he didn't understand to soothe his
injured feelings with a small tip.

"And tell him he needn't make a rockery at all," said Daisy.  "He
always hated the idea of a rockery.  He can dig a pit and bury the
fossils and the architectural fragments and everything.  That will
be the easiest way of disposing of them."

"And what is he to do with the earth he takes out of the pit, my
dear?" asked Robert.

"Put it back, I suppose," said Daisy rather sharply.  Robert was so
pleased at having 'caught' her, that he did not even explain that
she had been caught. . . .

After lunch Daisy found the coins; it was odd that, having
forgotten where she had put them for so long, she should suddenly
remember, and she was inclined to attribute this inspiration to
Abfou.  The difficulty was to know what, having found them, to do
with them next.  Some of them obviously bore signs of once having
had profiles of Roman emperors stamped on them, and she was sure
she had heard that some Roman coins were of great value, and
probably these were the ones.  Perhaps when she sent the Arabic
script to the British Museum she might send these too for
identification. . . . And then she dropped them all on the floor as
the great idea struck her.

She flew into the garden, calling to Georgie, who was putting up

"Georgie, I've got it!" she cried.  "It's as plain as plain.  What
Abfou wants us to do is to start a Riseholme Museum.  He wrote
Riseholme Museum quite distinctly.  Think how it would pay too,
when we're overrun with American tourists in the summer!  They
would all come to see it.  A shilling admission I should put it at,
and sixpence for the catalogue."

"I wonder if Abfou meant that," said Georgie.

"He said it," said Daisy.  "You can't deny that!"

"But what should we put in the Museum?" asked he.

"My dear, we should fill it with antiquities and things which none
of us want in our houses.  There are those beautiful fragments of
the Abbey which I've got, and which are simply wasted in my garden
with no one to see them, and my drainpipe.  I would present them
all to the Museum, and the fossils, and perhaps some of my coins.
And my Roman brick-work."

Georgie paused with a hoop in his hand.

"That is an idea," he said.  "And I've got all those lovely pieces
of iridescent glass, which are always tumbling about.  I would give

"And Colonel Boucher's Samian ware," cried Daisy.  "He was saying
only the other day how he hated it, but didn't quite want to throw
it away.  It will be a question of what we leave out, not of what
we put in.  Besides, I'm sure that's what Abfou meant.  We must
form a committee at once.  You and Mrs. Boucher and I, I should
think, would be enough.  Large committees are a great mistake."

"Not Lucia?" asked Georgie, with lingering loyalty.

"No.  Certainly not," said Daisy.  "She would only send us orders
from London, as to what we were to do and want us to undo all we
had done when she came back, besides saying she had thought of it,
and making herself President!"

"There's something in that," said Georgie.

"Of course there is, there's sense," said Daisy.  "Now I shall go
straight and see Mrs. Boucher."

Georgie dealt a few smart blows with his mallet to the hoop he was
putting in place.

"I shall come too," he said.  "Riseholme Museum!  I believe Abfou
did mean that.  We SHALL be busy again."


The committee met that very afternoon, and the next morning and the
next afternoon, and the scheme quickly took shape.  Robert, rolling
in golden billows of Roumanian oil, was called in as financial
adviser, and after calculation, the scheme strongly recommended
itself to him.  All the summer the town was thronged with visitors,
and inquiring American minds would hardly leave unvisited the
Museum at so Elizabethan a place.

"I don't know what you'll have in your Museum," he said, "but I
expect they'll go to look, and even if they don't find much they'll
have paid their shillings.  And if Mrs. Boucher thinks her husband
will let you have that big tithe-barn of his, at a small rent, I
daresay you'll have a paying proposition."

The question of funds therefore in order to convert the tithe barn
into a museum was instantly gone into.  Robert professed himself
perfectly ready to equip the tithe-barn with all necessary
furniture and decoration, if he might collar the whole of
the receipts, but his willingness to take all financial
responsibilities made the committee think that they would like to
have a share in them, since so shrewd a business man clearly saw
the probability of making something out of it.  Up till then, the
sordid question of money had not really occurred to them: there was
to be a museum which would make them busy again, and the committee
was to run it.  They were quite willing to devote practically the
whole of their time to it, for Riseholme was one of those happy
places where the proverb that Time is money was a flat fallacy, for
nobody had ever earned a penny with it.  But since Robert's
financial judgment argued that the museum would be a profitable
investment, the committee naturally wished to have a hand in it,
and the three members each subscribed fifty pounds, and co-opted
Robert to join the board and supply the rest.  Profits (if any)
would be divided up between the members of the committee in
proportion to their subscriptions.  The financial Robert would see
to all that, and the rest of them could turn their attention to the
provision of curiosities.

There was evidently to be no lack of them, for everyone in
Riseholme had stores of miscellaneous antiquities and "specimens"
of various kinds which encumbered their houses and required a deal
of dusting, but which couldn't quite be thrown away.  A very few
striking objects were only lent: among these were Daisy's box of
coins, and Mrs. Antrobus's fibula, but the most of them, like
Georgie's glass and Colonel Boucher's pieces of Samian ware, were
fervently bestowed.  Objects of all sorts poured in, the greater
portion of a spinning-wheel, an Elizabethan pestle and mortar, no
end of Roman tiles, a large wooden post unhesitatingly called a
whipping-post, some indecipherable documents on parchment with
seals attached, belonging to the vicar, an ordnance map of the
district, numerous collections of fossils and of carved stones from
the site of the abbey, ancient quilts, a baby's cradle, worm-eaten
enough to be Anglo-Saxon, queer-shaped bottles, a tiger-ware jug,
fire-irons too ponderous for use, and (by special vote of the
Parish Council) the stocks which had hitherto stood at the edge of
the pond on the green.  All Riseholme was busy again, for fossils
had to be sorted out (it was early realised that even a museum
could have too many ammonites), curtains had to be stitched for the
windows, labels to be written, Samian ware to be pieced together,
cases arranged, a catalogue prepared.  The period of flatness
consequent on Lucia's desertion had passed off, and what had
certainly added zest to industry was the thought that Lucia had
nothing to do with the museum.  When next she deigned to visit her
discarded kingdom, she would find how busily and successfully and
originally they had got on without her, and that there was no place
for her on the committee, and probably none in the museum for the
Elizabethan turnspit which so often made the chimney of her music-
room to smoke.

Riseholme, indeed, was busier than ever, for not only had it the
museum feverishly to occupy it so that it might be open for the
tourist season this year, and, if possible, before Lucia came down
for one of her promised weekends, but it was immersed in a wave of
psychical experiments.  Daisy Quantock had been perfectly honest in
acknowledging that the idea of the museum was not hers at all, but
Abfou's, her Egyptian guide.  She had, it is true, been as
ingenious as Joseph in interpreting Abfou's directions, but it was
Abfou to whom all credit was due, and who evidently took such a
deep interest in the affairs of Riseholme.  She even offered to
present the museum with the sheet of foolscap on which the words
'Riseholme Museum' (not mouse) were written, but the general
feeling of the committee, while thanking her for her munificence,
was that it would not be tactful to display it, since the same
Sibylline sheet contained those sarcastic remarks about Lucia.  It
was proved also that Abfou had meant the Museum to be started, for
subsequently he several times said, "Much pleased with your plans
for the Museum.  Abfou approves."  So everybody else wanted to get
into touch with Abfou too, and no less than four planchettes or
ouija-boards were immediately ordered by various members of
Riseholme society.  At present Abfou did not manifest himself to
any of them, except in what was possibly Arabic script (for it
certainly bore a strong resemblance to his earlier efforts of
communication with Daisy), and while she encouraged the scribes to
persevere in the hope that he might soon regale them with English,
she was not really very anxious that he should.  With her he was
getting Englisher and Englisher every day, and had not Simkinson,
after having had the true meaning of the word 'lazy' carefully
explained to him, consented to manage her garden again, it
certainly would have degenerated into primeval jungle, for she
absolutely had not a minute to attend to it.

Simkinson, however, was quite genial.

"Oh yes, ma'am, very pleased to come back," he said.  "I knew you
wouldn't be able to get on long without me, and I want no
explanations.  Now let's have a look round and see what you've been
doing.  Why, whatever's happened to my mulberry tree?"

That was Simkinson's way: he always talked of 'my flowers' and 'my
asparagus' when he meant hers.

"I've been pruning its roots," she said.

"Well, ma'am, you've done your best to do it in," said Simkinson.
"I don't think it's dead though, I daresay it'll pull round."

Abfou had been understood to say it was dead, but perhaps he meant
something else, thought Daisy, and they went on to the small
circular bed below the dining-room windows.

"Phlox," said Daisy hopefully.

"Broccoli," said Simkinson examining the young green sprouts.  "And
the long bed there.  I sowed a lot of annuals there, and I don't
see a sign of anything coming up."

He fixed her with a merry eye.

"I believe you've been weeding, ma'am," he said.  "I shall have to
get you a lot of young plants if you want a bit of colour there.
It's too late for me to put my seeds in again."

Daisy rather wished she hadn't come out with him, and changed the
subject to something more cheerful.

"Well, I shan't want the rockery," she said.  "You needn't bother
about that.  All these stones will be carted away in a day or two."

"Glad of that, ma'am.  I'll be able to get to my potting-shed
again.  Well, I'll try to put you to rights.  I'd best pull up the
broccoli first, you won't want it under your windows, will you?
You stick to rolling the lawn, ma'am, if you want to garden.  You
won't do any harm then."

It was rather dreadful being put in one's place like this, but
Daisy did not dare risk a second quarrel, and the sight of Georgie
at the dining-room window (he had come across to 'weedj,' as the
psychical processes, whether ouija or planchette, were now called)
was rather a relief.  Weeding, after all, was unimportant compared
with weedjing.

"And I don't believe I ever told you what Olga wrote about," said
Georgie, as soon as she was within range.  "We've talked of nothing
but museum.  Oh, and Mrs. Boucher's planchette has come.  But it
broke in the post, and she's gumming it together."

"I doubt if it will act," said Daisy.  "But what did Olga say?  It
quite went out of my head to ask you."

"It's too heavenly of her," said he.  "She's asked me to go up and
stay with her for the first night of the opera.  She's singing
Lucrezia, and has got a stall for me."

"No!" said Daisy, making a trial trip over the blotting-paper to
see if the pencil was sharp.  "That will be an event!  I suppose
you're going."

"Just about," said Georgie.  "It's going to be broadcasted, too,
and I shall be listening to the original."

"How interesting!" said Daisy.  "And there you'll be in Brompton
Square, just opposite Lucia.  Oh, you heard from her?  What did she

"Apparently she's getting on marvellously," said Georgie.  "Not a
moment to spare.  Just what she likes."

Daisy pushed the planchette aside.  There would be time for that
when she had had a little talk about Lucia.

"And are you going to stay with her too?" she asked

Georgie was quite determined not to be ill-natured.  He had taken
no part (or very little) in this trampling on Lucia's majesty,
which had been so merrily going on.

"I should love to, if she would ask me," he observed.  "She only
says she's going to.  Of course, I shall go to see her."

"I wouldn't," said Daisy savagely.  "If she asked me fifty times I
should say 'no' fifty times.  What's happened is that she's dropped
us.  I wouldn't have her on our museum committee if--if she gave
her pearls to it and said they belonged to Queen Elizabeth.  I
wonder you haven't got more spirit."

"I've got plenty of spirit," said Georgie, "and I allow I did feel
rather hurt at her letter.  But then, after all, what does it

"Of course it doesn't if you're going to stay with Olga," said
Daisy.  "How she'll hate you for that!"

"Well, I can't help it," he said.  "Lucia hasn't asked me and Olga
has.  She's twice reminded Olga that she may use her music-room to
practise in whenever she likes.  Isn't that kind?  She would love
to be able to say that Olga's always practising in her music-room.
But aren't we ill-natured?  Let's weedj instead."

Georgie found, when he arrived next afternoon in Brompton Square,
that Olga had already had her early dinner, and that he was to dine
alone at seven and follow her to the opera house.

"I'm on the point of collapse from sheer nerves," she said.  "I
always am before I sing, and then out of desperation I pull myself
together.  If--I say 'if'--I survive till midnight, we're going to
have a little party here.  Cortese is coming, and Princess Isabel,
and one or two other people.  Georgie, it's very daring of you to
come here, you know, because my husband's away, and I'm an
unprotected female alone with Don Juan.  How's Riseholme?  Talk to
me about Riseholme.  Are you engaged to Piggy yet?  And is it
broccoli or phlox in Daisy's round bed?  Your letter was so
mysterious too.  I know nothing about the Museum yet.  What Museum?
Are you going to kill and stuff Lucia and put her in the hall?  You
simply alluded to the Museum as if I knew all about it.  If you
don't talk to me, I shall scream."

Georgie flung himself into the task, delighted to be thought
capable of doing anything for Olga.  He described at great length
and with much emphasis the whole of the history of Riseholme from
the first epiphany of Arabic and Abfou on the planchette-board down
to the return of Simkinson.  Olga lost herself in these chronicles,
and when her maid came in to tell her it was time to start, she got
up quite cheerfully.

"And so it was broccoli," she said.  "I was afraid it was going to
be phlox after all.  You're an angel, Georgie, for getting me
through my bad hour.  I'll give you anything you like for the
Museum.  Wait for me afterwards at the stage door.  We'll drive
back together."

From the moment Olga appeared, the success of the opera was secure.
Cortese, who was conducting, had made his music well; it thoroughly
suited her, and she was singing and looking and acting her best.
Again and again after the first act the curtain had to go up, and
not until the house was satisfied could Georgie turn his glances
this way and that to observe the audience.  Then in the twilight of
a small box on the second tier he espied a woman who was kissing
her hand somewhere in his direction, and a man waving a programme,
and then he suddenly focused them and saw who they were.  He ran
upstairs to visit them, and there was Lucia in an extraordinarily
short skirt with her hair shingled, and round her neck three short
rows of seed pearls.

"Georgino mio!" she cried.  "This is a surprise!  You came up to
see our dear Olga's triumph.  I do call that loyalty.  Why did you
not tell me you were coming?"

"I thought I would call to-morrow," said Georgie, with his eyes
still going backwards and forwards between the shingle and the
pearls and the legs.

"Ah, you are staying the night in town?" she asked.  "Not going
back by the midnight train?  The dear old midnight train, and
waking in Riseholme!  At your club?"

"No, I'm staying with Olga," said Georgie.

Lucia seemed to become slightly cataleptic for a moment, but

"No!  Are you really?" she said.  "I think that is unkind of you,
Georgie.  You might have told me you were coming."

"But you said that the house wasn't ready," said he.  "And she
asked me."

Lucia put on a bright smile.

"Well, you're forgiven," she said.  "We're all at sixes and sevens
yet.  And we've seen nothing of dearest Olga--or Mrs. Shuttleworth,
I should say, for that's on the bills.  Of course we'll drive you
home, and you must come in for a chat, before Mrs. Shuttleworth
gets home, and then no doubt she will be very tired and want to go
to bed."

Lucia as she spoke had been surveying the house with occasional
little smiles and wagglings of her hand in vague directions.

"Ah, there's Elsie Garroby-Ashton," she said, "and who is that with
her, Pepino?  Lord Shrivenham, surely.  So come back with me and
have 'ickle talk, Georgie.  Oh, there's the Italian Ambassadress.
Dearest Gioconda!  Such a sweet.  And look at the Royal box.  What
a gathering!  That's the Royal Box, Georgie, away to the left--that
large one--in the tier below.  Too near the stage for my taste: so
little illusion--"

Lucia suddenly rose and made a profound curtsey.

"I think she saw us, Pepino," she said, "perhaps you had better
bow.  No, she's looking somewhere else now: you did not bow quick
enough.  And what a party in dearest Aggie's box.  Who can that be?
Oh yes, it's Toby Limpsfield.  We met him at Aggie's, do you
remember, on the first night we were up.  So join us at the grand
entrance, Georgie, and drive back with us.  We shall be giving a
lift to somebody else, I'll be bound, but if you have your motor,
it is so ill-natured not to pick up friends.  I always do it: they
will be calling us the 'Lifts of London,' as Marcia Whitby said."

"I'm afraid I can't do that," said Georgie.  "I'm waiting for Olga,
and she's having a little party, I believe."

"No!  Is she really?" asked Lucia, with all the old Riseholme
vivacity.  "Who is coming?"

"Cortese, I believe," said Georgie, thinking it might be too much
for Lucia if he mentioned a princess, "and one or two of the

Lucia's mouth watered, and she swallowed rapidly.  That was the
kind of party she longed to be asked to, for it would be so
wonderful and glorious to be able casually to allude to Olga's
tiny, tiny little party after the first night of the opera, not a
party at all really, just a few intimes, herself and Cortese and so
on.  How could she manage it, she wondered?  Could she pretend not
to know that there was a party, and just drop in for a moment in
neighbourly fashion with enthusiastic congratulations?  Or should
she pretend her motor had not come, and hang about the stage-door
with Georgie--Pepino could go home in the motor--and get a lift?
Or should she hint very violently to Georgie how she would like to
come in just for a minute.  Or should she, now that she knew there
was to be a party, merely assert that she had been to it?  Perhaps
a hint to Georgie was the best plan. . . .

Her momentary indecision was put an end to by the appearance of
Cortese threading his way among the orchestra, and the lowering of
the lights.  Georgie, without giving her any further opportunity,
hurried back to his stall, feeling that he had had an escape, for
Lucia's beady eye had been fixing him, just in the way it always
used to do when she wanted something and, in consequence, meant to
get it.  He felt he had been quite wrong in ever supposing that
Lucia had changed.  She was just precisely the same, translated
into a larger sphere.  She had expanded: strange though it seemed,
she had only been in bud at Riseholme.  "I wonder what she'll do?"
thought Georgie as he settled himself into his stall.  "She wants
dreadfully to come."

The opera came to an end in a blaze of bouquets and triumph and
recalls, and curtseys.  It was something of an occasion, for it was
the first night of the opera, and the first performance of
"Lucrezia" in London, and it was late when Olga came florally out.
The party, which was originally meant to be no party at all, but
just a little supper with Cortese and one or two of the singers,
had marvellously increased during the evening, for friends had sent
round messages and congratulations, and Olga had asked them to drop
in, and when she and Georgie arrived at Brompton Square, the whole
of the curve at the top was packed with motors.

"Heavens, what a lot of people I seem to have asked," she said,
"but it will be great fun.  There won't be nearly enough chairs,
but we'll sit on the floor, and there won't be nearly enough
supper, but I know there's a ham, and what can be better than a
ham?  Oh, Georgie, I am happy."

Now from opposite, across the narrow space of the square, Lucia had
seen the arrival of all these cars.  In order to see them better
she had gone on to the balcony of her drawing-room, and noted their
occupants with her opera-glasses.  There was Lord Limpsfield, and
the Italian Ambassadress, and Mr. Garroby-Ashton, and Cortese, and
some woman to whom Mr. Garroby-Ashton bowed and Mrs. Garroby-Ashton
curtsied.  Up they streamed.  And there was the Duchess of Whitby,
(Marcia, for Lucia had heard her called that) coming up the steps,
and curtseying too, but as yet Olga and Georgie quite certainly had
not come.  It seemed strange that so many brilliant guests should
arrive before their hostess, but Lucia saw at once that this was
the most chic informality that it was possible to conceive.  No
doubt Mr. Shuttleworth was there to receive them, but how wonderful
it all was! . . .  And then the thought occurred to her that Olga
would arrive, and with her would be Georgie, and she felt herself
turning bright green all over with impotent jealousy.  Georgie in
that crowd!  It was impossible that Georgie should be there, and
not she, but that was certainly what would happen unless she
thought of something.  Georgie would go back to Riseholme and
describe this gathering, and he would say that Lucia was not there:
he supposed she had not been asked.

Lucia thought of something; she hurried downstairs and let herself
out.  Motors were still arriving, but perhaps she was not too late.
She took up her stand in the central shadow of a gas-lamp close to
Olga's door and waited.

Up the square came yet another car, and she could see it was full
of flowers.  Olga stepped out, and she darted forward.

"O Mrs. Shuttleworth," she said.  "Splendid!  Glorious!
Marvellous!  If only Beethoven was alive!  I could not think of
going to bed, without just popping across to thank you for a
revelation!  Georgie, dear!  Just to shake your hand: that is all.
All!  I won't detain you.  I see you have a party!  You wonderful
Queen of Song."

Olga at all times was good-natured.  Her eye met Georgie's for a

"O, but come in," she said.  "Do come in.  It isn't a party: it's
just anybody.  Georgie, be a dear, and help to carry all those
flowers in.  How nice of you to come across, Mrs. Lucas!  I know
you'll excuse my running on ahead, because all--at least I hope all--
my guests have come, and there's no one to look after them."

Lucia, following closely in her wake, and taking no further notice
of Georgie, slipped into the little front drawing-room behind her.
It was crammed, and it was such a little room.  Why had she not
foreseen this, why had she not sent a note across to Olga earlier
in the day, asking her to treat Lucia's house precisely as her own,
and have her party in the spacious music-room?  It would have been
only neighbourly.  But the bitterness of such regrets soon vanished
in the extraordinary sweetness of the present, and she was soon in
conversation with Mrs. Garroby-Ashton, and distributing little
smiles and nods to all the folk with whom she had the slightest
acquaintance.  By the fireplace was standing the Royal lady, and
that for the moment was the only chagrin, for Lucia had not the
vaguest idea who she was.  Then Georgie came in, looking like a
flower-stall, and then came a slight second chagrin, for Olga led
him up to the Royal lady, and introduced him.  But that would be
all right, for she could easily get Georgie to tell her who she
was, without exactly asking him, and then poor Georgie made a very
awkward sort of bow, and dropped a large quantity of flowers, and
said 'tarsome.'

Lucia glided away from Mrs. Garroby-Ashton and stood near the
Duchess of Whitby.  Marcia did not seem to recognise her at first,
but that was quickly remedied, and after a little pleasant talk,
Lucia asked her to lunch to meet Olga, and fixed in her mind that
she must ask Olga to lunch on the same day to meet the Duchess of
Whitby.  Then edging a little nearer to the centre of attraction,
she secured Lord Limpsfield by angling for him with the bait of
dearest Aggie, to whom she must remember to telephone early next
morning, to ask her to come and meet Lord Limpsfield.

That would do for the present, and Lucia abandoned herself to the
joys of the moment.  A move was made downstairs to supper, and
Lucia, sticking like a limpet to Lord Limpsfield, was wafted in
azure to Olga's little tiny dining-room, and saw at once that there
were not nearly enough seats for everybody.  There were two small
round tables, and that was absolutely all: the rest would have to
stand and forage at the narrow buffet which ran along the wall.

"It's musical chairs," said Olga cheerfully, "those who are quick
get seats, and the others don't.  Tony, go and sit next the
Princess, and Cortese, you go the other side.  We shall all get
something to eat sometime.  Georgie, go and stand by the buffet,
there's a dear, and make yourself wonderfully useful, and oh, rush
upstairs first, and bring the cigarettes; they stay the pangs of
hunger.  Now we're getting on beautifully.  Darling Marcia, there's
just one chair let.  Slip into it."

Lucia had lingered for a moment at the door to ask Olga to lunch
the day after to-morrow, and Olga said she would be delighted, so
there was a wonderful little party arranged for.  To complete her
content it was only needful to be presented to the hitherto
anonymous Princess and learn her name.  By dexterously picking up
her fan for her and much admiring it, as she made a low curtsey,
she secured a few precious words with her, but the name was still
denied her.  To ask anybody what it was would faintly indicate that
she didn't know it, and that was not to be thought of.

Georgie popped in, as they all said at Riseholme, to see Lucia next
morning when Olga had gone to a rehearsal at Covent Garden, and
found her in her music-room, busy over Stravinski.  Olga's party
had not been in The Times, which was annoying, and Lucia was still
unaware what the Princess's name was.  Though the previous evening
had been far the most rewarding she had yet spent, it was wiser to
let Georgie suppose that such an affair was a very ordinary
occurrence, and not to allude to it for some time.

"Ah, Georgino!" she said.  "How nice of you to pop in.  By buona
fortuna I have got a spare hour this morning, before Sophy Alingsby--
dear Sophy, such a brain--fetches me to go to some private view or
other, so we can have a good chat.  Yes, this is the music-room,
and before you go, I must trot you round to see the rest of our
little establishment.  Not a bad room--those are the famous
Chippendale chairs--as soon as we get a little more settled, I
shall give an evening party or two with some music.  You must

"Should love to," said Georgie.

"Such a whirl it has been, and it gets worse every day," went on
Lucia.  "Sometimes Pepino and I go out together, but often he dines
at one house and I at another--they do that in London, you know--
and sometimes I hardly set eyes on him all day.  I haven't seen him
this morning, but just now they told me he had gone out.  He enjoys
it so much that I do not mind how tired I get.  Ah! that telephone,
it never ceases ringing.  Sometimes I think I will have it taken
out of the house altogether, for I get no peace.  Somebody always
seems to be wanting Pepino or me."

She hurried, all the same, with considerable alacrity to the
machine, and really there was no thought in her mind of having the
telephone taken out, for it had only just been installed.  The
call, however, was rather a disappointment, for it only concerned a
pair of walking shoes.  There was no need, however, to tell Georgie
that, and pressing her finger to her forehead she said, "Yes, I can
manage 3.30," (which meant nothing) and quickly rang off.

"Not a moment's peace," said Lucia.  "Ting-a-ting-a-ting from
morning till night.  Now tell me all about Riseholme, Georgie; that
will give me such a delicious feeling of tranquillity.  Dear me,
who is this coming to interrupt us now?"

It was only Pepino.  He seemed leisurely enough, and rather
unnecessarily explained that he had only been out to get a tooth-
brush from the chemist's in Brompton Road.  This he carried in a
small paper parcel.

"And there's the man coming about the telephone this morning,
Lucia," he said.  "You want the extension to your bedroom, don't

"Yes, dear, as we have got it in the house we may as well have it
conveniently placed," she said.  "I'm sure the miles I walk up and
down stairs, as I was telling Georgie--"

Pepino chuckled.

"She woke them up, Georgie," he said.  "None of their leisurely
London ways for Lucia.  She had the telephone put into the house in
record time.  Gave them no peace till she got it done."

"Very wise," said Georgie tactfully.  "That's the way to get
things.  Well, about Riseholme.  We've really been very busy

"Dear old place!" said Lucia.  "Tell me all about it."

Georgie rapidly considered with himself whether he should mention
the Museum.  He decided against it, for, put it as you might, the
museum, apart from the convenience of getting rid of interesting
rubbish, was of a conspiratorial nature, a policy of revenge
against Lucia for her desertion, and a demonstration of how
wonderfully well and truly they all got on without her.  It was
then, the mark of a highly injudicious conspirator to give
information to her against whom this plot was directed.

"Well, Daisy has been having some most remarkable experiences," he
said.  "She got a ouija board and a planchette--we use the
planchette most--and very soon it was quite clear that messages
were coming through from a guide."

Lucia laughed with a shrill metallic note of rather hostile timbre.

"Dear Daisy," she said.  "If only she would take commonsense as her
guide.  I suppose the guide is a Chaldean astrologer or King

"Not at all," said Georgie.  "It's an Egyptian called Abfou."

A momentary pang of envy shot through Lucia.  She could well
imagine the quality of excitement which thrilled Riseholme, how
Georgie would have popped in to tell her about it, and how she
would have got a ouija-board too, and obtained twice as many
messages as Daisy.  She hated the thought of Daisy having Abfou all
her own way, and gave another little shrill laugh.

"Daisy is priceless," she said.  "And what has Abfou told her?"

"Well, it was very odd," said Georgie.  "The morning I got your
letter Abfou wrote 'L from L,' and if that doesn't mean 'Letter
from Lucia,' I don't know what else it could be."

"It might just as well mean 'Lozenges from Leamington,'" said Lucia
witheringly.  "And what else?"

Georgie felt the conversation was beginning to border rather
dangerously on the Museum, and tried a light-hearted sortie into
another subject.

"Oh, just things of that sort," he said.  "And then she had a
terrible time over her garden.  She dismissed Simkinson for doing
cross-word puzzles instead of the lawn, and determined to do it all
herself.  She sowed sprouts in that round bed under the dining-room

"No!" said Pepino, who was listening with qualms of home-sickness
to these chronicles.

"Yes, and the phlox in the kitchen garden," said Georgie.

He looked at Lucia, and became aware that her gimlet-eye was on
him, and was afraid he had made the transition from Abfou to
horticulture rather too eagerly.  He went volubly on.

"And she dug up all the seeds that Simkinson had planted, and
pruned the roots of her mulberry tree and probably killed it," he
said.  "Then in that warm weather last week, no, the week before, I
got out my painting things again, and am doing a sketch of my house
from the green.  Foljambe is very well, and, and . . ." he could
think of nothing else except the Museum.

Lucia waited till he had quite run down.

"And what more did Abfou say?" she asked.  "His message of 'L to L'
would not have made you busy for very long."

Georgie had to reconsider the wisdom of silence.  Lucia clearly
suspected something, and when she came down for her week-end, and
found the affairs of the Museum entirely engrossing the whole of
Riseholme, his reticence, if he persisted in it, would wear a very
suspicious aspect.

"Oh yes, the museum," he said with feigned lightness.  "Abfou told
us to start a museum, and it's getting on splendidly.  That tithe-
barn of Colonel Boucher's.  And Daisy's given all the things she
was going to make into a rockery, and I'm giving my Roman glass and
two sketches, and Colonel Boucher his Samian ware and an ordnance
map, and there are lots of fossils and some coins."

"And a committee?" asked Lucia.

"Yes.  Daisy and Mrs. Boucher and I, and we co-opted Robert," he
said with affected carelessness.

Again some nameless pang shot through Lucia.  Absent or present,
she ought to have been the chairman of the committee and told them
exactly what to do, and how to do it.  But she felt no doubt that
she could remedy all that when she came down to Riseholme for a
week-end.  In the meantime, it was sufficient to have pulled his
secret out of Georgie, like a cork, with a loud pop, and an
effusion of contents.

"Most interesting," she said.  "I must think what I can give you
for your museum.  Well, that's a nice little gossip."

Georgie could not bring himself to tell her that the stocks had
already been moved from the village green to the tithe-barn, for he
seemed to remember that Lucia and Pepino had presented them to the
Parish Council.  Now the Parish Council had presented them to the
Museum, but that was a reason the more why the Parish Council and
not he should face the donors.

"A nice little gossip," said Lucia.  "And what a pleasant party
last night.  I just popped over, to congratulate dear Olga on the
favourable, indeed the very favourable reception of 'Lucrezia,' for
I thought she would be hurt--artists are so sensitive--if I did not
add my little tribute, and then you saw how she refused to let me
go, but insisted that I should come in.  And I found it all most
pleasant: one met many friends, and I was very glad to be able to
look in."

This expressed very properly what Lucia meant to convey.  She did
not in the least want to put Olga in her place, but to put herself,
in Georgie's eyes, in her own place.  She had just, out of
kindness, stepped across to congratulate Olga, and then had been
dragged in.  Unfortunately Georgie did not believe a single word of
it: he had already made up his mind that Lucia had laid an ambush
for Olga, so swiftly and punctually had she come out of the shadow
of the gas-lamp on her arrival.  He answered her therefore
precisely in the spirit in which she had spoken.  Lucia would know
very well. . . .

"It was good of you," he said enthusiastically.  "I'm sure Olga
appreciated your coming immensely.  How forgetful of her not to
have asked you at first!  And as for 'Lucrezia' just having a
favourable reception, I thought it was the most brilliant success
it is possible to imagine."

Lucia felt that her attitude hadn't quite produced the impression
she had intended.  Though she did not want Georgie (and Riseholme)
to think SHE joined in the uncritical adulation of Olga, she
certainly did not want Georgie to tell Olga that she didn't.  And
she still wanted to hear the Princess's name.

"No doubt, dear Georgie," she said, "it was a great success.  And
she was in wonderful voice, and looked most charming.  As you know,
I am terribly critical, but I can certainly say that.  Yes.  And
her party delicious.  So many pleasant people.  I saw you having
great jokes with the Princess."

Pepino having been asleep when Lucia came back last night, and not
having seen her this morning, had not heard about the Princess.

"Indeed, who was that?" he asked Lucia.

Very tiresome of Pepino.  But Lucia's guide (better than poor
Daisy's Abfou) must have been very attentive to her needs that
morning, for Pepino had hardly uttered these awkward words, when
the telephone rang.  She could easily therefore trip across to it,
protesting at these tiresome interruptions, and leave Georgie to

"Yes, Mrs. Lucas," said Lucia.  "Covent Garden?  Yes.  Then please
put me through. . . .  Dearest Olga is ringing up.  No doubt about
'The Valkyrie' next week. . . ."

Georgie had a brain wave.  He felt sure Lucia would have answered
Pepino's question instantly if she had known what the Princess's
name was.  He had noticed that Lucia in spite of her hangings about
had not been presented to the illustrious lady last night, and the
brainwave that she did not know the illustrious lady's name swept
over him.  He also saw that Lucia was anxiously listening not to
the telephone only, but to him.  If Lucia (and there could be no
doubt about that) wanted to know, she must eat her humble pie and
ask him. . . .

"Yes, dear Diva, it's me," said Lucia.  "Couldn't sleep a wink:
'Lucrezia' running in my head all night.  Marvellous.  You rang me

Her face fell.

"Oh, I am disappointed you can't come," she said.  "You are
naughty.  I shall have to give you a little engagement book to put
things down in. . . ."

Lucia's guide befriended her again, and her face brightened.  It
grew almost to an unearthly brightness as she listened to Olga's
apologies and a further proposal.

"Sunday evening?" she said.  "Now let me think a moment: yes, I am
free on Sunday.  So glad you said Sunday, because all other nights
are full.  Delightful.  And how nice to see Princess Isabel again.

She snapped the receiver back in triumph.

"What was it you asked me, Pepino?" she said.  "Oh, yes: it was
Princess Isabel.  Dear Olga insists on my dining with her on Sunday
to meet her again.  Such a nice woman."

"I thought we were going down to Riseholme for the Sunday," said

Lucia made a little despairing gesture.

"My poor head!" she said.  "It is I who ought to have an engagement
book chained to me.  What am I to do?  I hardly like to disappoint
dear Olga.  But you go down, Pepino, just the same.  I know you are
longing to get a breath of country air.  Georgie will give you
dinner one night, I am sure, and the other he will dine with you.
Won't you, Georgie?  So dear of you.  Now who shall I get to fill
my Olga's place at lunch to-morrow?  Mrs. Garroby-Ashton, I think.
Dear me, it is close on twelve, and Sophy will scold me if I keep
her waiting.  How the morning flashes by!  I had hardly begun my
practise, when Georgie came, and I've hardly had a word with him
before it is time to go out.  What will happen to my morning's post
I'm sure I don't know.  But I insist on your getting your breath of
country-air on Sunday, Pepino.  I shall have plenty to do here,
with all my arrears."

There was one note Lucia found she had to write before she went
out, and she sent Pepino to show Georgie the house while she
scribbled it, and addressing it to Mr. Stephen Merriall at the
office of the Evening Gazette, sent it off by hand.  This was
hardly done when Mrs. Alingsby arrived, and they went off together
to the private view of the Post-Cubists, and revelled in the works
of those remarkable artists.  Some were portraits and some
landscapes, and it was usually easy to tell which was which,
because a careful scrutiny revealed an eye or a stray mouth in
some, and a tree or a house in others.  Lucia was specially
enthusiastic over a picture of Waterloo Bridge, but she had
mistaken the number in the catalogue, and it proved to be a
portrait of the artist's wife.  Luckily she had not actually read
out to Sophy that it was Waterloo Bridge, though she had said
something about the river, but this was easily covered up in

"Too wonderful," she said.  "How they get to the very soul of
things!  What is it that Wordsworth says?  'The very pulse of the
machine.'  Pulsating, is it not?"

Mrs. Alingsby was tall and weird and intense, dressed rather like a
bird-of-paradise that had been out in a high gale, but very well
connected.  She had long straight hair which fell over her
forehead, and sometimes got in her eyes, and she wore on her head a
scarlet jockey-cap with an immense cameo in front of it.  She hated
all art that was earlier than 1923, and a considerable lot of what
was later.  In music, on the other hand, she was primitive, and
thought Bach decadent: in literature her taste was for stories
without a story, and poems without metre or meaning.  But she had
collected round her a group of interesting outlaws, of whom the men
looked like women, and the women like nothing at all, and though
nobody ever knew what they were talking about, they themselves were
talked about.  Lucia had been to a party of hers, where they all
sat in a room with black walls, and listened to early Italian music
on a spinet while a charcoal brazier on a blue hearth was fed with
incense. . . .  Lucia's general opinion of her was that she might
be useful up to a point, for she certainly excited interest.

"Wordsworth?" she asked.  "Oh, yes, I remember who you mean.  About
the Westmoreland Lakes.  Such a kill-joy."

She put on her large horn spectacles to look at the picture of the
artist's wife, and her body began to sway with a lithe circular

"Marvellous!  What a rhythm!" she said.  "Sigismund is the most
rhythmical of them all.  You ought to be painted by him.  He would
make something wonderful of you.  Something andante, adagio almost.
He's coming to see me on Sunday.  Come and meet him.  Breakfast
about half-past twelve.  Vegetarian with cocktails."

Lucia accepted this remarkable invitation with avidity: it would be
an interesting and progressive meal.  In these first weeks, she was
designedly experimental; she intended to sweep into her net all
there was which could conceivably harbour distinction, and sort it
out by degrees.  She was no snob in the narrow sense of the word;
she would have been very discontented if she had only the high-born
on her visiting list.  The high-born, of course, were safe--you
could not make a mistake in having a duchess to tea, because in her
own line a duchess had distinction--but it would not have been
enough to have all the duchesses there were: it might even have
been a disappointing tea-party if the whole room was packed with
them.  What she wanted was the foam of the wave, the topmost, the
most sunlit of the billows that rode the sea.  Anything that had
proved itself billowish was her game, and anything which showed
signs of being a billow, even if it entailed a vegetarian lunch
with cocktails and the possible necessity of being painted like the
artist's wife with an eyebrow in one corner of the picture and a
substance like desiccated cauliflower in the centre.  That had
always been her way: whatever those dear funny folk at Riseholme
had thought of, a juggler, a professor of Yoga, a geologist, a
psycho-analyst had been snapped up by her and exploited till he

But Pepino was not as nimble as she.  The incense at Sophy's had
made him sneeze, and the primitive tunes on the spinet had made him
snore; that had been all the uplift they had held for him.  Thus,
though she did not mind tiring herself to death, because Pepino was
having such an interesting time, she didn't mind his going down to
Riseholme for the Sunday to rest, while she had a vegetarian lunch
with post-cubists, and a dinner with a princess.  Literally, she
could scarcely tell which of the two she looked forward to most;
the princess was safe, but the post-cubists might prove more
perilously paying.  It was impossible to make a corner in
princesses for they were too independent, but already, in case of
post-cubism turning out to be the rage, she could visualise her
music-room and even the famous Chippendale chairs being painted
black, and the Sargent picture of Auntie being banished to the
attic.  She could not make them the rage, for she was not (as yet)
the supreme arbiter here that she had been at Riseholme, but should
they become the rage, there was no one surely more capable than
herself of giving the impression that she had discovered them.

Lucia spent a strenuous afternoon with correspondence and
telephonings, and dropped into Mrs. Sandeman's for a cup of tea, of
which she stood sorely in need.  She found there was no need to
tell dearest Aggie about the party last night at Olga's, for the
Evening Gazette had come in, and there was an account of it,
described in Hermione's matchless style.  Hermione had found the
bijou residence of the prima-donna in Brompton Square full of
friends--trs intimes--who had been invited to celebrate the huge
success of "Lucrezia" and to congratulate Mrs. Shuttleworth.  There
was Princess Isabel, wearing her wonderful turquoises, chatting
with the composer, Signor Cortese (Princess Isabel spoke Italian
perfectly), and among other friends Hermione had noticed the
Duchess of Whitby, Lord Limpsfield, Mrs. Garroby-Ashton, and Mrs.
Philip Lucas.


The mystery of that Friday evening in the last week in June became
portentous on the ensuing Saturday morning. . . .

A cab had certainly driven from the station to The Hurst late on
Friday evening, but owing to the darkness it was not known who got
out of it.  Previously the windows of The Hurst had been very
diligently cleaned all Friday afternoon.  Of course the latter
might be accounted for by the mere fact that they needed cleaning,
but if it had been Pepino or Lucia herself who had arrived by the
cab (if both of them, they would almost certainly have come by
their motor), surely some sign of their presence would have
manifested itself either to Riseholme's collective eye, or to
Riseholme's ear.  But the piano, Daisy felt certain, had not been
heard, nor had the telephone tinkled for anybody.  Also, when she
looked out about half-past ten in the evening, and again when she
went upstairs to bed, there were no lights in the house.  But
somebody had come, and as the servants' rooms looked out on to the
back, it was probably a servant or servants.  Daisy had felt so
terribly interested in this that she came restlessly down, and had
a quarter of an hour's weedjing to see if Abfou could tell her.
She had been quite unable to form any satisfactory conjecture
herself, and Abfou, after writing Museum once or twice, had
relapsed into rapid and unintelligible Arabic.  She did not ring up
Georgie to ask his help in solving this conundrum, because she
hoped to solve it unaided and be able to tell him the answer.

She went upstairs again, and after a little deep-breathing and
bathing her feet in alternate applications of hot and cold water in
order to produce somnolence, found herself more widely awake than
ever.  Her well-trained mind cantered about on scents that led
nowhere, and she was unable to find any that seemed likely to lead
anywhere.  Of Lucia nothing whatever was known except what was
accessible to anybody who spent a penny on the Evening Gazette.
She had written to nobody, she had given no sign of any sort, and,
but for the Evening Gazette, she might, as far as Riseholme was
concerned, be dead.  But the Evening Gazette showed that she was
alive, painfully alive in fact, if Hermione could be trusted.  She
had been seen here, there and everythere in London: Hermione had
observed her chatting in the Park with friends, sitting with
friends in her box at the opera, shopping in Bond Street, watching
polo (why, she did not know a horse from a cow!) at Hurlingham, and
even in a punt at Henley.  She had been entertaining in her own
house too: there had been dinner-parties and musical parties, and
she had dined at so many houses that Daisy had added them all up,
hoping to prove that she had spent more evenings than there had
been evenings to spend, but to her great regret they came out
exactly right.  Now she was having her portrait painted by
Sigismund, and not a word had she written, not a glimpse of herself
had she vouchsafed, to Riseholme. . . .  Of course Georgie had seen
her, when he went up to stay with Olga, but his account of her had
been far from reassuring.  She had said that she did not care how
tired she got while Pepino was enjoying London so tremendously.
Why then, thought Daisy with a sense of incredulous indignation,
had Pepino come down a few Sundays ago, all by himself, and looking
a perfect wreck? . . .  "Very odd, _I_ call it," muttered Daisy,
turning over to her other side.

It was odd, and Pepino had been odd.  He had dined with Georgie one
night, and on the other Georgie had dined with him, but he had said
nothing about Lucia that Hermione had not trumpeted to the world.
Otherwise, Pepino had not been seen at all on that Sunday except
when Mrs. Antrobus, not feeling very well in the middle of the
Psalms on Sunday morning, had come out, and observed him standing
on tip-toe and peering into the window of the Museum that looked on
to the Roman Antiquities.  Mrs. Antrobus (feeling much better as
soon as she got into the air) had come quite close up to him before
he perceived her, and then with only the curtest word of greeting,
just as if she was the Museum Committee, he had walked away so fast
that she could not but conclude that he wished to be alone.  It was
odd too, and scarcely honourable, that he should have looked into
the window like that, and clearly it was for that purpose that he
had absented himself from church, thinking that he would be
unobserved.  Daisy had not the smallest doubt that he was spying
for Lucia, and had been told merely to collect information and to
say nothing, for though he knew that Georgie was on the committee,
he had carefully kept off the subject of the Museum on both their
tte--tte dinners.  Probably he had begun his spying the moment
church began, and if Mrs. Antrobus had not so providentially felt
faint, no one would have known anything about it.  As it was, it
was quite likely that he had looked into every window by the time
she saw him, and knew all that the Museum contained.  Since then,
the Museum had been formally opened by Lady Ambermere, who had lent
(not presented) some mittens which she said belonged to Queen
Charlotte (it was impossible to prove that they hadn't), and the
committee had put up some very baffling casement curtains which
would make an end to spying for ever.

Now this degrading espionage had happened three weeks ago (come
Sunday), and therefore for three weeks (come Monday), Lucia must
have known all about the Museum.  But not a word had she
transmitted on that or any other subject; she had not demanded a
place on the committee, nor presented the Elizabethan spit which so
often made the chimney of her music-room to smoke, nor written to
say that they must arrange it all quite differently.  That she had
a plan, a policy about the Museum, no one who knew Lucia could
possibly doubt, but her policy (which thus at present was wrapped
in mystery) might be her complete and eternal ignoring of it.  It
would indeed be dreadful if she intended to remain unaware of it,
but Daisy doubted if anyone in her position and of her domineering
character could be capable of such inhuman self-control.  No: she
meant to do something when she came back, but nobody could guess
what it was, or when she was coming.

Daisy tossed and turned as she revolved these knotty points.  She
was sure Lucia would punish them all for making a Museum while she
was away, and not asking her advice and begging her to be
president, and she would be ill with chagrin when she learned how
successful it was proving.  The tourist season, when char-a-bancs
passed through Riseholme in endless procession, had begun, and
whole parties after lunching at the Ambermere Arms went to see it.
In the first week alone there had been a hundred and twenty-six
visitors, and that meant a corresponding take of shillings without
reckoning sixpenny catalogues.  Even the committee paid their
shillings when they went in to look at their own exhibits, and
there had been quite a scene when Lady Ambermere with a party from
the Hall tried to get in without paying for any of them on the
ground that she had lent the Museum Queen Charlotte's mittens.
Georgie, who was hanging up another picture of his, had heard it
all and hidden behind a curtain.  The small boy in charge of the
turnstile (bought from a bankrupt circus for a mere song) had,
though trembling with fright, absolutely refused to let the
turnstile turn until the requisite number of shillings had been
paid, and didn't care whose mittens they were which Lady Ambermere
had lent, and when, snatching up a catalogue without paying for it,
she had threatened to report him to the committee, this intrepid
lad had followed her, continuing to say "Sixpence, please, my
lady," till one of the party, in order to save brawling in a public
place, had produced the insignificant sum.  And if Lucia tried to
get in without paying, on the ground that she and Pepino had given
the stocks to the Parish Council, which had lent them to the
Museum, she would find her mistake.  At length, in the effort to
calculate what would be the total receipts of the year if a hundred
and twenty-six people per week paid their shillings, Daisy lapsed
into an uneasy arithmetical slumber.

Next morning (Saturday), the mystery of that arrival at The Hurst
the evening before grew infinitely more intense.  It was believed
that only one person had come, and yet there was no doubt that
several pounds of salmon, dozens ("Literally dozens," said Mrs.
Boucher, "for I saw the basket") of eggs, two chickens, a leg of
lamb, as well as countless other provisions unidentified were
delivered at the back door of The Hurst; a positive frieze of
tradesmen's boys was strung across the Green.  Even if the
mysterious arrival was Lucia herself, she could not, unless the
whirl and worldliness of her London life had strangely increased
her appetite, eat all that before Monday.  And besides, why had she
not rung up Georgie, or somebody, or opened her bedroom window on
this hot morning?  Or could it be Pepino again, sent down here for
a rest-cure and a stuffing of his emaciated frame?  But then he
would not have come down without some sort of attendant to look
after him. . . .  Riseholme was completely baffled; never had its
powers of inductive reasoning been so nonplussed, for though so
much went into The Hurst, nobody but the tradesmen's boys with
empty baskets came out.  Georgie and Daisy stared at each other in
blankness over the garden paling, and when, in despair of arriving
at any solution, they sought the oracles of Abfou, he would give
them nothing but hesitating Arabic.

"Which shows," said Daisy, as she put the planchette away in
disgust, "that even he doesn't know, or doesn't wish to tell us."
Lunch time arrived, and there were very poor appetites in Riseholme
(with the exception of that Gargantuan of whom nothing was known).
But as for going to The Hurst and ringing the bell and asking if
Mrs. Lucas was at home all Riseholme would sooner have died
lingering and painful deaths, rather than let Lucia know that they
took the smallest interest in anything she had done, was doing or
would do.

About three o'clock Georgie was sitting on the Green opposite his
house, finishing his sketch, which the affairs of the Museum had
caused him sadly to neglect.  He had got it upside down on his
easel and was washing some more blue into the sky, when he heard
the hoot of a motor.  He just looked up, and what he saw caused his
hand to twitch so violently that he put a large dab of cobalt on
the middle of his red-brick house.  For the motor had stopped at
The Hurst, not a hundred yards away, and out of it got Lucia and
Pepino.  She gave some orders to her chauffeur, and then without
noticing him (PERHAPS without seeing him) she followed Pepino into
the house.  Hardly waiting to wash the worst of the cobalt off his
house, Georgie hurried into Daisy's, and told her exactly what had

"No!" said Daisy, and out they came again, and stood in the shadow
of her mulberry tree to see what would happen next.  The mulberry
tree had recovered from the pruning of its roots (so it wasn't it
which Abfou had said was dead), and gave them good shelter.

Nothing happened next.

"But it's impossible," said Daisy, speaking in a sort of
conspiratorial whisper.  "It's queer enough her coming without
telling any of us, but now she's here, she surely must ring
somebody up."

Georgie was thinking intently.

"The next thing that will happen," he said, "will be that servants
and luggage will arrive from the station.  They'll be here any
minute; I heard the 3.20 whistle just now.  She and Pepino have
driven down."

"I shouldn't wonder," said Daisy.  "But even now, what about the
chickens and all those eggs?  Georgie, it must have been her cook
who came last night--she and Pepino were dining out in London--and
ordered all those provisions this morning.  But there were enough
to last them a week.  And three pints of cream, so I've heard
since, and enough ice for a skating rink and--"

It was then that Georgie had the flash of intuition that was for
ever memorable.  It soared above inductive reasoning.

"She's having a week-end party of some of her smart friends from
London," he said slowly.  "And she doesn't want any of us."

Daisy blinked at this amazing light.  Then she cast one withering
glance in the direction of The Hurst.

"She!" she said.  "And her shingles.  And her seed-pearls!  That's

A minute afterwards the station cab arrived pyramidal with luggage.
Four figures disembarked, three female and one male.

"The major-domo," said Daisy, and without another word marched back
into her house to ask Abfou about it all.  He came through at once,
and wrote 'Snob' all over the paper.

There was no reason why Georgie should not finish his sketch, and
he sat down again and began by taking out the rest of the misplaced
cobalt.  He felt so certain of the truth of his prophecy that he
just let it alone to fulfil itself, and for the next hour he never
worked with more absorbed attention.  He knew that Daisy came out
of her house, walking very fast, and he supposed she was on her way
to spread the news and forecast the sequel.  But beyond the fact
that he was perfectly sure that a party from London was coming down
for the week-end, he could form no idea of what would be the result
of that.  It might be that Lucia would ask him or Daisy, or some of
her old friends to dine, but if she had intended to do that she
would probably have done it already.  The only alternative seemed
to be that she meant to ignore Riseholme altogether.  But shortly
before the arrival of the fast train from London at 4.30, his
prophetical calm began (for he was but human) to be violently
agitated, and he took his tea in the window of his drawing-room,
which commanded a good view of the front garden of The Hurst, and
put his opera-glasses ready to hand.  The window was a big bow,
and, he distinctly saw the end of Robert's brass telescope
projecting from the corresponding window next door.

Once more a motor-horn sounded, and the Lucas's car drew up at the
gate of The Hurst.  There stepped out Mrs. Garroby-Ashton, followed
by the weird bright thing which had called to take Lucia to the
private view of the Post-Cubists.  Georgie had not time for the
moment to rack his brain as to the name he had forgotten, for
observation was his primary concern, and next he saw Lord
Limpsfield, whom he had met at Olga's party.  Finally there emerged
a tall, slim, middle-aged man in Oxford trousers, for whom Georgie
instantly conceived a deep distrust.  He had thick auburn hair, for
he wore no hat, and he waved his hands about in a silly manner as
he talked.  Over his shoulder was a little cape.  Then Lucia came
tripping out of the house with her short skirts and her shingles,
and they all chattered together, and kissed and squealed, and
pointed in different directions, and moved up the garden into the
house.  The door was shut, and the end of Robert's brass telescope

Hardly had these shameful events occurred when Georgie's telephone
bell rang.  It might be Daisy wanting to compare notes, but it
might be Lucia asking him to tea.  He felt torn in half at the
idea: carnal curiosity urged him with clamour to go, dignity
dissuaded him.  Still halting between two opinions, he went towards
the instrument, which continued ringing.  He felt sure now that it
was Lucia, and what on earth was he to say?  He stood there so long
that Foljambe came hurrying into the room, in case he had gone out.

"See who it is, Foljambe," he said.

Foljambe with amazing calm took off the receiver.

"Trunk call," she said.

He glued himself to the instrument, and soon there came a voice he

"No!  Is it you?" he asked.  "What is it?"

"I'm motoring down to-morrow morning," said Olga, and Princess
Isabel is probably coming with me, though she is not absolutely
certain.  But expect her, unless I telephone to-morrow.  Be a
darling and give us lunch, as we shall be late, and come and dine.
Terrible hurry: good-bye."

"No, you must wait a minute," screamed Georgie.  "Of course I'll do
that, but I must tell you, Lucia's just come with a party from
London and hasn't asked any of us."

"No!" said Olga.  "Then don't tell her I'm coming.  She's become
such a bore.  She asks me to lunch and dinner every day.  How
thrilling though, Georgie!  Whom has she got?"

Suddenly the name of the weird bright female came back to Georgie.

"Mrs. Alingsby," he said.

"Lor!" said Olga.  "Who else?"

"Mrs. Garroby-Ashton--"


"Garr-o-by Ash-ton," said Georgie very distinctly; "and Lord
Limpsfield.  And a tall man in Oxford trousers with auburn hair."

"It sounds like your double, Georgie," said Olga.  "And a little
cape like yours?"

"Yes," said Georgie rather coldly.

"I think it must be Stephen Merriall," said Olga after a pause.

"And who's that?" asked he.

"Lucia's lover," said Olga quite distinctly.

"No!" said Georgie.

"Of course he isn't.  I only meant he was always there.  But I
believe he's Hermione.  I'm not sure, but I think so.  Georgie, we
shall have a hectic Sunday.  Good-bye, to-morrow about two or three
for lunch, and two or three FOR lunch.  What a gossip you are."

He heard that delicious laugh, and the click of her receiver.

Georgie was far too thrilled to gasp.  He sat quite quiet,
breathing gently.  For the honour of Riseholme he was glad that a
Princess was perhaps coming to lunch with him, but apart from that
he would really have much preferred that Olga should be alone.  The
'affaire Lucia' was so much more thrilling than anything else,
but Princess Isabel might feel no interest in it, and instead
they would talk about all sorts of dull things like kings and
courts. . . .  Then suddenly he sprang from his chair: there was a
leg of lamb for Sunday lunch, and an apple tart, and nothing else
at all. What was to be done?  The shops by now would be shut.

He rang for Foljambe.

"Miss Olga's coming to lunch and possibly--possibly a friend of
hers," he said.  "What are we to do?"

"A leg of lamb and an apple tart's good enough for anybody, isn't
it?" said Foljambe severely.

This really seemed true as soon as it was pointed out, and Georgie
made an effort to dismiss the matter from his mind.  But he could
not stop still: it was all so exciting, and after having changed
his Oxford trousers in order to minimise the likeness between him
and that odious Mr. Merriall, he went out for a constitutional,
round the Green from all points of which he could see any important
development at The Hurst.  Riseholme generally was doing the same,
and his stroll was interrupted by many agreeable stoppages.  It was
already known that Lucia and Pepino had arrived, and that servants
and luggage had come by the 3.20, and that Lucia's motor had met
the 4.30 and returned laden with exciting people.  Georgie
therefore was in high demand, for he might supply the names of the
exciting people, and he had the further information to divulge that
Olga was arriving to-morrow, and was lunching with him and dining
at her own house.  He said nothing about a possible Princess: she
might not come, and in that case he knew that there would be a
faint suspicion in everybody's mind that he had invented it;
whereas if she did, she would no doubt sign his visitors' book for
everyone to see.

Feeling ran stormy high against Lucia, and as usual when Riseholme
felt a thing deeply there was little said by way of public comment,
though couples might have been observed with set and angry faces
and gabbling mouths.  But higher yet ran curiosity and surmise as
to what Lucia would do, and what Olga would do.  Not a sign had
come for anyone from The Hurst, not a soul had been asked to lunch,
dinner, or even tea, and if Lucia seemed to be ashamed of Riseholme
society before her grand friends, there was no doubt that Riseholme
society was ashamed of Lucia. . . .

And then suddenly a deadly hush fell on these discussions, and even
those who were walking fastest in their indignation came to a halt,
for out of the front door of The Hurst streamed the 'exciting
people' and their hosts.  There was Lucia, hatless and shingled and
short-skirted, and the Bird-of-Paradise and Mrs. Garroby-Ashton,
and Pepino and Lord Limpsfield and Mr. Merriall all talking shrilly
together, with shrieks of hollow laughter.  They came slowly across
the Green towards the little pond round which Riseholme stood, and
passed within fifty yards of it, and if Lucia had been the Gorgon,
Riseholme could not more effectually have been turned into stone.
She too, appeared not to notice them, so absorbed was she in
conversation, and on they went straight towards the Museum.  Just
as they passed Colonel Boucher's house, Mrs. Boucher came out in
her bath-chair, and without pause was wheeled straight through the
middle of them.  She then drew up by the side of the Green below
the large elm.

The party passed into the Museum.  The windows were open, and from
inside them came shrieks of laughter.  This continued for about ten
minutes, and then . . . they all came out again.  Several of them
carried catalogues, and Mr. Merriall was reading out of one in a
loud voice.

"Pair of worsted mittens," he announced, "belonging to Queen
Charlotte, and presented by the Lady Ambermere."

"Don't," said Lucia.  "Don't make fun of our dear little Museum,

As they retraced their way along the edge of the green, movement
came back to Riseholme again.  Lucia's policy with regard to the
Museum had declared itself.  Georgie strolled up to Mrs. Boucher's
bath-chair.  Mrs. Boucher was extremely red in the face, and her
hands were trembling.

"Good evening, Mr. Georgie," said she.  "Another party of
strangers, I see, visiting the Museum.  They looked very odd
people, and I hope we shan't find anything missing.  Any news?"

That was a very dignified way of taking it, and Georgie responded
in the same spirit.

"Not a scrap that I know of," he said, "except that Olga's coming
down to-morrow."

"That will be nice," said Mrs. Boucher.  "Riseholme is always glad
to see HER."

Daisy joined them.

"Good evening, Mrs. Quantock," said Mrs. Boucher.  "Any news?"

"Yes, indeed," said Daisy rather breathlessly.  "Didn't you see
them?  Lucia and her party?"

"No," said Mrs. Boucher firmly.  "She is in London surely.
Anything else?"

Daisy took the cue.  Complete ignorance that Lucia was in Riseholme
at all was a noble manoeuvre.

"It must have been my mistake," she said.  "Oh, my mulberry tree
has quite come round."

"No!" said Mrs. Boucher in the Riseholme voice.  "I am pleased.  I
daresay the pruning did it good.  And Mr. Georgie's just told me
that our dear Olga, or I should say Mrs. Shuttleworth, is coming
down to-morrow, but he hasn't told me what time yet."

"Two or three, she said," answered Georgie.  "She's motoring down,
and is going to have lunch with me whenever she gets here."

"Indeed!  Then I should advise you to have something cold that
won't spoil by waiting.  A bit of cold lamb, for instance.  Nothing
so good on a hot day."

"What an excellent idea!" said Georgie.  "I was thinking of hot
lamb.  But the other's much better.  I'll have it cooked to-night."

"And a nice tomato salad," said Mrs. Boucher, "and if you haven't
got any, I can give you some.  Send your Foljambe round, and she'll
come back with half a dozen ripe tomatoes."

Georgie hurried off to see to these new arrangements, and Colonel
Boucher having strolled away with Piggie, his wife could talk
freely to Mrs. Quantock. . . .  She did.

Lucia waking rather early next morning found she had rather an
uneasy conscience as her bedfellow, and she used what seemed very
reasonable arguments to quiet it.  There would have been no point
in writing to Georgie or any of them to say that she was bringing
down some friends for the week-end and would be occupied with them
all Sunday.  She could not with all these guests play duets with
Georgie, or get poor Daisy to give an exhibition of ouija, or have
Mrs. Boucher in her bath-chair to tea, for she would give them all
long histories of purely local interest, which could not
conceivably amuse people like Lord Limpsfield or weird Sophy.  She
had been quite wise to keep Riseholme and Brompton Square apart,
for they would not mix.  Besides, her guests would go away on
Monday morning, and she had determined to stop over till Tuesday
and be extremely kind, and not the least condescending.  She would
have one or two of them to lunch, and one or two more to dinner,
and give Georgie a full hour of duets as well.  Naturally, if Olga
had been here, she would have asked Olga on Sunday but Olga had
been singing last night at the opera.  Lucia had talked a good deal
about her at dinner, and given the impression that they were never
out of each other's houses either in town or here, and had lamented
her absence.

"Such a pity," she had said.  "For dearest Olga loves singing in my
music-room.  I shall never forget how she dropped in for some
little garden-party and sang the awakening of Brunnhilde.  Even
you, dear Sophy, with your passion for the primitive, would have
enjoyed that.  She sang 'Lucrezia' here, too, before anyone had
heard it.  Cortese brought the score down the moment he had
finished it--ah, I think that was in her house--there was just
Pepino and me, and perhaps one or two others.  We would have
had dearest Olga here all day to-morrow if only she had been
here. . . ."

So Lucia felt fairly easy, having planned these treats for
Riseholme on Monday, as to her aloofness to-day, and then her
conscience brought up the question of the Museum.  Here she stoutly
defended herself: she knew nothing about the Museum (except what
Pepino had seen through the window a few Sundays before); she had
not been consulted about the Museum, she was not on the committee,
and it was perfectly proper for her to take her party to see it.
She could not prevent them bursting into shrieks of laughter at
Queen Charlotte's mittens and Daisy's drain-pipes, nor could she
possibly prevent herself from joining in those shrieks of laughter
herself, for surely this was the most ridiculous collection of
rubbish ever brought together.  A glass case for Queen Charlotte's
mittens, a heap of fossils such as she had chipped out by the score
from the old quarry, some fragments of glass (Georgie ought to have
known better), some quilts, a dozen coins, lent, only lent, by poor
Daisy!  In fact the only object of the slightest interest was the
pair of stocks which she and Pepino had bought and set up on the
village green.  She would see about that when she came down in
August, and back they should go on to the village green.  Then
there was the catalogue: who could help laughing at the catalogue
which described in most pompous language the contents of this
dustbin?  There was nothing to be uneasy about over that.  And as
for Mrs. Boucher having driven right through her party without a
glance of recognition, what did that matter?  On her own side also,
Lucia had given no glance of recognition to Mrs. Boucher: if she
had, Mrs. Boucher would have told them all about her asparagus or
how her Elizabeth had broken a plate.  It was odd, perhaps, that
Mrs. Boucher hadn't stopped . . . and was it rather odd also that,
though from the corner of her eye she had seen all Riseholme
standing about on the Green, no one had made the smallest sign of
welcome?  It was true that she had practically cut them (if a
process conducted at the distance of fifty yards can be called a
cut), but she was not quite sure that she enjoyed the same process
herself.  Probably it meant nothing; they saw she was engaged with
her friends, and very properly had not thrust themselves forward.

Her guests mostly breakfasted upstairs, but by the middle of the
morning they had all straggled down.  Lucia had brought with her
yesterday her portrait by Sigismund, which Sophy declared was a
masterpiece of adagio.  She was advising her to clear all other
pictures out of the music-room and hang it there alone, like a
wonderful slow movement, when Mr. Merriall came in with the Sunday

"Ah, the paper has come," said Lucia.  "Is not that Riseholmish of
us?  We never get the Sunday paper till midday."

"Better late than never," said Mr. Merriall, who was rather
addicted to quoting proverbial sayings.  "I see that Mrs.
Shuttleworth's coming down here to-day.  Do ask her to dine and
perhaps she'll sing to us."

Lucia paused for a single second, then clapped her hands.

"Oh, what fun that would be!" she said.  "But I don't think it can
be true.  Dearest Olga popped in--or did I pop in--yesterday
morning in town, and she said nothing about it.  No doubt she had
not made up her mind then whether she was coming or not.  Of course
I'll ring her up at once and scold her for not telling me."

Lucia found from Olga's caretaker that she and a friend were
expected, but she knew they couldn't come to lunch with her, as
they were lunching with Mr. Pillson.  She 'couldn't say, I'm sure'
who the friend was, but promised to give the message that Mrs.
Lucas hoped they would both come and dine. . . .  The next thing
was to ring up Georgie and be wonderfully cordial.

"Georgino mio, is it 'oo?" she asked.

"Yes," said Georgie.  He did not have to ask who it was, nor did he
feel inclined for baby-talk.

"Georgino, I never caught a glimpse of you yesterday," she said.
"Why didn't 'oo come round and see me?"

"Because you never asked me," said Georgie firmly, "and because you
never told me you were coming."

"Me so sorry," said Lucia.  "But me was so fussed and busy in town.
Delicious to be in Riseholme again."

"Delicious," said Georgie.

Lucia paused a moment.

"Is Georgino cross with me?" she asked.

"Not a bit," said Georgie brightly.  "Why?"

"I didn't know.  And I hear my Olga and a friend are lunching with
you.  I am hoping they will come and dine with me to-night.  And do
come in afterwards.  We shall be eight already, or of course I
should ask you."

"Thanks so much, but I'm dining with her," said Georgie.

A pause.

"Well, all of you come and dine here," said Lucia.  "Such amusing
people, and I'll squeeze you in."

"I'm afraid I can't accept for Olga," said Georgie.  "And I'm
dining with her, you see."

"Well, will you come across after lunch and bring them?" said
Lucia.  "Or tea?"

"I don't know what they will feel inclined to do," said Georgie.
"But I'll tell them."

"Do, and I'll ring up at lunch-time again, and have ickle talk to
my Olga.  Who is her friend?"

Georgie hesitated: he thought he would not give that away just yet.
Lucia would know in heaps of time.

"Oh, just somebody whom she's possibly bringing down," he said, and
rang off.

Lucia began to suspect a slight mystery, and she disliked
mysteries, except when she made them herself.  Olga's caretaker was
'sure she couldn't say,' and Georgie (Lucia was sure) wouldn't.  So
she went back to her guests, and very prudently said that Olga had
not arrived at present, and then gave them a wonderful account of
her little intime dinner with Olga and Princess Isabel.  Such a
delightful amusing woman: they must all come and meet Princess
Isabel some day soon in town.

Lucia and her guests, with the exception of Sophy Alingsby who
continued to play primitive tunes with one finger on the piano,
went for a stroll on the Green before lunch.  Mrs. Quantock hurried
by with averted face, and naturally everybody wanted to know how
the Red Queen from Alice in Wonderland was.  Lucia amused them by a
bright version of poor Daisy's ouija-board and the story of the
mulberry tree.

"Such dears they all are," she said.  "But too killing.  And then
she planted broccoli instead of phlox.  It's only in Riseholme that
such things happen.  You must all come and stay with me in August,
and we'll enter into the life of the place.  I adore it, simply
adore it.  We are always wildly excited about something. . . .  And
next door is Georgie Pillson's house.  A lamb!  I'm devoted to him.
He does embroidery, and gave those broken bits of glass to the
Museum.  And that's dear Olga's house at the end of the road. . . ."

Just as Lucia was kissing her hand to Olga's house, her eagle eye
had seen a motor approaching, and it drew up at Georgie's house.
Two women got out, and there was no doubt whatever who either of
them were.  They went in at the gate, and he came out of his front
door like the cuckoo out of a clock and made a low bow.  All this
Lucia saw, and though for the moment petrified, she quickly
recovered, and turned sharply round.

"Well, we must be getting home again," she said, in a rather
strangled voice.  "It is lunch-time."

Mr. Merriall did not turn so quickly, but watched the three figures
at Georgie's door.

"Appearances are deceptive," he said.  "But isn't that Olga
Shuttleworth and Princess Isabel?"

"No!  Where?" said Lucia looking in the opposite direction.

"Just gone into that house; Georgie Pillson's, didn't you say?"

"No, really?" said Lucia.  "How stupid of me not to have seen them.
Shall I pop in now?  No, I think I will ring them up presently,
unless we find that they have already rung me up."

Lucia was putting a brave face on it, but she was far from easy.
It looked like a plot: it did indeed, for Olga had never told her
she was coming to Riseholme, and Georgie had never told her that
Princess Isabel was the friend she was bringing with her.  However,
there was lunch-time in which to think over what was to be done.
But though she talked incessantly and rather satirically about
Riseholme, she said no more about the prima donna and the
princess. . . .

Lucia might have been gratified (or again she might not) if she had
known how vivacious a subject of conversation she afforded at
Georgie's select little luncheon party.  Princess Isabel (with her
mouth now full of Mrs. Boucher's tomatoes) had been subjected
during this last week to an incessant bombardment from Lucia, and
had heard on quite good authority that she alluded to her as
"Isabel, dear Princess Isabel."

"And I will not go to her house," she said.  "It is a free country,
and I do not choose to go to her kind house.  No doubt she is a
very good woman.  But I want to hear more of her, for she thrills
me.  So does your Riseholme.  You were talking of the Museum."

"Georgie, go on about the Museum," said Olga.

"Well," said Georgie, "there it was.  They all went in, and then
they all came out again, and one of them was reading my catalogue--
I made it--aloud, and they all screamed with laughter."

"But I daresay it was a very funny catalogue, Georgie," said Olga.

"I don't think so.  Mr. Merriall read out about Queen Charlotte's
mittens presented by Lady Ambermere."

"No!" said Olga.

"Most interesting!" said the Princess.  "She was my aunt, big aunt,
is it?  No, great-aunt--that is it.  Afterwards we will go to the
Museum and see her mittens.  Also, I must see the lady who kills
mulberry trees.  Olga, can't you ask her to bring her planchette
and prophesy?"

"Georgie, ring up Daisy, and ask her to come to tea with me," said
Olga.  "We must have a weedj."

"And I must go for a drive, and I must walk on the Green, and I
must have some more delicious apple pie," began the Princess.

Georgie had just risen to ring up Daisy, when Foljambe entered with
the news that Mrs. Lucas was on the telephone and would like to
speak to Olga.

"Oh, say we're still at lunch, please, Foljambe," said she.  "Can
she send a message?  And you say Stephen Merriall is there,

"No, you said he was there," said Georgie.  "I only described him."

"Well, I'm pretty sure it is he, but you will have to go sometime
this afternoon and find out.  If it is, he's Hermione, who's always
writing about Lucia in the Evening Gazette.  Priceless!  So you
must go across for a few minutes, Georgie, and make certain."

Foljambe came back to ask if Mrs. Lucas might pop in to pay her
respects to Princess Isabel.

"So kind of her, but she must not dream of troubling herself," said
the Princess.

Foljambe retired and appeared for the third time with a faint, firm

"Mrs. Lucas will ring up Mrs. Shuttleworth in a quarter of an
hour," she said.

The Princess finished her apple-tart.

"And now let us go and see the Museum," she said.

Georgie remained behind to ring up Daisy, to explain when Lucia
telephoned next that Olga had gone out, and to pay his visit to The
Hurst.  To pretend that he did not enjoy that, would be to
misunderstand him altogether.  Lucia had come down here with her
smart party and had taken no notice of Riseholme, and now two
people a million times smarter had by a clearly providential
dealing come down at the same time and were taking no notice of
her.  Instead they were hobnobbing with people like himself and
Daisy whom Lucia had slighted.  Then she had laughed at the Museum,
and especially at the catalogue and the mittens, and now the great-
niece of the owner of the mittens had gone to see them.  That was a
stinger, in fact it was all a stinger, and well Lucia deserved it.

He was shown into the music-room, and he had just time to observe
that there was a printed envelope on the writing-table addressed to
the Evening Gazette, when Lucia and Mr. Merriall came hurrying in.

"Georgino mio," said Lucia effusively.  "How nice of you to come
in.  But you've not brought your ladies?  Oh, this is Mr.

(Hermione, of the Evening Gazette, it's proved, thought Georgie.)

"They thought they wouldn't add to your big party," said Georgie
sumptuously.  (That was another stinger).

"And was it Princess Isabel I saw at your door?" asked Mr. Merriall
with an involuntary glance at the writing-table.  (Lucia had not
mentioned her since.)

"Oh yes.  They just motored down and took pot-luck with me."

"What did you give them?" asked Lucia, forgetting her anxieties for
a moment.

"Oh, just cold lamb and apple tart," said Georgie.

"No!" said Lucia.  "You ought to have brought them to lunch here.
O Georgie, my picture, look.  By Sigismund."

"Oh yes," said Georgie.  "What's it of?"

"Cattivo!" said Lucia.  "Why, it's a portrait of me.  Sigismund,
you know, he's the great rage in London just now.  Everyone is
crazy to be painted by him."

"And they look crazy when they are.  It's a mad world, my masters,"
said Mr. Merriall.

"Naughty," said Lucia.  "Is it not wonderful, Georgie?"

"Yes.  I expect it's very clever," said Georgie.  "Very clever

"I should so like to show it dearest Olga," said Lucia, "and I'm
sure the Princess would be interested in it.  She was talking about
modern art the other day when I dined with Olga.  I wonder if they
would look in at tea-time, or indeed any other time."

"Not very likely, I'm afraid," said Georgie, "for Daisy Quantock's
coming to tea, I know.  We're going to weedj.  And they're going
out for a drive sometime."

"And where are they now?" asked Lucia.  It was terrible to have to
get news of her intimate friends from Georgie, but how else was she
to find out?

"They went across to see the Museum," said he.  "They were most
interested in it."

Mr. Merriall waved his hands, just in the same way as Georgie did.

"Ah, that Museum!" he said.  "Those mittens!  Shall I ever get over
those mittens?  Lucia said she would give it the next shoe-lace she

"Yes," said Georgie.  "The Princess wanted to see those mittens.
Queen Charlotte was her great-aunt.  I told them how amused you all
were at the mittens."

Lucia had been pressing her finger to her forehead, a sign of
concentration.  She rose as if going back to her other guests.

"Coming into the garden presently?" she asked, and glided from the

"And so you're going to have a sitting with the ouija-board," said
Mr. Merriall.  "I am intensely interested in ouija.  Very odd
phenomena certainly occur.  Strange but true."

A fresh idea had come into Georgie's head.  Lucia certainly had not
appeared outside the window that looked into the garden, and so he
walked across to the other one which commanded a view of the Green.
There she was heading straight for the Museum.

"It is marvellous," he said to Mr. Merriall.  "We have had some
curious results here, too."

Mr. Merriall was moving daintily about the room, and Georgie
wondered if it would be possible to convert Oxford trousers into an
ordinary pair.  It was dreadful to think that Olga, even in fun,
had suggested that such a man was his double.  There was the little
cape as well.

"I have quite fallen in love with your Riseholme," said Mr.

"We all adore it," said Georgie, not attending very much because
his whole mind was fixed on the progress of Lucia across the Green.
Would she catch them in the Museum, or had they already gone?
Smaller and smaller grew her figure and her twinkling legs, and at
last she crossed the road and vanished behind the belt of shrubs in
front of the tithe-barn.

"All so homey and intimate.  'Home, Sweet Home,' in fact," said Mr.
Merriall.  "We have been hearing how Mrs. Shuttleworth loves
singing in this room."

Georgie was instantly on his guard again.  It was quite right and
proper that Lucia should be punished, and of course Riseholme would
know all about it, for indeed Riseholme was administering the
punishment.  But it was a very different thing to let her down
before those who were not Riseholme.

"Oh yes, she sings here constantly," he said.  "We are all in and
out of each other's houses.  But I must be getting back to mine

Mr. Merriall longed to be asked to this little ouija party at
Olga's, and at present his hostess had been quite unsuccessful in
capturing either of the two great stars.  There was no harm in
trying. . . .

"You couldn't perhaps take me to Mrs. Shuttleworth's for tea?" he

"No, I'm afraid I could hardly do that," said Georgie.  "Good-bye.
I hope we shall meet again."

Nemesis meantime had been dogging Lucia's footsteps, with more
success than Lucia was having in dogging Olga's.  She had arrived,
as Georgie had seen, at the Museum, and again paid a shilling to
enter that despised exhibition.  It was rather full, for visitors
who had lunched at the Ambermere Arms had come in, and there was
quite a crowd round Queen Charlotte's mittens, among whom was Lady
Ambermere herself who had driven over from the Hall with two
depressed guests whom she had forced to come with her.  She put up
her glasses and stared at Lucia.

"Ah, Mrs. Lucas!" she said with the singular directness for which
she was famous.  "For the moment I did not recognise you with your
hair like that.  It is a fashion that does not commend itself to
me.  You have come in, of course, to look at Her late Majesty's
mittens, for really there is very little else to see."

As a rule, Lucia shamelessly truckled to Lady Ambermere, and
schemed to get her to lunch or dinner.  But today she didn't care
two straws about her, and while these rather severe remarks were
being addressed to her, her eyes darted eagerly round the room in
search of those for whom she would have dropped Lady Ambermere
without the smallest hesitation.

"Yes, dear Lady Ambermere," she said.  "So interesting to think
that Queen Charlotte wore them.  Most good of you to have presented
them to our little Museum."

"Lent," said Lady Ambermere.  "They are heirlooms in my family.
But I am glad to let others enjoy the sight of them.  And by a
remarkable coincidence I have just had the privilege of showing
them to a relative of their late owner.  Princess Isabel.  I
offered to have the case opened for her, and let her try them on.
She said, most graciously, that it was not necessary."

"Yes, dear Princess Isabel," said Lucia, "I heard she had come
down.  Is she here still?"

"No.  She and Mrs. Shuttleworth have just gone.  A motor drive, I
understand, before tea.  I suggested, of course, a visit to the
Hall, where I would have been delighted to entertain them.  Where
did they lunch?"

"At Georgie Pillsons," said Lucia bitterly.

"Indeed.  I wonder why Mr. Pillson did not let me know.  Did you
lunch there too?"

"No.  I have a party in my own house.  Some friends from London,
Lord Limpsfield, Mrs. Garroby-Ashton--"

"Indeed!" said Lady Ambermere.  "I had meant to return to the Hall
for tea, but I will change my plans and have a cup of tea with you,
Mrs. Lucas.  Perhaps you would ask Mrs. Shuttleworth and her
distinguished guest to drop in.  I will present you to her.  You
have a pretty little garden, I remember.  Quaint.  You are at
liberty to say that I am taking tea with you.  But stay!  If they
have gone out for a drive, they will not be back quite yet.  It
does not matter: we will sit in your garden."

Now in the ordinary way this would have been a most honourable
event, but to-day, though Lady Ambermere had not changed, her value
had.  If only Olga had not come down bringing her whom Lucia could
almost refer to as that infernal Princess, it would have been rich,
it would have been glorious, to have Lady Ambermere dropping in to
tea.  Even now she would be better than nothing, thought Lucia, and
after inspecting the visitors' book of the Museum, where Olga and
the Princess had inscribed their names, and where now Lady
Ambermere wrote hers, very close to the last one, so as to convey
the impression that they were one party, they left the place.

Outside was drawn up Lady Ambermere's car, with her companion, the
meek Miss Lyall, sitting on the front seat nursing Lady Ambermere's
stertorous pug.

"Let me see," said she.  "How had we best arrange?  A walk would be
good for Pug before he has his tea.  Pug takes lukewarm milk with a
biscuit broken up into it.  Please put Pug on his leash, Miss
Lyall, and we will all walk across the Green to Mrs. Lucas's little
house.  The motor shall go round by the road and wait for us there.
That is Mrs. Shuttleworth's little house, is it not?  So you might
kindly step in there, Mrs. Lucas, and leave a message for them
about tea, stating that I shall be there.  We will walk slowly and
you will soon catch us up."

The speech was thoroughly Ambermerian: everybody in Riseholme had a
'little house' compared with the Hall: everybody had a 'little
garden.'  Equally Ambermerian was her complete confidence that her
wish was everybody else's pleasure, and Lucia dismally reflected
that she, for her part, had never failed to indicate that it was.
But just now, though Lady Ambermere was so conspicuously second-
best, and though she was like a small luggage-engine with a Roman
nose and a fat dog, the wretched Lucia badly wanted somebody to
'drop in,' and by so doing give her some sort of status--alas, that
one so lately the Queen of Riseholme should desire it--in the sight
of her guests.  She could say what a bore Lady Ambermere was the
moment she had gone.

Wretched also was her errand: she knew that Olga and the infernal
Princess were to have a ouija with Daisy and Georgie, and that her
invitation would be futile, and as for that foolish old woman's
suggestion that her presence at The Hurst would prove an attraction
to Olga, she was aware that if anything was needful to make Olga
refuse to come, it would be that Lady Ambermere was there.  Olga
had dined at The Hall once, and had been induced to sing, while her
hostess played Patience and talked to Pug.

Lucia had a thought: not a very bright one, but comparatively so.
She might write her name in the Princess's book: that would be
something.  So, when her ring was answered, and she ascertained, as
she already knew, that Olga was out, and left the hopeless
invitation that she and her guest would come to tea, where they
would meet Lady Ambermere, she asked for the Princess's book.

Olga's parlourmaid looked puzzled.

"Would that be the book of cross-word puzzles, ma'am?" she asked.
"I don't think her Highness brought any other book, and that she's
taken with her for her drive."

Lucia trudged sadly away.  Halfway across the Green she saw Georgie
and Daisy Quantock with a large sort of drawing-board under her arm
coming briskly in her direction.  She knew where they were going,
and she pulled her shattered forces together.

"Dearest Daisy, not set eyes on you!" she said.  "A few friends
from London, how it ties one!  But I shall pop in to-morrow, for I
stop till Tuesday.  Going to have a ouija party with dear Piggie
and Goosie?  Wish I could come, but Lady Ambermere has quartered
herself on me for tea, and I must run on and catch her up.  Just
been to your delicious Museum.  Wonderful mittens!  Wonderful
everything.  Pepino and I will look out something for it!"

"Very kind," said Daisy.  It was as if the North Pole had spoken.

Pug and Miss Lyall and Lady Ambermere and her two depressed guests
had been admitted to The Hurst before Lucia caught them up, and she
found them all seated stonily in the music-room, where Stephen
Merriall had been finishing his official correspondence.  Well
Lucia knew what he had been writing about: there might perhaps be a
line or two about The Hurst, and the party week-ending there, but
that, she was afraid, would form a mere little postscript to more
exalted paragraphs.  She hastily introduced him to Lady Ambermere
and Miss Lyall, but she had no idea who Lady Ambermere's guests
were, and suspected they were poor relations, for Lady Ambermere
introduced them to nobody.

Pug gave a series of wheezy barks.

"Clever little man," said Lady Ambermere.  "He is asking for his
tea.  He barks four times like that for his tea."

"And he shall have it," said Lucia.  "Where are the others,

Mr. Merriall exerted himself a little on hearing Lady Ambermere's
name: he would put in a sentence about her. . . .

"Lord Limpsfield and Mrs. Garroby-Ashton have gone to play golf,"
he said.  "Barbarously energetic of them, is it not, Lady
Ambermere?  What a sweet little dog."

"Pug does not like strangers," said Lady Ambermere.  "And I am
disappointed not to see Lord Limpsfield.  Do we expect Mrs.
Shuttleworth and the Princess?"

"I left the message," said Lucia.

Lady Ambermere's eyes finished looking at Mr. Merriall and
proceeded slowly round the room.

"What is that curious picture?" she said.  "I am completely

Lucia gave her bright laugh: it was being an awful afternoon, but
she had to keep her flag flying.

"Striking, is it not?" she said.  "Dear Benjy Sigismund insisted on
painting me.  Such a lot of sittings."

Lady Ambermere looked from one to the other.

"I do not see any resemblance," she said.  "It appears to me to
resemble nothing.  Ah, here is tea.  A little lukewarm milk for
Pug, Miss Lyall.  Mix a little hot water with it, it does not suit
him to have it quite cold.  And I should like to see Mr. Georgie
Pillson.  No doubt he could be told that I am here."

This was really rather desperate: Lucia could not produce Olga or
the Princess, or Lord Limpsfield or Mrs. Garroby-Ashton for Lady
Ambermere, and she knew she could not produce Georgie, for by that
time he would be at Olga's.  All that was left for her was to be
able to tell Lord Limpsfield and Mrs. Garroby-Ashton when they
returned that they had missed Lady Ambermere.  As for Riseholme . . .
but it was better not to think how she stood with regard to
Riseholme, which, yesterday, she had settled to be of no account at
all.  If only, before coming down, she had asked them all to lunch
and tea and dinner. . . .

The message came back that Mr. Pillson had gone to tea with Mrs.
Shuttleworth.  Five minutes later came regrets from Olga that she
had friends with her, and could not come to tea.  Lady Ambermere
ate seed cake in silence.  Mrs. Alingsby meantime had been spending
the afternoon in her bedroom, and she now appeared in a chintz
wrapper and morocco slippers.  Her hair fell over her eyes like
that of an Aberdeen terrier, and she gave a shrill scream when she
saw Pug.

"I can't bear dogs," she said.  "Take that dog away, dear Lucia.
Burn it, drown it!  You told me you hadn't got any dogs."

Lady Ambermere turned on her a face that should have instantly
petrified her, if she had had any proper feeling.  Never had Pug
been so blasphemed.  She rose as she swallowed the last mouthful of
seed cake.

"We are inconveniencing your guests, Mrs. Lucas," she said.  "Pug
and I will be off.  Miss Lyall, Pug's leash.  We must be getting
back to the Hall.  I shall look in at Mrs. Shuttleworth's, and sign
my name in the Princess's book.  Good-bye, Mrs. Lucas.  Thank you
for my tea."

She pointedly ignored Mrs. Alingsby, and headed the gloomy frieze
that defiled through the door.  The sole bright spot was that she
would find only a book of cross-word puzzles to write her name in.


Lucia's guests went off by the early train next morning and she was
left, like Marius among the ruins of Carthage.  But, unlike that
weak-hearted senator, she had no intention of mourning: her first
function was to rebuild, and presently she became aware that the
work of rebuilding had to begin from its very foundations.  There
was as background the fact that her week-end party had not been a
triumphant success, for she had been speaking in London of
Riseholme being such a queer dear old-fashioned little place, where
everybody adored her, and where Olga kept incessantly running in to
sing acts and acts of the most renowned operas in her music-room;
she had also represented Princess Isabel as being a dear and
intimate friend, and these two cronies of hers had politely but
firmly refused all invitations to pop in.  Lady Ambermere, it is
true, had popped in, but nobody had seemed the least impressed with
her, and Lucia had really been very glad when after Sophy's painful
remarks about Pug, she had popped out, leaving that astonished post-
cubist free to inquire who that crashing old hag was.  Of course
all this could be quickly lived down again when she got to London,
but it certainly did require obliteration.

What gave her more pause for thought was the effect that her week-
end had produced on Riseholme.  Lucia knew that all Riseholme knew
that Olga and the Princess had lunched off cold lamb with Georgie,
and had never been near The Hurst, and Riseholme, if she knew
Riseholme at all, would have something to talk about there.
Riseholme knew also that Lucia and her party had shrieked with
laughter at the Museum, while the Princess had politely signed her
name in the visitors-book after reverently viewing her great-aunt's
mittens.  But what else had been happening, whether Olga was here
still, what Daisy and her ouija board had been up to, who had dined
(if anyone except Georgie) at Olga's last night, Lucia was at
present ignorant, and all that she had to find out, for she had a
presentiment that nobody would pop in and tell her.  Above all,
what was Riseholme saying about her?  How were they taking it all?

Lucia had determined to devote this day to her old friends, and she
rang up Daisy and asked her and Robert to lunch.  Daisy regretted
that she was engaged, and rang off with such precipitation that (so
it was easy to guess) she dropped the receiver on the floor, said
'Drat,' and replaced it.  Lucia then rang up Mrs. Boucher and asked
her and the colonel to lunch.  Mrs. Boucher with great emphasis
said that she had got friends to lunch.  Of course that might mean
that Daisy Quantock was lunching there; indeed it seemed a very
natural explanation, but somehow it was far from satisfying Lucia.

She sat down to think, and the unwelcome result of thought was a
faint suspicion that just as she had decided to ignore Riseholme
while her smart party from London was with her, Riseholme was
malignant enough to retaliate.  It was very base, it was very
childish, but there was that possibility.  She resolved to put a
playful face on it and rang up Georgie.  From the extraordinary
celerity with which he answered, she wondered whether he was
expecting a call from her or another.

"Georgino mio!" she said.

The eagerness with which Georgie had said "Yes.  Who is it?" seemed
to die out of his voice.

"Oh, it's you, is it?" he said.  "Good morning."

Lucia was not discouraged.

"Me coming round to have good long chat," she said.  "All my
tiresome guests have gone, Georgie, and I'm staying till domani.
So lovely to be here again."

"Si," said Georgie; "just 'si.'"

The faint suspicion became a shade more definite.

"Coming at once then," said Lucia.

Lucia set forth and emerging on to the Green, was in time to see
Daisy Quantock hurry out of Georgie's house and bolt into her own
like a plump little red-faced rabbit.  Somehow that was slightly
disconcerting: it required very little inductive reasoning to form
the theory that Daisy had popped in to tell Georgie that Lucia had
asked her to lunch, and that she had refused.  Daisy must have been
present also when Lucia rang Georgie up and instead of waiting to
join in the good long chat had scuttled home again.  A slight
effort therefore was needed to keep herself up to the gay playful
level and be quite unconscious that anything unpropitious could
possibly have occurred.  She found Georgie with his sewing in the
little room which he called his study because he did his embroidery
there.  He seemed somehow to Lucia to be encased in a thin covering
of ice, and she directed her full effulgence to the task of melting

"Now that is nice!" she said.  "And we'll have a good gossip.  So
lovely to be in Riseholme again.  And isn't it naughty of me?  I
was almost glad when I saw the last of my guests off this morning,
and promised myself a real Riseholme day.  Such dears all of them,
too, and tremendously in the movement; such arguments and
discussions as we had!  All day yesterday I was occupied, talks
with one, strolls with another, and all the time I was longing to
trot round and see you and Daisy and all the rest.  Any news,
Georgie?  What did you do with yourself yesterday?"

"Well, I was very busy too," said Georgie.  "Quite a rush.  I had
two guests at lunch, and then I had tea at Olga's--"

"Is she here still?" asked Lucia.  She did not intend to ask that,
but she simply could not help it.

"Oh yes.  She's going to stop here two or three days, as she
doesn't sing in London again till Thursday."

Lucia longed to ask if the Princess was remaining as well, but she
had self control enough not to.  Perhaps it would come out some
other way. . . .

"Dear Olga," said Lucia effusively.  "I reckon her quite a

"Oh quite," said Georgie, who was determined not to let his ice
melt.  "Yes: I had tea at Olga's, and we had the most wonderful
weedj.  Just she and the Princess and Daisy and I."

Lucia gave her silvery peal of laughter.  It sounded as if it had
'turned' a little in this hot weather, or got a little tarnished.

"Dear Daisy!" she said.  "Is she not priceless?  How she adores her
conjuring tricks and hocus-pocuses!  Tell me all about it.  An
Egyptian guide: Abfou, was it not?"

Georgie thought it might be wiser not to tell Lucia all that Abfou
had vouchsafed, unless she really insisted, for Abfou had written
the most sarcastic things about her in perfect English at top-
speed.  He had called her a snob again, and said she was too grand
now for her old friends, and had been really rude about her
shingled hair.

"Yes, Abfou," he said.  "Abfou was in great form, and Olga has
telegraphed for a planchette.  Abfou said she was most psychical,
and had great mediumistic gifts.  Well, that went on a long time."

"What else did Abfou say?" asked Lucia, fixing Georgie with her
penetrating eye.

"Oh, he talked about Riseholme affairs," said Georgie.  "He knew
the Princess had been to the Museum, for he had seen her there.  It
was he, you know, who suggested the Museum.  He kept writing
Museum, though we thought it was Mouse at first."

Lucia felt perfectly certain in her own mind that Abfou had been
saying things about her.  But perhaps, as it was Daisy who had been
operating, it was better not to ask what they were.  Ignorance was
not bliss, but knowledge might be even less blissful.  And Georgie
was not thawing: he was polite, he was reserved, but so far from
chatting, he was talking with great care.  She must get him in a
more confidential mood.

"That reminds me," she said.  "Pepino and I haven't given you
anything for the Museum yet.  I must send you the Elizabethan spit
from my music-room.  They say it is the most perfect spit in
existence.  I don't know what Pepino didn't pay for it."

"How kind of you," said Georgie.  "I will tell the committee of
your offer.  Olga gave us a most magnificent present yesterday: the
manuscript of 'Lucrezia,' which Cortese had given her.  I took it
to the Museum directly after breakfast, and put it in the glass
case opposite the door."

Again Lucia longed to be as sarcastic as Abfou, and ask whether a
committee meeting had been held to settle if this should be
accepted.  Probably Georgie had some perception of that, for he
went on in a great hurry.

"Well, the weedj lasted so long that I had only just time to get
home to dress for dinner and go back to Olga's," he said.

"Who was there?" asked Lucia.

"Colonel and Mrs. Boucher, that's all," said Georgie.  "And after
dinner Olga sang too divinely.  I played her accompaniments.  A lot
of Schubert songs."

Lucia was beginning to feel sick with envy.  She pictured to
herself the glory of having taken her party across to Olga's after
dinner last night, of having played the accompaniments instead of
Georgie (who was a miserable accompanist), of having been persuaded
afterwards to give them the little morsel of Stravinski, which she
had got by heart.  How brilliant it would all have been; what a
sumptuous paragraph Hermione would have written about her week-end!
Instead of which Olga had sung to those old Bouchers, neither of
whom knew one note from another, nor cared the least for the
distinction of hearing the prima-donna sing in her own house.  The
bitterness of it could not be suppressed.

"Dear old Schubert songs!" she said with extraordinary acidity.
"Such sweet old-fashioned things.  'Wiedmung,' I suppose."

"No, that's by Schumann," said Georgie, who was nettled by her
tone, though he guessed what she was suffering.

Lucia knew he was right, but had to uphold her own unfortunate

"Schubert, I think," she said.  "Not that it matters.  And so, as
dear old Pepys said, and so to bed?"

Georgie was certainly enjoying himself.

"Oh no, we didn't go to bed till terribly late," he said.  "But you
would have hated to be there, for what we did next.  We turned on
the gramophone--"

Lucia gave a little wince.  Her views about gramophones as being a
profane parody of music, were well known.

"Yes, I should have run away then," she said.

"We turned on the gramophone and danced!" said Georgie firmly.

This was the worst she had heard yet.  Again she pictured what
yesterday evening might have been.  The idea of having popped in
with her party after dinner, to hear Olga sing, and then dance
impromptu with a prima-donna and a princess. . . .  It was
agonising: it was intolerable.

She gave a dreadful little titter.

"How very droll!" she said.  "I can hardly imagine it.  Mrs.
Boucher in her bath-chair must have been an unwieldy partner,
Georgie.  Are you not very stiff this morning?"

"No, Mrs. Boucher didn't dance," said Georgie with fearful
literalness.  "She looked on and wound up the gramophone.  Just we
four danced: Olga and the Princess and Colonel Boucher and I."

Lucia made a great effort with herself.  She knew quite well that
Georgie knew how she would have given anything to have brought her
party across, and it only made matters worse (if they could be made
worse) to be sarcastic about it and pretend to find it all
ridiculous.  Olga certainly had left her and her friends alone,
just as she herself had left Riseholme alone, in this matter of her
week-end party.  Yet it was unwise to be withering about Colonel
Boucher's dancing.  She had made it clear that she was busy with
her party, and but for this unfortunate accident of Olga's coming
down, nothing else could have happened in Riseholme that day except
by her dispensing.  It was unfortunate, but it must be lived down,
and if dear old Riseholme was offended with her, Riseholme must be

"Great fun it must have been," she said.  "How delicious a little
impromptu thing like that is!  And singing too: well, you had a
nice evening, Georgie.  And now let us make some delicious little
plan for to-day.  Pop in presently and have 'ickle music and bit of

"I'm afraid I've just promised to lunch with Daisy," said he.

This again was rather ominous, for there could be no doubt that
Daisy, having said she was engaged, had popped in here to effect an

"How gay!" said Lucia.  "Come and dine this evening then!  Really,
Georgie, you are busier than any of us in London."

"Too tarsome," said Georgie, "because Olga's coming in here."

"And the Princess?" asked Lucia before she could stop herself.

"No, she went away this morning," said Georgie.

That was something, anyhow, thought Lucia.  One distinguished
person had gone away from Riseholme.  She waited, in slowly
diminishing confidence, for Georgie to ask her to dine with him
instead.  Perhaps he would ask Pepino too, but if not, Pepino would
be quite happy with his telescope and his cross-words all by
himself.  But it was odd and distasteful to wait to be asked to
dinner by anybody in Riseholme instead of everyone wanting to be
asked by her.

"She went away by the ten thirty," said Georgie, after an awful

Lucia had already learned certain lessons in London.  If you get a
snub--and this seemed very like a snub--the only possible course
was to be unaware of it.  So, though the thought of being snubbed
by Georgie nearly made her swoon, she was unaware of it.

"Such a good train," she said, magnificently disregarding the well-
known fact that it stopped at every station, and crawled in

"Excellent," said Georgie with conviction.  He had not the
slightest intention of asking Lucia to dine, for he wanted his tte-
-tte with Olga.  There would be such a lot to talk over, and
besides it would be tiresome to have Lucia there, for she would be
sure to gabble away about her wonderful life in London, and her
music-room and her Chippendale chairs, and generally to lay down
the law.  She must be punished too, for her loathsome conduct in
disregarding her old friends when she had her party from London,
and be made to learn that her old friends were being much smarter
than she was.

Lucia kept her end up nobly.

"Well, Georgie, I must trot away," she said.  "Such a lot of people
to see.  Look in, if you've got a spare minute.  I'm off again to-
morrow.  Such a whirl of things in London this week."

Lucia, instead of proceeding to see lots of people, went back to
her house and saw Pepino.  He was sitting in the garden in very old
clothes, smoking a pipe, and thoroughly enjoying the complete
absence of anything to do.  He was aware that officially he loved
the bustle of London, but it was extremely pleasant to sit in his
garden and smoke a pipe, and above all to be rid of those rather
hectic people who had talked quite incessantly from morning till
night all Sunday.  He had given up the cross-word, and was thinking
over the material for a sonnet on Tranquillity, when Lucia came out
to him.

"I was wondering, Pepino," she said, "if it would not be pleasanter
to go up to town this afternoon.  We should get the cool of the
evening for our drive, and really, now all our guests have gone,
and we are going to-morrow, these hours will be rather tedious.  We
are spoilt, caro, you and I, by our full life up there, where any
moment the telephone bell may ring with some delightful invitation.
Of course in August we will be here, and settle down to our quaint
old life again, but these little odds and ends of time, you know."

Pepino was reasonably astonished.  Half an hour ago Lucia had set
out, burning with enthusiasm to pick up the 'old threads,' and now
all she seemed to want to do was to drop the old threads as quickly
as possible.  Though he knew himself to be incapable of following
the swift and antic movements of Lucia's mind, he was capable of
putting two and two together.  He had been faintly conscious all
yesterday that matters were not going precisely as Lucia wished,
and knew that her efforts to entice Olga and her guest to the house
had been as barren as a fig-tree, but there must have been
something more than that.  Though not an imaginative man (except in
thinking that words rhymed when they did not), it occurred to him
that Riseholme was irritated with Lucia, and was indicating it in
some unusual manner.

"Why, my dear, I thought you were going to have people in to lunch
and dinner," he said, "and see about sending the spit to the
Museum, and be tremendously busy all day."

Lucia pulled herself together.  She had a momentary impulse to
confide in Pepino and tell him all the ominous happenings of the
last hour, how Daisy had said she was engaged for lunch and Mrs.
Boucher had friends to lunch, and Georgie had Olga to dinner and
had not asked her, and how the munificent gift of the spit was to
be considered by the Museum committee before they accepted it.  But
to have done that would be to acknowledge not one snub but many
snubs, which was contrary to the whole principle of successful
attainment.  Never must she confess, even to Pepino, that the
wheels of her chariot seemed to drive heavily, or that Riseholme
was not at the moment agape to receive the signs of her favour.
She must not even confess it to herself, and she made a rapid and
complete volte face.

"It shall be as you like, caro," she said.  "You would prefer to
spend a quiet day here, so you shall.  As for me, you've never
known me yet otherwise than busy, have you?  I have a stack of
letters to write, and there's my piano looking, oh, so reproachfully
at me, for I haven't touched the dear keys since I came, and I
must just glance through 'Henry VIII,' as we're going to see it
to-morrow.  I shall be busy enough, and you will have your day in
the sun and the air.  I only thought you might prefer to run up to
town to-day, instead of waiting till to-morrow.  Now don't keep me
chatting here any longer."

Lucia proved her quality on that dismal day.  She played her piano
with all her usual concentration, she read 'Henry VIII,' she wrote
her letters, and it was not till the Evening Gazette came in that
she allowed herself a moment's relaxation.  Hurriedly she turned
the pages, stopping neither for cross-word nor record of
international interests, till she came to Hermione's column.  She
had feared (and with a gasp of relief she saw how unfounded her
fears had been) that Hermione would have devoted his picturesque
pen to Olga and the Princess, and given her and her party only the
fag-end of his last paragraph, but she had disquieted herself in
vain.  Olga had taken no notice of him, and now (what could be
fairer?) he took no notice of Olga.  He just mentioned that she had
a 'pretty little cottage' at Riseholme, where she came occasionally
for week-ends, and there were three long sumptuous paragraphs about
The Hurst, and Mr. and Mrs. Philip Lucas who had Lord Limpsfield
and the wife of the member, Mrs. Garroby-Ashton, and Mrs. Alingsby
staying with them.  Lady Ambermere and her party from the Hall had
come to tea, and it was all glorious and distinguished.  Hermione
had proved himself a true friend, and there was not a word about
Olga and the Princess going to lunch with Georgie, or about Daisy
and her absurd weedj. . . .  Lucia read the luscious lines through
twice, and then, as she often did, sent her copy across to Georgie,
in order to help him to readjust values.  Almost simultaneously
Daisy sent de Vere across to him with her copy, and Mrs. Boucher
did the same, calling attention to the obnoxious paragraphs with
blue and red pencil respectively, and a great many exclamation
marks in both cases.

Riseholme settled back into its strenuous life again when Lucia
departed next morning to resume her vapid existence in London.  It
was not annoyed with her any more, because it had 'larned' her, and
was quite prepared to welcome her back if (and when) she returned
in a proper spirit and behaved herself suitably.  Moreover, even
with its own perennial interests to attend to, it privately missed
the old Lucia, who gave them a lead in everything, even though she
domineered, and was absurd, and pretended to know all about
everything, and put her finger into every pie within reach.  But it
did not miss the new shingled Lucia, the one who had come down with
a party of fresh friends, and had laughed at the Museum, and had
neglected her old friends altogether, till she found out that Olga
and a Princess were in the place: the less seen of her the better.
It was considered also that she had remained down here this extra
day in order to propitiate those whom she had treated as pariahs,
and condescend to take notice of them again, and if there was one
thing that Riseholme could not stand, and did not mean to stand
from anybody, it was condescension.  It was therefore perfectly
correct for Daisy and Mrs. Boucher to say they were engaged for
lunch, and for Georgie to decline to ask her to dinner. . . .
These three formed the committee of the Museum, and they met that
morning to audit the accounts for the week and discuss any other
business connected or unconnected with their office.  There was
not, of course, with so small and intimate a body, any need to have
a chairman, and they all rapped the table when they wanted to be
listened to.

Mrs. Boucher was greedily counting the shillings which had been
taken from the till, while Georgie counted the counterfoils of the

"A hundred and twenty-three," he said.  "That's nearly the best
week we've had yet."

"And fifteen and four is nineteen," said Mrs. Boucher, "and four is
twenty-three which makes exactly six pounds three shillings.  Well,
I do call that good.  And I hear we've had a wonderful bequest
made.  Most generous of our dear Olga.  I think she ought not only
to be thanked, but asked to join the committee.  I always said--"

Daisy rapped the table.

"Abfou said just the same," she interrupted.  "I had a sitting this
morning, and he kept writing 'committee.'  I brought the paper
along with me, because I was going to propose that myself.  But
there's another thing first, and that's about Insurance.  Robert
told me he was insuring the building and its contents separately
for a thousand pounds each.  We shall have to pay a premium, of
course.  Oh, here's Abfou's message.  'Committee,' you see
'committee' written three times.  I feel quite sure he meant Olga."

"He spells it with only one 'm,'" said Georgie, "but I expect he
means that.  There's one bit of business that comes before that,
for I have been offered another object for the Museum, and I said I
would refer the offer to the Committee before I accepted it.  Lucia
came to see me yesterday morning and asked--"

"The Elizabethan spit," said Mrs. Boucher.  "I don't see what we
want with it, for my part, and if I had to say what I thought, I
should thank her most politely, and beg that she would keep it
herself.  Most kind of her, I'm sure.  Sorry to refuse, which was
just what I said when she asked me to lunch yesterday.  There'd
have been legs of cold chickens of which her friends from London
had eaten wings."

"She asked me too," said Daisy, "and I said 'no.'  Did she leave
this morning?"

"Yes, about half past ten," said Georgie.  "She wanted me to ask
her to dinner last night."

Daisy had been writing 'committee' again and again on her blotting
paper.  It looked very odd with two 'm's' and she would certainly
have spelt it with one herself.

"I think Abfou is right about the way to spell 'committee,'" she
said, "and even if he weren't the meaning is clear enough.  But
about the insurance.  Robert only advises insurance against fire,
for he says no burglar in his senses--"

Mrs. Boucher rapped the table.

"But there wasn't the manuscript of 'Lucrezia' then," she said.
"And I should think that any burglar whether in his senses or out
of them would think THAT worth taking.  If it was a question of
insuring an Elizabethan spit--"

"Well, I want to know what the committee wishes me to say about
that," said Georgie.  "Oh, by the way, when we have a new edition
of the catalogue, we must bring it up to date.  There'll be the
manuscript of 'Lucrezia.'"

"And if you ask me," said Mrs. Boucher, "she only wanted to get rid
of the spit because it makes her chimney smoke.  Tell her to get
her chimney swept and keep the spit."

"There's a portrait of her in the music-room," said Georgie, "by
Sigismund.  It looks like nothing at all--"

"Of course everybody has a right to have their hair shingled," said
Mrs. Boucher, "whatever their age, and there's no law to prevent

Daisy rapped the table.

"We were considering as to whether we should ask Mrs. Shuttleworth
to join the committee," she said.

"She sang too, beautifully, on Sunday night," said Georgie, "and
what fun we had dancing.  Oh, and Lucia asked for the Princess's
book to sign her name in, and the only book she had brought was a
book of cross-word puzzles."

"No!" said both ladies together.

"She did, because Olga's parlour-maid told Foljambe, and--"

"Well I never!" said Daisy.  "That served her out.  Did she write
Lucia across, and Pepino down?"

"I'm sure I've nothing to say against her," said Mrs. Boucher, "but
people usually get what they deserve.  Certainly let us have the
Museum insured if that's the right thing to do, and as for asking
Olga to be on the committee, why we settled that hours ago, and I
have nothing more to say about the spit.  Have the spit if you
like, but I would no more think of insuring it, than insuring a
cold in the head.  I've as much use for one as the other.  All that
stuff too about the gracious chatelaine at The Hurst in the Evening
Gazette!  My husband read it, and what he said was 'Faugh!'  Tush
and faugh, was what he said."

Public opinion was beginning to boil up again about Lucia, and
Georgie intervened.

"I think that's all the business before the meeting," he said, "and
so we accept the manuscript of' 'Lucrezia' and decline the spit.
I'm sure it was very kind of both the donors.  And Olga's to be
asked to join the committee.  Well, we have got through a good
morning's work."

Lucia meanwhile was driving back to London, where she intended to
make herself a busy week.  There would be two nights at the opera,
on the second of which Olga was singing in "The Valkyrie," and so
far from intending to depreciate her singing, or to refrain from
going, by way of revenge for the slight she had suffered, she
meant, even if Olga sang like a screech-owl and acted like a stick,
to say there had never been so perfect a presentation of Brunhilde.
She could not conceive doing anything so stupid as snubbing Olga
because she had not come to her house or permitted her to enter Old
Place: that would have been the height of folly.

At present, she was (or hoped to be) on the upward road, and the
upward road could only be climbed by industry and appreciation.
When she got to the top, it would be a different matter, but just
now it was an asset, a score to allude to dear Olga and the
hoppings in and out that took place all day at Riseholme: she knew
too, a good deal that Olga had done on Sunday and that would all be
useful.  "Always appreciate, always admire," thought Lucia to
herself as she woke Pepino up from a profound nap on their arrival
at Brompton Square.  "Be busy: work, work, work."

She knew already that there would be hard work in front of her
before she got where she wanted to get, and she whisked off
like a disturbing fly which impeded concentration the slight
disappointment which her weekend had brought.  If you meant to
progress, you must never look back (the awful example of Lot's
wife!) and never, unless you are certain it is absolutely useless,
kick down a ladder which has brought you anywhere, or might in the
future bring you anywhere.  Already she had learned a lesson about
that, for if she had only told Georgie that she had been coming
down for a weekend, and had bidden him to lunch and dinner and
anything else he liked, he would certainly have got Olga to pop in
at The Hurst, or have said that he couldn't dine with Olga on that
fateful Sunday night because he was dining with her, and then no
doubt Olga would have asked them all to come in afterwards.  It had
been a mistake to kick Riseholme down, a woeful mistake, and she
would never do such a thing again.  It was a mistake also to be
sarcastic about anybody till you were sure they could not help you,
and who could be sure of that?  Even poor dear Daisy with her
ridiculous Abfou had proved such an attraction at Old Place, that
Georgie had barely time to get back and dress for dinner, and a
benignant Daisy instead of a militant and malignant Daisy would
have helped.  Everything helps, thought Lucia, as she snatched up
the tablets which stood by the telephone and recorded the ringings
up that had taken place in her absence.

She fairly gasped at the amazing appropriateness of a message that
had been received only ten minutes ago.  Marcia Whitby hoped that
she could dine that evening: the message was to be delivered as
soon as she arrived.  Obviously it was a last moment invitation:
somebody had thrown her over, and perhaps that made them thirteen.
There was no great compliment in it, for Marcia, so Lucia
conjectured, had already tried high and low to get another woman,
and now in despair she tried Lucia. . . .  Of course there were the
tickets for 'Henry VIII,' and it was a first night, but perhaps she
could get somebody to go with Pepino. . . .  Ah, she remembered
Aggie Sanderson lamenting that she had been able to secure a seat!
Without a pause she rang up the Duchess of Whitby, and expressed
her eager delight at coming to dine to-night.  So lucky, so
charmed.  Then having committed herself, she rang up Aggie and
hoped for the best, and Aggie jumped at the idea of a ticket for
Henry VIII, and then she told Pepino all about it.

"Caro, I had to be kind," she said, tripping off into the music-
room where he was at tea.  "Poor Marcia Whitby in despair."

"Dear me, what has happened?" asked Pepino.

"One short, one woman short, evidently, for her dinner to-night:
besought me to go.  But you shall have your play all the same, and
a dear sweet woman to take to it.  Guess!  No.  I'll tell you:
Aggie.  She was longing to go, and so it's a kindness all round.
You will have somebody more exciting to talk to than your poor old
sposa, and dearest Aggie will get her play, and Marcia will be ever
so grateful to me.  I shall miss the play, but I will go another
night unless you tell me it is no good. . . ."

Of course the Evening Gazette would contain no further news of the
chatelaine at The Hurst, but Lucia turned to Hermione's column with
a certain eagerness, for there might be something about the
duchess's dinner this evening.  Hermione did not seem to have heard
of it, but if Hermione came to lunch to-morrow, he would hear of it
then.  She rang him up. . . .

Lucia's kindness to Marcia Whitby met with all sorts of rewards.
She got there, as was her custom in London, rather early, so that
she could hear the names of all the guests as they arrived, and
Marcia, feeling thoroughly warm-hearted to her, for she had tried
dozens of women to turn her party from thirteen into fourteen,
called her Lucia instead of Mrs. Lucas.  It was no difficulty to
Lucia to reciprocate this intimacy in a natural manner, for she had
alluded to the duchess as Marcia behind her back, for weeks, and
now the syllables tripped to her tongue with the familiarity of

"Sweet of you to ask me, dear Marcia," she said.  "Pepino and I
only arrived from Riseholme an hour or two ago, and he took Aggie
Sandeman to the theatre instead of me.  Such a lovely Sunday at
Riseholme: you must spare a week-end and come down and vegetate.
Olga Shuttleworth was there with Princess Isabel, and she sang too
divinely on Sunday evening, and then, would you believe it, we
turned on the gramophone and danced."

"What a coincidence!" said Marcia, "because I've got a small dance
to-night, and Princess Isabel is coming.  But not nearly so chic as
your dance at Riseholme."

She moved towards the door to receive the guests who were beginning
to arrive, and Lucia with ears open for distinguished names, had
just a moment's qualm for having given the impression which she
meant to give, that she had been dancing to Olga's gramophone.  It
was no more than momentary, and presently the Princess arrived, and
was led round by her hostess, to receive curtsies.

"And of course you know Mrs. Lucas," said Marcia.  "She's been
telling me about your dancing to the gramophone at her house on

Lucia recovered from her curtsey.

"No, dear Marcia," she said.  "It was at Olga's, in fact--"

The Princess fixed her with a royal eye before she passed on, as if
she seemed to understand.

But that was the only catastrophe, and how small a one!  The
Princess liked freaks, and so Marcia had asked a star of the movies
and a distinguished novelist, and a woman with a skin like a kipper
from having crossed the Sahara twice on foot, or having swum the
Atlantic twice, or something of the sort, and a society
caricaturist and a slim young gentleman with a soft voice, who
turned out to be the bloodiest pugilist of the century, and the
Prime Minister, two ambassadresses, and the great Mrs. Beaucourt
who had just astounded the world by her scandalous volume of purely
imaginary reminiscences.  Each of these would furnish a brilliant
centre for a dinner party, and the idea of spreading the butter as
thick as that seemed to Lucia almost criminal: she herself, indeed,
was the only bit of bread to be seen anywhere.  Before dinner was
over she had engaged both her neighbours, the pugilist and the
cinema star, to dine with her on consecutive nights next week, and
was mentally running through her list of friends to settle whom to
group round them.  Alf Watson, the pugilist, it appeared, when not
engaged in knocking people out, spent his time in playing the flute
to soothe his savage breast, while Marcelle Periscope when not
impersonating impassioned lovers, played with his moderately tame
lion-cub.  Lucia begged Alf to bring his flute, and they would have
some music, but did not extend her invitation to the lion-cub,
which sounded slightly Bolshevistic. . . .  Later in the evening
she got hold of Herbert Alton, the social caricaturist, who
promised to lunch on Sunday, but failed to do business with the
lady from the Sahara, who was leaving next day to swim another sea,
or cross another desert.  Then the guests for the dance began to
arrive, and Lucia, already half-intoxicated by celebrities, sank
rapt in a chair at the top of the staircase and listened to the
catalogue of sonorous names.  Up trooped stars and garters and
tiaras, and when she felt stronger, she clung firmly to Lord
Limpsfield, who seemed to know everybody and raked in introductions.

Lucia did not get home till three o'clock (for having given
up her play out of kindness to Marcia, she might as well do it
thoroughly), but she was busy writing invitations for her two
dinner parties next week by nine in the morning.  Pepino was
lunching at his club, where he might meet the Astronomer Royal, and
have a chat about the constellations, but he was to ring her up
about a quarter past two and ascertain if she had made any
engagement for him during the afternoon.  The idea of this somehow
occupied her brain as she filled up the cards of invitation in her
small exquisite handwriting.  There was a telephone in her dining-
room, and she began to visualise to herself Pepino's ringing her
up, while she and the two or three friends who were lunching with
her would be still at table.  It would be at the end of lunch: they
would be drinking their coffee, which she always made herself in a
glass machine with a spirit-lamp which, when it appeared to be on
the point of exploding, indicated that coffee was ready.  The
servants would have left the room, and she would go to the
telephone herself. . . .  She would hear Pepino's voice, but nobody
else would.  They would not know who was at the other end, and she
might easily pretend that it was not Pepino, but . . .  She would
give a gabbling answer, audible to her guests, but she could divert
her mouth a little away so that Pepino could not make anything out
of it, and then hang up the receiver again. . . .  Pepino no doubt
would think he had got hold of a wrong number, and presently call
her up again, and she would then tell him anything there was to
communicate.  As she scribbled away the idea took shape and
substance: there was an attraction about it, it smiled on her.

She came to the end of her dinner-invitations grouped round the
cinema-star and the fluting prize-fighter, and she considered whom
to ask to meet Herbert Alton on Sunday.  He was working hard, he
had told her, to finish his little gallery of caricatures with
which he annually regaled London, and which was to open in a
fortnight.  He was a licensed satirist, and all London always
flocked to his show to observe with glee what he made of them all,
and what witty and pungent little remarks he affixed to their
monstrous effigies.  It was a distinct cachet, too, to be
caricatured by him, a sign that you attracted attention and were a
notable figure.  He might (in fact, he always did) make you a
perfect guy, and his captions invariably made fun of something
characteristic, but it gave you publicity.  She wondered whether he
would take a commission: she wondered whether he might be induced
to do a caricature of Pepino or herself or of them both, at a
handsome price, with the proviso that it was to be on view at his
exhibition.  That could probably be ascertained, and then she might
approach the subject on Sunday.  Anyhow, she would ask one or two
pleasant people to meet him, and hope for the best.

Lucia's little lunch-party that day consisted only of four people.
Lunch, Lucia considered, was for intimes: you sat with your elbows
on the table, and all talked together, and learned the news, just
as you did on the Green at Riseholme.  There was something unwieldy
about a large lunch-party; it was a distracted affair, and in the
effort to assimilate more news than you could really digest, you
forgot half of it.  To-day, therefore, there was only Aggie
Sandeman who had been to the play last night with Pepino, and was
bringing her cousin Adele Brixton (whom Lucia had not yet met, but
very much wanted to know), and Stephen Merriall.  Lady Brixton was
a lean, intelligent American of large fortune who found she got on
better without her husband.  But as Lord Brixton preferred living
in America and she in England, satisfactory arrangements were
easily made.  Occasionally she had to go to see relatives in
America, and he selected such periods for seeing relatives in

She explained the situation very good-naturedly to Lucia who rather
rashly asked after her husband.

"In fact," she said, "we blow kisses to each other from the decks
of Atlantic liners going in opposite directions, if it's calm, and
if it's rough, we're sick into the same ocean."

Now that would never have been said at Riseholme, or if it was, it
would have been very ill thought of, and a forced smile followed by
a complete change of conversation would have given it a chilly
welcome.  Now, out of habit, Lucia smiled a forced smile, and then
remembered that you could not judge London by the chaste standards
of Riseholme.  She turned the forced smile into a genial one.

"Too delicious!" she said.  "I must tell Pepino that."

"Pep what?" asked Lady Brixton.

This was explained; it was also explained that Aggie had been with
Pepino to the play last night; in fact there was rather too much
explanation going on for social ease, and Lucia thought it was time
to tell them all about what she had done last night.  She did this
in a characteristic manner.

"Dear Lady Brixton," she said, "ever since you came in I've been
wondering where I have seen you.  Of course it was last night, at
our darling Marcia's dance."

This seemed to introduce the desirable topic, and though it was not
in the least true, it was a wonderfully good shot.

"Yes, I was there," said Adele.  "What a crush.  Sheer Mormonism:
one man to fifty women."

"How unkind of you!  I dined there first; quite a small party.
Princess Isabel, who had been down at our dear little Riseholme on
Sunday, staying with Olga--such a coincidence--"  Lucia stopped
just in time; she was about to describe the impromptu dance at
Olga's on Sunday night, but remembered that Stephen knew she had
not been to it.  So she left the coincidence alone, and went
rapidly on:

"Dear Marcia insisted on my coming," she said, "and so, really,
like a true friend I gave up the play and went.  Such an amusing
little dinner.  Marcelle--Marcelle Periscope, the Prime Minister
and the Italian ambassadress, and Princess Isabel of course, and
Alf, and a few more.  There's nobody like Marcia for getting up a
wonderful unexpected little party like that.  Alf was too

"Not Alf Watson?" asked Lady Brixton.

"Yes, I sat next him at dinner, and he's coming to dine with me
next week, and is bringing his flute.  He adores playing the flute.
Can't I persuade you to come, Lady Brixton?  Thursday, let me see,
is it Thursday?  Yes, Thursday.  No party at all, just a few old
friends, and some music.  I must find some duets for the piano and
flute: Alf made me promise that I would play his accompaniments for
him.  And Dora: Dora Beaucourt.  What a lurid life!  And Sigismund:
no, I don't think Sigismund was there; it was at Sophy's.  Such a
marvellous portrait he has done of me: is it not marvellous,
Stephen?  You remember it down at Riseholme.  How amusing Sophy
was, insisting that I should move every other picture out of my
music room.  I must get her to come in after dinner on Thursday;
there is something primitive about the flute."  So Theocritan!

Lucia suddenly remembered that she mustn't kick ladders down, and
turned to Aggie.  Aggie had been very useful when first she came up
to London, and she might quite easily be useful again, for she knew
quantities of solid people, and if her parties lacked brilliance,
they were highly respectable.  The people whom Sophy called 'the
old crusted' went there.

"Aggie dear, as soon as you get home, put down Wednesday for dining
with me," she said, "and if there's an engagement there already, as
there's sure to be, cross it out and have pseudo-influenza.
Marcelle--Marcelle Periscope is coming, but I didn't ask the lion-
cub.  A lion-cub: so quaint of him--and who else was there last
night?  Dear me, I get so mixed up with all the people one runs

Lucia, of course, never got mixed up at all: there was no one so
clear-headed, but she had to spin things out a little, for Pepino
was rather late ringing up.  The coffee-equipage had been set
before her, and she kept drawing away the spirit-lamp in an absent
manner just before it boiled, for they must still be sitting in the
dining-room when he rang up.  But even as she lamented her muddled
memory, the tinkle of the telephone bell sounded.  She rapidly
rehearsed in her mind what she was going to say.

"Ah, that telephone," she said, rising hastily, so as to get to it
before one of the servants came back.  "I often tell Pepino I shall
cut it out of the house, for one never gets a moment's peace.  Yes,
yes, who is it?"

Lucia listened for a second, and then gave a curtsey.

"Oh, is it you, ma'am?" she said, holding the mouthpiece a little
obliquely.  "Yes, I'm Mrs. Lucas."

A rather gruff noise, clearly Pepino's voice, came from the
instrument, but she trusted it was inaudible to the others, and she
soon broke in again talking very rapidly.

"Oh, that is kind of you, your Highness," she said.  "It would be
too delightful.  To-morrow: charmed.  Delighted."

She replaced the mouthpiece, and instantly began to talk again from
the point at which she had left off.

"Yes, and of course Herbert Alton was there," she said.  "His show
opens in a fortnight, and how we shall all meet there at the
private view and laugh at each other's caricatures!  What is it
that Rousseau--is it Rousseau?--says, about our not being wholly
grieved at the misfortunes of our friends?  So true!  Bertie is
rather wicked sometimes though, but still one forgives him
everything.  Ah, the coffee is boiling at last."

Pepino, as Lucia had foreseen, rang up again almost immediately,
and she told him he had missed the most charming little lunch
party, because he would go to his club.  Her guests, of course,
were burning to know to whom she had curtsied, but Lucia gave no
information on the point.  Adele Brixton and Aggie presently went
off to a matinee, but Stephen remained behind.  That looked rather
well, Lucia thought, for she had noticed that often a handsome and
tolerably young man lingered with the hostess when other guests had
gone.  There was something rather chic about it; if it happened
very constantly, or if at another house they came together or went
away together, people would begin to talk, quite pleasantly of
course, about his devotion to her.  Georgie had been just such a
cavaliere servente.  Stephen, for his part, was quite unconscious
of any such scintillations in Lucia's mind: he merely knew that it
was certainly convenient for an unattached man to have a very
pleasant house always to go to, where he would be sure of hearing
things that interested Hermione.

"Delicious little lunch party," he said.  "What a charming woman
Lady Brixton is."

"Dear Adele," said Lucia dreamily.  "Charming, isn't she?  How
pleased she was at the thought of meeting Alf!  Do look in after
dinner that night, Stephen.  I wish I could ask you to dine, but I
expect to be crammed as it is.  Dine on Wednesday, though: let me
see, Marcelle comes that night.  What a rush next week will be!"

Stephen waited for her to allude to the voice to which she had
curtsied, but he waited in vain.


This delicious little luncheon-party had violently excited Adele
Brixton: she was thrilled to the marrow at Lucia's curtsey to the

"My dear, she's marvellous," she said to Aggie.  "She's a study.
She's cosmic.  The telephone, the curtsey!  I've never seen the
like.  But why in the name of wonder didn't she tell us who the
Highness was?  She wasn't shy of talking about the other folk she'd
met.  Alf and Marcelle and Marcia and Bertie.  But she made a
mistake over Bertie.  She shouldn't have said 'Bertie.'  I've known
Herbert Alton for years, and never has anybody called him anything
but Herbert.  'Bertie' was a mistake, but don't tell her.  I adore
your Lucia.  She'll go far, mark my words, and I bet you she's
talking of me as Adele this moment.  Don't you see how wonderful
she is?  I've been a climber myself and I know.  But I was a snail
compared to her."

Aggie Sandeman was rather vexed at not being asked to the Alf

"You needn't tell me how wonderful she is," she observed with some
asperity.  "It's not two months since she came to London first, and
she didn't know a soul.  She dined with me the first night she came
up, and since then she has annexed every single person she met at
my house."

"She would," said Adele appreciatively.  "And who was the man who
looked as if he had been labelled 'Man' by mistake when he was
born, and ought to have been labelled 'Lady'?  I never saw such a
perfect lady, though I only know him as Stephen at present.  She
just said, 'Stephen, do you know Lady Brixton?'"

"Stephen Merriall," said Aggie.  "Just one of the men who go out to
tea every day--one of the unattached."

"Well then, she's going to attach him," said Adele.  "Dear me,
aren't I poisonous, when I'm going to her house to meet Alf next
week!  But I don't feel poisonous; I feel wildly interested: I
adore her.  Here we are at the theatre: what a bore!  And there's
Tony Limpsfield.  Tony, come and help me out.  We've been lunching
with the most marvellous--"

"I expect you mean Lucia," said Tony.  "I spent Sunday with her at

"She curtsied to the telephone," began Adele.

"Who was at the other end?" asked Tony eagerly.

"That's what she didn't say," said Adele.

"Why not?" asked Tony.

Adele stepped briskly out of her car, followed by Aggie.

"I can't make out," she said.  "Oh, do you know Mrs. Sandeman?"

"Yes, of course," said Tony.  "And it couldn't have been Princess

"Why not?  She met her at Marcia's last night."

"Yes, but the Princess fled from her.  She fled from her at
Riseholme too, and said she would never go to her house.  It can't
have been she.  But she got hold of that boxer--"

"Alf Watson," said Adele.  "She called him Alf, and I'm going to
meet him at her house on Thursday."

"Then it's very unkind of you to crab her, Adele," said Tony.

"I'm not: I'm simply wildly interested.  Anyhow, what about you?
You spent a Sunday with her at Riseholme."

"And she calls you Tony," said Aggie vituperatively, still thinking
about the Alf party.

"No, does she really?" said Tony.  "But after all, I call her Lucia
when she's not there.  The bell's gone, by the way: the curtain
will be up."

Adele hurried in.

"Come to my box, Tony," she said, "after the first act.  I haven't
been so interested in anything for years."

Adele paid no attention whatever to the gloomy play of Tchekov's.
Her whole mind was concentrated on Lucia, and soon she leaned
across to Aggie, and whispered:

"I believe it was Pepino who rang her up."

Aggie knitted her brows for a moment.

"Couldn't have been," she said.  "He rang her up directly

Adele's face fell.  Not being able to think as far ahead as Lucia
she didn't see the answer to that, and relapsed into Lucian
meditation, till the moment the curtain fell, when Tony Limpsfield
slid into their box.

"I don't know what the play has been about," he said, "but I must
tell you why she was at Marcia's last night.  Some women chucked
Marcia during the afternoon and made her thirteen--"

"Marcia would like that," said Aggie.

Tony took no notice of this silly joke.

"So she rang up everybody in town--" he continued.

"Except me," said Aggie bitterly.

"Oh, never mind that," said Tony.  "She rang up everybody, and
couldn't get hold of anyone.  Then she rang up Lucia."

"Who instantly said she was disengaged, and rang me up to go to the
theatre with Pepino," said Aggie.  "I suspected something of the
sort, but I wanted to see the play, and I wasn't going to cut off
my nose to spite Lucia's face."

"Besides, she would have got someone else, or sent Pepino to the
play alone," said Tony.  "And you've got hold of the wrong end of
the stick, Aggie.  Nobody wants to spite Lucia.  We all want her to
have the most glorious time."

"Aggie's vexed because she thinks she invented Lucia," observed
Adele.  "That's the wrong attitude altogether.  Tell me about Pep."

"Simply nothing to say about him," said Tony.  "He has trousers and
a hat, and a telescope on the roof at Riseholme, and when you talk
to him you see he remembers what the leading articles in The Times
said that morning.  Don't introduce irrelevant matters, Adele."

"But husbands are relevant--all but mine," said Adele.  "Part of
the picture.  And what about Stephen?"

"Oh, you always see him handing buns at tea-parties.  He's
irrelevant too."

"He might not be if her husband is," said Adele.

Tony exploded with laughter.

"You are off the track," he said.  "You'll get nowhere if you
attempt to smirch Lucia's character.  How could she have time for a
lover to begin with?  And you misunderstand her altogether, if you
think that."

"It would be frightfully picturesque," said Adele.

"No, it would spoil it altogether. . . .  Oh, there's this stupid
play beginning again. . . .  Gracious heavens, look there!"

They followed his finger, and saw Lucia followed by Stephen coming
up the central aisle of the stalls to two places in the front row.
Just as she reached her place she turned round to survey the house,
and caught sight of them.  Then the lights were lowered, and her
face slid into darkness.

This little colloquy in Adele's box was really the foundation of
the secret society of the Luciaphils, and the membership of the
Luciaphils began swiftly to increase.  Aggie Sandeman was scarcely
eligible, for complete goodwill towards Lucia was a sine qua non of
membership, and there was in her mind a certain asperity when she
thought that it was she who had given Lucia her gambit, and that
already she was beginning to be relegated to second circles in
Lucia's scale of social precedence.  It was true that she had been
asked to dine to meet Marcelle Periscope, but the party to meet Alf
and his flute was clearly the smarter of the two.  Adele, however,
and Tony Limpsfield were real members, so too, when she came up a
few days later, was Olga.  Marcia Whitby was another who greedily
followed her career, and such as these, whenever they met, gave
eager news to each other about it.  There was, of course, another
camp, consisting of those whom Lucia bombarded with pleasant
invitations, but who (at present) firmly refused them.  They
professed not to know her and not to take the slightest interest in
her, which showed, as Adele said, a deplorable narrowness of mind.
Types and striking characters like Lucia, who pursued undaunted and
indefatigable their aim in life, were rare, and when they occurred
should be studied with reverent affection. . . .  Sometimes one of
the old and original members of the Luciaphils discovered others,
and if when Lucia's name was mentioned an eager and a kindly light
shone in their eyes, and they said in a hushed whisper "Did you
hear who was there on Thursday?" they thus disclosed themselves as
Luciaphils. . . .  All this was gradual, but the movement went
steadily on, keeping pace with her astonishing career, for the days
were few on which some gratifying achievement was not recorded in
the veracious columns of Hermione.

Lucia was driving home one afternoon after a day passed in the
Divorce Court.  She had made the acquaintance of the President not
long ago, and had asked him to dinner on the evening before this
trial, which was the talk of the town, was to begin, and at the
third attempt had got him to give her a seat in the Court.  The
trial had already lasted three days, and really no one seemed to
think about anything else, and the papers had been full of soulful
and surprising evidence.  Certainly, Babs Shyton, the lady whose
husband wanted to get rid of her, had written very odd letters to
Woof-dog, otherwise known as Lord Middlesex, and he to her: Lucia
could not imagine writing to anybody like that, and she would have
been very much surprised if anyone had written to her as Woof-dog
wrote to Babs.  But as the trial went on, Lucia found herself
growing warm with sympathy for Babs.  Her husband, Colonel Shyton,
must have been an impossible person to live with, for sometimes he
would lie in bed all day, get up in the evening, have breakfast at
8 p.m., lunch a little after midnight, and dine heavily at 8.30 in
the morning.  Surely with a husband like that, any woman would want
some sort of a Woof-dog to take care of her.  Both Babs and he, in
the extracts from the remarkable correspondence between them which
were read out in court, alluded to Colonel Shyton as the S.P.,
which Babs (amid loud laughter) frankly confessed meant Stinkpot;
and Babs had certainly written to Woof-dog to say that she was in
bed and very sleepy and cross, but wished that Woof-dog was
thumping his tail on the hearth-rug.  That was indiscreet, but
there was nothing incriminating about it, and as for the row of
crosses which followed Babs's signature, she explained quite
frankly that they indicated that she was cross.  There were roars
of laughter again at this, and even the Judge wore a broad grin as
he said that if there was any more disturbance he should clear the
court.  Babs had produced an excellent impression, in fact: she had
looked so pretty and had answered so gaily, and the Woof-dog had
been just as admirable, for he was a strong silent Englishman, and
when he was asked whether he had ever kissed Babs she said "That's
a lie" in such a loud fierce voice that you felt that the jury had
better believe him unless they all wanted to be knocked down.  The
verdict was expected next day, and Lucia meant to lose no time in
asking Babs to dinner if it was in her favour.

The court had been very hot and airless, and Lucia directed her
chauffeur to drive round the park before going home.  She had asked
one or two people to tea at five, and one or two more at half-past,
but there was time for a turn first, and, diverting her mind from
the special features of the case to the general features of such
cases, she thought what an amazing and incomparable publicity they
gave any woman.  Of course, if the verdict went against her, such
publicity would be extremely disagreeable, but, given that the jury
decided that there was nothing against her, Lucia could imagine
being almost envious of her.  She did not actually want to be
placed in such a situation herself, but certainly it would convey a
notoriety that could scarcely be accomplished by years of patient
effort.  Babs would feel that there was not a single person in any
gathering who did not know who she was, and all about her, and, if
she was innocent, that would be a wholly delightful result.
Naturally, Lucia only envied the outcome of such an experience, not
the experience itself, for it would entail a miserable life with
Pepino, and she felt sure that dinner at 8.30 in the morning would
be highly indigestible, but it would be wonderful to be as well-
known as Babs.

Another point that had struck her, both in the trial itself and in
the torrents of talk that for the last few days had been poured out
over the case, was the warm sympathy of the world in general with
Babs, whether guilty or innocent.  "The world always loves a
lover," thought Lucia, and Woof-dog thumping his tail on the rug by
her bedroom fire was a beautiful image.

Her thoughts took a more personal turn.  The idea of having a real
lover was, of course, absolutely abhorrent to her whole nature, and
besides, she did not know whom she could get.  But the reputation
of having a lover was a wholly different matter, presenting no such
objections or difficulties, and most decidedly it gave a woman a
certain cachet, if a man was always seen about with her and was
supposed to be deeply devoted to her.  The idea had occurred to her
vaguely before, but now it took more definite shape, and as to her
choice of this sort of lover, there was no difficulty about that.
Hitherto, she had done nothing to encourage the notion, beyond
having Stephen at the house a good deal, but now she saw herself
assuming an air of devoted proprietorship of him; she could see
herself talking to him in a corner, and even laying her hand on his
sleeve, arriving with him at an evening party, and going away with
him, for Pepino hated going out after dinner. . . .

But caution was necessary in the first steps, for it would be hard
to explain to Stephen what the proposed relationship was, and she
could not imagine herself saying "We are going to pretend to be
lovers, but we aren't."  It would be quite dreadful if he
misunderstood, and unexpectedly imprinted on her lips or even her
hand a hot lascivious kiss, but up till now he certainly had not
shown the smallest desire to do anything of the sort.  She would
never be able to see him again if he did that, and the world would
probably say that he had dropped her.  But she knew she couldn't
explain the proposed position to him and he would have to guess:
she could only give him a lead and must trust to his intelligence,
and to the absence in him of any unsuspected amorous proclivities.
She would begin gently, anyhow, and have him to dinner every day
that she was at home.  And really it would be very pleasant for
him, for she was entertaining a great deal during this next week or
two, and if he only did not yield to one of those rash and
turbulent impulses of the male, all would be well.  Georgie, until
(so Lucia put it to herself) Olga had come between them, had done
it beautifully, and Stephen was rather like Georgie.  As for
herself, she knew she could trust her firm slow pulses never to
beat wild measures for anybody.

She reached home to find that Adele had already arrived, and
pausing only to tell her servant to ring up Stephen and ask him to
come round at once, she went upstairs.

"Dearest Adele," she said, "a million pardons.  I have been in the
Divorce Court all day.  Too thrilled.  Babs, dear Babs Shyton, was
wonderful.  They got nothing out of her at all--"

"No: Lord Middlesex has got everything out of her already,"
observed Adele.

"Ah, how can you say that?" said Lucia.  "Lord Middlesex--Woof-dog,
you know--was just as wonderful.  I feel sure the jury will believe
them.  Dear Babs!  I must get her to come here some night soon and
have a friendly little party for her.  Think of that horrid old man
who had lunch in the middle of the night!  How terrible for her to
have to go back to him.  Dear me, what is her address?"

"She may not have to go back to him," said Adele.  "If so, 'care of
Woof-dog' would probably find her."

Adele had been feeling rather cross.  Her husband had announced his
intention of visiting his friends and relations in England, and she
did not feel inclined to make a corresponding journey to America.
But as Lucia went on, she forgot these minor troubles, and became
enthralled.  Though she was still talking about Babs and Woof-dog,
Adele felt sure these were only symbols, like the dreams of psycho-

"My sympathy is entirely with dear Babs," she said.  "Think of her
position with that dreadful old wretch.  A woman surely may be
pardoned, even if the jury don't believe her for--"

"Of course she may," said Adele with a final spurt of ill-temper.
"What she's not pardoned for is being found out."

"Now you're talking as everybody talked in that dreadful play I
went to last night," said Lucia.  "Dear Olga was there: she is
singing to-morrow, is she not?  And you are assuming that Babs is
guilty.  How glad I am, Adele, that you are not on the jury!  I
take quite the other view: a woman with a wretched home like that
must have a man with whom she is friends.  I think it was a pure
and beautiful affection between Babs and Woof-dog, such as any
woman, even if she was happily married, might be proud to enjoy.
There can be no doubt of Lord Middlesex's devotion to her, and
really--I hope this does not shock you--what their relations were
concerns nobody but them.  George Sands and Chopin, you know.
Nelson and Lady Hamilton.  Sir Andrew Moss--he was the Judge, you
know--dined here the other night; I'm sure he is broad-minded.  He
gave me an admission card to the court. . . .  Ah, Stephen, there
you are.  Come in, my dear.  You know Lady Brixton, don't you?  We
were talking of Babs Shyton.  Bring up your chair.  Let me see, no
sugar, isn't it?  How you scolded me when I put sugar into your tea
by mistake the other day!"

She held Stephen's hand for as long as anybody might, or, as
Browning says, "so very little longer," and Adele saw a look of
faint surprise on his face.  It was not alarm, it was not rapture,
it was just surprise.

"Were you there?" he said.  "No verdict yet, I suppose."

"Not till to-morrow, but then you will see.  Adele has been horrid
about her, quite horrid, and I have been preaching to her.  I shall
certainly ask Babs to dine some night soon, and you shall come, if
you can spare an evening, but we won't ask Adele.  Tell me the
news, Stephen.  I've been in Court all day."

"Lucia's quite misunderstood me," said Adele.  "My sympathy is
entirely with Babs: all I blame her for is being found out.  If you
and I had an affair, Mr. Merriall, we should receive the envious
sympathy of everybody, until we were officially brought to book.
But then we should acquiesce in even our darling Lucia's cutting
us.  And if you had an affair with anybody else--I'm sure you've
got hundreds--I and everybody else would be ever so pleased and
interested, until--Mark that word 'until.'  Now I must go, and
leave you two to talk me well over."

Lucia rose, making affectionate but rather half-hearted murmurs to
induce her to stop.

"Must you really be going, Adele?" she said.  "Let me see, what am
I doing to-morrow--Stephen, what is to-morrow, and what am I doing?
Ah yes, Bertie Alton's private view in the morning.  We shall be
sure to meet there, Adele.  The wretch has done two caricatures of
Pepino and me.  I feel as if I was to be flayed in the sight of all
London.  Au revoir, then, dear Adele, if you're so tired of us.
And then the opera in the evening: I shall hardly dare to show my
face.  Your motor's here, is it?  Ring, Stephen, will you.  Such a
short visit, and I expect Olga will pop in presently.  All sorts of
messages to her, I suppose.  Look in again, Adele: propose

On the doorstep Adele met Tony Limpsfield.  She hurried him into
her motor, and told the chauffeur not to drive on.

"News!" she said.  "Lucia's going to have a lover."

"No!" said Tony in the Riseholme manner

"But I tell you she is.  He's with her now."

"They won't want me then," said Tony.  "And yet she asked me to
come at half-past five."

"Nonsense, my dear.  They will want you, both of them. . . .  Oh
Tony, don't you see?  It's a stunt."

Tony assumed the rapt expression of Luciaphils receiving

"Tell me all about it," he said.

"I'm sure I'm right," said she.  "Her poppet came in just now, and
she held his hand as women do, and made him draw his chair up to
her, and said he scolded her.  I'm not sure that he knows yet.  But
I saw that he guessed something was up.  I wonder if he's clever
enough to do it properly. . . .  I wish she had chosen you, Tony,
you'd have done it perfectly.  They have got--don't you understand?--
to have the appearance of being lovers, everyone must think they
are lovers, while all the time there's nothing at all of any sort
in it.  It's a stunt: it's a play: it's a glory."

"But perhaps there is something in it," said Tony.  "I really think
I had better not go in."

"Tony, trust me.  Lucia has no more idea of keeping a real lover
than of keeping a chimpanzee.  She's as chaste as snow, a kiss
would scorch her.  Besides, she hasn't time.  She asked Stephen
there in order to show him to me, and to show him to you.  It's the
most wonderful plan; and it's wonderful of me to have understood it
so quickly.  You must go in: there's nothing private of any kind:
indeed, she thirsts for publicity."

Her confidence inspired confidence, and Tony was naturally consumed
with curiosity.  He got out, told Adele's chauffeur to drive on,
and went upstairs.  Stephen was no longer sitting in the chair next
to Lucia, but on the sofa at the other side of the tea-table.  This
rather looked as if Adele was right: it was consistent anyhow with
their being lovers in public, but certainly not lovers in private.

"Dear Lord Tony," said Lucia--this appellation was a halfway house
between Lord Limpsfield and Tony, and she left out the "Lord"
except to him--"how nice of you to drop in.  You have just missed
Adele.  Stephen, you know Lord Limpsfield?"

Lucia gave him his tea, and presently getting up, reseated herself
negligently on the sofa beside Stephen.  She was a shade too close
at first, and edged slightly away.

"Wonderful play of Tchekov's the other day," she said.  "Such a
strange, unhappy atmosphere.  We came out, didn't we, Stephen,
feeling as if we had been in some remote dream.  I saw you there,
Lord Tony, with Adele who had been lunching with me."

Tony knew that: was not that the birthday of the Luciaphils?

"It was a dream I wasn't sorry to wake from," he said.  "I found it
a boring dream."

"Ah, how can you say so?  Such an experience!  I felt as if the woe
of a thousand years had come upon me, some old anguish which I had
forgotten.  With the effect, too, that I wanted to live more fully
and vividly than ever, till the dusk closed round."

Stephen waved his hands, as he edged a little further away from
Lucia.  There was something strange about Lucia to-day.  In those
few minutes when they had been alone she had been quite normal, but
both before, when Adele was here, and now after Lord Limpfield's
entry, she seemed to be implying a certain intimacy, to which he
felt he ought to respond.

"Morbid fancies, Lucia," he said, "I shan't let you go to a Tchekov
play again."

"Horrid boy," said Lucia daringly.  "But that's the way with all
you men.  You want women to be gay and bright and thoughtless, and
have no other ideas except to amuse you.  I shan't ever talk to
either of you again about my real feelings.  We will talk about the
trial to-day.  My entire sympathies are with Babs, Lord Tony.  I'm
sure yours are too."

Lord Limpsfield left Stephen there when he took his leave, after a
quarter of an hour's lighter conversation, and as nobody else
dropped in, Lucia only asked her lover to dine on two or three
nights the next week, to meet her at the private view of Herbert
Alton's Exhibition next morning, and let him go in a slightly
bewildered frame of mind.

Stephen walked slowly up the Brompton Road, looking into the shop
windows, and puzzling this out.  She had held his hand oddly, she
had sat close to him on the sofa, she had waved a dozen of those
little signals of intimacy which gave colour to a supposition
which, though it did not actually make his blood run cold,
certainly did not make it run hot. . . .  He and Lucia were
excellent friends, they had many tastes in common, but Stephen knew
that he would sooner never see her again than have an intrigue with
her.  He was no hand, to begin with, at amorous adventures, and
even if he had been he could not conceive a woman more ill-adapted
to dally with than Lucia.  "Galahad and Artemis would make a better
job of it than Lucia and me," he muttered to himself, turning
hastily away from a window full of dainty underclothing for ladies.
In vain he searched the blameless records of his intercourse with
Lucia: he could not accuse himself of thought, word or deed which
could possibly have given rise to any disordered fancy of hers that
he observed her with a lascivious eye.

"God knows I am innocent," he said to himself, and froze with
horror at the sudden sight of a large news-board on which was
printed in large capitals "Babs wants Woof-dog on the hearthrug."

He knew he had no taste for gallantry, and he felt morally certain
that Lucia hadn't either. . . .  What then could she mean by those
little tweaks and pressures?  Conning them over for the second
time, it struck him more forcibly than before that she had only
indulged in these little licentiousnesses when there was someone
else present.  Little as he knew of the ways of lovers, he always
imagined that they exchanged such tokens chiefly in private, and in
public only when their passions had to find a small safety-valve.
Again, if she had had designs on his virtue, she would surely,
having got him alone, have given a message to her servants that she
was out and not have had Lord Limpsfield admitted. . . .  He felt
sure she was up to something, but to his dull male sense, it was at
present wrapped in mystery.  He did not want to give up all those
charming hospitalities of hers, but he must needs be very

It was, however, without much misgiving that he awaited her next
morning at the doors of the little Rutland Gallery, for he felt
safe in so public a place as a private view.  Only a few early
visitors had come in when Lucia arrived, and as she passed the
turnstile showing the two cards of invitation for herself and
Pepino, impersonated by Stephen, she asked for hers back, saying
that she was only going to make a short visit now and would return
later.  She had not yet seen the caricature of herself and Pepino,
for which Bertie Alton (she still stuck to this little mistake) had
accepted a commission, and she made her way at once to Numbers 39
and 40, which her catalogue told her were of Mr. and Mrs. Philip
Lucas.  Subjoined to their names were the captions, and she read
with excitement that Pepino was supposed to be saying "At whatever
personal inconvenience I must live up to Lucia," while below Number
40 was the enticing little legend "Oh, these duchesses!  They give
one no peace!" . . .  And there was Pepino, in the knee-breeches of
levee dress, tripping over his sword which had got entangled with
his legs, and a cocked-hat on the back of his head, with his eyes
very much apart, and no nose, and a small agonized hole in his face
for a mouth. . . .  And there was she with a pile of opened letters
on the floor, and a pile of unopened letters on the table.  There
was not much of her face to be seen, for she was talking into a
telephone, but her skirt was very short, and so was her hair, and
there was a wealth of weary resignation in the limpness of her

Lucia examined them both carefully, and then gave a long sigh of
perfect happiness.  That was her irrepressible comment: she could
not have imagined anything more ideal.  Then she gave a little peal
of laughter.

"Look, Stephen," she said.  "Bobbie--I mean Bertie--really is too
wicked for anything!  Really, outrageous!  I am furious with him,
and yet I can't help laughing.  Poor Pepino, and poor me!  Marcia
will adore it.  She always says she can never get hold of me

Lucia gave a swift scrutiny to the rest of the collection, so as to
be able to recognise them all without reference to her catalogue,
when she came back, as she intended to do later in the morning.
There was hardly anyone here at present, but the place would
certainly be crowded an hour before lunch time, and she proposed to
make a soi-disant first visit then, and know at once whom all the
caricatures represented (for Bertie in his enthusiasm for
caricature sometimes omitted likenesses), and go into peals of
laughter at those of herself and Pepino, and say she must buy them,
which of course she had already done.  Stephen remained behind, for
Hermione was going to say a good deal about the exhibition, but
promised to wait till Lucia came back.  She had not shown the
smallest sign of amorousness this morning.  His apprehensions were
considerably relieved, and it looked as if no storm of emotion was
likely to be required of him.

"Hundreds of things to do!" she said.  "Let me see, half-past
eleven, twelve--yes, I shall be back soon after twelve, and we'll
have a real look at them.  And you'll lunch?  Just a few people

Before Lucia got back, the gallery had got thick with visitors, and
Hermione was busy noting those whom he saw chatting with friends or
looking lovely, or being very pleased with the new house in Park
Lane, or receiving congratulations on the engagement of a daughter.
There was no doubt which of the pictures excited most interest, and
soon there was a regular queue waiting to look at Numbers 39 and
40.  People stood in front of them regarding them gravely and
consulting their catalogues and then bursting into loud cracks of
laughter and looking again till the growing weight of the queue
dislodged them.  One of those who lingered longest and stood her
ground best was Adele, who, when she was eventually shoved on, ran
round to the tail of the queue and herself shoved till she got
opposite again.  She saw Stephen.

"Ah, then Lucia won't be far off," she observed archly.  "Doesn't
she adore it?  Where is Lucia?"

"She's been, but she's coming back," he said.  "I expect her every
minute.  Ah! there she is."

This was rather stupid of Stephen.  He ought to have guessed that
Lucia's second appearance was officially intended to be her first.
He grasped that when she squeezed her way through the crowd and
greeted him as if they had not met before that morning.

"And dearest Adele," she said.  "What a crush!  Tell me quickly,
where are the caricatures of Pepino and me?  I'm dying to see them;
and when I see them no doubt I shall wish I was dead."

The light of Luciaphilism came into Adele's intelligent eyes.

"We'll look for them together," she said.  "Ah thirty-nine and
forty.  They must be somewhere just ahead."

Lucia exerted a steady indefatigable pressure on those in front,
and presently came into range.

"Well, I never!" she said.  "Oh, but so like Pepino!  How could
Bertie have told he got his sword entangled just like that?  And
look what he says. . . .  Oh, and then Me!  Just because I met him
at Marcia's party and people were wanting to know when I had an
evening free!  Of all the impertinences!  How I shall scold him!"

Lucia did it quite admirably in blissful unconsciousness that Adele
knew she had been here before.  She laughed, she looked again and
laughed again ("Mrs. Lucas and Lady Brixton in fits of merriment
over the cartoon of Mr. Lucas and herself," thought Hermione.)

"Ah, and there's Lord Hurtacombe," she said.  "I'm sure that's Lord
Hurtacombe, though you can't see much of him, and, look, Olga
surely, is it not?  How does he do it?"

That was a very clever identification for one who had not
previously studied the catalogue, for Olga's face consisted
entirely of a large open mouth and the tip of a chin, it might have
been the face of anybody yawning.  Her arms were stretched wide,
and she towered above a small man in shorts.

"The last scene in Siegfried, I'm sure," said Lucia.  "What does
the catalogue say, Stephen?  Yes, I am right.  'Siegfried!
Brunnhilde!'  How wicked, is it not?  But killing!  Who could be
cross with him?"

This was all splendid stuff for Luciaphils; it was amazing how at a
first glance she recognised everybody.  The gallery, too, was full
of dears and darlings of a few weeks' standing, and she completed a
little dinner-party for next Tuesday long before she had made the
circuit.  All the time she kept Stephen by her side, looked over
his catalogue, put a hand on his arm to direct his attention to
some picture, took a speck of alien material off his sleeve, and
all the time the entranced Adele felt increasingly certain that she
had plumbed the depth of the adorable situation.  Her sole anxiety
was as to whether Stephen would plumb it too.  He might--though he
didn't look like it--welcome these little tokens of intimacy as
indicating something more, and when they were alone attempt to kiss
her, and that would ruin the whole exquisite design.  Luckily his
demeanour was not that of a favoured swain; it was, on the other
hand, more the demeanour of a swain who feared to be favoured, and
if that shy thing took fright, the situation would be equally
ruined. . . .  To think that the most perfect piece of Luciaphilism
was dependent on the just perceptions of Stephen!  As the three
made their slow progress, listening to Lucia's brilliant
identifications, Adele willed Stephen to understand; she projected
a perfect torrent of suggestion towards his mind.  He must, he
should understand. . . .

Fervent desire, so every psychist affirms, is never barren.  It
conveys something of its yearning to the consciousness to which it
is directed, and there began to break on the dull male mind what
had been so obvious to the finer feminine sense of Adele.  Once
again, and in the blaze of publicity, Lucia was full of touches and
tweaks, and the significance of them dawned, like some pale,
austere sunrise, on his darkened senses.  The situation was
revealed, and he saw it was one with which he could easily deal.
His gloomy apprehensions brightened, and he perceived that there
would be no need, when he went to stay at Riseholme next, to lock
his bedroom-door, a practice which was abhorrent to him, for fear
of fire suddenly breaking out in the house.  Last night he had had
a miserable dream about what had happened when he failed to lock
his door at The Hurst, but now he dismissed its haunting.  These
little intimacies of Lucia's were purely a public performance.

"Lucia, we must be off," he said loudly and confidently.  "Pepino
will wonder where we are."

Lucia sighed.

"He always bullies me like that, Adele," she said.  "I must go: au
revoir, dear.  Tuesday next: just a few intimes."

Lucia's relief was hardly less than Stephen's.  He would surely not
have said anything so indiscreet if he had been contemplating an
indiscretion, and she had no fear that his hurry to be off was due
to any passionate desire to embrace her in the privacy of her car.
She believed he understood, and her belief felt justified when he
proposed that the car should be opened.

Riseholme, in the last three weeks of social progress, had not
occupied the front row of Lucia's thoughts, but the second row, so
to speak, had been entirely filled with it, for, as far as the
future dimly outlined itself behind the present, the plan was to go
down there early in August, and remain there, with a few brilliant
excursions till autumn peopled London again.  She had hoped for a
dash to Aix, where there would be many pleasant people, but Pepino
had told her summarily that the treasury would not stand it.  Lucia
had accepted that with the frankest good-nature: she had made quite
a gay little lament about it, when she was asked what she was going
to do in August.  "Ah, all you lucky rich people with money to
throw about; we've got to go and live quietly at home," she used to
say.  "But I shall love it, though I shall miss you all dreadfully.
Riseholme, dear Riseholme, you know, adorable, and all the
delicious funny friends down there who spoil me so dreadfully.  I
shall have lovely tranquil days, with a trot across the Green to
order fish, and a chat on the way, and my books and my piano, and a
chair in the garden, and an early bed-time instead of all these
late hours.  An anchorite life, but if you have a week-end to spare
between your Aix and your yacht and your Scotland, ah, how nice it
would be if you just sent a postcard!"

Before they became anchorites, however, there was a long week-end
for her and Pepino over the August bank-holiday, and Lucia looked
forward to that with unusual excitement.  Adele was the hostess,
and the scene that immense country-house of hers in Essex.  The
whole world, apparently, was to be there, for Adele had said the
house would be full; and it was to be a final reunion of the
choicest spirits before the annual dispersion.  Mrs. Garroby-Ashton
had longed to be bidden, but was not, and though Lucia was sorry
for dear Millicent's disappointment, she could not but look down on
it, as a sort of perch far below her that showed how dizzily she
herself had gone upwards.  But she had no intention of dropping
good kind Millie who was hopping about below: she must certainly
come to The Hurst for a Sunday: that would be nice for her, and she
would learn all about Adele's party.

There were yet ten days before that, and the morning after the
triumphant affair at the Rutland Gallery, Lucia heard a faint
rumour, coming from nowhere in particular, that Marcia Whitby was
going to give a very small and very wonderful dance to wind up the
season.  She had not seen much of Marcia lately, in other words she
had seen nothing at all, and Lucia's last three invitations to her
had been declined, one through a secretary, and two through a
telephone.  Lucia continued, however, to talk about her with
unabated familiarity and affection.  The next day the rumour became
slightly more solid: Adele let slip some allusion to Marcia's ball,
and hurriedly covered it up with talk of her own week-end.  Lucia
fixed her with a penetrating eye for a moment, but the eye failed
apparently to penetrate: Adele went on gabbling about her own
party, and took not the slightest notice of it.

But in truth Adele's gabble was a frenzied and feverish manoeuvre
to get away from the subject of Marcia's ball.  Marcia was no true
Luciaphil; instead of feeling entranced pleasure in Lucia's
successes and failures, her schemes and attainments and ambitions,
she had lately been taking a high severe line about her.

"She's beyond a joke, Adele," she said.  "I hear she's got a scrap-
book, and puts in picture post-cards and photographs of country-
houses, with dates below them to indicate she has been there--"

"No!" said Adele.  "How heavenly of her.  I must see it, or did you
make it up?"

"Indeed I didn't," said the injured Marcia.  "And she's got in it a
picture post-card of the moat-garden at Whitby with the date of the
Sunday before last, when I had a party there and didn't ask her.
Besides, she was in London at the time.  And there's one of
Buckingham Palace Garden, with the date of the last garden-party.
Was she asked?"

"I haven't heard she was," said Adele.

"Then you may be sure she wasn't.  She's beyond a joke, I tell you,
and I'm not going to ask her to my dance.  I won't, I won't--I will
not.  And she asked me to dine three times last week.  It isn't
fair: it's bullying.  A weak-minded person would have submitted,
but I'm not weak-minded, and I won't be bullied.  I won't be
forcibly fed, and I won't ask her to my dance.  There!"

"Don't be so unkind," said Adele.  "Besides, you'll meet her down
at my house only a few days afterwards, and it will be awkward.
Everybody else will have been."

"Well, then she can pretend she has been exclusive," said Marcia
snappily, "and she'll like that. . . ."

The rumours solidified into fact, and soon Lucia was forced to the
dreadful conclusion that Marcia's ball was to take place without
her.  That was an intolerable thought, and she gave Marcia one more
chance by ringing her up and inviting her to dinner on that night
(so as to remind her she knew nothing about the ball), but Marcia's
stony voice replied that most unfortunately she had a few people to
dinner herself.  Wherever she went (and where now did Lucia not
go?) she heard talk of the ball, and the plethora of Princes and
Princesses that were to attend it.

For a moment the thought of Princesses lightened the depression of
this topic.  Princess Isabel was rather seriously ill with
influenza, so Lucia, driving down Park Lane, thought it would not
be amiss to call and enquire how she was, for she had noticed that
sometimes the papers recorded the names of enquirers.  She did not
any longer care in the least how Princess Isabel was; whether she
died or recovered was a matter of complete indifference to her in
her present embittered frame of mind, for the Princess had not
taken the smallest notice of her all these weeks.  However, there
was the front-door open, for there were other enquirers on the
threshold, and Lucia joined them.  She presented her card, and
asked in a trembling voice what news there was, and was told that
the Princess was no better.  Lucia bowed her head in resignation,
and then, after faltering a moment in her walk, pulled herself
together, and with a firmer step went back to her motor.

After this interlude her mind returned to the terrible topic.  She
was due at a drawing-room meeting at Sophy Alingsby's house to hear
a lecture on psycho-analysis, and she really hardly felt up to it.
But there would certainly be a quantity of interesting people
there, and the lecture itself might possibly be of interest, and so
before long she found herself in the black dining-room, which had
been cleared for the purpose.  With the self-effacing instincts of
the English the audience had left the front row chairs completely
unoccupied, and she got a very good place.  The lecture had just
begun, and so her entry was not unmarked.  Stephen was there, and
as she seated herself, she nodded to him, and patted the empty
chair by her side with a beckoning gesture.  Her lover, therefore,
sidled up to her and took it.

Lucia whistled her thoughts away from such ephemeral and frivolous
subjects as dances, and tried to give Professor Bonstetter her
attention.  She felt that she had been living a very hectic life
lately; the world and its empty vanities had been too much with
her, and she needed some intellectual tonic.  She had seen no
pictures lately, except Bobbie (or was it Bertie?)  Alton's, she
had heard no music, she had not touched the piano herself for
weeks, she had read no books, and at the most had skimmed the
reviews of such as had lately appeared in order to be up to date
and be able to reproduce a short but striking criticism or two if
the talk became literary.  She must not let the mere froth of
living entirely conceal by its winking headiness of foam the true
beverage below it.  There was Sophy, with her hair over her eyes
and her chin in her hand, dressed in a faded rainbow, weird beyond
description, but rapt in concentration, while she herself was
letting the notion of a dance to which she had not been asked and
was clearly not to be asked, drive like a mist between her and
these cosmic facts about dreams and the unconscious self.  How
curious that if you dreamed about boiled rabbit, it meant that
sometime in early childhood you had been kissed by a poacher in a
railway-carriage, and had forgotten all about it!  What a
magnificent subject for excited research psycho-analysis would have
been in those keen intellectual days at Riseholme. . . .  She
thought of them now with a vague yearning for their simplicity and
absorbing earnestness; of the hours she had spent with Georgie over
piano-duets, of Daisy Quantock's ouija-board and planchette, of the
museum with its mittens.  Riseholme presented itself now as an
abode of sweet peace, where there were no disappointments or heart-
burnings, for sooner or later she had always managed to assert her
will and constitute herself priestess of the current interests. . . .
Suddenly the solution of her present difficulty flashed upon her.
Riseholme.  She would go to Riseholme: that would explain her
absence from Marcia's stupid ball.

The lecture came to an end, and with others she buzzed for a little
while round Professor Bonstetter, and had a few words with her

"Too interesting: marvellous, was it not, dear Sophy?  Boiled
rabbit!  How curious!  And the outcropping of the unconscious in
dreams.  Explains so much about phobias: people who can't go in the
tube.  So pleased to have heard it.  Ah, there's Aggie.  Aggie
darling!  What a treat, wasn't it?  Such a refreshment from our
bustlings and runnings-about to get back into origins.  I've got to
fly, but I couldn't miss this.  Dreadful overlapping all this
afternoon, and poor Princess Isabel is no better.  I just called on
my way here, but I wasn't allowed to see her.  Stephen, where is
Stephen?  See if my motor is there, dear.  Au revoir! dear Sophy.
We must meet again very soon.  Are you going to Adele's next week?
No?  How tiresome!  Wonderful lecture!  Calming!"

Lucia edged herself out of the room with these very hurried
greetings, for she was really eager to get home.  She found Pepino
there, having tea peacefully all by himself, and sank exhausted in
a chair.

"Give me a cup of tea, strong tea, Pepino," she said.  "I've been
racketing about all day, and I feel done for.  How I shall get
through these next two or three days I really don't know.  And
London is stifling.  You look worn out too, my dear."

Pepino acknowledged the truth of this.  He had hardly had time even
to go to his club this last day or two, and had been reflecting on
the enormous strength of the weaker sex.  But for Lucia to confess
herself done for was a portentous thing: he could not remember such
a thing happening before.

"Well, there are not many more days of it," he said.  "Three more
this week, and then Lady Brixton's party."

He gave several loud sneezes.

"Not a cold?" asked Lucia.

"Something extraordinarily like one," said he.

Lucia became suddenly alert again.  She was sorry for Pepino's
cold, but it gave her an admirable gambit for what she had made up
her mind to do.

"My dear, that's enough," she said.  "I won't have you flying about
London with a bad cold coming on.  I shall take you down to
Riseholme to-morrow."

"Oh, but you can't, my dear," said he.  "You've got your engagement-
book full for the next three days."

"Oh, a lot of stupid things," said she.  "And really, I tell you
quite honestly, I'm fairly worn out.  It'll do us both good to have
a rest for a day or two.  Now don't make objections.  Let us see
what I've got to do."

The days were pretty full (though, alas, Thursday evening was
deplorably empty) and Lucia had a brisk half-hour at the telephone.
To those who had been bidden here, and to those to whom she had
been bidden, she gave the same excuse, namely, that she had been
advised (by herself) two or three days complete rest.

She rang up The Hurst, to say that they were coming down to-morrow,
and would bring the necessary attendants, she rang up Georgie (for
she was not going to fall into THAT error again) and in a mixture
of baby language and Italian, which he found very hard to
understand, asked him to dine to-morrow night, and finally she
scribbled a short paragraph to the leading morning papers to say
that Mrs. Philip Lucas had been ordered to leave London for two or
three days' complete rest.  She had hesitated a moment over the
wording of that, for it was Pepino who was much more in need of
rest than she, but it would have been rather ludicrous to say that
Mr. and Mrs. Philip Lucas were in need of a complete rest. . . .
These announcements she sent by hand so that there might be no
miscarriage in their appearance to-morrow morning.  And then, as an
afterthought, she rang up Daisy Quantock and asked her and Robert
to lunch to-morrow.

She felt much happier.  She would not be at the fell Marcia's ball,
because she was resting in the country.


A few minutes before Lucia and Pepino drove off next morning from
Brompton Square, Marcia observed Lucia's announcement in the
Morning Post.  She was a good-natured woman, but she had been
goaded, and now that Lucia could goad her no more for the present,
she saw no objection to asking her to her ball.  She thought of
telephoning, but there was the chance that Lucia had not yet
started, so she sent her a card instead, directing it to 25
Brompton Square, saying that she was At Home, dancing, to have the
honour to meet a string of exalted personages.  If she had
telephoned, no one knows what would have happened, whether Daisy
would have had any lunch that day or Georgie any dinner that night,
and what excuse Lucia would have made to them. . . .  Adele and
Tony Limpsfield, the most adept of all the Luciaphils, subsequently
argued the matter out with much heat, but never arrived at a
solution that they felt was satisfactory.  But then Marcia did not
telephone. . . .

The news that the two were coming down was, of course, all over
Riseholme a few minutes after Lucia had rung Georgie up.  He was in
his study when the telephone bell rang, in the fawn-coloured Oxford
trousers, which had been cut down from their monstrous proportions
and fitted quite nicely, though there had been a sad waste of
stuff.  Robert Quantock, the wag who had danced a hornpipe when
Georgie had appeared in the original voluminousness, was waggish
again, when he saw the abbreviated garments, and  propos of
nothing in particular had said "Home is the sailor, home from sea,"
and that was the epitaph on the Oxford trousers.

Georgie had been busy indoors this afternoon, for he had been
attending to his hair, and it was not quite dry yet, and the smell
of the auburn mixture still clung to it.  But the telephone was a
trunk-call, and, whether his hair was dry or not, it must be
attended to.  Since Lucia had disappeared after that week-end
party, he had had a line from her once or twice, saying that they
must really settle when he would come and spend a few days in
London, but she had never descended to the sordid mention of dates.

A trunk-call, as far as he knew, could only be Lucia or Olga, and
one would be interesting and the other delightful.  It proved to be
the interesting one, and though rather difficult to understand
because of the aforesaid mixture of baby-talk and Italian, it
certainly conveyed the gist of the originator's intention.

"Me so tired," Lucia said, "and it will be divine to get to
Riseholme again.  So come to 'ickle quiet din-din with me and
Pepino to-morrow, Georgino.  Shall want to hear all novelle--"

"What?" said Georgie.

"All the news," said Lucia.

Georgie sat in the draught--it was very hot to-day--until the
auburn mixture dried.  He knew that Daisy Quantock and Robert were
playing clock-golf on the other side of his garden paling, for
their voices had been very audible.  Daisy had not been weeding
much lately but had taken to golf, and since all the authorities
said that matches were entirely won or lost on the putting-green,
she with her usual wisdom devoted herself to the winning factor in
the game.  Presently she would learn to drive and approach and
niblick and that sort of thing, and then they would see. . . .  She
wondered how good Miss Wethered really was.

Georgie, now dry, tripped out into the garden and shouted "May I
come in?"  That meant, of course, might he look over the garden-
paling and talk.

Daisy missed a very short putt, owing to the interruption.

"Yes, do," she said icily.  "I supposed you would give me that,

"You supposed wrong," said Robert, who was now two up.

Georgie stepped on a beautiful pansy.

"Lucia's coming down to-morrow," he said.

Daisy dropped her putter.

"No!" she exclaimed.

"And Pepino," went on Georgie.  "She says she's very tired."

"All those duchesses," said Daisy.  Robert Alton's cartoon had been
reproduced in an illustrated weekly, but Riseholme up to this
moment had been absolutely silent about it.  It was beneath notice.

"And she's asked me to dinner to-morrow," said Georgie.

"So she's not bringing down a party?" said Daisy.

"I don't know," remarked Robert, "if you are going on putting, or
if you give me the match."

"Pouf!" said Daisy, just like that.  "But tired, Georgie?  What
does that mean?"

"I don't know," said Georgie, "but that's what she said."

"It means something else," said Daisy, "I can't tell you what, but
it doesn't mean that.  I suppose you've said you're engaged."

"No I haven't," said Georgie.

De Vere came out from the house.  In this dry weather her heels
made no indentations on the lawn.

"Trunk-call, ma'am," she said to Daisy.

"These tiresome interruptions," said Daisy, hurrying indoors with
great alacrity.

Georgie lingered.  He longed to know what the trunk-call was, and
was determined to remain with his head on the top of the paling
till Daisy came back.  So he made conversation.

"Your lawn is better than mine," he said pleasantly to Robert.

Robert was cross at this delay.

"That's not saying much," he observed.

"I can't say any more," said Georgie, rather nettled.  "And there's
the leather-jacket grub I see has begun on yours.  I daresay there
won't be a blade of grass left presently."

Robert changed the conversation: there were bare patches.  "The
Museum insurance," he said.  "I got the fire-policy this morning.
The contents are the property of the four trustees, me and you and
Daisy and Mrs. Boucher.  The building is Colonel Boucher's, and
that's insured separately.  If you had a spark of enterprise about
you, you would take a match, set light to the mittens, and hope for
the best."

"You're very tarsome and cross," said Georgie.  "I should like to
take a match and set light to you."

Georgie hated rude conversations like this, but when Robert was in
such a mood, it was best to be playful.  He did not mean, in any
case, to cease leaning over the garden paling till Daisy came back
from her trunk-call.

"Beyond the mittens," began Robert, "and, of course, those three
sketches of yours, which I daresay are masterpieces--"

Daisy bowled out of the dining-room and came with such speed down
the steps that she nearly fell into the circular bed where the
broccoli had been.  (The mignonette there was poorish.)

"At half-past one or two," said she, bursting with the news and at
the same time unable to suppress her gift for withering sarcasm.
"Lunch to-morrow.  Just a picnic, you know, as soon as she happens
to arrive.  So kind of her.  More notice than she took of me last

"Lucia?" asked Georgie.

"Yes.  Let me see, I was putting, wasn't I?"

"If you call it putting," said Robert.  He was not often two up and
he made the most of it.

"So I suppose you said you were engaged," said Georgie.

Daisy did not trouble to reply at all.  She merely went on putting.
That was the way to deal with inquisitive questions.

This news, therefore, was very soon all over Riseholme, and next
morning it was supplemented by the amazing announcement in The
Times, Morning Post, Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail that Mrs.
Philip Lucas had left London for two or three days' complete rest.
It sounded incredible to Riseholme, but of course it might be true
and, as Daisy had said, that the duchesses had been too much for
her.  (This was nearer the mark than the sarcastic Daisy had known,
for it was absolutely and literally true that one Duchess had been
too much for her. . . .)  In any case, Lucia was coming back to
them again, and though Riseholme was still a little dignified and
reticent, Georgie's acceptance of his dinner-invitation, and
Daisy's of her lunch invitation, were symptomatic of Riseholme's
feelings.  Lucia had foully deserted them, she had been down here
only once since that fatal accession to fortune, and on that
occasion had evidently intended to see nothing of her old friends
while that Yahoo party ("Yahoo" was the only word for Mrs.
Alingsby) was with her; she had laughed at their Museum, she had
courted the vulgar publicity of the press to record her movements
in London, but Riseholme was really perfectly willing to forget and
forgive if she behaved properly now.  For, though no one would have
confessed it, they missed her more and more.  In spite of all her
bullying monarchical ways, she had initiative, and though the
excitement of the Museum and the Sagas from Abfou had kept them
going for a while, it was really in relation to Lucia that these
enterprises had been interesting.  Since then, too, Abfou had been
full of vain repetitions, and no one could go on being excited by
his denunciation of Lucia as a snob, indefinitely.  Lucia had
personality, and if she had been here and had taken to golf
Riseholme would have been thrilled at her skill, and have exulted
over her want of it, whereas Daisy's wonderful scores at clock-golf
(she was off her game to-day) produced no real interest.
Degrading, too, as were the records of Lucia's movements in the
columns of Hermione, Riseholme had been thrilled (though disgusted)
by them, because they were about Lucia, and though she was coming
down now for complete rest (whatever that might mean), the mere
fact of her being here would make things hum.  This time too she
had behaved properly (perhaps she had learned wisdom) and had
announced her coming, and asked old friends in.

Forgiveness, therefore, and excitement were the prevalent emotions
in the morning parliament on the Green next day.  Mrs. Boucher
alone expressed grave doubts on the situation.

"I don't believe she's ill," she said.  "If she's ill, I shall be
very sorry, but I don't believe it.  If she is, Mr. Georgie, I'm
all for accepting her gift of the spit to the Museum, for it would
be unkind not to.  You can write and say that the Committee have
reconsidered it and would be very glad to have it.  But let's wait
to see if she's ill first.  In fact, wait to see if she's coming at
all, first."

Piggy came whizzing up with news, while Goosie shouted it into her
mother's ear-trumpet.  Before Piggy could come out with it,
Goosie's announcement was audible everywhere.

"A cab from the station has arrived at The Hurst, Mamma," she
yelled, "with the cook and the housemaid, and a quantity of

"O, Mrs. Boucher, have you heard the news?" panted Piggie.

"Yes, my dear, I've just heard it," said Mrs. Boucher, "and it
looks as if they were coming.  That's all I can say.  And if the
cook's come by half-past eleven, I don't see why you shouldn't get
a proper lunch, Daisy.  No need for a cup of strong soup or a
sandwich which I should have recommended if there had been no
further news since you were asked to a picnic lunch.  But if the
cook's here now. . . ."

Daisy was too excited to go home and have any serious putting and
went off to the Museum.  Mr. Rushbold, the Vicar, had just
presented his unique collection of walking-sticks to it, and though
the Committee felt it would be unkind not to accept them, it was
difficult to know how to deal with them.  They could not all be
stacked together in one immense stick-stand, for then they could
not be appreciated.  The handles of many were curiously carved,
some with gargoyle-heads of monsters putting out their tongues and
leering, some with images of birds and fish, and there was one
rather indelicate one, of a young man and a girl passionately
embracing. . . .  On the other hand, if they were spaced and leaned
against the wall, some slight disturbance upset the equilibrium of
one and it fell against the next, and the whole lot went down like
ninepins.  In fact, the boy at the turnstile said his entire time
was occupied with picking them up.  Daisy had a scheme of
stretching an old lawn-tennis net against the wall, and tastefully
entangling them in its meshes. . . .

Riseholme lingered on the Green that morning long after one
o'clock, which was its usual lunch-time, and at precisely twenty
five minutes past they were rewarded.  Out of the motor stepped
Pepino in a very thick coat and a large muffler.  He sneezed twice
as he held out his arm to assist Lucia to alight.  She clung to it,
and leaning heavily on it went with faltering steps past Perdita's
garden into the house.  So she was ill.

Ten minutes later, Daisy and Robert Quantock were seated at lunch
with them.  Lucia certainly looked very well and she ate her lunch
very properly, but she spoke in a slightly faded voice, as befitted
one who had come here for complete rest.  "But Riseholme, dear
Riseholme will soon put me all right again," she said.  "Such a joy
to be here!  Any news, Daisy?"

Really there was very little.  Daisy ran through such topics as had
interested Riseholme during those last weeks, and felt that the
only thing which had attracted true, feverish, Riseholme-attention
was the record of Lucia's own movements.  Apart from this there was
only her own putting, and the embarrassing gift of walking-sticks
to the Museum. . . .  But then she remembered that the Committee
had authorised the acceptance of the Elizabethan spit, if Lucia
seemed ill, and she rather precipitately decided that she was ill

"Well, we've been busy over the Museum," she began.

"Ah, the dear Museum," said Lucia wistfully.

That quite settled it.

"We should so like to accept the Elizabethan spit, if we may," said
Daisy.  "It would be a great acquisition."

"Of course; delighted," said Lucia.  "I will have it sent over.
Any other gifts?"

Daisy went on to the walking-sticks, omitting all mention of the
indelicate one in the presence of gentlemen, and described the
difficulty of placing them satisfactorily.  They were eighty-one
(including the indelicacy) and a lawn-tennis net would barely hold
them.  The invalid took but a wan interest in this, and Daisy's
putting did not rouse much keener enthusiasm.  But soon she
recovered a greater animation and was more herself.  Indeed, before
the end of lunch it had struck Daisy that Pepino was really the
invalid of the two.  He certainly had a prodigious cold, and spoke
in a throaty wheeze that was scarcely audible.  She wondered if she
had been a little hasty about accepting the spit, for that gave
Lucia a sort of footing in the Museum.

Lucia recovered still further when her guests had gone, and her
habitual energy began to assert itself.  She had made her
impressive invalid entry into Riseholme, which justified the
announcement in the papers, and now, quietly, she must be on the
move again.  She might begin by getting rid, without delay, of that
tiresome spit.

"I think I shall go out for a little drive, Pepino," she said,
"though if I were you I would nurse my cold and get it all right
before Saturday when we go to Adele's.  The gardener, I think,
could take the spit out of the chimney for me, and put it in the
motor, and I would drop it at the Museum.  I thought they would
want it before long. . . .  And that clock-golf of Daisy's; it
sounds amusing; the sort of thing for Sunday afternoon if we have
guests with us.  I think she said that you could get the apparatus
at the Stores.  Little tournaments might be rather fun."

The spit was easily removed, and Lucia, having written to the
Stores for a set of clock-golf, had it loaded up on the motor, and
conveyed to the Museum.  So that was done.  She waved and fluttered
a hand of greeting to Piggy and Goosey who were gambolling on the
Green, and set forth into the country, satisfied that she had
behaved wisely in leaving London rather than being left out in
London.  Apart from that, too, it had been politic to come down to
Riseholme again like this, to give them a taste of her quality
before she resumed, in August, as she entirely meant to do, her
ancient sway.  She guessed from the paucity of news which that arch-
gossip, dear Daisy, had to give, that things had been remarkably
dull in her absence, and though she had made a sad mistake over her
week-end party, a little propitiation would soon put that right.
And Daisy had had nothing to say about Abfou: they seemed to have
got a little tired of Abfou.  But Abfou might be revived: clock-
golf and a revival of ouija would start August very pleasantly.
She would have liked Aix better, but Pepino was quite clear about
that. . . .

Georgie was agreeably surprised to find her so much herself when he
came over for dinner.  Pepino, whose cold was still extremely
heavy, went to bed very soon after, and he and Lucia settled
themselves in the music room.

"First a little chat, Georgie," she said, "and then I insist on our
having some music.  I've played nothing lately, you will find me
terribly out of practice, but you mustn't scold me.  Yes, the spit
has gone: dear Daisy said the Museum was most anxious to get it,
and I took it across myself this afternoon.  I must see what else I
can find worthy of it."

This was all rather splendid.  Lucia had a glorious way of
completely disregarding the past, and pushing on ahead into the

"And have you been playing much lately?" she asked.

"Hardly a note," said Georgie, "there is nobody to play with.
Piggy wanted to do some duets, but I said 'No, thanks.'"

"Georgie, you've been lazy," she said, "there's been nobody to keep
you up to the mark.  And Olga?  Has Olga been down?"

"Not since--not since that Sunday when you were both down
together," said he.

"Very wrong of her to have deserted Riseholme.  But just as wrong
of me, you will say.  But now we must put our heads together and
make great plans for August.  I shall be here to bully you all
August.  Just one visit, which Pepino and I are paying to dear
Adele Brixton on Saturday, and then you will have me here solidly.
London?  Yes, it has been great fun, though you and I never managed
to arrange a date for your stay with us.  That must come in the
autumn when we go up in November.  But, oh, how tired I was when we
settled to leave town yesterday.  Not a kick left in me.  Lots of
engagements, too, and I just scrapped them.  But people must be
kind to me and forgive me.  And sometimes I feel that I've been
wasting time terribly.  I've done nothing but see people, people,
people.  All sorts, from Alf Watson the pugilist--"

"No!" said Georgie, beginning to feel the thrill of Lucia again.

"Yes, he came to dine with me, such a little duck, and brought his
flute.  There was a great deal of talk about my party for Alf, and
how the women buzzed round him!"

"Who else?" said Georgie greedily.

"My dear, who NOT else?  Marcelle--Marcelle Periscope came another
night, Adele, Sophy Alingsby, Bertie Alton, Aggie--I must ask dear
Aggie down here; Tony--Tony Limpsfield; a thousand others.  And
then of course dear Marcia Whitby often.  She is giving a ball to-
morrow night.  I should like to have been there, but I was just
finito.  Ah, and your friend Princess Isabel.  Very bad influenza.
You should ring up her house, Georgie, and ask how she is.  I
called there yesterday.  So sad!  But let us talk of more cheerful
things.  Daisy's clock-golf: I must pop in and see her at it to-
morrow.  She is wonderful, I suppose.  I have ordered a set from
the Stores, and we will have great games."

"She's been doing nothing else for weeks," said Georgie.  "I
daresay she's very good, but nobody takes any interest in it.
She's rather a bore about it--"

"Georgie, don't be unkind about poor Daisy," said Lucia.  "We must
start little competitions, with prizes.  Do you have partners?  You
and I will be partners at mixed putting.  And what about Abfou?"

It seemed to Georgie that this was just the old Lucia, and so no
doubt it was.  She was intending to bag any employments that
happened to be going about and claim them as her own.  It was
larceny, intellectual and physical larceny, no doubt, but Lucia
breathed life into those dead bones and made them interesting.  It
was weary work to watch Daisy dabbing away with her putter and then
trying to beat her score without caring the least whether you beat
it or not.  And Daisy even telephoned her more marvellous feats,
and nobody cared how marvellous they were.  But it would be
altogether different if Lucia was the goddess of putting. . . .

"I haven't Abfou'd for ages," said Georgie.  "I fancy she has
dropped it."

"Well, we must pick everything up again," said Lucia briskly, "and
you shan't be lazy any more, Georgie.  Come and play duets.  My
dear piano!  What shall we do?"

They did quantities of things, and then Lucia played the slow
movement of the Moonlight Sonata, and Georgie sighed as usual, and
eventually Lucia let him out and walked with him to the garden
gate.  There were quantities of stars, and as usual she quoted 'See
how the floor of heaven is thick inlaid . . .' and said she must
ring him up in the morning, after a good night's rest.

There was a light in Daisy's drawing-room, and just as he came
opposite it she heard his step, for which she had long been
listening, and looked out.

"Is it Georgie?" she said, knowing perfectly well that it must be.

"Yes," said Georgie.  "How late you are."

"And how is Lucia?" asked Daisy.

Georgie quite forgot for the moment that Lucia was having complete

"Excellent form," he said.  "Such a talk, and such a music."

"There you are, then!" said Daisy.  "There's nothing the matter
with her.  She doesn't want rest any more--than the moon.  What
does it mean, Georgie?  Mark my words: it means something."

Lucia, indeed, seemed in no need whatever of complete rest the next
day.  She popped into Daisy's very soon after breakfast, and asked
to be taught how to putt.  Daisy gave her a demonstration, and told
her how to hold the putter and where to place her feet, and said it
was absolutely essential to stand like a rock and to concentrate.
Nobody could putt if anyone spoke.  Eventually Lucia was allowed to
try, and she stood all wrong and grasped her putter like an
umbrella, and holed out of the longest of putts in the middle of an
uninterrupted sentence.  Then they had a match, Daisy proposing to
give her four strokes in the round, which Lucia refused, and Daisy,
dithering with excitement and superiority, couldn't putt at all.
Lucia won easily, with Robert looking on, and she praised Daisy's
putter, and said it was beautifully balanced, though where she
picked that up Daisy couldn't imagine.

"And now I must fly," said Lucia, "and we must have a return match
sometime.  So amusing!  I have sent for a set, and you will have to
give me lessons.  Good-bye, dear Daisy, I'm away for the Sunday at
dear Adele Brixton's, but after that how lovely to settle down at
Riseholme again!  You must show me your ouija-board too.  I feel
quite rested this morning.  Shall I help you with the walking-
sticks later on?"

Daisy went uneasily back to her putting: it was too awful that
Lucia in that amateurish manner should have beaten a serious
exponent of the art, and already, in dark anticipation, she saw
Lucia as the impresario of clock-golf, popularising it in
Riseholme.  She herself would have to learn to drive and approach
without delay, and make Riseholme take up real golf, instead of
merely putting.

Lucia visited the Museum next, and arranged the spit in an empty
and prominent place between Daisy's fossils and Colonel Boucher's
fragments of Samian ware.  She attended the morning parliament on
the Green, and walked beside Mrs. Boucher's bath-chair.  She
shouted into Mrs. Antrobus's ear-trumpet, she dallied with Piggy
and Goosie, and never so much as mentioned a duchess.  All her
thoughts seemed wrapped up in Riseholme; just one tiresome visit
lay in front of her, and then, oh, the joy of settling down here
again!  Even Mrs. Boucher felt disarmed; little as she would have
thought it, there was something in Lucia beyond mere snobbery.

Georgie popped in that afternoon about teatime.  The afternoon was
rather chilly, and Lucia had a fire lit in the grate of the music-
room, which, now that the spit had been removed, burned
beautifully.  Pepino, drowsy with his cold, sat by it, while the
other two played duets.  Already Lucia had taken down Sigismund's
portrait and installed Georgie's water-colours again by the piano.
They had had a fine tussle over the Mozart duet, and Georgie had
promised to practise it, and Lucia had promised to practise it, and
she had called him an idle boy, and he had called her a lazy girl,
quite in the old style, while Pepino dozed.  Just then the evening
post came in, with the evening paper, and Lucia picked up the
latter to see what Hermione had said about her departure from
London.  Even as she turned back the page her eye fell on two or
three letters which had been forwarded from Brompton Square.  The
top one was a large square envelope, the sort of fine thick
envelope that contained a rich card of invitation, and she opened
it.  Next moment she sprang from her seat.

"Pepino, dear," she cried.  "Marcia!  Her ball.  Marcia's ball to-

Pepino roused himself a little.

"Ball?  What ball?" he said.  "No ball.  Riseholme."

Lucia pushed by Georgie on the treble music stool, without seeming
to notice that he was there.

"No dear, of course you won't go," she said.  "But do you know, I
think I shall go up and pop in for an hour.  Georgie will come to
dine with you, won't you, Georgie, and you'll go to bed early.
Half past six!  Yes, I can be in town by ten.  That will be heaps
of time.  I shall dress at Brompton Square.  Just a sandwich to
take with me and eat it in the car."

She wheeled round to Georgie, pressing the bell in her

"Marcia Whitby," she said.  "Winding up the season.  So easy to pop
up there, and dear Marcia would be hurt if I didn't come.  Let me
see, shall I come back to-morrow, Pepino?  Perhaps it would be
simpler if I stayed up there and sent the car back.  Then you could
come up in comfort next day, and we would go on to Adele's
together.  I have a host of things to do in London to-morrow.  That
party at Aggie's.  I will telephone to Aggie to say that I can come
after all.  My maid, my chauffeur," she said to the butler, rather
in the style of Shylock.  "I want my maid and my chauffeur and my
car.  Let him have his dinner quickly--no, he can get his dinner at
Brompton Square.  Tell him to come round at once."

Georgie sat positively aghast, for Lucia ran on like a thing
demented.  Mozart, ouija, putting, the Elizabethan spit, all the
simple joys of Riseholme fizzled out like damp fireworks.  Gone,
too, utterly gone was her need of complete rest; she had never been
so full of raw, blatant, savage vitality.

"Dear Marcia," she said.  "I felt it must be an oversight from the
first, but naturally, Georgie, though she and I are such friends, I
could not dream of reminding her.  What a blessing that my
delicious day at Riseholme has so rested me: I feel I could go to
fifty balls without fatigue.  Such a wonderful house, Georgie; when
you come up to stay with us in the autumn, I must take you there.
Pepino, is it not lucky that I only brought down here just enough
for a couple of nights, and left everything in London to pick up as
we came through to go to Adele's?  What a sight it will be, all the
Royal Family almost I believe, and the whole of the Diplomatic
corps: my Gioconda, I know, is going.  Not a large ball though at
all: not one of those great promiscuous affairs, which I hate so.
How dear Marcia was besieged for invitations! how vulgar people are
and how pushing!  Goody-bye, mind you practise your Mozart,
Georgie.  Oh, and tell Daisy that I shan't be able to have another
of those delicious puttings with her to-morrow.  Back on Tuesday
after the week-end at Adele's, and then weeks and weeks of dear
Riseholme.  How long they are!  I will just go and hurry my maid

Georgie tripped off, as soon as she had gone, to see Daisy, and
narrated to her open-mouthed disgust this amazing scene.

"And the question is," he said, "about the complete rest that was
ordered her.  I don't believe she was ordered any rest at all.  I

Daisy gave a triumphant crow: inductive reasoning had led her to
precisely the same point at precisely the same moment.

"Why, of course!" she said.  "I always felt there was something
behind that complete rest.  I told you it meant something
different.  She wasn't asked, and so--"

"And so she came down here for rest," said Georgie in a loud voice.
He was determined to bring that out first.  "Because she wasn't

"And the moment she was asked she flew," said Daisy.  "Nothing
could be plainer.  No more rest, thank you."

"She's wonderful," said Georgie.  "Too interesting!"

Lucia sped through the summer evening on this errand of her own
reprieve, too excited to eat, and too happy to wonder how it had
happened like this.  How wise, too, she had been to hold her tongue
and give way to no passionate laments at her exclusion from the
paradise towards which she was now hastening.  Not one word of
abuse had she uttered against Marcia: she had asked nobody to
intercede: she had joined in all the talk about the ball as if she
was going, and finally had made it impossible for herself to go by
announcing that she had been ordered a few days of complete rest.
She could (and would) explain her appearance perfectly: she had
felt much better--doctors were such fussers--and at the last moment
had made just a little effort, and here she was.

A loud explosion interrupted these agreeable reflections and the
car drew up.  A tyre had burst, but they carried an extra wheel,
and though the delay seemed terribly long they were soon on their
way again.  They traversed another ten miles, and now in the north-
east the smouldering glow of London reddened the toneless hue of
the summer night.  The stars burned bright, and she pictured Pepino
at his telescope--no, Pepino had a really bad cold, and would not
be at his telescope.  Then there came another explosion--was it
those disgusting stars in their courses that were fighting against
her?--and again the car drew up by the side of the empty road.

"What has happened?" asked Lucia in a strangled voice.

"Another tyre gone, ma'am," said the chauffeur.  "Never knew such a

Lucia looked at her clock.  It was ten already, and she ought now
to be in Brompton Square.  There was no further wheel that could be
put on, and the tyre had to be taken off and mended.  The minutes
passed like seconds. . . .  Lucia, outwardly composed, sat on a rug
at the edge of the road, and tried unsuccessfully not to curse
Almighty Providence.  The moon rose, like a gelatine lozenge.

She began to count the hours that intervened between the tragic
present and, say, four o'clock in the morning, and she determined
that whatever further disasters might befall, she would go to
Whitby House, even if it was in a dustman's cart, so long as there
was a chance of a single guest being left there.  She would go. . . .

And all the time, if she had only known it, the stars were fighting
not against her but for her.  The tyre was mended, and she got to
Brompton Square at exactly a quarter past eleven.  Cupboards were
torn open, drawers ransacked, her goaded maid burst into tears.
Aunt Amy's pearls were clasped round her neck, Pepino's hair in the
shrine of gold sausage that had once been Beethoven's was pinned
on, and at five minutes past twelve she hurried up the great stairs
at Whitby House.  Precisely as she came to the door of the ballroom
there emerged the head of the procession going down to supper.
Marcia for a moment stared at her as if she was a ghost, but Lucia
was so busy curtseying that she gave no thought to that.  Seven
times in rapid succession did she curtsey.  It almost became a
habit, and she nearly curtsied to Adele who (so like Adele)
followed immediately after.

"Just up from Riseholme, dearest Adele," she said.  "I felt quite
rested--How are you, Lord Tony?--and so I made a little effort.
Pepino urged me to come.  How nice to see your Excellency!  Millie!
Dearest Olga!  What a lot of friends!  How is poor Princess Isabel?
Marcia looked so handsome.  Brilliant!  Such a delicious drive: I
felt I had to pop in. . . ."


Poor Pepino's cold next day, instead of being better, was a good
deal worse.  He had aches and pains, and felt feverish, and sent
for the doctor, who peremptorily ordered him to go to bed.  There
was nothing in the least to cause alarm, but it would be the height
of folly to go to any week-end party at all.  Bed.

Pepino telegraphed to Lady Brixton with many regrets for the
unavoidable, and rang up Lucia.  The state of his voice made it
difficult to catch what he said, but she quite understood that
there was nothing to be anxious about, and that he hoped she would
go to Adele's without him.  Her voice on the other hand was
marvellously distinct, and he heard a great deal about the
misfortunes which had come to so brilliant a conclusion last night.
There followed a string of seven Christian names, and Lucia said a
flashlight photograph had been permitted during supper.  She
thought she was in it, though rather in the background.

Lucia was very sorry for Pepino's indisposition, but, as ordered,
had no anxiety about him.  She felt too, that he wouldn't
personally miss very much by being prevented from coming to Adele's
party, for it was to be a very large party, and Pepino--bless him--
occasionally got a little dazed at these brilliant gatherings.  He
did not grasp who people were with the speed and certainty which
were needful, and he had been known to grasp the hand of an eminent
author and tell him how much he had admired his fine picture at the
Academy.  (Lucia constantly did that sort of thing herself, but
then she got herself out of the holes she had herself digged with
so brilliant a manoeuvre that it didn't matter, whereas Pepino was
only dazed the more by his misfortunes.)  Moreover she knew that
Pepino's presence somehow hampered her style: she could not be the
brilliant mondaine, when his patient but proud eye was on her, with
quite the dash that was hers when he was not there.  There was
always the sense that he knew her best in her Riseholme
incarnation, in her duets with Georgie, and her rendering of the
slow movement of the Moonlight Sonata, and her grabbing of all
Daisy's little stunts.  She electrified him as the superb
butterfly, but the electrification was accompanied by slight shocks
and surprises.  When she referred by her Christian name to some
woman with whom her only bond was that she had refused to dine at
Brompton Square, that puzzled Pepino. . . .  In the autumn she must
be a little more serious, have some quiet dinner parties of
ordinary people, for really up till now there had scarcely been an
'ordinary' person at Brompton Square at all, such noble lions of
every species had been entrapped there.  And Adele's party was to
be of a very leonine kind; the smart world was to be there, and
some highbrows and some politicians, and she was aware that she
herself would have to do her very best, and be allusive, and
pretend to know what she didn't know, and seem to swim in very
distinguished currents.  Dear Pepino wasn't up to that sort of
thing, he couldn't grapple with it, and she grappled with it best
without him. . . .  At the moment of that vainglorious thought, it
is probable that Nemesis fixed her inexorable eye on Lucia.

Lucia unconscious of this deadly scrutiny turned to her immediate
affairs.  Her engagement-book pleasantly informed her that she had
many things to do on the day when the need for complete rest
overtook her, and now she heralded through the telephone the glad
tidings that she could lunch here and drop in there, and dine with
Aggie.  All went well with these restorations, and the day would be
full, and to-morrow also, down to the hour of her departure for
Adele's.  Having despatched this agreeable business, she was on the
point of ringing up Stephen, to fit him in for the spare three-
quarters of an hour that was left, when she was rung up and it was
Stephen's voice that greeted her.

"Stephano mio," she said.  "How did you guess I was back?"

"Because I rang up Riseholme first," said he, "and heard you had
gone to town.  Were you there last night?"

There was no cause to ask where "there" was.  There had only been
one place in London last night.

"Yes; delicious dance," said Lucia.  "I was just going to ring you
up and see if you could come round for a chat at 4.45, I am free
till 5.30.  Such fun it was.  A flashlight photograph."

"No!" said Stephen in the Riseholme manner.  "I long to hear about
it.  And were there really seven of them?"

"Quite," said Lucia magnificently.

"Wonderful!  But 4.45 is no use for me.  Can't you give me another

"My dear, impossible," said Lucia.  "You know what London is in
these last days.  Such a scrimmage."

"Well, we shall meet to-morrow then," said he.

"But, alas, I go to Adele's to-morrow," she said.

"Yes, but so do I," said Stephen.  "She asked me this morning.  I
was wondering if you would drive me down, if you're going in your
car.  Would there be room for you and Pepino and me?"

Lucia rapidly reviewed the situation.  It was perfectly clear to
her that Adele had asked Stephen, at the last moment, to fill
Pepino's place.  But naturally she had not told him that, and Lucia
determined not to do so either.  It would spoil his pleasure (at
least it would have spoiled hers) to know that. . . .  And what a
wonderful entry it would make for her--rather daring--to drive down
alone with her lover.  She could tell him about Pepino's
indisposition to-morrow, as if it had just occurred.

"Yes, Stephano, heaps of room," she said.  "Delighted.  I'll call
for you, shall I, on my way down, soon after three."

"Angelic," he said.  "What fun we shall have."

And it is probable that Nemesis at that precise moment licked her
dry lips.  'Fun!' thought Nemesis.

Marcia Whitby was of the party.  She went down in the morning, and
lunched alone with Adele.  Their main topic of conversation was

"I saw her announcement in the Morning Post," said the infuriated
Marcia, "that she had gone for a few days complete rest into the
country, and naturally I thought I was safe.  I was determined she
shouldn't come to my ball, and when I saw that, I thought she
couldn't.  So out of sheer good nature I sent her a card, so that
she could tell everybody she had been asked.  Never did I dream
that there was a possibility of her coming.  Instead of which, she
made the most conspicuous entry that she could have made.  I
believe she timed it: I believe she waited on the stairs till she
saw we were going down to supper."

"I wonder!" said Adele.  "Genius, if it was that.  She curtsied
seven times, too.  I can't do that without loud cracks from my aged

"And she stopped till the very end," said Marcia.  "She was
positively the last to go.  I shall never do a kind thing again."

"You're horrid about her," said Adele.  "Besides, what has she
done?  You asked her and she came.  You don't rave at your guests
for coming when they're asked.  You wouldn't like it if none of
them came."

"That's different," said Marcia.  "I shouldn't wonder if she
announced she was ordered complete rest in order that I should fall
into her trap."

Adele sighed, but shook her head.

"Oh, my dear, that WOULD have been magnificent," she said.  "But
I'm afraid I can't hope to believe that.  I daresay she went into
the country because you hadn't asked her, and that was pretty good.
But the other: no.  However, we'll ask Tony what he thinks."

"What's Tony got to do with it?" said Marcia.

"Why, he's even more wrapped up in her than I am," said Adele.  "He
thinks of nothing else."

Marcia was silent a moment.  Then a sort of softer gleam came into
her angry eye.

"Tell me some more about her," she said.

Adele clapped her hands.

"Ah, that's splendid," she said.  "You're beginning to feel kinder.
What we would do without our Lucia I can't imagine.  I don't know
what there would be to talk about."

"She's ridiculous!" said Marcia relapsing a little.

"No, you mustn't feel that," said Adele.  "You mustn't laugh at her
ever.  You must just richly enjoy her."

"She's a snob!" said Marcia, as if this was a tremendous discovery.

"So am I: so are you: so are we all," said Adele.  "We all run
after distinguished people like--like Alf and Marcelle.  The
difference between you and Lucia is entirely in her favour, for you
pretend you're not a snob, and she is perfectly frank and open
about it.  Besides, what is a duchess like you for except to give
pleasure to snobs?  That's your work in the world, darling; that's
why you were sent here.  Don't shirk it, or when you're old you
will suffer agonies of remorse.  And you're a snob too.  You liked
having seven--or was it seventy?--Royals at your dance."

"Well, tell me some more about Lucia," said Marcia, rather struck
by this ingenious presentation of the case.

"Indeed I will: I long for your conversion to Luciaphilism.  Now to-
day there are going to be marvellous happenings.  You see Lucia has
got a lover--"

"Quite absolutely impossible!" said Marcia firmly.

"Oh, don't interrupt.  Of course he is only an official lover, a
public lover, and his name is Stephen Merriall.  A perfect lady.
Now Pepino, Lucia's husband, was coming down with her to-day, but
he's got a very bad cold and has put me off.  I'm rather glad:
Lucia has got more--more dash when he's not there.  So I've asked
her lover instead--"

"No!" said Marcia.  "Go on."

"My dear, they are much better than any play I have ever seen.
They do it beautifully: they give each other little glances and
smiles, and then begin to talk hurriedly to someone else.  Of
course, they're both as chaste as snow, chaster if possible.  I
think poor Babs's case put it into Lucia's head that in this
naughty world it gave a cachet to a woman to have the reputation of
having a lover.  So safe too: there's nothing to expose.  They only
behave like lovers strictly in public.  I was terrified when it
began that Mr. Merriall would think she meant something, and try to
kiss her when they were alone, and so rub the delicate bloom
completely off, but I'm sure he's tumbled to it."

"How perfect!" said Marcia.

"Isn't it?  Aren't you feeling more Luciaphil?  I'm sure you are.
You must enjoy her: it shows such a want of humour to be annoyed
with her.  And really I've taken a great deal of trouble to get
people she will revel in.  There's the Prime Minister, there's you,
there's Greatorex the pianist who's the only person who can play
Stravinski, there's Professor Bonstetter the psycho-analyst,
there's the Italian Ambassador, there's her lover, there's
Tony. . . .  I can't go on.  Oh, and I must remember to tell her
that Archie Singleton is Babs's brother, or she may say something
dreadful.  And then there are lots who will revel in Lucia, and I
the foremost.  I'm devoted to her; I am really, Marcia.  She's got
character, she's got an iron will, and I like strong talkative
women so much better than strong silent men."

"Yes, she's got will," said Marcia.  "She determined to come to my
ball, and she came.  I allow I gave her the chance."

"Those are the chances that come to gifted people," said Adele.
"They don't come to ordinary people."

"Suppose I flirted violently with her lover?" said Marcia.

Adele's eyes grew bright with thought.

"I can't imagine what she would do," she said.  "But I'm sure she
would do something that scored.  Otherwise she wouldn't be Lucia.
But you mustn't do it."

"Just one evening," said Marcia.  "Just for an hour or two.  It's
not poaching, you see, because her lover isn't her lover.  He's
just a stunt."

Adele wavered.

"It would be wonderful to know what she would do," she said.  "And
it's true that he's only a stunt.  Perhaps for an hour or two to-
morrow, and then give him back."

Adele did not expect any of her guests till teatime, and Marcia and
she both retired for after-lunch siestas.  Adele had been down here
for the last four or five days, driving up to Marcia's ball and
back in the very early morning, and had three days before settled
everything in connection with her party, assigning rooms,
discussing questions of high importance with her chef, and
arranging to meet as many trains as possible.  It so happened,
therefore, that Stephen Merriall, since the house was full, was to
occupy the spacious dressing-room, furnished as a bedroom, next
Lucia's room, which had been originally allotted to Pepino.  Adele
had told her butler that Mr. Lucas was not coming, but that his
room would be occupied by Mr. Merriall, thought no more about it,
and omitted to substitute a new card on his door.  These two rooms
were half way down a long corridor of bedrooms and bathrooms that
ran the whole length of the house, a spacious oak-boarded corridor,
rather dark, with the broad staircase coming up at the end of it.
Below was the suite of public rooms, a library at the end, a big
music-room, a long gallery of a drawing-room, and the dining-room.
These all opened on to a paved terrace overlooking the gardens and
tennis courts, and it was here, with the shadow of the house lying
coolly across it, that her guests began to assemble.  In ones and
twos they gathered, some motoring down from London, others arriving
by train, and it was not till there were some dozen of them, among
whom were the most fervent Luciaphils, that the object of their
devotion, attended by her lover, made her appearance, evidently at
the top of her form.

"Dearest Adele," she said.  "How delicious to get into the cool
country again.  Marcia dear!  Such adventures I had on my way up to
your ball: two burst tyres: I thought I should never get there.
How are you, your Excellency?  I saw you at the Duchess's, but
couldn't get a word with you.  Aggie darling!  Ah, Lord Tony!  Yes,
a cup of tea would be delicious; no sugar, Stephen, thanks."

Lucia had not noticed quite everybody.  There were one or two
people rather retired from the tea-table, but they did not seem to
be of much importance, and certainly the Prime Minister was not
among them.  Stephen hovered, loverlike, just behind her chair, and
she turned to the Italian ambassador.

"I was afraid of a motor accident all the way down," she said,
"because last night I dreamed I broke a looking-glass.  Quaint
things dreams are, though really the psycho-analysts who interpret
them are quainter.  I went to a meeting at Sophy's, dear Sophy
Alingsby, the other day--your Excellency I am sure knows Sophy
Alingsby--and heard a lecture on it.  Let me see: boiled rabbit, if
you dream of boiled rabbit--"

Lucia suddenly became aware of a sort of tension.  Just a tension.
She looked quickly round, and recognised one of the men she had not
paid much attention to.  She sprang from her chair.

"Professor Bonstetter," she said.  "How are you?  I know you won't
remember me, but I did have the honour of shaking hands with you
after your enthralling lecture the other day.  Do come and tell his
Excellency and me a little more about it.  There were so many
questions I longed to ask you."

Adele wanted to applaud, but she had to be content with catching
Marcia's eye.  Was Lucia great, or was she not?  Stephen too: how
exactly right she was to hand him her empty cup when she had
finished with it, without a word, and how perfectly he took it!"
More?" he said, and Lucia just shook her head without withdrawing
her attention from Professor Bonstetter.  Then the Prime Minister
arrived, and she said how lovely Chequers must be looking.  She did
not annex him, she just hovered and hinted, and made no direct
suggestion, and sure enough, within five minutes he had asked her
if she knew Chequers.  Of course she did, but only as a tourist--
and so one thing led on to another.  It would be a nice break in
her long drive down to Riseholme on Tuesday to lunch at Chequers,
and not more than forty miles out of her way.

People dispersed and strolled on the terrace, and gathered again,
and some went off to their rooms.  Lucia had one little turn up and
down with the Ambassador, and spoke with great tact of Mussolini,
and another with Lord Tony, and not for a long time did she let
Stephen join her.  But then they wandered off into the garden, and
were seen standing very close together and arguing publicly about a
flower, and Lucia seeing they were observed, called to Adele to
know if it wasn't Dropmore Borage.  They came back very soon, and
Stephen went up to his room while Lucia remained downstairs.  Adele
showed her the library and the music-room, and the long drawing-
room, and then vanished.  Lucia gravitated to the music-room,
opened the piano, and began the slow movement of the Moonlight

About half way through it, she became aware that somebody had come
into the room.  But her eyes were fixed dreamily on the usual point
at the edge of the ceiling, and her fingers faultlessly doled out
the slow triplets.  She gave a little sigh when she had finished,
pressed her fingers to her eyes, and slowly awoke, as from some
melodious ansthetic.

It was a man who had come in and who had seated himself not far
from the key-board.

"Charming!" he said.  "Thank you."

Lucia didn't remember seeing him on the terrace: perhaps he had
only just arrived.  She had a vague idea, however, that whether on
the terrace or elsewhere, she had seen him before.  She gave a
pretty little start.  "Ah, had no idea I had an audience," she
said.  "I should never have ventured to go on playing.  So
dreadfully out of practice."

"Please have a little more practice then," said the polite

She ran her hands, butterfly fashion, over the keys.

"A little morsel of Stravinski?" she said.

It was in the middle of the morsel that Adele came in and found
Lucia playing Stravinski to Mr. Greatorex.  The position seemed to
be away, away beyond her orbit altogether, and she merely waited
with undiminished faith in Lucia, to see what would happen when
Lucia became aware to whom she was playing. . . .  It was a longish
morsel, too: more like a meal than a morsel, and it was also
remarkably like a muddle.  Finally, Lucia made an optimistic
attempt at the double chromatic scale in divergent directions which
brought it to an end, and laughed gaily.

"My poor fingers," she said.  "Delicious piano, dear Adele.  I love
a Bechstein; that was a little morsel of Stravinski.  Hectic
perhaps, do you think?  But so true to the modern idea: little
feverish excursions: little bits of tunes, and nothing worked out.
But I always say that there is something in Stravinski, if you
study him.  How I worked at that little piece, and I'm afraid it's
far from perfect yet."

Lucia played one more little run with her right hand, while she
cudgelled her brain to remember where she had seen this man before,
and turned round on the music-stool.  She felt sure he was an
artist of some kind, and she did not want to ask Adele to introduce
him, for that would look as if she did not know everybody.  She
tried pictures next.

"In Art I always think that the Stravinski school is represented by
the Post-Cubists," she said.  "They give us pattern in lines, just
as Stravinski gives us patterns in notes, and the modern poet
patterns in words.  At Sophy Alingsby's the other night we had a
feast of patterns.  Dear Sophy--what a curious mixture of tastes!
She cares only for the ultra-primitive in music, and the ultra-
modern in Art.  Just before you came in, Adele, I was trying to
remember the first movement of Beethoven's Moonlight, those
triplets though they look easy have to be kept so level.  And yet
Sophy considers Beethoven a positive decadent.  I ought to have
taken her to Diva's little concert--Diva Dalrymple--for I assure
you really that Stravinski sounded classical compared to the rest
of the programme.  It was very creditably played, too.  Mr.--" what
was his name?--"Mr Greatorex."

She had actually said the word before her brain made the
connection.  She gave her little peal of laughter.

"Ah, you wicked people," she cried.  "A plot: clearly a plot.  Mr.
Greatorex, how could you?  Adele told you to come in here when she
heard me begin my little strummings, and told you to sit down and
encourage me.  Don't deny it, Adele!  I know it was like that.  I
shall tell everybody how unkind you've been, unless Mr. Greatorex
sits down instantly and magically restores to life what I have just

Adele denied nothing.  In fact there was no time to deny anything,
for Lucia positively thrust Mr. Greatorex on to the music stood,
and instantly put on her rapt musical face, chin in hand, and eyes
looking dreamily upwards.  There was Nemesis, you would have
thought, dealing thrusts at her, but Nemesis was no match for her
amazing quickness.  She parried and thrust again, and here--what
richness of future reminiscence--was Mr. Greatorex playing
Stravinski to her, before no audience but herself and Adele who
really didn't count, for the only tune she liked was "Land of Hope
and Glory". . . .  Great was Lucia!

Adele left the two, warning them that it was getting on for
dressing time, but there was some more Stravinski first, for
Lucia's sole ear.  Adele had told her the direction of her room,
and said her name was on the door, and Lucia found it at once.  A
beautiful room it was, with a bathroom on one side, and a
magnificent Charles II bed draped at the back with wool-work
tapestry.  It was a little late for Lucia's Elizabethan taste, and
she noticed that the big wardrobe was Chippendale, which was later
still.  There was a Chinese paper on the wall, and fine Persian
rugs on the floor, and though she could have criticised it was easy
to admire.  And there for herself was a very smart dress, and for
decoration Aunt Amy's pearls, and the Beethoven brooch.  But she
decided to avoid all possible chance of competition, and put the
pearls back into her jewel-case.  The Beethoven brooch, she was
sure, need fear no rival.

Lucia felt that dinner, as far as she went, was a huge success.
Stephen was seated just opposite her, and now and then she
exchanged little distant smiles with him.  Next her on one side was
Lord Tony, who adored her story about Stravinski and Greatorex.
She told him also what the Italian Ambassador had said about
Mussolini, and the Prime Minister about Chequers: she was going to
pop in to lunch on her way down to Riseholme after this delicious
party.  Then conversation shifted, and she turned left, and talked
to the only man whose identity she had not grasped.  But, as matter
of public knowledge, she began about poor Babs, and her own
admiration of her demeanour at that wicked trial, which had ended
so disastrously.  And once again there was slight tension.

Bridge and Mah-Jong followed, and rich allusive conversation and
the sense, so dear to Lucia, of being in the very centre of
everything that was distinguished.  When the women went upstairs
she hurried to her room, made a swift change into greater
simplicity, and, by invitation, sought out Marcia's room, at the
far end of the passage, for a chat.  Adele was there, and dear
(rather common) Aggie was there, and Aggie was being just a shade
sycophantic over the six rows of Whitby pearls.  Lucia was glad she
had limited her splendours to the Beethoven brooch.

"But why didn't you wear your pearls, Lucia?" asked Adele.  "I was
hoping to see them."  (She had heard talk of Aunt Amy's pearls, but
had not noticed them on the night of Marcia's ball.)

"My little seedlings!" said Lucia.  "Just seedlings, compared to
Marcia's marbles.  Little trumperies!"

Aggie had seen them, and she knew Lucia did not overstate their
minuteness.  Like a true Luciaphil, she changed a subject that
might prove embarrassing.

"Take away your baubles, Marcia," said Aggie.  "They are only
diseases of a common shell fish which you eat when it's healthy and
wear when it's got a tumour. . . .  How wretched it is to think
that all of us aren't going to meet day after day as we have been
doing!  There's Adele going to America, and there's Marcia going to
Scotland--what a foul spot, Marcia, come to Marienbad instead with
me.  And what are you going to do, Lucia?"

"Oh, my dear, how I wanted to go to Aix or Marienbad," she said.
"But my Pepino says it's impossible.  We've got to stop quiet at
Riseholme.  Shekels, tiresome shekels."

"There she goes, talking about Riseholme as if it was some dreadful
penance to go there," said Adele.  "You adore Riseholme, Lucia, at
least if you don't, you ought to.  Olga raves about it.  She says
she's never really happy away from it.  When are you going to ask
me there?"

"Adele, as if you didn't know that you weren't always welcome,"
said Lucia.

"Me, too," said Marcia.

"A standing invitation to both of you always," said Lucia.  "Dear
Marcia, how sweet of you to want to come!  I go there on Tuesday,
and there I remain.  But it's true, I do adore it.  No balls, no
parties, and such dear Arcadians.  You couldn't believe in them
without seeing them.  Life at its very simplest, dears."

"It can't be simpler than Scotland," said Marcia.  "In Scotland you
kill birds and fish all day, and eat them at night.  That's all."

Lucia through these months of strenuous effort had never perhaps
felt herself so amply rewarded as she was at this moment.  All
evening she had talked in an effortless deshabille of mind to the
great ones of the country, the noble, the distinguished, the
accomplished, and now here she was in a duchess's bedroom having a
goodnight talk.  This was nearer Nirvana than even Marcia's ball.
And the three women there seemed to be grouped round her: they
waited--there was no mistaking it--listening for something from
her, just as Riseholme used to wait for her lead.  She felt that
she was truly attaining, and put her chin in her hand and looked a
little upwards.

"I shall get tremendously put in my place when I go back to
Riseholme again," she said.  "I'm sure Riseholme thinks I have been
wasting my time in idle frivolities.  It sees perhaps in an evening
paper that I have been to Aggie's party, or Adele's house or
Marcia's ball, and I assure you it will be very suspicious of me.
Just as if I didn't know that all these delightful things were

Adele had got the cataleptic look of a figure in a stained glass
window, so rapt she was.  But she wanted to grasp this with full

"Lucia, don't be so dreadfully clever," she said.  "You're talking
high over my head: you're like the whirr of an aeroplane.  Explain
what you mean by symbols."

Lucia was toying with the string of Whitby pearls, which Marcia
still held, with one hand.  The other she laid on Adele's knee.
She felt that a high line was expected of her.

"My dear, you know," she said.  "All our runnings-about, all our
gaieties are symbols of affection: we love to see each other
because we partake of each other.  Interesting people, distinguished
people, obscure people, ordinary people, we long to bring them all
into our lives in order to widen our horizons.  We learn, or we try
to learn of other interests beside our own.  I shall have to make
Riseholme understand that dear little Alf, playing the flute at my
house, or half a dozen princes eating quails at Marcia's mansion,
it's all the same, isn't it?  We get to know the point of view of
prize-fighters and princes.  And it seems to me, it seems to me--"

Lucia's gaze grew a shade more lost and aloof.

"It seems to me that we extend our very souls," she said, "by
letting them flow into other lives.  How badly I put it!  But when
Eric Greatorex--so charming of him--played those delicious pieces
of Stravinski to me before dinner, I felt I was stepping over some
sort of frontier INTO Stravinski.  Eric made out my passport.  A
multiplication of experience: I think that is what I mean."

None of those present could have said with any precision what Lucia
had meant, but the general drift seemed to be that an hour with a
burglar or a cannibal was valuable for the amplification of the

"Odd types too," she said.  "How good for one to be put into touch
with something quite remote.  Marcelle--Marcelle Periscope--you met
him at my house, didn't you, Aggie--"

"Why wasn't I asked?" said Marcia.

Lucia gave a little quick smile, as at some sweet child's

"Darling Marcia, why didn't you propose yourself?  Surely you know
me well enough to do that.  Yes, Marcelle, a cinema-artist.  A
fresh horizon, a fresh attitude towards life.  So good for me: it
helps me not to be narrow.  Dio mio! how I pray I shall never be
narrow.  To be shocked, too!  How shocking to be shocked.  If you
all had fifty lovers apiece, I should merely think it a privilege
to know about them all."

Marcia longed, with almost the imperativeness of a longing to
sneeze, to allude directly to Stephen.  She raised her eyes for a
half second to Adele, the priestess of this cult in which she knew
she was rapidly becoming a worshipper, but if ever an emphatic
negative was wordlessly bawled at a tentative enquirer, it was
bawled now.  If Lucia chose to say anything about Stephen it would
indeed be manna, but to ask--never!  Aggie, seated sideways to
them, had not seen this telegraphy, and spoke unwisely with her

"If an ordinary good-looking woman," she said, "tells me that she
hasn't got a lover or a man who wants to be her lover, I always say
'You lie!'  So she does.  You shall begin, Lucia, about your

Nothing could have been more unfortunate.  Adele could have hurled
the entire six rows of the Whitby pearls at Aggie's face.  Lucia
had no lover, but only the wraith of a lover, on whom direct light
must never be flashed.  Such a little reflection should have shown
Aggie that.  The effect of her carelessness was that Lucia became
visibly embarrassed, looked at the clock, and got up in a violent

"Good gracious me!" she said.  "What a time of night!  Who could
have thought that our little chat had lasted so long?  Yes, dear
Adele, I know my room, on the left with my name on the door.  Don't
dream of coming to show it me."

Lucia distributed little pressures and kisses and clingings, and
holding her very smart pale blue wrapper close about her, slid
noiselessly out in her slippers into the corridor.  It was late,
the house was quite quiet, for a quarter of an hour ago they had
heard the creaking of men's footsteps going to their rooms.  The
main lights had been put out, only here and there down the long
silent aisle there burned a single small illumination.  Past half a
dozen doors Lucia tiptoed, until she came to one on which she could
just see the name Philip Lucas preceded by a dim hieroglyph which
of course was "Mrs."  She turned the handle and went in.

Two yards in front of her, by the side of the bed, was standing
Stephen, voluptuous in honey-coloured pyjamas.  For one awful
second--for she felt sure this was her room (AND SO DID HE)--they
stared at each other in dead silence.

"How dare you?" said Stephen, so agitated that he could scarcely
form the syllables.

"And how dare YOU?" hissed Lucia.  "Go out of my room instantly."

"Go out of mine!" said Stephen.

Lucia's indignant eye left his horror-stricken face and swept round
the room.  There was no Chinese paper on the wall, but a pretty
Morris paper: there was no Charles II bed with tapestry, but a
brass-testered couch; there was no Chippendale wardrobe, but
something useful from Tottenham Court Road.  She gave one little
squeal, of a pitch between the music of the slate-pencil and of the
bat, and closed his door again.  She staggered on to the next room
where again the legend 'Philip Lucas' was legible, popped in, and
locked the door.  She hurried to the door of communication between
this and the fatal chamber next it, and as she locked that also she
heard from the other side of it the bolt violently pulled forward.

She sat down on her bed in a state of painful agitation.  Her
excursion into the fatal chamber had been an awful, a hideous
mistake: none knew that better than herself, but how was she to
explain that to her lover?  For weeks they had been advertising the
guilt of their blameless relationship, and now it seemed to her
impossible ever to resume it.  Every time she gave Stephen one of
those little smiles or glances, at which she had become so perfect
an adept, there would start into her mind that moment of speechless
horror, and her smile would turn to a tragic grimace, and her sick
glance recoil from him.  Worse than that, how was she ever to speak
of it to him, or passionately protest her innocence?  He had
thought that she had come to his room (indeed she had) when the
house was quiet, on the sinister errand of love, and though, when
he had repudiated her, she had followed suit, she saw the recoiling
indignation of her lover.  If only, just now, she had kept her
head, if only she had said at once, 'I beg your pardon, I mistook
my room,' all might have been well, but how nerve herself to say it
afterwards?  And in spite of the entire integrity of her moral
nature, which was puritanical to the verge of prudishness, she had
not liked (no woman could) his unfeigned horror at her irruption.

Stephen next door was in little better plight.  He had had a severe
shock.  For weeks Lucia had encouraged him to play the lover, and
had (so he awfully asked himself) this pleasant public stunt become
a reality to her, a need of her nature?  She had made it appear,
when he so rightly repulsed her, that she had come to his room by
mistake, but was that pretence?  Had she really come with a
terrible motive?  It was her business, anyhow, to explain, and
insist on her innocence, if she was innocent, and he would only be
too thankful to believe her.  But at present and without that, the
idea of resuming the public loverlike demeanour was frankly beyond
him.  She might be encouraged again. . . .  Though now he was safe
with locked and bolted doors, he knew he would not be able to
sleep, and he took a large dose of aspirin.

Lucia was far more thorough: she never shelved difficulties, but
faced them.  She still sat on the edge of her bed, long after
Stephen's nerves were quieted, and as she herself calmed down,
thought it all out.  For the present, loverlike relations in public
were impossible, and it was lucky that in a couple of days more she
would be interned at Riseholme.  Then with a flash of genius there
occurred to her the interesting attitude to adopt in the interval.
She would give the impression that there had been a lovers'
quarrel.  The more she thought of that, the more it commended
itself to her.  People would notice it, and wonder what it was all
about, and their curiosity would never be gratified, for Lucia felt
sure, from the horror depicted on Stephen's face, that he as well
as she would be for ever dumb on the subject of that midnight
encounter.  She must not look unhappy: she must on the other hand
be more vivid and eager than ever, and just completely ignore
Stephen.  But there would be no lift for him in her car back to
London: he would have to go by train.

The ex-lovers both came down very late next day, for fear of
meeting each other alone, and thus they sat in adjoining rooms half
the morning.  Stephen had some Hermione-work on hand, for this
party would run to several paragraphs, but, however many it ran to,
Hermione was utterly determined not to mention Lucia in any of
them.  Hermione knew, however, that Mr. Stephen Merriall was there,
and said so. . . .  By one of those malignant strokes which are
rained on those whom Nemesis desires to chastise, they came out of
their rooms at precisely the same moment, and had to walk
downstairs together, coldly congratulating each other on the beauty
of the morning.  Luckily there were people on the terrace, among
whom was Marcia.  She thought this was an excellent opportunity for
beginning her flirtation with Stephen, and instantly carried him
off to the kitchen garden, for unless she ate gooseberries on
Sunday morning she died.  Lucia seemed sublimely unaware of their
departure, and joined a select little group round the Prime
Minister.  Between a discussion on the housing problem with him, a
stroll with Lord Tony, who begged her to drop the 'lord,' and a
little more Stravinski alone with Greatorex, the short morning
passed very agreeably.  But she saw when she went into lunch rather
late that Marcia and Stephen had not returned from their
gooseberrying.  There was a gap of just three places at the table,
and it thus became a certainty that Stephen would sit next her.

Lunch was fully half over before they appeared, Marcia profusely

"Wretchedly rude of me, dear Adele," she said, "but we had no idea
it was so late, did we, Mr. Merriall?  We went to the gooseberries,
and--and I suppose we must have stopped there.  Your fault, Mr.
Merriall; you men have no idea of time."

"Who could, duchess, when he was with you?" said Stephen most

"Sweet of you," said she.  "Now do go on.  You were in the middle
of telling me something quite thrilling.  And please, Adele, let
nobody wait for us.  I see you are all at the end of lunch, and I
haven't begun, and gooseberries, as usual, have given me an
enormous appetite.  Yes, Mr. Merriall?"

Adele looked in vain, when throughout the afternoon Marcia
continued in possession of Lucia's lover, for the smallest sign of
resentment or uneasiness on her part.  There was simply none; it
was impossible to detect a thing that had no existence.  Lucia
seemed completely unconscious of any annexation, or indeed of
Stephen's existence.  There she sat, just now with Tony and
herself, talking of Marcia's ball, and the last volume of risky
memoirs, of which she had read a review in the Sunday paper, and
Sophy's black room and Alf: never had she been more equipped at all
points, more prosperously central.  Marcia, thought Adele, was
being wonderfully worsted, if she imagined she could produce any
sign of emotion on Lucia's part.  The lovers understood each other
too well. . . .  Or, she suddenly conjectured, had they quarrelled?
It really looked rather like it.  Though she and Tony were having a
good Luciaphil meeting, she almost wanted Lucia to go away, in
order to go into committee over this entrancing possibility.  And
how naturally she Tony'd him: she must have been practising on her

Somewhere in the house a telephone bell rang, and a footman came
out on to the terrace.

"Lucia, I know that's for you," said Adele.  "Where-ever you are,
somebody wants you on the telephone.  If you were in the middle of
the Sahara, a telephone would ring for you from the sands of the
desert.  Yes?  Who is it for?" she said to the footman.

"Mrs. Lucas, my lady," he said.

Lucia got up, quite delighted.

"You're always chaffing me, Adele," she said.  "What a nuisance the
telephone is.  One never gets a rest from it.  But I won't be a

She tripped off.

"Tony, there's a great deal to talk about," said Adele quickly.
"Now what's the situation between the lovers?  Perfect understanding
or a quarrel?  And who has been ringing her up?  What would you bet
that it was--"

"Alf," said Tony.

"I wonder.  Tony, about the lovers.  There's something.  I never
saw such superb indifference.  How I shall laugh at Marcia.  She's
producing no effect at all.  Lucia doesn't take the slightest
notice.  I knew she would be great.  Last night we had a wonderful
talk in Marcia's room, till Aggie was an ass.  There she is again.
Now we shall know."

Lucia came quickly along the terrace.

"Adele dear," she said.  "Would it be dreadful of me if I left this
afternoon?  They've rung me up from Riseholme.  Georgie rang me up.
My Pepino is very far from well.  Nothing really anxious, but he's
in bed and he's alone.  I think I had better go."

"Oh my dear," said Adele, "of course you shall do precisely as you
wish.  I'm dreadfully sorry: so shall we all be if you go.  But if
you feel you would be easier in your mind--"

Lucia looked round on all the brilliant little groups.  She was
leaving the most wonderful party: it was the highest perch she had
reached yet.  On the other hand she was leaving her lover, which
was a compensation.  But she truly didn't think of any of these

"My poor old Pepino," she said.  "I must go, Adele."


To-day, the last of August, Pepino had been allowed for the first
time to go out and have a half-hour's quiet strolling in the garden
and sit in the sun.  His illness which had caused Lucia to recall
herself had been serious, and for a few days he had been
dangerously ill with pneumonia.  After turning a bad corner he had
made satisfactory progress.

Lucia, who for these weeks had been wholly admirable, would have
gone out with him now, but the doctor, after his visit, had said he
wanted to have a talk with her, and for twenty minutes or so they
had held colloquy in the music-room.  Then, on his departure, she
sat there a few minutes more, arranged her ideas, and went out to
join Pepino.

"Such a good cheering talk, caro," she said.  "There never was such
a perfect convalescer--my dear, what a word--as you.  You're a
prize-patient.  All you've got to do is to go on exactly as you're
going, doing a little more, and a little more every day, and in a
month's time you'll be ever so strong again.  Such a good

"And no sea-voyage?" asked Pepino.  The dread prospect had been
dangled before him at one time.

"Not unless they think a month or two on the Riviera in the winter
might be advisable.  Then the sea voyage from Dover to Calais, but
no more than that.  Now I know what you're thinking about.  You
told me that we couldn't manage Aix this August because of expense,
so how are we to manage two months of Cannes?"

Lucia paused a moment.

"That delicious story of dear Marcia's," she said, "about those
cousins of hers who had to retrench.  After talking everything over
they decided that all the retrenchment they could possibly make was
to have no coffee after lunch.  But we can manage better than
that. . . ."

Lucia paused again.  Pepino had had enough of movement under his
own steam, and they had seated themselves in the sunny little
arbour by the sundial, which had so many appropriate mottoes carved
on it.

"The doctor told me too that it would be most unwise of you to
attempt to live in London for any solid period," she said.  "Fogs,
sunlessness, damp darkness: all bad.  And I know again what's in
your kind head.  You think I adore London, and can spend a month or
two there in the autumn, and in the spring, coming down here for
week-ends.  But I haven't the slightest intention of doing anything
of the kind.  I'm not going to be up there alone.  Besides, where
are the dibs, as that sweet little Alf said, where are the dibs to
come from for our Riviera?"

"Let the house for the winter then?" said Pepino.

"Excellent idea, if we could be certain of letting it.  But we
can't be certain of letting it, and all the time a stream of rates
and taxes, and caretakers.  It would be wretched to be always
anxious about it, and always counting the dibs.  I've been going
into what we spent there this summer, caro, and it staggered me.
What I vote for, is to sell it.  I'm not going to use it without
you, and you're not going to use it at all.  You know how I looked
forward to being there for your sake, your club, the Reading Room
at the British Museum, the Astronomer Royal, but now that's all
kaput, as Tony says.  We'll bring down here anything that's
particularly connected with dear Auntie: her portrait by Sargent,
of course, though Sargents are fetching immense prices; or the
walnut bureau, or the Chippendale chairs or that little worsted rug
in her bedroom; but I vote for selling it all, freehold, furniture,
everything.  As if I couldn't go up to Claridge's now and then,
when I want to have a luncheon-party or two of all our friends!
And then we shall have no more anxieties, and if they say you must
get away from the cold and the damp, we shall know we're doing
nothing on the margin of our means.  That would be hateful: we
mustn't do that."

"But you'll never be able to be content with Riseholme again," said
Pepino.  "After your balls and your parties and all that, what will
you find to do here?"

Lucia turned her gimlet-eye on him.

"I shall be a great fool if I don't find something to do," she
said.  "Was I so idle and unoccupied before we went to London?
Good gracious, I was always worked to death here.  Don't you bother
your head about that, Pepino, for if you do it will show you don't
understand me at all.  And our dear Riseholme, let me tell you, has
got very slack and inert in our absence, and I feel very guilty
about that.  There's nothing going on: there's none of the old fizz
and bubble and Excelsior there used to be.  They're vegetating,
they're dry-rotting, and Georgie's getting fat.  There's never any
news.  All that happens is that Daisy slashes a golf-ball about the
Green for practice in the morning, and then goes down to the links
in the afternoon, and positively the only news next day is whether
she has been round under a thousand strokes, whatever that means."

Lucia gave a little indulgent sigh.

"Dear Daisy has ideas sometimes," she said, "and I don't deny that.
She had the idea of ouija, she had the idea of the Museum, and
though she said that came from Abfou, she had the idea of Abfou.
Also she had the idea of golf.  But she doesn't carry her ideas out
in a vivid manner that excites interest and keeps people on the
boil.  On the boil!  That's what we all ought to be, with a
thousand things to do that seem immensely important and which are
important because they seem so.  You want a certain touch to give
importance to things, which dear Daisy hasn't got.  Whatever poor
Daisy does seems trivial.  But they shall see that I've come home.
What does it matter to me whether it's Marcia's ball, or playing
Alf's accompaniments, or playing golf with Daisy, or playing duets
with poor dear Georgie, whose fingers have all become thumbs, so
long as I find it thrilling?  If I find it dull, caro, I shall be,
as Adele once said, a bloody fool.  Dear Adele, she has always that
little vein of coarseness."

Lucia encountered more opposition from Pepino than she anticipated,
for he had taken a huge pride in her triumphant summer campaign in
London, and though at times he had felt bewildered and buffeted in
this high gale of social activity, and had, so to speak, to close
his streaming eyes and hold his hat on, he gloried in the incessant
and tireless blowing of it, which stripped the choicest fruits from
the trees.  He thought they could manage, without encroaching on
financial margins, to keep the house open for another year yet,
anyhow: he acknowledged that he had been unduly pessimistic about
going to Aix, he even alluded to the memories of Aunt Amy which
were twined about 25 Brompton Square, and which he would be so
sorry to sever.  But Lucia, in that talk with his doctor, had made
up her mind: she rejected at once the idea of pursuing her
victorious career in London if all the time she would have to be
careful and thrifty, and if, far more importantly, she would be
leaving Pepino down at Riseholme.  That was not to be thought of:
affection no less than decency made it impossible, and so having
made up her mind, she set about the attainment of her object with
all her usual energy.  She knew, too, the value of incessant
attack: smash little Alf, for instance, when he had landed a useful
blow on his opponent's face, did not wait for him to recover, but
instantly followed it up with another and yet another till his
victim collapsed and was counted out.  Lucia behaved in precisely
the same way with Pepino: she produced rows of figures to show they
were living beyond their means: she quoted (or invented) something
the Prime Minister had said about the probability of an increase in
income-tax: she assumed that they would go to the Riviera for
certain, and was appalled at the price of tickets in the Blue
Train, and of the tariff at hotels.

"And with all our friends in London, Pepino," she said in the
decisive round of these combats, "who are longing to come down to
Riseholme and spend a week with us, our expenses here will go up.
You mustn't forget that.  We shall be having a succession of
visitors in October, and indeed till we go south.  Then there's the
meadow at the bottom of the garden: you've not bought that yet, and
on that I really have set my heart.  A spring garden there.  A
profusion of daffodils, and a paved walk.  You promised me that.  I
described what it would be like to Tony, and he is wildly jealous.
I'm sure I don't wonder.  Your new telescope too.  I insist on that
telescope, and I'm sure I don't know where the money's to come
from.  My dear old piano also: it's on its very last legs, and
won't last much longer, and I know you don't expect me to live,
literally keep alive, without a good piano in the house."

Pepino, was weakening.  Even when he was perfectly well and strong
he was no match for her, and this rain of blows was visibly
staggering him.

"I don't want to urge you, caro," she continued.  "You know I never
urge you to do what you don't feel is best."

"But you are urging me," said Pepino.

"Only to do what you feel is best.  As for the memories of Aunt Amy
in Brompton Square, you must not allow false sentiment to come in.
You never saw her there since you were a boy, and if you brought
down here her portrait, and the wool-work rug which you remember
her putting over her knees, I should say, without urging you, mind,
that that was ample. . . .  What a sweet morning!  Come to the end
of the garden and imagine what the meadow will look like with a
paved walk and a blaze of daffodils. . . .  The Chippendale chairs,
I think I should sell."

Lucia did not really want Aunt Amy's portrait either, for she was
aware she had said a good deal from time to time about Aunt Amy's
pearls, which were there, a little collar of very little seeds,
faultlessly portrayed.  But then Georgie had seen them on that
night at the Opera, and Lucia felt that she knew Riseholme very
poorly if it was not perfectly acquainted by now with the nature
and minuteness of Aunt Amy's pearls.  The pearls had better be sold
too, and also, she thought, her own portrait by Sigismund, for the
post-cubists were not making much of a mark.

The determining factor in her mind, over this abandonment of her
London career, to which in a few days, by incessant battering, she
had got Pepino to consent, was Pepino himself.  He could not be
with her in London, and she could not leave him week after week
(for nothing less than that, if you were to make any solid progress
in London, was any good) alone in Riseholme.  But a large factor,
also, was the discovery of how little at present she counted for in
Riseholme, and that could not be tolerated.  Riseholme had deposed
her, Riseholme was not intending to be managed by her from Brompton
Square.  The throne was vacant, for poor Daisy, and for the matter
of that poor Georgie were not the sort of people who could occupy
thrones at all.  She longed to queen it there again, and though she
was aware that her utmost energies would be required, what were
energies for except to get you what you wanted?

Just now she was nothing in Riseholme: they had been sorry for her
because Pepino had been so ill, but as his steady convalescence
proceeded, and she began to ring people up, and pop in, and make
plans for them, she became aware that she mattered no more than
Piggie and Goosie. . . .  There on the Green, as she saw from the
window of her hall, was Daisy, whirling her arms madly, and hitting
a ball with a stick which had a steel blade at the end, and
Georgie, she was rather horrified to observe, was there too, trying
to do the same.  Was Daisy reaping the reward of her persistence,
and getting somebody interested in golf?  And, good heavens, there
were Piggie and Goosie also smacking away.  Riseholme was clearly
devoting itself to golf.

"I shall have to take to golf," thought Lucia.  "What a bore!  Such
a foolish game."

At this moment a small white ball bounded over her yew-hedge, and
tapped smartly against the front door.

"What an immense distance to have hit a ball," she thought.  "I
wonder which of them did that?"

It was soon clear, for Daisy came tripping through the garden after
it, and Lucia, all smiles, went out to meet her.

"Good morning, dear Daisy," she said.  "Did you hit that ball that
immense distance?  How wonderful!  No harm done at all.  But what a
splendid player you must be!"

"So sorry," panted Daisy, "but I thought I would have a hit with a
driver.  Very wrong of me; I had no idea it would go so far or so

"A marvellous shot," said Lucia.  "I remember how beautifully you
putted.  And this is all part of golf too?  Do let me see you do it

Daisy could not reproduce that particular masterpiece, but she sent
the ball high in the air, or skimming along the ground, and
explained that one was a lofted shot, and the other a wind-cheater.

"I like the wind-cheater best," said Lucia.  "Do let me see if I
can do that."

She missed the ball once or twice, and then made a lovely wind-
cheater, only this time Daisy called it a top.  Daisy had three
clubs, two of which she put down when she used the third, and then
forgot about them, so that they had to go back for them. . . .  And
up came Georgie, who was making wind-cheaters too.

"Good-morning, Lucia," he said.  "It's so tarsome not to be able to
hit the ball, but it's great fun if you do.  Have you put down your
clock-golf yet?  There, didn't that go?"

Lucia had forgotten all about the clock-golf.  It was somewhere in
what was called the "game-cupboard," which contained bowls (as
being Elizabethan) and some old tennis rackets, and a cricket bat
Pepino had used at school.

"I'll put it down this afternoon," she said.  "Come in after lunch,
Georgie, and play a game with me.  You too, Daisy."

"Thanks, but Georgie and I were going to have a real round on the
links," said Daisy, in a rather superior manner.

"What fun!" said Lucia sycophantically.  "I shall walk down and
look at you.  I think I must learn.  I never saw anything so
interesting as golf."

This was gratifying: Daisy was by no means reluctant to show Lucia
the way to do anything, but behind that, she was not quite sure
whether she liked this sudden interest in golf.  Now that
practically the whole of Riseholme was taking to it, and she
herself could beat them all, having had a good start, she was
hoping that Lucia would despise it, and find herself left quite
alone on these lovely afternoons.  Everybody went down to the
little nine-hole course now after lunch, the Vicar (Mr. Rushbold)
and his wife, the curate, Colonel Boucher, Georgie, Mrs. Antrobus
(who discarded her ear-trumpet for these athletics and never could
hear you call "Fore") and Piggie and Goosie, and often Mrs. Boucher
was wheeled down in her bath-chair, and applauded the beautiful
putts made on the last green.  Indeed, Daisy had started
instruction classes in her garden, and Riseholme stood in rows and
practised swinging and keeping its eye on a particular blade of
grass: golf in fact promised to make Riseholme busy and happy again
just as the establishment of the Museum had done.  Of course, if
Lucia was wanting to learn (and not learn too much) Daisy would be
very happy to instruct her, but at the back of Daisy's mind was a
strange uneasiness.  She consoled herself, however, by supposing
that Lucia would go back to London again in the autumn, and by
giving Georgie an awful drubbing.

Lucia did not accompany them far on their round, but turned back to
the little shed of a club-house, where she gathered information
about the club.  It was quite new, having been started only last
spring by the tradesmen and townspeople of Riseholme and the
neighbouring little town of Blitton.  She then entered into
pleasant conversation with the landlord of the Ambermere Arms, who
had just finished his round and said how pleased they all were that
the gentry had taken to golf.

"There's Mrs. Quantock, ma'am," said he.  "She comes down every
afternoon and practises on the Green every morning.  Walking over
the Green now of a morning, is to take your life in your hand.
Such keenness I never saw, and she'll never be able to hit the ball
at all."

"Oh, but you mustn't discourage us, Mr. Stratton," said Lucia.
"I'm going to devote myself to golf this autumn."

"You'll make a better hand at it, I'll be bound," said Mr. Stratton
obsequiously.  "They say Mrs. Quantock putts very nicely when she
gets near the hole, but it takes her so many strokes to get there.
She's lost the hole, in a manner of speaking, before she has a
chance of winning it."

Lucia thought hard for a minute.

"I must see about joining at once," she said.  "Who--who are the

"Well, we are going to reconstitute it next October," he said,
"seeing that the ladies and gentlemen of Riseholme are joining.  We
should like to have one of you ladies as President, and one of the
gentlemen on the Committee."

Lucia made no hesitation about this.

"I should be delighted," she said, "if the present Committee did me
the honour to ask me.  And how about Mr. Pillson?  I would sound
him if you like.  But we must say nothing about it, till your
Committee meets."

That was beautifully settled then; Mr. Stratton knew how gratified
the Committee would be, and Lucia, long before Georgie and Daisy
returned, had bought four clubs, and was having a lesson from a
small wiry caddie.

Every morning while Daisy was swanking away on the Green,
teaching Georgie and Piggie and Goosie how to play, Lucia went
surreptitiously down the hill and learned, while after tea she
humbly took her place in Daisy's class and observed Daisy doing
everything all wrong.  She putted away at her clock-golf, she
bought a beautiful book with pictures and studied them, and all
the time she said nothing whatever about it.  In her heart she
utterly despised golf, but golf just now was the stunt, and she
had to get hold of Riseholme again. . . .

Georgie popped in one morning after she had come back from her
lesson, and found her in the act of holing out from the very
longest of the stations.

"My dear, what a beautiful putt!" he said.  "I believe you're
getting quite keen on it."

"Indeed I am," said she.  "It's great fun.  I go down sometimes to
the links and knock the ball about.  Be very kind to me this
afternoon and come round with me."

Georgie readily promised to do so.

"Of course I will," he said, "and I should be delighted to give you
a hint or two, if I can.  I won two holes from Daisy yesterday."

"How clever of you, Georgie!  Any news?"

Georgie said the sound that is spelt "Tut."

"I quite forgot," he said.  "I came round to tell you.  Neither
Mrs. Boucher nor Daisy nor I know WHAT to do."

("That's the Museum Committee," thought Lucia.)

"What is it, Georgie?" she said.  "See if poor Lucia can help."

"Well," said Georgie, "You know Pug?"

"That mangy little thing of Lady Ambermere's?" asked Lucia.

"Yes.  Pug died, I don't know what of--"

"Cream, I should think," said Lucia.  "And cake."

"Well, it may have been.  Anyhow, Lady Ambermere had him stuffed,
and while I was out this morning, she left him in a glass case at
my house, as a present for the Museum.  There he is lying on a blue
cushion, with one ear cocked, and a great watery eye, and the end
of his horrid tongue between his lips."

"No!" said Lucia.

"I assure you.  And we don't know what to do.  We can't put him in
the Museum, can we?  And we're afraid she'll take the mittens away
if we don't.  But, how can we refuse?  She wrote me a note about
'her precious Pug.'"

Lucia remembered how they had refused an Elizabethan spit, though
they had subsequently accepted it.  But she was not going to remind
Georgie of that.  She wanted to get a better footing in the Museum
than an Elizabethan spit had given her.

"What a dreadful thing!" she said.  "And so you came to see if your
poor old Lucia could help you."

"Well, we all wondered if you might be able to think of something,"
said he.

Lucia enjoyed this: the Museum was wanting her. . . .  She fixed
Georgie with her eye.

"Perhaps I can get you out of your hole," she said.  "What I
imagine is, Georgie, that you want ME to take that awful Pug back
to her.  I see what's happened.  She had him stuffed, and then
found he was too dreadful an object to keep, and so thought she'd
be generous to the Museum.  We--I should say 'you', for I've got
nothing to do with it--you don't care about the Museum being made a
dump for all the rubbish that people don't want in their houses.
Do you?"

"No, certainly not," said Georgie.  (Did Lucia mean anything by
that?  Apparently she did.)  She became brisk and voluble.

"Of course, if you asked my opinion," said Lucia, "I should say
that there has been a little too much dumping done already.  But
that is not the point, is it?  And it's not my business either.
Anyhow, you don't want any more rubbish to be dumped.  As for
withdrawing the mittens--only lent, are they?--she won't do
anything of the kind.  She likes taking people over and showing
them.  Yes, Georgie, I'll help you: tell Mrs. Boucher and Daisy
that I'll help you.  I'll drive over this afternoon--no, I won't,
for I'm going to have a lovely game of golf with you--I'll drive
over to-morrow and take Pug back, with the Committee's regrets that
they are not taxidermists.  Or, if you like, I'll do it on my own
authority.  How odd to be afraid of poor old Lady Ambermere!  Never
mind: I'm not.  How all you people bully me into doing just what
you want!  I always was Riseholme's slave.  Put Pug's case in a
nice piece of brown paper, Georgie, for I don't want to see the
horrid little abortion, and don't think anything more about it.
Now let's have a good little putting match till lunch-time."

Georgie was nowhere in the good little putting-match, and he was
even less anywhere when it came to their game in the afternoon.
Lucia made magnificent swipes from the tee, the least of which, if
she happened to hit it, must have gone well over a hundred yards,
whereas Daisy considered eighty yards from the tee a most
respectable shot, and was positively pleased if she went into a
bunker at a greater distance than that, and said the bunker ought
to be put further off for the sake of the longer hitters.  And when
Lucia came near the green, she gave a smart little dig with her
mashie, and, when this remarkable stroke came off, though she
certainly hit the ground, the ball went beautifully, whereas when
Daisy hit the ground the ball didn't go at all.  All the time she
was light-hearted and talkative, and even up to the moment of
striking, would be saying "Now oo naughty ickle ball: Lucia's going
to give you such a spank!" whereas when Daisy was playing, her
opponent and the caddies had all to be dumb and turned to stone,
while she drew a long breath and waved her club with a pendulum-
like movement over the ball.

"But you're marvellous," said Georgie as, three down, he stood on
the fourth tee, and watched Lucia's ball sail away over a sheep
that looked quite small in the distance.  "It's only three weeks or
so since you began to play at all.  You are clever!  I believe
you'd nearly beat Daisy."

"Georgie, I'm afraid you're a flatterer," said Lucia.  "Now give
your ball a good bang, and then there's something I want to talk to
you about."

"Let's see; it's slow back, isn't it?" said Georgie.  "Or is it
quick back?  I believe Daisy says sometimes one and sometimes the

Daisy and Piggie, starting before them, were playing in a parallel
and opposite direction.  Daisy had no luck with her first shot, and
very little with her second.  Lucia just got out of the way of her
third and Daisy hurried by them.

"Such a slice!" she said.  "How are you getting on, Lucia?  How-
many have you played to get there?"

"One at present, dear," said Lucia.  "But isn't it difficult?"

Daisy's face fell.

"One?" she said.

Lucia kissed her hand.

"That's all," she said.  "And has Georgie told you that I'll manage
about Pug for you?"

Daisy looked round severely.  She had begun to address her ball and
nobody must talk.

Lucia watched Daisy do it again, and rejoined Georgie who was in a
'tarsome' place, and tufts of grass flew in the air.

"Georgie, I had a little talk with Mr. Stratton the other day," she
said.  "There's a new golf-committee being elected in October, and
they would so like to have you on it.  Now be good-natured and say
you will."

Georgie had no intention of saying anything else.

"And they want poor little me to be President," said Lucia.  "So
shall I send Mr. Stratton a line and say we will?  It would be
kind, Georgie.  Oh, by the way, do come and dine to-night.  Pepino--
so much better, thanks--Pepino told me to ask you.  He would enjoy
it.  Just one of our dear little evenings again."

Lucia, in fact, was bringing her batteries into action, and Georgie
was the immediate though not the ultimate objective.  He longed to
be on the golf-committee, he was intensely grateful for the
promised removal of Pug, and it was much more amusing to play golf
with Lucia than to be dragooned round by Daisy who told him after
every stroke what he ought to have done and could never do it
herself.  A game should not be a lecture.

Lucia thought it was time to confide in him about the abandoning of
Brompton Square.  Georgie would love knowing what nobody else knew
yet.  She waited till he had failed to hole a short putt, and gave
him the subsequent one, which Daisy never did.

"I hope we shall have many of our little evenings, Georgie," she
said.  "We shall be here till Christmas.  No, no more London for
us, though it's a secret at present."

"What?" said Georgie.

"Wait a moment," said Lucia, teeing up for the last hole.  "Now
ickle ballie, fly away home.  There! . . ." and ickle ballie flew
at about right-angles to home, but ever such a long way.

She walked with him to cover-point, where he had gone too.

"Pepino must never live in London again," she said.  "All going to
be sold, Georgie.  The house and the furniture and the pearls.  You
must put up with your poor old Lucia at Riseholme again.  Nobody
knows yet but you, but now it is all settled.  Am I sorry?  Yes,
Georgie, course I am.  So many dear friends in London.  But then
there are dear friends in Riseholme.  Oh, what a beautiful bang,
Georgie.  You nearly hit Daisy.  Call 'Five!' isn't that what they

Lucia was feeling much surer of her ground.  Georgie, bribed by a
place on the golf-committee and by her admiration of his golf, and
by her nobility with regard to Pug, was trotting back quick to her,
and that was something.  Next morning she had a hectic interview
with Lady Ambermere. . . .

Lady Ambermere was said to be not at home, though Lucia had seen
her majestic face at the window of the pink saloon.  So she asked
for Miss Lyall, the downtrodden companion, and waited in the hall.
Her chauffeur had deposited the large brown-paper parcel with Pug
inside on the much-admired tessellated pavement.

"Oh, Miss Lyall," said Lucia.  "So sad that dear Lady Ambermere is
out, for I wanted to convey the grateful thanks of the Museum
Committee to her for her beautiful gift of poor Pug.  But they feel
they can't . . .  Yes, that's Pug in the brown-paper parcel.  So
sweet.  But will you, on Lady Ambermere's return, make it quite

Miss Lyall, looking like a mouse, considered what her duty was in
this difficult situation.  She felt that Lady Ambermere ought to
know Lucia's mission and deal with it in person.

"I'll see if Lady Ambermere has come in, Mrs. Lucas," she said.
"She may have come in.  Just out in the garden, you know.  Might
like to know what you've brought.  O dear me!"

Poor Miss Lyall scuttled away, and presently the door of the pink
saloon was thrown open.  After an impressive pause Lady Ambermere
appeared, looking vexed.  The purport of this astounding mission
had evidently been conveyed to her.

"Mrs. Lucas, I believe," she said, just as if she wasn't sure.

Now Lucia after all her Duchesses was not going to stand that.
Lady Ambermere might have a Roman nose, but she hadn't any manners.

"Lady Ambermere, I presume," she retorted.  So there they were.

Lady Ambermere glared at her in a way that should have turned her
to stone.  It made no impression.

"You have come, I believe, with a message from the Committee of
your little Museum at Riseholme, which I may have misunderstood."

Lucia knew she was doing what neither Mrs. Boucher nor Daisy in
their most courageous moments would have dared to do.  As for
Georgie . . .

"No, Lady Ambermere," she said.  "I don't think you've
misunderstood it.  A stuffed dog on a cushion.  They felt that the
Museum was not quite the place for it.  I have brought it back to
you with their thanks and regrets.  So kind of you and--and so
sorry of them.  This is the parcel.  That is all, I think."

It wasn't quite all. . . .

"Are you aware, Mrs. Lucas," said Lady Ambermere, "that the mittens
of the late Queen Charlotte are my loan to your little Museum?"

Lucia put her finger to her forehead.

"Mittens?" she said.  "Yes, I believe there are some mittens.  I
think I have seen them.  No doubt those are the ones.  Yes?"

That was brilliant: it implied complete indifference on the part of
the Committee (to which Lucia felt sure she would presently belong)
as to what Lady Ambermere might think fit to do about mittens.

"The Committee shall hear from me," said Lady Ambermere, and walked
majestically back to the pink saloon.

Lucia felt sorry for Miss Lyall: Miss Lyall would probably not have
a very pleasant day, but she had no real apprehensions, so she
explained to the Committee, who were anxiously awaiting her return
on the Green, about the withdrawal of these worsted relics.

"Bluff, just bluff," she said.  "And even if it wasn't--Surely,
dear Daisy, it's better to have no mittens and no Pug than both.
Pug--I caught a peep of him through a hole in the brown paper--Pug
would have made your Museum a laughing-stock."

"Was she very dreadful?" asked Georgie.

Lucia gave a little silvery laugh.

"Yes, dear Georgie, quite dreadful.  You would have collapsed if
she had said to you 'Mr. Pillson, I believe.'  Wouldn't you,
Georgie?  Don't pretend to be braver than you are."

"Well, I think we ought all to be much obliged to you, Mrs. Lucas,"
said Mrs. Boucher.  "And I'm sure we are.  I should never have
stood up to her like that!  And if she takes the mittens away, I
should be much inclined to put another pair in the case, for the
case belongs to us and not to her, with just the label 'These
Mittens did not belong to Queen Charlotte, and were not presented
by Lady Ambermere.'  That would serve her out."

Lucia laughed gaily again.

"So glad to have been of use," she said.  "And now, dear Daisy,
will you be as kind to me as Georgie was yesterday and give me a
little game of golf this afternoon?  Not much fun for you, but so
good for me."

Daisy had observed some of Lucia's powerful strokes yesterday, and
she was rather dreading this invitation for fear it should not be,
as Lucia said, much fun for her.  Luckily, she and Georgie had
already arranged to play to-day, and she had, in anticipation of
the dread event, engaged Piggy, Goosie, Mrs. Antrobus and Colonel
Boucher to play with her on all the remaining days of that week.
She meant to practise like anything in the interval.  And then,
like a raven croaking disaster, the infamous Georgie let her down.

"I'd sooner not play this afternoon," he said.  "I'd sooner just
stroll out with you."

"Sure, Georgie?" said Lucia.  "That will be nice then.  Oh, how
nervous I shall be."

Daisy made one final effort to avert her downfall, by offering, as
they went out that afternoon, to give Lucia a stroke a hole.  Lucia
said she knew she could do it, but might they, just for fun, play
level?  And as the round proceeded, Lucia's kindness was almost
intolerable.  She could see, she said, that Daisy was completely
off her game, when Daisy wasn't in the least off her game: she
said, 'Oh, that was bad luck!' when Daisy missed short putts: she
begged her to pick her ball out of bushes and not count it. . . .
At half past four Riseholme knew that Daisy had halved four holes
and lost the other five.  Her short reign as Queen of Golf had come
to an end.

The Museum Committee met after tea at Mrs. Boucher's (Daisy did not
hold her golfing-class in the garden that day) and tact, Georgie
felt, seemed to indicate that Lucia's name should not be suggested
as a new member of the Committee so swiftly on the heels of Daisy's
disaster.  Mrs. Boucher, privately consulted, concurred, though
with some rather stinging remarks as to Daisy's having deceived
them all about her golf, and the business of the meeting was
chiefly concerned with the proposed closing down of the Museum for
the winter.  The tourist season was over, no char-a-bancs came any
more with visitors, and for three days not a soul had passed the

"So where's the use," asked Mrs. Boucher, "of paying a boy to let
people into the Museum when nobody wants to be let in?  I call it
throwing money away.  Far better close it till the spring, and have
no more expense, except to pay him a shilling a week to open the
windows and air it, say on Tuesday and Friday, or Wednesday and

"I should suggest Monday and Thursday," said Daisy, very
decisively.  If she couldn't have it all her own way on the links,
she could make herself felt on committees.

"Very well, Monday and Thursday," said Mrs. Boucher.  "And then
there's another thing.  It's getting so damp in there, that if you
wanted a cold bath, you might undress and stand there.  The water's
pouring off the walls.  A couple of oil-stoves, I suggest, every
day except when it's being aired.  The boy will attend to them, and
make it half a crown instead of a shilling.  I'm going to Blitton
to-morrow, and if that's your wish I'll order them.  No: I'll bring
them back with me, and I'll have them lit to-morrow morning.  But
unless you want to have nothing to show next spring but mildew,
don't let us delay about it.  A crop of mildew won't be sufficient
attraction to visitors, and there'll be nothing else."

Georgie rapped the table.

"And I vote we take the manuscript of 'Lucrezia' out, and that one
of us keeps it till we open again," he said.

"I should be happy to keep it," said Daisy.

Georgie wanted it himself, but it was better not to thwart Daisy to-
day.  Besides, he was in a hurry, as Lucia had asked him to bring
round his planchette and see if Abfou would not like a little
attention.  Nobody had talked to Abfou for weeks.

"Very well," he said, "and if that's all--"

"I'm not sure I shouldn't feel happier if it was at the bank," said
Mrs. Boucher.  "Supposing it was stolen."

Georgie magnanimously took Daisy's side: he knew how Daisy was
feeling.  Mrs. Boucher was outvoted, and he got up.

"If that's all then, I'll be off," he said.

Daisy had a sort of conviction that he was going to do something
with Lucia, perhaps have a lesson at golf.

"Come in presently?" she said.

"I can't, I'm afraid," he said.  "I'm busy till dinner."

And of course, on her way home, she saw him hurrying across to The
Hurst with his planchette.


Lucia made no allusion whatever to her athletic triumph in the
afternoon when Georgie appeared.  That was not her way: she just
triumphed, and left other people to talk about it.  But her
principles did not prevent her speaking about golf in the abstract.

"We must get more businesslike when you and I are on the Committee,
Georgie," she said.  "We must have competitions and handicaps, and
I will give a small silver cup, the President's cup, to be competed
for.  There's no organisation at present, you see: great fun, but
no organisation.  We shall have to put our heads together over
that.  And foursomes: I have been reading about foursomes, when two
people on one side hit the ball in turn.  Pepino, I'm sure, would
give a little cup for foursomes, the Lucas cup. . . .  And you've
brought the planchette?  You must teach me how to use it.  What a
good employment for winter evenings, Georgie.  And we must have
some bridge tournaments.  Wet afternoons, you know, and then tea,
and then some more bridge.  But we will talk about all that
presently, only I warn you I shall expect you to get up all sorts
of diversions for Pepino."

Lucia gave a little sigh.

"Pepino adored London," she said, "and we must cheer him up,
Georgie, and not let him feel dull.  You must think of lots of
little diversions: little pleasant bustling things for these long
evenings: music, and bridge, and some planchette.  Then I shall get
up some Shakespeare readings, selections from plays, with a small
part for Pepino and another for poor Daisy.  I foresee already that
I shall have a very busy autumn.  But you must all be very kind and
come here for our little entertainments.  Madness for Pepino to go
out after sunset.  Now let us get to our planchette.  How I do
chatter, Georgie!"

Georgie explained the technique of planchette, how important it was
not to push, but on the other hand not to resist its independent
motions.  As he spoke Lucia glanced over the directions for
planchette which he had brought with him.

"We may not get anything," he said.  "Abfou was very disappointing
sometimes.  We can go on talking: indeed, it is better not to
attend to what it does."

"I see," said Lucia, "let us go on talking then.  How late you are,
Georgie.  I expected you half an hour ago.  Oh, you said you might
be detained by a Museum Committee meeting."

"Yes, we settled to shut the Museum up for the winter," he said.
"Just an oil-stove or two to keep it dry.  I wanted--and so did
Mrs. Boucher, I know--to ask you--"

He stopped, for Planchette had already begun to throb in a very
extraordinary manner.

"I believe something is going to happen," he said.

"No!  How interesting!" said Lucia.  "What do we do?"

"Nothing," said Georgie.  "Just let it do what it likes.  Let's
concentrate: that means thinking of nothing at all."

Georgie of course had noticed and inwardly applauded the lofty
reticence which Lucia had shown about Daisy's disaster this
afternoon.  But he had the strongest suspicion of her wish to
weedj, and he fully expected that if Abfou 'came through' and
talked anything but Arabic, he would express his scorn of Daisy's
golf.  There would be scathing remarks, corresponding to 'snob' and
those rude things about Lucia's shingling of her hair, and then he
would feel that Lucia had pushed.  She might say she hadn't, just
as Daisy said she hadn't, but it would be very unconvincing if
Abfou talked about golf.  He hoped it wouldn't happen, for the very
appositeness of Abfou's remarks before had strangely shaken his
faith in Abfou.  He had been willing to believe that it was Daisy's
subconscious self that had inspired Abfou--or at any rate he tried
to believe it--but it had been impossible to dissociate the
complete Daisy from these violent criticisms.

Planchette began to move.

"Probably it's Arabic," said Georgie.  "You never quite know.
Empty your mind of everything, Lucia."

She did not answer, and he looked up at her.  She had that far-away
expression which he associated with renderings of the Moonlight
Sonata.  Then her eyes closed.

Planchette was moving quietly and steadily along.  When it came
near the edge of the paper, it ran back and began again, and
Georgie felt quite sure he wasn't pushing: he only wanted it not to
waste its energy on the tablecloth.  Once he felt almost certain
that it traced out the word 'drive,' but one couldn't be sure.  And
was that 'committee'?  His heart rather sank: it would be such a
pity if Abfou was only talking about the golf-club which no doubt
was filling Lucia's subconscious as well as conscious mind. . . .
Then suddenly he got rather alarmed, for Lucia's head was sunk
forward, and she breathed with strange rapidity.

"Lucia!" he said sharply.

Lucia lifted her head, and Planchette stopped.

"Dear me, I felt quite dreamy," she said.  "Let us go on talking,
Georgie.  Lady Ambermere this morning: I wish you could have seen

"Planchette has been writing," said Georgie.

"No!" said Lucia.  "Has it?  May we look?"

Georgie lifted the machine.  There was no Arabic at all, nor was it
Abfou's writing, which in quaint little ways resembled Daisy's when
he wrote quickly.

"Vittoria," he read.  "I am Vittoria."

"Georgie, how silly," said Lucia, "or is it the Queen?"

"Let's see what she says," said Georgie.  "I am Vittoria.  I come
to Riseholme.  For proof, there is a dog and a Vecchia--"

"That's Italian," said Lucia excitedly.  "You see, Vittoria is
Italian.  Vecchia means--let me see; yes, of course, it means 'old
woman'.  'A dog, and an old woman who is angry.'  O Georgie, you
did that!  You were thinking about Pug and Lady Ambermere."

"I swear I wasn't," said Georgie.  "It never entered my head.
Let's see what else.  'And Vittoria comes to tell you of fire and
water, of fire and water.  The strong elements that burn and soak.
Fire and water and moonlight.'"

"O Georgie, what gibberish," said Lucia.  "It's as silly as Abfou.
What does it mean?  Moonlight!  I suppose you would say I pushed
and was thinking of the Moonlight Sonata."

That base thought had occurred to Georgie's mind, but where did
fire and water come in?  Suddenly a stupendous interpretation
struck him.

"It's most extraordinary!" he said.  "We had a Museum Committee
meeting just now, and Mrs. Boucher said the place was streaming
wet.  We settled to get some oil-stoves to keep it dry.  There's
fire and water for you!"  Georgie had mentioned this fact about the
Museum Committee, but so casually that he had quite forgotten he
had done so.  Lucia did not remind him of it.

"Well, I do call that remarkable!" she said.  "But I daresay it's
only a coincidence."

"I don't think so at all," said Georgie.  "I think it's most
curious, for I wasn't thinking about that a bit.  What else does it
say?  'Vittoria bids you keep love and loyalty alive in your
hearts.  Vittoria has suffered, and bids you be kind to the

"That's curious!" said Lucia.  "That might apply to Pepino,
mightn't it? . . .  O Georgie, why, of course, that was in both of
our minds: we had just been talking about it.  I don't say you
pushed intentionally, and you mustn't say I did, but that might
easily have come from us."

"I think it's very strange," said Georgie.  "And then, what came
over you, Lucia?  You looked only half-conscious.  I believe it was
what the planchette directions call light hypnosis."

"No!" said Lucia.  "Light hypnosis, that means half-asleep, doesn't
it?  I did feel drowsy."

"It's a condition of trance," said Georgie.  "Let's try again."

Lucia seemed reluctant.

"I think I won't, Georgie," she said.  "It is so strange.  I'm not
sure that I like it."

"It can't hurt you if you approach it in the right spirit," said
Georgie, quoting from the directions.

"Not again this evening, Georgie," said she.  "Tomorrow perhaps.
It is interesting, it is curious, and somehow I don't think
Vittoria would hurt us.  She seems kind.  There's something noble,
indeed, about her message."

"Much nobler than Abfou," said Georgie, "and much more powerful.
Why, she came through at once, without pages of scribbles first!
I never felt quite certain that Abfou's scribbles were Arabic."

Lucia gave a little indulgent smile.

"There didn't seem much evidence for it from what you told me," she
said.  "All you could be certain of was that they weren't English."

Georgie left his planchette with Lucia, in case she would consent
to sit again to-morrow, and hurried back, it is unnecessary to
state, not to his own house, but to Daisy's.  Vittoria was worth
two of Abfou, he thought . . . that communication about fire and
water, that kindness to the suffering, and, hardly less, the
keeping of loyalty alive.  That made him feel rather guilty, for
certainly loyalty to Lucia had flickered somewhat in consequence of
her behaviour during the summer.

He gave a short account of these remarkable proceedings (omitting
the loyalty) to Daisy, who took a superior and scornful attitude.

"Vittoria, indeed!" she said, "and Vecchia.  Isn't that Lucia all
over, lugging in easy Italian like that?  And Pug and the angry old
lady.  Glorifying herself, I call it.  Why, that wasn't even
subconscious: her mind was full of it."

"But how about the fire and water?" asked Georgie.  "It does apply
to the damp in the Museum and the oil-stoves."

Daisy knew that her position as priestess of Abfou was tottering.
It was true that she had not celebrated the mysteries of late, for
Riseholme (and she) had got rather tired of Abfou, but it was gall
and wormwood to think that Lucia should steal (steal was the word)
her invention and bring it out under the patronage of Vittoria as
something quite new.

"A pure fluke," said Daisy.  "If she'd written mutton and music,
you would have found some interpretation for it.  Such far-fetched

Georgie was getting rather heated.  He remembered how when Abfou
had written 'death' it was held to apply to the mulberry-tree which
Daisy believed she had killed by amateur root-pruning, so if it
came to talking about far-fetched nonsense, he could have something
to say.  Besides, the mulberry-tree hadn't died at all, so that if
Abfou meant that he was wrong.  But there was no good in indulging
in recriminations with Daisy, not only for the sake of peace and
quietness, but because Georgie could guess very well all she was

"But she didn't write about mutton and music," he observed, "so we
needn't discuss that.  Then there was moonlight.  I don't know what
that means."

"I should call it moonshine," said Daisy brightly.

"Well, it wrote moonlight," said Georgie.  "Of course there's the
Moonlight Sonata which might have been in Lucia's mind, but it's
all curious.  And I believe Lucia was in a condition of light

"Light fiddlesticks!" said Daisy. . . .  (Why hadn't she thought of
going into a condition of light hypnosis when she was Abfouing?  So
much more impressive!)  "We can all shut our eyes and droop our

"Well, I think it was light hypnosis," said Georgie firmly.  "It
was very curious to see.  I hope she'll consent to sit again.  She
didn't much want to."

Daisy profoundly hoped that Lucia would not consent to sit again,
for she felt Abfouism slipping out of her fingers.  In any case,
she would instantly resuscitate Abfou, for Vittoria shouldn't have
it all her own way.  She got up.

"Georgie, why shouldn't we see if Abfou has anything to say about
it?" she asked.  "After all, Abfou told us to make a museum, and
that hasn't turned out so badly.  Abfou was practical; what he
suggested led to something."

Though the notion that Daisy had thought of the museum and pushed
flitted through George's mind, there was something in what she
said, for certainly Abfou had written museum (if it wasn't 'mouse')
and there was the Museum which had turned out so profitably for the

"We might try," he said.

Daisy instantly got out her planchette, which sadly wanted dusting,
and it began to move almost as soon as they laid their hands on it:
Abfou was in a rather inartistic hurry.  And it really wasn't very
wise of Daisy to close her eyes and snort: it was indeed light
fiddlesticks to do that.  It was a sheer unconvincing plagiarism
from Lucia, and his distrust of Daisy and of Abfou immeasurably
deepened.  Furiously the pencil scribbled, going off the paper
occasionally and writing on the table till Georgie could insert the
paper under it: it was evident that Abfou was very indignant about
something, and there was no need to inquire what that was.  For
some time the writing seemed to feel to Georgie like Arabic, but
presently the pencil slowed down, and he thought some English was
coming through.  Finally Abfou gave a great scrawl, as he usually
did when the message was complete, and Daisy looked dreamily up.

"Anything?" she said.

"It's been writing hard," said Georgie.

They examined the script.  It began, as he had expected, with
quantities of Arabic, and then (as he had expected) dropped into
English, which was quite legible.

"Beware of charlatans," wrote Abfou, "beware of Southern
charlatans.  All spirits are not true and faithful like Abfou, who
instituted your Museum.  False guides deceive.  A warning from

"Well, if that isn't convincing, I don't know what is," said Daisy.

Georgie thought it convincing too.

The din of battle began to rise.  It was known that very evening,
for Colonel and Mrs. Boucher dined with Georgie, that he and Lucia
(for Georgie did not give all the credit to Lucia) had received
that remarkable message from Vittoria about fire and water and the
dog and the angry old woman, and it was agreed that Abfou cut a
very poor figure, and had a jealous temper.  Why hadn't Abfou done
something better than merely warn them against Southern Charlatans?

"If it comes to that," said Mrs. Boucher, "Egypt is in the south,
and charlatans can come from Egypt as much as from Italy.  Fire and
water!  Very remarkable.  There's the water there now, plenty of
it, and the fire will be there to-morrow.  I must get out my
planchette again, for I put it away.  I got sick of writing nothing
but Arabic, even if it was Arabic.  I call it very strange.  And
not a word about golf from Vittoria.  I consider that's most
important.  If Lucia had been pushing, she'd have written about her
golf with Daisy.  Abfou and Vittoria!  I wonder which will win."

That summed it up pretty well, for it was felt that Abfou and
Vittoria could not both direct the affairs of Riseholme from the
other world, unless they acted jointly; and Abfou's remarks about
the Southern charlatan and false spirits put the idea of a
coalition out of the question.  All the time, firm in the
consciousness of Riseholme, but never under any circumstances
spoken of, was the feeling that Abfou and Vittoria (as well as
standing for themselves) were pseudonyms: they stood also for Daisy
and Lucia.  And how much finer and bigger, how much more gifted of
the two in every way was Vittoria-Lucia.  Lucia quickly got over
her disinclination to weedj, and messages, not very definite, but
of high moral significance came from this exalted spirit.  There
was never a word about golf, and there was never a word about
Abfou, nor any ravings concerning inferior and untrustworthy
spirits.  Vittoria was clearly above all that (indeed, she was
probably in some sphere miles away above Abfou), whereas Abfou's
pages (Daisy sat with her planchette morning after morning and
obtained sheets of the most voluble English) were blistered with
denunciations of low and earth-born intelligences and dark with
awful warnings for those who trusted them.

Riseholme, in fact, had never been at a higher pitch of excited
activity; even the arrival of the Evening Gazette during those
weeks when Hermione had recorded so much about Mrs. Philip Lucas
hadn't roused such emotions as the reception of a new message from
Abfou or Vittoria.  And it was Lucia again who was the cause of it
all: no-one for months had cared what Abfou said, till Lucia became
the recipient of Vittoria's messages.  She had invested planchette
with the interest that attached to all she did.  On the other hand
it was felt that Abfou (though certainly he lowered himself by
these pointed recriminations) had done something.  Abfou-Daisy had
invented the Museum, whereas Vittoria-Lucia, apart from giving
utterance to high moral sentiments, had invented nothing (high
moral sentiments couldn't count as an invention).  To be sure there
was the remarkable piece about Pug and angry Lady Ambermere, but
the facts of that were already known to Lucia, and as for the
communication about fire, water and moonlight, though there were
new oil-stoves in the damp Museum, that was not as remarkable as
inventing the Museum, and moonlight unless it meant the Sonata was
quite unexplained.  Over this cavilling objection, rather timidly
put forward by Georgie, who longed for some striking vindication of
Vittoria, Lucia was superb.

"Yes, Georgie, I can't tell you what it means," she said.  "I am
only the humble scribe.  It is quite mysterious to me.  For myself,
I am content to be Vittoria's medium.  I feel it a high honour.
Perhaps some day it will be explained, and we shall see."

They saw.

Meanwhile, since no-one can live entirely on messages from the
unseen, other interests were not neglected.  There were bridge
parties at The Hurst, there was much music, there was a reading of
Hamlet at which Lucia doubled several of the principal parts and
Daisy declined to be the Ghost.  The new Committee of the golf-club
was formed, and at the first meeting Lucia announced her gift of
the President's Cup, and Pepino's of the Lucas Cup for foursomes.
Notice of these was duly put up in the Club-house, and Daisy's face
was of such a grimness when she read them that something very
savage from Abfou might be confidently expected.  She went out for
a round soon after with Colonel Boucher, who wore a scared and
worried look when he returned.  Daisy had got into a bunker, and
had simply hewed her ball to pieces. . . .  Pepino's convalescence
proceeded well; Lucia laid down the law a good deal at auction
bridge, and the oil stoves at the Museum were satisfactory.  They
were certainly making headway against the large patches of damp on
the walls, and Daisy, one evening, recollecting that she had not
made a personal inspection of them, went in just before dinner to
look at them.  The boy in charge of them had put them out, for they
only burned during the day, and certainly they were doing their
work well.  Daisy felt she would not be able to bring forward any
objection to them at the next Committee meeting, as she had rather
hoped to do.  In order to hurry on the drying process, she filled
them both up and lit them so that they should burn all night.  She
spilt a little paraffin, but that would soon evaporate.  Georgie
was tripping back across the green from a visit to Mrs. Boucher,
and they walked homeward together.

Georgie had dined at home that night, and working at a cross-word
puzzle was amazed to see how late it was.  He had pored long over a
map of South America, trying to find a river of seven letters with
P T in the middle, but he determined to do no more at it to-night.

"The tarsome thing," he said, "if I could get that, I'm sure it
would give me thirty-one across."

He strolled to the window and pushed aside the blind.  It was a
moonlight night with a high wind and a few scudding clouds.  Just
as he was about to let the blind drop again he saw a reddish light
in the sky, immediately above his tall yew-hedge, and wondered what
it was.  His curiosity combined with the fact that a breath of air
was always pleasant before going to bed, led him to open the front-
door and look out.  He gave a wild gasp of dismay and horror.

The windows of the Museum were vividly illuminated by a red glow.
Smoke poured out of one which apparently was broken, and across the
smoke shot tongues of flame.  He bounded to his telephone, and with
great presence of mind rang up the fire-station at Blitton.
"Riseholme," he called.  "House on fire: send engine at once."  He
ran into his garden again, and seeing a light still in the drawing-
room next door (Daisy was getting some sulphurous expressions from
Abfou) tapped at the pane.  "The Museum's burning," he cried, and
set off across the Green to the scene of the fire.

By this time others had seen it too, and were coming out of their
houses, looking like little black ants on a red table-cloth.  The
fire had evidently caught strong hold, and now a piece of the roof
fell in, and the flames roared upwards.  In the building itself
there was no apparatus for extinguishing fire, nor, if there had
been, could any one have reached it.  A hose was fetched from the
Ambermere Arms, but that was not long enough, and there was nothing
to be done except wait for the arrival of the fire-engine from
Blitton.  Luckily the Museum stood well apart from other houses,
and there seemed little danger of the fire spreading.

Soon the bell of the approaching engine was heard, but already it
was clear that nothing could be saved.  The rest of the roof
crashed in, a wall tottered and fell.  The longer hose was
adjusted, and the stream of water directed through the windows, now
here, now there, where the fire was fiercest, and clouds of steam
mingled with the smoke.  But all efforts to save anything were
absolutely vain: all that could be done, as the fire burned itself
out, was to quench the glowing embers of the conflagration. . . .
As he watched, three words suddenly repeated themselves in
Georgie's mind.  "Fire, water, moonlight," he said a loud in an
awed tone. . . .  Victorious Vittoria!

The committee, of course, met next morning, and Robert as financial
adviser was specially asked to attend.  Georgie arrived at Mrs.
Boucher's house where the meeting was held before Daisy and Robert
got there, and Mrs. Boucher could hardly greet him, so excited was

"I call it most remarkable," she said.  "Dog and angry old woman
never convinced me, but this is beyond anything.  Fire, water,
moonlight!  It's prophecy, nothing less than prophecy.  I shall
believe anything Vittoria says, for the future.  As for Abfou--

She tactfully broke off at Daisy's and Robert's entrance.

"Good morning," she said.  "And good morning, Mr. Robert.  This is
a disaster, indeed.  All Mr. Georgie's sketches, and the walking-
sticks, and the mittens and the spit.  Nothing left at all."

Robert seemed amazingly cheerful.

"I don't see it as such a disaster," he said.  "Lucky I had those
insurances executed.  We get two thousand pounds from the Company,
of which five hundred goes to Colonel Boucher for his barn--I mean
the Museum."

"Well, that's something," said Mrs. Boucher.  "And the rest?  I
never could understand about insurances.  They've always been a
sealed book to me."

"Well, the rest belongs to those who put the money up to equip the
Museum," he said.  "In proportion, of course, to the sums they
advanced.  Altogether four hundred and fifty pounds was put up, you
and Daisy and Georgie each put in fifty.  The rest, well, I
advanced the rest."

There were some rapid and silent calculations made.  It seemed
rather hard that Robert should get such a lot.  Business always
seemed to favour the rich.  But Robert didn't seem the least
ashamed of that.  He treated it as a perfect matter of course.

"The--the treasures in the Museum almost all belonged to the
Committee," he went on.  They were given to the Museum, which was
the property of the Committee.  Quite simple.  If it had been a
loan collection now--well, we shouldn't be finding quite such a
bright lining to our cloud.  I'll manage the insurance business for
you, and pay you pleasant little cheques all round.  The Company,
no doubt, will ask a few questions as to the origin of the fire."

"Ah, there's a mystery for you," said Mrs. Boucher.  "The oil-
stoves were always put out in the evening, after burning all day,
and how a fire broke out in the middle of the night beats me."

Daisy's mouth twitched.  Then she pulled herself together.

"Most mysterious," she said, and looked carelessly out of the
window to where the debris of the Museum was still steaming.
Simultaneously, Georgie gave a little start, and instantly changed
the subject, rapping on the table.

"There's one thing we've forgotten," said he.  "It wasn't entirely
our property.  Queen Charlotte's mittens were only on loan."

The faces of the Committee fell slightly.

"A shilling or two," said Mrs. Boucher hopefully.  "I'm only glad
we didn't have Pug as well.  Lucia got us out of that!"

Instantly the words of Vittoria about the dog and the angry old
woman, and fire and water and moonlight occurred to everybody.
Most of all they occurred to Daisy, and there was a slight pause,
which might have become awkward if it had continued.  It was broken
by the entry of Mrs. Boucher's parlour-maid, who carried a letter
in a large square envelope with a deep mourning border, and a huge
coronet on the flap.

"Addressed to the Museum Committee, ma'am," she said.

Mrs. Boucher opened it, and her face flushed.

"Well, she's lost no time," she said.  "Lady Ambermere.  I think I
had better read it."

"Please," said everybody in rather strained voices.

Mrs. Boucher read:


Your little Museum, I hear, has been totally destroyed with all its
contents by fire.  I have to remind you therefore that the mittens
of her late Majesty Queen Charlotte were there on loan, as lent by
me.  No equivalent in money can really make up for the loss of so
irreplaceable a relic, but I should be glad to know, as soon as
possible, what compensation you propose to offer me.

The figure that has been suggested to me is 50, and an early
cheque would oblige.

                                          Faithfully yours,

                                               CORNELIA AMBERMERE.

A dead silence succeeded, broken by Mrs. Boucher as soon as her
indignation allowed her to speak.

"I would sooner," she said, "go to law about it, and appeal if it
went against us, and carry it up to the House of Lords, than pay
50 for those rubbishy things.  Why, the whole contents of the
Museum weren't worth more than--well, leave it at that."

The figure at which the contents of the Museum had been insured
floated into everybody's mind, and it was more dignified to "leave
it at that," and not let the imagination play over the probable end
of Mrs. Boucher's sentence.

The meeting entirely concurred, but nobody, not even Robert, knew
what to do next.

"I propose offering her 10," said Georgie at last, "and I call
that handsome."

"Five," said Daisy, like an auction reversed.

Robert rubbed the top of his head, as was his custom in perplexity.

"Difficult to know what to do," he said.  "I don't know of any
standard of valuation for the old clothes of deceased queens."

"Two," said Mrs. Boucher, continuing the auction, "and that's a
fancy price.  What would Pug have been, I wonder, if we're asked
fifty pounds for two old mittens.  A pound each, I say, and that's
a monstrous price.  And if you want to know who suggested to Lady
Ambermere to ask fifty, I can tell you, and her name was Cornelia

This proposal of Lady Ambermere's rather damped the secret
exaltation of the Committee, though it stirred a pleasant feeling
of rage.  Fifty pounds was a paltry sum compared to what they would
receive from the Insurance Company, but the sense of the attempt to
impose on them caused laudable resentment.  They broke up, to
consider separately what was to be done, and to poke about the
ashes of the Museum, all feeling very rich.  The rest of Riseholme
were there, of course, also poking about, Piggie and Goosie
skipping over smouldering heaps of ash, and Mrs. Antrobus, and the
Vicar and the Curate, and Mr. Stratton.  Only Lucia was absent, and
Georgie, after satisfying himself that nothing whatever remained of
his sketches, popped in to The Hurst.

Lucia was in the music room reading the paper.  She had heard, of
course, about the total destruction of the Museum, that ridiculous
invention of Daisy and Abfou, but not a shadow of exultation
betrayed itself.

"My dear, too sad about the Museum," she said.  "All your beautiful
things.  Poor Daisy, too, her idea."

Georgie explained about the silver lining to the cloud.

"But what's so marvellous," he said, "is Vittoria.  Fire, water,
moonlight.  I never heard of anything so extraordinary, and I
thought it only meant the damp on the walls, and the new oil-
stoves.  It was prophetical, Lucia, and Mrs. Boucher thinks so

Lucia still showed no elation.  Oddly enough, she had thought it
meant damp and oil-stoves, too, for she did remember what Georgie
had forgotten that he had told her just before the epiphany of
Vittoria.  But now this stupendous fulfilment of Vittoria's
communication of which she had never dreamed, had happened.  As for
Abfou, it was a mere waste of time to give another thought to poor
dear malicious Abfou.  She sighed.

"Yes, Georgie, it was strange," she said.  "That was our first
sitting, wasn't it?  When I got so drowsy and felt so queer.  Very
strange indeed: convincing, I think.  But whether I shall go on
sitting now, I hardly know."

"Oh, but you must," said Georgie.  "After all the rubbish--"

Lucia held up a finger.

"Now, Georgie, don't be unkind," she said.  "Let us say, 'Poor
Daisy,' and leave it there.  That's all.  Any other news?"

Georgie retailed the monstrous demand of Lady Ambermere.

"And, as Robert says, it's so hard to know what to offer her," he

Lucia gave the gayest of laughs.

"Georgie, what would poor Riseholme do without me?" she said.  "I
seem to be made to pull you all out of difficulties.  That
mismanaged golf-club, Pug, and now there's this.  Well, shall I be
kind and help you once more?"

She turned over the leaves of her paper.

"Ah, that's it," she said.  "Listen, Georgie.  Sale at Pemberton's
auction-rooms in Knightsbridge yesterday.  Various items.
Autograph of Crippen the murderer.  Dear me, what horrid minds
people have!  Mother-of-pearl brooch belonging to the wife of the
poet Mr. Robert Montgomery; a pair of razors belonging to Carlyle,
all odds and ends of trumpery, you see. . . .  Ah yes, here it is.
Pair of riding gaiters, in good condition, belonging to His Majesty
King George the Fourth.  That seems a sort of guide, doesn't it, to
the value of Queen Charlotte's mittens.  And what do you think they
fetched?  A terrific sum, Georgie; fifty pounds is nowhere near it.
They fetched ten shillings and sixpence."

"No!" said Georgie.  "And Lady Ambermere asked fifty pounds!"

Lucia laughed again.

"Well, Georgie, I suppose I must be good-natured," she said.  "I'll
draft a little letter for your committee to Lady Ambermere.  How
you all bully me and work me to death!  Why, only yesterday I said
to Pepino that those months we spent in London seemed a holiday
compared to what I have to do here.  Dear old Riseholme!  I'm sure
I'm very glad to help it out of its little holes."

Georgie gave a gasp of admiration.  It was but a month or two ago
that all Riseholme rejoiced when Abfou called her a snob, and now
here they all were again (with the exception of Daisy) going to her
for help and guidance in all those employments and excitements in
which Riseholme revelled.  Golf-competitions and bridge tournament,
and duets, and real sances, and deliverance from Lady Ambermere,
and above all, the excitement supplied by her personality.

"You're too wonderful," he said, "indeed, I don't know what we
should do without you."

Lucia got up.

"Well, I'll scribble a little letter for you," she said, "bringing
in the price of George the Fourth's gaiters in good condition.
What shall we--I mean what shall you offer?  I think you must be
generous, Georgie, and not calculate the exact difference between
the value of a pair of gaiters in good condition belonging to a
king, and that of a pair of moth-eaten mittens belonging to a queen
consort.  Offer her the same; in fact, I think I should enclose a
treasury note for ten shillings and six stamps.  That will be more
than generous, it will be munificent."

Lucia sat down at her writing-table, and after a few minutes'
thought, scribbled a couple of sides of note-paper in that neat
handwriting that bore no resemblance to Vittoria's.  She read them
through, and approved.

"I think that will settle it," she said.  "If there is any further
bother with the Vecchia, let me know.  There's one more thing,
Georgie, and then let us have a little music.  How do you think the
fire broke out?"

Georgie felt her penetrating eye was on him.  She had not asked
that question quite idly.  He tried to answer it quite idly.

"It's most mysterious," he said.  "The oil stoves are always put
out quite early in the evening, and lit again next morning.  The
boy says he put them out as usual."

Lucia's eye was still on him.

"Georgie, how do you think the fire broke out?" she repeated.

This time Georgie felt thoroughly uncomfortable.  Had Lucia the
power of divination? . . .

"I don't know," he said.  "Have you any idea about it?"

"Yes," said Lucia.  "And so have you.  I'll tell you my idea if you
like.  I saw our poor misguided Daisy coming out of the Museum
close on seven o'clock last night."

"So did I," said Georgie in a whisper.

"Well, the oil-stoves must have been put out long before that,"
said Lucia.  "Mustn't they?"

"Yes," said Georgie.

"Then how was it that there was a light coming out of the Museum
windows?  Not much of a light, but a little light, I saw it.  What
do you make of that?"

"I don't know," said Georgie.

Lucia held up a censuring finger.

"Georgie, you must be very dull this morning," she said.  "What I
make of it is that our poor Daisy lit the oil-stoves again.  And
then probably in her fumbling way, she spilt some oil.  Something
of the sort, anyhow.  In fact, I'm afraid Daisy burned down the

There was a terrible pause.

"What are we to do?" said Georgie.

Lucia laughed.

"Do?" she said.  "Nothing, except never know anything about it.  We
know quite well that poor Daisy didn't do it on purpose.  She
hasn't got the pluck or the invention to be an incendiary.  It was
only her muddling, meddling ways."

"But the insurance money?" said Georgie.

"What about it?  The fire was an accident, whether Daisy confessed
what she had done or not.  Poor Daisy!  We must be nice to Daisy,
Georgie.  Her golf, her Abfou!  Such disappointments.  I think I
will ask her to be my partner in the foursome for the Lucas Cup.
And perhaps if there was another place on the golf-committee, we
might propose her for it."

Lucia sighed, smiling wistfully.

"A pity she is not a little wiser," she said.

Lucia sat looking wistful for a moment.  Then to Georgie's immense
surprise she burst out into peals of laughter.

"My dear, what is the matter?" said Georgie.

Lucia was helpless for a little, but she gasped and recovered and
wiped her eyes.

"Georgie, you ARE dull this morning!" she said.  "Don't you see?
Poor Daisy's meddling has made the reputation of Vittoria and
crumpled up Abfou.  Fire, water, moonlight: Vittoria's prophecy.
Vittoria owes it all to poor dear Daisy!"

Georgie's laughter set Lucia off again, and Pepino coming in found
both at it.

"Good morning, Georgie," he said.  "Terrible about the Museum.  A
sad loss.  What are you laughing at?"

"Nothing, caro," said Lucia.  "Just a little joke of Daisy's.  Not
worth repeating, but it amused Georgie and me.  Come, Georgie, half
an hour's good practice of celestial Mozartino.  We have been lazy

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