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Title:      Time and Time Again (1953)
Author:     James Hilton
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Language:   English
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Title:      Time and Time Again (1953)
Author:     James Hilton






CONTENTS

Paris I

'Nothing to Complain Of'

Paris II

'Run of the Mill'

Paris III

'Till it was All Over'

Paris IV



PARIS    I


Towards midnight Charles Anderson finished some notes on a talk he
had had with a newspaper editor at lunch--nothing very important,
but he thought he ought to keep Bingay decently informed.  The hour
and the completion of the task seemed to call for a drink, so he
went to the bathroom for some water and then to his suitcase for
the silver flask that he always carried on these junkets and tried
to keep replenished.  He was not much of a whisky drinker (so he
would say of himself when he ordered wine), but he liked a nightcap
either in bed before turning out the light or during that last half-
hour of dressing-gowned pottering when he would tidy up the affairs
of the day both in his mind and on his desk.  He was tidy by nature
and years of experience had made him save, whenever possible, some
small but relaxing job for a final one, even if it were only an
entry in his diary or a jotting for the book he was one day going
to write.

Tonight, however, there was no doubt as to what the job should be.
He had been thinking of it, off and on and with increasing
satisfaction, all day; it had been a sort of protective armour at
moments when he had needed it.  And now, with the drink at his
elbow and the sounds of the city pleasantly audible from beyond the
closed and curtained windows, he took a sheet of hotel notepaper
and wrote:


My dear Gerald,

As you may have seen from the very small print in the English
papers, if you bother with them at all while you're on holiday, I'm
with Sir Malcolm Bingay at the Conference here--a rather exacting
job, one way and another, and I'll feel relieved when it's over,
especially if we get any kind of agreement out of all the talk.
Meanwhile there's a more cheerful event next Thursday which I
expect is on your mind as well as mine.  Do you remember (no, I
daresay you were too young) that time at Parson's Corner when I
visited you there and the fun we all had making plans for your
seventeenth birthday?  Anyhow, I'm enclosing a small gift in case
you're still in Switzerland on the great day.  I believe, though,
you talked of returning to England about then, so it occurs to me,
why don't you break the journey in Paris?  We might see a few
sights and have a civilised dinner for once, so let me know the
date and time of your train if you can possibly manage it.

                               Your affectionate father,

                                                     Charles.


That done, and the envelope addressed care of Thomas Cook's,
Lucerne, Charles finished his drink in bed and went quickly to
sleep.  He was a good sleeper, not because he had nothing to worry
about, but because as a rule he had worked hard enough to be tired
and conscientiously enough to be untroubled by conscience; lately,
though, he had begun to feel sometimes TOO tired.  But there need
not be much more of it, he consoled himself; he would soon be on
pension, and with each recent year ambition had withdrawn less
reluctantly from the probably unscalable cliffs and had begun to
settle for the long comfortable valley just round the corner.

After a couple of days Charles received a wire from Interlaken:


MANY THANKS PARIS OKAY SHALL ARRIVE GARE DE L'EST SEVEN P.M
THURSDAY IF YOU CAN MAKE IT DINNER WILL BE FINE THANKS ALSO FOR
SPLENDID CHECK AFFECTIONATELY GERRY


When Charles had digested this he happily made a note in his
engagement book and then muttered in the presence of Sir Malcolm
Bingay's secretary:  'I don't mind okay, but MAKE it . . . and
c.h.e.c.k. cheque . . . really . . . hasn't he got over all that
yet?'

Charles was a handsome man for his age, which was fifty-two.  His
hair had turned austerely iron-grey, but without thinning, and
since he was something of a gourmet his trim figure offered a
special tribute to character and temperament.  Most people liked
him, including those who would have been astonished if he had ever
achieved any sensational success; he never had, so in a sort of way
they could like him all the more.  Had he been born half a century
earlier he would probably not have been nicknamed 'Stuffy' by his
colleagues; perhaps also in those halcyon days he could hardly have
escaped becoming an Ambassador or Minister in one of the South
American or smaller European capitals.  'After you're fifty
there'll be something wrong with you if you don't get a Legation,'
he had been told on taking up his first post, but his informant had
himself been a Minister who had modestly added, in echo of Lord
Melbourne:  'There's no damn merit about it that I can see.'  But
perhaps, if not merit, which Charles had possessed, there had been
other things, including luck and a Zeitgeist, that had counted
against him; at any rate, he had not been given a Legation, and for
the last year or so had been sticking around at the Foreign Office.
This Paris Conference was really the most considerable event that
had come his way since the war period, though it was far from being
world-shattering, and he surmised that Bingay had taken him along
chiefly because the Balkan angle might crop up.  So far it hadn't,
and Charles wished it would, as a wrestler hopes for a chance to
display a hold in which he has long specialized.  Charles thought
it possible that if the Balkan angle did crop up he might even, in
a minor professional way and entirely without headlines,
distinguish himself.

That he had been born during the last Victorian decade instead of
the first was perhaps in some ways a pity, because he had just the
right degree of correctness for the older-fashioned diplomat, apart
from a very genuine integrity, knack with languages, suave manners,
and a pretty if slightly erudite wit.  He had also a taste for
classical music, detective stories, and dry wines which aptly
counterbalanced his distaste for jazz, modern non-detective
fiction, and sweet wines.  If you thought him a snob, as some
people did, you had to admit that at Schnbrunn or Tsarskoye-Selo
or in a first-class compartment on the old chocolate-and-white
London and North-Western Scotch Express (en route for Balmoral) he
would have looked the real thing in times when the standards of
reality, or perhaps of things, were very different. . . .  Anyhow,
his career had not been unworthy, and his small dinner parties in
various parts of the world had even been notable--until the break
in his life that occurred during the Second World War.

It was this, when it came, that had persuaded him to send Gerald,
then aged five, to spend the rest of the war years in America.
During such a regrettable but prudent exile Charles had written to
his son regularly every week, and once, being on a mission that had
sent him across the Atlantic in the autumn of 1941, he had been
able to spend a convenient weekend with the Fuesslis at Parson's
Corner, Connecticut.

The Fuesslis were connections of his wife's--genial people in the
wholesale hardware business, comfortably off, and innocent enough
to be proud of having an Englishman who was in Who's Who as their
house guest.  They made him as welcome as they had made Gerald, and
Charles knew he owed them a debt he could never repay.  True, the
boy seemed to be acquiring a slight American accent, but perhaps
this was unavoidable--he would unlearn it later when he came home,
for of course the Germans would be defeated eventually; one took
that for granted.  For the time being it had been and still would
be undeniably reassuring to think of him safe and sound and well
fed, while his father breakfasted on Spam and put out incendiary
bombs on Whitehall roofs.

Another thing that troubled Charles slightly during his brief visit
to Parson's Corner was that the Fuesslis seemed to have odd ideas
of how to treat a youngster.  On the night that Charles arrived at
their house it was doubtless excusable that Gerald should be
allowed to stay up past his usual bedtime, but it seemed strange to
Charles to have to sit at the dinner table not only with his own
youngster but with the Fuesslis' daughter Louise, aged three.  He
ascribed it to the kindness of his hosts and the natural good
manners of both children that such an extraordinary situation
passed without untoward incident.

But an even odder thing happened on the day following.  It was a
Sunday, and the Fuesslis could think of nothing better to do than
drive a hundred miles to nowhere in particular along roads crowded
with other Americans doing the same thing.  Charles and Gerald were
placed together in the back seat of the Buick, and the boy, who
certainly seemed happy enough, pointed out many local landmarks,
such as Woodrow Wilson High, the new Sears Roebuck, and the place
where a holdup man had recently been shot in a police chase.
Towards evening Charles was beginning to feel hungry, the more so
as lunch had been of the picnic variety, eaten in the car too
hurriedly to be enjoyed.  He was still thinking about a good dinner
when the car turned into the parking area of what was apparently a
large and popular roadside restaurant.

'I hope you like sea-food,' said Mr. Fuessli, as they walked their
way amongst innumerable cars towards an entrance festooned with
life-belts.

'Sea-food? . . .  Er . . . fish, that is?  Oh yes, I do, indeed.'
(Which was true enough, though this 'sea-food' set Charles thinking
that he also enjoyed 'land-food', if such a term could be used to
describe a really delicious entrecte, or perhaps the poulet saut
amricain, which was, he supposed, the nearest approach to a
national dish.)

'Then I can promise you something worth waiting for,' continued Mr.
Fuessli, pushing into the lobby.

It soon became clear to Charles that 'waiting for' had been no idle
phrase; for the place was crowded, the restaurateur did not greet
them, no table had been reserved, and there were twenty or thirty
patrons standing in line for the next one available.

'I guess you have to stand in line for EVERYTHING in England,' said
Mrs. Fuessli.

'I believe my housekeeper does it very often,' answered Charles,
gently.

Not by a word or gesture did he convey his real emotions, and the
only additional comment he permitted himself was at the spectacle
of so many children waiting--and by no means all of them good-
mannered like Gerald and Louise.  'These youngsters,' said Charles
tentatively.  'They--er--they don't . . . their parents, I mean . . .
do they--er--take them in to dinner here?'

'Sure,' answered Mr. Fuessli.  'What else can they do with them?'

'They look a little tired--the children, I mean.'

'Oh, it's just the drive.  Kids love it, anyway.  Besides, you
can't leave 'em at home without a sitter, and you can't always get
a sitter, especially on Sundays.'

And true enough, when at last their turn came for a table Charles
observed that the dining-room was quite overpopulated with children--
some, like Louise, young enough to occupy high chairs supplied by
the restaurant.

'So they ENCOURAGE them to come here?' Charles mused, still
grappling with his private astonishment.

'Oh, not by themselves--only with grown-ups,' Mr. Fuessli replied.
'Gosh, no--think of what this place would be like if they let the
kids come in alone!'

Charles thought of it, and found the speculation indeed appalling.
He noted meanwhile that there was even a special children's dinner
at half-price--which Gerald and Louise both ate with relish.  The
sea-food, incidentally, proved to be excellent, and the Californian
wine that Mr. Fuessli ordered was equal to some Charles had tasted
from far more familiar bottles.

Over coffee, which they drank in a hurry because the line in the
lobby was still long, Charles was anxious to dispel any impression
that he had not thoroughly enjoyed himself.  'You mustn't think I
don't appreciate your taking Gerald with you like this.  It's just
that--well, I suppose one gets used to old-fashioned ideas in
England--I mean, that children have their meals in the nursery and
go to bed soon afterwards . . . and besides, of course, we don't
have places like this, even in peacetime.'

'Maybe you would have,' said Mr. Fuessli, 'if there was a demand
for them.'  (He had always found this principle valid in the
hardware business.)

'That's very possible,' Charles agreed.  'And perhaps the truth is
that some of us in England are TOO old-fashioned . . . for
instance, I was twenty-one before my own father ever took me out to
dinner.'

The Fuesslis looked incredulous.

Charles smiled.  'Of course that was overdoing it.  I'll initiate
Gerald much earlier.'

'INITIATE him?' Mrs. Fuessli echoed.

'In a sort of way.  After all, there's a good deal of ritual in it--
how to explore a French menu, the wines that go best with various
foods, clothes to wear on different occasions, what people to tip
and how much--quite a lot to learn.'

'Don't you think one can pick up things like that without exactly
learning them?' asked Mr. Fuessli.

'Better to learn them, then you don't pick them up wrong.'  Charles
did not intend to be either didactic or crushing, but he thought he
might have sounded a little of both and it disconcerted him.

Mrs. Fuessli twinkled.  'And when do you think Gerry will be ready
to start learning?'

'Oh, I'd say when he's at Cambridge--maybe eighteen or nineteen.'
Charles added, lest he should seem to be taking the whole thing far
too seriously:  'I'm already looking forward to it--a grand excuse
to give myself what Lord Curzon once called a beano.'

They did not understand the allusion, so he had to explain that
'beano' was a sound if somewhat proletarian English word meaning 'a
good time' (derived from 'beanfeast'), but that Lord Curzon, a man
of unproletarian perspectives, had assumed from its appearance that
the word was Italian, and had therefore pronounced it 'bay-ah-no'.
Charles enjoyed dissecting the joke (for it had always had for him
a flavour incommunicable perhaps to those who had not known Lord
Curzon professionally); he hoped it might at least convince the
Fuesslis that he had a sense of humour.  But they merely smiled in
a rather vague way, and after a pause Mrs. Fuessli returned to the
subject of Gerald's 'initiation'.

'And where will you go when you first take him to dinner?' she
asked.  'Have you planned that too?'

'You mean the name of the restaurant?  Let's see now . . . might be
Michelet's.  You know it?  You know London?  It's near the Covent
Garden market.  Festive but good.'

'Was that where your father took you?'

'Oh no, I don't think Michelet's was in existence then.  We just
dined at his club and had the ordinary club dinner--nothing
special, except for the novelty it was to me.'

'But you'd rather have Michelet's for Gerry?'

'_I_ would, yes--French cooking for me, any time--even the best
London clubs aren't famous for their . . .'  He realized that this
was dangerous ground; the Fuesslis might think he was dissatisfied
with their own table, which he certainly wasn't--after England in
wartime it was wonderful.  He broke off by adding:  'Please don't
think this is an old family tradition or anything absurd like that.
It's just that as soon as Gerald's old enough there are so many
things I'm looking forward to.'

He had to break off again because Mrs. Fuessli was giggling and he
knew it was at himself.  'Oh, do make it SEVENTEEN--not eighteen or
nineteen--when you take him to Michelet's,' she pleaded.  She
looked very impish and provocative in such a mood.  'Because he'll
grow up fast in America--our boys of seventeen are almost men.'

Charles thought that this might possibly be true if by men she
meant (as she doubtless did) American men; and he reflected again
how charming she was, and (with a rueful glance at Mr. Fuessli, who
was bald and overweight) how secure must be the position of
American womanhood.

Mrs. Fuessli then turned to Gerald.  'Gerry dear, wouldn't you like
to have your dad take you to dinner in a big London restaurant on
your seventeenth birthday?'

'Not really BIG--' Charles was murmuring, but Gerald, with his
mouth full of chocolate ice-cream, was already expressing some kind
of inarticulate enthusiasm.

'You see he WOULD, Mr. Anderson. . . .  Gerry, make sure you remind
him when the time comes. . . .  SEVENTEEN, Mr. Anderson--remember
that.'

Charles, basking in the thought that Mrs. Fuessli must like him at
least enough to make fun of him, felt indulgent--a little puzzled
by, but also warm to his hosts.  'All right.  Seventeen it shall
be.  Gerald, you and I have a date.'  He laughed, and hoped the
Americanism did not come from him too solemnly.

Hence, in part, the letter Charles wrote to Gerald in Switzerland
eleven years later.  Of course he had taken the boy out to dinner
countless times already, and for that matter Michelet's had gone
(victim of a V2 during the last year of the war); yet the memory of
that conversation at Parson's Corner had impressed on Charles an
obligation which he assumed all the more gladly because he could
call to mind Mrs. Fuessli's pretty face.

                  *     *     *     *     *

Whatever else about him was in doubt, there could be none about his
genuine affection for his son.  It was not only his deepest
emotion, it was his most difficult, and he was a man who found many
of his emotions difficult.  Actually, the seventeenth-birthday
dinner soon became far more than a pleasure to be looked forward
to; it grew to be a symbol in his mind of something he hoped would
eventually flourish--an adult, man-to-man friendship between father
and son.  During the decade that followed his visit to Parson's
Corner Charles had seen Gerald rather infrequently, even after the
boy's return from America, for then had come the school years, with
holidays often spent at the home of school friends, since it was
usually impossible to fit them in with Charles's periods of leave.
But most of all, he was a shy man with children, and had no knack
of dealing with them; he was afraid he bored them, and his
unwillingness to do so made him tend to keep out of their way.  All
of which, in Gerald's case, was surely only temporary.  Charles had
pinned his faith on some change taking place quite suddenly some
day--some liquefaction of his emotions, and of Gerald's, as
miraculous as that of the blood of St. Januarius.

And now, in Paris, as he endured long sultry hours at the
Conference, his thoughts often wandered to Switzerland, where
Gerald was enjoying a walking tour with some friends of his own
age, accompanied by a young schoolmaster who presumably had the
knack that Charles lacked.  Charles envied that schoolmaster,
though he would not have changed places with him for the world.

Another man whom Charles would not have changed places with was his
opposite number on the other side of the Conference table--a fellow
named Palan.  Palan's own chief was monolithic and taciturn; unlike
Sir Malcolm Bingay he left most of the talking to his subordinate.
Perhaps the monolith spoke neither French nor English--Charles
could not decide.  Nor could he decide whether he himself would
like to measure himself in debate against this fellow Palan or not;
at times he was glad that Sir Malcolm bore the brunt, but at other
times he had a curious desire to justify himself in Palan's eyes--
to prove that he, too, though only second-in-command, was just as
capable of performing a virtuoso job.  Or WAS he just as capable?
He kept studying Palan and wondering.  Palan had, indeed, begun to
fascinate Charles from the opening day of the Conference.  He was
plump and swarthy, careless of manners, certainly not the kind of
person that an old-style diplomat could ever have felt at home with
across any kind of table.  Nor did Charles, yet he envied the man's
animal vitality and impassioned voice that could carry so easily
across a room (Charles knew from experience that his own gentler
and more pleasing tenor was far less pervasive); he hated Palan's
deplorable French accent, yet marvelled at his complete lack of
embarrassment in exhibiting it--a lack that almost amounted to a
skill.  Charles had also watched with mixed emotions Palan's habit
of loosening his collar when his neck began to sweat, and the way
he proudly observed the contents of his handkerchief whenever he
noisily blew his nose.  'Vox et praeterea nihil,' muttered Charles
to Sir Malcolm on one such occasion, hoping his superior would see
the little joke.  But Sir Malcolm was either not a Latinist or else
in a bad humour; he did not even smile.

The trouble was that so far Palan seemed to have scored rather
heavily.  Even in his bad French he had drawn laughs from the other
delegates at the expense of Sir Malcolm, and Sir Malcolm had found
it possible to keep his temper in public only by losing it a little
in private.  Charles had had to endure this too.  There were times
when he would have been relieved to learn, on rejoining the
Conference for another session, that Palan had been run over by a
taxi during the interval.  And yet . . . in a way he could not
exactly analyse he felt a quality in Palan that made him picture
himself victorious, but also magnanimous, over such a foe . . .  He
imagined himself saying, at some reception after a draft agreement
had been signed on all the terms that Palan's side had at first
violently opposed:  'I trust, M'sieur Palan, there are no hard
feelings between us.  For myself, and speaking also on behalf of
Sir Malcolm Bingay, who is unfortunately confined to his bed by a
severe attack of arthritis--I can assure you, etc. etc. . . .'  It
would sound good in his own perfect French.

Unfortunately nothing of all this seemed likely, except perhaps Sir
Malcolm's arthritis, which did indeed get worse as the Conference
proceeded.

Once, in the street outside the building in which the Conference
was being held, a little girl of nine or ten presented Palan with a
bunch of flowers.  Palan picked up the child in his arms and kissed
her.  A few bystanders smiled.  Charles, who had been a witness
from a distance, turned away as shyly as if the incident had
involved himself.  Again he envied Palan.

                  *     *     *     *     *

How refreshing, amidst these encounters and experiences, to think
of Gerald's arrival and the birthday dinner.  As soon as he had
received the answering wire Charles went to the Cheval Noir, a
small restaurant near the Champs Elyses, which was a favourite of
his--not one of those famous institutions like Prunier's or
Voisin's, meccas for tourists, but the sort of place he would have
been disappointed to hear spoken of by any Englishman or American,
and that he himself was careful never to recommend.  At the Cheval
Noir he talked to Henri.  Of course the dinner was not to be
planned in detail--it was part of Charles's anticipated pleasure
that he would discuss such important matters with Gerald and (using
all the tact of which he was capable) let the boy seem to be making
his own decisions.  But there could be no harm in considering
possibilities.  Only a simple dinner--soup, fish, then flesh or
fowl of the kind that Henri knew how to cook as well as any man in
Europe.  No cocktails beforehand, but perhaps a glass of Vino de
Pasto--no champagne (unless Gerald seemed disappointed by its
absence), but a Chablis and then one of those honest Burgundies--
say a Chambertin. . . .  And crpes Suzette to follow, as a
sporting concession to a youthful palate--Charles himself was not
fond of them (just dressed-up pancakes, after all), but they did
offer a spectacle in the festive mood.  Then brandy--just a plain
good one--and finally, if Gerald wanted to take a small chance or
to show off, a very mild and thin cigar, even if he put it down
after a few whiffs. . . .  And during all this they would be
talking, their minds released by the warmth and the wine and by the
emerging phenomenon of their mutual discovery; they would talk till
near midnight--father and son, aware of a new relationship . . .
they would gossip, exchange adult confidences, perhaps even a few
slightly risqu stories. . . .  And then last of all, if the
intimacy had proceeded so far, and if Gerald felt that the evening
was still young, they might take a taxi to the Place Pigalle for
another kind of initiation.  Charles believed that a trial crop of
wild oats should be sown under experienced sponsorship--nothing
extreme, of course--just a visit to one of those rather absurd
places where it could do a young man no harm to get his first sight
of a row of nude women cavorting so closely that one could see all
their imperfections.

How pleasant to think of these things, to plan them gently in his
mind while Palan bellowed his abominable French amidst the gilt-
framed mirrors and Buhl cabinets that seemed, by their contrasting
elegance, to focus the whole eye of the past upon the world's
deplorable present.

                  *     *     *     *     *

On the day of Gerald's arrival events at the Conference had been
particularly trying.  To begin with, Sir Malcolm's arthritis had
forced him to quit at the lunch interval and leave affairs during
the afternoon in Charles's hands, and this, which in normal
circumstances would have been both a challenge and an opportunity,
turned out much more like an ordeal.  For Palan, under the silent
surveillance of his own superior, had concentrated upon Charles
with a certain grim joyousness that had been just amusing enough to
keep the Conference room in the wrong kind of good humour; Charles
had a feeling he was being baited, and that even a few of his
colleagues were enjoying the performance.  Not that Charles lacked
weapons of his own.  He was sound if somewhat precise in argument;
he had an expert's knowledge of the matters being discussed; he was
also patient, often witty, and unfailingly polite.  He could not
bring himself to show temper, even when he felt it rising within
himself; whereas Palan, he suspected, often put on an act of temper
when he felt none.  Moreover, Charles had acquired a masterly
technique of listening with apparent equanimity while he was being
ridiculed.  'M'sieur Anderson is, of course, a man of much greater
diplomatic experience than I,' Palan had mocked, 'but I would
venture to match my knowledge of the world against his, for when
you have probed behind all the statistics in blue books and white
papers, when you have got down to the bedrock of reality, what is
it that you find?  Is it merely a diplomatic game, to be played by
those who have been to the right school and college like M'sieur
Anderson, or is it LIFE?'  And all that sort of thing.

Charles had replied:  'M'sieur Palan is in error if he supposes
that I regard these proceedings as a game.  Since I dislike games I
am certainly under no temptation to adopt such an attitude.'  (A
few titters from his neighbours.)  'And as for M'sieur Palan's
knowledge of the world, I have no means of computing it, but I
should not readily assume it to be greater than mine, though
doubtless it has been of a very different kind of world.'  There
had been a general laugh at that, but Charles had not been quite
certain at whose expense.

Throughout the afternoon they had sparred, and more and more it had
seemed to Charles that Palan was regarding him as a personal
adversary.  By the time of the adjournment Charles could only pray
that Sir Malcolm's arthritis would improve enough for him to take
over the following morning.  Charles felt that though he had done
quite creditably as a substitute, it had worn some frayed edges on
his nerves.

His spirits rose, however, as he waited on the platform at the Gare
de l'Est.  It was good to have a growing-up son, and he thought
happily of the corner table at the Cheval Noir which Henri was
doubtless already preparing.  The train came in, with the familiar
place names attached to its coaches--Berne, Delle, Vesoul,
Chaumont, Troyes . . .  It had been Gerald's first European trip--
what magic it must have contained, and now to culminate so
fittingly!

Charles was still thinking of that when his son spotted him first.
'Hello, dad. . . .  I didn't really expect you to meet me--I
thought you'd be too busy.'

'My dear boy. . . .'  They shook hands.  'However busy I am, I'd
take time off for this, I assure you.'

The noise of the station excused him from saying more.  Gerald was
instructing the porter who had carried his luggage--a small
suitcase--from the train.  Charles was tactful enough not to
correct or amplify the boy's halting French, but he did, with his
own French, summon a taxi and ask the driver to put the suitcase in
the cab.  Gerald then tipped the porter a hundred-franc note and
Charles told the driver to take them to the Crillon.

As the taxi left the station Charles said:  'How times have changed--
I can remember when a hundred francs was really money!  But the
city hasn't lost its fascination.  Did you see much of it on your
way out?'

'Not a thing.  The train just shunted into some station in the
middle of the night.  I was half asleep.'

'Ah yes, the Ceinture.'  Charles could not repress an emotion of
astonishment--that anyone who had never seen Paris before could
allow himself to be taken in and out without even leaving the train
for a quick look.  'You were here once when you were a baby--just
passing through.  But this can be called your first real visit.'

'Yes.  I know I ought to get a thrill.'  The boy was peering
through the window.  'I must say everything looks a bit run down
after Switzerland.'

'Everything is.  France, remember, has been through two world
wars.'

'And the Swiss have been sitting pretty, I know.  But the mountains--
the clean air--I think that's really more in my line than big
cities.'

'You went to the right country, then.  You look very fit.  And
still growing--or is it my imagination?'

Gerald was a little shy of his height, which was already six foot
one.  He laughed.  'Oh, I hope not, or I'll be a freak.  I think
I've stopped, though.'

'I sometimes wish I had an inch or two more myself.  Not that five
feet nine is really short.  But you can look over my head.'

'It's useful in climbing,' Gerald admitted.

'Did you do much of that?'

'Just Pilatus and the Faulhorn and some of the easier ones.'

Charles was suddenly aware of an emotion which, in a younger man
and in connection with a woman, he would have diagnosed as
jealousy.  'So you got along all right with that schoolmaster--I
forget his name?'

'Tubby Conklin?  Oh, he isn't so bad when you get to know him.  Not
really stuffy--just a bit of a watchdog.  I suppose he felt he had
to be, with all of us on his hands.'

STUFFY.  Charles caught the word as if it had been a hit below the
belt, but immediately decided that Gerald was unlikely to have
heard of the nickname--and if he had, as he must sooner or later,
what did it matter?  Perhaps that was one of the confessions that
would develop so naturally towards midnight at the Cheval Noir.  He
imagined an opening.  'D'you know what they call me at the Office,
Gerald?  STUFFY Anderson.'  (Pause for merriment.)  'I suppose
having any sort of nickname's a good sign--after all, they called
Disraeli Dizzy, but you can't imagine Gladstone ever being called
Gladdy. . . .  Gladwyn Jebb, perhaps, but not Gladstone. . . .  I
hope, though, I'm not TOO stuffy.  Now that you're old enough to
judge, you must tell me if ever you think I am.'  Perhaps he would
be able to talk like that before the evening was over.

Gerald was still staring out of the taxi window.  'Where are we
going, dad?'

'The Crillon.  My hotel.  I thought you might like a bath before
dinner.  I have to change myself anyhow.'

'Change?  You mean--'  Gerald looked round and seemed to be
studying his father's attire.

'Well, I had thought of a black tie in your honour.'

'I'm afraid I didn't bring--'

'Oh, then it doesn't matter.  I'll wear what I have on, and if your
lounge suit needs pressing the hotel people can do it in a hurry.'

'I'm terribly sorry, Dad, but I'll have to wear what I have on,
too.  All my clothes went through in a trunk to London--this bag's
only got souvenirs and things in it--'

What Gerald had on included an open-necked shirt, tweed jacket, and
grey flannel trousers.

Charles smiled.  'You could have something of mine, but since
you've grown so tall I rather doubt . . .  Well, the only real
essential is a tie--which I CAN provide.  I can also lend you
pyjamas.'

'Pyjamas?'

'In case you forgot to pack them.  And don't worry about a room--
the Crillon can fix you up in my suite.'

'But I--I'm--I wasn't planning to stay overnight.  I'm booked
through on the boat train from St. Lazare--'

'Tonight?'

'Yes.  I'm terribly sorry if--'

Charles was hurt, but did not want to hurt himself more by showing
it.  'You didn't say so, and I'm afraid I assumed--'

'I didn't think it mattered so long as there was time for dinner.'

'Of course.  Oh, of course.  Though if you wished I daresay even as
late as this I could have your train ticket changed--'

'Except that I--I'd--well, actually I'd planned to join up with
some of the others on the boat-train--some of the people I'd been
with--I sort of promised . . .  And then I've got dates in London
tomorrow--Mallinson, for one--he has to fix a filling that came
loose, so you see . . .'

'My dear boy, that's all right--don't let it bother you.  I'm glad
you're careful of your teeth--most important. . . .  Well, here we
are--the Place de la Concorde--one of the great sights of the
world, and the best time to see it is about now when the lights are
just coming on.  Rather splendid, don't you think?'

Gerald seemed much more impressed by his father's suite when they
reached it.  'The British taxpayer certainly has to shell out for
this,' he commented, walking around.

'Only because the British Government is anxious that its
representatives abroad should not appear as impoverished as they
usually are.'

Gerald grinned.  'Are WE impoverished?'

'We certainly should be if we had to live on my salary.'

'Ah . . . so the old family fortune's standing up pretty well?'

Charles was never quite sure when Gerald was having fun with him,
or what kind of fun it was.  He answered, half seriously:  'It
isn't much of a fortune, after inflation and taxes.  But you
needn't worry.'

'Oh, I don't. . . .  You know, dad, if I were you I'd spend every
penny during the next ten years or so, then you'd be sure of
enjoying yourself.  Or is that a crazy idea?'

'Not at all.  You'd be surprised how popular it seems to be--hence
in part the present state of Europe.  But don't get me on to
politics or I shall say the kind of things that annoy Sir Malcolm.'

'Your boss?'

'Boss, chief, or head of department.'

'Like rod, pole, or perch?'

'Exactly.'

'What kind of chap is he?'

'Very able.  I'd introduce you if he were staying here, but he
prefers the Embassy.  A fine diplomat and--so they say--an
EXCEEDINGLY fine bridge player.'

'I guess all that means you don't like him much.'

'Oh now, come, come,' protested Charles with restrained glee.  'You
mustn't guess anything of the sort.  Sir Malcolm and I work very
well in harness.  But even a horse doesn't want to be in harness
all the time.'

Gerald laughed heartily, and Charles thought that the evening,
after a somewhat inauspicious start, was proceeding well.

                  *     *     *     *     *

An hour later they were at the corner table in the Cheval Noir with
Henri hovering about them like a benign and elderly angel.  Charles
introduced Gerald proudly.  'Henri, I want you to meet my son.
Quite an occasion--his first evening in Paris as well as his
seventeenth birthday.'

Henri bowed, but Gerald offered his hand; Charles was pleased at
this--it was intelligent of the boy to realize that Henri was not
just an ordinary restaurant keeper.  After the exchange of
civilities Charles added:  'Henri is one of mankind's truest
benefactors--his hutres Mornay puts him with Cellini and
Michelangelo.  Too bad they're out of season--oysters, I mean.'

After Henri, beaming at the compliment, had gone off, Gerald said:
'Do you really think cooking's an art like painting, dad?'

'A much HIGHER art than some modern painting.  Anyhow, it's a
polite thing to say to a cook who really is an artist.'

'I suppose being a diplomat you get a lot of practice saying polite
things.'

'I wish I got more.  I sometimes feel at a disadvantage because I'm
not equally proficient in saying nasty things.'  He was thinking of
Palan.

'Why's that?'

'Perhaps because the world isn't getting any better.'  Charles
rallied himself from the dark reflection.  'Though I must admit I
see it looking pretty good here and now.'  Henri was serving the
Vino de Pasto.  'I'm very happy to be with you tonight, Gerald.  I
drink an affectionate toast to your future.'

Gerald grinned embarrassedly, then sipped from his glass.  'Thanks,
dad.  Is this sherry?'

'Yes. . . .  Smoke a cigarette if you like--it's the only wine that
isn't spoiled by smoking.'  Charles, proffering his cigarette case,
thought he had conveyed his hint rather tactfully.  'I hope you
like it.'

'It's--well, I daresay one could get used to it.'

'Just about my own first reaction.  That, I remember, was at a
Foundation dinner at Cambridge.  I mixed my drinks rather
recklessly--with the inevitable result.  My gyp told me afterwards
I'd tried to festoon the chapel belfry with toilet paper.'

Gerald laughed.  'It's hard to imagine you ever getting drunk.'

'That's because you think of me as I am today.'

'Or else because I really don't know you properly.'

The remark, so seemingly cold, was actually warm to Charles; it
hinted that Gerald too was aware of the barrier and that such
awareness might be a first step towards their joint effort to
remove it.  He said agreeably:  'I've often thought that's one of
the biggest drawbacks of a career like mine.  Chopping and changing
posts, with you in England half the time when you were a baby, then
the war came and you went to America, and even after that there was
school and we could only meet during the holidays if I happened to
be in London.  The wonder is we know each other at all.  But now
you're getting older and I'm not likely to be abroad so much,
things ought to work out better.'

Charles waited for a word of encouragement, then decided that the
boy's friendly face was itself one.  He continued:  'Besides, I'll
be off duty for good in a few more years.  I'd thought of buying a
place in the country if I can find something that isn't too huge or
too cute.  How would you like that?'

'You mean a place like Beeching, dad?'

'Oh no, much humbler . . . but I'm sure you don't remember
Beeching.'

'I do--because I remember Grandfather there.'

'Really?'

'There was a big white fireplace and once a hot coal fell out on
the rug and Grandfather squirted soda water over it.  I think
that's really the first thing I remember about anything.'

'I don't recall the incident, but there was certainly a big white
marble fireplace in the hall, so perhaps you're right. . . .  Much
TOO big--the fireplaces and everything else--we used to consume
fifty tons of coal a year and still the rooms were chilly in the
winter.  Think of trying to get fifty tons of coal nowadays to heat
a private house. . . .  No, the place I might look for would be
small and modern--just to settle down in after I've retired.  Not
too far out of London, but quiet.'

'You might be lonely.  You're so used to London.'

'Don't forget there's the book I'll be writing.'

'You're really going to do it?'

Charles smiled; the book was almost a joke because it had been
talked about for so long.  Whenever Charles said anything witty at
a dinner party, which was fairly often, people were always apt to
exclaim:  'You know, Charles,' (or 'Stuffy' if the occasion were
intimate or ribald enough) 'you really ought to write a book some
day', to which Charles would answer either thoughtfully 'Yes, I
suppose I might', or confidently 'That's exactly what I intend to
do.'  But nobody really believed he would, whatever he said;
somehow he dined out too often and lived too elegantly to seem
capable of such sustained effort.  So one day the book would
astonish everyone by actually appearing--published by Macmillan, he
hoped, and at not more than twenty-five shillings, if the price of
things didn't go up any more.  But it would offer a further
surprise by being the kind of book few would expect from him--a
really serious and authoritative piece of work--in fact, that of a
man WHO OUGHT TO HAVE BEEN MADE AN AMBASSADOR.  Charles could even
extract wry satisfaction from the thought that this lesson would be
learned too late, for he was fairly certain now that it WOULD be
too late.  He was disappointed, but realized that the character he
had built up for himself would not allow him to show it.

Anyhow, it was his secret intention that the book should reveal
rather startlingly that behind the faade he really did know his
job, and it pleased him in rueful moods to invent comments he would
most like his friends to make--not to him but amongst themselves.
'Really, you know, I've read worse.  Well-documented--almost
scholarly in spots.  Didn't think Stuffy had it in him.  The
Observer gives it the big article--calls it "a footnote to
history".'  The phrase suited Charles's humility at the shrine of
Clio, and also his own experience, derived from Gibbon, that
footnotes were apt to be more interesting than the larger print.
Not, of course, that there would be much of that sort of thing in
it--just a few titbits here and there . . . mostly it would deal
with the Balkan and Greco-Turkish problems, would record matters of
which he had been both witness and student, such as that
delineation of the Macedonian frontier that had made him (for what
it was worth, and it appeared nowadays to be worth nothing) the
greatest living authority on the ethnographic history of the Sanjak
of Belar-Novo.  (Which was the only unique distinction he ever
claimed for himself, and often, like so much else that he said, it
raised a laugh.)

So he replied to Gerald, thinking of all this and trying not to
seem portentous:  'I really ought to tackle the damn thing, Gerald.
My career, though far from outstanding, hasn't been entirely
uneventful. . . .  Rome--Bucharest--Athens--I happened to be there
at interesting times.  And other places.  Some day I'll tell you
about them.'

'I'm looking forward to the book.'

'Oh yes, that would probably be easier for both of us.  You could
skip when you were bored.'

Gerald gave his father an appraising glance which he turned into a
smile.  'You know, dad, you're a bit prickly, aren't you?'

'Prickly?'  Now came the perfect cue.  'I've been called STUFFY in
my time, but PRICKLY . . .  Well . . .'

But Gerald passed over 'stuffy' without interest.  'I mean, you put
up your defences even when nobody's attacking.'

'Do I?  Maybe a conditioned reflex after so many years in the
Service.  I'll try to unlearn it when I'm just a retired old has-
been writing a few pages a day in that terrible handwriting of mine--
or perhaps I ought to learn to type and spare the eyesight of some
unfortunate secretary.'

'How long do you think it will take you?'

'Two or three years--maybe more.  I won't mind.'

'Sort of a labour of love?'

'Well, certainly not of profit.  As I said, my career hasn't been
outstanding enough to send the public scurrying to the bookshops.'

'Still feeling prickly?  I don't know what's eating you, but I'd
say you haven't done so badly.  Whatever sort of life you've had,
you're fifty-three and you don't look anything like it.'

Charles beamed; from his own son, on his own son's seventeenth
birthday, and at such a moment, there could have come no more
timely reassurance.  'Fifty-TWO,' he corrected.  'Not fifty-THREE.
I was born at the turn of the century, on July 28th, 1900.'

'That's a fine beginning.  The Story of My Life, by Charles
Anderson.  Chapter One:  "Early Years".'

'Good heavens, no; not that sort of thing at all.  It's my WORK I
shall deal with--I'll begin when I took up my first post.'

'Why?  What's wrong about the early years?  Didn't you have a good
time then?'

'Of course.'  Charles seemed slightly embarrassed.  'Nothing to
complain of.  That's why there wouldn't be much to write about.'



'NOTHING TO COMPLAIN OF'


Charles had just finished prep school in the summer of 1914; he
started at Brookfield while those tremendous opening battles of the
First World War were ending an age.  The Somme, Jutland, and
Passchendaele came to him later as headlines in the daily papers
that reached Brookfield about mid-morning, at which time the school
butler clamped them to the stands in the reading-room.  Not till
the lunch hour did the boys get a hasty glimpse over the shoulders
of other boys, and usually after they had satisfied a much greater
eagerness to discover who was on the list for the afternoon's
compulsory games.  There was neither stupidity nor callousness in
this--merely the knack (so often necessary in life) of putting
first things second.  Many of them had brothers and some fathers in
the war; all knew that if it lasted long enough they would be in it
themselves.  Charles had joined the school cadet corps, and with
more effort than zeal was picking up the rudiments of being a
soldier, drilling twice a week under a ferocious sergeant who
taught him exactly where to lunge into an enemy's body with a
bayonet.  He did not think he would be very good at it, and was
comforted to learn from Old Boys on leave from the front that most
fighting was done with other weapons.  In the evenings, when drills
and games and lessons were over for the day, he relaxed in his
School House study talking to friends and drinking coffee--
sometimes, when he was on his own, reading poetry.  He even wrote
some, which was duly published in the Brookfeldian under the
pseudonym 'Vincio'.  It had no special merit.

The school was then in charge of old 'Chips', who had been summoned
from retirement to plug a hole in the wartime shortage of masters.
Chips ran things with a benignity that made Brookfield more than
tolerable to several boys who might otherwise have found it
unpleasant.  Charles was among them--by no means a misfit, but
temperamentally not what many people would have called a typical
public schoolboy.  Since Chips doubted that such an animal existed
Charles got along with him very well indeed, and it was Chips who
made him a prefect despite warnings that boys who were bad at games
were rarely good in authority.  Charles, however, proved excellent--
somewhat on the lenient side, but wise in his decisions and a
steady handler of crisis.  One of his duties was to keep order in
the junior dormitories during the hour before lights-out, and he
found this easiest to do by being friendly and chatty.  The
youngsters liked him and called him 'Andy', a nickname that spread
throughout the school.  On Sunday nights he would read aloud a
chapter from some favourite blood-curdler; he read well and enjoyed
reading, and once, during a tense moment in Dracula, a listener
fainted--an event which gave Charles singular and lasting renown.

Considering that he was bad at games (which he pretended to enjoy,
nevertheless, but which he actually detested), Charles was quite
popular at Brookfield, and fairly, though not enormously, happy
there.  He made a few close friends who stayed friends in later
years, and besides Chips there was another master who influenced
him--a young Frenchman named Brunon who visited the school once a
week to give art lessons to a few eccentrics.  Art at Brookfield
was an alternative to chemistry; on reaching the fifth form one
could choose, and as the laboratory promised better fun than the
studio, it was favoured by most.  But Charles liked M. Brunon and
was encouraged by him to develop an aptitude for painting, so that
he whiled away many a pleasant hour in the school grounds,
producing small water-colour landscapes so quickly that he would
often give them away to onlookers and thus conciliate those who
might otherwise have scoffed at such a hobby.  One such painting by
Charles hangs in the head's study at Brookfield today; it shows the
school roofs beyond the trees in winter when clouds are rolling up
for a storm.  It is not as mediocre as the poetry he wrote (indeed,
for his age, it shows distinct promise), but its chief interest
perhaps is that a schoolboy should have wanted to go out in such
weather for such a purpose.  You can almost see that the clouds on
the horizon will bring snow, not rain.

Like most male members of his family, Charles was intended for
Cambridge when the time should come, and it was Chips again who
suggested his entering for a history scholarship, despite an
absence of encouragement from home.  Charles did not win the
scholarship, but came so near to it that he was awarded an
exhibition entitling him to enter the University in the following
September--that is, if the army did not claim him first, which it
probably would.

His last term at Brookfield was in the summer of 1918, when the
war, despite a heartening turn of the tide, still looked
desperately far from a finish.  He was now of military age, but
found that by joining the Cambridge University O.T.C. he could, for
a short time at least, combine the profession of arms with actual
residence at a college.  It seemed a miraculous device for getting
a little pleasure before being killed, for at that stage of the war
second-lieutenants on the Western Front did not live long.  To
Charles the war was something he would face, like compulsory games,
when he had to, but he had no romantic illusions, and the poetry he
wrote, if it ever touched on the subject, was more in the spirit of
Siegfried Sassoon than of Rupert Brooke.

During that autumn of final battles that few could guess were
final, Charles formed fours on the cobbled quadrangles and night-
manoeuvred on the fenlands along the Ely road.  He wore a uniform
that looked like an officer's, and sometimes on dark days he was
mistakenly saluted by non-commissioned men on leave from France.
When this happened he felt he wanted to run after them and
apologize, but of course that would have been absurd; so he either
saluted back, which seemed presumptuous and was certainly
incorrect, or else ignored them, which made him feel churlish.
(The problem, with its absence of any completely satisfying
solution, was a sample of many that plagued him in later affairs.)
In the main, though, life was pleasant and not too military--the
O.T.C. adjutant, for instance, was a history professor who could
lecture on the machine gun as gently as on the Holy Roman Empire.

Charles was given college rooms that dated from the early
seventeenth century, and when he returned to them after a route-
march old Debden, who was his gyp, always had a hip-bath and a can
of warm water waiting in front of the sitting-room fire.  (The
college had not yet installed any other kind of baths.)  After
rinsing himself in this meagre but traditional fashion Charles
would dress, drink a cup of tea, and sally forth into the twilit
town.  The buildings in the narrow streets had an air of stooping
over him protectively as he walked; he liked to push open the side-
door of Heffer's bookshop in Petty Cury and spend an hour or so
reading what he could not afford to buy.  Then back to college in
time for dinner in Hall, where he would drink his pint of beer
under the portraits of old collegians who had been in their time
the kings and counsellors of England.

Charles loved Cambridge with an ache because separation hovered so
close and perhaps so tragically.  Then all at once the war ended.
Along with millions of other youths throughout the world he was
reprieved--catapulted without warning into the idea of a future.
After the initial thrill there was a curious feeling of anticlimax.
He got drunk several times and took part in a riot with which the
armed forces stationed in the town and district celebrated the end
of the slaughter.  The change was so abrupt that emptiness rather
than happiness followed the withdrawal of other sensations, and as
day after day passed by, each one so full of events abroad that
even the palate of a historian must be jaded, Charles sought peace
of his own by a process of wishful reasoning.  England had won, and
as a young Englishman he might well concede the timeliness of
having been born in that birth-year of the century, so that he was
old enough to have been ready, yet too young to have been called
upon.  He had been luckier than his best friend at Brookfield,
killed in Mesopotamia, or than his brother Lindsay, stuck in a
German prison camp awaiting repatriation.  Perhaps these were
reasons why he lacked the completely festive spirit, though he knew
his own good fortune was to be alive.  And also to be English.  For
with half Europe starving and another half in revolution, England,
after the long ordeal, was still recognizably herself, and
Cambridge was beginning to breathe again to an ancient rhythm of
its own.  The long Latin grace, which had been discontinued when
there were so few undergraduates to read it, was resumed in Hall
before dinner; professors brushed up their old lectures (Bury on
Rome, Quiller-Couch on English Literature, Coulton on the Middle
Ages), and for a victory banquet the gold plate of the Tudor
founders was taken out of bank vaults and laid reverently along the
high table.  Meanwhile in some vague way the O.T.C. disbanded or
dispersed or seemed merely to vanish, and there was nothing left
for Charles to do with his khaki uniform except pay an exorbitant
tailor's bill for it and have the overcoat dyed chocolate brown for
civilian use.  Then term ended and he went home to Beeching to
spend that first Christmas of the new era that people would call
post-war till the word became far too sadly confusing.

                  *     *     *     *     *

Beeching is gone, and there are hardly traces of it except on old
maps and in the memories of a later generation of combatants who
will soon themselves be no longer young.  For during the Second
World War an airfield was laid out almost at its front door, and
the house itself, for some time derelict, was patched up and made
into an R.A.F. club.  One night in 1943 a bomber taking off for
Germany crashed into the roof and exploded; there was nothing much
left when the fire had burned out.  Because of censorship no
mention of the disaster appeared in the papers.  Charles, who was
then at the Foreign Office, did not hear of it for several days,
and then, of the house itself, he spoke whimsically rather than
sadly, for the moment was not one for sentiment over bricks and
mortar.  'It was a decent house, and a great many people must have
had fun in it.  They were having it, too, up to the end.'  He
recalled also that his father had always had a premonition that the
place would some day be destroyed by fire.  'It bothered him
whenever he thought about it.  He had a sort of canvas chute made
to let down from the top-floor windows and at least once during
every school holiday when I was young we had a fire drill with
everybody sliding down to the front lawn and getting sore bottoms.'

There is a photograph in an old Gloucestershire guidebook that
shows Beeching with a landau waiting in the drive outside, and this
may well have been the vehicle that preceded Sir Havelock
Anderson's first car, which he bought when Lindsay and Charles were
children.  In the photograph the house looks imposing, with its
three floors grouped around and above the much enlarged portico--a
merging of inherited elegance and Victorian solidity that somewhat
spoilt the proportions but not at the expense of character.  The
house and surrounding glebe-lands had been with the Andersons since
about 1700.  Before then the family had lived in Yorkshire and
Scotland, and there was an Anderson who had fought under Sir Philip
Sidney at Zutphen in 1586.

At the side of the house a small square breakfast-room overlooked
the terraced gardens; it was in this room that Charles, whenever he
recollected or dreamed about him, could most often see the father
he had known as a small child--the tall, already silver-haired
figure, not stout but plain big, staring out of the window with his
back to the door through which Cobb bustled in and out with cutlery
and crockery, and through which, about eight o'clock, Charles
himself would cautiously enter--cautiously, not because he was in
any fear, but from an unwillingness to face an ordeal of contact
which he instinctively felt was mutual.  Charles was seven years
younger than Lindsay, so that his feeling for him was one of hero-
worship rather than partnership; it had always seemed to him that
his brother lived with his father in a world of grown-ups.  The
other meals of the day Charles took in the schoolroom with a
governess, Miss Simmons, but breakfast was the immovable family
feast, and for this reason marked inexorably the passage of early
years--winter mornings when the lamps were lit and dawn paled on
the frosted panes and Cobb would hold each page of The Times before
the fresh-lit fire to dry out the dampness--smells of coffee and
bacon and kedgeree along with those of warmed paper and the
methylated spirit flickering under sideboard dishes; summer
mornings when sunlight moved in slow slabs over the carpet and
wasps buzzed in for the marmalade . . . chatter about plans for the
day, in none of which he was ever included . . . the handful of
mail which Cobb brought in with a wastepaper basket. . . .  Aunt
Hetty's glance across the table as envelopes were slit one by one
and their contents amiably destroyed or grimly noted or merely
stuffed into one of the huge poacher's pockets that his father's
tweed coats always had . . . his aunt's look of relief when a
familiar crunch sounded on the gravel outside, this being the
signal that Havelock had ordered the car and was going to be away
for at least the morning.

Charles's mother had died when he was born, and as soon as the boy
was old enough to understand the situation he began to wonder if
his father hated him for being alive at such a cost.  There was
also a story, which he heard later from Lindsay, that his parents
had quarrelled a good deal and that for a time his mother had
actually left Beeching and gone to live with relatives in London.
Then she had returned, and Charles, it would seem, was the result
of the reconciliation.  If that were so, then perhaps his father
had reason to love him as well as hate him.  It was hard to figure
out, or rather, it was easy to figure out either way, and Charles
as a boy could never make up his mind.

                  *     *     *     *     *

This was the same matter that came to an adult and rather
frightening issue during that first post-war Christmas at Beeching.
When he reached there from Cambridge Charles found the house full
of 'family'--aunts and uncles, with children of various ages--all
assembled for what might well seem the occasion of a lifetime, the
coming of peace on earth, though certainly not of good will toward
all men.  Aunt Hetty, who had kept house at Beeching since Charles
was a baby, made everyone welcome, and Havelock, seeming to enjoy
the noise and bustle of it all, strode in and out of the crowded
rooms with something of the air of a field-marshal at ease among
his staff.  The general election took place about this time, giving
Lloyd George's Coalition government a tremendous majority, and this
momentarily cast a shadow, for Havelock had never forgiven Lloyd
George his pre-war demagoguery.  But a much worse blow fell on
Christmas Eve.  Charles happened to be crossing the hall when he
noticed his father reading a telegram that had just arrived; though
he could not see his face, there was a sudden slumping of the
massive shoulders that made him hasten up in dismay.  His father
then turned, gave him a dazed stare, and handed him the telegram.
It was from the War Office, regretting that Captain Lindsay
Anderson had died of influenza in a German prison camp on December
10th.  Only a few days later he would have begun the journey home.
Something in the sheer wantonness of this--that a son should
survive the battlefield and then succumb to a civilian illness in
the defeated country weeks after the war had ended--drove Havelock
to a frenzy in which he flung at Charles an entirely unfounded
assertion that the Cambridge O.T.C. had been a funk-hole for
shirkers and that if Charles hadn't been smart enough to get
himself enrolled in it he too might have died.

This was so unfair that Charles was stung to the retort:  'Do you
wish I had?'  But his father by that time was beyond argument and
Charles, fighting hurt as well as grief, left him mouthing and
muttering unintelligibly.  Charles then took a long walk in the
rain and did not return till after dusk, when he slipped into the
house by the back stairs and went up to his room to change.
Somehow or other he must face the ordeal of the family dinner, but
he wondered how he would be able to meet his father after what had
been said between them.  During his walk over muddy farmlands he
had even searched for a cross-grain of truth in the accusation--Was
it possible that by joining the O.T.C. he HAD secured a few weeks'
delay in the then inevitable destiny of being sent into battle, and
that those few weeks, by the timing of history, had meant life for
him instead of death?  But even if this were so, it could not
justify even remotely his father's attitude.

While he was putting on dinner clothes the bedroom door opened and
Havelock entered.  He was still in the rough tweeds of everyday
wear, but he looked already years older.

'We aren't dressing tonight,' he said quite calmly.  'Didn't Cobb
tell you?'

'No, I've only just got back.  I took a long walk.'

'Well . . . I tried to read a little . . . everyone has to get over
these things their own way.  I don't really remember what it was I
said to you--probably something foolish.'

Charles answered:  'Oh, that's all right, father--it was nothing.'
He was too deeply moved to say more.  Havelock then left and
Charles changed his clothes again.  It struck him as odd that,
because of his brother's death, he was actually taking OFF a black
tie, though of course he put on another one of a different kind.

                  *     *     *     *     *

Charles looked forward to the end of the vacation.  Not only was
the news about Lindsay a devastating grief, but its coming at a
time of family gathering and sentimental association made it trebly
hard to endure.  And there was a new kind of unease between himself
and his father, as if the sounding and exploration of a rift were
all the time in progress even though both had agreed to bridge it.
After the New Year the house rapidly emptied, leaving Charles alone
with his father and aunt during the last week before term began.

Sir Havelock Anderson was a remarkable man by any standards, and it
was unfortunate (as somebody once said when this remark was made)
that any standards had not been good enough in his chosen
profession.  In his thirties, a barrister beginning to be talked
about, he would have been forecast for a brilliant career, with a
likely outcome in Parliament or as one of the law officers of the
Crown; in his middle forties he seemed at the point of achievement,
having already taken silk and received a knighthood.  He had many
attributes of the successful advocate--good looks, a fine presence,
quick wits, commanding eloquence, and an enormously persuasive
manner.  He could demolish or inveigle a witness with a technique
that amounted to genius.  The one thing he lacked was a certain
responsibility of judgment at moments of intense pressure; as his
career advanced and he gained in opinion of himself, he would
sometimes overstep the limits of propriety, attacking the other
side in ways that drew rebukes from judges, then turning on the
latter with less than traditional respect.  Since he seemed
increasingly unable to handle a difficult case without this sort of
thing, solicitors came to regard him as a doubtful asset; after one
sensational court 'scene' he narrowly escaped disbarment.  Though
he apologized and all seemed forgiven, he had done himself harm
which he knew had put him back to the bottom of the ladder, and it
was perhaps again unfortunate that a private income enabled him to
settle into embittered retirement rather than begin the climb
afresh or seek a new career in some other field.  Everything was
unhappy and inglorious when, about this time, he inherited
Beeching.  For years thereafter he lacked interest in the property,
his chief consolation being Lindsay, in whom he could well take
pride.  For the boy, who was very like him in looks, developed fast
and promisingly--excellent at games as well as studies--destined,
Havelock might have hoped, to become as remarkable as himself but
without the flaw.

When Lindsay went to school Havelock had to find things to do, even
at Beeching, and gradually established himself as the kind of
chartered eccentric that English society permits and tolerates--
which really means that none of his neighbours, whether they liked
him or not (and most of them didn't), thought it VERY odd that he
should be a LITTLE odd.  Though he was never now in the headlines,
he often appeared in print--writing letters to The Times about his
hobbies, which included bird-watching, collecting snuff-boxes, and
visits to country churchyards, where he liked to rummage amongst
old tombstones and discover neglected graves of minor celebrities
of the past; he was something of an expert on lapidary inscriptions.
Strong in physique and passionate by nature, he was also a magnet to
women, but here again the flaw presently showed itself--a scandal
involving the suicide of the daughter of one of his neighbours, a
girl in her early twenties.  This was when Havelock was in his
fifties and a widower.

One quality he had to which both friends and enemies gave the same
name, but with differing inflections--CHARM.  His friends had in
mind the urbane host and the delightful talker, but his enemies
said that this charm was something he could turn on and off at
will, and always on when he wanted anything--an old courtroom trick
put to non-professional use.

                  *     *     *     *     *

Before Charles left for the station to catch the London train en
route for Cambridge he had a talk with his father in which the
charm, turned on or not, was as antique as the snuff-boxes.
Havelock began by discussing the Anderson name and his own pride in
it--one of those great families of commoners, he said, that in a
sort of way constituted an English aristocracy of their own.  In
such company a mere knighthood was not so much a painting of the
lily as a defacement.  'Who can wish to rub the eager shoulders of
provincial mayors and successful shopkeepers?  Of course if I'd
stayed at the Bar I should have climbed much higher--but today, as
things are, I'm probably stuck where I am, and you must reconcile
yourself to having Sir Havelock Anderson for a father instead of
plain Mister or Esquire.'

All of which seemed to Charles either obtuse or a snobbery of extra-
special vintage.  He said:  'Oh, it doesn't make much difference at
Cambridge.  I don't think many of my friends even know about the
title.'

'You have my full authority to conceal it from them.  Anyhow, your
own affairs and what you intend to do in life are more important.
Have you thought of a profession?'

Charles hadn't, especially.  So they ran through the possibilities,
some of which were impossibilities, such as the armed services and
medicine, for which Charles had neither desire nor aptitude.
Havelock himself ruled out the law; he did not think Charles was
suited, which was a politer way of saying he did not think he had
the brains.  Charles knew, though his father didn't mention it,
that Lindsay was then on his mind; Lindsay was to have entered the
law, for which a brilliant Cambridge career had already prepared
him before he went into the army.  It was as if Havelock did not
want Charles's career to trespass, even had it been possible, on
the hallowed might-have-been territory that Lindsay would always
occupy in his mind.

What about the Church?  Charles shook his own head at that, and
Havelock smiled in part concurrence.  The City?  Selling stocks
wasn't much of a job, but undeniably there were youths of decent
family who nowadays went into brokers' offices and made money
there.  Charles said innocently that he didn't think he would ever
know what stocks to buy, which made Havelock smile again and remark
that his own broker didn't seem to, either.

Thus, having arrived at a fairly cordial impasse, father and son
could only concede that the matter was in no way urgent and that
the first step was for Charles to do well at Cambridge, taking an
Honours degree.  Charles said this would be expected of him, since
he was an Exhibitioner.  To which Havelock replied:  'Oh yes, of
course.  I really didn't congratulate you enough about that.  But
at the time, you see . . .'

Charles knew what he meant; Lindsay had been alive at the time, and
Charles's achievements and future hadn't then mattered.  Now they
did matter, but only in a pale shadow of the way Lindsay's had
mattered.

Havelock continued:  'Well, you've made a beginning.  You must have
studied quite hard.  Somehow I never thought you did much in your
spare time except paint little pictures.  Or have you given that
up?'

'No, I still like to do it.  A pleasant hobby that gets one into
the open air.'

'So long as you don't take it too seriously.  No man should take
his hobbies seriously till he has succeeded--or failed, for that
matter--in his profession.'  (He might well have been speaking of
himself.)  'And by the way, there's one profession we forgot.
Diplomacy.  Not bad if you have manners and like travel.  Dressy
fellows--useful, too, so they'd have us believe.  They didn't
prevent the last war and they won't prevent the next, but at least
it's work that doesn't soil the hands.'

Charles then responded to his father's irony with a remark that he
recalled, long afterwards, with a certain irony of his own.  'Oh, I
really don't think we need worry about another war in your lifetime
or mine, Father.'

'No?  I wonder.  There's France.  There's Japan.  There's Russia.
There's America.  Even Germany again if we're fools enough--and we
shall be.'

Evidently nothing less than the total destruction of the entire
rest of the world would give Havelock any confidence in a lasting
peace; and there were times in later life when Charles was almost
driven to think his father might have had a point, though surely
not an acceptable one.

                  *     *     *     *     *

Charles worked steadily at Cambridge.  Except for a little beer-
drinking that sometimes ended up as a private spree among friends,
he lived and studied quietly in rooms that overlooked the College
Backs and the river; to his gyp he was 'a reading gentleman', and
among the dons he earned the kind of modest reputation that tempted
nobody to prophesy anything remarkable.  In his father's letters
the suggestion of a diplomatic career was renewed, and with this in
mind Charles mentioned the matter to his tutors.  It seemed to be
looking rather high and far for a first-year undergraduate, but
they steered his studies slightly in the required direction,
emphasizing modern languages and political science.  He found he
had a knack for languages, and during that first year something
happened that was specially fortunate--Andr Brunon, who had been
the arts master at Brookfield, took a post at a school in
Cambridge, so that Charles and he were able to continue their
earlier friendship.  Not only did Brunon reawaken and stimulate
Charles's interest in painting, but by their agreement to talk
always in French Charles was given an opportunity which he used to
the full.  He and Brunon would spend many an afternoon together in
and around the town, finding old buildings or street scenes that
offered material for sketches; sometimes they went further afield
to Grantchester and Madingley and Ely, cycling with painting gear
strapped to their machines.  Charles had always thought he would
stick to water-colours, but Brunon introduced him to the art of oil
painting, and thus a new world was opened.  The extra satisfaction
of it all was that he need never regard time with Brunon as a self-
indulgence, since they chattered all the while; and Charles knew he
was acquiring not only conversational ease but the beginnings of an
ability to THINK in French.  'And you have also an ear for accent,'
Brunon told him.  'This is important in French as it is in English.
Either you must speak French like an Englishman, which is bad but
permissible, or you must speak it like the right kind of Frenchman.
I myself am not the right kind of Frenchman, so it will be
advisable for us soon, Charles, to stop talking French and revert
to English.'

Charles asked what Brunon had meant by saying he was not the right
kind of Frenchman.

'I am from the Midi.  Any Parisian hearing me speak would know
that.'

'Does it matter?'

'A little.  Nothing to hinder you from passing examinations here,
but still, the accent is not socially correct, and you will soon be
copying it so well that you would cause raised eyebrows at the Quai
d'Orsay.  It would be like a French Ambassador arriving in London
and paying his respects to your Foreign Minister in perfect
grammatical English but with a set of Cockney vowel-sounds.'

'Rather amusing to think of.'

'Yes, but you would wonder where on earth he could have picked them
up--and then in your mind there would just be the faintest
beginnings of doubt about him.  Whereas if he spoke with a slight
Scottish burr or a slight Irish lilt, all you would think would be,
how charming, he must have had a Scottish or an Irish governess as
a child. . . .  There is no logic about these matters, but it IS
rather odd that the native accent of your capital city is so out of
favour. . . .  Personally, I LIKE Cockney, it has a real music of
its own, but then I also like a made-up bow tie, which saves me
trouble, though I was once told that no English gentleman would
ever wear one.'

'Oh, really?  I didn't know that.'

'Do you wear one yourself?'

'No, I tie my own, but it certainly never occurred to me that . . .'
Charles laughed and added:  'Oh, well, Andr, you listen for
danger and give me the signal when we'd better start talking
English again.'

In the summer of 1920 Charles took Part One of the History Tripos,
getting a Second in it.  He had hoped for a First, but his tutor
congratulated him so warmly that the inference might have been
drawn that only brilliant people got Firsts.  Charles, however,
still hoped to do better in Part Two, which he would take a year
later.  It was a more specialized examination that included the
submission of a thesis, and he had already thought of a subject--
'The Influence of the Arabian Caliphate on the Seljuk Turks during
the reign of Toghrul Beg'.  Why he chose this he was never quite
sure, apart from his general interest in the period.  Perhaps a
deciding factor was that, so far as he could discover, nobody had
ever written a Tripos thesis about the Seljuk Turks before.  To his
tutor, who approved the idea, there also occurred the comforting
thought that a researcher on such a subject would soon reach a
point at which he knew more than the examiners.

Those years at Cambridge immediately after the Armistice were
unique, though doubtless if one had said so some don would have
brought up conditions after the Napoleonic Wars or the Great
Rebellion or the Dissolution of the Monasteries.  There was always
this flavour in the Cambridge spirit--a willingness to accept the
new because it was not really new at all, or at least not as new as
an outsider might think.  Perhaps it was easier, in this spirit, to
welcome the older generation of undergraduates who crowded the
colleges in 1919--married men and fathers, strange men, maimed men,
and mystery men whose normal lives would not have included
Cambridge at all, but whom the war had used and spared and had
finally enriched with this unlooked-for experience.  Many were from
the Dominions--rangy six-footers, to whom even the mildest
collegiate discipline was irksome, and who were apt to find
snobbery rather than enchantment in all tradition.  And along with
them, of course, was the usual crop of youngsters fresh from the
schools, the handful of Harvard-exchanged Americans, and that
winnowing of dark-skinned empire-built plutocracy which university
regulations so tactfully referred to as 'natives of Asia or Africa
not of European parentage'.  The mixture was never quite as before,
and sometimes did not mix, nor did the spell always work; but
Cambridge, where the spell was everything unless Cambridge was
nothing, could only do its best.

(Those were the days when Kolchak marshalled cavalry against the
masters of the Kremlin; those were also the days when, hardly more
than a stone's throw from Charles's college, Rutherford was
plotting the split of the atom.  But nobody threw that stone.)

Charles spent all his vacations (except part of one) at Beeching.
The exception was a week in Normandy with Brunon during the August
of 1920.  They landed at Dieppe and hired an old Citron; then they
drove to Yvetot and Jumiges, loitering and painting wherever they
saw what they wanted.  The whole week was full of wonderful
weather, warm and sunny but not cloudless, ideal for obtaining a
variety of light and colour.  Charles had never in his life been so
happy, not only because he liked Brunon but because for the first
time he was beginning to sense a relationship with paint which
could be called control, though it was far from anything that could
be called mastery.  'It is just possible,' said Brunon, 'that you
might be fairly good some day.  Probably not VERY good, but at any
rate better than I am.  But of course I am not really good at all.
After all, I just amuse myself.'

Charles returned to Beeching bronzed from the sun, and with a new
confidence in himself that expanded far outside the realms of art
into the traffic of everyday life.  Havelock was quick to recognize
it and asked many questions about Brunon.  'He sounds a decent sort
of fellow,' he remarked.  'To admit that he's not a good painter
and that he has a bad French accent--a rather surprising modesty in
one who has so much influence over you.'

'It isn't exactly an influence,' Charles said.  'We just like each
other and have similar interests.'

'And no doubt similar opinions.'

'On some things, yes.  We exchange opinions a great deal because it
helps my French.'

'Naturally.'  Havelock mused a moment.  'Which reminds me. . . .
Charnock will be here next week.  I told him the portrait of your
mother seems to be fading a little--he wants to see it and tell me
what to do.  Perhaps you'll be equally interested in HIS opinions.'

'Why, of course.  I'll enjoy meeting him.'

Charnock had been one of the fashionable portraitists of an earlier
day; he had painted Charles's mother soon after her marriage, and
the full-length canvas hung over the hall mantelpiece at Beeching
in deserved pride of place, for there was no other picture in the
house of any value.  It showed her standing on the terrace holding
in leash the two Airedales who were ancestors of the animals they
now had (there was an Airedale tradition at Beeching).  Charles had
often admired the portrait, not only with his eyes but with his
fingers touching the brush-work.  Charnock was old now, in his
seventies, and nobody took much notice of what he still regularly
sent to the Academy, but he was sometimes asked for his views of
younger exhibitors, and these were often pungent enough to make
good copy in the newspapers.  His own style was somewhat after
Millais and the pre-Raphaelites, paying much attention to dress.
Nobody could, or would, paint a fold of velvet to look more like a
fold of velvet.

Charles had no intention whatever of showing Charnock his work, any
more than an amateur pianist meeting Schnabel at dinner would ask
him to sit by the piano afterwards to hear a Beethoven sonata.
Besides which, Charles rarely painted at Beeching, feeling the
place curiously out of bounds for doing so with any pleasure.  Many
of his canvases, including several he liked, were stored in his
rooms at Cambridge; others were in a studio in St. John's Wood that
Brunon rented during school vacations.  Brunon had promised to find
frames for some of the recent Normandy paintings and had kept them
for this purpose.  Not only therefore was Charles surprised when
Charnock after dinner asked to see some of his work, but there
wasn't much to show him.  He went to his room, nevertheless, and
found a few samples--water-colours of Cambridge scenes, a head of
an old man dozing in a caf at Lillebonne--sketched and then
painted from part-memory; a still life improvised on a wet day in
his college rooms; a landscape in oils of the fens near Waterbeach.
He showed these to Charnock with embarrassment, partly because he
hated to impose on a guest, but also because it was the first time
his father could have seen most if not all of them.

Charnock kept silence for a long interval when the display was over
and while Charles thankfully stacked the pictures against the wall.
Presently the old man cleared his throat and commented:  'Well, my
boy, you certainly must have had a lot of fun.'

'Yes,' agreed Charles.  'I wouldn't have done them if I hadn't.'

Havelock smiled a slow smile.  'I'm afraid the great painters had
more serious motives . . . wouldn't you say so, Charnock?'

'Oh yes, but fun's all right too.'  Charnock grinned.  'I never
found it did any harm to a painting to enjoy painting it. . . .
But I suppose what you really want me to tell you, my boy, is
whether you ought to take it up for a living.'

Charles hadn't wanted this at all; he had no intention of trying to
become a professional painter, and if this were the assumption he
felt himself to be falsely a suppliant for Charnock's opinion.
Evidently his father had caused the misunderstanding and there was
no way now of clearing it up without being rude to a man whose work
Charles admired and respected.  So he just smiled back and said
nothing.

'And you want me to be frank?' Charnock continued.

'Well, yes, of course, sir.'

Charnock nodded and shrugged.  He slowly lit the cigar that
Havelock offered; it was as if Havelock were gently prompting him
to exploit the fullest possible drama of the occasion.  Then
Charnock began, puffing between the words:  'In that case, my boy,
the answer is fortunately simple.  You have nothing but a talent.
A nice talent, and one that may continue to give yourself and
others pleasure, but beyond that . . .'  He shrugged again.

Havelock turned to Charles.  'I hope it isn't a big disappointment,
Charles, but I think you'll agree it's far better to have it now
than nourish an impossible hope.'

'I never had such a hope, so there isn't any disappointment,'
Charles answered.

Which was true, and yet in a way not entirely true.  For there was
always the hope that one admitted to be preposterous--like
wondering what one would do with the money if one's sweepstake
ticket won the first prize.  Charles, had he ever been asked, would
have told anybody (and sincerely) that he doubted if he had more
than talent; but he did not enjoy being assured of it by a man
whose opinion he valued but hadn't sought, and in front of his
father, who (he was now convinced) had planned the whole thing as
some kind of personal humiliation.  Later he began to wonder if it
might be simply revenge for the week he had spent away from
Beeching with Brunon.

                  *     *     *     *     *

One day in the spring of 1921 Charles left Cambridge by an early
train to spend the day in London.  His researches into the Seljuk
Turks had reached a point where Cambridge libraries had nothing
more to offer, but there were several sources at the British Museum
that he thought might yield something.  The morning was wet and he
was glad to exchange the chill of London streets for the leathery
warmth of the great Reading Room under the dome.  After he had
searched the catalogue and filled in slips he found a desk and read
the paper while he waited; there was nothing much in the news--
riots in Vienna, famine in Russia, Anglo-French squabbling about
German reparations, a murder at Golders Green--just an average
cross-section of daily mishap.  It was really more satisfying to
stare about and observe the familiar types--students planning
success in examinations, as he was; droll characters probing
crannies of knowledge for the strangest morsels; tired-looking
gleaners who Charles imagined might be freelance journalists
gathering material for the kind of article they would never sell.
Once the Museum official who brought his books had leaned over to
whisper: 'Know who used to sit at your desk, young man?  KARL
MARX. . . .  And you know where Lenin first met Trotsky? . . .  In
the street--in the middle of the night--just round the corner from
here.'

Charles had been interested, though Marx, Lenin and Trotsky were no
particular heroes of his.  But he was young enough to find a thrill
in feeling so close to the kind of history that seemed alive in
newspapers rather than dead in books.

The books arrived, and Charles busily made notes till one o'clock,
when he stacked his material where he could return to it later and
strolled along the corridor to the Museum restaurant.  It looked
full, so he reclaimed his hat and coat and scampered down the long
Grecian flight into the open air.  He was in a mood for scampering.
The rain had stopped and a watery sun was pushing aside the edges
of cloud and trying to dry the streets.  He felt happy.

He could have painted those clouds.  He had done a good morning's
work, and he would do more during the afternoon and then catch the
7.15 back to Cambridge, eating dinner on the train.  That would
give him plenty of time to be in college before midnight; and the
next day he could sort out his notes and fit them into the thesis
where they best belonged.  It seemed a shadowless programme as he
entered the stream of hurrying Londoners outside the Museum.  There
was a Lyons teashop nearby, but this too was crowded and the only
vacant chair he could see was at a table already in use.  It was
better than waiting, though, and as he only wanted a sandwich and a
cup of coffee he threaded his way across the room.  Suddenly he saw
that the other occupant was a girl; or rather, the girl whom he saw
to be the other occupant gave him a sudden emotion.  There was no
special reason for it; she was not prettier than average, and in
her rather shabby mackintosh and with wisps of rain-wet hair a
little disarranged over her forehead she must be aware, if she were
giving it a thought, of not looking her best.  Clearly she was not
giving it a thought.  She was reading a book and seemed engrossed;
when Charles sat down she did not look up, and this gave him a
chance to observe her more carefully.  All the time the emotion he
had had on first seeing her persisted, and meanwhile something else
happened that he would not have noticed except at a moment of
heightened intensity--the sun broke the edge of another cloud and a
single ray pierced the interior of the teashop.  He saw the scene
then as he would always remember it--the slopped tables and muddied
floor, the clothes-rack hung with coats and dripping umbrellas, the
sign pasted on a mirror that read 'Baked Beans on Toast Now Reduced
to Fivepence'.  He also saw that the book she was reading was a
novel by Compton Mackenzie called Guy and Pauline.  She was rather
pale, and though her eyes were on the book he guessed they were
large; the small finger that turned the pages had a dark stain on
the tip.  He felt like a detective when he decided that this was
not merely from ink but from typewriter-ribbon ink.

He gave his order to the waitress and continued the diagnosis till
the sandwich and cup of coffee arrived.  Then he ate and drank
slowly, and throughout all this time she had not once looked up.
The book, he thought, must be surpassingly readable.  But he was
glad, in a way, because it enabled him to continue his detective
role.  She had had a cup of tea, he noted, and a bath bun.  That
was not much of a midday meal for an office girl--perhaps it was
all she could afford.  But then he imagined the same deduction
being made about himself, from similar evidence on the table; and
he wished it were she who would look up and be interested enough to
make the mistake.  She didn't.  Presently, though, she glanced at
the clock on the wall behind, put a marker at the page she had
reached, grabbed her bill, and hurried to the cash desk.

Charles stayed for a few minutes, then picked up his own bill and
left.  'Just like April,' said the cashier as she gave him change.
He was puzzled for a moment till he saw that the sun had gone in
and another shower was beginning.  He had to walk through it back
to the Museum.

                  *     *     *     *     *

All afternoon, and during the train journey to Cambridge, and on
and off during the days of work that followed, Charles found
himself thinking of the girl in the Lyons teashop.  Indeed, he had
never thought so persistently of any girl before.  Amorous
adventure had so far in his life been of a kind to make him think
its pleasures exaggerated, or at least over-compensated for by
regrets and confusions; and the girls he met fairly often were
mostly the daughters of Beeching neighbours, horsy or hockey-
playing.  They thought him shy, which he was, and dull, which he
was not; he had sometimes hoped that one of them might discover
this.  As for the Newnham and Girton girls who attended the
university lectures, he hardly knew any of them except by sight,
and the sight was rarely blood-tingling.  Perhaps, he feared, he
was impossibly hard to please, since he did not seem to care for
either the bluestocking or the sportswoman type.

One thing he did with a promptness that startled him; he bought Guy
and Pauline at Heffer's and read it at a sitting.  It was
charmingly written, but he thought Guy was a bit of a prig, and an
Oxford prig at that--which put him at odds with the entire idyll.
His surviving interest, when he came to the last page, was with the
girl in the teashop--why had she found the story so absorbing?  Of
course it was quite possible she hadn't.  Maybe she merely
preferred a novel--any novel--to reading a newspaper or chatting
with the girls she worked with all day.  And maybe she always read
like that--with an air of having surrendered totally to a spell.

The following week term ended for the Easter vacation and Charles
decided to put in another hour or so at the Museum on his way home.
He planned to catch an afternoon train from Paddington to Stow
Magna, which was the station for Beeching; but while he was making
his notes, with one eye on the clock, it occurred to him that he
needn't hurry unless he wanted to, since there were later trains
and it was of small consequence when he arrived.  Relaxing, he then
forgot the time till he began to feel hungry.  Of course he had
known all along he would revisit the Lyons teashop.

He found a table near the one he had had before, but he could not
see the girl anywhere, and while he watched the entrance the whole
thing seemed to become both fantastic and of increasing importance.
How absurd, he reflected; but WHAT was absurd?  Was it not his own
folly, if it mattered to him so much, in not speaking to her when
he had had the chance?  The thought made him decide not to repeat
the absurdity if ever he were granted a second chance.  An hour
passed.  The appetite he had felt at the Museum had deserted him;
he could hardly finish his coffee and sandwich.  He told himself he
would leave at a quarter past two and that would be the end of it.
Quarter past two came, and he still stayed.  She walked in five
minutes later.

The shop was half empty by then, and of course she went to another
table, but not far away.  She had a book which she began to read as
before.  The waitress knew her and they exchanged a friendly
greeting.  Her smile was somehow what he had expected, except for a
little gap between one upper tooth and the next one, at the left
side; this was pure caprice, unimaginable beforehand in any mind's
eye.  When the waitress had gone he left his table and went over to
hers with a deliberation he knew would be hard to explain when she
looked up, as she must; and almost in panic he realized he had no
explanation at all except the truth which could not be spoken.  For
the truth was simply that he loved her, if ever the word had, or
had had, or would have, any complete meaning for him.  She looked
up.  He blushed, pulled a chair, and said with stammering
inspiration:  'I wondered if you were still reading Guy and
Pauline. . . .  Why, yes, so you are.'

She stared for a few seconds, then glanced round as if to verify,
without displeasure, all the vacant tables.  'Are you Ethel's
friend?' she asked.

'Ethel?'

'Oh, then . . .'  She looked apologetic, as if it were she and not
he who had precipitated the encounter.  'You see, Ethel's friend
lent it to her, and then she lent it to me--Ethel's MY friend--and
I liked it so much she told him.  He said he'd like to meet me and
talk about it, so she said I was always here for lunch--well,
nearly always.  That's why I thought--but of course--if you're
not . . .'

He said:  'No, no.  I just happened to be here the other day and
noticed what you were reading.  You didn't see me.  I was
interested because--well . . .'  He struck out for a reason like a
swimmer for the shore.  'Well, I'd read the book myself and was
interested.'

Her eyes widened and he had been right about them too--they were
large.  They were also a deep violet in colour.

'Oh yes, it's a lovely story, isn't it?  Even my dad liked it.  He
said it was so good about gardens.'

Charles did not know what to say to this, but it was time to come
to terms with her voice, which was not quite what he had expected.
Or rather, perhaps, he had simply not used his brains about what to
expect--for he had already deduced her as an office girl with not
too good a job.  If one didn't know English, he reflected
whimsically, one would have found her voice as delightful as her
eyes--soft and warm and altogether pleasing; but since one did know
the language, one had to admit that her voice was also rather
Cockney, and Charles wished it wasn't, a few seconds before he
asked himself why it mattered.  For he had been brought up with
that crucial consciousness of accent which is so much in the air of
English public schools that a boy with the wrong kind would feel
outcast till, by conscious mimicry or slow absorption, he could
conform to pattern.  And the pattern, of course, was the clipped
unregional utterance associated by name with Oxford rather than
Cambridge, an utterance based on upper-class standardizations
achieved over a period long enough to acquire tradition.

She went on, smiling now with complete friendliness:  'I've nearly
finished it.  Don't tell me how it ends.'

'It's a sad ending.'

'I don't mind sad endings if they're real.  I mean, I don't like a
happy ending to be dragged in.'

'Mackenzie wouldn't do that--he's too good a writer.  But I don't
think Guy and Pauline is his best book.  You ought to read
Carnival.'

'Carnival?  I'll remember that. . . .  Are YOU a writer?'

'Oh no.'  But then he recollected what he was in London for.  'Not
of novels, but at present I'm working on a thesis.'  It was clear
she didn't know what a thesis was, and he didn't hold it against
her.  'Something I have to do at Cambridge.'

Her eyes widened again.  'Cambridge?  You're at Cambridge College?'

The question hadn't been put to him before in that form, and
because he didn't want to make her seem ignorant or himself
pedantic, he answered:  'I'm a student at the University, but
I come to London sometimes to look up things at the British
Museum. . . .  Now it's your turn.  Tell me what you do.'

There was no check on the conversation from then on.  She said she
was a typist at a firm of importers with offices in Kingsway.  She
had a boss named Mr. Graybar.  She was eighteen.  She lived with
her parents at Linstead, and Linstead, she explained, was near
Chilford.  (Charles had heard of both, but could only place
them vaguely as northern London suburbs.)  Her father was a
superintendent of local parks.  (She spoke the word 'superintendent'
with pride.)  She had two sisters and a brother. Another brother
had been killed in the war.

That led him to tell her, with no reticence at all, about Lindsay.
'He was seven years older than I.  He was going to have a wonderful
career--everybody was sure of that--he'd already taken a brilliant
degree.  He was good at everything--games as well.  He could ride
beautifully--some of those big fellows that I was always scared of--'

'Where do you live?' she interrupted.

'In the country.  Cheltenham's the nearest town.'

'What's your dad?' she then asked.

The question closed and barred the door that Lindsay had opened
wide, for the thought of his father made Charles suddenly cautious.
To discuss his family and Beeching might set a distance between
them, and he could not take such a risk at this early stage of
their relationship (for he knew already there must be later
stages).  He said guardedly:  'You mean his job?  He doesn't
actually have one, except . . .'  And then he floundered because
the words seemed ill-chosen--would she think he was telling her
that his father was out of work?  He went on, trying to correct the
wrong impression, if any, without conveying the right one:  'We
have a bit of land and he looks after it most of the time.'

'Oh, I think it's wonderful he sent you to college.  My dad let
Bert stay on at the grammar school till he was sixteen.'

So she HAD misunderstood?  Charles couldn't be sure.  Anyhow, it
was as if she were pridefully seeking to match either her own
father's financial sacrifices or his devotion to learning with
anyone else's in the world, and this drew his hand across the table
to hers in a warmth that made their first physical contact
something to remember like all the other first things.  He saw the
colour spring to her cheeks, and she glanced at the clock while his
hand was still on hers.  'Oh dear, I must run--Mr. Graybar will
make such a fuss.  It's our busy day with the Japanese mail going
out.'

'Japanese mail?'

'Yes, we do a lot of business with Japan.  AND China.'

'Are your hours long?'

'Nine till six.'

'Hard work?'

'Not so bad.  It comes in rushes.  That's why I'm so late today.  I
have to go, really.  It's been awfully nice talking to you.'

'You say you always come here to lunch?'

'Well, sometimes I go to the A.B.C. in Holborn.  But mostly here.
It's nearer.'  She picked up the bill.

'No, no, let ME . . .'

'Oh, I couldn't . . . no, really . . .'

The bill was only a few pence, and he thought it too unimportant to
argue about, the more so as he didn't know whether she had
protested conventionally or because he had said his father had no
job.  So he said, testing the matter from another angle:  'All
right, THIS time--but I must see you again.  Will you have lunch
with me next week--one day?'

'I'll be here, yes.  Every day.'

He followed her to the cash desk, paying his own bill.  He still
stayed with her when they reached the street.  A clock outside was
either five minutes fast or else the one in the teashop had been
slow.  She noticed it with alarm.  'Oh, look, I'm terribly late.'

So they scampered together, half running and half walking, along a
zigzag of side streets to Kingsway, making plans meanwhile.  When
they reached the office doorway another clock, confirming the one
in the teashop, seemed to give them a moment miraculously their
own.  He said:  'You won't be late--not now--and why don't I meet
you HERE next week, instead of at the Lyons?  We don't really have
to go there at all, do we?'

'All right.'

'Here, then, next Wednesday, at one?'

'Yes.'  She gave him a bright breathless smile.  'And I'll try not
to be late, Charlie, but if I am, you'll know it's Mr. Graybar.'

She ran inside and he stood on the pavement, watching the swinging
doors till they were still.  She had called him Charlie, so
promptly and easily, and no one else ever had--neither family nor
friends.  At Brookfield most boys used last names, except
intimates, and those had called him 'Andy'--a nickname that had
then been transplanted to his circle of Cambridge friends because
one of them had also known him at Brookfield.

She had told him her name was Lily--Lily Mansfield, but he had not
used it yet, aloud.

                  *     *     *     *     *

On the train from Paddington he could hardly find perspective in a
world so changed.  He ate the Great Western dinner, his appetite
now briskly restored, and staring through the window was almost
glad there was a full week before he would see her again--a full
week to taste the new dimension of events.  Towards the latter part
of the journey night fell, and then he got out his notes and found
to his relief that he could concentrate magnificently.  She cosily
made room for the Seljuk Turks in his mind.

At Stow Magna he took a taxi to Beeching.  As the cab swung past
the lodge gates into the half-mile of carriage drive he saw a tall
figure pacing in circles on the front lawn at a rate that, with its
lack of purpose, suggested frenzy rather than exercise.  Charles
knew it must be his father in one of his 'moods', though what kind
of mood was not yet apparent.  Maybe deep depression, or maybe a
high excursion on the crest of a mind-wave; 'plunging' and
'vaulting' were the adjectives which, for want of anything more
scientific, Charles gave to the two extremes.  The difference
between them and the quickened intervals of their recurrence
had already become as obvious as the fact that Havelock's
eccentricities were increasing as he grew older and as the years
denied him more than they offered.  It was as if the slowing tempo
of a powerful physicality had liberated him for forays while it
barred the grand offensives of earlier days.

Havelock stopped his pacing when he saw Charles arrive.  The first
words of greeting as they entered the house together revealed that
the mood was 'vaulting' this time, which was certainly, of the two,
more cheerful to live with.  But not always more tranquil.  During
what was left of the evening Charles discovered the nature of the
latest foray.  Havelock, it seemed, had just contributed to The
Times a letter that was not about birds or tombstones, but ventured
into new territory--political.  Beginning with a reference to 'my
son, who is at Cambridge', it had gone on to mention an honorary
degree recently conferred there on a leading politician (named) and
the list of this man's virtues, as enumerated in the usual Latin
speech delivered on such occasions in the Senate House.  Havelock's
contention was that the Latin had not been well translated, and
after quoting it he supplied his own 'better' version as follows:
'Sagacity, Willpower, Integrity, Nobility, Experience'.  All of
which could have been called a piece of harmless pedantry till
Havelock had gleefully pointed out (to friends, neighbours, and
fellow members of his London club) that the initials of the
enumerated qualities spelt the word 'swine', and that The Times
editor had thus been magnificently duped.  Havelock now expounded
this crme de la crme of the jest to Charles in the real or
assumed expectation that he would derive equal enjoyment.

Of course Charles thought the whole thing preposterous and a
disturbing symptom of his father's heightened irresponsibility.  He
could not decide on the motive; whether Havelock by the completely
unnecessary reference to 'my son' had sought deliberately to
involve him in unpleasantness; or whether he had merely surrendered
to some euphoria in which his mind (not for the first time)
operated without judgment.  Charles told him frankly that if the
story got around it couldn't exactly help a budding diplomatic or
any other kind of career.  'The fellow you called a swine may be
the one I'll be having to ask for a job one of these days.'

Suddenly deflated, Havelock then claimed that this had never
occurred to him, and that in any case the risk of real harm was
trivial.  Perhaps it was, Charles admitted; only time would show.
When later the whole incident seemed without result of any kind,
Charles could only conclude that the letter had attracted
absolutely no attention, and that people to whom his father had
talked had merely disregarded him as a crank.  Full relief came
later still, when The Times proved its unawareness by printing
Havelock's next letter, which was innocuously concerned with the
migratory behaviour of the green sandpiper.

But for the time, during that first week of the Easter vacation, it
was only behind a curtain of exasperation that Charles could savour
his own private happiness--the thought of the Wednesday ahead, the
Wednesday he had chosen as just a random day for meeting Lily
again, but which already he wished had been Monday or Tuesday.

                  *     *     *     *     *

As soon as he saw her pushing through the swing-doors of the
Kingsway office he knew she had dressed up, and though she would
have looked just as well to him in what she had worn at their first
meeting, he was touched.  Naturally, as a man, but still more as a
man of his class, he had not thought to do anything similar.  There
were certain things one wore in the country and slightly different
fashions at Oxford or Cambridge, and a third set of rules for
London--none of them more difficult than the task of choosing a
good tailor and paying his bills.  Charles had indeed been in a
state of high excitement as he dressed at Beeching that morning,
but so far as clothes were concerned, he was just going up to town
for the day, and anyone who saw him waiting on the platform at Stow
Magna would have known exactly that.

They shook hands and for a moment were both of them nervous and
almost speechless till he raised his arm to halt a passing taxi.
'We'll decide where we'll go while we're going,' he said gaily.
And then to the driver:  'Trafalgar Square, to begin with.'

But he found she had very few ideas about lunch.  It seemed that on
certain gala occasions she had been to the Strand Palace and the
Regent Palace, which she had thought very splendid; but they were
not his style, and since he could not afford Claridge's or the
Ritz, he wondered if she would be disappointed with the kind of
restaurant that suited both his tastes and his pocket pretty well.
There was one he and Brunon had discovered, called Le Beau Soleil,
in Soho--a small foreign place with no marble and gilt about it,
just a few tables in a plain room, rather grubby menus, and a good
cuisine for the price.  So he said, taking her arm in the taxi:
'Let's go somewhere I once went to--nothing much, but at least it's
quiet and we can talk.'  It wasn't even quiet; what he meant was
that there was no six-piece orchestra booming out popular tunes to
drown conversation or to fill the gap of silence between people who
had nothing to say.

It troubled him to think that Le Beau Soleil might disappoint her;
but soon he realized how willing she was, at all times beginning
with that first one, to go where he took her and to be actively,
not merely passively, happy about it.  There was a sense, indeed,
in which everything that ever happened to her was a gala occasion,
needing no particular background to make her enjoy it to the full.

They had the plat du jour and she refused wine but drank several
cups of coffee.  The room was downstairs from the street level, in
a sort of semi-basement whose windows looked up beyond a railed
area to the pavement.  One saw the legs of people passing
continuously, but no more of them than that without craning one's
neck.  Sometimes a pair of legs would stop--perhaps to rest, or
during the lighting of a cigarette, or for no special reason at all--
and then proceed again.  Sometimes a pair of legs would stop close
to another pair of legs--a meeting.  It was amusing to guess, and
then to lean sideways to verify.  Once a man stooped and stared,
presumably to see if the restaurant was full; it was the only
outside face they saw, and behind the railings it looked like that
of some strange crouching animal in a cage.  'But HE sees US
through the bars,' she said.  'Maybe to him it looks as if WE'RE in
the cage.'

'I've often had the same thought at the Zoo. . . .  You like the
Zoo?'

'I've never been,' she answered.

That seemed to him quite amazing.  'You've never been to the Zoo?'

'I've never been anywhere much--except round about where I live.'

He found, by closer questioning, that this was true--she had
visited hardly any of London's famous sights; all she really knew
of the city was the daily route by bus or tube from the station to
the office, plus a few jaunts to cinemas and theatres.  She had
never been to the British Museum, though it was only a short stroll
from where she usually had lunch.  But she had been to Madame
Tussaud's, and Charles hadn't.  'Reg took me.  He wanted to see the
Chamber of Horrors.'  She didn't explain who Reg was, and Charles
didn't ask; but the mere existence of a Reg stirred in him a desire
to be the first to take her to all the places that Reg had so far
neglected.

He got an impression that she had lived a very sheltered life at
home--and of course there had been the war years during which
sightseeing wasn't easy or always possible.  She said she had
reached the top class at Linstead High School for Girls, and had
gone straight to an office job on leaving.  'We learned French at
school,' she said proudly, 'but I don't remember much now.'  This
came out when the proprietor greeted them at their table and
Charles addressed him in fluent French, resulting in the discovery
that Le Beau Soleil was owned and managed by a Greek, and Charles
did not know any modern Greek.  He realized then from his dismay
how much he had been wanting to show off in that particular
fashion.

Suddenly, over a third cup of coffee, she noticed the clock.
'Oh, my goodness--a quarter to three.  I'll have to run.  Mr.
Graybar . . .'

'May I say damn Mr. Graybar?'

She giggled.  'I've said that many a time. . . .  It's all right,
though--we're not so busy today and I'll work late tonight to make
up for it. . . .  But whatever could we have been talking about all
this time?'

And that was a question hard to answer.  For they had talked
unceasingly, yet not about anything important.  Just their own
everyday affairs, which interested each other the more they were
revealed, though Charles was still reluctant to be as frank as she
was.  It was strange; he did not mind impressing her with news of
Cambridge, and the work he was doing, and his fluent French, but he
did not want her to know much about Beeching.  Yet perhaps he had
been less reticent than he supposed, or else she had intuition
about it, for in the taxi on the way back to Kingsway she said:
'Your family are rather well off, aren't they?'

'Oh no, not really.  You can be poor nowadays if you own land.  My
father often has trouble paying his bills.'

'Do you own a lot of land?'

'Just farmland.  All of it wouldn't be worth as much as a few
square feet round here.'  That was an exaggeration, but he wanted
to minimize certain differences between them.  Other differences he
didn't mind--some even amused him.  Her navet, for instance, and
her lack of the pseudo-sophistication that most girls had--a lack
which he knew had nothing to do with primness or being straitlaced.
He noticed this when she declined a cigarette.  'You don't smoke or
drink, Lily?'

'Well, I've tried them both, but dad doesn't like me to, till I'm
older.  And it costs money.'

'How much do you earn--if it isn't something I oughtn't to ask?'

'Why not? . . .  Two pounds fifteen a week.'  Charles was shocked;
he had no idea that wages in offices were so low.  But she seemed
to think she was well paid.  'I'll say that for Mr. Graybar, he's
not mean if you can do your job.  He gave me the extra five
shillings last New Year without even being asked.  Of course I live
at home, that makes it easy.  I give my mum thirty shillings--she
won't take any more.  She's awfully good to me.'

He was beginning to realize already that Lily found most people
'awfully good' and therefore easy to excuse, forgive, appreciate,
and love.  And if love were too strong a word, surely any other
would not have been strong enough for the emotion that radiated
from her in all human directions.  She loved her mother and father,
her sisters and brother, the girls she worked with at the office;
she even loved, in a sort of way, the redoubtable Mr. Graybar.  And
she had a bright cloudless mind that threaded the love into the
pattern of all her behaviour.  He could tell that from an incident
when the cab waited in a traffic block at the corner of Aldwych.  A
queue was lined up for the gallery of a theatre and the usual
buskers were doing their turns at the kerbside.  One of them,
singing in a cracked voice almost inaudible above street noises,
turned to the cab and thrust his cap through the open window.  The
manner of the appeal was impertinent and the driver gestured him
off, as Charles would have also had he not seen Lily fishing in her
handbag.

'No, no, let ME. . . .'  He managed to find a shilling in his
pocket and dropped it in the man's cap.

'You shouldn't have done that,' she said, when the cab moved away.

'Why not?  YOU were going to.'

'But a SHILLING!' she protested.  'They don't expect that much.
Goodness, nobody could afford to, if it had to be a shilling.'

'So you always give to them?'

'If I'm passing I sometimes do.  Some of them are really good
singers, and if they aren't you feel sorry for them. . . .  Only a
few coppers, of course.'

'I'll bet that fellow didn't need money as much as you do.  I'll
bet he makes more in a day than you earn in a week.'

'But if people always thought like that they'd never give anything
to anybody.'  The cab was making the turn into Kingsway.  'Oh,
Charlie, I've had such a wonderful time.  I can't remember when
I've talked so much.  Next time I'll try not to.'

He took her hand in an uprush of exultation that gave his voice a
tremor.  'Well, when shall it be--NEXT TIME?  TONIGHT?  What time
do you leave the office?'

'Oh no, I'll be working late, and besides, they'll expect me at
home.'

'You could telephone.'

'We haven't got a telephone at home--'

'How can you work late then, if they expect you--'

'Just an hour or so late doesn't matter--they're used to that.  But
if I went out for the evening--'

'That's what we'll do, the next time.  The whole evening.  The next
time I come to the Museum.  That'll be soon.'  (But how soon?  Not
before the term began again?  Could he endure such a delay?)  'What
about the week after next?  Wednesday again?  We'll have dinner.'

They fixed a time and a place.  There wasn't a whiff of coquetry in
the way she agreed to what she was so willing and happy to do, and
for that matter both 'the next time' and 'the evening' had been her
words before his.  It was also comforting, up to a point, to think
that she probably loved him no less--and perhaps more already--than
some of the other inhabitants of her world.

                  *     *     *     *     *

He did not overwork at the Museum that afternoon, and at Beeching,
during the ensuing fortnight, he began to assemble the thesis into
final shape.  There was much more to be done for the Tripos
examination than just that, but he would have all the following
term for the rest of it once the thesis was out of the way.  He
found it hard to work at Beeching, and several times after
breakfast he walked the dogs or rode his bicycle a few miles to
some hill with a view or a tree-shaded river bank where he could
concentrate on a book till distractions came--rain or a chill wind
or his own thoughts tempting him to dream.

One morning he received a wire from Brunon suggesting a meeting
somewhere immediately, since Brunon had accepted a post in France
and would soon be leaving England.  Charles had the idea to invite
him to Beeching, and it was arranged that he should come to lunch
and dinner and stay overnight.  Brunon duly arrived and met
Havelock, who turned on the charm and proved an entirely delightful
host.  There were such times as this when Charles felt, not so much
that he loved his father, as that the emotion of loving a father
would have been a satisfying one if he could ever have been given
long enough to develop it.

During the drive to the station the next morning Brunon hinted at
another holiday in France during the coming summer.  'We might go
to the Cevennes and see those towns built on the tops of hills.  I
think you would find things to paint there.'

Charles answered vaguely, not because the idea did not attract but
because his thoughts of Lily made the future hard to delimit.
Brunon noticed this and continued:  'Well, let me know if you can
manage it. . . .  Or perhaps you have lost a little of your
interest in painting since our Normandy excursion?'

'Not a bit.  It's just that I'm working so hard and don't have as
much time.'

'But you have scarcely mentioned painting while I have been here?'

'I don't often talk about it in front of my father.  He isn't very
interested.'  Then Charles told Brunon about Charnock's visit and
the opinion of Charles's work he had expressed.

Brunon snorted.  'That old pompier!  What could you have expected?
Pretty ladies on chocolate-box lids--it is all he is good enough
for.'

'He did a portrait of my mother.  I don't know if you noticed it--
over the mantelpiece in the hall.'

'I did, but I did not know it was your mother.  A very beautiful
woman--though not, in my opinion, a very notable painting.  Just
competent and commercial.  And who am I, you may ask, to despise
either quality?  You are right: I am nobody, and my opinion, as I
have often told you, is of no value whatever.'

Charles smiled.  'I have a feeling it is, if only because you've
never told me _I_ have any genius.'

'Genius is a foolish word.  It is not a label to be pinned on like
a medal.  Most likely you haven't got it, whatever it is--that I
will readily admit.  Maybe I would not recognize it even if you had
it.  I can only say that one of your paintings--the one of the
ruins at Jumiges on that day when the white clouds were so big--
you remember?--I showed that to a friend in Paris.'  He mentioned
the name of a well-known dealer who had made a fortune by
commissioning and marketing the work of the newer school of post-
impressionists.

Charles forced a mask of nonchalance over his excitement.  'And did
he say I had any genius?'

'No.'

'Did he even offer you a price for the picture?'

'No.  But he said something he would not have said if he had been
quite sure you had only talent.  He said you should go on painting
for ten years and then, if he was still alive, let him see
something else.'

Charles laughed and took Brunon's arm affectionately.  'Ten years,
Andr . . . that's quite a time to wait, isn't it?  Not that I'd
mind a bit.'

                  *     *     *     *     *

Wednesday came and he went to London and took Lily to dinner at Le
Beau Soleil.  They talked till he had to leave to catch the last
train that would get him back to Beeching that night (or rather,
early the next morning); and this decided him that next time he
would stay overnight at a hotel.  He did so the following week, but
then there was HER train home to consider; it left Liverpool Street
at five minutes past midnight.  'Oh no, it isn't the last one,
Charlie--trains go to Chilford every hour all night--that's the
station after Linstead--but Dad doesn't like me to miss the twelve-
five.'  Of course he suggested seeing her home, which she wouldn't
hear of at first--she said there was really no need, she was used
to the journey alone and her parents' house was only a few minutes'
walk from Linstead station.  But it wasn't merely politeness, he
explained; he really wanted that extra time with her, and since she
also wanted it with him she soon relented.  So it came about that
at one o'clock on a spring morning, full of the scent of trees just
breaking into bud, Charles saw Linstead for the first time.

Linstead is one of those huge dormitory suburbs of London that have
spread till they touch other suburbs on all sides, like adjacent
blobs of ink on blotting paper.  You never know when you have
entered or left Linstead unless you notice the slightly different
ornamentation on the lamp-posts or a faint change in the texture of
the road surfaces.  The town has a core of history at its centre--a
few old cottages in the widened High Road and a parish church
rebuilt on the site of an earlier one; but for the most part (say
ninety-nine per cent) Linstead is recent without being modern.
Streets of small two-storied houses were pushed into a then open
countryside by the speculative builder during the first decade of
the century, their names sufficiently dating them--Kitchener,
Roberts, Mafeking, Ladysmith.  Lily lived in Ladysmith Road--Number
214, which was exactly like Numbers 212 and 216, to which it was
physically joined, sharing the walls of both.  For that matter it
was exactly like every other house in Ladysmith Road, beginning on
one side with Number 2 and going up to 278, and on the other side
from 1 to 277.

Charles had never explored a suburb of this kind, never before
having known anybody who lived in one, but he knew something of
what they were like because every railway out of London in every
direction ran through miles of them.  The backs of the joined
houses passed before the train traveller's eye in long successions,
with gardens reaching to within a few feet of the tracks.  Nobody
could visit London frequently without sometimes, in sheer idleness,
observing these back gardens, for they showed all the evidence of
individuality that the houses so totally withheld.  A paradise of
flowers could succeed a littered wasteland in a second of train
time; and on fine days the occupants were all so differently busy--
boys mending bicycles, men digging, women chattering to neighbours
across fences or hanging up clothes.  Even an animal population
throve variously--cats and dogs, rabbits in hutches, birds in
cages; and once Charles had seen a monkey in a red jacket strutting
along a garden path with its proud owner.

But at the front of the houses facing the street all was uniform
and characterless.  The gardens there were small, with no more than
a privet hedge to shield the bay windows from stares of passers-by--
though for added protection the windows themselves were veiled
with thick lace curtains.  In Ladysmith Road the bay windows
stretched for half a mile without a break, and because the road was
so respectable there was not so much as a damaged fence or a house
turned into a shop to break the monotony.  Charles, however, came
upon it first at night, when the municipal lamps made a golden lane
between structural perspectives that might have been Versailles for
all he could see of them.

What he noticed most, during that first walk home with Lily from
Linstead station, was that she seemed so thoroughly satisfied with
the place.  She pointed to the new cinema just opened in the High
Road; she showed him the Carnegie Library and the secondary school
and the shopping area which for some things, she claimed, was
almost as good as the West End and much cheaper.  But what stirred
her to real boasting were the trees.  Every road in Linstead, she
said (and in Linstead the streets were all called roads), had trees
planted on each side at intervals of a few yards, so that as they
grew they would make long leafy avenues the like of which were not
(she assured him) to be seen in any other suburb.  And who did he
think was largely responsible for this?  'My dad . . . he's in the
Parks Department--it was his idea and at first the Council wouldn't
agree because of the cost, but after a while they tried it in a few
of the roads and it looked so nice they did it in all of them.  My
dad chooses the trees for the different roads--for Ladysmith Road
he chose laburnum.  This is Ladysmith Road.  It'll look lovely in a
few weeks.'

'I think it does now.'  Which only meant that he was with her
still, treasuring the last few moments before he must walk back to
the station alone, but not knowing when exactly that last moment
would come, since she hadn't told him the number of the house.  It
might be the next one, and too late.  So there and then, a few
laburnum trees away from Number 214, he stopped and pulled her into
an embrace.  He was shy and a little clumsy about it, but she
yielded so utterly that he found confidence as well as ecstasy.
'Lily . . . are you surprised?  You know I love you? . . .  Do
you?'

'Darling, yes.  All along I have.  But I didn't know if you . . .
and now I'm so happy . . .'

He knew she had answered the question he hadn't yet asked, and how
like her not to waste time, to let her mind race with her heart.
They stood together for a long moment, exchanging words that fell
away into speechlessness.  Suddenly a large ginger cat sprang from
a nearby garden and squirmed against them.  She laughed herself out
of his arms and stooped to caress the animal.  'Midge, Midge. . . .
This is Mrs. Carroway's cat--she lives next door. . . .  Midge,
it's time I was home, isn't it? . . .  Oh, Charlie, I won't sleep
tonight and the South African mail goes out tomorrow, we'll be
terribly busy at the office . . . Charlie, darling, I'm so
happy . . . good night . . . Midge, Midge, Midge . . .'

She ran away, waving to him, the cat following her.

                  *     *     *     *     *

A week later Charles returned to Cambridge.  On the way across
London he met Lily for lunch and it was agreed that he must work
hard and without time off till the examination.  She not only
consented, she insisted on it.  Whatever happened, he must not
neglect his work, though if she could help him by typing his
notes . . . wasn't there anything like that she could do?  'Charlie,
I know how important the examination is.  That's why I don't mind
not seeing you.  We can write, of course, but send your letters to
the office because the post comes at home after I leave in the
morning.'

Within a week he had written that he must see her sooner, he
couldn't wait till the end of term, he would take a day off the
following week and come to London--he would work all the better
afterwards, he was certain.  She wrote back a firm no, but after a
second letter in which he said her refusal had made it hard for him
to work at all, she gave in.  Then, when they did meet, it was as
if the last barrier had broken down and they could no longer think
of their relationship as limitable either by times or places.

So thereafter, and throughout the term, meetings were every other
week in London--on Saturdays, as a rule, since she finished work at
one and they could spend the afternoon and evening together.
Sundays, of course, she was entirely free, but that wouldn't have
served, because she was expected to be at home most of the day
unless she said where she was going and with whom.  Without ever
discussing exactly why, they both felt they had better keep their
relationship as private as possible; all Charles's instincts were
against letting his father know about her, though it was less clear
why Lily had told her own parents so little about him.  'Of course
they know there IS somebody, Charlie--and they know you're at
Cambridge College. . . .  But my dad--well, he's a bit old-
fashioned about some things.'

On those Saturdays they went to all kinds of places--parks,
museums, art galleries, the Zoo, the river up to Richmond and as
far down as Woolwich.  Sometimes they would take a bus at random
and travel 'all the way', wherever it might lead and even in
pouring rain; and then in some corner of a caf in an unknown
suburb find shelter and privacy.  The hours sped by, no matter
where they went.  Usually he saw her home before beginning his own
return journey, for he had to be back in college by midnight, and
this meant catching the last train from Liverpool Street and a wild
rush through Cambridge streets--scampering and running if the train
were punctual, taking a cab if not.  He managed to get in before
the gates closed on every occasion except one, when there was thick
fog; but this enabled him to clamber over the ancient college wall
unobserved, following a tradition that was itself quite ancient.
He barked his shins and ruined a pair of trousers and felt very
adventurous.  Those were happy days.

Once he took her to the Alhambra, where they saw a pale and polite
resuscitation of the old-fashioned music-hall.  But Little Tich was
on the programme, and though far past his prime, was still
incomparable.  It was a twice-nightly show and they went again to
the second 'house', staying just to see Little Tich.  'My mum and
dad used to see him when they were young,' she said, enraptured.
'That was at the old Collins in Islington.  They lived in Islington
then.  My dad was born there, and my granddad was born in a house
that was pulled down to build St. Pancras Station.  We're real
Cockneys--on my dad's side.  Mum comes from Norfolk.  She was a
cook in a big house and dad travelled for a firm that put water-
pipes in greenhouses.  That's how they met.  He gave her a rose and
she gave him a meat pie.  They often laugh about it now.  Funny,
isn't it, to think of your parents just before they see each other
for the first time, not knowing what's ahead--'

'WE'RE ahead,' said Charles.  'That's why it's funny.'  But he was
thinking that he didn't know where or how his own parents had met,
and to change the subject even in his mind he added:  'So they got
married and came to London and lived happily ever after?'

'Oh yes.  They have tiffs sometimes, of course.  Dad bringing in
mud from the garden and things like that.  Nothing serious.  They
both like a quiet life.  Most years they go to the seaside for a
week.  Mum always liked Margate--that's where they had their
honeymoon--but dad's a bit of a roamer.'

'So they roam?'

'They generally go to Margate.  Or Broadstairs.'

Another time, on one of those Saturday excursions, he took a sketch-
book with him.  In a few minutes, while she watched, he roughed out
an impression of the Serpentine on a May afternoon--children
paddling and couples on the grass and riders close by along the
Row.  It was not very good because he had been showing off a
little, anxious also not to spend much of their limited time on
something he could do just as well on his own.  If only their
meetings could be oftener and for longer--if only he could take a
holiday with her as he had with Brunon, driving an old car from
village to village with no need to worry about missing trains or
getting home late. . . .

She was captivated by the sketch and begged it from him.  'It's
nothing,' he said, which was almost the truth.  'I've always liked
trying to put what I see on paper.  I paint a little, too, when I
have time.'  He was deliberately casual about it.  He wanted her to
ask to see his paintings and was slightly disappointed when she
didn't, though it would have been hard to arrange if she had.  Then
he realized that such reticence was part of her entire attitude;
despite willing gossip about her own and her family's affairs, she
was equally willing not to know the things he did not choose to
disclose.  Likewise she accepted all his suggestions for places to
visit, neither in subservience nor indifference, but from a simple
pleasure she took in doing whatever he wanted.

She was small, physically, and all his own preferences were
permanently set by it--her height was the right height, the crook
of her arm in his had the cosy curve and pressure, beauty to him
was in the angle of her upward glance as they walked along.  And
she was LOVING--in a curious way that warmed the blood yet cooled
the fever of it.  Many times he waited for her at street corners
and on railway platforms and always, at the revelation that it was
she and none of the hundreds of others that had passed or were
passing, something in his mind clicked into certainty, like a key
turning in a lock.

One evening as he was taking her home they met the Superintendent
of Parks enjoying his evening stroll along Ladysmith Road.
Naturally she made the introductions, and Charles noticed that
after the first instant of surprise she showed little nervousness
or embarrassment, but was clearly moved by an affection for both of
them that made the whole encounter cordial.  Mr. Mansfield was
plump and slow-moving; the pursuit of horticulture under a
municipal employer seemed to have given him a special serenity
compounded of having a job he both enjoyed and could not lose.  His
high-pitched squeaky voice and Cockney accent (much more noticeable
than Lily's) were odd but not inharmonious with his solid frame and
deliberate movements.

'So you're the chap Lily's bin seein' so much of litely?'  He
pumped Charles's hand up and down.  'Pleased to meet you, Mr.
Anderson, I'm shore.  And 'ow d'you like our part of the world?'

'I think it's very nice,' said Charles tactfully, 'especially the
trees in all the streets.'

'I'll warrant that's what she put you up to say.'  He was pleased,
though.  'Not that you ain't right about the trees.  Mike all the
difference, don't they? . . .  You know Linstead?'

'I'm afraid not, sir.'

Mr. Mansfield chuckled as he relit his pipe.  'You don't 'ave to
call me 'sir'.  What d'you think I am--a school-teacher?  Any'ow,
'ave Lily bring you round some Sunday for dinner.  Can promise you
a nice bit of roast beef if you fancy it.'

'Thank you very much.'

Mr. Mansfield passed on his way with a nod.  When he was out of
earshot Charles gripped Lily's arm with extra warmth.  'Well,
aren't you glad?  The best things sometimes happen by accident.
Now he's met me he won't mind you being out late so often.  Or at
least I hope he won't.  Nice old boy. . . .  Why . . . Lily . . .
what's the matter?'

'You REALLY like him, Charlie?  You really DO?'

'Of course.  And remember what he said--you've got to ask me to
dinner at your house.'

'On a SUNDAY?'

'Yes, I can take a Sunday off instead of a Saturday.  When shall we
fix it?'

'Any Sunday--if they know in time.  You really want to come?
You'll like my mum, too, that's certain, but I'm not so sure about
Bert and Reg.'

'Who's Reg?'  At last he had been forced to ask.

'He's Bert's pal.  Reg Robinson.  He always has dinner with us on
Sundays.'

                  *     *     *     *     *

On Sundays in summer Ladysmith Road was rarely at its best.  The
air was apt to be hot and impregnated with smells from a hundred
households in which the ceremonial meal of the week was being
prepared, and of this meal, though the ingredients were many and
various and wholesome, the predominant smell was usually that of
boiling cabbage.  Ladysmith Road was far higher in the social scale
than would have allowed noisy children to play in the gutter or
dance to a hurdy-gurdy; indeed it was higher in the social scale
than would have allowed street music on any day of the week; so
instead, on Sundays, there was this vast and cabbagy calm, broken
only by the murmur of someone's piano or the distant grind of trams
along the High Road.  At midday the pubs opened and the Sunday
Schools closed, but the nearest pub and Sunday School were round
several corners, so that their traffic was straggling and
intermittent by the time it reached the laburnums.  Nor was there
on Sundays any of the movement which, like systole and diastole,
drew the inhabitants to and from Linstead station and gave
Ladysmith Road, between certain hours on weekdays, the appearance
of being actually on the way to somewhere.

Charles's visit to Number 214 was not an entire success, though he
didn't think it was either his own fault entirely or that of the
Mansfields.  Their hospitality was friendly and their roast beef
excellent.  Charles had seen the outside of the house so often that
its interior hardly surprised him; if at all, it did so by being
cosier and more comfortable than he had expected.  On the whole he
blamed Reg Robinson for the fact that he failed to get over his
initial shyness.  He was always inclined to be shy with a group of
strangers, at Beeching or Cambridge or anywhere else, but at
Ladysmith Road it seemed to stay with him more obstinately because
all the time he was afraid the Mansfields were thinking him stuck-
up.

Dinner was delayed (he could gather) by some minor mishap in the
kitchen, so that they were not at the table till after three
o'clock, by which time Reg had fully established himself as the
life of the party.  He banged the piano with slapdash facility, he
sang (in tune but thunderously), he played gramophone records of
comic songs he had brought with him, cueing the laughter in which
he expected everyone to join.  Charles, after deploring a first
painful handshake, was ready to admit his good intentions, but soon
found even this effort hard to sustain; while Reg, it seemed, saw
in Charles the kind of dull fellow whom it was his social duty to
wake up at all costs.  To assist him he had the natural equipment
of a loud voice and a set of verbal clichs and stale witticisms
which he unloaded at every chance, evoking shrieks of laughter from
Bert and from Lily's two sisters, Evelyn and Maud.  Charles was
troubled to notice that Lily also laughed, though perhaps only from
politeness; it soon became clear, though, that Reg was much
attracted by Lily and was on jocularly affectionate terms with her.
'Nice bit o' stuff, ain't she, Charlie?' he commented, nudging
Charles in the ribs, and Charles could only mumble an affirmative.

After dinner they sat in a small glassed-in annex to the dining-
room while Mrs. Mansfield and the girls cleared the table.  Beyond
the windows was the garden, neat and pretty as might have been
expected, with tall hollyhocks affording a token privacy from
neighbours on either side.  After an ample meal and in a
comfortable chair Charles was ready to relax; he could have done
so, and by now would almost certainly have lost his shyness, but
for Reg.  Reg was indefatigable, and his range of facetiousness
limitless.  It seemed he possessed a motorcycle and had driven to
Cambridge on it with Bert.  He gave a vivid description of the
undergraduates with their caps and gowns; indeed he had a snapshot
which he produced there and then for general inspection.  'You mean
the boys have to wear them in the street?' Maud queried, and when
Reg answered:  'Well, look, stupid, that's in the street, ain't
it?'--Maud turned to Charles with an incredulous:  'Do YOU have to,
Mr. Anderson?'

'Don't call him Mr. Anderson, he's Charlie,' said Reg.  'Of course
he does, don't you, Charlie?  Looks like a dog's dinner in 'em,
too, I'll bet. . . .  Wonder how I'd look if I wore 'em up the
Mount?'

This caused roars of merriment, during which Charles asked Lily,
who was next to him, what the Mount was.  'It's where Reg works,'
she whispered, but did not explain further.

Maud did, whispering in his other ear.  'It's a cemetery.  Reg
works for an undertaker.'

Charles smiled.  At last he saw an opening and claimed his audience
by the way he spoke up.  'I can understand, then, why Reg has such
a sense of humour.  What work exactly do you do, Reg?'

'I'm in the office,' Reg answered, not quite comfortably.

'You don't do any--er--spadework then?'

'SPADEWORK?'  Reg was at first genuinely puzzled, and puzzlement
made him look sullen.  After a pause he said truculently:  'I ain't
a blasted gravedigger, if that's what you mean.'

Charles was still smiling.  'No?  I just thought that some of your
jokes sounded a bit as if they'd been . . . disinterred.'

At Cambridge or Beeching it would have raised a laugh, but not in
Ladysmith Road.  Evidently Reg's jokes were funny and Charles's
weren't.  Indeed a somewhat chilly silence supervened till Mrs.
Mansfield broke it by a gentle rebuke to all:  'Really, I don't
think we ought to laugh about things like that.'  (But they HAD
laughed, when Reg had first brought up the subject by mentioning
the Mount!)  Charles was bewildered even more than disconcerted,
and from then on made no further attempts to challenge Reg in the
field of humour.  It was perhaps some consolation that Reg also
seemed put out, and presently left to take a walk with Bert.

Conversation was easier after that, and Charles gladly accepted an
invitation from Mr. Mansfield to tour the garden.  It could not
have been more than a hundred feet long and twenty across, but it
took Mr. Mansfield half an hour to name and explain the various
plants and flowers.  He hadn't spoken much at all inside the house,
but the garden made him garrulous.  Charles, who loved gardens,
warmed to the man's obvious pride and quiet satisfaction.
Presently Mr. Mansfield pulled out an old-fashioned watch and
checked the time.  'Dunno 'ow you feel, Mr. Anderson,' he said
hesitantly, 'but round about now I usually 'ave a little stroll.
Just ourselves, mind you--I don't 'old with takin' ladies along,
not on Sundays, anyway.'

Charles was very willing to escape, and Lily looked equally pleased
to see him on such good terms with her father.  The two left the
house and walked half a mile to the end of Ladysmith Road, then
right along Mafeking Road to Roberts Road, then left as far as the
Prince Rupert, a modern sham-timbered but decent-looking pub.

'Dunno why they call it the Prince Rupert,' commented Mr.
Mansfield, as they pushed through the doors.  'I never 'eard of no
prince named Rupert.'

Charles had, but he did not want to seem learned.  'Looks a nice
place,' was all he said.

'Not too bad--and quiet, mostly.  It's what you might call the
local round 'ere, for those that ain't teetotallers. . . .  What's
yours, Mr. Anderson?'

'Thanks, I'll have a bitter,' said Charles, beginning to feel more
at home than for hours.  'But I wish you wouldn't call me Mr.
Anderson.'

'I know . . . the others kept callin' you Charlie . . .  Ah, good
evenin', Milly, two bitters for me and this gentleman. . . .
Some'ow, though, I thought they wasn't treatin' you quite
respectful.'

'RESPECTFUL? . . .  Nonsense--why should they?  I'm no older than
any of them, except Lily.'

'Well, yes, that's true, but after all you was a stranger, and that
Reg--'e shouldn't rightly 'ave carried on the way 'e did. . . .
Mind you, 'e soon calmed down afterwards--you got your own back all
right, only I think you 'urt 'is feelin's.'

'I hope not.  I certainly didn't intend to.'

''E's a nice smart young feller,' Mr. Mansfield continued.  'Always
ready with a joke--and--like you said, only you was bein' sarcastic--
he ain't in a job where there's much fun, in a manner of
speakin'.'

'I'm really sorry if I did hurt his feelings,' Charles repeated.

'Oh, 'e'll get over it.  Lily'll tell 'im you didn't mean no 'arm.'

The two bitters arrived, and Mr. Mansfield raised his glass to
Charles.  'Well, Charlie . . .'  He paused to let the name achieve
significance, then added:  ''Ere's to us and our dear ones. . . .'

                  *     *     *     *     *

Lily walked with him to Linstead station later, and on the way they
had their first slight tiff.  It was about Reg, whose discomfiture
after Charles's single crack at his expense seemed to have aroused
her sympathy.  Like her father, she thought Reg's feelings had been
hurt, but Charles felt in no mood to apologize again as he had done
once already at the pub.  'Look,' he said, 'here's a fellow digs at
me all afternoon and I take it--bad jokes included.  Then I make
one joke about him and he goes off in a huff.'

'Not BAD jokes,' she objected.  'Reg has his faults, but he never
says anything blue in front of ladies.'

'BLUE?'

'I mean the sort of jokes men tell to each other.  Reg tells them
to dad, but only when they're on their own.'

'I see.  I didn't know that's what "blue" meant.  And you didn't
know what I meant by "bad".  I meant silly jokes, not blue
necessarily, just jokes that aren't amusing.'

'Almost as if we didn't speak the same language,' she said gaily.
'Anyhow, Charlie, they made everybody laugh.'

Charles had to admit that they had, and that his own joke hadn't,
and that any further development of that issue might bog down in a
philosophical impasse.  Was laughter a valid empirical test of
humour?  If there were no one to see it, could a joke ever be said
to exist at all?  It was a bit like the nominalist-versus-realist
arguments of the medieval scholars.  But all that he could hardly
go into with Lily, and by this time the fact that they were at odds
was beginning to trouble him, as also her suggestion (shrewd or
nave, he wasn't sure which) that they didn't speak the same
language.

'Oh, Lily,' he exclaimed, taking her arm (they were on the platform
and the train was due and he couldn't endure the thought of
separating from her on clouded terms)--'we're not going to quarrel
about it, are we?'

'Of course not.'  And of course they were not.  'But I can't help
being sorry you were bored.'

'I wasn't bored at all.'  He had to get back into the argument.
'It's just that a fellow of Reg's type always makes me shut up in
company.  I just can't compete with them.'

'I know.  He IS a bit noisy sometimes.  Poor old Reg--he'd like to
have had your advantages, going to Cambridge College to study.
He's really clever, everybody says, but he had to leave school at
fourteen.  If only he'd been properly educated it would make all
the difference.'

'I don't believe it would,' Charles could not help replying.  'I've
met fellows like Reg at Cambridge and I can't get along with them
there either.  You mustn't think education changes what people are
like.'

'Then what does it do?' she asked, again either navely or
shrewdly, and he had no time to speculate, for the train was coming
in.  He pressed her hand.  'Even if I knew an answer it would take
me all night to give it to you.'  He found a compartment and leaned
out of the window to kiss her.  'Maybe you'd better come up to
Cambridge and see for yourself. . . .  Yes, why not?  That's a
wonderful idea.  Come the weekend after my examinations, then I'll
be free and won't have anything on my mind.  Leave on the Saturday
and I'll get you a room at the Lion or somewhere--there's a good
train back on Sunday evening. . . .  Will you, Lily?'

'I don't know if dad would let me.'

'But it's only fair--for you to come and see me once after all the
times I've come to see you.'

'Yes, I know . . .  Oh, I'd love to, Charlie, but I'll have to ask
dad first.'

'Fine.  Ask him.  I don't think he'll mind.  He and I got along all
right.'

'Yes, you did, didn't you?'  At last they had found something to
agree and be glad about, and on this happier note could time their
separation.  'I knew it when he took you to the Prince Rupert.  He
only does that with people he likes.'  The train was beginning to
move.

                  *     *     *     *     *

At Cambridge Charles was thereafter sustained a good deal by
thoughts of Lily's visit.  Those were the days just before the
examination that (with the Diplomatic in mind) might make or mar
his career; and he had better not think it absurd, while he girded
himself for last-minute cramming, that what he would be doing
thirty years hence might depend on a few thousand facts so chancily
selected and forcibly absorbed.  The days entered a tunnel of
eventlessness, but once the actual examination started the tunnel
became dreamlike, streamlike, a silent aqueduct of time.  Every
evening, after the six-hour ordeal, an entire section of knowledge
was banished from his mind as if it had no longer any business
there, so that concentration on the remainder could become more
intense.  His tutor had warned him not to overdo the cramming, but
Charles found he could not sleep even if he went to bed, and it was
no harder to read than to lie awake.  By the end of the third of
the five crucial days he could roughly estimate how he was faring,
and he did not think too well.  Many questions he had been unable
to answer confidently, and there had been few he would have chosen
for a display of what he knew.  One afternoon he half collapsed
over the desk; the day was hot and the examination hall airless--
all that, plus lack of sleep, probably accounted for it.  An
invigilator went out with him for a spell in the open, and Charles
found it a strange effort to make conversation, knowing they must
avoid mention of anything remotely connected with the questions.
There was one about the Amphictyonic Council that Charles had been
answering at the moment he slumped forward.  He was afraid he had
leaked his fountain pen all over the page, and he wondered if, in
the circumstances, this would matter--whether, for instance, he
should asterisk the smear with a note of apology--'Here I fainted
owing to the heat'.

'If there is any relief you wish for, please suggest it,' said the
invigilator, after they had walked twice round a small quadrangle.
Charles did not guess what he meant till he added:  'Though I am
unfortunately compelled to accompany you, even to the humblest
abode.'  He was a lean elderly professor whom Charles had never
seen before and whose name he did not know.

'Oh no, thanks--I'm all right now.  I think I can go back.'

'I hope so, Anderson.  When I mark your paper I shall try not to be
unduly influenced by sympathy.'

Charles smiled, wondering what made university dons grow up like
that.  Yet he was aware of genuine friendliness behind the man's
tee-heeish manner.

Back in the hall he found the ink smear already dry and the
atmosphere sultrier than ever, but he managed to endure it without
further mishap.  He had lost half an hour, though, and didn't have
time to finish all the questions.

One evening, as by some gorgeous miracle of light and air, it was
all over and he returned to his rooms after the last paper had been
consigned to whatever fate might be in store for it and for him.
He felt somewhat as he had done when the war ended--a sense of
anticlimax following hard on the heels of relief.  But the
emptiness soon filled with thoughts of Lily's visit, which was by
now a definite arrangement.  Mr. Mansfield had given permission,
and even Mr. Graybar had been persuaded to let her leave the office
an hour earlier to catch a better train.  In a recent note to
Charles confirming all these matters both handwriting and spelling
had betrayed her excitement.

Saturday (almost to his unbelief) was the day following, and he
spent half the night sleepless for thinking of it, but quite
pleasantly awake for the same reason.  In the morning, which was
warm and fine, he rose early and bought armfuls of fresh-cut
flowers at the stalls in the Market Square.  Then he made plans
with the college kitchen for special meals to be sent to his rooms.
He had planned a small dinner party for that evening, inviting his
two best friends--a man named Weigall whose rooms were on the same
staircase across the landing, and another man from Sidney Sussex
whom he had got to know at history lectures.  Since the cost of
this party would come on the college bill at the end of term he
could indulge himself without any immediate financial problem, and
with all the examinations over he felt he had earned the right to
do so.  His allowance from his father was not inadequate, but it
had been stretched pretty far of late by all the travelling back
and forth to London and the dinners and lunches and excursions
there; he was beginning to look forward to his next birthday (his
twenty-first) if only because he would then come into some money of
his own.  He had already borrowed a little from his Cambridge
tailor (a wealthy and knowing tradesman) on the strength of this.

                  *     *     *     *     *

He felt very proud of her as they rode in an open taxi from
Cambridge station to the Lion Hotel.  Other students had been
meeting girls on the same train, and he could not avoid the
comparison; Lily was not so well dressed as many, nor so strikingly
pretty as a few, but she had poise and grace and some quality for
him of sheer radiance.  It was so personal that he was often
relieved when he saw others--and not only men--aware of it; this
seemed to prove he was no victim of love's illusion, though it also
showed that the radiance was not for him alone.  Anyhow, her own
extreme of pleasure now cast a special halo round it, and he felt
doubly exultant.  'You're really here--at last!' he kept saying in
the cab, as if the distance to Linstead and London were reckonable
in thousands of miles.

'Charlie, I always wanted to come here to see you.'

'Then why didn't you suggest it?  Or why didn't I--sooner?  It's so
obvious--and yet wonderful.'

'I thought perhaps you didn't want me mixed up with your work.'

'You already are mixed up.  I see you on every page of Stubbs and
Maitland.'

She laughed gaily.  'And I see you on every page of Mr. Graybar's
dictation.'

'Forget Mr. Graybar--for two whole days.'  He squeezed her arm and
thought that possibly in his own room, sometime during her stay,
they would enjoy the privacy they had sought till then in streets
that happened to be dark or train-compartments that happened to be
empty between stations; he knew this Cambridge visit was bound to
mark a stage in their relationship.

He began to point out the colleges.  'That's the first one, Downing--
I mean the first on the way from the station.  The next is
Emmanuel. . . .  They're all separate, and together they make up
the University.  So you see why you can't say Cambridge College--
there isn't such a thing--if you talk of a college you have to use
its own special name--like Downing or Emmanuel.'  He had always
wanted to explain that to her.

'How many colleges are there?'

'Over a dozen, I should think--yes, at least a dozen.'

'Don't you know exactly?'

'I don't believe I do, unless I counted them on my fingers. . . .
This is Christ's--John Milton's college.  We'll look round some of
them later. . . .  Here's Petty Cury--this narrow street, where
your hotel is.  I think you'll be comfortable.'

He had engaged a room, even going so far as to inspect it before
approval; it overlooked Petty Cury and might be noisy till late at
night, but she wouldn't be using it till then.  While she took her
bag to it he waited in the glass-roofed lounge.  Then she came
down, spruced and tidied, and his heart melted to see her against
this new background, but at the same time he felt tense, as if the
full significance of her visit was only just dawning on him.  He
also hoped he could sleep better during the coming night; it was a
need, like others he was beginning to be aware of, that went deeper
than a desire.  Suddenly he wondered what on earth had made him ask
Tony Weigall and Bill Peters that evening--how much cosier just to
have dinner on their own, with no strangers intruding when once
Debden had cleared away and said goodnight.

They crossed the centre of the town to his college, which he was
anxious to show her first, as a sample, though it was not the
oldest or one of those most visited by sightseers.  She was much
impressed by the salute the porter gave him as they passed into the
First Court, and surprised by the narrow staircase they had to
climb and the double doors he had to open to get to his top-floor
rooms, and entranced by the rooms themselves--so much larger and
grander than she had imagined.  He then took her to the Chapel and
the Library and the Hall, where he showed her the ancient tables
and the Holbein and the piece of wood, shaped like a hand-mirror,
that had printed on it the college grace which he had taken his
turn to read aloud until, with no particular effort of memory, he
had come to know the long Latin paragraph by heart.  Then they
strolled along the Backs and looked into King's Chapel till it was
time to return to his rooms, when it was revealed to her (by the
most plausible of circumstances) that seventeenth-century college
rooms lacked some of the basic conveniences of the modern house.
She was surprised again, but agreeably unshy about such things and
therefore amused.  Perhaps because of this he decided to conquer
his own shyness about something very different, but in its own way
just as intimate; he got out some of his paintings.  He was always
reluctant to do this--too often he had read in the eyes of people
looking at other people's paintings neither enthusiasm nor
distaste, but merely a desperate struggle to think of something to
say that was clever or at least flattering.  It was a test,
therefore, that he shrank from putting his friends to, because he
shrank from putting himself to it.  But now with Lily, acting on
impulse, he took the risk.  He fixed the easel and placed the
canvases on it one by one, saying nothing about any of them, while
she sat curled in the window seat viewing them equally without word
or gesture.

When she had seen the lot and he had put them away again he poured
himself a glass of sherry.  She still didn't speak, and he began to
approve of her silence in a miserable sort of way.  At least she
wasn't dealing out insincere and meaningless compliments.
Presently she said:  'Charlie, I'm so glad you let me see the
pictures.  It's no good my trying to tell you what I think of them
because I don't know.  I liked some better than others.  I liked
the one of the windy day.'

'Which one was that?'

'The third, I think, or the fourth.'

He knew the one she meant; it was a fenland scene, mainly clouds--a
windy day, to be sure (the canvas had been blown down by one of the
gusts), but there were no obvious clues like bending trees or
drifting smoke.  What he had tried to do, but did not think he had
succeeded in doing, was to get the wind into his lighting of the
sky, into the whole surface texture of the picture.  And now she
was telling him he had succeeded.

Never had he felt such a moment of utter and blissful reassurance.
He went over to her and put his arm round her in full view of
anyone who might be passing across the court, and in a curious way
he hoped he might be seen, as the finder of a new truth wants to
proclaim it.

'Lily, my little one--my darling. . . .'

'Did I say the wrong thing about the pictures?  Oh, I'm sorry,
Charlie.'

'Nothing you say is ever the wrong thing.  It's I who DO the wrong
things.  Tonight, for instance, we ought to have been alone.'

'But you asked some friends of yours, didn't you?'

'Yes, I did, and I--but no, it's all right, you'll like them.
They're good fellows.'

'Of course I'll like them.'

The college clock began to strike the hour, followed by other
clocks all over the town.  The miscellaneous near and distant
chiming lasted for some time, many of the clocks being minutes fast
or slow, and he told her it would all begin again, for the quarter,
after about a ten-minute interval.  'They'll probably keep you
awake all night.'

'I won't mind.  I'm so excited to be here.  Charlie, d'you know
this is the first time I've ever been away from home by myself?'

'You're not by yourself.'

'I mean at night . . . without a friend.'

'What friend?  I didn't know you had any other particular friend.'

'Of course I have.  I mean girls.  There's Ethel at the office--we
always go away on our holidays together.  And there's Phyllis
Baxter I used to go with at school.  You haven't met them because
every time you're free I'd much rather be with you.'

'A good answer.'

'Don't you believe me?'

'I do.  And it WAS a windy day in that picture.  It was indeed.'

In the mood he was in, torn between exultation and regret, between
the wish that they were alone and the hope that his friends would
like her, and over it all the tensions that had not been eased by
sleep, he could hardly understand himself, much less expect her to
understand him.

'Charlie, what's the matter?  You sound so sharp, as if you were
nervous about something.'

It was because he had heard Weigall and Peters coming up the
stairs.

Within a few minutes he was relieved at least on one count.
Weigall had draped his long legs from the far end of the couch and
Peters was at the nearer end, and in between, laughing and chatting
as if she had known them for years, was Lily.  It came out that
Weigall's family were from Norfolk and that Lily, too, had
relatives there; they talked about Norwich and Sandringham and
other places they both knew.  With Peters, who was a historian,
Lily found less in common at first; but soon they discovered a
shared interest in films, Peters being something of a highbrow
while Lily was just an ordinary regular patron of whatever the
Linstead cinema offered.  Peters seemed to find her comments both
amusing and delightful, and when Debden announced that soup was
served Peters insisted on sitting next to Lily although Charles had
planned to have Weigall there.  But with only four persons at a
small table it really didn't much matter how they sat.  What did
matter, as Charles began to notice it, was that Peters was bringing
Lily to a kind of life Charles had never seen in her before.
Charles even wondered whether he had ever been jealous before, for
the glum and spiritually disabling sensation he felt was new in his
experience.

Lily was telling Peters about a dog they had had at Ladysmith Road
when she was a child, and it appeared that Peters also liked dogs
and that his family had had one of the same breed.  'There's
nothing like a dog,' Peters assured her.

'Except a cat,' said Lily.  'We have a lovely cat.'

'But a cat isn't really like a dog,' said Peters.

Weigall winked at Charles.  'Too intellectual for me--this
conversation,' he commented.

'We have two Airedales at Beeching,' said Charles, suddenly
desperate to assert himself.

Peters laughed.  'You see, Lily, we can't win!  TWO Airedales!
Think of that . . . and how many horses, cows, housemaids, butlers,
grooms, and other domestic pets?  I don't suppose Andy knows--he's
never bothered to count.'

'He didn't even know how many colleges there are in Cambridge,'
said Lily, extending the joke.  'Did you, Charlie?  And you never
told me they called you Andy, either.'

Charles was concerned lest she should gain an exaggerated
impression of Beeching from Peters' nonsense, but he was also
astonished--and perhaps dismayed--that Lily seemed to be impressed
so little.  It was the 'Andy' she had picked up.  'It's just a
nickname I had at school,' he explained, adding rather foolishly:
'From Anderson.'

'Really?'  Weigall gave himself an ironic poise.  'I think we can
accept that as a hypothesis.'  He intoned in imitation of some
professor.  'And as for how many colleges there are, does ANYBODY
know?'

This kind of thing was lost on Lily.  'Well,' she said, 'when I was
at school we were told how many counties there are in England.'

'What a depressing school it must have been!'

'It was not!  It was better-looking than some of these old
colleges.'

Weigall assumed his most languid air.  'BETTER-looking, Lily?'

'Newer.  More modern.  I tell you, Linstead's an up-to-date place.
You should see some of the parks we have.  My dad's the
superintendent of them.'

Peters abruptly seized Lily's hand across the table.  'Lily . . .
ignore these other two and listen to me.  First, I congratulate
you.  To have a father who superintends parks is magnificent.  My
own father, God bless him, is a coal miner.  Lived in the same
cottage for thirty years--a cottage in a town where there are no
parks and consequently no superintendent of parks.  My father began
work in the pits when he was eleven, and he still works in the
pits.  But by sheer grit and ability his son, whom you see here in
a preliminary stage of intoxication . . . by sheer . . . whatever
it was I just said . . . plus, of course, an army grant and a
scholarship and sundry other assistances . . . has been admitted to
this ancient seat of learning to study, ape, and acquire the
manners and customs of his betters . . . while still retaining,
Lily--and this is important--that innate sympathy with the working
classes that makes him salute you, as he does now, in profound
adoration!'

Charles contrived a smile, but Lily was blushing through the
beginnings of tears.  'Oh, go on with you,' she murmured, but she
did not withdraw her hand.  'I'm not crying because I believe a
word you say--it's the way you make me feel. . . .  Charlie, does
he often talk like that?'

Charles would have had to admit that Bill Peters often did, after a
few drinks; but there wasn't time to answer at all before Peters
raised his glass and demanded a toast.  'To the Labour Party and
the working classes, Lily!'

'Oh, that's a lot of nonsense!' she retorted.  'My dad votes
Conservative!'

She wouldn't drink, but she turned to them all with a rosy smile,
finally settling it on Charles.  'Darling, it's such fun being
here. . . .  I didn't know clever people could be so silly.'

                  *     *     *     *     *

The rest of the evening passed for Charles in a fog of sensations,
one of which was amazement at the new dimension of personality Lily
was revealing.  It pleased him up to the point where it began to
hurt.  He had feared that Weigall and Peters might not like her, or
that she might be too nervous to talk to them, and though he was
glad he was wrong he was not quite at ease enough to be happy.

But he was beginning to be sleepy and that was something.  The
party could not last much longer, for by midnight according to
university rules Lily would have to be out of college and Peters
back at his lodgings across the town.  When half-past eleven struck
and Peters did not make a move, it was Lily who picked up the
signal.  'Ought I to go, Charlie?  You tell me when.'

Peters said:  'Don't fidget, Andy--she doesn't have to leave till a
few minutes to twelve.'

'But I have to get back here before they shut the gates,' Charles
said.

'You don't have to go at all.  I can drop her at the Lion--it's
right on my way and I'm in rooms--my landlady never says a thing if
I'm a few minutes late.'

Charles felt himself challenged by some test of fair-mindedness,
logic, magnanimity, reasonableness, and other qualities which he
admired.  He didn't exactly consent to the arrangement, but somehow
he let it fix itself without further argument, and about five
minutes to twelve Peters left with Lily.  She was evidently
thrilled that he was wearing a cap and gown and would thus escort
her, and it was just Charles's bad luck not to have given her this
pleasure himself, for academic costume in the streets was at all
times permissible, though not compulsory till after dark.

While the departing footsteps were echoing down the staircase and
across the court to the gateway, Weigall lit another cigarette.
He, being of the same college, could stay as long as he liked.
'Good company,' he commented.

'You think so?'

'For her age . . . must be very young.  You know, Andy, when you
first mentioned a girl coming up to see you, I thought she was a
friend of the family or something.'

'What do you mean?'

'Well--er--isn't there some girl that your family hopes you'll
marry some day?  There generally is, with most families.  Some
dreadful creature quite often, with huge front teeth and lots of
money.  Thank God your little Lily isn't like that.'

'No,' said Charles, 'she isn't like that.'

Weigall went on:  'She's charming, and she has a bright eager mind
that's a joy to make contact with.  I think I could ring most of my
change on her counter--when she's a little older.  What puzzles me
is where you could possibly have picked her up?'

'Why is it such a puzzle?'

'Because . . . I suppose I somehow didn't think of you as a picker-
up--not in that sense.'

'What sense?'

'Oh, come now, Andy, have a heart!  Don't you want me to talk
frankly?  I've told you I like her, and that's the truth, but
unless she's destined to be your future wife do I have to pretend
you were introduced by the vicar of Beeching?'

Charles said in a clipped staccato voice:  'I met her in a Lyons
teashop in London.  Her father, as she told you, works for the
local council in a suburb.  They live in a small house in one of
those terribly long streets--not a slum--just dreary and
respectable.  She's got a Cockney accent, which you heard.
Socially I suppose you'd call her lower middle class--'

'Good God,' Weigall interrupted, 'who cares about class nowadays
except smart fellows like Bill Peters?  He's a snob in reverse--one
of these days he's going to make that miner's cottage business pay
off like a bonanza.  Whereas you and I, Andy, are stuck in between--
we weren't born at Blenheim or Chatsworth on the one hand, and on
the other hand we didn't starve in tenements or pick crusts out of
gutters . . .  We just come from country homes with bits of land
and families that go back a few centuries without having collected
any titles or riches on the way . . .  Well, that's not quite true
in your case, your father has a knighthood, but I gather he earned
it, which is bad. . . .  I tell you, Andy, in the world I see
coming our background--yours and mine--is going to be a pretty fair
handicap.  We'll be the excluded middle--if you'll pardon a
logician's term.  So prepare to defend yourself, not Lily.  She's
all right.  She'll sleep well tonight--she hasn't our worries.  You
look worn out, by the way.  Why don't you get to bed?'

'Yes, I think I will.  Thanks, Tony.'

'Thanks for what?  I haven't given you any advice. . . .  Good
night.'

                  *     *     *     *     *

But again Charles could not sleep and heard the quarters
maddeningly till nearly dawn.  Then he got up and crossed the
courts to the new bath-house (built as a post-war innovation in
collegiate life); a hot bath made him feel better and fresher.  He
had promised to have breakfast with Lily at the Lion at half-past
ten, but after eight, when the college began to come to life, time
passed most slowly of all.  Debden, who was doubtless curious about
Lily, chattered with his usual amiable inquisitiveness as he tidied
up the room, venturing to observe that it would be 'a lovely day
for taking the young lady on the river'.

Charles agreed.  'Yes, I might do that.'  And so he might.  He had
not made definite plans, hoping that Lily might care to spend part
of the day quietly in his rooms.

She was a few minutes late coming down to meet him at the Lion, and
while he waited in the lounge he wondered about Peters and her the
previous night.  Had they talked till much later, at the hotel, and
was this why she was late?  Peters had said his landlady would let
him in after midnight without making a fuss . . .  Was it possible,
then, that . . . but no, it was not only impossible, it was absurd
. . . and anyhow, here she was.

'Charlie, I'm sorry.  Been waiting long?'

'No, I only just got here.  Did you sleep well?'

'Wonderfully.  The clocks didn't bother me at all. . . .  Oh, what
a lovely time I had last night.'

'You did?  I'm glad.  I had an idea you'd like Weigall and Peters.'

'Oh yes, they're nice.'

'Peters especially.  Did he talk to you much on the way?'

'All the time.  He does talk all the time, doesn't he?  But of
course it was only a few minutes.  It's really a small town to walk
across.'

'Compared with Linstead--and when you're in amusing company.'

'Oh, you can't compare it with Linstead.  And I'd much rather have
been with you--only, as you said, it would have meant leaving
earlier.'

'I think it was Peters, actually, who made the arrangement.'

'Was it?'

'It doesn't matter.'  He seized her arm clumsily.  'Lily, you must
forgive me--I'm being foolish.  One good night's sleep and I'll see
everything straighten . . .  Don't take me seriously now.  Let's
have breakfast.'

During the meal he felt happier, relaxing in her company and in her
obvious pleasure to be with him.  But she was troubled about his
earlier mood.  'Charlie, what's wrong?  Why can't you sleep?'

'Overwork, I suppose, these last few weeks.  Nothing to worry
about.'

'And taking all those days off to see me.  You shouldn't have done
that.'

'On the contrary, they kept me going.'  He laughed uncertainly.  'I
probably can't live without you, Lily.'

'Anybody ever say you had to?' she laughed back.  It was one of the
few times she had touched, even as lightly as that, on the notion
of a future.

'They'd better not.'

She caught the grimmer note in his voice.  'Don't be cross about
something that hasn't happened.'

'I'm not cross about anything, really.  Not when I'm with you.'

'Maybe you'll sleep better tonight.'

'After you've gone?  I wonder.'

'If those chimes keep people awake at nights I don't know why they
have them.'

'Probably because they've had them for years and years and years.
In Cambridge that's a good reason.'

'Never mind, you'll be on your holidays soon.  It's country where
you go home to, isn't it?  That's one thing about the country--nice
and quiet.'

'Not always nice and sometimes TOO quiet.  What will I do there now
I haven't got an examination to work for?'

'Aren't there some more examinations sometime?'

'That's a cheerful idea.'

'Well, I thought if you WANTED something to do . . .  But if I were
you I'd just take a rest.  Bill told me you'd been working too
hard.'

'Bill Peters?  He wouldn't know--he's in another college.  Besides,
nothing's hard work to him.  I mean, he takes everything in his
stride--examinations, sports, debates, even acting at the
Footlights.  Just like my brother Lindsay who died.  One of those
all-round fellows.  Sure to have a career.  A First for certain and
probably a Blue and President of the Union--the whole bag of
tricks.  Nothing can stop him . . . and I like him enormously.  I'm
lucky to have him for a friend.  He's very popular.'

'Why are you talking so much about him?'

'Aren't you interested?  You seemed so last night--and he liked you
too, that was obvious.'

She shook her head, but in dismay more than denial.  'Oh, Charlie,
it doesn't seem to work well, does it, either when you meet my
friends or I meet yours?'

'PLEASE. . . .'  He struggled with some inward fret that centred
round the pit of his stomach.  'Please forgive me again.  The same
old foolishness.  The truth is, I wish I could have more time alone
with you.  Other people somehow seem to get in the way.'

'All right then, let's be alone.'

'For the rest of the day?  That isn't much.'

'It's all we have.  I wish it were more too.'

Then he heard his longings framing themselves into words that
desperately came close and yet fought shy of what they really
meant.  'Lily, you're supposed to go back by the 9.12--what if you
didn't?  Suppose I borrow a car--I think I could--and we'll go off
somewhere on our own--now--this morning . . . and have all the time
we can together--at some quiet place in the country . . .  And
tomorrow I'll drive you right to the door of the office--not too
late for Mr. Graybar, I promise. . . .  Could you?  WOULD you?'

She answered immediately and simply:  'Yes, if you want.  But I
must send dad a wire.'

'Tell him you're staying here another night.'

'I won't say "here", I'll just say "staying".  Then it won't be a
lie.  I'd hate to tell my dad a lie.'

                  *     *     *     *     *

It took him till mid-afternoon to fix all the details of the sudden
change of plan.  He had to hire a car (not as easy on a Sunday as
he had thought), and secure an overnight exeat from the college
authorities (easy now that examinations were finished), and think
of something plausible to tell Debden.  The truth seemed most
plausible of all--that he was just driving his guest back to London
and would return the next day.

Meanwhile she sent the wire to her father.

They drove out of Cambridge southward over the Gog Magog hills
towards those rolling Essex uplands that are never high but give
every half-mile a changing contour.  Presently they stopped at a
small country town.  It had a church with a crocketed spire that
Charles would have sketched if he had been less tired, but they
were satisfied to look around and then have tea in a nearby
cottage.  They didn't know where they would drive on to next;
Charles hadn't even a map.  It was the kind of wandering he had
often dreamed of having again, after that week in Normandy with
Brunon, and here it was, with her, a reality, yet still enclosed in
a dream.  As they explored the narrow streets the dream reached to
the sky, as if actual sleep, like a great bird, was already
wheeling and swooping over his head.  The town was almost deserted,
full of Sunday stillness till they reached a central square, where
a Salvation Army band oompahed in the sun without any audience.
There was an ancient timbered building which they crossed the
square to inspect; it was a fifteenth-century cloth hall, still in
use as a municipal office.  They passed close to the band on the
way back, and as they did so there came over the trombones and
tambourines a sound so startling in an Essex town that they stared
incredulously.  A Salvation Army man approaching with a collection
plate grinned at their astonishment and supplied the explanation.
'The circus just came in.  Starts tomorrow for the Fair week.'

'Fair week?' Charles echoed, fishing in his pocket.

'Oh yes, we have a real big fair once a year--thank you, sir--
people come from miles around.  Just up the road.'  He proudly
jerked a thumb.  'Turn to the right over there by the bank.  That's
where you heard them lions.'  He seemed to be generously
recommending a better entertainment than his own.

In a mood to see what was to be seen, they took the indicated
direction and soon found why the centre of the town was so empty.
A crowd that looked like the entire population was watching the
unloading of a long line of circus vans into an open field.
Everything was lively and noisy and smelly; the lions roared again
in their cages, men yelled to each other as they hoisted the big
tent, whips were cracked, ponies trotted, men in top hats and
riding boots gave what was halfway a free show.  In a field next
to the circus there was to be the fair itself; here men in
shirtsleeves were putting up stalls and coconut shies and unpacking
hideous china that would doubtless be given away as prizes.  Soon
the street lamps gleamed over the scene of such unusual Sunday
activity; naphtha flares were hung on the stalls, and a searchlight
began to test itself against the sky.  The noise and smells and
brilliance increased as the job proceeded; but sometimes in the
midst of a lull the Salvation Army band could be heard still
playing cheerfully on and on.

During one of those lulls he said:  'I think all this must be a bit
like Nizhni-Novgorod.'

'What?'

'Somewhere you've never been and neither have I.  It has a fair too--
every year--or rather it did, before the Revolution.  Perhaps
still does.  It's a place in Russia.  I must have read about it
somewhere.'

'And it's like this?'

'Might be.  I don't really know why I think so.  But a fair's a
fair--everywhere.'

'Yes, you're tired,' she agreed, as if that was what he had told
her.  'You can't drive any more.  Let's stay here.'

'All right.  If Nizhni-Novgorod has a decent pub.'

The Swan was full, but recommended a cottage round the corner, the
hotel being available for meals and garaging the car.  A Mrs.
Renshaw.  'Tell her the Swan sent you.'  They told her the Swan had
sent them, and the room she offered was under the thatched eaves,
small and low-roofed and crammed with mahogany.  The cottage was
probably three hundred years old, but nobody had bothered much
about that and all the walls had florid paper covering the uneven
plaster.  On the modern mantelpiece there were shells from some
seashore and photographs of (presumably) Mrs. Renshaw's relatives.
They were a glum collection and Charles was beguiled by their
stares of disapproval.  Lily was sympathetic, wondering from their
faces if they had ever been happy.

'Of course they were,' Charles said.  'It's just the way people
used to pose for photographs.  Now the man tells you to smile--in
those days he must have said "Look serious".  That was the fashion.
Did Gladstone ever grin?  Was Queen Victoria ever amused? . . .
Well, yes, she was--a friend of my father's told him he was once at
the Sutherland estate at Dunrobin when the Queen was being shown
over, and in one of the rooms they looked into--by mistake, I
suppose--they found a very fat policeman in bed with his clothes
on . . .  The Queen nearly collapsed with laughter.'

'A friend of your father's knew the Queen?'

'Oh, he didn't really know her--he was just there when it happened.
Fat people in bed can be funny . . . thin people too.'

'There's a lot of fun in just being a person--anywhere.'

'So that's your view of life?'

'Don't you like it?'

'My little one . . . my darling . . . you know . . . you can't
possibly know . . . how much it makes me love you.'

'Love is fun too.'

'Nizhni-Novgorod is fun.'

'I'm glad we came here.  Is that what you'll always call it?'

'I don't think the people who live there call it that any more.  I
mean, in the real Nizhni-Novgorod.  They've got some new name.  I
don't know what.  I only know the old name because I read about the
fair in a book.  They used to have a fair there.  A big fair
there . . .'

'Darling, you're so tired.  I'm glad we came.  Fancy, we both keep
saying the same things again and again.'

'Yes, fancy. . . .  I had an aunt who said "fancy" to everything.
"Fancy" or "Just fancy" or "Fancy that".  Fancy this.  Just fancy
us being here. . . .'

                  *     *     *     *     *

Later he said:  'I've done rather badly in the examination.  I know
I have, but I don't mind about it now--that's why I can tell you.
I couldn't even finish one of the papers--I fainted or something in
the middle--the heat it was--I can't think why they chose a hall
that had such poor ventilation. . . .  Anyhow, I probably won't
scrape through with more than a Third--which isn't good enough for
what I was supposed to be aiming for--the Diplomatic. . . .  So
there you are--cards all on the table.'

'I oughtn't to have taken up so much of your time.'

'Oh no.  Never think that.  I couldn't have worked much harder than
I did, anyhow.'

'You could have rested instead of making all those trips to
London.'

'No, I shouldn't have rested--I should have tried to put in extra
work and then broken down completely.  Maybe you saved my life . . .
Lily, I'm not like Peters.  I can't take things in my stride.
I'm not first-rate in his way, or the way my brother Lindsay was.
That's why it's just as well to have a real failure now, at the
beginning--then I'm definitely out of the race that I know I can't
win.  I'm not disappointed.  My father may be, but not me.  Or else
he'll be disgusted . . . or perhaps in a queer sort of way glad
that I've come such a cropper.'

'GLAD, Charlie?  I don't understand that.'

'Never mind. . . .'

'But how . . . how could he . . . ?'

'Darling, all I mean is that this thing isn't a tragedy.  I was
never terribly keen on the Diplomatic--from what I've gathered it
can be pretty dull and stuffy, and they send you to a lot of places
you can't possibly enjoy. . . .  It was just one way of getting
started.'

'Away from home?'

'Oh yes, of course.  I wouldn't want to stay at Beeching.'

'You don't really like it there, do you?  You've never told me much
about it.'

'That's not the reason.  I didn't tell you much at first because I
thought you'd imagine me too far out of your world, and I didn't
want to be . . . and then I went on not telling you because I just
hadn't before.  There's nothing special about Beeching.  Might
impress you till you tried it, then you'd discover it had bad
drains and no damp course and wasn't really very comfortable to
live in.'

'But your home--that's more than the house--that's really what you
want to get away from.'

'How do you know? . . .  Well, in a way, you might be right.  There
are reasons I couldn't go into--'

'Charlie, can I ask one more question?'

'All right.'

'What was your mother like?'

'We have a big portrait of her and if she was like that she was
wonderful.  Of course I don't remember her.'

'So you couldn't love her.  And you don't love your father.'

'Why do you say that? . . .  Well, I'll admit I don't love people
as you do.  You love everybody.  Which really means anybody. . . .
Oh no, that's an unfair thing to say.  I'm sorry, Lily.  All I mean
is that it must make it hard for you to FALL in love when you . . .'

'I did with you--the first time we met.'

'No, the second.  The first time you didn't even look at me.  That
was when _I_ did--while you weren't looking.  I think we ought to
get married quickly--before you look at somebody else . . .  Lily,
I mean that.'

'Do you?'

'Yes. . . .  Oh God, yes.  More than I've ever meant anything.'

'Are you SURE it's what you want, Charlie?'

'Don't you want it?'

'Yes--if you do . . . and if dad consents.  I can't without that,
because of my age.  You can't either, till you're twenty-one.'

'I'll be that in a few weeks.  We might live abroad.  It's cheap in
France these days, on account of the exchange.  And another thing--
I could do some painting there . . .  Yes, even after a Third.  You
never guessed I was serious about it, did you?  You thought it was
just a hobby?'

'I thought it was a serious hobby--like dad's gardening.'

'Well, why not?  Oh, Lily, we shall get along fine.  The things I
really want in life are simple if only I stick to them--and stick
to wanting them . . . that's the trouble, I'm not one of those
vital characters.  I'm not power-driven, like Bill Peters. . . .
But a serious hobby I DO have--thank you for that description, I
love you for it.  So it's all settled--we'll live in France and
I'll paint.  How about it?'

She said thoughtfully:  'Mr. Graybar does a lot of business with
French exporters--I know their names and addresses--I've typed
hundreds of letters to them--'

He was thinking how delightfully irrelevant this was till she
added:  'I'm sure I could find a job with one of them.'  Shock and
amazement were then added, so that he gasped out:  'Good God, you
didn't suppose that was in my mind, did you?'

'But you mightn't earn enough at first, Charlie.  Not everybody
buys paintings.'

He didn't know then whether to laugh or cry--the intensely
practical navet of it reminded him of plunging into an ice-cold
crystal stream in the sunshine.  'Look, darling . . . please
understand . . . there's no question of you having to find a job,
whether my paintings sell or not.  As soon as I'm twenty-one I come
into some money from my mother's estate--not much, but enough to
live on in France . . .  About three hundred a year. . . .'

'Three hundred pounds a year without working at all?'

It occurred to him that he had never heard the central issue of
modern economics stated so eloquently as by her own incredulity.
It made him feel he had something to brazen out.  'Well, yes . . .
so you see how it is--I can AFFORD my serious hobby--AND you.'  He
began to laugh.  'I'm laughing at myself for ever having worried
about the future.  Aren't YOU looking forward to it, Lily?  There
are beautiful places in France--'

'And I could come home sometimes, couldn't I?'

'Home?'

'To Linstead.  I'd like to see mum and dad now and again.'

'Of course--as often as you want.  France isn't the South Sea
Islands.'

'That would be fun too.  Like that French painter who went there
and lived with a native girl.'

'WHAT?'  He was amazed again.  'You mean Gauguin?  I didn't know
you knew anything about painters. . . .'

'I read a book about him once.  I do read, Charlie--you ought to
know that--I was reading when you first saw me.  I'm not really so
silly--'

He found this utterly adorable.  It was, he supposed, the effect of
Cambridge--of seeing colleges and libraries, of meeting Weigall and
Peters, who had also found her adorable.  The whole idea of
marrying her and going to France to paint gained on him so fast
that he felt an intoxication in being alive; the darkness of the
little room glowed into deep colours, the touch of her body next to
him was an easing of every strain.  She was so small and unshy and
gay, and she had another quality, the word for which had been pale
in his mind for years--ever since he had first heard it in church
as a child; but now it sprang to warmth and meaning.  LOVING-
KINDNESS.  She was loving-kind.

They talked over all the details of the future till dawn showed at
the sides of the window curtains.  Now and then, in the distance, a
lion roared.

                  *     *     *     *     *

A few hours later they began the journey to London, having slept
till it was too late for breakfast.  As they approached the inner
suburbs the sky darkened and rain began, so that the final miles of
tramlined roads were slow and slippery.  Charles had hoped to keep
his word by delivering her at Kingsway in time for the normal
office opening, but he was nearly an hour late.  She said it didn't
matter--and it would have been absurd, of course, if it had.  When
he stopped the car at the kerb, and before he could get out, she
kissed him quickly and scampered through the rain to the swing-
doors with an alacrity that seemed more absent-minded than
apprehensive.

He had a cup of tea at a caf in Holborn, then drove back to
Cambridge with the windshield-wipers marking slow time to his
thoughts.  It was two o'clock when he reached his rooms.  He lay on
the couch while Debden prepared a late lunch, but fell asleep and
Debden did not wake him.  He slept all afternoon and most of the
evening and night.  He had no more engagements; it was merely a
matter of putting in days at the college till term was over and he
could leave Cambridge for good.  This was hard to realize--that it
was his last term and his university career would soon be ended.
He had no particular plans for a vacation and was in no present
mood to think of any.  Presumably he would go to Beeching, at any
rate for a while, and he had arranged to meet Lily on his way there
across London.  That would be on the following Friday--five days
hence.

Afterwards when he looked back on that curious interval it seemed
to him that most of the hours had been of sleep.  For the first
time in weeks the clock-chimes did not trouble him, and he would
often doze on the couch and wake to find Debden offering some odd-
looking meal on a tray.  Debden was an understanding fellow and had
seen many a reading gentleman overwork himself for an examination
and then half collapse in this fashion.  'Sleep's the thing, sir.
Can't do you any 'arm no matter 'ow much of it you get--and that's
more than you can say of most things in life. . . .  There was a
man I 'ad 'ere once who didn't sleep a wink for weeks. . . .'
This, thought Charles, was an unlikely story, but he listened quite
contentedly to many such excerpts from the lifelong saga.

On Friday morning Charles went to early chapel.  He was not a
regular attender, but at the beginnings and ends of term he had
made it a custom, and this morning, the last one of all, seemed an
extra-special occasion.  He remembered how emotional he had felt
about Cambridge during his first term and that last year of the
war, but of course the atmosphere then had been charged with the
mystique of youth facing death.  Three years later, amidst dubious
peace and economic depression, the mood was far different, and
Charles, at almost twenty-one, was different with it.  He would
have liked to let that final chapel service soak into him
sentimentally, but he couldn't relax enough; the thought of meeting
Lily for lunch in London made him look at his watch too often.

Crossing the quadrangle afterwards he met Debden outside his
staircase.  He had tipped him well, and the man's mood was
confidential and extra-curricular, as if Charles had already passed
into the saga.  'Gentleman to see you, sir.  Wouldn't give 'is
name, but said 'e'd wait.  He was the kind I knew it was all right,
sir, to let 'im into your rooms.'

                  *     *     *     *     *

He had never seen Havelock looking so well since the days before
Lindsay's death; that was a first impression.  It was not merely
that he was in one of the vaulting moods--there was a hint of
something else that must have happened to generate such an air of
authority.  Charles fancied he was seeing his father as had many a
judge and jury during those early years of triumph, and the
spectacle was notable--even in some ways intimidating.

'Well . . . this IS a surprise, father!'

'Yes, I'm sure it is.  How are you, Charles?  I'm glad I've caught
you before you took the train, because I have the car here.  I
thought we'd travel back together.  Nice day for a drive across
country.  Farrow's with me.'

Farrow was the chauffeur, which meant that the car would be the big
Daimler, which Charles never liked as much as the small open car he
drove himself.  This detail cast its minor shadow; the larger and
darker one was that his father's unexpected visit meant cancelling
the arrangement to meet Lily in London.  There was no alternative,
though of course he could make a special trip to see her some other
day, and soon.  The disappointment hit him all the more acutely
because their last meeting had left, as it was bound to, so many
after-thoughts and after-emotions.

He said, seeking to disguise how he felt:  'That would be nice. . . .
Have you had breakfast?  Debden will get you some coffee . . .
and in the meantime I must send a wire.'

'A wire?'

'Just to cancel an engagement.  I'd planned to meet someone in
London, but now that I can't manage it I must let them know.'

'I see.'  And then, when Charles had reached the door:  'Is it, by
any chance, a girl?'

Charles flushed and tried to laugh.  'Supposing it is--what then?'

'If the girl's name is Lily Mansfield you needn't send it.'

Charles recrossed the room, the warmth in his face draining to
pallor as he approached his father.  'What makes you say that?'

'She's not there--to receive it.'

'Not where?'

'Anywhere you would have sent it.'  Havelock's eyes were shining.
'Now sit down.  I've something to tell you. . . .  And no coffee.
Close your outer door--sport your oak--do they still use that
phrase? . . .  We don't want to be interrupted.'

Charles was now possessed by a single fear.  'Father, what's
happened?  For God's sake don't make a drama of it.  Is she all
right?  Is she well?  Has anything . . . ?'

'She's perfectly well--I didn't mean to alarm you.  Now will you
close that door?'

After Charles had done so he heard a simple story of coincidence.
Reg Robinson, it seemed, had been motorcycling on the previous
Sunday evening and had found himself thirsty just outside the Swan
in the little market town.  From the saloon bar he could see into
the dining-room where Lily and Charles were at one of the tables.
Quelling an impulse to intrude, he had decided more shrewdly to
watch and wait; presently he had seen them walk down the lane to a
cottage.  The possible significance of this grew on him slowly, but
was soon (Havelock suggested) reinforced by personal jealousy and a
strong surge of class-conscious virtue.  He had made a few
enquiries, taken down names and details, and then jumped on his
motorcycle with the news.  It was the following evening, however,
before he passed it on.  'An interesting delay,' Havelock
commented.  'Did he want time to think things over?  Or was he
enjoying a sense of power?  He could have called before Mansfield
went to work in the morning--but no, he waited till evening.
Perhaps he was teased with the thought of talking to the girl
beforehand--which he did.  He telephoned her at her office during
the day--just an innocent chat between friends, no disclosures on
either side, yet both with a secret that must have been infinitely
preoccupying.  He asked her, perhaps, if she had had a pleasant
weekend, and one may imagine her answer--casual enough, yet
bringing a flush to her cheeks that no one observed. . . .'

Havelock was soaring into an empyrean of his own, so far unclouded
by blame or moral censure.  The voice, lyric in quality, flowed on
effortlessly from sentence to sentence, developing a theme,
building to some sort of climax.  'The temptations of youth,
Charles, are not beyond comprehension to any man of mature age who
remembers his own.  I don't know what kind of youth you think I had
myself, but I assure you it was far from flawless, far from the
patterns of pulpit and schoolroom. . . .'

But by this time Charles was impatient; there was so much still
that he did not know.  He interrupted:  'Suppose we don't go into
all that now, father.  Just tell me a few more facts . . . do you
mind?'

'Of course not.  Talk it over as much as you like.  The whole
matter's cleared up--there's no urgency.  I'm telling you that in
advance, because I don't want to scare you again.  I'm sorry that
at the outset you misunderstood me--it was my own fault for a
somewhat clumsy opening--'

'Please, father--just the facts.  Tell me--'

'You've had them all--all that are important.  Your little escapade--
as I said--was discovered and reported, and I'm bound to say it
was sheer bad luck--this fellow cruising about on his motorcycle--'

'But what do you mean by saying it's all cleared up?'

Then a curious transformation came over Havelock's face.  It
changed almost in texture as well as expression--from smooth and
bland to rough and tough.  It occurred to Charles, still under the
influence of his first impression, that this was the sort of thing
that must have happened when his father had cross-examined
witnesses--first the sweet mellifluous questions, the artless
probings, the seeming sympathy, the words, words, words to soften
and disarm; then, all at once, the rapier-thrust.

'Just this,' Havelock snapped.  'You were in a damned mess and I've
got you out of it.  This girl and her parents could have ruined
your life.  They had you in their power.  I'm not exaggerating.  It
would have been easier to handle them if they'd been blackmailers,
or if the girl had been some cheap little tart.  But they're decent
people.  Keep away from decent people when you're in the mood for
mischief of this kind.  That's sound advice from a lawyer.  I've
known cases like this before and seen men jailed for them.  Luring
a minor from home for an immoral purpose--Criminal Law Amendment
Act of 1885--ABDUCTION--how do you like the sound of it?  But
that's what I could convict you of, you fool, if I were prosecuting
and you were in the dock!'

Charles didn't like the sound of it at all.  He was sheerly
appalled and there wasn't a word he could reply.  He felt he had
heard a story about someone else whose behaviour couldn't be
likened to any that had ever been his own.

Then Havelock's face relaxed somewhat.  Beguilement began again,
the sentences became less staccato, even the words seemed drawn
from a different vocabulary.  'As I said, the Mansfields are decent
people.  That, at the outset, was an obstacle.  But in the end--and
owing, largely, if you must know the truth, to a certain skill I
have always had in presenting a point of view--they agreed to
behave magnanimously.  They will not prosecute.  You have nothing
to worry about.  And--incidentally--the girl isn't pregnant.'

All Charles could then say was a muttered 'Oh God'--which he was
glad his father did not hear because it represented a personal
emotion which he did not want to explain or even to analyse.  He
then went to the window and stared out; men were still loitering in
the court on their way from chapel.  What a wonderful last morning
of one's college career! he thought bitterly.  He swung round and
broke the silence that his father had made intolerable by his
merely watching presence.  'Where is she?  Where is she now?'

'They've sent her to stay with some relatives in the country.'

'I MUST see her.'

'I don't think you can.'

'But . . . dammit . . . as you yourself said, she's not a cheap
little tart.  I'd have married her . . . I WANT to marry her.
Don't you realize that?'

'I'm sure you feel the Mansfields ought to jump at such a thing,
but believe me, they don't.  It speaks well for them, Charles.
Many a respectable family would have regarded that as quite
legitimate blackmail.'

'I'm not concerned with what they regard.  It's what I want--and
what Lily wants.'

'What a girl of seventeen wants isn't--'

'SEVENTEEN?'

'Oh?  Didn't she tell you that?'

Charles replied absently, as if the matter were already
unimportant:  'She said eighteen.'

'In court I should point out that we have only your word for that.
But of course I believe you, and I've no doubt the girl herself
would confirm the deception.'

'Good God, it isn't much of a deception.  It's nothing.  A year.'

Havelock laughed in a way which, Charles reflected, would give a
fine impression beyond the double doors that the two of them were
having a very jolly time together.  'You know why I find that
funny, Charles?  Because you said a year is nothing.  A year is
just about what I could have got you off with!'

So it WAS funny, maybe.  But hardly jolly.  Charles felt ill, and
of all things in the world the one he least desired was to travel
in a car with his father across several counties and finally arrive
at Beeching.  Yet that, quite clearly, was all he could do.  So he
went to his bedroom and began packing the last few things in a
suitcase.

                  *     *     *     *     *

They didn't talk much during the journey, but Havelock remained in
excellent humour.  Not only must there be pleasure in having saved
a son from ruin, but fatherly intervention had awakened old
techniques, had unsheathed rusty swords from mildewed scabbards.
They stopped for lunch at Banbury, and Havelock then mentioned
Charles's approaching twenty-first birthday.  He could not have
chosen a worse time for evoking any warm response, and this may
have been why he chose it, for he brought up the matter of the big
party for tenants that landowners traditionally gave when their
sons came of age.  Havelock had done this for Lindsay, but now it
was clear he didn't want to do it for Charles.  Charles didn't mind
a bit (he would have found such festivities irksome at the best of
times), but he could only marvel at his father's astuteness in
breaking the news just then.  He said:  'Really, father, it suits
me not to have the thing.  So far as I'm concerned everybody can
forget the birthday.'

'Oh dear no, not at all.  I had thought of a jaunt to town, perhaps--
just the two of us.  We never have had that, have we?  Dinner at
my club and then perhaps a theatre.'

'Oh, let's decide later.'

'I thought I'd mention it, though, to stake out my claim before you
plan anything else.'

'I'm not planning.  I can't make plans.  I don't know what I'm
going to do.  Everything seems uncertain.  How can it be otherwise
just now?'

'You mean that your future depends a great deal on the results of
the Tripos Examination?'

'God, no, I wasn't even thinking of that--but of course it's true.
And I may as well tell you, I haven't done well.  In fact I've done
damn badly.  Maybe I haven't even passed--and I don't care.  I want
some happiness in life.  I don't see why it all has to be broken.
I don't see--I can't--I--'

He became speechless and incoherent, breaking down a little, and
his father summoned an old and rather decrepit waiter who presided
over the hotel dining-room.  'My son is ill,' he said.  'Would you
kindly help me to take him to my car?'

Charles soon pulled himself together at that.  'I don't need any
help,' he said roughly.  'I'm all right.  I can walk--there's
nothing the matter with me.'  But the old waiter had taken his arm
by that time and Charles did not want to push him aside and perhaps
off his feet, so before he properly knew what was happening he was
taking part in a spectacle that moved slowly through the dining-
room and across the hotel lobby and down the steps to the car, in
front of the curious stares of a score or more onlookers.  Probably
they thought he was drunk.  He reflected afterwards that his father
must have staged it suddenly and for a mere whim before such an
utterly random audience, since nobody in Banbury knew them and they
were unlikely to stop there again.

                  *     *     *     *     *

Charles was ill at Beeching for several weeks, of no ailment that
the local doctor could diagnose, and with no particular symptoms
except a high temperature.  But it was easy for Doctor Somerville
to ascribe the trouble to recent overstudy, and to recommend rest
and a holiday as the only but a very certain cure.  Havelock was
sympathetic and talked of a European trip if Charles would enjoy it
later in the summer.  Or perhaps he would rather stay at Beeching
and do nothing except paint whenever he had the mood.  But to
Charles the thought of painting was a signal for despair, and the
first day he got up after being in bed he collected all his
paraphernalia--easel, brushes, paints and finished canvases--and
packed them in an old trunk in the loft over the stables.

Only one positive decision had emerged from the confusion of
notions and emotions that had sent his temperature to fever height,
and that was to visit Ladysmith Road.  He had sent several letters
there, addressed to Lily, and had not been surprised when they were
unanswered.  He knew that a personal visit might be just as
fruitless, the Mansfields might refuse to admit him or discuss
anything, there might be an unpleasant scene, they might even call
the police (though knowing their respectabilities he did not really
think there was much risk of this); but whatever happened or did
not happen, some points would be elucidated, or at least removed
from the sphere of total doubt.  One of these questions was how
far, if at all, his father's story was untrue or exaggerated.  He
did not expect to find much discrepancy, nevertheless the visit to
Ladysmith Road became somehow obligatory in his mind, a scne 
faire that had to be acted out.

One day he went up to London without telling his father, leaving
merely a message with Cobb that he might be back late that evening
or the next day.  On arrival at Paddington he made a routine test
by telephoning the Kingsway office; a girl's voice answered that
Miss Mansfield was no longer working there.  This again was no
astonishment.  He next called in person and asked to see somebody
named Ethel.  Ethel, it seemed, had gone to lunch at the Lyons
teashop near the British Museum where he had first set eyes on
Lily.  He was told to ask the girl at the cashier's desk to point
out Ethel to him, and all this procedure, which normally he would
have found devious and embarrassing, he went through in sombre
misery that was aware of nothing but itself.  Ethel was hostile;
she would tell him nothing (perhaps she did not know much), but it
was clear she held him responsible for at least the interruption of
a friendship.  After a few moments Charles left her and wandered
vaguely through the streets till he found himself in Lincoln's Inn
Fields.  He sat down on a bench and tried to think of a way to get
the afternoon over.  He did not think he could concentrate on a
film, still less on a revisiting of any of the places he had been
to with Lily (and these had included practically everything in the
guide-book), so he took an early train to Linstead and spent the
intervening hours in that suburb.  He knew it was no use calling on
Mr. Mansfield before seven, by which time he would have finished
his evening meal.  Oddly, perhaps, Charles had seen little of
Linstead with Lily.  Except for the walk from the station to
Ladysmith Road, less than half a mile and by an unchanging route,
they had never made it a background of adventure or experience;
they had always been hurrying somewhere else or home again
afterwards.  Yet Charles knew that Lily liked the place, and had
shown pride in it on that first occasion he had gone there with
her; but, as was her nature, she had let the matter drop when she
found in him no special response.  So now he walked about Linstead
streets as if by so doing he could commune with something that had
shared with him Lily's affections.  It did not work out very well.
He still found Linstead dull and featureless, its long roads of bay-
windowed houses infinitely depressing.  And yet, he realized, there
were streets of Regency houses in the better parts of London almost
as long and as uniform, and those houses too had been put up by
speculative builders at a time of boom and with no aim but profit.
So where, then, lay the difference that made the one style so much
less deplorable than the other?  The answer, which was only the
beginning of other questions, gave his mind a focus for a while;
but soon he was in dim perspectives again, wondering if and how he
could trace a thin line of happiness for himself on the blind face
of the future.  Towards evening he entered a restaurant in the High
Road near the station.  He wasn't hungry but he wanted a cup of
coffee.  A first-floor window offered a view of trains that arrived
every few minutes from London; he saw the countless doors open
before the trains came to a halt and the crowd spill out like burst
liquid, then shape into a stream, thickening and congesting as it
reached the station exit; but once beyond this bottleneck the mass
suddenly unliquefied--human beings with separate aims dispersing in
every direction.  Charles watched till after six; then he picked up
his bill and left.  On the way out to the cash desk he passed a big
mirror and saw himself like any other fellow walking across a
restaurant with his hand in his pocket feeling for change; he
wondered what he would think of himself as a stranger met thus for
the first time.  Medium height, brown hair and eyes, no
distinguishing marks--the passport specifications came easily.  Or
would it be no marks of distinction?  Just a tired look and a
worried face.  But not even that; he did not think the stranger in
the mirror looked more than averagely bothered about anything.  A
man he passed in the street outside had an air of far greater
harassment, and Charles watched him for a few seconds, saw him buy
an evening paper and turn to the stop-press column that gave the
racing results.  Charles smiled to himself; the incident was
calming.  People, it would seem, were apt to be neither as happy
nor as unhappy as they looked; and he was one of them.  The
anonymity of being anybody nudged his mind with the first touch of
philosophic comfort he had been able to muster.  The world's end
was a long way off, further even than Ladysmith Road.  But then,
thinking this, there came to him an echo from a forgotten source--
something he had read somewhere, he wished he could remember where--
'It is not many miles to Mantua, no further than the end of this
mad world'.

He reached Number 214 about a quarter-past seven and rang the
doorbell.  He was not very nervous.  The afternoon in Linstead,
walking about and thinking things over, had been helpful.  He saw
the familiar lace curtains in the bay-window and noticed the centre
one draped to enshroud a plant that was new there--an exotic fleshy-
leaved thing, bigger than the much derided aspidistra.  Probably
Mr. Mansfield's latest pride.  Somehow this evidence, if it were
such, that Mr. Mansfield was still functioning in his beloved world
of horticulture gave Charles another nudge of comfort.  A nice job,
being a park-keeper--and if one wanted to make a play on words
rather than realities, what had generations of Andersons been if
not park-keepers, since Beeching was called Beeching Park on old
maps?  The idea beguiled him--Havelock and Mr. Mansfield in a park
together.  But it was thus with so many words--LOVE, for instance,
a perfect catch-all of meaning, since one could use it about
anything from God to goulash; and yet so clinchingly compared with
LIKE, because one never spoke of 'falling in liking' with anybody,
and also because one often said one 'rather liked' somebody,
whereas nobody ever 'rather loved'.  For instance, he rather liked
Mr. Mansfield . . .  And so his thoughts rambled on till he heard
footsteps approaching along the hall.  He knew then he was in luck--
not only because someone was at home, but the footsteps were
surely those of the one he rather liked.  The door opened.  Yes,
indeed.  Mr. Mansfield was in gardening boots and an old jacket,
and carried a large earthenware flowerpot which he had apparently
been too absentminded to set down anywhere.  Naturally he was more
taken aback than Charles, though the latter had to scrap all his
rehearsed conversational openings when Mr. Mansfield suddenly
dropped the flowerpot.  It shattered on the floor of the lobby.
Charles had prefigured just about every possibility but this.  He
crossed the threshold without invitation and stooped to gather the
fragments into a heap.

'Butterfingers!' exclaimed Mr. Mansfield, gasping a word that
Charles had never expected to be the first one spoken between them.
'But you give me a turn, Charlie, that's wot you did--you really
give me a turn.  You was the larst person I'd 'ave thought--'

'I'm terribly sorry,' Charles interrupted.  'Perhaps I should have
let you know, but--here, let me tidy this up.'

'No, it's all right.'  Mr. Mansfield was fast recovering, and with
recovery came a mounting resentment.  'Look 'ere now, I dunno wot
you've come for--Lily ain't 'ere now, your dad must 'ave told you
that.  I really dunno wot you want, unless it's to mike trouble,
and I tell you, I ain't goin' to 'ave no trouble.  See?'

But having delivered that, his protest and his credo, he was
clearly at a loss to continue.  He let Charles open the door of the
parlour and followed him meekly inside.  Then with his own big
hands, but carefully wiping the garden dirt off them before he
touched the knob, he closed the door.  He looked sheerly
incongruous with his old clothes and gardening boots in this small
spotless room packed with furniture and ornaments.  But at least,
Charles reflected, he seemed already to have exhausted his anger.

Charles said, breathlessly improvising:  'Mr. Mansfield, I've not
come here to make trouble at all.  I don't want it any more than
you do.  My father, as you say, told me more or less what happened,
but I felt I had to see you for confirmation before I could take
all of it in. . . .'

'It ain't a bit of good,' Mr. Mansfield interposed.  'She ain't
'ere and you ain't goin' to see 'er.  I give my word and I mean
it.'

'You mean you give me your word now or you gave it to my father?'

'I give my word, that's all.  I just give my word.'  And then
abruptly:  'I believe that front door's left open.  Mind if I see?'

And so it was, the front door left wide open, as people never left
their front doors open in Ladysmith Road; amidst the excitement of
their meeting and the smashed flowerpot neither of them had thought
to close it.  Mr. Mansfield went out to the lobby and did so, while
Charles was aware of a quality he knew and loved in Lily, a
gentleness, a humility, an almost foolish sweetness that would make
Mr. Mansfield ask an unwelcome visitor if he might close the door
of his own house.

When Mr. Mansfield returned to the parlour Charles abandoned all
his mentally rehearsed speeches to resume eagerly:  'Let me tell
you this before we go any further.  I love Lily and I want to marry
her.  And if I'd known there'd be all this upset I'd never
have . . .'  But then he stopped.  What would he never have done?
Did he mean merely that had he known Reg Robinson would be
motorcycling anywhere near the Swan, he would have found another
town and another hotel?  This, even if true, was hardly worth
saying; but was it the whole truth anyhow?  Could there not be
regrets that did not imply apology or confession--regrets for the
grinding of memory into the sawdust of shabby outcome?  But Charles
could not hope to explain this question, still less expect an
answer; and therefore he did not know how to finish his sentence.
He broke off simply, without floundering, content with the silence
that followed.  Then, as if it had been the most natural enquiry of
a friend, he said:  'She's all right, I suppose?'

Mr. Mansfield replied in the same key and seemed relieved to do so.
'She's with the wife in the country.  I give my word I wouldn't say
where, but it's a nice place.  She'll stay there awhile.  She ain't
come to no 'arm, in a manner of speakin'.  Oh, she's all right--
right as rain--she's at the 'ouse of the wife's sister and 'er
'usband.  'Er 'olidays was due, anyway.  The others are on their
'olidays too.'

'Leaving you all by yourself?'

Mr. Mansfield nodded, a crease of humour rounding the edge of his
nostrils.  'To tell the truth I ain't sorry.  Gives me a chance to
do a bit extra in the garden.'

'I was admiring this plant as I came in.  New, isn't it?'

'Ficus elastica.  From Brazil.  Fancy you noticin' it.  Grows out
of doors as a rule, but I brought it 'ome to see wot 'appened.
Sometimes they like a change.  Bin a good year for most things.  I
got a fine show of roses out in the back.'  He paused as if
meditating an invitation and then thinking better of it.  'I was
just goin' out to water 'em when you come.'

'I'm interrupting you, I'm afraid.'

'Oh, they can wait.  Matter of fact, if you don't mind, I'll take
off these old boots.  Dunno wot the wife would say if she saw me in
'ere with 'em on. . . .  Be back in a minute.'

Mr. Mansfield then went out and Charles heard him climb the stairs
to the floor above--the room above also, for after a few seconds
the ceiling shook to heavy footfalls and some glass beads in the
lampshade began to tinkle.  Charles had nothing to do but look
about him, remembering the only time he had been in the room before
and Reg's terrific handshake received over there by the piano.
Pictures and photographs crowded the walls, there was an old-
fashioned overmantel above the fireplace, and a centre table
covered what would otherwise have been the only completely visible
square yard of carpet.  Pride of place was given to a modern radio-
gramophone of exactly the same model as the one at Beeching.  Sir
Havelock had not been keen enough on music to equip his house with
anything de luxe; whereas the Mansfields must have made sacrifices
to buy such a relatively expensive machine.  So the two families
could meet, as it were, on the social level of mass-produced
entertainment.  And for that matter, Charles reflected, if one were
to go round with the eye of an artist there was just as much junk
in the Beeching drawing-room.

Presently footsteps descended the stairs and Mr. Mansfield re-
entered.  He had changed not only his boots but his clothes, and
Charles thought he must also have brushed his hair and given
himself a general spruce-up.

'Well, I wasn't long, was I? . . .  Dunno 'ow you feel, but it
seems to me--if you ain't in a 'urry . . . always quiet there this
time of an evenin' . . . .'

'Why, yes,' said Charles.  'A good idea.'

                  *     *     *     *     *

They talked mostly about gardening as they walked the short
distance to the Prince Rupert, and Charles did not press the
conversation to any more serious issue.  He could bide his time,
and he judged that after a drink or so Mr. Mansfield might be more
communicative.  Charles had learned very little so far, except that
Lily's father had given a promise to his; he felt he must know more
about this, where and how it had happened; it was the atmosphere he
wanted to explore almost more than the territory.

Then, during that first moment at the bar of the Prince Rupert,
something happened that told him so much of everything that all
else was merely a filling-in of detail.  Charles had been the first
to say 'What's yours, Mr. Mansfield?' and Mr. Mansfield had
replied:  'Bitter for me, Charlie.'  There was nobody else in the
bar, not even the barmaid; soon, however, a buxom woman who was
evidently the landlady came up and greeted Mr. Mansfield as an old
and favourite customer.  'Two bitters,' said Charles, but before
she could serve them Mr. Mansfield cleared his throat to proclaim
with great solemnity:  'Mrs. Webber, I want you to meet Mr.
Anderson.'  Mrs. Webber smiled and Charles shook hands with her
across the counter.  She had the air of being a great lady.  Mr.
Mansfield continued:  'This Mr. Anderson's the son of Sir 'Avelock
Anderson who was with me 'ere the other evening--you remember Sir
'Avelock, Mrs. Webber?'

'My goodness, I should say I do!  We were so glad to meet Sir
Havelock.'  And then to Charles:  'What a wonderful man your father
is!  The stories he told!  I really do believe he enjoyed himself
here, don't you, Mr. Mansfield?'

Charles could believe it also.  Over their drinks Mr. Mansfield was
not in the least unwilling to talk of an event that had evidently
added so much to his local prestige.  Havelock, it seemed, had in
the first place received a letter from Mr. Mansfield.  'Mind you,
it was Reg that wrote it--Reg said your dad ought to know.  And
then your dad came to see us as soon as 'e got the letter.  We was
'avin' supper but 'e'd 'ad 'is so the wife made 'im a cup of tea
and we all talked it over.'

'ALL?'

'Well, not Bert and Maud and Evelyn--they was away on their
'olidays, like I said.  But Reg was there.'

'And Lily?'

'She come in during the middle of it.  She'd just bin round the
corner to get some needles.'

'Some WHAT?'

'Needles.  For the gramophone.  Reg brought over a lot of new
records and we was all goin' to 'ear 'em after supper.'  Mr.
Mansfield took in Charles's glance and slowly interpreted it.  'Oh,
we was all on good terms by then--we'd 'ad it out with 'er.  No
good 'angin' on to trouble, I always says, or it'll 'ang on to
you. . . .  Besides, we couldn't blame it all on the girl.  She
didn't orter 'ave done what she did, but 'oos fault was it really?'

Charles shook his head, not in either reluctance or inability to
answer the question, but because his mind was boggling at the
picture of his father sitting at the table in the living-room at
Ladysmith Road, drinking a cup of tea and 'talking it over' with
the Mansfields and Reg, then Lily entering the domestic circle with
a supply of gramophone needles. . . .

Mr. Mansfield took advantage of the silence to catch Mrs. Webber's
eye and signal for two more bitters.  He continued:  'I'll tell
you, Charlie--and once said we won't say no more--it was YOUR
fault, because you wasn't a gentleman.  I thought you was, and I
was wrong.  I didn't know 'OO you was, mind you, but I did think
you was a gentleman.  That time after we first met in the street I
said to Lily when she got 'ome . . . Lily, I said, 'e's a
gentleman.  Because I did think you was.'

Charles could only pick up a single point of this indictment.  He
said weakly:  'I don't quite know what you mean when you say you
didn't know WHO I was . . . Lily introduced us.'

'Wot I mean is, you never told Lily about your dad bein' a Sir.  It
was Reg found that out.  You never told nobody.'

Charles agreed that he hadn't.  'I didn't think of it--or maybe
when I did I thought it would sound boastful.  Anyhow, to get back
to what happened, my father came to see you and had a talk with you
all, and then . . . then what?'

'That's all.  We just talked and I brought 'im 'ere and 'im and me
'ad another talk, man to man.  A real gentleman, your dad is, that
I will say.'

'What did Lily think of him?'

'She liked 'im.  Who could 'elp it?  Of course 'e was upset, but
then afterwards 'e got friendly same as if 'e'd known us all for
years.'

'He was upset?'

'An' why shouldn't 'e be?  'E 'adn't bin told any more than we 'ad.
'E didn't even know you knew Lily.  It was a shock to 'im, the way
it would be to any father.  'E 'as 'is 'opes on you, Charlie.  An'
all the time 'e thought you was studyin' at college you was
carryin' on with a gel 'e never knew about.  Natchrally 'e was
upset. . . .  Mind you, that was at first, at the 'ouse.
Afterwards when 'im and me came 'ere we 'ad quite a lively time,
like Mrs. Webber was sayin'.'

'Tell me--tell me just this--did you ever, during the talk you had--
threaten--or say anything to him--about bringing a charge against
me?'

'A CHARGE?'

Mr. Mansfield's stare was so bewildered that Charles knew it was
the completest possible answer in itself.  But he felt driven to
continue:  'A charge in a police court--a charge of. . . .'  But he
somehow could not bring himself to speak the word 'abduction'.

'Gawd, no, I never said nothin' about that,' Mr. Mansfield answered
glumly, as if it were a mystery that must remain one or spoil his
evening.  Charles was devoutly glad that an interruption enabled
them both to drop the matter at exactly that moment.  For the door
of the bar had opened and a voice was shouting:  'Wotcher, Freddy--
and 'ow's Freddy?'

Mr. Mansfield swung round, happily diverted.  'Well, if it ain't
old 'Arry! . . .  'Arry, this is Mr. Anderson--you remember Sir
'Avelock Anderson 'oo I came 'ere with the other night?  This is
Sir 'Avelock's son . . . Charlie . . . Mr. Byfield.'

Harry Byfield, an excited little tub of a man with waxed
moustaches, gripped Charles's hand and held it while he bestowed a
beam of over-acted recognition.  'My goodness, and don't 'e look
like 'is dad too!  Same eyes, same nose . . .  Charlie, what're you
'avin'? . . .  Three bitters, Mrs. Webber, and 'ow's Mrs. Webber?'

Charles, who had never thought he looked much like his father at
all, found this rather disconcerting.  But it was a sample of what
went on all the evening, with customer after customer.  What an
audience his father must have had, he reflected, and after so many
bitters and in spite of his own personal troubles, he could not
help feeling slightly amused.

                  *     *     *     *     *

The bar filled up as the evening progressed, and the very crowding
of it enabled Charles occasionally to get Mr. Mansfield alone.
Then he put questions that seemed all the more urgent because he
had either to shout them at normal speaking range or else whisper
them loudly in Mr. Mansfield's ear.  Whenever possible he did the
latter.  Nobody was listening or trying to, and there could not
perhaps have been any place safer for the discussion of utterly
private matters.

'Tell me about Lily,' he kept saying more insistently as the drinks
affected him.  'Tell me about her.  You say she's all right--but is
she happy?'

'Well, now, you know Lily,' Mr. Mansfield temporized.  'She ain't
wot you might call an un'appy gel by nature.  She was upset, like
we all was, but you don't 'ave to worry.  She'll get over it.'

Charles was more worried that she might than that she mightn't.
And then through the undulating lens of alcohol, he saw Lily as
incomparably fair and lovely, beckoning to him from some distant
land where she would be happy anyway, with him if he joined her or
without him if he didn't.  Yes, he knew Lily.  She liked people.
She LOVED people.  She loved EVERYBODY.  She loved her father and
mother and Bert and Evelyn and Maud.  She loved Reg.  She loved Mr.
Graybar and Ethel and the busker outside the theatre who had stuck
his cap through the window of their taxi.  She loved Weigall and
Peters.  She even loved his father.  It was easy for her to do all
she could to please all these people because she loved them all.
And for the same reason it had been easy for her to do anything she
could to please him, Charles.  Why, she even loved places too.  She
loved Linstead.  She loved Cambridge.  And she would doubtless love
that nice place in the country whose whereabouts Mr. Mansfield
would not disclose.

'But surely we can write to each other,' Charles pleaded.  'If I
send a letter won't you forward it?'

'I give my word I wouldn't, Charlie.'

'But what if she writes to me?  Can't I answer?  You can't stop her
from writing.'

'Well, now, Charlie, we was all 'opin' you'd understand.'

'I'm damned if I do.  I don't think you do either.  Because--don't
you realize?--I want to marry her.  I asked her and she said she
would if you consented.  I'm twenty-one this month, so I don't need
my father's consent after that.'

Mr. Mansfield stroked his chin and was about to reply when someone
pushed through the crowd and clapped him violently on the shoulder.
There followed the inevitable greetings and introductions and
respectful references to Sir 'Avelock and another round of bitters;
it was half an hour before Charles had a chance to repeat what he
had said, though somewhat less coherently.

So Mr. Mansfield stroked his chin again.  'Charlie, wot you say
does you credit.  Maybe you wasn't a gentleman that once, but you
tike after your dad, like 'Arry Byfield said, and your dad's a
gentleman if ever there was one.  That's why I give 'im my word.
It's right wot 'e said too.  Lily's a nice gel, as nice a gel as a
father could wish to 'ave, but she wouldn't be a 'elp to you,
Charlie, not in your kind of life.  Man to man, and speakin' as men
of the world, your dad and I agreed about that.  Not that I ain't
just as proud of my own family, mind you--my great-granddad was in
the Battle of Waterloo--we got a 'istory, too, the Mansfields 'ave.
Only, as your dad said, with all your ejucation and the position
you'll 'ave later on--'

'Oh, for God's sake,' Charles interrupted, 'will you let me tell
you the plain truth?  I'm not going to have the kind of future my
father's planning for me.  I've done so badly in my examinations I
couldn't have it even if I wanted it.'

'That's wot Lily said, and it upset 'er, thinkin' she was part
responsible.'

'Let me finish.  There's no reason for anybody to be upset.  When
I'm twenty-one I shall have enough money and I'm going to live
abroad and if Lily will marry me we can both be happy.  Now then,
will you consent?'

'Charlie, it ain't a bit o' good you carryin' on about it.  I give
my word to your dad.  You're too 'eadstrong, that's wot's the
matter with you.  But I tike back wot I said when I said you wasn't
a gentleman. . . .'  Mr. Mansfield also was beginning to feel the
effects of six or seven bitters.  It was almost ten o'clock; the
barman was already blinking lights and calling for the last
reorders; Mrs. Webber and Milly were rolling up their sleeves for a
final crescendo of service.  'Gawlummy, look at the time!  Charlie,
boy--one more, just to show there's no ill feelin'.  And call me
Fred. . . .  Easy now, mind them glarsses. . . .  Goo' night,
'Arry . . .  Goo' night, Mr. Wilkinson . . .  Two more, please,
Mrs. Webber, when you've a minute . . .  But wot I was sayin',
Charlie, you're too 'eadstrong.  She's only a gel yet, but like I
said to the wife, a gel of sixteen can go around with an older
feller, provided 'e's a gentleman, and that's wot I thought you
was, Charlie.'  Mr. Mansfield seemed to have some vague awareness
that he had said that before and the memory troubled him in a wispy
sort of way.  His eyes were red and wet, but probably owing to the
smoke.

The bitters came.  Charles raised his glass and saw past the brown
liquid to something on the opposite wall that brought him to a jerk
of attention--the picture of a pretty girl holding up a glass of
beer just as he was, and the girl reminded him of Lily, and Lily
reminded him of a word that Mr. Mansfield had just spoken about
her.

'Sixteen,' Charles muttered.  'You said SIXTEEN . . .'

'Sixteen THEN--when you was first seein' 'er . . .  Goo' night, Mr.
Beale--remember me to Mrs. Beale . . .  Goo' night, Scotty. . . .
Seventeen now--seventeen a week ago larst Sunday.'

'She never told me.'

'You never told 'er things neither.  But I tike back wot I said,
remember that.'  Mr. Mansfield raised his own glass and for the
first time that evening offered a toast.  'Well, Charlie . . .
'Ere's to us and our dear ones. . . .'

                  *     *     *     *     *

Charles did not remember much of what happened during the next few
hours.  He had an impression that they left the Prince Rupert
together, but their conversation, if any, did not stay in his mind.
Later he woke up in darkness with a terrific headache and an
enormous confrontation of difficulties--physical difficulty in
finding a light switch and, when he had found one and pressed it,
mental difficulty in recognizing the scene and visual difficulty in
facing any kind of illumination.  At length he decided he had been
asleep on the couch in the parlour at Ladysmith Road.  He was fully
dressed except for jacket and shoes, which were beside him.

Feeling parched he fumbled his way to the kitchen sink.  Along the
lobby he could hear loud snores from upstairs.  He drank several
glasses of water and returned to the parlour to put on his shoes,
but this was too much of an undertaking, so he leaned back on the
couch.  Doubtless more time passed, because when he looked again
there was light beyond the Ficus elastica as well as dangling from
the ceiling.  He remembered then that Lily had said there were
trains every hour throughout the night between Linstead and London.
So it really didn't matter what time it was.  This seemed an
enormous boon as he laced his shoes and put on his coat.  In the
pocket he found a pencil and his Cambridge tailor's bill that had
arrived at Beeching the previous morning; he hadn't opened it, but
he did so now, merely to use the envelope.  On the back of this he
wrote:  'Dear Mr. Mansfield, Thanks, I'm all right.  Best wishes,
C.'  He left the note on top of the radio-gramophone.

As he went to the front door he could still hear snores from
upstairs.  They reminded him of something that sent him back to the
parlour and the radio-gramophone.  He crossed out 'Mr. Mansfield'
and wrote 'Fred'.

In the street the cool air, which he had hoped might be refreshing,
merely invited a fuller onslaught of nausea.  He had been drunk a
few times before, but never like this.  His last act in Ladysmith
Road was to vomit, monumentally, into the gutter a few yards from
the corner of the High Road.  Then, with some relief, he was able
to catch the 4.23 at Linstead station.  From Liverpool Street,
where he felt worse again after the train journey, he took a taxi
to an all-night Turkish bath in a street near the Haymarket.  But
even after every ministration it could offer, including a long doze
in the steam room, he still felt far from himself when he left it
around noon.  Or rather, he speculated, perhaps he did feel
himself, and what he had felt before had never been himself at all.
A rather grim change, as if he had grown out of something, but not
yet into something else.

                  *     *     *     *     *

During the next few days at Beeching Charles was able to confirm
that the change existed, though less grimly and no longer by any
possibility the result of a hangover.  For the first time he found
himself meeting his father on territory where boundaries were
recognized.  He made no disclosures of his recent trip to Linstead
and Havelock put no questions.  Charles walked about the Beeching
gardens feeling somehow adult and hard-bitten, and in a perverse
kind of way relishing it.  He wrote, for instance, to Brunon, who
had a teaching job at Clermont-Ferrand; he asked what sort of place
that was to live in.  What he must wait for, of course, was his
twenty-first birthday--the first step; but he gave his father no
inkling of any special urgency.  That would be revealed on the day
he was of age for acts as well as words.  Not that his planning was
sensational--merely to step down finally from the educational
ladder, without trying for any higher rung, and live abroad on his
private income.  It might not be heroic--private incomes rarely
were--but he had no wish to be heroic.  As for Lily in his scheme
of things, he was, he knew, handicapped by her age; perhaps he
would have to wait awhile--but surely not till she also was of age--
that would be unthinkable.  The whole matter was one he must
explore, legally to begin with, then he would know where he stood.
So far he had behaved like a youth; from now on he must do things
with a man's determination and responsibility.

Havelock was immensely genial during this period.  After dinner
father and son would usually sit in the library drinking port for
an hour or so--a pose of eighteenth-century comeliness that well
matched the house.  But each was secretly measuring the other and
aware of a trigonometry of distance between them.  Often the
conversation turned to Havelock's early triumphs in the law--he
liked to recollect them and how he had outwitted this or that
witness or an opposing counsel.  Charles could picture his father
wigged and gowned and pointing a playful finger over the courtroom--
Prospero casting his spell till suddenly, the mask withdrawn,
everything dissolved in Caliban fury.  Charles had seen this happen
in his dreams, but now, because he was no longer afraid, he did not
banish it from his waking thoughts--he even welcomed it, with a
slight burlesque of being impressed.  He knew his father revelled
in the high drama, but his own enjoyment was to snap the tensions
by some light remark that Havelock could not relish, though it was
never anything to which he could object.  'I'll bet you put on a
show,' was the sort of thing Charles would comment, in half-
derisive admiration.  For Havelock was still putting on a show.

The darkest moment came when he asked why Charles didn't paint any
more--had he given it up after Charnock's verdict?  Charles
shrugged in answer, then said obscurely:  'You're the one to worry
about verdicts, not me.'  The truth was, he couldn't endure just
then even the thought of painting, much less a discussion of it
with his father.  It belonged somehow to the part of him that was
hurt, the part that could not be bitten hard enough to become hard-
bitten.

Sometimes comedy came unsought as when, for instance, Charles asked
if there had ever been any reply to that letter Havelock had
written to The Times about the honorary degree.

Havelock seemed to have to ransack his memory for any recollection
of the incident (he always found it easy to forget the foolish
things he had done), but at length he replied:  'Oh yes, just one--
but only from some crazy fellow.'  Amiably he went to the bureau
where he kept his papers and began a search.  'Some parson--if I
can find it.  Addressed to me personally, of course--he must have
known it wouldn't do for The Times. . . .  Here it is.'

Scribbled on embossed notepaper from a Yorkshire vicarage, it
pointed out that the initial letters of 'Sagacity, Willpower,
Integrity, Nobility, Experience' (which Havelock had offered as his
own better translation of the Latin) could well supply a motto for
the entire Coalition administration in its choice of appointees to
government positions--a choice naturally dictated by such a leader
as Lloyd George.  The motto the parson suggested was:  'Scottish,
Welsh, Irish, Never English.'

'Now who would have thought of that?' Havelock mused.  'Of course
the fellow must be off his head.'

Charles began to laugh, and soon was laughing almost hysterically.
The whole incident seemed to find its perfect end in a joke that
was all the better because his father did not see it.

                  *     *     *     *     *

The twenty-first birthday fell on a Friday, so Charles and his
father went to London that morning, having planned a weekend that
would include dinner at Havelock's club and an evening at the
London Pavilion, where there was a good revue.  They would stay a
couple of nights at Claridge's and return on Sunday morning.  On
the Sunday evening a few local guests would come to dinner at
Beeching.

Havelock's club was among the more exclusive, and it was hard for a
young man just of age not to feel that admittance to it, as his
father's honoured guest, symbolized something not to be lightly
disregarded in the world's scheme of things.  The fact that Charles
was about to disregard it, and not lightly at all, made him feel
rather serious as he sat in the deep library chair before dinner
and drank an almost sacramental sherry.  The superbly proportioned
room with its high ceiling and near-great portraits and vistas of
wine-red carpet--all were alchemy to the soul; it was a very
wonderful life, doubtless, for those who were rich and important
and well content to be both.  A far cry from Ladysmith Road, and
nearly as far from living at Clermont-Ferrand on three hundred a
year (for Brunon had already replied that this was possible if one
were content with a modest mnage).  It only remained now for
Charles to make the announcement, and because he would rather spoil
an evening's entertainment than a good dinner he had decided to
bring the matter up while they were drinking coffee in the library
afterwards.  There would only be a short time then before having to
leave for the theatre, but Charles did not see why the announcement
should take long.

The dinner was indeed good, though Havelock assured him it was just
the ordinary club meal.  'But I'm glad I brought you here, Charles.
I hope to put you up for membership one of these days, so it's
appropriate we should choose it for our celebration.  Incidentally,
I believe this is the first time we've ever dined out together.'
It was, not counting train dinners and times when they had both
been guests of neighbours around Beeching.  'You may not realize
it, Charles, but a father finds it hard to get to know his son, and
therefore easy to postpone the effort.  I hope we shall make that
effort jointly--from now on.'  He waited for some response, but
Charles could not think of any.  'I'd like this to be the beginning
of confidence between us.  Don't think I shall be unsympathetic--
even about Lily.'

Charles flushed, resenting Havelock's use of the first name, as if
there were in it some intolerable assertion of intimacy.  Yet he
could not help probing the matter by answering:  'Yes, you met her,
didn't you?'

'I did, and thought her charming--though of course utterly unsuited
to you, apart from her age.'

'You mean her Cockney accent--all that?'

'Well, it would be no help, though she might manage to unlearn it--
others have.  Much more important is a lack in her of something you
need, Charles--you especially.  Even at her age one can tell she
hasn't got it--a drive, a dynamism--a woman who will push you
ahead, not just freewheel along in any mood you set for her.'

Charles was surprised by his father's assessment of Lily; he had
expected the class angle to count much more.  He said:  'How about
being happy?  Doesn't that come into the scheme of what you think I
need?'

'No one should put happiness first, Charles.  One doesn't die
without it.  From my own experience I can assure you of that.'

'But wouldn't you have PREFERRED to be happy?'

'Yes--if it could have come from achievement--from triumph.  But
not from mere BEING.  Not just bliss.  The Orientals believe in
bliss--and look at them.  Whereas, to take an opposite example, the
Americans PURSUE happiness--it's the pursuit they stress, not the
happiness itself.  The phrase is even written into their
Declaration of Independence--and look at THEM.  They count.'

'Because they've pursued happiness without finding it?'

'Yes--rather than finding it and languishing with it.'

'I don't much care for pursuing things.  I suppose that's why I'm
no good at games.'

'But you haven't the blood in you to languish.  Or if you have, I
don't know where it comes from.'

'From my mother, perhaps.  I hope so.'

'You mean you wish you were not my son?'

'I don't think that follows . . . but haven't you wished it too--
sometimes?'

They faced each other, as near to the core of some central issue as
they had ever been, and aware of it.  At that moment, if the
message in Havelock's eyes had persisted, Charles might have
decided to leave Beeching and his father and never see either
again.  But it changed, and Havelock further eased the tension by a
slow smile.  'I don't see any reason to bicker, Charles.  I just
wanted you to know I liked Lily.'

'That's fine.  I liked her too.  In fact I still like her.  And if
I had the chance, now that I'm of age, I'd marry her.  But you've
seen to it that I haven't the chance.'

'You can still have it if you want it enough.'

'What do you mean?'

'Didn't Mansfield tell you ANYTHING?'

'He said nothing about . . .'  Then Charles saw he had fallen into
the oldest trap in the cross-examiner's repertoire.  'Oh, well,' he
added, transferring some of his anger to himself, 'you evidently
know it all, so what's the difference?  Mansfield told me nothing
except that he'd given you his word, he'd given you his word--he
repeated that like a litany.'

'Then he kept his word too.  Quite a fellow.'  Havelock paused.
'Share another bottle of claret? . . .  No? . . .  Just the
ordinary claret they have here, but not bad, I think. . . .  Sure
you won't? . . .  Charles, let me be frank about all this.  No
father nowadays can put a final veto on a son's marriage--and
that's as it should be.  But when the girl's still so young--
younger than you ever thought she was, younger than she told you
she was . . . surely there's a case for delay--or at least no need
for any special hurry?  Mansfield and I agreed that if, at the end
of a year, you and Lily both wished, you could begin meeting
again . . . and later still--say in eighteen months or two years--
and she'd only be nineteen then, remember--'

'And in the meantime?'

'No meetings--no letters, communications of any kind--for a year--
on either side.'

'And what did SHE say to that?'

'Very little, as I remember.  She didn't make a scene, though.
Bless her.'

'But she agreed to the separation?'

'In all fairness, Charles, I must point out there was nothing else
she could do.  After all, a father does have some control over a
seventeen-year-old--'

'Did she know it was only to be for a year?'

'We didn't go into that with her.  I didn't intend to with you,
either, but I was tempted just now--I wanted to make your birthday
a more cheerful one.  Don't be distressed.  If, after a year, as I
said--'

'I know what YOU said--what I want to know is what SHE said.  What
were the words she used?  How did she take it?  I can't believe--'

'As I told you before, she was perfectly charming--both to her
father and me.  Other girls might have been sulky or hysterical or
hostile--instead of which--well, I couldn't help admiring her
attitude.  And perhaps in her heart she felt the reasonableness of
ours.'

'Damn the reasonableness.'

'A year isn't much, Charles.  You once said that yourself.'

Charles remembered and it made him bitter.  'Yes, I suppose as a
test of true love it's romantic as well as reasonable.'

'I've weakened it, though, by letting you know it exists.  I've
given you that much advantage.'

'Like throwing a dog a small bone.'

'No . . . like revising--slightly--the handicap in a race.'

'To make it more exciting for the spectator.'

Havelock chuckled.  'Your brain works rather well when you're
excited.'

'I'm not excited--not in the way you are, anyhow.  And whether it's
a week or a month or a year, as far as I'm concerned, I promise
nothing, I've agreed to nothing.  Let's end the argument on that.'

'Yes--gladly.  I was equally glad to end my argument with
Mansfield, in which--I think you tend to overlook this--I really
succeeded in getting you out of serious trouble. . . .  Tell me,
incidentally--this isn't arguing, I'm just curious--what would be
your rating of Mansfield?'

'Rating?  I don't know that I rate people at all.  I thought him
decent and honest, simple and--and--in a sort of way--sweet.  Like
a good apple.  I'd trust him.  He'd keep his word--even if he ought
never to have given it.'

'So it puzzles you a little--why he did give it?'

'Not when I think of you in action against him.  You have a
persuasive manner.'

'And you think that was all?  I'm really flattered, Charles.'
Havelock poured himself more claret and again Charles saw, as in
his dreams, the pose of one about to strike, even at the risk of
unwisdom; grim glee infesting the eyes, a euphoria that ran riot in
the bloodstream, so that the cheeks reddened and shone with what,
in an athlete, would have suited the moment of passing the tape or
vaulting the bar.  'Charles, my experience in the courts taught me
many things.  One of them is the meaning of the word "corruptible".
It means "more corruptible than the person using the word".  Take
plain bribery, for instance.  With some people--those we call
honest--a bribe has first to be explained as something else--
something reasonable and fair and legitimate.  Then cupidity must
be aroused--a universal attribute--after which the payment offered
must be large enough to administer a slight shock, so that the
honest payee will wonder if it IS a bribe, and--out of a mixture of
doubt and guilt and gratitude--will wish to treat the payer with
the utmost fidelity.  It's a very interesting process.'

He paused, aware that he was losing Charles's attention, then
retrieved it by a fast grab.  'How do the Mansfields come into all
this?  I'll tell you.  They're quite hard pressed financially--
buying their house through a building society and a radio-
gramophone on the instalment plan--all that sort of thing.  He has
steady employment, but poorly paid--only about five pounds a week,
so the three girls and the boy have to help to support the family
from their own small earnings.  Clearly, then, Lily couldn't give
up her job and live in the country for a year at their expense . . .
so the fair thing to do was quite obvious.  But--and this really
IS the point at last--how much do you think it costs a girl to live
with her relatives in the country for a year?'

Havelock took out his wallet and pushed a folded paper across the
table to Charles.  It was a cancelled cheque made out to and
endorsed by Frederick Mansfield for two thousand pounds.

                  *     *     *     *     *

Charles felt rather sick.  'All right . . . so you pulled it off.
You've been clever, I admit that.  It's an odd thing to prove to me
on the day I'm supposed to become a man--that life's full of
wormholes and that you know how to find them . . . never mind,
though, I'll admit that also.  But now I've got a disillusionment
for you.  This career of mine you talk of--this career--this--
this . . .'

His eyes were riveted by something else on the table before him.
It was a telegram, addressed to Charles at Beeching, from his
college tutor.


HEARTIEST CONGRATULATIONS ON OBTAINING NOT ONLY FIRST IN TRIPOS BUT
YOUR THESIS ALSO CONSIDERED SO GOOD STRONGLY RECOMMEND SUBMISSION
FOR THE COURTENAY PRIZE. . . .


'It came yesterday,' said Havelock.  'I took the liberty of holding
it back for our celebration tonight. . . .  NOW will you have a
little more claret?  We shall be late for the theatre, but who
cares?'



PARIS   II


Thirty-one years later Charles could sum up his early life as
'nothing to complain of without really wondering whether it had
been or hadn't.  He was much too pleased by his son's remark that
he didn't look anything like his age; and for a second he glanced
in a mirror on the wall of the Cheval Noir that showed him trim and
distingu in his dark suit.  'Do you really think, Gerald,' he
asked, fishing for another compliment, 'I could safely allow a
photograph of the author to be used as a frontispiece for my book?'
He laughed, of course, so that his son should know it was partly a
joke.

'You bet you could,' Gerald answered, loyally.  'You're really very
handsome.  You look a bit like Ronald Colman.'

'And WHO is Ronald Colman?'

'Oh, come now, dad, you must know that.'

'I will admit I do, but I find that a great impression can be made
nowadays by claiming never to have heard of somebody.'

Gerald grinned.  'You're pretty smart too.'

'Am I--away from dinner parties and agreeable company?  Sometimes
lately I've begun to doubt it.'  At a remark like that Palan
stepped into Charles's mind like an unwanted guest who finds the
door left open, and because he would otherwise have had to quell an
almost unconquerable preoccupation Charles began to talk about
Palan to Gerald, though of course without mentioning the name.
'You know, Gerald, this job I have isn't the kind of thing it used
to be.  You may think me snobbish--it's so easy to be thought that
nowadays--but when I first started in diplomacy one could always
assume that whatever the sort of fellow one was up against there'd
be at least some things in common--a professional training, for
instance, and a minimum code of manners.  Your opponent might trick
you, he might be dishonest or corrupt--my father used to say that
everyone was corrupt to some extent--but you could count on him not
yelling across the room like an auctioneer or belching after a
heavy lunch . . .  But I mustn't bore you--here's Henri, wondering
what we're going to eat.  Anything special you fancy, my boy?  This
is an occasion, remember.'

Henri presented the menu, which Gerald studied for a moment before
replying:  'My French isn't equal to it--maybe you'd better do the
choosing.'

Charles smiled.  He had been prepared for this.  'How about soup to
begin with?  May I suggest tortue claire?'

'Fine, whatever it is.'

'Just turtle soup.  And then perhaps sole Vronique--that's sole
cooked in wine and served with a very delicate cream sauce and
fresh grapes--and after that I can recommend Henri's way with a
small chicken--poulet en casserole  la maison--'

Gerald put down the menu and tried to catch Henri's eye with a
knowing wink, but of course Henri did not respond.  'I wonder if I
could just have a good thick steak after the soup.'

'Certainly, M'sieu'.'

Charles continued to smile; he had been prepared for this too.  All
he said was:  'One thing you never have to specify here, Gerald--
everything always IS good . . .  I think then a tournedos garni for
Gerald, Henri, with those little potatoes and champignons.  I'll
have the sole.'

Henri bowed.  After he had left them Gerald said, still looking
amused:  'What first made you so interested in food, dad?'

'To that question, Gerald, I had better quote an answer made by a
titled Englishwoman to the Duchess of Marlborough--who, as perhaps
you know, was a titled American.  The Duchess was informed that
considering it is the only pleasure one can count on having three
times a day every day of one's life, a well ordered meal is of
prime importance . . .  Ben trovato, possibly.'  Henri had
approached with the wine list.  'A Chablis, Henri . . .  Try a
small glass, Gerald, after the soup.'

'Okay.'

'It's a very simple wine.'

'I thought one ordered wines by the year.'

Charles smiled again; it was a matter he liked to have brought up.
'Your millionaire junk merchant ALWAYS does--he learns a few words
and dates like Liebfraumilch Forty-Seven and thinks it makes him a
connoisseur.  I myself would GENERALLY know the best years for a
Burgundy or a champagne or a claret, but with a Chablis I leave
everything to Henri, who was born quite close to the town of
Chablis . . . isn't that so, Henri?'

'At Auxerre, M'sieu',' said Henri, beaming.

'Oh yes?'  Gerald suddenly spoke up.  'I think I know of it.'  He
was evidently at pains to demonstrate that he wasn't an ignoramus
in every field of knowledge.  'Didn't Clovis capture Auxerre from
the Romans in the fifth century?'

'I haven't the slightest idea,' answered Charles with keen delight,
'and I don't suppose Henri has either.  So you put us both in our
place.  I took my degree in history, and I've never regretted doing
so, though I expect I've forgotten ninety per cent of all I ever
learned.  One does, you know.  But the other ten per cent, if well
cared for, can stand one in pretty good stead. . . .  Thank you,
Henri.  Oh yes--and a small salade gauloise.'  Henri bowed and left
them again.  'I'm glad you're interested in history, Gerald.
Perhaps it'll win you a Cambridge scholarship next year.'

'I think I shall take Economics.'

'Well, that includes a lot of history--and vice versa.  I remember
when I was at Cambridge I used to go to Pigou and Keynes--that was
at the end of the war which we now call the FIRST World War, though
it was Colonel Repington back in 1919 who originated the phrase and
was well trounced for it.'

'Did you enjoy Cambridge?'

'Very much indeed.  Of course I'm fortunate to have it associated
in my mind with pleasant things--such as a First in the Tripos and
the Courtenay Prize.  I didn't like games and I was too shy in
those days to take part in Union debates, but I think I can say
that Cambridge gave me, if nothing else, a sense of kinship with
tradition--of being privileged, if the metaphor isn't too fanciful,
to touch the pulse of five centuries with the tip of one's little
finger.  I remember what a thrill I got when I found that a
previous occupant of my college rooms had introduced the turnip
from Holland in the late seventeenth century--thus becoming a
benefactor of English agriculture though certainly not of the
English dinner-table. . . .  Strange, though, when one looks back
on early life, how it's the little incidents that stay in the mind.
I remember once, while I was researching at the British Museum,
being told that the desk I was working at had been used by Karl
Marx when he was writing Das Kapital. . . .  I mentioned that to
Palan the other day, by way of making conversation--'

'Who's Palan?'

Charles had spoken the name without thinking, though now he had
done so he felt it did not matter.  'One of my opponents at the
Conference.  A disciple of Marx, of course.'

'I think I've seen pictures of him in the papers.  Rather a jolly-
looking fellow.'

'He would certainly never forget to smile when being photographed.'

'What did he say when you told him about the desk at the British
Museum?'

'Nothing.  He just stopped picking his nose.'

Gerald laughed.  'You've certainly got your knife into him all
right.'

'On the contrary, he has his into me.  Mine's quite incapable of
piercing such a hide.  And yet, in an odd sort of way, I don't
absolutely DISlike the fellow.  It's hard to say why not.  I have
every reason to--personal, professional, and political.  The other
evening I was reading Montesquieu and I came across . . .'  Charles
stopped; he saw that Gerald had glanced covertly beneath the rim of
the table at his wristwatch.  The fact that the movement had been
so carefully shielded, that the boy was clearly anxious not to hurt
a father's feelings, gave Charles a needle-like twinge in the
centre of his stomach.  Was it possible that he was BORING Gerald?
He continued hastily:  'But don't let me run on like this.  Tell me
more about your adventures in Switzerland.'

'Yes, I'd like to, before I--I mean, while there's still time.  I
mustn't forget my train.'

'When did you say it was?'

'Er . . . ten-thirty . . .'

'And from the Gare St. Lazare, I think you said.  Leave here by ten
and you'll be all right. . . .  You were telling me earlier that
you did some climbing.'

'Oh yes--and golf and tennis too.  At Mrren they were having
tournaments at the hotel and I entered--just to get a game actually--
never thought I had a chance--but I won the mixed doubles--my
partner was awfully good.  It's a silver cup--I've got it in my bag--
like me to show you?'

Even had Charles been interested in games he would not have cared
to interrupt a dinner in such a way.  He smiled tolerantly and
answered:  'Oh, don't bother now--I'll see it when we're at home.
But I'm very glad you were able to get the kind of holiday you
enjoy.  So many people--diplomats, for instance--have to enjoy the
kind they get.  When I think of all the time I've spent at horrible
little resorts that happened to be the only places where the
Legation staff could go to escape the heat, or dysentery, or some
national holiday that was sure to be marked by anti-British
demonstrations in the capital--'

'You can put all THAT into your book, anyway.'

'Oh, certainly.  And I shall.  There was a place near Constanza, on
the Black Sea . . .'

At ten minutes to ten he called for the bill and excused himself
ostensibly to make a telephone call.  The only telephone at the
Cheval Noir was in Henri's little office at the rear; but Charles
did not actually use the instrument.  Presently he returned to find
Gerald ready to leave and a little fidgety.

'Dad, it's been a wonderful dinner--I've had a grand time.'

'My pleasure too, Gerald.  I only wish we could have seen more of
Paris together.'

'Yes, so do I.'

'Maybe we'll have some other chance.'

'You bet we will . . . and dad, why don't you stay here and finish
your coffee?--I hate to rush you out like this--no need for you to
see me off at the train, we'll be meeting again in London so soon.'

'Very thoughtful of you, Gerald.  In that case I'll just put you
into a cab.'

Charles noted the relief on Gerald's face.  It hurt him again, but
less so because he was now making plans of his own.  He took the
boy to the kerb and summoned a taxi from the line of them in the
middle of the street.  Then he shook hands with his son and gave
the driver instructions in very rapid French.

'Bye, dad.  Thanks again.'

'Goodbye, my boy.  Bon voyage.'

Charles returned to his table and asked Henri to bring him another
fine.  He felt chastened and also a little unworthy.  For the thing
he had done instead of telephoning was to look up the timetable and
confirm that there was no such thing as a ten-thirty boat train
from St. Lazare.  And what he had told the driver in rapid French
was to return to the restaurant and tell him where he had taken the
young man.

                  *     *     *     *     *

Half an hour later Charles was in the same taxi, having ordered the
driver rather testily:  'Just take me there--you don't need to
describe the place.'  Feeling as he did somewhat contaminated by
the thought that he was about to spy on his own son, he certainly
did not want to cement the treachery by any sort of gossip in
advance.  Naturally after such a rebuff the driver navigated the
streets with added recklessness--the route led along the Boulevard
des Capucines, then the Boulevard des Italiens, towards the Place
de la Rpublique . . .  And with every mile Charles wondered what
he was going to do when he got to wherever it was, or if he could
even do anything at all.  For there were circumstances in which
Paris was a wonderful city to be fatherless in . . . and at such a
speculation Charles had nothing to aid him but certain recollections
of his own.

It would probably (he remembered) be one of those dingy buildings
with a mansard roof and peeling stucco and an advertisement for
Byrrh facing from across the street in huge letters . . .  And to
think of Gerald at seventeen . . .  Why, in his own case he had
been twenty-two when he . . . when he spent those six months with
the Dcharays to polish up his accent.  Professor Dcharay used to
take him and the other students to the Louvre and the museums
during the day, but sometimes in the evenings after dinner on the
pretext of a lecture a few of them would go off on their own . . .
He had often wondered if the good professor had guessed where they
went, for he twirled his moustache rather waggishly when they
greeted him the next morning at breakfast . . .

And somehow now those adventures, though Charles shrank from the
translation of them into the life and times of his son,
nevertheless did not give him any equal distaste when they were
recalled.  Rather the contrary.  Too bad one mustn't put that sort
of thing into a book--not that he would dream of doing so, even if
he could.  He wasn't that sort of writer, though he must confess he
could sometimes enjoy himself as that sort of reader.  Fashions
were changing, standards were crumbling, people talked at dinner-
tables more freely, one might suppose (though one could hardly be
sure), than eminent Victorians in bedrooms, chats on the radio and
faces in television were taking the place of spellbinding oratory
and the front line of the chorus . . .  Perhaps he might devote a
chapter in his book to the changing world he had seen--or no, there
could be nothing new to say, he had better stick to what was
important.  The big thing in his career had undoubtedly been the
Macedonian Boundary Commission; he must concentrate on that.  It
was his only title to fame, if any; the rest was just run of the
mill. . . .



'RUN OF THE MILL'


Charles and Brunon were among the New Year revellers welcoming 1922
at a Rhineland hotel.  It was not a good time for painting, but
Brunon had a short vacation from school and Charles, after
Christmas at Beeching, had been glad to return to the Continent to
meet his friend.  During a succession of cold and sunny days they
walked along the west bank of the Rhine, southward from Bonn.
Brunon had visited this fabled territory before and knew of a small
village called Assmannshausen, near Bingen, that would be pleasant
to stay at, so they had arranged to have mail sent there poste
restante.  Assmannshausen was reached towards twilight after a
flurry of snow from the hills, and Brunon went to the post office
while Charles sat in a caf reading German papers.  There was not
much news.  More snow was forecast.  Francs and marks had fallen
further.  The Washington Armaments Conference was still in
progress.  Charles felt drowsy in the warmth after the icy air
outside.  He also felt very fit and reasonably content.  It had
been a good idea, taking a walking tour in January.  Eccentric but
invigorating.  Brunon came in with a batch of letters and sorted
them out on the scrubbed table top.  There was a sprinkling of
fresh snow on his coat and his face was pink from the wind.  None
of Charles's letters looked important and he was putting them aside
to read later when one slipped to the floor.  As he picked it up he
did not recognize the handwriting under Cobb's heavy crossing-out,
but the postmark 'Linstead' caught his eye.

After a moment Brunon said:  'Not bad news, I hope?'

'Not tragic, anyway . . .  A girl I know got engaged to somebody
else.'

Charles was pretending to reread, but actually looking for a
miracle to make it all untrue.  There was no miracle, and presently
Brunon asked:  'Is it going to bother you much?'

'I don't know--quite--yet--but I don't think so.'

It was true that at the first moment of shock he didn't know.  He
hadn't thought of Lily a great deal, consciously, during the trip.
Nor during Christmas at Beeching, nor during previous weeks in
Berlin, where he had been fraternising pleasantly with the German
language and with the family of Professor Stapff.  The separation,
so hard to endure at first, had become something he was austerely
used to, something he could almost fold to himself for perverse
comfort; and the anticipation of seeing her again, which had been
all there was to live on during summer and early autumn, had fallen
into place along a quiet horizon of the future.  But now, with her
letter in his hand, the horizon darkened and a sense of loss
brought such misery that he could hardly force himself to think,
much less to talk rationally to Brunon about any other matter.  A
snowstorm began that evening, practically marooning them for
several days at a small inn.  There was nothing to do and because
he was utterly wretched Charles told Brunon the opposite of what he
felt in the hope that by having to suit his behaviour to it he
might achieve some degree of self-discipline.

'Matter of fact, Andr, it's probably just as well.'  Even while he
spoke the words he felt a betrayer, though what could he now
betray?

'Were you engaged?'

'Not exactly.  She was sixteen when we first met and that was less
than a year ago.  Absurdly young.  Sweet though.  A typist in an
office.'

'Anything wrong with being a typist in an office?'

'Of course not.  I didn't intend to suggest--'

'But since you volunteer the information, is it not implied that
the match would not be in all ways a suitable one?'

'I daresay the snobbish view might be that--for what it's worth.
But otherwise--'

'And in your chosen profession it is worth a great deal.  So you
are perhaps fortunate to have been given such an easy escape.'

'You think so? . . .  Oh, hell, let's have a bottle of wine--I'll
bet the local stuff's good here.'

'It is excellent.  But tell me, Charles--and then we will not speak
of her again unless you wish--I suppose it is because I paint that
I like to visualize . . . was she BEAUTIFUL?'

'WAS she?  You mean, IS she--she's not dead just because someone
else has her. . . .  No, not specially beautiful, but . . . you
want a description?  Let me see . . . she has large violet eyes and
a wide forehead and dark brown hair, complexion rather pale and a
straight nose that seems somehow long because it isn't big . . .
And there's a gap between one upper tooth and the next, on the left
side--a tiny gap that looks better than if it weren't there--it
shows when she smiles and she smiles a lot because she's generally
happy . . .  And she has small hands and feet--in fact, she's
little altogether--incredibly little--practically no figure to
speak of--'

'But at sixteen, my friend . . .'

Charles stamped angrily from his chair, then turned the anger
against himself and the movement into a stretch and a yawn.  He
began to laugh in a ribald way.  It seemed the final Judas touch,
but having accomplished it he felt better able to compose, as he
would have to, the necessary letter of congratulation . . . hoping
she and Reg would be happy.  He hadn't much doubt about it.

                  *     *     *     *     *

Decades later, when he began to think he would one day write a
book, 1922 was the year at which he decided to start the story of
his life, because it was the year in which his career opened with
quite a spurt of success.  After spending six months in Europe
polishing his languages, he did very well in the Foreign Office
examination, and when, about the same time, he won the Courtenay
Prize for History it seemed possible that he was one of those young
men for whom all ways are to be made smooth.  His first chief, Sir
Lionel Treves, at whose Legation in one of the smaller European
capitals he presently became an Attach, thought highly of him, and
Lady Treves liked his looks and was considerably intrigued by his
manner.  Neither had known him before, so they were unaware of how
much he had changed.  They thought he was far too quiet, but such a
fault promised well in a youth whose appearance and ability were
both beyond reproach.

Life at the Legation was tranquil, and the work so simple for a
junior staff-member that, except for further language study,
Charles was able to give his brain a long and satisfying rest.  He
had little responsibility, and was amused to discover that after
all his abstruse cramming most of the tasks that fell to him (such
as deciphering and copying despatches) were not beyond the
resources of a reasonably intelligent sixth-former.  He spent the
mornings in the Chancery, often with long intervals of leisure
during which he could read French and German novels; he got to know
his colleagues, and the entire atmosphere, with its air of a
cheerful enclave whose chance-chosen inmates might as well make the
best of each other, reminded him a little of the Brookfield
Sanatorium in which, as a boy with some slight ailment, he had
found a haven from the rigours of the outside world.  Sir Lionel
was a comfortable chief and did not count the hours his staff put
in provided the job was done.  Charles naturally took the menial
duties, if that adjective could be applied to any of them; again it
was rather like being a new boy at school.  He began to make
friends, most of them among the resident English--it was surprising
how few, or at any rate how slowly, relationships developed with
the people of the city.  After leaving cards at the other Legations
he was asked out to dinners, and found many pleasant acquaintances
among his opposite numbers.  Most afternoons, though, he spent
alone from choice, exploring the city or attending some lecture or
concert.  After that he would return to the Legation in case
anything had been left for him to do; even if so it rarely made him
late for dinner.  Sometimes there was a rush of business when a bag
came in, and once a royal visit threw everybody into a well-
controlled commotion that lasted several weeks, but as a rule one
could watch the European world through a delightful window on the
edge of it--for the country had been neutral during the war and was
consequently quite spotless and a little smug.

Charles shared a flat with the Second Secretary, a man named
Snowden, who was unmarried; the First Secretary had a Swedish wife
who sang Schubert and Hugo Wolf songs exquisitely.  There was also
a very handsome Military Attach who drifted in and out of the
Chancery with gossip about parties he had been to the night before;
so far as Charles could judge, his functions were almost entirely
decorative, and most of all at requiem masses whenever it was
obligatory for the corps diplomatique to attend them.  At these
affairs the Military Attach looked as if he had stepped right out
of the pages of Ouida.

(Later in life, when some of Charles's moments were more arduous,
and those who shared them with him pictured whimsically or
ironically the kind of heaven they would choose for themselves,
Charles would say:  'Ah, you should have been en poste at ----
during the twenties--those were the days!'  But once, when he so
expressed himself, a very old and distinguished-looking gentleman
in a dressing-gown replied, as urbanely as was possible within the
confines of an air-raid shelter:  'My boy, they were only the pale
shadow of the life before you were born!  Those were the real days--
to be a youth of good family sixty years ago, when you could get
into the Diplomatic without all this modern fuss about Firsts and
degrees--when all you needed was a private income and a father or
uncle or somebody in high places to take care of you.  It was
simply the best club that ever existed--founded by the Congress of
Vienna, developed by the wealth and conveniences of the industrial
revolution, and not yet affected by all the political and social
changes that have finally upset the applecart; a club of charming
people living a gay life in every capital from Lisbon to what was
then St. Petersburg--a few thousand families supplying the
personnel, so that wherever you went you met people who knew the
people you knew--a truly international set in a world full of
international settings and social counterparts in every country--
Ascot and Chantilly, Sandhurst and St. Cyr, Osborne and Ischl, the
Quai d'Orsay and the Wilhelmstrasse and the Ballplatz, all the
Bristol Hotels and the Compagnie Internationale des Grands Express
Europens . . .  The very words are remembered music that even guns
and bombs cannot shatter!  Ah, what a lovely world if you were born
into the golden ranks of the inheritors!'  And then the old man
ended startlingly:  'But I wasn't, and I hated its guts.'  Charles
never saw him again or found out his name.)

                  *     *     *     *     *

Though in retrospect they acquired an austere and compensating
glamour, Charles's first professional years contained many
misgivings and a great deal of boredom.  Occasionally also he was
visited by a lost look that Lady Treves noticed and took to be some
mysterious kind of reserve.  It usually lifted amongst a crowd, and
once or twice at some dinner party a few drinks released him into a
mood in which he was apt to talk wittily enough for her to comment
afterwards to her husband:  'Charles was quite amusing, wasn't he?
Madame Papadoulos was much taken with him--asked me where he was
from . . .  I didn't know a great deal, I'm afraid.'

'He comes of a very decent family, my dear.  Sir Havelock Anderson
was a successful K.C. till he made a fool of himself--they say he
still does.'  Sir Lionel searched still further in the card index
of his mind.  'The mother was a Calthorpe, one of the Irish
Calthorpes--she's been dead a long time.  I think there was another
son killed in the war.  Not too much money.  Charles will inherit
what there is. . . .  I met the father once--bit of a character--
rather like a crazy old Viking.  Young Anderson's a more normal
type, thank goodness.'

'He has an interesting face.  Is he going to do well?'

'I wouldn't be surprised.  Fairly good school--and Cambridge.  He
did well there.  Oh yes, he might have his own Legation some time.
The other day I had to tell him that.'

'You HAD to tell him?'

'He suggested a brilliant idea for completely reorganizing the
Register.  So damned brilliant the Foreign Office would have had a
fit.  I told him that by the time he had his own Legation it would
probably be adopted, but that for the present he'd better hide it
as he would an affair with the mistress of one of the Russians. . . .
I think I managed not to hurt his feelings.'

'I hope so.  He's really one of the nicest men we've had.'

'If only he'd write a bit larger--or else I'll have to get some new
spectacles.  I think he could put the Lord's Prayer on a threepenny-
bit if he tried hard.'

'Did you know he paints?'

'Snowden mentioned it, but he's never offered to show me anything.'

'I caught him at it once.  He was doing the view of the square from
the big window on a Sunday afternoon when he thought no one was
about.'

'Any good?'

'I wondered.  But I couldn't very well ask him, could I?  Anyhow, I
could see he wasn't bad.'

                  *     *     *     *     *

During his leaves Charles sometimes spent short holidays with
Brunon and for the rest of the time rented a service flat in
London.  He rarely visited Beeching for longer than a week at a
stretch because, he told himself, the country bored him--which was
easier if less truthful than to admit that he found his father's
company a strain.  It was not that they quarrelled or failed to get
along; indeed their relationship seemed more cordial than it had
formerly been.  Yet there was still an unease about it . . . a
feeling that made Charles, if ever he heard his father going
downstairs after they had gone to bed for the night, tiptoe to the
landing with a curiosity he could hardly define--because he would
never have acted thus with Snowden or Brunon, though in the morning
he would probably have asked them what they had been roaming about
the house for.  But with his father he never put such a question.

Havelock, now approaching his seventies, had retained much of his
fine physique and all his capacity for charming those he wanted to
charm.  Nor could it be said that he had become more eccentric,
since he had already reached a limit beyond which the word would
seem inadequate.  What had happened was a sort of levelling off
along a high plateau of singular behaviour, in which the
singularities were often so trifling that the mean average distance
from normal could easily be overlooked.  Much of his life was
outwardly like those of his neighbours, and his pastimes, though
odd, were no more so than those of many another man of his age and
income.  The porter at his club could doubtless have capped any
queer story about him with other queer stories about other club
members.  Letters to The Times continued without further
complications, for there were still old tombstones to be discovered
and written about.  All this was acceptable.  So were parties at
Beeching at which he could be a delightful host.  It was just that
sometimes in his company one could feel, by a heightened awareness,
that one was in the presence . . . of a presence.  Once Charles
came upon him in the library pasting a typed poem inside a copy of
the Oxford Book of English Verse.  Here again, a normal curiosity
would have made Charles approach and look over his father's
shoulder, but he felt unable to do this; later, however, he found
the book and inspected it.  To his astonishment there were many of
these pasted inserts, and most were obscene parodies of well-known
poems.  A few were rather clever.  Charles was no prude, and quite
unshockable by words, but what he did find depressing was the
thought of so many busy hours devoted to some of the loveliest
things in literature with only such a purpose in mind.  He never
mentioned the matter.

More discussable were Havelock's political views, which had become
increasingly bitter and at odds with almost every charted orbit.
He had hated the Coalition Government, but he hated the Labour
Party just as much, and he despised the Liberals.  If anything he
was a Conservative, but of such an extreme variety that only a few
men in Parliament ever said anything he approved, and these often
belonged to other parties.  He sometimes found things he agreed
with in the unlikeliest quarters--a remark, for instance, by D. H.
Lawrence--'Let there be a parliament of men and women for the
careful and gradual unmaking of laws.'

A book that impressed him a great deal was Spengler's Decline of
the West, which was having an enormous vogue just then throughout
Europe.  Charles had been less impressed--partly, he admitted,
because he had talked to so many professors who found innumerable
technical errors in those parts of the book that concerned their
own fields.

'But of course they would,' Havelock retorted.  'Ever watched a
schoolteacher marking an exercise?  The giggles of glee when he
spots a mistake?'  Havelock took a silver paper-knife and scored
deeply into the mahogany desk top as if crossing out a wrong
answer.  'That's how professors read Spengler--missing the point
because they're waiting for their own pounce.'

Charles thought there was some truth in this, but he was also
puzzled by his father's vehemence and physical violence.  After a
pause Havelock said:  'I suppose you're thinking I've spoilt that
desk?'

'Well, you haven't improved it, have you?'

'It's not an antique.  Came from a priest's house in Maynooth--my
father-in-law bought it.  Just a Victorian piece.'

'But rather nice.'

'So you really do care about these things--furniture, heirlooms,
silver, all the stuff there is here?'

'I didn't say I really cared FOR them, but I'd do my share of
taking care OF them.  There's a bit of difference, I think.'

'Do you ever wonder what will happen to it all?'

'Well . . . what do YOU think?'

'One of these days it will burn.'

'You mean catch fire?  I hope not--but a great many country houses
do.  The wiring's bad--Cobb tried an electric toaster the other day
and nearly set the kitchen alight.'

A moment later Charles was sorry he had mentioned this matter, for
it made Havelock remember that they hadn't had a fire-drill for
over a year.  So they had to have one--and immediately, since (as
Havelock said) the essence of a fire-drill is that you don't plan
for it in advance.  They fixed the canvas chute, with the guide-
ropes inside, that led down to the lawn from one of the top-floor
windows.  Havelock rang the big brass handbell whose only other
function was to summon guests to the tea tent at garden parties.
Since the servants slept in their own quarters away from the main
house-block, there was little reason for them to take part in the
demonstration, but it was geared into Havelock's enjoyment of the
whole thing that they should, especially the housemaids, whose
nervousness and disordered skirts made him feel quite blithe.  Aunt
Hetty and Cobb were excused on account of age, but Havelock
himself, older than either, sometimes made the descent twice,
emerging at the bottom like some excited thrill-seeker at an
amusement park.  Charles did not much care for the experience, for
he usually slid down too fast and got scratched, but he realized
that since his own bedroom was on the top floor there was some
point in it.  His chief doubt was whether, if a fire ever started
in the middle of the night, anyone would wake up in time to unroll
the thing out of the window.

One June afternoon during his leave Charles had just made such a
descent when a young woman came cycling up the drive.  Without any
introduction or preamble she exclaimed, amidst her own astonished
laughter:  'What on earth are you doing?  You came shooting out as
if it was the Tunnel of Love or something. . . .  Have you hurt
your arm?'

'No,' said Charles, 'but I've torn my trousers, that's why I'm
keeping my hand there. . . .  Is there--er--anything I can do for
you?'

'I'm your new neighbour--Jane Coppermill--we've just moved into
Burton Bridgwater.  I thought I'd pay a call.'

'Delighted.  I'm Charles Anderson.  My father's in the house
somewhere.  This is a fire-drill we have once a year or so. . . .
Those top rooms--as you can see--a regular trap.  I believe the
insurance company recommended this contrivance.'  He felt he had to
offer some plausible reason for it all.  'Excuse me and I'll go in
and change, if you don't mind hanging around till I come back.'

'Can't I go in and meet your father?'

'Why, er--certainly, if you wish.'

She leaned her bicycle against the portico and entered the house
with him.  As they crossed the hall she whispered:  'Tell me first,
though--is it true he's a little mad?'

Charles answered:  'Yes, we all are.  The Mad Andersons.  Didn't
you know that?  We're the talk of the county.'  How else could one
deal with such a question?  He would rather have snubbed her, but
he could not think of a snub in time, so the badinage would have to
do, and if she caught behind it a reproof, so much the better.
Meanwhile, without helping her to search for Havelock, he left her
standing in the hall and went upstairs.  When he came down she had
apparently gone without seeing Havelock, but Havelock had seen her
through the window and asked who she was.  Charles explained.

'Yes, I heard somebody had bought Burton Bridgwater,' he mused.
'Coppermill--COPPERMILL.  If it's the newspaper Coppermills,
they're rich.'

They were indeed, and Jane was their youngest child.  Not so much
of a child, though.  She was thirty-one, unmarried, and completely
unafraid--even of remaining a spinster.  She went through life
armoured by personality, so that she could be herself, whatever
behaviour that involved, and more often than not she got away with
it because it was all over, clearly well meant and forgivable,
before anyone could stop her.  She was not pretty, but she was
healthy and vigorous and lively, and there were times when one
examined her features separately and wondered why the total did not
add up to real beauty, but the very fact of wondering made the
discrepancy less.  She had clear blue eyes and a downright look.
She would talk to a butcher boy, if she met him in the course of
her day's affairs, as abruptly and frankly as she would to the
Third Secretary of a Legation (Charles had recently been so
promoted).  This was not because she felt herself to be consciously
democratic, but simply because a natural inclination to follow her
impulses had been reinforced by long experience that she could
always afford the luxury.

During this particular leave Charles did not see her again, but a
few months later when he was back at work he was called to the
Legation telephone; it was Jane Coppermill, just ashore from a
cruise liner.  She would be staying in the city for three days and
wondered if they could meet.  Charles was mildly pleased, for he
suddenly thought of the Tunnel of Love and realized that his life
in the neutral capital, though increasingly agreeable, was still
somewhat lacking in fun.  Unfortunately all three evenings were
taken up with official engagements he could not get out of--one of
them a rather big reception which all the corps diplomatique would
attend.  After he had explained this she said:  'Oh, tell your boss
I'm here--he'll probably invite me.'  Afterwards Charles thought it
would have been more correct for her to announce her own arrival,
if she knew the Treveses, but it was too late then to suggest it.
When Treves came in later that afternoon Charles mentioned that
Jane Coppermill had telephoned.  Treves immediately remembered her.
'Anyone would who was at Berne in those days.'

Charles looked his interest and Treves continued:  'She must have
been in her late teens then--at some finishing school--just before
the war.  The Minister was away and I was in charge, which made it
all the worse--for me.'

'What happened?' Charles asked.

'She fell into the bear-pit among the bears.  It's a well-known
show place at Berne.  Goodness knows how it happened.  She poked at
the bears with an umbrella to hold them off till she was rescued,
but the keeper broke a leg doing it and the Swiss said it was all
her fault.  There was an enquiry and letters in the Berne papers--
then London got to hear of it--oh, quite a set-to.  In the end I
believe her father had to pay the man a very handsome amount. . . .
The Bernese, you know, really love those bears.  I think if she'd
poked one in the eye even in self-defence we should have had a real
international incident. . . .  She's probably less of a hoyden now.
Why don't you ask her to the reception if she's going to be here to-
morrow?'  Charles said he would be glad to.

                  *     *     *     *     *

When he met her he was startled by her appearance.  Naturally he
had expected her to look very different in evening clothes from the
only recollection he had of her--leaning on a bicycle in rough
country tweeds; but he had not realized the strikingness of her.
She was a woman one would look at twice and wonder who she was,
whether or not one afterwards decided that it mattered.  Moreover,
her personality had an air of challenging without breaking the
rather stiff protocol which marked the opening proceedings of a
reception of this kind.  Afterwards, of course, formalities could
be relaxed, though it was still a wise precaution not to forget
them altogether.

Charles had already discovered that in the small world of a
diplomatic corps there were always white sheep whom one personally
liked and could treat as friends, and black sheep whom one didn't
like or who represented countries suspect by one's own government;
but to all, of course, one must behave with correctness.  So much
was elementary, but a problem could arise when someone personally
liked fell into the black category.  This had recently happened in
Charles's world to a foreign Attach named Davanrog, who had been
very popular till his country did something unpopular, after which
everyone was so sorry for Davanrog that he was in some danger of
becoming more popular than ever.  However, the cautionary word was
slipped by Treves to his staff, with a resulting cancellation of
several projected hunting and fishing trips.  And Davanrog, who
must have known there was nothing personal in it, probably did not
take it too much to heart.

He was a fine-looking fellow, and when Charles saw Jane Coppermill
greet him at the reception like an old friend he wondered if his
own instant feeling could have any personal jealousy in it; but he
decided not--after all, Jane was nothing to him, just a country
neighbour he had met once and hadn't bothered to meet again till
she herself made the effort.  They had met for this second time
with cordiality, but no more--not as much, it would seem, as there
was between her and Davanrog.  Charles wished, though, he had had a
chance to tell her that Davanrog, for purely political reasons, was
somewhat out of favour with the British; noticing that Treves also
had his eye on her, he hoped his chief would not feel he was to
blame.  It was not clear how he could be, but the niceties of
diplomatic behaviour were apt to carry such vague and indefinable
responsibilities.  Anyhow, Charles was relieved when he saw her
leave Davanrog and allow herself to be taken to supper by one of
the Dutchmen, with whom she also seemed extremely cordial; but
Charles was troubled again when, after a minimum of polite
circulation amongst the throng, Davanrog made his excuses to the
Treveses and left early.  It was a perfectly proper thing to do,
but it left glaringly obvious the fact that the man's only fun at
the party had been with Jane.

Later in the evening Charles danced with her.  She was a good
dancer; he was just average.  He did not much like dancing anyway,
but it was a social accomplishment he could not disdain as he did
golf and tennis.  'So you know Davanrog?' he asked casually.

'I met him once before--in Copenhagen.'

With such a cue, and knowing so little about her, Charles was quick
to comment:  'You travel about a good deal, don't you?'

'I enjoy seeing new places.'

'But do you go alone?'

'Unless I can find the right companion.  I like a lot of people but
I don't like everybody a lot.'

'That sounds reasonable.  You don't have to.'

'No.  I'm more or less free to do as I choose.  I know I'm lucky.
Luckier than you.  You probably have to do plenty of things you
don't care about--dancing, for instance.  Why don't we sit down
somewhere?'

'Well . . .' he exclaimed.  He was amused and not ungrateful.  They
found a corner in a conservatory that overlooked the lights of the
city.  'Getting settled in at Burton Bridgwater by now?' he said,
unable to think of anything else.

'Oh yes, the family is.  I don't think I'm a very good settler
anywhere.  You know what I like to do most?'

'Am I going to be horrified?'

'Probably.  I like to climb mountains.'

'Well, that's just where you're wrong.  I like it too.'

'But I mean REAL climbing.'

'Try me some day.'

'Clogwyn Du'r-arrdu?'

'I've done it.'

'The North Wall of the Grandes Jorasses?'

'No, and neither have you.'

She laughed.  'You evidently know something.  To tell you the
truth, I'm good--quite good--but not as good as that.  I've done
most of the standard Alpine climbs, and I was with Melrose and
Linmayer in Corsica last year.  That's some sort of testimonial,
maybe.'

'I should think it is.'

'What I'd like now is to go further afield--say the Caucasus.'

'Not by yourself, surely?'

'Oh no, it would have to be a real expedition.  But I know Melrose
and some of his friends would come if it could be arranged.
Unfortunately you need all kinds of permits even to get near the
place.  I was talking to Davanrog about that.'

'Could he help you?'

'That's what I had in mind.  But he wasn't very encouraging.  I
pressed him for a reason--I'm the sort of person who expects a
reason for things--but all I could get out of him was some mumble
about possible trouble in that direction during the summer.  That
old Turkish-Armenian business, I suppose.'

'He mentioned that?'

'What he actually said was "les querelles intrieures du pays Turco-
Armnien".'

'Well, well . . .'  It was part of Charles's training that when he
was told anything important he did not betray that it was.  In this
case he did not know whether it was important or not.  But when the
party was over and the hired waiters were clearing up in the
banqueting hall he wandered into the office and found his chief
there, whisky and soda in hand, going over some cables that had
arrived.  'Nothing much,' he remarked, passing them to Charles.
'A good party, I thought.'

Charles said he thought so too.

'That Jane Coppermill of yours certainly has changed.'

Charles didn't altogether approve the 'of yours'; after the bear-
pit story he would have considered her just as much Sir Lionel's.
(He had mentioned that incident to Jane and she had told him how it
had happened--she had been trying to retrieve an umbrella which had
slipped through the railings while she was watching the animals,
and with which she afterwards defended herself.  'But it was
nothing--they were a mangy lot.  I only had to prod them to keep
them off.')

Charles said to Treves:  'Yes, and for the better, I should say.'

'She seemed quite friendly with Davanrog.'

'They met in Copenhagen once, she said.'  Charles then told Treves
what Jane had told him about Davanrog's discouragement of a
climbing expedition in the Caucasus that summer.

It was part of Sir Lionel's training that when he was told anything
important he did not betray that it was.  In this case he thought
it was probably not important at all, but to be on the safe side he
might send a memo to London about it.

So he said, sipping his drink good-humouredly:  'What does she
think she is, that young lady?  International spy or something?
Did you happen to notice a bundle of stolen treaties tucked away in
her corsage?'

What Charles had noticed in her corsage--while they were dancing,
in fact--had been more tempting than stolen treaties.  Thinking of
this made him smile as he answered:  'She's reliable, I should say.
I'll bet she's good to climb with.'

                  *     *     *     *     *

Later still that evening, or rather early the next morning, Treves
conducted the usual bedroom post-mortem with his wife.  They were a
very devoted couple, behind the faade of being chef and chefesse.

'That Coppermill girl heard an interesting thing from Davanrog.'
He gave the details.

Lady Treves said:  'I don't suppose she got it out of him
deliberately.'

'Oh no, she'd never have managed it if she'd tried.  What WAS smart
of her, though, was to pass it on to Anderson.'

'I wonder if that was accidental too.'

'Anderson said he thought she knew it was something we'd be
interested to hear.'

'Does Charles know her well?'

'They're neighbours.  Some place in Gloucestershire.  She's one of
the Coppermills that bought the Record when Derry sold out.'

'Plenty of money?'

'Far more than you and I will ever have, my dear.'

'I rather liked her, what I saw of her, and if she's so smart and
has money--might not be a bad thing for Charles--'

'Oh, I don't think there's anything like that in contemplation.'

'Well, you never know.  He's attractive, and she looks to me the
sort of girl who gets what she wants.'

                  *     *     *     *     *

Six months later Jane Coppermill got what she wanted.  They were
married in Salzburg, where Charles had gone for the Festival and
she for some climbing in the Dolomites.  Since each had known that
the other would be there at the same time, it was always a matter
of argument afterwards whether they had planned it, consciously or
subconsciously; the fact that Jane, who did not particularly care
for music, went to several concerts with Charles was reckonable
against the fact that Charles, who enjoyed climbing, allowed
himself to be considerably seduced from Mozart to the mountains.
After a few weeks of this sort of thing the decision was made.
They did not tell anybody, but somehow the announcement got into
the English papers (and here again there could have been an
interesting argument--was it Jane's or Charles's minor importance
that made them worth a three-line wire?).  Charles then wrote to
his father and received an elegant letter of congratulation and an
invitation to bring Jane to stay at Beeching as soon as they
returned to England.  Charles, of course, was to be similarly
welcomed at Burton Bridgwater by Jane's family, and as the houses
were less than a mile apart it was easy to combine the two
invitations.  Havelock also seemed to like Jane personally, the
more so when she took up from the outset a no-nonsense attitude
towards him which cleared away many difficulties.  'I heard rumours
you were mad and now I'm convinced you are,' she told him
sportively before she had been a guest at Beeching a full day.  It
was because of something he had said--not too outrageous, for him.
But Jane could match him in outrageousness, both of speech and
action.  'You're just a wicked old man,' she told him at a party in
front of a crowd.  'And it's not just weakness with you, it's
strength, isn't it?'  Havelock's eyes flashed back a response in
which there was an amused awareness that Jane was a person to be
reckoned with.

Both Charles and Jane, however, were glad to leave England at the
end of the extended leave, especially as Charles had been appointed
Second Secretary in a city much nearer to the crossroads of world
affairs than his previous post.  It could be regarded as a speedy
promotion, and though he wondered if Jane, through her various
family connections, had pulled any strings to get it for him, he
felt confident of being able to justify himself.  He was very happy
indeed as they crossed the Channel from Croydon to Le Bourget.  It
was for both of them a first trip by air.

Jane soon showed her qualifications not only as a wife but as a
Second Secretary's wife.  She tackled the job with a respect for it
that muted the strings of her personality without putting any of
them out of tune.  The Ambassador, Sir Richard Thornton ('Papa'),
was a senior diplomat who (someone once said) possessed many merits
developed to a marked degree of averageness; he had married late,
and for the second time, and it was his wife who set the key and
pace of the Embassy.  Older than he was, sharp-tongued and
domineering, of an aristocratic family and twice widowed by men who
had won high distinction in the Foreign Service, she had an air of
making comparisons that must always be unsatisfactory.  Perhaps Sir
Richard guessed this.  He was completely under her thumb, and
therefore astute enough to pretend not to like Jane as much as he
did; while Jane, sizing up the situation, knew that sooner or later
Lady Thornton would have to be tackled.

The clash came over Jane's behaviour at a reception given by a
foreign Embassy to a visiting royalty.  The entire diplomatic corps
was present and protocol reigned heavily.  Somebody, however, must
have spilled the bear-pit story, for when Jane was presented to His
Majesty, he mentioned it, and the result was a rather long and
jovial tte--tte later in the evening, which nobody failed to
observe.  Jane happened to have lived for a time in His Majesty's
country and to have a smattering of the language, all of which
helped.  When the affair was over she thought she had done quite
well to give royalty such a chance to unbend, but the next day Lady
Thornton made a point of snubbing her for it in Charles's presence.
'I suppose,' she remarked, 'he was your first king and he went to
your head?'

Since Jane was not one to take rebukes of this sort easily, Charles
jumped in with excuses for her before she could reply.  But then
Lady Thornton turned her guns on him, interrupting:  'When you've
had more experience, Mr. Anderson, you'll perhaps be less ready to
contradict me.'

'He wasn't contradicting you,' Jane retorted, prompt now to defend
Charles.  'He just can't think what I did wrong, and neither can
I.'

'Exactly,' Charles agreed.  'After all, it was the King who started
it--I daresay he felt in the mood for a joke.  Those fellows must
get awfully bored with formalities--it seems rather hard if they
can't ever be allowed to relax like anybody else.'

'Nonsense,' Lady Thornton snapped back.  'It's no harder for them
than it is for us.  They EXPECT to be bored.  They're usually on
guard about their rank, and if you forget for a moment who they are--
no matter how much they've seemed to encourage you--they're apt to
see a slight.  Of course there are exceptions, but when you've met
as many kings as I have, Mr. and Mrs. Anderson, you'll know it's
much safer to bore them than to try to amuse them.'

'I never like doing things that are too safe,' Jane said, but she
caught Charles's eye and could see that he too was somewhat
disarmed as well as astonished by Lady Thornton's frankness.

'Then you'll run grave risks of damaging your husband's career.
And believe me, that warning is well-meant.'

Afterwards Charles exchanged a glance with Jane and burst out
laughing.  'Well, well . . . we're still alive, that's something.
But what a crushing old battleaxe!'

Jane said, more seriously:  'I wonder if she's right--about kings.
I don't suppose we shall meet as many as she has, anyhow.'

'There aren't as many.'

'Darling, that's far more crushing than anything SHE said.'

The odd thing was that after this incident they both got along much
better with Lady Thornton--indeed, it could almost be said that she
showed signs of liking them.  She was a remarkable woman and
doubtless much could be learned from her example.  The atmosphere
at her parties was far too disciplined, but they were socially
efficient and set a standard.  She worked hard.  She devoted
herself to local charities.  She bullied the American Minister (a
poker-playing millionaire politician) into serving on committees
for the care of refugee children and the restoration of ancient
cathedrals.  Duty was her watchword and attention to duty her prime
requirement in others.  In her opinion all diplomats under forty
were ill-trained and bad-mannered, frivolous and deplorably slack.
She considered Charles to be most of these things to an extent made
worse by his pleasant disposition, and she conveyed her misgivings
to Jane with the implied suggestion that Jane and she were sisters
under the skin, steel-ribbed in contrast to the invertebrates all
around them.  Jane was amused.  'She really thinks that,' she told
Charles.  'And I'm afraid to disillusion her.'

'I don't think you're afraid of anything and I don't think she
could be disillusioned about anything,' Charles answered, baiting
Jane affectionately.  'And maybe you ARE a bit like her.  She's not
a bad sort.'

'Poor Papa.'

'How do we know?'

'She puts him in his place all the time.'

'Perhaps that's just exactly where he likes to be.'

One thing was certain: the rigidities of Embassy functions under
Lady Thornton pointed up the fact that Jane's parties, which she
gave often and unostentatiously and with a clever mingling of
seniors and juniors, became noted among the diplomatic crowd for
their sparkle and general enjoyability.  Nor did they lack moments
at which things were said and discussed of some importance.
Afterwards Jane and Charles would hold their own intimate post-
mortems.

'I thought the new Bulgarian was sweet.'

'Battleaxe won't approve of him.  Especially that long cigarette-
holder.'

'It suits him, though.  Did you talk to Madame Lesinsky?'

'Not much.  Did you?'

'She said Delafours told her the outlook for the new German loan
isn't promising. . . .  By the way, I must teach Hlose to make
ice cream properly or else get it sent in next time.  Cintara
poured his wine into his.  Did you notice?'

'Maybe an old Portuguese custom . . .  I wonder where Rampagni's
wife got those earrings?'

'Either an heirloom or very bad taste. . . .  What did you think of
Beatrice Kindersley?'

'Perfectly delightful.'

'She told von Ahndorf the reason her father plays poker so well is
because he learned it at his mother's knee and other joints.'

'I've heard that gag before, but it sounds good about Kindersley.
I rather like the old boy.  Must be a headache to his staff, but
he's refreshingly out of place among all the career men.  Wherever
he goes there'll be some corner of a foreign field that's forever
Texas.'

'That's not a bad gag either.'

'Grandison's was the best.  He said Kindersley always made him
think that perhaps a tired salesman in a china shop must sometimes
just LONG for a bull.'

                  *     *     *     *     *

Those were the gay years, the gayest perhaps for centuries, perhaps
also for centuries to come.  The First World War had become
something one did not bring up unless one had to; personal
recollections of it were nearly always a bore or the mark of one.
How ironical to recall, if one could, the recruiting poster that
had pictured a father being asked by his son:  'What did you do in
the Great War?'  Charles hadn't a son, but if he had, he couldn't
imagine the question, much less the answer.  The only time the
matter had point was if one became friendly with individual
Germans . . .  'Were you on the Somme?'  'Why, yes, so was I'--and
then leave it at that, with some sort of freemasonry established.
But Charles's experience did not yield any such item.  Once,
however, he met a German who said he came from Ingolstadt, and
Charles was able to reply:  'Indeed?  My brother died there--in a
prison camp just after the war ended.  The flu epidemic.'  Just the
casual common denominator of a past that one hoped was on the way
to oblivion.

But it was this curious interval, during which the first war was
not quite forgotten and the next one not yet feared, that made for
a sudden short-lived fashion of remembrance.  Remarque's Im Westen
Nichts Neues swept the world; so did Sherriff's Journey's End.
Charles and Jane made up a party to see this play when it came to
their city, performed in the language of the country; and
afterwards, at a restaurant, memories were unleashed by guests of
half a dozen nationalities.  For once, it seemed, and perhaps never
again, Europeans could unite in a single emotion if not in a common
cause; the only faint division line, indeed, was between the ex-
warriors and the neutrals who had missed the ordeal.  'Would you
fight again?' was asked, and the answers of the diplomats were both
undiplomatic and unnecessary, for surely they would never have to
face the problem.  Even an enemy would whisk them safely home
across frontiers with full honours.

Charles said to Jane on the way back to their house:  'I wonder
what all our Foreign Offices would say if they got a verbatim
report of that conversation.  Give us all the boot, maybe.'

'And then there wouldn't be any younger generation to take over
from people like Papa.'

But Sir Richard also saw the play and discussed it later in an
equally undiplomatic way, though privately in his office.  'Were
you in the war, Anderson?'

'No, sir, I was just too young.'

'I'd say you were damned lucky then.  My son was killed.  Makes you
wonder--almost--how human beings could be forced to endure such
things . . .  I mean if they'd all packed up suddenly and run home--
both sides--who could have stopped them?'  This was surely a nave
thought for an Ambassador to utter, and perhaps he realized it, for
he continued hastily:  'Funny the effect a play can have.  You ever
met this fellow Sherriff?'

'No, sir.'

'If I ever do I'll tell him how much I was impressed.'

'I'm sure he'd be very glad if you wrote to him and said so.'

'All right.  Draft me a letter. . . .  I was in London during one
of the Zeppelin raids.  Happened to be at Liverpool Street Station--
you know Liverpool Street Station?'

'Yes.'

'It's got a very high glass roof. . . .  I was in a train just
about to leave when a bomb fell.  Killed about twenty people in
another train coming in across the platform.  Hope I never see
anything like that again--people on their way to business from the
suburbs--lots of girls . . .  I pulled some of them out of the mess--
the glass did the worst . . .  I'll never forget those office
girls--cut to ribbons, some of them . . .  Well, well, must work.
Fetch me Herstlett, I want to look up something. . . .  Oh, and--er--
don't bother about a letter to that writer fellow--might lead to a
lot of useless correspondence. . . .'

                  *     *     *     *     *

Charles was transferred again.  Already he was beyond the stage at
which his work was mostly simple and routine; it began to present
problems, and these he thought he tackled rather more than
adequately.  There were times when he was bored and fancied he
would have been happier in some other job, but with later
detachment he usually decided that he wouldn't--he didn't really
envy the lawyers, politicians, and business men whom he frequently
had to meet.  The ones he did occasionally envy were shy engineers
on their way to some project, or a few stray writers globetrotting
for local colour and showing off their freedom at all the parties
they could pick up en route.  There were times also when Charles
thought of the millions living around him whom he would never
encounter unless they figured personally as servants or
tradespeople or impersonally as statistics in books of reference--
people who might, by some movement of force beyond the reach of
protocol, become suddenly 'allies' or 'enemies'.  Like all the
great professions, diplomacy seemed to him a marvellous conspiracy
that never did, in the long run, quite succeed in either achieving
or defeating the ends of something bigger than itself.

He was at a South American post in 1929 when Wall Street crashed
and he received a lugubrious letter from Havelock bemoaning the way
the London market had dropped in sympathy.  Since Charles had
American friends whose plight was almost desperate, he did not
waste much concern on his father's financial position, but he was
sorry to learn from Cobb that Aunt Hetty was ill.  His father had
not mentioned it.  A few months later Aunt Hetty died, and Havelock
did mention the matter then, listing it as another of the crosses
he had to bear.  But the next letter was reassuring--it enclosed a
cutting from The Times, to which Havelock seemed to have
contributed the blithest letter of his career.  It narrated how, in
the churchyard of Pumphrey Basset, Berks., he had discovered the
resting-place of a forgotten female dwarf, judging from the
inscription on the eighteenth-century tombstone, which read 'Aged
42 Years, Height 35 inches, "Parva sed apta Domino".'  Havelock
made a good story of it, and Charles pictured him kneeling and
feeling on the grassy grave, for (as he remembered from having
taken part as a boy in several of these expeditions) the stone was
apt to be so flaky and moss-covered that it chipped away if one
tried to clean it, and in such cases the sensitive fingertip was
often a safer reader than the eye.

Charles was still in South America five years later when the sudden
death of Jane's father summoned her to England.  Charles would have
asked for leave to accompany her, but he was First Secretary now
and it was possible that his chief might also be taking a leave in
the near future, so he said he had better stay.  Jane agreed with
him.  What they both meant was that he mustn't miss the chance of
being Charg for a time.  It was only a small Legation, but to have
full authority and responsibility at his age, even temporarily,
could be a stroke of luck in his career.  So little ever happened
to stir the placid relations between His Majesty's Government and
that particular country that Jane and Charles tried to cheer
themselves, the night before she sailed, by imagining some incident
that would give him scope to show his capabilities.

'If Argentina were to grab the Falkland Islands,' was Charles's
choice.

'An earthquake,' Jane countered.  'You plunge into the wreckage and
save some red boxes.'

They agreed that both these suggestions would involve unnecessary
disaster.  It was the Commercial Attach who joined them then and,
being admitted to the game, scored easily by his vision of an
airman making a forced landing near the top of the Andes.  'First
of all, no one can climb to rescue him but Charles.  And then it
turns out the fellow hasn't any passport or visa--a man without a
country.  But he carries a secret formula that will revolutionize
the art of warfare--'

'In that case,' interrupted Charles, 'I'd leave him there.'

'Which would spoil my point--so I'll change the formula.  It's for
something beneficial to humanity--a cure for bubonic plague or
pellagra or foot-and-mouth disease.  Anyhow, because of this you
promptly confer on him honorary British citizenship.'

'Having just then decided to invent such a thing,' Charles
interjected.

'That's where I get to my point--you take a chance.  The Nelson
touch--so rare among Chargs d'Affaires.'

This Attach, Claud Severing, was a young man whom they had come to
like and had taken with them on several climbing expeditions.  Jane
was glad she was leaving Charles with a real friend, and Charles,
though he was sorry to see her go, felt that three months of
bachelorhood might yield austere pleasures.  It would be agreeable,
anyhow, to spend so much time with Severing, with a few trips into
the mountains if they could be arranged.

Yet after Jane had gone Charles made a discovery that surprised
him: he not only missed her but he missed something in himself that
seemed to vanish when she left.  Perhaps it was the way she managed
things in the house, her decisions about parties and party-giving,
her advice on small matters of etiquette or behaviour, even her
actual help in his work, for she liked to spend time in the
Chancery odd-jobbing in a way that would have been impossible in a
larger and more systematized Legation.  So now his extra work was
quite often a symbol of her absence even when he was thinking of
other things.  When he most acutely missed her was late in the
evening after a party, when they would have held their post-mortem
on the guests and conversation.  Because they were both popular,
Charles received a rush of invitations well meant to appease his
loneliness, but somehow accepting them only seemed to increase it;
he missed the flash of Jane's eye across the dinner-table,
signalling in secret what her partner was like; or the quizzical
look which conveyed that she had overheard him say something witty
at his end.  Without her, indeed, he found it twice as hard to be
only half as amusing, and since he had the reputation for being
amusing he wondered if his hosts were thinking him bad company or
merely realizing what a good wife for him Jane was.  He thought so
too, but he wished he need not prove it quite so negatively.
Partly from this somewhat obscure motivation he began a small
flirtation with Madame Salcinet, the wife of the French Minister.
She was pert and youngish and apparently ready for the diversion,
since the place bored her and her elderly husband was tetchy enough
to regard his post as the Quai d'Orsay's equivalent of Devil's
Island.  'Of course Edouard will retire after this,' she confided.
'There is really nothing for me to do but count the days--and even
more depressingly, the nights.'

'Where will you retire to?' Charles asked.

'I shall live in Paris and he will live at Limoges.  That is where
he comes from.  Nothing on earth would induce me to spend the rest
of my life at Limoges.'

'It's not a bad place,' Charles said.  'I have a French friend who
paints--we once made Limoges a centre for a very pleasant holiday.
We found many beautiful scenes.'

'You paint also?'

'Not as much as I used to.  I don't get the time.'

'You spend so much of your time climbing mountains.'

'Well, that's true.  I enjoy it.'

'I think you enjoy it because your wife enjoys it.  She does not
enjoy painting so you do not paint.  If she enjoyed snake-hunting I
think you would hunt snakes.'

Charles laughed.  'You're absolutely right.  It's the recipe for a
perfect marriage.'

'You think your own marriage proves that?'

Lightly and without much thought behind the merely verbal dialectic
Charles countered:  'Does yours DISprove it?'

Whereupon Madame Salcinet became suddenly indignant and with a
touch of hysteria.  'You have no right to say such a thing to me!
You take an unpardonable liberty!  I shall certainly inform Sir
Bancroft--it was a most insulting and improper remark to make to
the wife of one of your Minister's colleagues!'

Charles, astonished at her vehemence, apologized and said no more.
It was during the interval at an afternoon concert, where they had
met by accident.  He believed the outburst had not attracted
attention, since they had spoken in French, but he sat rather
unhappily through the rest of the music; and walking back to the
Legation afterwards he could not help thinking:  Oh God, if only
Jane were here. . . .  It was not that he had been dangerously
indiscreet with Madame Salcinet, or that the remark she had taken
exception to had been in worse taste than several of hers to him.
Nor did he think that anything she said to Banky could do him much
harm, and Banky would certainly take his word against hers if there
were any disputed accusations.  But the whole thing was just one of
those incidents that Jane would have handled so capably--or rather,
it was the kind that wouldn't have happened at all if she had been
on the spot.

The Germans were giving a small party the following week for chiefs
and their wives only.  As the time for it approached, Charles had
slight qualms, not quite of apprehension but of a somewhat glum
curiosity as to whether Madame Salcinet still planned her
complaint.  Nor was this curiosity ever resolved, for several days
before the party it became known that she had been removed to a
private institution.  'Completely off her rocker, so I heard,'
Banky said.  'I must write a note of sympathy to Salcinet. . . .
Anderson, didn't you meet her at the Brahms the other day?
Somebody said he saw you talking to her.  What was she like then?'

'Just charming as always,' Charles answered.  'And Toscanini was
wonderful as always.'  He was really becoming a diplomat.

                  *     *     *     *     *

Banky didn't take leave after all, so Charles was denied his spell
as Charg.  Then Jane returned, tanned and refreshed after the long
sea trip.  Her stay in England had been full of legal business and
sad visits to relatives; she was glad to be back.  Her father had
left her some money--it was not yet clear how much, but of course
the bulk went to her brothers.  The family would probably get rid
of Burton Bridgwater if they could find a buyer.  It would be
easier to sell than most such houses (Beeching, for instance),
since it had been ruinously modernized and provided with more
bathrooms than anybody could use.  Perhaps some American would want
it.  Jane chattered on thus during the taxi ride from the docks to
their house near the Legation; not till they were alone in its cool
Spanish-style interior did she turn to him in a personal way.
'Well, Charles, have you been missing me?'

'You bet I have.  I don't suppose you've missed me, though.'

'Oh yes, I have.'

'Not as much, anyhow.'

'Much more, I'm sure.'

'Impossible.'

'This is a childish conversation. . . .  Come here, Andy.'

She called him Andy at moments when they were closest, and
presently at such a moment somebody opened the door and hastily
backed out.  They thought it must be Severing, but when Severing
came later he denied this so stoutly that they were quite certain--
and rather relieved--it had been only he.  Of course it didn't
really matter.  They drank champagne and were very merry.  After
Severing left, Jane said that someone she had met in London had
told her that Charles was highly thought of at the Foreign Office
and could expect a transfer to Europe before long.

She had also seen his father once or twice.  He seemed to keep very
well for his age.  'He's taken up kindness to animals.'

'Good . . . not that he was ever UNkind to them, I must say.'

'But he won't have traps that KILL mice any more--he has a kind
that click down and imprison them in a sort of cage, and in the
morning he goes round the kitchens collecting the cages.  Then he
sets the mice free in the middle of the lawn and they all run back
to the kitchens.'

'I wonder how the servants like that.'

'The housemaids are in a state.  They're scared enough even of DEAD
mice in traps.  But that's part of his fun. . . .  Now tell me what
kind of fun you've been having. . . .'

'Nothing nearly so exciting. . . .  The Wohlmanns gave a big party
when the German cruiser came in . . . Lallieni's ill and Borignano's
in charge. . . .  That Mrs. Gervase came over from Rio--seems to
have more money than ever. . . .  There's a nice American you must
meet--some job with the railways . . . the kind we like. . . .  The
De Volvas have had a baby. . . . Carucas did well in the local
elections--they talk of him as the coming man--I hope not, because
he's a crook. . . .  Mary Deakins now takes ballet lessons from a
real Russian, if you please. . . .  I think that's about all.'

'What about the Greiffenburgs?'

'They're still here.'

'And the Salcinets?'

'They went home.  A rather sad thing . . .  She went a bit out of
her mind.'

'I'm not too surprised.  She always hated HIM.  I meant to warn you
to be careful about her, but I'm sure you were.'

'Were you careful about everybody?'

'Yes--except that man in London who told me how much they thought
of you.  He said you were bound to get a Legation eventually.
Fifty per cent seniority, he reckoned it, thirty per cent luck and
ten per cent merit.  He was a cynical old devil.'

'It only adds up to ninety.  What's the rest?'

'I hoped you'd ask that.  ME.  The diplomat's wife.  That's why I
flirted with him.  He's in the Government and could be quite
useful.'  She mentioned his name.

Charles snorted.  'Good God, THAT fellow?'

'Darling, you can't be particular these days.  And really, I think
I handled him rather well.'

'I'm sure you did--you're a good man-handler.  Remember the line in
the Henry the Eighth film--Charles Laughton saying "The things I
have done for England"?'

'All right, Andy, you can do them for England--I'll do them for
you.  I don't really know whether you love me or not, but I know
you get along with me pretty well, both in and out of bed, and from
what I've seen of other people's marriages, that's as good as love--
and rarer too.'

'Perhaps it is love, if you have it long enough.'

'And if you've never had any other kind. . . .  But "man-handler"--
I rather like that.  It's a compliment.'

                  *     *     *     *     *

Charles was happy.  People observed it and said, indulgently:
'He's got his Jane back and now just look at him.  And look at her
too.'  It made them both more popular than ever, so that when a few
months later they let it be known there was going to be a baby
everyone felt sentimental and wondered if it meant they had tried
before without success or had recently for the first time been
trying.

Severing said to Charles:  'I suppose you'll go home.'

'Jane will and I know she'd like me to go with her this time.'

'I'm sure Banky will understand.  Too bad this isn't Washington--
then you could both stay.  I mean, because of the dual citizenship.
Nice thing for a kid to start off with. . . .'

                  *     *     *     *     *

The Coppermills had moved out of Burton Bridgwater by the time Jane
and Charles arrived in England.  Jane thought she would prefer the
country to London, so they rented a house near High Wycombe and
paid several short visits to Beeching.  Havelock greeted them
hospitably and seemed excited at the prospect of becoming a
grandfather.  At seventy-five he was still upright and active, able
to walk miles without tiring, and no less vigorous in some of his
opinions.  Politically he was now so far to the right that one
wondered where he would or could emerge, for he had lost favour
with most local Tories when he expounded the unfashionable argument
that Mussolini had as much right to conquer Ethiopia as England had
had to defeat the Boers.  He called the League of Nations a
hypocrisy and Anthony Eden a pecksniffian Galahad.  Normally this
sort of extremism would not have mattered much in a country
addicted to almost unlimited free speech; but the barometer of
English opinion, as of European and world opinion, was rather
rapidly moving to stormy.  Only for this reason Charles was
concerned.  His father's political views, whatever they were,
seemed far less important than the fact that friendships and the
tolerance of neighbours were being put to strain.

One June Friday about two months before the birth was expected
Charles and Jane set out from High Wycombe intending to spend a
weekend at Beeching.  Charles was enjoying himself with a new car,
and they stopped for lunch in Oxford and walked a little around the
colleges.  With every discount as a Cambridge man, he still thought
Oxford had been ruined as well as enriched by its automobile
industry; always sensitive to noise, he wondered how an
undergraduate of Queen's or Magdalen could ever work if his rooms
faced that once tranquil curve of the High, along which traffic now
passed in roaring procession.  Jane said the place had given her a
headache, but by the time they were on their way again and
approaching the Cotswolds it was clear she was suffering from much
more than that.  At Beeching she felt worse, and during the night
suffered severe pain.  By mid-morning Dr. Somerville had diagnosed
possible appendicitis and ordered her immediate removal to a
hospital.  Charles accompanied her in the ambulance, realizing as
he watched her (she was already under sedatives) how unimaginable
would be any disaster that separated them.  Presently he learned
that an operation was necessary and that there was some risk of
losing the baby.  A recommended London surgeon named Blainey was
telephoned; he said he could arrive that evening by train.

As the day progressed Charles grew increasingly anxious and was
almost glad he did not have to put on an act in front of Jane--
though if even half-conscious she would doubtless have seen through
it.  Yet he felt she could not possibly know what store he had set
on fatherhood.  People thought they had planned it, and he did not
mind anyone thinking so; actually it had been accidental, not even
consciously desired, yet afterwards a source of such encompassing
joy that they both wondered why they had ever considered their
lives too roving and unsettled for such an event.  Somehow the
baby, even unborn, had already turned wherever they lived into a
home.

Charles met Blainey--MR. Blainey, since he was a very distinguished
surgeon and not a physician--at Stow Magna station and drove him to
the hospital.  Charles was favourably impressed by a first look at
him--fiftyish, red-haired, slight in build, curtly polite.  They
did not talk much on the way and hardly at all about Jane.  Charles
had the professional man's reluctance to intrude on another
professional man's field; he had suffered too often from the
navet of dinner partners who had discussed international affairs.
At the hospital he waited while Somerville took Blainey to see
Jane.  Blainey was reticent afterwards; he merely confirmed the
doctor's tentative diagnosis and said he had arranged for surgery
at seven in the morning.

'Seven?'

'Yes.  Everything ready by then.  You think that's terribly early?'

'Oh no--on the contrary.  I mean--if it's so urgent--'

What he really meant was that he was already beginning to fret
about the overnight delay, but Blainey went on, smiling:  'Don't
worry--we surgeons are used to it.  We don't keep Civil Service
hours, you know.'

Charles was puzzled for a second; then he realized it was not only
Blainey's idea of a joke but Blainey's idea of the time for a joke.
Oh, well . . . so he smiled back.  Even the implication that he
could properly be described as a civil servant hadn't its normal
power to irritate him.  He then had the sudden idea that Blainey
should come to Beeching for a meal and a bed--much quieter and more
comfortable than the nearest good hotel, and only a mile or two
further.  He made the suggestion, which the surgeon accepted
nonchalantly; then he telephoned Cobb to prepare a room.  It was
eight o'clock before they were on the road, exchanging few remarks
during the journey.  But when they reached the lodge and had to
slow down past the opened gates, Blainey remarked, peering out:
'Quite a place for your son to inherit.'

'My . . . my SON . . .' echoed Charles, gathering his wits.  'You
mean . . .'  In exultation over what might be Blainey's oblique way
of conveying reassurance he nearly steered the car off the gravel.
'Sure it'll be a son?' he added, forcing a smile before he found it
need not be forced.

'Try again if it isn't.  Plenty of time.'

Charles warmed further to the remark, though he hadn't much of the
ancestral feeling for Beeching that Blainey was taking for granted.
But he needed comfort and Blainey had given it.  'Too bad it's
dark,' Charles said, ready to meet the wrong but hopeful assumption
halfway.  'There's quite a view of the house from here.'

'Any special reason why it's called Beeching?  Is there a river
where boats used to beach?'

'Oh, it isn't THAT beaching--it's b-double e-c-h.  Beech trees, I
suppose.  My father once talked about changing its name to suit his
profession--he said he'd call it Loopholes . . .  He being a
lawyer.'  (I too can joke at a time like this, was in his mind.)

'Ha, ha . . . so if I ever live in one of these places I ought to
call it Gallstones, eh?'

They both laughed more than the humour deserved, and Charles felt
quite cheerful when, a few minutes later, he led the surgeon into
the dining-room and introduced him to Havelock, who had apparently
delayed his own evening meal to give the welcome its fullest
possible scope.  Charles was also a little touched by evidences
that during his absence the old man had been busy--a bottle of
rather special claret and the table set more elaborately than Cobb
would have done it without particular orders.  They all drank
sherry standing by the mantelpiece, then sat down to the soup.
Charles was glad to let his father steer the conversation, which he
did fluently and with tact, avoiding strictly medical territory yet
touching near enough to bridge the interesting gulf between
medicine and the law.  It was quite fascinating, an interplay of
really first-class minds; yet suddenly, between one sentence and
another, Charles ceased to be fascinated and could only itch for
the meal to finish so that Blainey could get to bed for a full
night's sleep.  With shock he realized it was already midnight.
From then on what was left of the meal seemed to progress so slowly
that Charles thought there might have been some upset in the
kitchen till he verified that every minute was crawling like an
hour.  Finally Cobb entered with coffee.

Blainey shook his head when Havelock passed the decanter of brandy.

'It's good stuff, Blainey--very gentle . . . I wish you'd try it.'

'Oh, all right.'  Havelock filled liqueur glasses and had Cobb take
them round.

'As I was saying,' Havelock went on, 'the medical aspects of
poisoning cases are so technical that the accused is often in
danger of being tried by expert witnesses rather than by the court.
Take the Marsh test for arsenic, for instance.  How can a juryman
possibly give the benefit of a doubt when a fellow like Spilsbury
comes along and says there isn't any doubt?  And yet, as every
toxicologist knows, there ARE doubts--small ones, maybe, but doubts
all the same--margins for error and admitted incalculables in every
chemical test known to science.'

'That's true, but on the other hand what would happen if Spilsbury
were to give these doubts the place they would certainly have if he
were lecturing to scientists instead of offering an opinion to a
group of laymen?  You'd simply never get a conviction--the jury,
unused to the philosophic assessment of probabilities, would just
acquit one poisoner after another.'

'They might acquit a few more of the innocent.'

'Oh, come now, I can't believe that many innocent victims go to the
gallows.'

'Can't you?  Let me tell you of a case I had once--before your time--
an insurance agent in Manchester . . .'

Five more minutes of that.  Charles did not want to seem either
fidgety or ungracious, but he could not help saying, when a
suitable pause occurred:  'I expect Mr. Blainey would like to get
to bed. . . .'

Havelock nodded.  'Of course, of course.  Any time he likes . . .
But what about a nightcap, then we'll all turn in? . . .  Busy day
tomorrow . . . Cobb, we won't adjourn anywhere tonight--just leave
the decanters on the table.'

Charles hoped the surgeon would refuse any more drinks, but he did
not do so, and his signal, though prompt, was not in time to stay
Havelock's generous hand.  'I must lend you a book, Blainey--take
it up with you when you go . . . case histories somewhat on the
lines of the one we were talking about . . .  Charles, fetch
Winfield's Problems of Medico-Legal Practice--it's on the top shelf
in the window alcove in the library.'

Charles did not move, but forced a smile.  'I really don't think
Mr. Blainey will want to read much tonight.'

Blainey smiled also.  'And I know the book quite well, so don't
bother.'

'Then you'll remember,' Havelock continued, 'how Winfield attacks
the medical evidence in the Seddon trial.  There's no doubt that if
Seddon hadn't given such a callous impression in court he'd have
had a good chance of acquittal.'

'What you mean, then,' answered Blainey, 'is that his counsel
should have given him better advice as to how to behave.  Blame the
lawyers too.'

'Oh, certainly.  But I've cross-examined too many doctors not to
know that a skilled opposing counsel can usually twist them any way
he wants.  Why not, after all?  It isn't a doctor's job to learn
the art of being cross-examined--which in my opinion is a much
rarer art than that of cross-examining.  That, of course, is where
Spilsbury excels--and where he's most dangerous.  He's the
cleverest cross-examinee in the business.'

'I'm afraid we're arguing in circles.  First you say a doctor can
be twisted any way a counsel wants--then you attack Spilsbury
because he can't be--'

'I said an AVERAGE doctor--'

'But surely the fault lies again with the lawyers.  If their aim is
to establish truth and not merely to win a case, why do they try to
twist a doctor at all--he's generally an honest man who has no axe
to grind--'

'--or, in the case of a surgeon, no knife to sharpen, eh?'
Havelock's eyes lit with a vivid excitement.  'I suppose the
professional difference is even more jealously regarded than that
between barrister and solicitor? . . .  Try that whisky--it's
practically a liqueur--if you're a connoisseur I think you'll like
it . . .  But to come back to this question of cross-examining the
expert witness . . .'

Charles leaned forward across the table.  He did not know whether
he was pale or flushed, but he knew that something had happened to
his face--it was moving in a way he could not control, like a small
tic.  'Look,' he muttered, and found his voice so weak that he had
to project it as before an audience:  'Look, Mr. Blainey ought to
sleep.  Let me take him upstairs.'

Blainey made a slightly staying gesture with his hand.  'It's all
right--I'm in no great hurry.  I had a nap on the train. . . .
What were you saying, Sir Havelock?'  He sipped the Scotch and
soda.

Havelock's face was wholly animated.  'You must forgive my concern
with the subject--perhaps it stems from an experience I once had in
Wales.  In those days the circuit judges . . .'

Another ten minutes.  The story ended and before Blainey could
comment Havelock began another.  Charles could endure it no longer.
Stumbling to his feet he made his way round the table and stood
above his father.  His hands shook, he swayed, he had to press his
words through an impairment of breath and lip-movement that made
him hardly coherent.  'For God's sake, CAN'T YOU SHUT UP?  Let the
man go to bed.  Don't you know what he's got to do tomorrow
morning?'  Then he broke off to lean against the table, straining
for control and mumbling 'I beg your pardon, I beg your pardon' to
nobody in particular.

'My son is distraught,' said Havelock urbanely.  'I'm sure you'll
excuse him.  But it IS perhaps time to retire. . . .  I'll show you
up to your room, Blainey--take your drink with you. . . .
Goodnight, Charles.  Perfectly understandable.  Get a good night's
sleep yourself.'

Blainey also said 'Goodnight' as he left with Havelock.  Charles
heard them climbing the stairs, still arguing.  He did not want to
see his father again if he should come down later, so he crossed
the hall to the garden door and went outside.  The open air seemed
to calm him.  He walked to a place where he could watch the windows
of Blainey's room.  They remained lighted for nearly an hour.
Charles waited all this time, patiently, but with determination;
then he re-entered the house and went to his own room.  He knew he
had made a considerable fool of himself, but that was a small worry
compared with the other one.  He did not think he could sleep, but
in case he did he set the alarm for five.  He intended then to get
up and see that Blainey had coffee and that Farrow was ready with
the car.  But none of this happened.  He lay sleepless till nearly
dawn, then slept so heavily that he failed to hear the alarm, and
when he woke it was nine o'clock.  Dressing hurriedly he drove to
the hospital, but the operation was over by then.

                  *     *     *     *     *

Charles insisted on driving Blainey back to the station at Stow
Magna.  When they had left the hospital grounds the surgeon said:
'You really shouldn't be doing this--you look very tired.
Somerville gave you the news, I daresay.  The operation was quite
successful and there's no reason why either your wife or child
should be any the worse for it. . . .  Now take it easy--I'm
nervous of other people's driving.'

'I'm sorry,' Charles said, out of a deep dream of happiness.  'And
I must also apologize for last night.'

'Last night?  What do you mean?'

'Losing my head--or my temper--or something. . . .  What a way for
a diplomat to behave--God, how Jane would laugh!  I don't think
I'll ever tell her what happened.'

'Are you sure you REMEMBER what happened?'

'I know, I must have been distraught, as my father said.  All those
stories of his--they lasted so long . . .  He talks very well and I
suppose he enjoys himself so much that even at a time like that he
could forget--or seem to forget--more easily than I could.'

Blainey said quietly:  'May I ask a very personal question?'

'Yes, of course.'

'Are you protecting him, or are you really in ignorance?'

'I don't quite know what you mean.'

'You were distraught last night because you were afraid I should
stay up too late and perhaps drink too much--'

'I assure you I never--'

'Why not be frank about it?  You thought your father was to blame
for keeping me there, talking and drinking--and of course he was.
But you also thought--or at least the thought crossed your mind--
didn't it?--that he was DELIBERATELY doing all that?'

'I--I don't know that I ever--actually--or if I did it was--'

'All right, have it the way you want.  It's what _I_ thought,
anyhow.'

'That he--was--doing it--DELIBERATELY?'

'Yes.  I've seen people in his condition before.  It's a sort of
dementia.  Didn't you notice his arguments?  For all their fluency,
there was no logic in them--they just went round and round--his
mind racing like a slipping clutch.  If the brain had a temperature
his would have been at fever heat.'

'But I still don't see--'

'Well, never mind.  You're a diplomat, as you said--you're trained
not to see what you don't want to see--or else to pretend not to
see what you do see.'

Charles said heavily, after a pause:  'Yes, it's that.  I'm sorry I
wasn't frank.  I've known he was like it for a long time.  Is there
anything one can do?'

'Not much, I should think, at his age.  Though I'm no expert in
that field . . .  Well, here's the station.'

They talked of other matters on the platform and just before the
train left Charles thanked him again, but rather sadly.  He had
learned nothing new about Havelock, but to hear it in words,
clinically and for the first time, was a blow.  When he got back to
the house his mingled emotions, which included intense relief and a
resurgence of happiness, also included a deeper sympathy with his
father than he could remember.  He did not quite know why that was.
He found Havelock at his desk in the library pasting another insert
into the Oxford Book of English Verse.

'Hullo, Charles.  Splendid news about Jane, I hear.  Great fellow
Blainey--how wise you were to have him!'  He swung round, book in
hand.  'Listen to this--a parody on the well-known poem by
Landor . . .


     I strove with none, not even with my wife,
       You never saw me drunk or heard me swear;
     I never could get near the fire of life,
       So if it sinks or not, why should I care?


Not bad, eh?  I amuse myself with this sort of thing when I feel in
the mood.  Of course some of them come out a bit naughtier than
that . . .  But--er--well, I didn't FEEL naughty this morning.  I
was too anxious about Jane.'

                  *     *     *     *     *

Jane's baby, a boy, was born in a London nursing home, and as
Blainey had forecast, all went well.  Charles was ecstatic, and
about the same time (as if to cap his good fortune) he was offered
a European post so situated that it was natural for him to serve on
one of those intermittent Balkan boundary commissions that never
settle anything more than a few years before a major war unsettles
everything.  Charles had made himself an expert on this particular
locality, and it was easy for him to consider the work he did on
the commission the most valuable he had yet performed, as well as a
likely stepping-stone to further promotion.

Jane had agreed that after he settled down to Legation work again
she would join him with the baby, and this she did, for it was a
pleasant city and healthy except at the height of summer.

Those were the years when (as Blainey might have said) a diplomat's
training not to see what he did not want to see came in handy, for
they were the years between Ethiopia and Munich.

                  *     *     *     *     *

Charles and Jane were now experienced in the diplomatic world.
They could begin 'When we were at So-and-So'--to match anyone
else's stories with one of their own, and they had known several
First Secretaries who had since become Ministers, and many Second
Secretaries who had since become First Secretaries, and thus down
the ladder.  They were learned in the personal mythology behind the
names in the Foreign Office List, and since they knew exactly how
to behave to everybody (including visiting monarchs, local Foreign
Ministers, and distinguished travellers) they could take quite a
load off a Minister's or an Ambassador's shoulders, especially if
he were old or slack, and Charles's new chief, Sir Morley
Considine, was inclined to be both.  The doyen of the corps, he was
a charming relic of the old school whose gallantries were famous
and sometimes a little foolish.  There was a yarn that he had once
had a Third Secretary transferred because he did not spring quickly
enough to open the door when the ladies left the table at a dinner
party; a footman should have been there to do it, but his
negligence was no excuse for a Secretary's lapse.  Sir Morley was,
however, comparatively lenient with another Secretary who left the
keys of the Chancery on a park bench where, by a remarkable
coincidence (as Sir Morley always said), they were found by a
distant relative of Sigmund Freud (though Sir Morley never
explained just in what the coincidence consisted).

They named the boy Gerald, after a Gerald Anderson in the
seventeenth century who had become governor of a West Indian island
(perhaps the most officially illustrious of all the Anderson
ancestors); and Gerald spent most of his first two years in this
foreign capital where he was admired and petted by women of all
nationalities and nursed by a Frenchwoman who many an afternoon
pushed him in a pram along a mile of tree-shaded boulevard to a
kiosk where an old Italian sold citronnade.  The old Italian would
also touch and admire him, the swarthy mustachioed face beaming
down so much more notably than his mother's or his father's or his
nurse's that quite possibly it made a faint smudge on the first
blank page of the child's memory.

After Munich even diplomats could see ahead; they knew at least
that war would come, and might come suddenly.  For this reason
Charles, who had sent Jane and Gerald back to England during the
September crisis, was not anxious that Gerald should return, though
Jane flew back and forth several times, leaving the child with her
sister in Cheshire.  It was a cluttered family arrangement, but the
year that succeeded Munich was a cluttered year.  Towards the end
of it (in July 1939) Charles took leave, and was in London when war
broke out.



PARIS   III


Thirteen years later Charles sat in a Paris taxi on Gerald's
seventeenth birthday, and he no more knew where the taxi was going
than where the world was going, but he supposed to the devil in one
form or another.  He could only indulge a mild hope that, if the
taxi took him to where Gerald was, the form of the devil would be
found agreeable, even if deplorable.  For Charles had long since
discovered that he was not really a moral man, in the too strict
sense of the word, and that most of his qualms were no more than
shrinkings of taste or expediency.

The taxi squealed to a halt so suddenly that he thought at first it
must be to avoid some accident.  But no; the driver was merely
pointing to a destination.  'Rocher's!' he snapped.  'Voil!'

Charles, catapulted from reverie, bestowed the fare and a handsome
tip (a certain lavishness in this case being justifiable) while he
blinked at the vari-coloured neon lights with which Rocher's,
whatever it was, announced itself both to the passer-by and to the
approacher from a distance.  Rocher's . . .  Certainly no place
that he could remember. . . .  'Rocher's,' he muttered, sizing up
the neighbourhood.  There was nothing particularly wrong with the
neighbourhood, or right either; it was just a part of Paris he did
not think he recognized.  'You saw him go in THERE?'

The driver was emphatic about it.

'With his suitcase?'

'I carried it in for him, M'sieur.'

'H'm . . . very well.'

As he drove off the driver shouted raffishly:  'Restaurant
sanitaire!  Cuisine amricaine!'

Charles walked towards the entrance of Rocher's as into the lens of
an unwelcome searchlight.  It was certainly new since his day--in
fact, there had never to his knowledge been anything in Paris quite
like it.  With a dazzling frontage on two streets it offered no
privacy to its patrons, and its air of intense hygiene was equally
un-Parisian.  Tiled walls, marble floors, white-uniformed
waitresses, all added up to something that made Charles wince.
Then he realized it was ice-cream that was the speciality.  Cuisine
amricaine indeed.  And it was for this that Gerald had been eager
to leave the Cheval Noir.

Charles was peeved.  He had been fully prepared to discover the boy
in some haunt of depravity, or even to rescue him if the need
should arise--he could have faced that sort of thing with
resolution, and afterwards with a sense of humour--indeed, during
the taxi journey he had already composed sentences of tolerant
rebuke, ending in a confession that he, Charles, had been shrewd
enough to suspect something of the sort all along . . .  But THIS
place--what COULD he say?  He pushed his way through the swing-
doors.  The interior was hot, noisy, spotless, dazzling--and all of
these things he hated except the spotlessness, which he thought was
an excellent quality deserving of more decent concealment.  His
eyes and ears cringed to the assault of a nightmarish juke-box that
hurled the loudest kind of jazz over innumerable conversations
which, because of it, had to be shouted at close range.  Prices
were placarded on the walls, and Charles, who liked most things in
life to be either expensive or economical, formed the opinion that
Rocher's was neither.  Waitresses as antiseptic as hospital nurses
scurried amongst the tables; bartenders as proficient as
pharmacists mixed their highly coloured concoctions in front of
mirrors with an air of performing some cleansing rite.  The whole
establishment was about as obtrusive--and, to Charles, as
appetising--as a barium meal he had once had to take when he
thought he was developing an ulcer.

Then he saw that Gerald was sitting at a table next to a huge
uncurtained plate-glass window that faced the side street.  A girl
was with him.  This did not startle or shock Charles at all--
indeed, it confirmed his guess and relieved a little of his hurt.
Both of them, anyhow, were sipping through straws out of tall
glasses, their heads bent together in an absorption at least
physical.  Charles drew back sharply, aware of his own dubious
position, for it was one thing to spy on his son with the moral
advantage all on his side, but quite another to have trailed him to
this den of gaudy innocence.  Unfortunately he had already come too
close; Gerald looked up.

'DAD!' he exclaimed, flushing deeply.

Charles was glad to observe the flush.  It reminded him that the
boy had, after all, told several deliberate untruths.  So he
smiled, as across a conference table.  'Well, Gerald . . . quite a
surprise!  So THIS is what tempted you to miss the boat-train!'

Gerald gathered his wits with a dexterity which, even at such a
moment, Charles had to concede.  'Dad, I want you to meet Miss
Raynor . . .  She and I played tennis together in Switzerland--
she's leaving for America tonight.  That's why we had to meet in a
bit of a hurry . . .  You see how it was?'

Charles saw how it was, for he was looking at the girl, and it was
actually her beauty that peeved him afresh, for he thought:  Good
God, if he's only got so little time with her, and in Paris of all
cities, why does he want to spend it in a place like this?  For
Charles knew of so many other places. . . .

The girl was offering her hand.  'I'm so glad to meet you, Mr.
Anderson.  Do sit down.  Gerry's told me a lot about you.'

Charles had an opening to reply that this was all the more
remarkable since Gerald had told him nothing about her, but he
forbore to make the point at this stage, though undoubtedly it must
come later.  He was enjoying her voice--it was well modulated and
pleasing.  Moreover, her blonde hair delightfully matched her
tanned face.  She looked rather older than Gerald, in fact he was
sure she was--in her early twenties, perhaps.  Had she been of any
other nationality than American he would have been certain, from
her clothes and air, that she was rich.

'So you're the one who helped him win the cup?' he said, admiring
her.

'He told you then?'  Her laugh was pleasant also.

Charles went on smiling.  One thing the best part of a lifetime had
taught him was to use a smile as an all-purpose stopgap when he
didn't know what to say, but wanted to look wise, or when he hadn't
decided what attitude to take, but wanted to look as if he had an
entire campaign of behaviour mapped out in his mind.  And of course
he was not unaware that he had a rather engaging smile.  So he
protracted it now, deliberately allowing the conversation to lapse
till he knew that Gerald would interpret his silence as a sign of
reproof.  Then he said, looking at the table:  'What's that you're
both eating?'

'Raspberry frapp?' the girl answered.  'Will you have one?'

'I don't think you'd care for it, dad,' Gerald interposed, asking
forgiveness through his solicitude.

Charles declined the hint.  'Oh, but I might--you never can tell.
Maybe it's like you with the sherry at dinner--something I could
get used to.'  He turned to the girl confidentially.  'I don't know
if Gerald mentioned it, but he dined with me earlier this evening.
I'd have asked him to bring you along had I been given the
slightest hint that he was going to meet you later.'  The reproof
was still being roguishly administered.

'That's very kind of you, Mr. Anderson.  Why don't you try the
frapp?'

Charles gave the order, specifying that he wanted as few trimmings
as possible.  He made some little joke about this that sent the
waitress away laughing.  That relieved him too; they really were
Parisiennes, under their extremely clinical disguise.

'I wish I spoke French as well as that,' Miss Raynor commented.

'But you don't have to,' said Gerald.  'They all speak English--or
at least they understand it.  Mostly English and Americans come
here.'

Charles could well believe it.  'So you're off home tonight?' he
said, turning to the girl.

'Yes, our trains leave almost together--Gerry's and mine.'

'A pity you couldn't stay longer.'

'Yes, isn't it?  Gerry told me why YOU'RE here.  He's very proud.'

'PROUD?' echoed Charles.  He honestly could not, for the moment,
think of anything in his being in Paris that should make Gerald
proud.

'He thinks it's wonderful,' the girl continued, 'that you should be
representing England.'

Charles was torn between acute pleasure that his son had been
boasting about him, and equally acute embarrassment at the phrasing
of it.  'Representing England', forsooth--as if he were taking part
in some international Olympiad!  Then it occurred to him that
Gerald perhaps did think of it like that, and that since the boy
enjoyed games, the athletic image was from him the sincerest
compliment.  Could it be that?  He hoped so, but it brought him
back to his abiding handicap; that he did not really understand
Gerald.  He knew the boy was no fool; he was doing well at
Brookfield.  But what was Gerald beginning to learn about LIFE?  Or
rather, what sort of life was it that Gerald was beginning to learn
about?  By that Charles sadly meant:  How much--or how little--have
I and my son in common?  It was hard to attempt an answer.  For he,
Charles, was what could be called a man of the world, but a man of
a world that had already died or was dying; no boy of Gerald's
generation could grow up to be a man of such a world. . . .  What
other world, then, was Gerald's, and was it, or would it ever be--
occasionally--as enchanting?  Gerald certainly seemed to be having
a good time in it, but that was not quite the same as feeling sure
that times were good in it.  There had been moments in Charles's
life when he had had this feeling.  He was still pondering on the
problem when the tall glass with its pink contents was set before
him.  He discovered then how correct had been Gerald's forecast.
He would be unable to manage more than a small portion of the
stuff, though--to be frank--it was better than some of the desserts
he had tasted at diplomatic receptions.

But he had conquered his peevishness and was now no more than
quietly at odds with life--a sensation so familiar that he had
learned every technique of coming to terms with it.  He said, in a
friendly way:  'So you've been enjoying Switzerland, Miss Raynor?'

'Yes, very much.  It was my first visit since I was at school in
Berne.'

'Ah, Berne . . . a charming city.'

'You know it?'

'Very well.  I was en poste there for a couple of years.  Perhaps
the world's luckiest capital, unless you vote for Stockholm.'

'What about Washington?'

'It didn't quite miss two world wars.'

'But no air-raids--one doesn't see all the bombed ruins.'

'Nor does one in Paris or Rome.'

'But in London.'

'London, I grant you.'

'Were you in London during any of them?'

'Raids? . . .  Oh yes.'

'Were they very bad?  I suppose that's a nave question--'

'They were quite bad enough, though not nearly the kind of thing
the German cities got towards the end of the war.  Dresden, for
instance.'

She said musingly:  'How much easier it is to feel pity for cities
than for countries.'

He nodded.  'That's because cities seem like people--lovable and
helpless and innocent.  Whereas countries stand for governments--
cold and strong and always a bit guilty.  Of course the whole
notion's false, but it suits the mythology of the times.'

'That's a rather calm and detached way of looking at it.'

He was suddenly aware that they were talking beyond the scope of
mere acquaintance and that Gerald had relapsed into a rather
prolonged silence.  Charles had so often in his own youth been the
victim of such a situation that he was specially anxious for it not
to happen to Gerald, so he looked for a chance to bring him back
into the conversation.  Fortunately Miss Raynor gave it when she
added:  'Were you as calm and detached during the raids?'

He answered: 'CALM?  My dear Miss Raynor, there's only one word for
what I was.  I was SCARED.  So scared I packed Gerald off to some
friends in Connecticut immediately.'  He smiled and looked to
Gerald for confirmation.  'Didn't I?'

'Yes, but you stayed in London, dad.'

Charles caught a note in Gerald's voice that gave him an instant
bewildering satisfaction.  So the boy WAS proud of him, however
absurdly?  That was something.  Something to build on.  Something
that would perhaps help to unsnarl the father-son relationship.  It
helped him now to answer cheerfully:  'What else could I do?  My
job was there.  Otherwise I'd have been off like a shot.'  He half
turned to the girl again.  'But actually it wasn't as bad as some
Americans may have pictured it.  I think perhaps we overdid the
publicity on your side.'  Yes, he liked her.  She was charming and
intelligent.  'You see, we wanted you to feel sorry for us because
we hadn't time to be sorry for ourselves.  We were so damned busy
we didn't know what we'd been through till it was all over.'



'TILL IT WAS ALL OVER'


The autumn of 1939 brought the phony war and the song that so
dismally suited it--the one about hanging out the washing on the
Siegfried Line.  As a visible symbol of the same period there was
the portable boxed gas-mask, never used, emblem of false
preparedness as well as a preposterous nuisance.

Charles had sent Jane and Gerald to the country (Jane's sister's
house on the outskirts of a small Cheshire town) as soon as war was
declared.  He joined her at weekends, but preferred to spend the
other days in London, meeting people and trying to learn what was
really happening.  It was a time when being officially on leave
meant little; one looked around for some emergency use for oneself.
Charles found none.  Many men of his age and of equal status were
similarly preoccupied.  No older than the century, he was clearly
young enough for most kinds of service, and though he did not
imagine he could be usefully employed against the Siegfried Line,
he would go anywhere and do anything if anybody in authority
suggested it.  Of course nobody did.  At the Foreign Office it was
assumed there would be plans for him by the time his leave was
finished, but the Office was in a polite chaos owing to the return
of so many personnel from enemy territory.  Charles spent long
lunch-times at his club talking to other men equally stranded and
restive.

One day towards the end of his leave he was summoned by a Private
Secretary named Gosford.  It was a dark morning; a yellowish fog
totally obscured the trees of St. James's Park and Gosford himself
seemed electrically bright behind the desk as he swivelled round to
shake Charles's hand.  He had had a career of such sensational
brilliance that though he was Charles's junior by several years,
the pages of Who's Who supplied an accurate measure of comparison--
almost half a column as against barely an inch.  Yet, of course, in
an Etonish All Souls' fashion, he was friendly enough, if that be
considered friendly at all.  Charles knew, respected, and only
slightly disliked the type.

'How are you, Anderson? . . .  Sit down. . . .  Smoke? . . .  God,
what a day!  Don't you wish you were basking on the Copacabana
beach?'

Charles's South American post had not been Rio, but he did not
think it worth while to make the correction.  He smiled, took the
proffered cigarette, and murmured congratulation on Gosford's
recent K.C.M.G.  Gosford replied deprecatingly:  'Oh, well . . .'
and then, to add tartness to the flavour:  'I suppose they just had
to after Pelham-Frobisher got one.'  Charles knew Pelham-Frobisher
as an official in the Treasury, but that was all; he supposed the
joke lay in some inter-office politics of which his absence had
made him ignorant.

Presently Gosford lit a cigarette himself and studied Charles
through the smoke.  'You're living in London now, Anderson?'

'At my club for the time being.  My wife's in Cheshire with the
boy.'

'Ah, very sensible. . . .  You don't go to your family place then--
let me see, isn't it Beeching?'

Charles wondered how Gosford had known or why he had bothered to
find out.  'Yes, I go fairly often.'

'Your father live there still?'

'Yes.'

Gosford swivelled another twenty degrees till his face was cut into
layers of light and shadow by the green-shaded desk lamp at eye-
level.  'I'd like to ask you a few questions about Sir Havelock if
you don't mind.  Rather personal questions.'

'Certainly.  What's he been up to now?'  This slipped out, as
perhaps it should not have done from a trained diplomat, yet it was
useful sometimes to give rein to the functions of an equally
trained subconscious, and Charles, as soon as he had spoken the
words, was not wholly regretful.

Gosford picked up the cue as Charles had known he would.  'Oh?
Does he often--er--misbehave?'

'He can be rather naughty--at times.'

They were both fencing with these words of innocence.

'What ARE some of the things he's been up to?'

Charles thought a moment.  'I think the last was a mousetrap that
didn't kill the mice but kept them imprisoned so that he could
release them afterwards. . . .  He had to drop it--the servant
problem was quite hard enough at Beeching.'

Gosford smiled faintly.  'Are you on good terms with him?'

'Personally, yes.  Of course I don't see eye to eye with all his
opinions and enthusiasms.'

'Has he visited Germany recently?'

Charles was startled by the question, but also puzzled.

'I don't know that he ever has.  For the last ten years he hasn't
been anywhere out of England; that I'm certain of.'

'What does he do with his life--at Beeching--so far as you know?'

'He has hobbies.  Some of them a bit eccentric, but not all.  Old
tombstones.  Latin inscriptions.  Ornithology.  Writes to The
Times?

'He likes letter writing?'

'I'd say he must.'

'Well, he's in real trouble about it now.  He's been sending
letters to Hitler and Goebbels.'

After all the preliminaries the gist of the thing came out like
that, in a simple sentence, for Gosford had a technique of his own.
Charles countered it by underplaying his reaction.  'Oh dear,' he
said, in the manner of an old lady who has dropped her knitting.
Then he added, establishing a small line of resistance:  'I deplore
his taste, but surely until September that was no crime?'

'He's been trying to communicate since, through a known German spy
in Bucharest.'

Charles was shocked and silent.

Gosford watched him for a moment, then continued:  'Of course our
Intelligence has been intercepting it all--they're not QUITE such
fools. . . .  Does all this surprise you--or doesn't it?'

Charles answered carefully:  'Nothing about my father surprises me
very much, but he's an old man, almost eighty, and I know him well
enough to feel sure that any correspondence he's been having with
Hitler and Goebbels is a waste of time . . . and I mean THEIR
time.'

Gosford opened a desk drawer and took out a file.  'Care to look at
some of the letters?'

Charles spent the next ten minutes reading them and pretending to
be still reading when actually he was thinking.  They were
photostatic copies.  Those from Havelock were in his undisguised
handwriting and on Beeching note-paper.  In brief--and considering
the magnitude of the subject they WERE brief--they told the Germans
what to do to clean up the world.  They also assured their
addressees of Havelock's personal admiration and that they could
count on him as a supporter of any English movement similar to
theirs.  The English government was denounced as effete and the
English people as ripe for dictatorship if a strong man should
arise, and there was a definite hint that in default of any other
suitable candidate Havelock would not consider himself too old for
the job.

The return letters were fewer and shorter.  Neither Goebbels nor
Hitler had sent any, but those of underlings were non-committally
flattering and one of them mentioned a source that would supply the
names of other Germanophile Englishmen with whom Havelock might
care to make contact.  It looked as if the Nazis had been only
mildly impressed by Havelock as an Englishman of title and
substance who might just conceivably be worth cultivating--a small
possible cog in the machinery of the master plan.

Charles handed back the letters with a close concealment of his
concern.  'I still say he's wasting their time.'

Gosford put the letters back in the drawer.  Then he contemplated
the yellow windows that were getting yellower.  Already the fog had
percolated into the room so that one could hardly see the full-
length portrait of some eighteenth-century statesman above the
marble mantelpiece.

'You know, Anderson, we English have missed the tremendous test of
armed invasion for a couple of centuries or so, and this immunity
has led us to indulge in the most comforting and therefore the most
dangerous illusion--that we're fundamentally different from other
people.  I don't believe we are.  I don't believe an Englishman can
jump off a cliff without falling.  I don't believe that a hostile
army, if strong enough, couldn't land here, or that if it did, it
would find no Englishman ready to co-operate. . . .  So you see how
interesting these letters are--especially the one that mentions a
source from which certain other names can be obtained.'

'Yes.  I see that.'

'Of course we know that source and we have those names.'

'IMPORTANT names?'

'I'm sure it would surprise you if I told you.'

Charles did not ask for an elucidation, because he guessed that so
donnish a speaker as Gosford would not be equivocal except
deliberately.  Gosford suddenly got up and paced across the room.
'You see where this leads us, Anderson?  If the government has to
start making arrests, it might be difficult not to include Sir
Havelock.'

'I see that too.  Though perhaps on account of his age--'

'A point certainly.  Of course it's all outside my province except
so far as it concerns your own immediate future.  It would be a
pity if you were in a position to be embarrassed by anything
unpleasant that might occur.'

Charles nodded, and out of the bitterness of his heart answered:
'Yes, it would be embarrassing to be at a reception in a neutral
capital when the B.B.C. announces the arrest of one's father for
high treason.'

Gosford gestured slightly against this dramatization.  'Please
understand I'm not forecasting any such thing.  When does your
leave expire?'

'The twenty-fifth.'

Gosford made a note on his desk pad.  'I ought to be able to tell
you more before then.  Don't do anything yet.'

'What CAN I do?  Seems to me I'm pretty helpless. . . .  Perhaps,
though, I ought to tackle my father--find out at least if he
realizes how serious it is.  Any objection?'

'_I_ have none.  And I don't see why . . .'  Gosford stopped pacing
and put an arm on Charles's shoulder.  He became human and the
humanity made him sixth-formish.  'Look, Anderson, this is the
damnedest situation.  Your father's probably being watched, and
there's nowhere he can run to even if he tried, so what harm can it
do to talk to him all you want?  He may have done nothing at all
but just write letters.  On the other hand, these are incalculable
times and there are circumstances that might arise . . . a
parachute landing, for instance.  What would he do in such a case?
Do YOU know?  Does anybody know?  That's the sort of problem the
authorities are up against.'

Charles suddenly thought of the Tunnel of Love, with his father
popping out of the canvas chute on to the lawn.  The thought gave
him ease to meet Gosford's greater cordiality with his own as he
answered:  'You mean what would he do if German parachutists came
down on his land at Beeching?  Well, he might shoot them if he had
a gun and they didn't shoot him first.  Or he might ask them into
the house and offer them brandies and soda.  Or he might recite
them a poem he'd just composed. . . .  That's the sort of problem
I'M up against.'

                  *     *     *     *     *

Charles found his father in quite a rollicking mood; wartime
excited him, and local hostility (for he had made no secret of his
political views) did not make him unhappy.  His whole life, since
the age of forty, had been a training to accept the penalties of
disfavour, and this was only the climax of it, all the more
endurable because at such an age many things become easier, to
compensate for many others that become harder.

When Charles began, without much preamble:  'I'm afraid, father,
you've got yourself in a considerable mess'--something flicked
across his memory; it was Havelock, two decades before, making
almost the same remark, though in sharper accents, on that last day
of Charles's last term at Cambridge.  _'You were in a damned mess
and I got you out of it.'_  Perhaps if Charles could have added the
second half of the sentence he might also have copied the sharper
accents; as it was he could give no such assurance and therefore
spoke quietly.  He just told Havelock what had happened, without
elaboration or drama.

Even after long experience there was never any certainty how his
father would take things.  This time Charles had been prepared for
an outburst, some tremendous diatribe against England, the
government, democracy, and all they stood for; but instead Havelock
merely shrugged and poured himself more port.  'All right then.
They can jail me.  I've jailed plenty in my time.  One thing,
though, I won't need counsel.  I'll defend myself.'  It was clear
from his eyes that he was already composing a great speech from the
dock.  Charles was ready to deflate this mood.  In fact for some
time deflation had been his familiar weapon in dealing with his
father's ebullitions; it had proved better than indignation or
censure, and was specially suited to Charles's own temperament.  He
had long ago ceased to hope that his father could be reformed or
would ever become much different; the problem, therefore, was to
come to terms with an insolubility.  Charles had often found
himself in a similar position in regard to some professional issue,
but if one accepted from the outset the philosophic idea that
certain problems in life (as in mathematics) MIGHT be insoluble, it
was easier to tackle them, to shirk them, to pretend they did not
exist, or by starving them of attention to find one day that they
had solved themselves.  Charles, therefore, tried to regard his
father as something like the Macedonian Problem to those who lived
in Macedonia; and it was comforting then to reflect that many
people living in Macedonia were doubtless completely unaware that
there was such a thing.

So he said now, pricking the bubble as he saw it expand:  'I
wouldn't count on them letting you make any speech.  If you've done
nothing but write a few stupid letters they'll probably never even
bring you to trial.  You're just the small fish that gets into the
net with the big fish, but they can't let you out till they've
hauled in the catch.'

Havelock didn't like that.  'I don't know that I'm such a small
fish.'

'Oh, come now, it's a bit late in life for you to make history--
even as a traitor.  Don't imagine you're a Colonel Lynch or a Roger
Casement.'

'That's not very civil, Charles.'

'What do you expect from me--congratulations?'

'Of course I know you don't agree with my views.'

'I not only don't agree with them, but if I knew any real evidence
that you were seriously mixed up with the Germans I'd hand you over
to the authorities myself.  But of course I know you're relatively
harmless.'

'Charles, that's not a nice thing to say.'

'Well, aren't you?'  And with a sort of impish derision Charles
continued:  'For instance, there's all this talk of Germans landing
by parachute.  Supposing one of them did, on your front lawn, what
would you do?  Not what would you say--or write--but what would you
DO?'

Havelock pondered a moment, then his eyes lit feverishly.  'You
know what?  I think I'd telephone the police and have them send old
Daggett.  That fellow's been so officious lately about blackout
curtains it would teach him a lesson.  I'll bet he'd run if he even
SAW a German!'

Charles was handicapped by his sense of humour at a moment like
this, however serious he knew the matter to be; but he forced
himself to clear up one detail that still puzzled.  'How was it,'
he asked, 'that you had the name and address of a German spy in
Roumania?'

'Professor Fontanescu?  I didn't know he was a German spy.  I just
asked him to forward a letter through the German Legation there.
Mere courtesy, after all.  He was the man you asked me to write to
about the Red-necked Phalarope.  Don't you remember?'

Charles remembered.  He had met the Professor once at a Bucharest
reception, and learning he was an ornithologist had thought it
might interest his father to be put in touch with a brother
enthusiast.  That was all.

'You know, Charles,' Havelock continued reproachfully, 'if this
fellow was a German spy, you really ought to have warned me.  You
were on the spot out there . . .  Isn't it the sort of thing you
diplomatic people should have been aware of?'

It certainly was; but they hadn't.

                  *     *     *     *     *

Charles went to see Gosford the next day and reported the
conversation, adding lamely:  'You may find it hard to believe,
especially about Professor Fontanescu and the Red-necked Phalarope,
and I daresay there's not likely to be any corroboration except
from my father himself--and even he might not be in a mood to give
it.'

Gosford was cool.  'This isn't much of a time for having moods.'

'I know that very well.'

'Or even for believing things that are hard to believe.  Sir
Havelock, after all, had a legal training--he must have known that
to communicate with the enemy in wartime by ANY method would
constitute an offence.'

'I agree that he must have known.'

'Yet what you tell me now seems--almost--as if you were trying to
establish some degree of innocence?'

Charles paused unhappily, then nodded.  'Yes, that's so.  Some
degree of innocence.  It's curious you should have used the phrase.
Some degree of wickedness, but also some degree of innocence.
That's my father all over.'

'I don't think it can really affect the situation much.'

'Probably not.  Which is why I've written a letter of resignation.
Here it is . . . for use if and when.'  Charles placed it on the
desk.  It was in an unsealed envelope and he paused in case Gosford
wanted to read it.  When there was no move to do so, Charles
continued:  'That's about all, except one thing--the result of some
thought during a rather sleepless night . . .  It seems to me my
father oughtn't to be at a place like Beeching nowadays.  Not only
because of parachutists.  He's talked as well as written foolish
things--there's quite a bit of local feeling against him.  I think
he'd be better off in or near London where he can be--not exactly
under my surveillance, because I suppose I'll have some kind of
work to do somewhere--but at least I can keep a more frequent eye
on him than in the country. . . .  I don't know how far it can help
matters, but it might . . . and perhaps, if I'm lucky, it will . . .'

Charles spoke the last words with difficulty.  He had been hoping
the letter of resignation would be refused, but Gosford had already
put it in his pocket without reading it.  Now Gosford got up as if
to signify that there was nothing else to be discussed, no promise
he could ask for or give, nothing more to do but let events take
their course.  All he said was:  'I assure you, Anderson, there are
times when I feel tempted to resign myself.'

Charles did not think the remark either sincere or sensible, but a
few days later when Gosford died suddenly of a heart attack, he
remembered it.  By that time the letter of resignation must have
been passed to higher levels--unless, through deliberation or
neglect, Gosford had kept it in his desk.  In the latter event it
would be there for his successor to handle.  Yet his successor,
when in due course he met and talked with Charles, did not mention
it; so Charles didn't either.  And in the meantime there came for
him an official transfer to the Foreign Office.

                  *     *     *     *     *

Charles stayed in London, waiting for something he thought might
happen at any time.  It was like picking steps across a snow slope
under cliffs that at any moment could dislodge an avalanche.  The
simile pleased him with its memories of happier days and its
assurance of belonging still to at least one kind of an lite.  He
found a flat in Kensington, not far from his own in Chelsea, and
established his father there with Cobb to look after him.  None of
the other Beeching servants wanted to come to London and Charles
did not blame them.  But Cobb was devoted to the old man, and
Havelock undoubtedly returned an emotion of some sort.  Since he
was apt to treat his friends with far less consideration than most
of them would a butler, it could well be said that he treated Cobb
like a friend.

Charles told his father the reason for the move, and met with no
objections.  The fact that the government could think of him as a
potential threat to national security seemed only to gratify
Havelock's ego, and much as he disliked the attitude Charles was
glad of it as an aid to making the transition easier.

Meanwhile Jane and Gerald stayed in Cheshire, where Charles joined
them whenever he could, but this was not very often or regularly.
There was pressure of business at the Office, and most evenings he
worked late.

Early in the new year, 1940, Havelock was approached by a man who
wanted to buy Beeching.  Charles took him for a business man of
some kind, and assumed that the rather high price he offered was
either folly or the measure of his anxiety to move his family out
of the likely area of air-raids.  Neither Havelock nor Charles
would entertain the idea at first; then all at once it began to
seem attractive.  Beeching was run down; it needed extensive
repairs that could not be made till the war was over; the upkeep
was wasteful, war work and enlistments had taken most of the staff,
and there were tax considerations that made a sale more
advantageous than it might ever be again.  So Havelock sold
Beeching.  A few months later Charles learned that government
engineers were laying out a huge airfield that took in most of the
land, with the house left standing but derelict just beyond the end
of a runway; but he could never discover exactly how much profit
had been made on the resale.

                  *     *     *     *     *

In the drawing-room of his sister-in-law's house Charles would
exchange news with Jane when he arrived there for a few days.  The
style of conversation was the same, but how different the items
from those of earlier years.  A First Secretary in a foreign
capital in peacetime had been in some sort of swim; a minor Foreign
Office official visiting his wife and child in an English country
town during the phony war was in a backwater almost as stagnant as
the war itself.  Only family affection could compensate for the
tedious train journey; but Charles was always thus compensated.

'Gerald looks well, Jane--I swear he's an inch taller than when I
saw him last.'

'Probably.  He's found a new playmate--the Grandison girl who lives
at the stone house past the bridge.'

'Grandison?'

'They're a leading family here--own the local picture theatre
amongst other things, so Gerald gets in free whenever he wants.'

'Fine.  I'm glad he's so happy. . . .  Grandison, did you say?'

'I know--you're thinking of the Grandison who used to be our pet
Attach.  I don't believe he's any relative.'

'Wonder what happened to him.  I'll look up the List when I get
back. . . .  How are Birdie and Tom?'  (Jane's sister and her
husband.)

'Tom thinks he'll be sent to India.  Birdie's worrying about it.'

'Not a bad place to miss the war in.'

'We're missing it so far here.'

'Till it starts.'

'But for Gerald I'd rather live in London whatever happens.'

'I get more comfort thinking of you here.'

'How's Havelock?'

'In great shape.  He did an amusing thing the other day--he left
the flat in the morning and took the first on the right and then
the first on the left and so on till the middle of the afternoon.
By that time he was somewhere round Muswell Hill--at least that's
what he said.  Then he came back by bus.'

'Why is it so amusing?'

'Because of the idea of anyone following him--if he still is being
followed.  They'd probably put some old chap on the job--after all,
keeping an eye on a man of eighty wouldn't seem much--and then he
does a seven-mile walk all across London to nowhere!  Just struck
me as a bit funny. . . .  But he probably isn't being followed.'

'You think they won't do any more about the letters?'

'They haven't done anything yet.'

'Except upset your career.'

'You mean the transfer to the F.O.?'  (He hadn't told her about his
letter of resignation--time enough to worry her if and when it had
to be used.)  'That might have happened anyway.'

'I don't think it would in your case--at least not for long.  You
were so high up on the List and I'm sure they had something good
for you.'

'Perhaps they still have.'

'Not till this business about the letters blows over.'

'Well, it will . . . let's hope.'

'Providing he doesn't send any more.'

'I think I can guarantee that.  Cobb watches him--it's more
feasible, in the small flat.  I see him too for a short time most
evenings.'

'As if you hadn't enough to do nowadays.'

'He's often quite good company.'

'You're very tolerant, Charles.'

'Well, I look at it this way--quite apart from his being my father--
I sometimes think when he's at his best--not being too eccentric,
that is--suppose we'd met him at some big party--as a stranger . . .
we'd both come home afterwards and talk about him.  We'd say, Who
WAS that man?--not just his name, but WHO?  He's a WHO . . . and
you can't say that of everybody.'

'Not even of everybody you like.'

'No.'

'And you CAN say it--sometimes--of people you don't like.'

Charles accepted the implication, then answered:  'I don't blame
you, Jane.  I daresay you feel that but for him we'd be having a
much pleasanter time somewhere else.'  An obscure desire to take
her side in the argument made him continue:  'Yes . . . think of
Via del Mar in February--the Cavalhos giving a party at that
Chinese restaurant overlooking the sea.  Not that I was ever
terribly keen on the Cavalhos . . . or on Chinese food either.'

'Andy . . . tell me something, will you?'

'Yes, of course.'

'What happened at Beeching the night before I had the operation?'

Charles's face acquired the sudden protective blandness which he
was afraid she knew only too well.

'What happened?  Why, nothing. . . .  What do you mean?'

'During dinner.'

'Dinner.  Let's see, I don't think we had dinner--it was more a
sort of supper--very late.  Blainey was there--I'd met him at the
station. . . .'  He was stalling for time, of course.  Since only
three persons could have told her anything (Havelock, Blainey and
Cobb) he did not think she could possibly know the whole story; but
she clearly knew something, and he wanted to find out how much
before he gave his own answer.  It was a familiar situation in
diplomacy, though Jane, being equally familiar with it,
unfortunately knew all its tricks.  He waited for her to speak
while she too waited for him.  Presently he said:  'If you tell me
what's on your mind, I could better try to remember, perhaps. . . .'

'I just wondered what had happened.'

'But why should you think anything had happened?'

'When I saw Blainey weeks afterwards, just before Gerald was born,
he asked me how I liked Havelock.  I don't think he would have, in
the way he did, unless he'd formed an odd impression himself, and
as he'd only seen him that one time at dinner, I wondered what had
happened.'

Jane always told the truth, though she did not always tell all the
truth, and Charles felt reasonably certain now that she knew
nothing definite, but had merely been made shrewdly suspicious by a
question that Blainey had put rather navely.  So he answered, with
confidence:  'Oh, I wouldn't doubt that Blainey got an odd
impression--did anyone meeting my father ever get anything else?
All I remember is that we talked a lot--nervous tension--on my
part, anyhow.  Matter of fact Havelock would have kept Blainey up
all night if I'd let him--got in one of his reminiscent moods about
law cases--you know how he is at those times. . . .  I think the
tension affected us all.'  Charles had often found that to tell the
truth, casually and unimportantly, is a very effective substitute
for a lie, with the additional advantage that it never requires
retraction afterwards.  Having told the truth in this way, he put
in a little further probing of his own.  'A pity surgeons are
always so busy.  I'd like to see Blainey again.  Did he say what HE
thought of Havelock?'

'He said "You've got a rum fellow for a father-in-law".'

'That all?  I'd call it a mild diagnosis. . . .  And then what did
YOU say?'

'I said I knew I had.'

Charles laughed.  'If this damned war ever gets over, let's ask
Blainey to dinner. . . .  God, it would be something to live a
civilized life again, wouldn't it?  Not that it's too bad in London--
putting on a tin hat once a week and having drinks in pubs.  Our
friends abroad should see me.  I often wonder whether some of the
German Secretaries and Attachs we used to meet are doing the same
in Berlin. . . .  Talk about rum fellows--it's a rum world
altogether. . . .'

                  *     *     *     *     *

Six months later the word 'rum' was hardly one that an Englishman
would have chosen--with Scandinavia, the Low Countries and France
already victims, German armies just across the Channel, and the
first air-raids on London beginning.  Charles did his duty ON as
well as beneath the roofs of Whitehall, and of the many exciting
moments that came to him a few were fairly unpleasant.

Early one dark morning, as he was leaving his fire-watching post
after the 'all clear' sounded, he learned of an emergency summons
for extra helpers in a certain street in Notting Hill where a large
bomb had fallen.  With others, he responded.  When he got there he
found that several five-storied houses had collapsed into rubble,
under which were buried numerous victims, some of whom might still
be alive.  Rescue squads were already at work, boring and digging
and passing out baskets of brick and plaster.  Charles took a place
in the line, and presently volunteered when a call was made for
someone thin enough to crawl beneath a beam towards an elderly man
who was pinned down under a mass of debris.  Charles reflected as
he did so that he wasn't really so thin; it was the other fellows
who just happened to be stouter.  He worked for perhaps an hour,
scrabbling bricks out of the mess and passing them behind him.  He
was getting closer to the man, but still not close enough to do
anything for him.  Not having had experience of this sort of thing
before, he kept thinking he was slower than anyone else would have
been, and this spurred him to extra exertion.  From sounds outside
he judged that the raiders had returned and were dropping more
heavy stuff in the neighbourhood.  The man who was pinned down
groaned quietly from time to time; presently the groaning stopped.
By the time Charles finally reached him he was dead.  There was no
point then in continuing to work at that particular place, so
Charles withdrew from the hole and went to help somewhere else.
This went on till past dawn.  He worked in a vacuum of sensation,
not feeling any of the expectable emotions--neither fear of the
still falling bombs, nor pity for the dead and injured, nor anger
or indignation at anybody or anything in particular.  His most
conscious thought, almost amounting to a worry, was that he
wouldn't be much good for some rather important work at his office
later in the day.

About eight o'clock the 'all clear' sounded again and Charles, with
a local warden, left the scene of what was so genteelly called an
'incident'.  The street was close to where Havelock lived, and
Charles was not utterly astonished to find his father standing at
the corner, fully dressed and looking quite spruce.  They exchanged
a greeting, but no more; Charles felt now his own exhaustion and
wanted nothing so much as to get to his flat and have a bath.  His
companion, a sturdy rough-spoken friendly fellow, commented:  'That
old bloke your dad?'

'Yes,' said Charles.  'He lives just round the corner.'

'Don't you want to take 'im 'ome, then--make sure 'e's all right?'

'Oh, he's all right.  I'll see him later.'

'Bin a narsty one, though, tonight--some of the old folks need a
bit of cheerin' up after it.'

'My father doesn't.  He enjoys it all.'

'WHAT?'

'It excites him.  All the bombs falling and the fires and
everything.'

'Go on--I don't believe it!'

'It's a fact.  I wanted him to go away when the raids started, but
he wouldn't.  He likes it here.'

'Wot's the matter with 'im then?  Is he loony?'

'Yes,' said Charles.

But he did not often lose his nerve enough to speak with such
nerveless detachment.

                  *     *     *     *     *

It was true, though, that Havelock was in London from choice.
After the opening nights of the heavy September raiding Charles had
seen no reason why his father should stay, since he could just as
well live with Cobb on the coast or in some inland town.  The
affair of the letters seemed to have blown over, at least for the
time, and Charles had heard no more from anyone about his own
letter of resignation.  Even if Havelock were still on any secret
list of suspects, he could be watched as easily in one place as
another.  But the old man himself declined to move.  It was perhaps
too much or at least too simple to say that he enjoyed the raids,
but they certainly fascinated him; in some obscure way they offered
a challenge and a reassurance of destiny, as if every bomb were
aimed at him personally, so that every raid he survived represented
a personal victory.

Towards the end of the year there came a lull in air attacks, and
Jane (using this as an excuse) joined Charles at the Chelsea flat,
leaving Gerald in Cheshire.  But when the lull ended Jane also
refused to leave.  Charles could not convince her that he worried
about her safety even more than he took pleasure in her company.
But DID he?  He often asked himself the question afterwards,
speculating how much had been in his power, even had he chosen to
exercise it.

Besides a desire to be with Charles, she soon had other reasons for
staying where trouble was.  She found a job with the local
authority, arranging shelter for bombed-out families; in this she
became an instant success and (to Charles's dismay) quite
invaluable.  Sometimes when they both returned to the flat, she
from the Town Hall and he from his varied duties in Whitehall, it
was long past midnight.  Then if there was no raid they could have
a meal of sorts and a few hours' sleep before morning took them to
work again.  It was hard, and amidst these compulsions, to remember
that they were financially well off--hard, and also, as a rule,
irrelevant.  Money was still the lubricant, but it was not the
driving power of this new kind of life; it conferred a few small
privileges, but no large immunities.  To Charles these months in
London during the blitz reminded him more of his schooldays than of
anything else--the physical austerities, the extraordinary way one
enjoyed any small pleasure that came unexpectedly, the regular
almost taken-for-granted ordeals (now the raids, at school
compulsory games), and over it all a sense of time passing that
must, if one were lucky, bring some eventual finality--the end of
term, or the end of the war.  Towards Christmas, so Havelock
assured Charles, Hitler missed a terrific psychological opening
wedge into the Londoner's heart.  He should have announced, with
all possible propaganda fanfare, that raids would be totally
suspended during the festive season, that London could put on its
lights, enjoy social engagements, and sleep the good sleep for a
whole week.  The British authorities, naturally, would then have
warned that Hitler was not to be trusted and would have insisted
(rightly) on continuing every precaution; after which Hitler should
very simply have kept his word.  The curious psychological effect
of this would have been to make Londoners feel almost grateful for
not being killed, and irritated with their own rulers for being
over-zealous.  At least that was the way Havelock worked it out;
but since to make Hitler popular was neither Charles's desire nor
within his power, the argument remained purely academic.

Charles was an averagely good citizen, performing his duties by day
and night no better or worse than tens of thousands of other
Londoners--that is to say, without any special heroism, but with a
good deal of conscientiousness.  The time he crawled under the
ruins of the house to try to free the trapped old man was the
nearest he ever came to a personal exploit; there were other
ticklish moments, some of them even more unpleasant, but none that
put him so close to the centre of any stage.  He did not want such
a position, anyhow, and if chance had decreed it for him he knew
his friends and colleagues would have responded with far more
badinage than applause.

Charles's happiest moments at this period of his life (and they had
a piercing intensity while they lasted) were the rare ones when he
and Jane found themselves at home with nothing much to do in some
small pocket of the immediate future that seemed to have
miraculously detached itself from the rest.  The flat was near the
river, and on raidless nights they would stroll along the Chelsea
Embankment before going to bed, watching the tugs horn their way
under the Albert Bridge and wishing they had a dog.  But of course
this was no time for having dogs in London.  Or wives either,
Charles sometimes thought during raids.  The safe moments with Jane
were precious because of the fears that at other times beset him.
He had never felt so alone with her, dependent on her, worried
about her--and, perhaps because of it all, so close to her.

And there were other moments, weirdly and painfully happy, when he
had checked after raids to find that all was well with Jane and he
could then unclench the muscles of his stomach and join a group of
tired men clustering round a mobile canteen to drink tea.  It was
the least palatable liquid he had ever tasted--sticky and
oversweetened and pale with condensed milk; yet he found in it a
flavour that again reminded him of schooldays--of horrible
concoctions prepared and enjoyed in his study after a football game
that he had particularly loathed.

Jane, however, was much more than an averagely good citizen.  In no
time at all she seemed to have acquired a position of authority at
the Town Hall, distributing chits for this and that, fixing
homeless families in temporary quarters, smoothing out countless
difficulties and bringing order out of chaos wherever she turned.
All the qualities that had made her hoydenish as a girl and
excellent as a diplomat's wife made her now superb.  She knew how
to talk to poor people without condescension and to officials
without subservience.  She knew exactly when to insist and when to
cajole, when to rebuke and when to flatter.  And she seemed to have
no physical fear.  This, to Charles, who had, was the most
remarkable thing of all.

Owing partly to an early fresh-air upbringing and partly also to
much experience of savage injuries caused by broken glass, she
developed what Charles jokingly called a 'window neurosis'.  As
soon as she entered a room she would rush up to closed windows and
open them, thus lessening the danger of blast, but also (as Charles
pointed out) destroying the effect of indoor heating on cold days.
Charles, in his office overlooking the Horse Guards Parade, was one
of those who found the government heat ration hopelessly inadequate
unless he worked in his overcoat and trusted to draughts for
ventilation.  Once Jane visited him and went straight to the
windows, opening them wide and exclaiming:  'Charles, you're stuffy
in here.'  A man named Etheridge, who happened to be with Charles
at the time, gave the statement a prolonged joy-ride.  'Of course
he's stuffy in here.  Isn't he stuffy when he's with you too?  Why,
that's what we call him--STUFFY ANDERSON.'

They hadn't, until then.  But afterwards those who knew him well
enough and liked him sometimes did.  Others picked up the nickname
without the story of its origin, and thinking of him as Stuffy
found stuffiness in some of his behaviour.  His minute handwriting
helped, and perhaps also a certain fussiness over details that did
not, just then, seem to everybody worth the attention he gave them.
He could not have explained, and perhaps he did not know, that he
clung to the importance of these trivia as to a symbol of what
could not be blown to bits or buried under rubble.  The verbal
correctness of despatches, for instance.  He abhorred jargon, the
diplomatic as much as any, and would frown on any junior who talked
or wrote of 'implementing a decision' or 'activating a policy',
except of course when such idioms were consciously used to disguise
or fog a meaning.  For certain words his dislike amounted to
prejudice--'rededicate' was one; 'underprivileged' was another.  To
the surprise of some in his department, he had no objection to
'okay'.  He was not a pedant.  Now that the immediate threat of a
German invasion seemed to be over, there were often arguments about
the value and quality of Churchill's oratory--that speech, for
example, about fighting on the beaches and in the fields and the
streets and the hills.  How far could it have weighed in the
hairline balance that had so recently existed?  It was often
conceded that further fighting would have been hopeless if ever an
enemy had seized the airfields, the railways and roads into London,
and the Channel ports, nor was it certain that all this could have
been prevented if enough German lives had been staked.  Yet the
romantic view, the heroic attitude, however false or illogical--
what a weapon it had been, and especially in the almost total
absence of other weapons!  Charles, whose service to his country
was at no time romantic, nor did he ever think it was, could share
nevertheless the sense of glory that sometimes touched London's
tired morning faces like an extra colour on a painter's palette
that came from no known mixture of other colours.  It would have
been hard to make a memorandum about this, but it was clearly the
stuff that dreams were made of, and English dreams at that.
Charles was a great admirer of Churchill and of the fighting-on-the-
beaches speech.  But of the other famous one, about having nothing
to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat, he would only comment:
'It always WAS good--even when Garibaldi and Lord Byron and John
Donne thought so.'

                  *     *     *     *     *

Charles alternated with Jane, as a rule, in visiting Gerald at
weekends; it rarely happened that they could go together.  But
Gerald meanwhile was happy enough with Aunt Birdie and had made
friends of his own age in the small Cheshire town.  Charles told
Jane he sometimes doubted whether the boy really enjoyed his visits
or was just polite enough to give him a civil welcome.

'Of course he likes to see you, Charles.  But he's as shy of you as
you are of him.'

'I don't mind.  My time will come later.  What I'm really looking
forward to is when he's about seventeen or eighteen and we can
start being companions.  Climbing, for instance--I'd like to take
him up Scafell.'

'I'll be getting on for sixty when Gerald's eighteen.'

Charles's vision of Scafell had included only himself and Gerald,
but he replied gallantly:  'Why all the mathematics?  People have
climbed the Matterhorn at sixty.'

She shook her head.  She was in one of the sombre moods that had
come rather frequently of late--the strain of the raids, he
surmised.  He wished she would go back to Cheshire and rest for a
few weeks.

Abruptly she came over to his chair and sat on the arm.  'Charles,
do you remember those little islands near Stockholm that we always
said were so fascinating though we never found time to land on
them?'

'Yes?'

'Well, that's the point.  We never found time.  And it would only
have taken a day.'

'That's so.  But what made you think of them?'

'I've been thinking of a lot of places lately.  For relief, I
suppose.  You have to think of OTHER things when you're doing SOME
things. . . .  Places where we've lived, or just visited, or passed
in a train or boat, and memory put a red star in the corner like
pictures in a gallery that get sold. . . .'

'That's a pretty comparison.'

'. . . The Danube at Giurgiu, do you remember, and the old man who
came on board festooned with green peppers and pomegranates?  And
St.-Rmy-de-Provence on the night they had the wine festival?  And
Kandersteg, where you said you'd like to paint, but I wanted to
climb, so we climbed. . . .  I'm sorry about that now.  I should
have let you paint more.'

'We couldn't climb and paint at the same time, and I always enjoyed
climbing.'

'Charles, if you ever marry again, pick a young girl who doesn't
like climbing, because you're getting to the age when painting is
so much better for your heart.'

Charles laughed, yet was increasingly puzzled by her mood.  He said
lightly:  'My heart's all right, Jane, as you know better than
anybody.'

'That's pretty too.  Reminds me of old times.  Compliments and
champagne under the chandeliers.  Our lives have had so much of
that, haven't they?  You remember Franois Pichel?  He once told me
you could pay a compliment as well as any Frenchman.'

'Which was a nice way of paying himself one.'

'He also liked your paintings.  Where are they all now?'

'Goodness knows.  Brunon had a lot, and where's he?  Still at
Clermont-Ferrand, I hope--it's pretty safe there. . . .  Some
others were at Beeching and when the place was sold they got mixed
up with the stuff that went to auction.  I have a few here,
probably ruined by dust and dampness. . . .  Why this sudden
interest in them?'

'Because . . . oh, Andy, paint some more some time, will you?
Would there be anything to paint on one of those islands?'

'Why, yes, I daresay, but--'

'Could we ever go there and see?'

'After the war, of course. . . .  But Jane, what's the matter?
You're not--specially--UPSET about anything, are you?'

As soon as he had spoken it the question seemed absurd.  There they
were, huddled in a cold room after a makeshift meal, weary from a
day of effort and nervous tension, waiting for the night which, if
it followed a familiar pattern, would bring them more of the same.

'I'm all right,' she answered.  At that moment the sirens began,
and from then on it was the plain truth; she WAS all right.  And
though Charles wasn't, altogether (his stomach never could get used
to the sound), it was easier to brace himself for the performance
of certain known duties than to prowl wistfully among the memories.
'No champagne under the chandeliers tonight,' he said grimly,
reaching for his equipment.  It was his turn for fire-watching and
with a raid in prospect he must start at once.

He often felt that he endured these occasions only by having to go
out and do things instead of staying at home to wait for things to
happen.

                  *     *     *     *     *

One morning in March there was an 'incident' in a street called
Marlow Terrace, where bombs had fallen during the night.  The usual
after-raid work was in progress--digging into ruins to discover if
anyone trapped were still alive, and an evacuation of families from
nearby houses that had been declared unsafe.  The sun shone like a
red globe through the dust, the air was warm with a touch of
spring, and a canteen served tea to anyone who wanted it--
officials, rescue workers, and residents alike.  All the routine of
behaviour that had by now become so dreadfully normal was operating
smoothly, and there was nothing in Marlow Terrace that made it
different from scores of other London streets that morning.
Suddenly a delayed-action bomb exploded from the front garden of a
house where evacuation had just been ordered.  It was an enormous
explosion heard miles away.  The walls of all the adjacent houses
caved in and made a mountain of rubble from pavement to pavement.
A roaring fire broke out almost immediately from escaping gas.  The
whole street had been so busy, just before, that survivors were
unable to say exactly who had been there and who elsewhere; only a
roll-call, undertaken later, gave a list which could be no more
than tentative.  A few persons were just not seen again, and
nothing was ever found of them, or guessed about them unless
someone came along to say that so-and-so was missing and might have
been or must have been in Marlow Terrace about that time.

Charles was caught up in an unexpected flurry of office work that
day and towards late afternoon telephoned his flat that he would
have to miss dinner and (since it was his night for fire-watching)
would not be home till next morning.  He left this message with the
woman who came in to clean and tidy up; she said Jane had been out
all day and had not telephoned.  This was fairly unusual, but there
were a dozen possible reasons; the whole fabric of wartime life was
interwoven with such unusualness.  Charles thought little of it,
ate a sandwich at his desk, and worked throughout the evening.
Towards eight o'clock he telephoned again, just to say hello, but
there was no answer.  This was on the way to being unusually
unusual, since even if Jane had gone out again for the evening
after receiving his message she would hardly do so without giving
him a ring.  He therefore telephoned again just before nine, which
was his hour for beginning watch and ward; still no answer.  It was
an eight-hour spell, and after it of course he could go home, but
generally he finished the night on the army cot that the government
had austerely installed in his office.  Etheridge was sharing duty
with him.  He did not tell Etheridge why or where he kept dialling
fruitlessly every hour or so.  Etheridge was sleepy and dozed part
of the time on his own cot; Charles was ready to wake him in any
emergency.  But there was no raid that night.  About four o'clock
Charles decided that as soon as he was free he would go to his flat
immediately.  He was already disturbed enough to wonder at what
time a call to the police would cease to seem panicky.  After half
an hour of wondering he didn't even care, and a few minutes later
he felt he could wait no longer.  He telephoned the police from the
office.  They put him on to some young woman whose job seemed to be
nothing but dealing with that kind of problem, and after he had
given all the details, he fancied he caught in her answering voice
an implied rebuke for his premature anxiety.  Actually this
comforted him a good deal during the hour or so before the same
voice spoke to him again.

He was then alone in his office, preparing to leave.  He could not
at first accept what he heard, but soon it fell into a perspective
of credibility, being no more unlikely than much else one heard
about every day.  He sat at the desk for a moment, his hand still
on the telephone.  Then Etheridge came in.  Etheridge did not
apparently notice anything wrong, or perhaps he was too tired to
observe Charles closely.  Presently Charles said:  'Etheridge, I've
just had . . . what may be bad news . . . about my wife . . .  It
seems . . . they say . . . by the way, where's Marlow Terrace?
Isn't it near Sloane Square?'

Etheridge came over and gripped his arm.  Charles then turned to
him with a stricken face and a remark that sounded foolishly like
the kind he might have made at a cocktail party:  'You met my wife
once, I think?'

Etheridge accompanied him to Marlow Terrace, but there was nothing
to see or do and hardly any more to learn.  The rather remarkable
circumstance, even for those times, was that there was just the
slightest possibility that Jane might still turn up from somewhere
else if one could think of any plausible reason for her continued
absence from home.  Charles, as the hours passed, could think of
fewer and fewer such reasons.  That she had had business in Marlow
Terrace on the previous morning was verifiable, and that she had
actually gone there was verifiable, but many had been killed who
might have been with or near her at the time, and a postman
delivering letters further along the street had already said he had
seen someone roughly answering her description, just about where it
happened and before he was blown unconscious.  He had noticed her
particularly, he said, because she had been doing her job so
briskly and cheerfully, handling a group of evacuees as if (in his
own words) she were 'running a school treat or something'.

The hair-line of doubt, the ten-thousand-to-one chance, preoccupied
Charles for weeks and drove him near what he himself felt to be a
dangerous edge of mental balance.  Perhaps he was saved because he
thus felt it, and could therefore exert the necessary controls.
But there were times when control was uncertain.  It was surprising
how many people, seen at a distance or passingly for a few seconds,
looked like Jane; and how plausible then became the theory that
Jane might have walked away from all the commotion unnoticed and
unhurt except for complete loss of memory.  There were stories
about things like that.  One afternoon he was on top of a bus along
the Strand when he saw Jane (his recognition was quite positive)
standing outside a cinema.  He started up like a madman, ran down
the steps and dodged traffic at the risk of his life, but too late
to intercept her before she entered.  His excitement at the box
office and subsequent explanations of why he was wandering up and
down the aisles to peer along rows of dim faces, did not satisfy
the ushers, who ordered him out and threatened to call the police
if he didn't clear off.  He went on explaining, so they called the
police, who listened more tolerantly and advised him to go home.
He did not go home, but waited three hours till the show was over,
watching the main entrance from as close as he dared.  But there
was a side-street exit that he could not also watch.

Again he saw Jane in the Burlington Arcade leading a Pomeranian.
That was strange, because she had always preferred big dogs.  He
hurried up to her.  'Jane . . . JANE! . . .'  She smiled a
professional smile and took his arm, but the little dog yapped and
snapped at his heels.  From the way she scolded the animal he knew
she could not be Jane at all.  He apologized.  'What's the matter
with you?' the woman jibed.  She called after him as he walked
away:  'Nuts, that's what you are!'  Odd, he reflected, suddenly
sane inside his normal self, how American slang was driving out
English slang--though 'nuts' was certainly a good word, as good as
a good monosyllable can be.

This sort of thing disturbed Charles so much that he thought he
might do well to see a doctor or a psychiatrist, but he shrank from
the ordeal of discussing his affairs with a stranger.  Then he
remembered somebody who was not a stranger.  On impulse he called
on Blainey in Welbeck Street, catching the surgeon just about to
leave for his hospital.  They talked for a short while.  Blainey
was sympathetic, but had to insist he was unqualified to give more
than the most general advice.  He could, however, recommend a
colleague--Heming Wentworth, just across the street. . . .

Charles said:  'I suppose the real reason I came to you is because
you were a witness that time of my father's somewhat--er--peculiar
behaviour, and I thought--I wondered if--by any chance--things like
that . . . father to son, you know . . . not necessarily the SAME
kind of peculiarity, but . . .  But you're probably reluctant to
give an opinion?'

'I couldn't as an expert, Anderson, but for what it's worth I'd say
your father's trouble is entirely his own affair--nothing to do
with yours, which sounds to me like a very understandable result of
what you've recently been through. . . .  You need rest, probably
that's all.  And mental rest.  Haven't they found any trace--some
piece of jewellery or something you can identify and then feel sure
about it?'

'There was part of a wristwatch that might have been hers.'

'What do you mean--MIGHT HAVE BEEN?'

'It was the same type.  But I went to the shop and made enquiries--
they said it was manufactured in thousands before the war.'

'So you still feel . . . but that IS the trouble, isn't it?'

'I know.  It's foolish.  Like going back to the front door to try
the lock when you know it's closed.'

'You don't really BELIEVE she's still alive?'

'No, not at all.  Well, hardly at all.  Except when I see her--
THINK I see her, that is.  I'm a . . . temperamentally, I mean . . .
I'm a bit of a sceptic.  But perhaps a credulous one.'

'A credulous sceptic, eh?  What sort of animal is that?'

'Well . . . if I saw a man walking on the water, I don't think I'd
conclude he was the son of God, but I'd probably say:  Look,
there's a fellow seems to be able to walk on water. . . .  Because
so many strange things happen today.  One must cling to one's
doubts, but it's just nonsense to disbelieve everything on
principle. . . .  I won't take up more of your time, though.
You're right about my needing rest--I'll try to get it.  I wish I
could join the army and get away somewhere.  Sort of requiescat in
khaki.  But I'll be all right.  You've given me the answer I
wanted.'

'How IS Sir Havelock these days?'

'Fine, fine.'

'Perhaps HE'S the one who really ought to consult Heming
Wentworth?'

They exchanged a smile, as at a particularly subtle joke which they
alone could share.

                  *     *     *     *     *

The talk with Blainey did much for Charles, but Gerald did most of
all.  Charles took time off from the Office and went to Cheshire to
see the boy, who knew nothing of what had happened and was
supremely happy in his aunt's home.  It was the spectacle of this
happiness that helped Charles far more than Gerald ever afterwards
knew.  Charles kept putting off the job of telling him the truth as
much for his own sake as Gerald's; and when this reluctance became
revealed as part of a state of mind, Jane's sister thought of an
ingenious alternative.  Gerald was five--an age when the loss of
his mother, if he learned about it, might overtax his emotional
resources, though he had quite easily accustomed himself to seeing
her only at long intervals.  Aunt Birdie's idea was that if the boy
were sent to some American relatives who had already pressingly
invited him, the blow might be deferred till it was much less of a
blow.  Such a plan was all the simpler because there had been
frequent talk of sending him to America and he had come to think of
the trip as a desirable event even at the price of separation from
his parents.  It was leaving Aunt Birdie that bothered him most,
for during his stay at her house he had developed a great
attachment to her.  Birdie, therefore, with a husband abroad and
not much else to do, suggested that she should make the trip with
him and stay till he had settled down and made new friends.
Charles was in entire agreement.  He went back to London to work on
the practical details, and to such effect that within a month of
the incident in Marlow Terrace Gerald and his aunt were aboard the
Clipper.

Charles saw them off and then, sick at heart but in better control
of himself than for some time, faced the fact of his own future.
Of course he would not need to see Heming Wentworth.  There was
really nothing the matter with him.  Blainey had been right.  Just
rest--and he had had it.  Now he had better get back to work.
There were things to do, arrangements to make, matters he had
neglected during his--whatever one called it--would BREAKDOWN be
the proper word?  And the first thing was to see Havelock again.
He hadn't done so since the incident in Marlow Terrace.  He hadn't
felt it possible to do more than keep in touch with Cobb about him.
But now he decided the nettle must be grasped, and in the same mood
he would stop saying 'the incident in Marlow Terrace', either to
himself or to others, when what he really meant was 'Jane's death'.

He had moved out of the flat in Chelsea and had managed to get a
room at his club.  After dining there alone one evening he made the
journey to Kensington and rang the bell of his father's flat as
casually as if there had been no interval since his former regular
visits.  Cobb admitted him, tactfully without surprise, but told
him in the hallway that Havelock had not yet fully recovered from
the shock of the whole thing; it had taken away the fun he got from
air-raids, so that he was still rather moody and cantankerous.
Charles found that this was so, except for the cantankerousness,
which was rather in himself as he realized that the old man was now
all he had left in the Eastern Hemisphere.  Havelock did his best
to be amiable, but the visit was a short one.  'I'll come back
soon,' Charles promised, still casually.  He had given no
explanations and none had been asked for.  In the hallway again, as
Cobb helped him on with his coat, Charles remarked:  'Certainly
keeps well physically, doesn't he?'

Cobb agreed that he did.  'He's been writing a letter again, sir,
but nothing to worry about.'

'Oh? . . .  Who is it this time--General Rommel or the Pope?'

'President Roosevelt.'

Charles gave a low whistle.  'You read it of course?'

'Yes, and it seemed all right, so I let it go.  I thought it would
cheer him up--Sir Havelock, I mean.  I don't suppose the
President'll ever see it.'

'But what's it about?'

'A statue of Columbus in London.  Sir Havelock thinks there ought
to be one.'

'Isn't there?'

'Apparently not, sir.'

'Why, no, I can't think of any.  Not a bad idea, Cobb, but a little
awkward just now, since Columbus was an Italian.  Mustn't glorify
the ancestors of our enemies, must we? . . .  However, I don't
think His Majesty's Government, in the circumstances, will consider
the suggestion treasonous.'

It eased Charles to find this sort of wry humour in most of his
concerns, and he was beginning to be known for it.  Some people
said he was witty, others that he joked about matters that weren't
funny; a few guessed that he was desperately unhappy and had found
a way to come to terms with both the desperation and the
unhappiness.

                  *     *     *     *     *

Charles did not ask for a longer leave, as some of his friends
urged; he said truthfully that he found his work a help, or at
least a time-occupier, and even his night duties were useful in
solving the problem of sleep.  He was well liked and his friends
rallied round with as much hospitality as conditions permitted them
to offer; but he really did not mind being alone when he was also,
as so often happened, exhausted.

One day it fell to him, as a representative of the Foreign Office,
to escort a Middle-Eastern potentate and his entourage to an
airport whence a military plane would fly them carefully home.
Charles had had something to do with his visit to what was usually
on such occasions referred to as the war-torn island; it had been a
visit staged with psychological shrewdness and not without a likely
effect in terms of oil concessions.  Accompanying the small party
was a British Military Attach who would travel back with the
potentate and keep him happy during the trip.  (For what better
reason, after all, did one learn those obscure and difficult
languages?)  The Attach's name was Venner, and he persisted in
calling Charles 'Allenson'; Charles did not correct him.  But he
found the young fellow congenial company during the short time they
had together at the airport.  They were granted this respite
because their illustrious charge had asked to be left alone for a
period of prayer and meditation, and after harassed consultations
with airport officials a small room not very suitable for the
purpose had been discovered and commandeered.  It was the room (so
an official said) where incoming suspects were searched for
smuggled drugs or diamonds.

Charles, thinking of the last time he had seen anyone off at an
airport (his own son and sister-in-law), paced up and down a
plywood corridor with the Attach; thought also of the potentate on
his knees a few yards away, after the fashion of his ancestors for
a thousand years; thought also of the great engines warming up
nearby, ready to carry him to biblical lands in a matter of hours;
thought also of the millions of Londoners waiting in their own
homes for the probable nightly dose of death and destruction.
Truly a moment to take refuge in some deep philosophy, if one had
any.

The pilot, fidgeting to be off before a raid could start,
approached them with the question, hushed yet matter-of-fact:  'How
long d'you think his nibs is going to be in there?'

'Few minutes--five--ten, possibly,' answered the Attach.  'Not
more as a rule.'

The pilot shrugged and went off.

Charles then said:  'I suppose you know his nibs pretty well?'

'Oh yes.  I've been with him several years.'

'What sort of a fellow is he?'

'Not bad, as they go.  Crafty.  Suspicious of his family.  Loves
practical jokes.  Generous when he's in the mood.  Extravagant.
Greedy.  What impressed him most, I think, during his stay here was
that in the midst of our own crisis we're building him two
beautiful Rolls-Royces with satin-wood panels and solid gold
ashtrays.  He figures we wouldn't do that if we weren't going to
win the war.  But of course we wouldn't do that if we didn't need
his oil to win the war.  So I guess we're craftier in the long
run . . .  He's a hard bargainer, though.'

'And of course fabulously rich.'

'So rich he's worried stiff.  He's secretly afraid that some day
somebody will ruin the oil trade by finding a synthetic substitute--
like they did to Chilean nitrates.  We planted a rumour once that
a scientist had invented something . . . just to explore a weak
spot.'

'And what happened?'

'He got rid of half a dozen wives immediately--as an economy
measure.  Didn't miss them either, so far as I could see.'

Charles said whimsically:  'I suppose you don't when you have so
many. . . .  But I miss mine--she was killed a few weeks ago in a
raid.'

The Attach was naturally startled and considerably embarrassed.
'Oh . . . er . . . I'm sorry to hear that, Allenson. . . .  That's
really bad.'

'Yes, it does rather hit one.'  And then Charles continued, as he
could only have done with someone who had missed his real name and
whom he would probably never meet again:  'I was very fond of my
wife.  She was a damned good sort.  She'd be better at this than I
am--handling his nibs, I mean.  "Man-handler" I called her once and
she said it was a compliment.  So it was, by God.  I wonder why the
F.O. never has women to do these jobs--everyone knows how useful a
wife can be in an Embassy. . . .  Are you married, by any chance?'

The Attach said he was.

'Well, hang on to her then.  Don't let her run into danger.'
Having offered this advice without undue emphasis Charles added:
'I'm talking a lot of nonsense, you must forgive me.'

'Oh no, not at all . . .'  A small commotion was shaping up towards
the end of the corridor.  'I guess he's finished--now we can start,
thank goodness. . . .  You'll be all right going back into town,
Allenson?'

'Oh yes, of course . . . thank you.'

After Charles had performed the ceremonies of the occasion and had
heard the plane take off at some distant end of a darkened runway
he walked to the government car whose chauffeur was waiting with
the same kind of fidgetiness the pilot had had, and for the same
reason.  'So far so good, sir,' he said, starting up.  'We live in
'opes.'

In the car Charles felt, not for the first time in his life, that
he had made something of a fool of himself.  Or rather, of some
other fellow named Allenson.  He must remember to look up the List
tomorrow to see if there was an Allenson anywhere.  He hoped he did
not exist.

                  *     *     *     *     *

Later in April he spent a weekend in Suffolk at the house of an
Under-Secretary who was ill and wanted him to help to draft a reply
to Turkey about Moslem Irredentists in Cyprus.  Charles took his
car, which he now rarely drove, and enjoyed the journey through
country previously unknown to him.  On the way back on Sunday
afternoon he chose to wander off the main roads in the general
direction of London, not caring how he would eventually arrive
there.  The drastic curtailment of private motoring had given these
East Anglian byways back to the nineteenth century, and with trees
and hedges freshening to green along the twisting lanes, the drive
was one of pure enchantment.  As he reluctantly covered the miles
the thought of London's dark streets and a possible air-raid that
night added a tragic beauty to sights and sounds--of children in
gay dresses romping through a churchyard, a gnarled old man leaning
on the gate of a field, two soldiers on bicycles whistling as if
there were not a war in the world.

The sun was lowering by the time he stopped for tea at a caf where
he was the only customer.  He did not hurry, and when he left the
streets were already gray.  He drove on a half-dozen miles or so,
guideless except by a rough sense of convergement and increasing
urbanization and by a curious awareness of London ahead like some
great breathing animal, downed but not cowed, waiting for more
blows and ready to take them.  It would be a good night for a raid,
though lately there had been a falling-off in the intensity and
frequency of them.  At one corner he had to stop for traffic long
enough to read the name on a lamp-post.  Chilford Road.  The name
stirred a memory; Chilford was the next station beyond Linstead on
that railway whose trains ran every hour throughout the night.  He
felt the impulse of a whim; if the road he was on led through
Linstead it would be interesting to have a glimpse of the place; if
not, it didn't matter.  But after a few minutes memory stirred
again; he was passing Linstead station, and how easy, indeed
inevitable, to take the turn beyond the secondary school and the
Carnegie Library.

It was a night of scudding cloud, but a full moon shone behind,
half breaking through in patches of pallor.  Wind scoured between
the long rows of suburban houses till the pavements looked like
bones picked clean.  Charles could see gaps in the rows; he knew
that the whole district had been heavily bombed.  Presently he came
to a corner he did not recognize because of an open space littered
with rubble and flanked by shored-up sides of houses; but this, he
knew, must be the corner of Ladysmith Road.  He made the turn and
drove slowly along . . . for the first time in twenty years.

He was surprised how faint and gradual was the approach of memory
about it.  He could not recall, offhand, what the exact number of
the house had been--in the teens of the two hundreds, he thought,
but had it been 214 or 215 or 216?  215 soon disengaged itself as
on the wrong side of the road--no mistake about that.  Then it came
to him that as one had walked from the street to the front door,
the bay window had been on the right-hand side; this threw out 216.
So it must be 214.  He slowed the car to walking pace and drew
immediate partial confirmation from some twinge of inner memory--
the laburnum trees, yes, the laburnum trees, they were budding,
they had grown, they nearly touched; Ladysmith Road was at last the
leafy avenue that had been dreamed of.  But the house itself he
would not have known from a hundred others.  There was a brass
plate on the gate, reading when he came close--'Miss Lydia
Chancellor, L.R.A.M.--Pianoforte Lessons'.  He wondered if Miss
Chancellor were young or middle-aged or old--whether she had moved
into 214 after the Mansfields, or had ever heard of them.  He began
to picture Miss Lydia Chancellor, L.R.A.M., and in no time at all
she became a heroine, of whatever age--giving her sedate pianoforte
lessons come raid or shine.

And then, while he stopped his car at the kerb, he heard a sound
that for all its plausibility in the context of his thoughts,
nevertheless startled him like a touch of ice.  It was the tinkle
of a piano behind the darkened bay window.  Miss Chancellor was at
work.  He heard the fumbling play of the pupil, then a colloquy of
muffled voices, then the piano again--the same tune accurately,
authoritatively.  It was Brahms's Lullaby and Miss Chancellor
played it as if she were marching soldiers round a barrack square.
Not a note was out of step.  Charles listened in fascination, but
soon heard footsteps approaching, and with need of some excuse for
having stopped, could think of nothing but to half-open the car
door and pretend to be tying his shoelace.  It was the local
policeman on his beat.  'Quiet tonight,' said Charles.

'Yes, sir, we're all right so far.'  And then, as if the shoelace
were not wholly convincing:  'Looking for somewhere, sir?'

Charles had to find an answer and it came as familiarly as the feel
of a switch in a room one thought one had forgotten.  'The Prince
Rupert . . . isn't there a pub of that name near here?'

Suspicion vanished; anyone looking for the Prince Rupert clearly
had a right to stop his car wherever he liked to tie his shoelace
or anything else.  'First on the right, second on the left, sir.'

'Thanks,' said Charles.  He closed the door and drove off. . . .
And why not to the Prince Rupert, after all?

Two minutes later he was pushing through the swing-doors into a
vestibule that had been built to ensure obedience to the blackout
regulations.  The interior was pleasantly warm, hazy with smoke and
shaded lights, companionably buzzing with talk, but not noisy.
Charles went to the bar and asked for a bitter.  It was rarely his
drink, but the word had framed itself for speech before he could
think of anything else.

Except for the dimness and the improvised vestibule he did not
think the Prince Rupert had changed since his last visit.  It had
then, he recollected, been recently modernized in a style which
some architect had imagined to be 'Old English'; there had been a
rash of dark-stained planks laid on plaster, and beams that were
not beams; but now, after such a decent interval, the sham had
acquired a half-reality of its own.  The bar counter, for instance,
originally polished to look ancient, had lost its polish and taken
on an attractive patina of plain usage.

Memories now were assembling so fast that Charles took cautious
inventory of them, as with an old trunk in an attic that may have
things in it one doesn't expect and might not want to find.  The
framed picture of a pretty girl holding up a glass of beer reminded
him of something . . . or perhaps nothing.  Another picture, of a
khaki-clad soldier posing with a large Union Jack, harked back to
that period, so alien, so distant, of the phony war.  Abruptly
amidst these musings he felt a touch on his arm.  It was an old man
whom he did not recognize.  'Mr. Anderson . . . am I right, sir?
You'll remember me . . . FRED MANSFIELD.'

Charles stared, and a whole flock of memories broke through, so
that his voice was hard to control as he shook the bony hand.  'Of
course I remember . . . of course . . .'

But he hadn't, at first, and if he had met the man in the street he
knew he would have passed him by.  He remembered the voice, though--
the high-pitched gentle Cockney.  And soon, of course, the
features fitted in, so that he could judge Mr. Mansfield hadn't
changed much either, except to look older and frailer, especially
in the throes of his excusable excitement.

'CHARLIE . . . well, of all the . . . and 'ere again--'ow many
years is it?'

Charles had to think, and in thinking remembered how, during those
early years in European capitals, he had sometimes imagined meeting
Fred Mansfield again--a meeting in which, out of his own deep hurt
and humiliation, he would tell the fellow exactly what he thought
of him.  But now, it seemed, even the hurt and humiliation could be
remembered only with an effort; and perhaps for this reason he
didn't actually know what he thought of him, or of himself either,
except that they had both been victims.

So all he answered was:  'Yes, it was a long time ago. . . .  What
are you drinking?'

'No, Charlie--this is on me when I get me breath. . . .  Gorlummy,
wot a surprise! . . .  Mrs. Appleby, two bitters for me an' this
gentleman.  'E's an old friend of mine. . . .  Mr. Anderson--Mrs.
Appleby.'  Charles shook hands with the landlady, and something
else occurred to him.  'It was Mrs. Webber, wasn't it, Fred, the
last time I was here?'  It seemed quite easy and natural now to
call him Fred.

'That's right!  Now fancy you rememberin' Mrs. Webber. . . .  Mrs.
Appleby, Mr. Anderson remembers Mrs. Webber!'  But Mrs. Appleby did
not seem specially interested.  'Poor Mrs. Webber died of a stroke,
and then there was the Johnsons, and then the Brackleys--nobody
liked THEM--they let the 'ouse down, they did. . . .  But now we're
all 'appy again, ain't we, Mrs. Appleby?'

'Maybe some of us are,' said Mrs. Appleby as she turned to other
customers.

'The fact is,' whispered Mr. Mansfield confidentially, 'she ain't
'ad it too easy litely.  That larst raid shook 'er up.  Two bombs
just rahnd the corner, but only a few winders broke in 'ere.  Ain't
that luck?'

Charles agreed that it was.  'You're looking very well, Fred--very
well indeed.'

'Can't complain.  Not so bad for seventy-eight.  Your dad still
alive an' well, I 'ope?'

'Yes.  He's eighty-one.'

'Good for 'im.  I remember Sir 'Avelock. . . .  I ses to 'im, when
'e left 'ere that time, Sir 'Avelock, I ses, it's bin a honner and
a pleasure.  Same 'ere, Mr. Mansfield, 'e ses, or words to that
effect.  I daresay 'e remembers me too.'

'I'm certain he does.'

Mr. Mansfield gripped Charles's arm in a still rising abandonment
of delight.  'You know, Charlie, it's 'ard to believe, seein' you
again like this.  I can't say you don't look older, because you was
only a boy in those days, but you certainly ain't changed your
drinks, 'ave you?  Bitter it was an' bitter it is, an' 'ere you are
at the Prince Rupert like you was at 'ome.'  But he added, suddenly
curious:  'You rahnd 'ere on business?'

'No . . . just chance.  I was driving back from Suffolk and found
myself so close I thought I'd see what the old place looked like.'
As soon as he said it he knew it rang false; it sounded like some
sentimental Old Boy revisiting his alma mater.  But to Mr.
Mansfield the explanation seemed perfectly satisfactory.

'You'll find some changes, Charlie.  That is, if you was 'ere in
the daytime and could see.  Lots of bombs in the 'Igh Road.'

'And at the corner of Ladysmith Road too.'

'You saw that?  Ah, that was a narsty one.  Land mine, they said.'

'No damage at Number 214, I noticed.'

'So you came by an' 'ad a look?  Well, well, to think of you
rememberin'. . . .  I don't live there no more.  When the wife died
I moved in with Evelyn an' 'er 'usband--in Roberts Road.  Just the
next turnin' from 'ere.  Convenient.'

'I'm sorry to hear about Mrs. Mansfield.'

'Poor old soul, she missed a lot o' trouble, that's one thing.
Bert 'ad to 'ave an operation an' ain't bin the same since.  Maud's
married and got two boys--lives at Chatham--'er 'usband's in the
Navy.'

'And Lily?' said Charles, with sudden breathlessness.

Mr. Mansfield beamed.  'Lily?  Why, she done the best of any of
'em.  She's married an' in Orsetrilia--got quite a family.'  He
laid his glass on the counter and began searching his pockets.
'Look . . .  She sent me some snaps only a month or two back--taken
outside the 'ouse--seaside place near Sydney.'  He found a
photograph and held it for Charles to inspect.  'See the 'ouse--
pretty, ain't it?  Their own, too. . . .  Garden all rahnd--not
like the 'ouses 'ere.  And that's the car they 'ave. . . .  'E's
got a good job out there.'

Charles was transfixed by an emotion he could only control by being
facetious.  'Very nice--very nice indeed--and Mr. Robinson seems to
have put on a little weight.'

Mr. Mansfield looked puzzled.  'ROBINSON?'  Then he swung a cordial
hand to Charles's back.  'Gorlummy, that ain't Reg Robinson! . . .
Is THAT wot you thought?  The name's Murdoch--Tom Murdoch.
Orsetrilian Scotsman, that's wot 'e calls 'imself. . . .  But fancy
you thinkin' it was Reg. . . .  Dunno wot ever 'appened to Reg.
They was sort of engaged for a time, but it didn't larst.  Ain't
'eard of 'im now for years.'

'You were saying Lily had a family. . . .'

'You bet she 'as, an' I got a picture of them too if I can find
it.'  He found it.  'See. . . .  Count 'em. . . .  An' this is
another one of Lily by 'erself.  You can't see the 'ouse in this.'
He handed them both to Charles.

Charles looked at the one of Lily first.  She too had put on
weight, not enough to make her stout, but to give her a look of
ripeness that of course he could not remember; and yet it was so
much like her, so much a fulfilment, that he felt he recognized her
as clearly as if he had known her like that in his own life.  She
was smiling and the little gap between the two teeth at the upper
left-hand side was still there.  She looked gay and cosy and richly
alive, and his heart missed a beat in its rejoicing.

The other photograph showed a row of attractive-looking children
ranging in age from thirteen or fourteen to perhaps two.

Mr. Mansfield was gloating over his shoulder.  'See?  I said you'd
'ave to count 'em. . . .  SIX--an' another on the way since then.
I wrote back to 'er when she wrote an' told me that--Lily, I wrote--
just a joke, of course--even if it ain't your fault, you really
are makin' a 'abit of it.  But she likes kids and she 'as 'em so
easy, I suppose she don't mind.'  And with a wink Mr. Mansfield
added:  'I tell you, Charlie boy, you was lucky that time.'

'WAS I?  I WONDER.'  Charles hardly whispered the words and was
glad they were not heard.  He handed back the photographs, forcing
himself to catch Mrs. Appleby's eye and order two more bitters.
'She looks fine.  When did she meet this Mr. Murdoch?'

'That's wot I never can remember--the year, I mean, but it was the
Wembley Exhibition that done it.  Tom was in the Orsetrilian
Pavilion--that was 'is job, you understand.  Lily and me went there
one day, we was lookin' at a stuffed kangaroo and a man come up and
ses to me--"You interested?"  Well, I wasn't, not special, not in
kangaroos, but it turned out 'e was interested in Lily--that's why
'e come up to me and started the conversation.  All a matter of
chawnce, ain't it?  Like you droppin' in 'ere tonight.  They was
married within three months.'

'And happily too, I can see.'

'Well, now, you know Lily--or at least you remember 'er.  She
always was wot you might call a 'appy girl.'  Mr. Mansfield put the
photographs carefully back in his pocket.  'I saw in the papers
when you was married, Charlie.'

'Yes.  I have a little boy of five who's now in America.'  The
thought of all the children in Ladysmith Road and Roberts Road made
him feel apologetic about this.  'We had relatives over there and
they wanted to take him.'

'Natchrally,' said Mr. Mansfield, unaware of any need for apology.
'Just like Lily wants me to go to Orsetrilia and live with 'er and
Tom, and I would too if I was a kid.  Gorlummy, if I was a kid I
wouldn't want to stay in England.  But at my age it's different.
You get yer roots in a plice, Charlie, that's the way it is.'

The drinks arrived and Charles lifted his glass.  His voice shook a
little, but not noticeably to the old man.  He said:  'Well, Fred,
let ME say it this time. . . .  Here's to us and our dear
ones. . . .'  That had come back to him too.

                  *     *     *     *     *

They talked on till closing time; then Charles took Mr. Mansfield
back to his house in Roberts Road.  They shook hands at the gate
and Charles meant it when he said he hoped they would meet again.
During the very short walk (not worth while to get in and out of
the car), he had noticed that Mr. Mansfield was a little unsteady
on his feet--hardly from the few drinks, but more likely a sign of
age that had not been apparent in the Prince Rupert.  Another and
perhaps a sadder sign was that Charles had been introduced in the
bar to no one except Mrs. Appleby, who had not been too cordial.
It rather looked as if the old fellow had outlived his cronies and
that younger patrons found him a bore.  Charles's sympathy was
acute because he himself had a morbid fear of being a bore, a fear
that sometimes made him awkward and speechless, or else foolish and
facetious, in the presence of people who were perfectly satisfied
for him to be himself.  But Fred Mansfield WAS himself at all
times, and always had been; and if others found him a bore he would
bore them more by not realizing it, or else (as he had with Mrs.
Appleby) find some charitable reason for having been snubbed.  And
to Charles this seemed the saddest thing of all.

He drove back to London and was in bed before midnight.  There was
no raid, but he could not sleep.  He wished he were in a house or
flat where he could go to the kitchen and make himself a cup of
tea, but his club bedroom had no such facilities and after an hour
or two of lying awake he got up and looked in desperation for some
job to do.  It was too late to dress and go out again and he had
little to read except the pencilled notes he had made at the Under-
Secretary's house; these, with their deep concern for Cypriotes and
Turks, did not easily engage his attention in the mood he was in.
Lacking any better idea to pass the time, he turned to the
suitcases he had brought with him from the Chelsea flat; he hadn't
unpacked, since his stay at the club could only be temporary, but
he had stuffed them so hastily with personal things that he thought
it might be worth while to sort out the contents.  Several were
full of papers grabbed from desks and bureau drawers--old letters
and miscellaneous documents he hadn't looked at for years, but
which, from the fact that he had ever preserved them at all, might
be considered of some importance.  But, of course, as always
happens with such accumulations, many seemed at this later date
quite valueless, so he began to tear them up.  There was a certain
pleasure in doing this, though to be on the safe side he would take
the fragments to the office in the morning and burn them in the
fireplace . . . notes on the Tacna-Arica boundary dispute, for
instance, flimsies about forgotten visits of forgotten foreign
officials, a copy of a preposterous letter from a duchess to Ramsay
MacDonald complaining that she had been insulted by a customs
inspector at Pontarlier (this, Charles remembered, had been handed
round the Office for laughs).  And there were also more personal
oddments--ancient menu cards and concert programmes with names and
addresses scribbled on them of people he had met and had wished to
remember at least for a time; worthless paper money of countries
that had devalued their currencies; cuttings from newspapers and
magazines; reports of company meetings; a dossier of correspondence
with the P.L.M. about a lost trunk; old lists of dinner guests in
Jane's handwriting with places at table arranged according to
protocol (what a job that had sometimes been!).  And then--suddenly--
a foolscap envelope full of snapshots and letters from Lily. . . .
Lily standing by the Serpentine bridge, eating a bun from a paper
bag; Lily leaning out of a train window waving her hand; Lily
against the background of the turnstile entrance to the Zoo; Lily
in a mackintosh and sou'wester, facing the wind and rain on the
slopes of Box Hill; Lily feeding the squirrels in Regent's Park;
Lily in the doorway of a cottage that had a home-painted
inscription 'Teas' with the 's' turned the wrong way. . . .  So
many places, so many scenes, and in nearly all of them Lily was
smiling--not with the fixed grin of a pose, but as if she had
always had something to smile about--which perhaps she had.  The
letters, too, were light-hearted, though usually not much more than
fixings or confirmations of appointments.  She had hardly been a
good letter writer, though nothing she ever wrote was stiff or self-
conscious.  She simply could not be bothered to write when she was
to meet someone soon; which was why, doubtless, the longest of all
her letters to Charles was the last--the one when she was not to
meet him soon, or indeed again.

When Charles unfolded this letter after an interval of a good many
years, the memory it gave him was predominantly of the Rhineland
village where he had first read it--a cold twilight with snow in
the air and Brunon handing him a batch of mail picked up at the
post office.  He remembered his own distress with something of the
sad contentment that time always brings; so that he even paused to
light a cigarette, as if to savour the re-reading.


Dearest Charlie,

I don't know how to write this, but I must, and I hope you won't be
hurt.  Perhaps you won't be after all this time, it seems years and
years to me.  Reg and I are engaged.  Oh Charlie, please don't be
upset.  It's for the best, like your dad and my dad both told me,
and especially now you've done so well in all the examinations and
are going to have such a wonderful future.  I was so happy when I
heard about that, really I was.  You know it was the one thing that
had been worrying me all along, that you'd spent too much time with
me when you ought to have been studying.  But now that's all right.
I'll bet you were pleased when you heard the news.  My dad told me
about it and I wanted to write then to congratulate you, but he
said no, he'd given his word.  But he said I could write this.  Oh
Charlie, I can't say much more.  I'll always remember you and hope
you'll go on having great success, I'm sure you will.  I can't say
all I would like to in a letter, perhaps it wouldn't reach you if I
did, so better not, eh?  I know you never liked Reg, but he really
is all right when you get to know him.  Charlie, I did love that
visit to Cambridge.  Dear Charlie, this is all I can say.

                                  Yours affectionately

                                                       Lily


Charles put the letter back in the envelope, and of all the
emotions revived and reviving in his heart the only one he could
express in the words of thought was a rueful:  Poor old Reg, so you
didn't get her after all, did you?

                  *     *     *     *     *

A week or so later Charles gave up the Chelsea flat for good and,
since he could not stay at his club indefinitely, found a house in
Westminster, near the river and within walking distance of the
Foreign Office.  It was a larger establishment than he needed for
himself alone, and after much speculation as to how such a plan
would work, he invited his father and Cobb to share it with him.
One of his reasons was that Cobb, though too old for much personal
activity, would excellently supervise and supplement any other
domestic staff that Charles might be lucky enough to get; he hoped
at least for a woman to cook and clean.  But the chief reason was
Havelock who at last, in his eighties, was beginning to experience
that slight diminution of the life-force which often visits men as
early as their forties.  Also, according to the doctor, he had had
an almost imperceptible stroke; it made him cut down his daily
walking from five or six miles to two or three.  Even more
importantly, it clouded his mind to a merely dull inertia at times
when formerly he would have been zestfully foolish; it stilled the
riot in his veins to a mere fracas.  All of this Charles
considered, without cynicism, to be a great improvement.  Certainly
a household arrangement that had many other advantages was thus
made possible.

There was an added consideration in the likelihood that Charles
himself would be away a good deal in the foreseeable future.  He
had been told, informally, that a delegation to America was on the
cards and that he would be a member of it.

Charles went to America in the autumn of the year.  Most of his
time was spent in Washington, but he had the chance of a weekend at
Parson's Corner, Connecticut, where Gerald was living with the
Fuesslis.  The leaves were turning and the country round Parson's
Corner was very beautiful.  Aunt Birdie had already returned to
England and before doing so had told the boy about his mother; as
everyone had hoped, he had taken it well.  Almost too well, indeed,
for Charles's equanimity; it made him realize that Jane, like
himself, had had little chance to enjoy parenthood during the
rootless years imposed by his career, and that losing her for ever
had been easier for Gerald than separation from Aunt Birdie when
the latter left Parson's Corner--for then, Mrs. Fuessli said, had
occurred the real privation.  But even that had only been
temporary; Gerald had soon recovered.  Throughout the weekend with
the Fuesslis his son's innocent happiness made Charles both sad and
glad.  It also made him act, perversely, the role of the
Galsworthian English gentleman that the Fuesslis expected him to be
even while they laughed at him for it--as if this laughter was the
only return he could give for their kindness and generosity.  They
would never guess it, he knew, but the social freedom of America
was something he passionately envied--or rather, it was something
he wished he could have been involved in from his own early youth;
as it was, there were all the conditioned reflexes of his
upbringing hard at work to point out the flaws--one of which was
the mood in which the local paper reported his arrival under the
headline 'British Blueblood Visits Parson's Corner'.  It took him
ten minutes to explain to Mrs. Fuessli that he had no blue blood,
that his family was rather boastful of not having any, that blue
blood was all nonsense anyhow, and that his father's title was the
equivalent of Woolworth rather than Tiffany.  But it took him the
same ten minutes to realize that she would always continue to think
of him as an English aristocrat, that she thought of all
aristocrats as idlers and fortune-hunters even though they might
appear to be rich themselves or to have jobs, and that her warm
affection for Gerald was invincibly joined with a relish in sending
Fauntleroy to the local nursery school where he mixed with all the
other children of the town and was (everyone fortunately could
agree on this) having a rare good time.

So Charles left Parson's Corner in deep gratitude and slight
dismay, thinking alternately that Gerald's life in America would
not matter much when the war was over and he could return to
England, and the next moment hoping that it WOULD matter, very much
indeed, and that the boy would get something out of it of lasting
value.  Of course there was nothing for him, Charles, to do but
wait.  That joke he had had with the Fuesslis about taking Gerald
to dinner on his seventeenth birthday was really a symbol of a
father as well as a son growing up.

                  *     *     *     *     *

Charles reached London a few days before Pearl Harbour.  It was
another turning point of the war, and the second that year.  He
kept thinking of Parson's Corner and how the news must have reached
the Fuesslis--how they would doubtless be trying to explain to
Gerald what had happened.  He wrote them a long letter immediately,
a letter so warmly personal and intimate he hoped it would finally
convince them that, blueblood or not, he was a human being.  He
didn't know (until years later, when he didn't mind) that they had
proudly sent it to the local paper in which, printed verbatim and
with editorial endorsement, it had convinced the whole neighbourhood
that he was a great English statesman and patriot.

Now that Hitler's chief embroilment was with Russia, air-raids on
London had almost ceased, though no one could forecast the duration
of the respite and it was clearly impossible to relax any
precautions.  There was, however, an immediate burgeoning of social
life--a pale but defiant shadow of what it had been before the war,
yet in many ways pleasanter than those last sepulchral dinner
parties of 1939, the tables then loaded with food and the
conversation heavy with foreboding.  Now, at the close of 1941, the
tables were lighter but the talk was at least that of people who
had proved something, if only the nature of themselves.  Even the
disasters of 1942 did not bring back the mood of that dismal year
after Munich.

Charles still took his turn at fire-watching but the absence of
raids gave him more time off, and he was frequently invited out.
Jane had made him a good talker, often by knowing when and how to
talk to him; but now, he must presume, it was for his own sake and
for his own unaided efforts he was sought after--which surprised
him at first.  Perhaps, he reasoned, it was because his work placed
him near the centre of events, and people hoped he would spill
secrets (it amused him to pretend to be doing this while actually
avoiding it with great care).  Or else it was because he was alone
and easy to fit in.  The real reason was one so simple that he
hardly considered it--people liked him.  His manners were rather
pre-war, they admitted, and the things he said were sometimes a bit
too clever in an older-fashioned way, but he was a decent fellow,
always ready to do you a favour, and really, some of the things he
said were sound enough, if only they had been put less elegantly.
He was also, people thought, quite tolerably happy after a tragedy
that might well have broken him; but in this they were wrong.
Charles was not tolerably happy; he was tolerably unhappy.  That is
to say, he was unhappy, but he had found or made it tolerable.

When his name was in the New Year Honours List there was much
professional raillery.  'Oh God, look who's down for a C.B.E. . . .
STUFFY ANDERSON!'  But then, as an afterthought:  'Well, it was
about time he got something.'

                  *     *     *     *     *

Havelock had another stroke in the summer of 1944; this one was
more disabling, affecting his left side and preventing him from
taking more than a stumbling walk around the neighbouring streets.
Gradually his world contracted to the room in which he spent most
of his time, and from which he could see Big Ben and the twin
towers of the Abbey.  His mind had achieved a level of tranquillity
that had not much impaired the quality of the brain, and it was odd
to speculate on the difference in his fortunes if this mental
change could have been inflicted in early life, and without the
physical.  Charles formed the habit of visiting his father for an
hour or so before going to bed, no matter how late he returned from
work or a social engagement; the old man enjoyed it, being fairly
sleepless and fairly sleepy at all hours of the day and night.  He
liked to hear Charles's comments on the events of the evening, and
Charles would repeat any special titbits of conversation he could
remember.  Charles found that he often enjoyed these post-mortems
himself--so one-sided compared with those that he and Jane had
shared, yet an agreeable way to sort out one's own impressions
aloud and over a final drink.

The buzz-bombs and V2s arrived, several within noisy distance of
the house, but Havelock, though they failed to excite him in the
old way, did not dislike them nearly as much as Charles did, and
was able to rationalize the situation in terms that Charles had to
admit were very rational indeed.  'At eighty-four you haven't got a
life to lose.  You have only a fraction of a life--and nobody would
bet on it being more than a very small and vulgar fraction.  So why
should I worry?'

'Or I,' said Charles, 'if I could look at it your way.  My own
fraction's climbing down.  Couldn't possibly be much more than a
half--and not the better half.'

'Why not?'

Charles laughed and parried the question, but when he was alone it
was one he put to himself.  WHY NOT?  He thought of his life up to
date; it wasn't hard to imagine a future that might be luckier.  On
the other hand, with buzz-bombs putt-putting overhead, it sometimes
wasn't easy to imagine a future at all.  Perhaps only old people
and youths were always ready to indulge such a luxury.

Havelock grew weaker gradually, and with the weakness came
passionlessness, so that he could talk over old days and old issues
without rancour.  He told Charles once, quite calmly, that he had
always been doubtful whether he were really his father at all,
because the dates of his wife's return to him after their
separation and of Charles's birth permitted the suspicion.  Charles
was not as shocked, or even as concerned, as he might have expected
to be, but he was interested--and mainly because the idea seemed to
offer a possible clue to many hitherto puzzling facets of
Havelock's behaviour.  He found also that the idea brought him
closer to his father in sympathy, as if the spiritual tie of a
revealed neurosis could be stronger than that of the body.  He was
almost disappointed when, on mentioning the matter to Cobb, the
latter discounted it.  The dates, Cobb said, made it nearly (though
not quite) impossible, and besides that, there had been no whisper
at the time, as would certainly have happened if any other man had
been involved in the separation.

'Then why DID she leave him?' Charles asked.

'She couldn't stand him,' Cobb answered.

They were both unwilling to discuss the matter further, except that
Cobb brought up the matter of the family likeness.  'It's not just
looks, sir--as it was with Mr. Lindsay--it's something hard to
explain, but it's there, and I notice it more as you grow older.
Of course you're nothing like your father in tastes and
disposition, and yet . . . well, I wouldn't have any doubts if I
were you, sir.'  Cobb added, perhaps as an implied compliment (or
else the reverse, Charles could not be certain):  'He was very
handsome at your age.'

'He still is.'

'Yes--and there's a look about him now--sometimes when he's dozing
in a chair with the sun on his face--he looks--well, sir, he looks
just like a SAINT.'

Cobb smiled at the notion, and Charles also smiled.  SIR Havelock,
yes--but SAINT Havelock was a bit too much.

When he next saw his father Charles gave him what he hoped was the
good news, expecting him to take more comfort from it than Charles
could himself, for he knew by now that if he had been supplied with
irrefutable proof that Havelock was not his father, his chief
feeling would have been curiosity about who had been.  He often
wondered why his relationship with the old man had entered a phase
of such warm indifference, such affectionately cynical toleration.
He supposed it was largely because it was too late for anything
else, yet still in time to realize that if you forgive people
enough you belong to them, and they to you, whether either person
likes it or not . . . the squatter's rights of the heart.

                  *     *     *     *     *

There came the days of the German collapse, when a future--
personal, national, and world-wide--seemed to emerge from the
clouds of doubt that had hung heavily for a decade.  Presently
Japan surrendered also; the war was totally over.  It was the
second such occasion in Charles's life, as in that of millions of
others, and completely different from the first.  There were no
wild scenes, no bonfires to scorch the lions in Trafalgar Square,
no celebrations that became riots.  To Charles the big personal
event was Gerald's return--a boy of nine with a decided American
accent and a tendency to find fault with the way things were done
in England.  Charles knew no easy cure for this, but could not
regard it as too deplorable, remembering as he did that England
(and for that matter America too) had been made great by people who
had found fault with the way things were done in England.  But he
felt there was some need to lessen a child's disappointment with a
country whose cars and trains and ice-cream sodas were so small, so
he took Gerald for a seaside holiday and hoped it made him feel
happier.  He could not be sure; the boy was not one for showing his
emotions.  Charles also talked to the headmaster of the prep school
where Gerald would begin his first term in September.  The head
told him there would be several other new boys who had spent recent
years across the Atlantic.  'They'll probably be ragged a bit at
first.'  (But later he wrote to Charles that it hadn't happened
like that at all.  'So far from being at any disadvantage, the boys
who have lived in the Great Democracy seem to have made themselves
a sort of aristocracy that the other boys look up to.  Remarkable.'
Charles agreed that it was, but he was also much relieved.)

One other thing he had been slightly concerned about was how Gerald
would get along with Havelock.  Of course there would only be the
school holidays to present any problem, and even these would not be
spent entirely at the house; nevertheless there was just the doubt
in his mind that always existed in any human affairs connected even
remotely with his father.  But again to Charles's relief,
everything happened as he could have wished--indeed, more so, for
Havelock captivated the boy to a degree that almost presented a
problem of its own.  Charles could take sardonic comfort from
thinking how like Havelock it was to show that as a grandfather he
could succeed where Charles as a father seemed to have failed.  But
at any rate, Charles had to admit it eased the transition from
American to English life by giving Gerald a personal excitement.

Though still clear in mind, Havelock was weakening physically, and
there came a time when he could put words on paper with less
trouble than he could speak.  This meant that one of his favourite
pastimes was still available, and Charles often found him busy with
the anthologies, composing new parodies of chosen poems.  Some of
his efforts were obscene or scatological in an earlier manner, but
an increasing number were respectable, and a few were rather
charming.  On a September evening soon after Gerald had gone to
school Charles came home late from a meeting and found Havelock
bent sleepily over some pencilled pages.  One, to his surprise, was
in Gerald's handwriting--it was a poem the boy had learned at
school in America--Joyce Kilmer's 'Trees'.  Apparently he had told
his grandfather about this and had obligingly copied it out for
him, and now Havelock had been at work on it.  Charles would not
have disturbed him for conversation but the old man opened his eyes
and pointed to his effort.  'Just imagine,' he muttered, slurring
over the words with difficulty, 'they made him learn it by heart
over there.  It's not a bad poem, but it's not as good as all
that. . . .  Now read what I've made of it.'

Charles read:


     I think however well you know 'em
     Trees aren't as lovely as a poem;
     No majesty of palm or pine
     Can rival Shakespeare's mighty line,
     Or grandeur of the sylvan glade
     Equal the spell that Wordsworth laid;
     Nor even in the Yosemite
     Where tops of trees are out of sight
     Can you find fairer things or finer
     Than in the verse of Heinrich Heine:
     Trees have been here since earth began,
     But poems only came with man.


'Very pretty,' Charles commented, and might have left it at that
had he thought twice.  But it had been so long his habit to deflate
Havelock gently whenever the occasion offered that even now he
could not forbear to add:  'I'm afraid trees haven't been here
since earth began, but they came earlier than mankind, so perhaps
your point holds.  Another flaw is that the last word of your
seventh line isn't pronounced "Yosemite" to rhyme with "sight", but
"Yosemmity", with the accent on the "sem".'

Havelock looked considerably put out.  'Oh?  How do YOU know?'

'I've been there.'  (He and Jane, en route to South America, had
once travelled from New York to San Francisco and visited Yosemite
on the way.)

'You have, eh?  You've really been all over the place, haven't
you?'  Havelock went on, with a touch of irritation:  'So it's
Yosemmity?  Well, we'll just have to change lines seven and eight,
that's all.  But not now--I'm too tired. . . .  You might give it a
thought yourself, Charles, if you have time--you're a clever
fellow. . . .  I want to send it to Gerald with my Sunday letter.'

Havelock was already half-dozing and Cobb waiting to put him to
bed.  Charles said goodnight and went to bed himself.  An hour
later, while he was reading a detective story, an alternative
couplet occurred to him:


     Nor even in remote Yosemite
     Where trees uprise to an extremity . . .


He didn't think much of this, but as there seemed no possible rhyme
except 'extremity' it might well be as good as could be got.  On
the kind of impulse to please his father which came most often when
they were not together, he tiptoed into the adjacent room, found
him already asleep, and also the pencilled poem on the table beside
his bed.  Charles inserted the change, then went back to his own
bed.  But now he was wide awake himself, and vagrantly, with the
theme of trees still on his mind, he thought of the trees so far
from Yosemite and so much smaller, the little trees in Linstead,
all planted by hand, the trees in Ladysmith Road that Mr. Mansfield
had chosen, loved, and watched as they grew, and Mr. Mansfield
himself, who would doubtless, given a choice of poems as well as
trees, have preferred Joyce Kilmer's idea to Havelock's . . .  Oh,
the laburnum trees . . .  He could not sleep for thinking of them,
and of faces under their yellow blooms, and of the days and nights
of his youth. . . .

In the morning Havelock was weaker and stayed in bed, but he had
already seen the new lines and approved them, 'That's fine,
Charles, that really does the trick.  Now I can send it off to
Gerald. . . .  Thank you, Charles.  Thank you very much.'  His eyes
began to moisten, but this happened frequently now, with or without
an emotion.  'Thank you, Charles,' he said again.  'You're not only
a clever fellow, you're a GOOD fellow.'

It was not quite the last conversation they had, but it was the
last of the parodies, and Havelock's letter to Gerald enclosing it
was the last of his letters to anybody.  He did not get up again,
and after falling asleep as usual one November night he was found
by Cobb in the morning, half smiling in death, with no signs of
distress or of a final struggle.  'One of the things you rarely
see,' the doctor commented.

Charles visited Gerald at school to tell him what had happened, and
the boy burst into tears with more display of feeling than Charles
had yet observed in him--and much more (from what Aunt Birdie had
said) than when he had learned about his mother.  Perhaps it was
because he was now older and the loss was more recent.  Or perhaps,
Charles had to admit, Gerald had been Havelock's last conquest--the
last and by all odds the most innocent.  Proudly the boy showed his
father the poem and the letter--a really delightful letter, warm
and lively and humorous.  It also contained a postscript to which
Gerald naturally paid attention--a promise to give the boy 'the
gold watch that the Shah of Persia gave me'.

Neither Charles nor Cobb had ever heard of such a thing, but when
Havelock's safe deposit box was opened, there it was, gaudy but
undoubtedly gold--'presented to Havelock Anderson--September 10th,
1910'.  Charles was still curious, and after some research
discovered that Havelock had successfully represented the Shah in a
claim against a London insurance company for jewels stolen from a
Biarritz hotel.

Besides the watch the deposit box yielded other discoveries,
including the most varied collection of worthless stock and share
certificates Charles had ever seen.  He had long known that his
father dabbled in the market, but he had always assumed the
existence of a solid preponderance of sound investments.  Now it
became apparent that Havelock had lacked financial judgment as he
had lacked many other kinds; but what dreams he must have had,
Charles reflected, riffling through the scrip of long-defunct
enterprises concerned with everything from no-sag spring mattresses
to unbreakable gramophone records!  Even the cash obtained from the
sale of Beeching had been thrown away in Japanese bonds on the
gamble that Japan would stay out of the war.  (And yet, Charles
remembered, it was Havelock who had had the premonition that
Beeching would one day burn to the ground, and earlier still, just
after the First World War, it was Havelock who had scouted
Charles's easy assumption of a lifetime of peace. . . .  Perhaps
Blainey's verdict applied as well, or at least as charitably, as
any: all his life Havelock had been a rum fellow.)

After paying debts and taxes the estate was worth a few hundred
pounds, no more.  To Charles, who had enough of his own, this came
as no personal blow or even disappointment, but it saddened him as
a final symbol of his father's worldly failure.  Of the spiritual
failure that mattered so much more, he hated to think at all,
because at times he wondered if this were an inheritance that had
passed to him in part already.  He was in a lost and lonely mood as
he settled up Havelock's affairs.  He had never been certain that
his feeling for his father amounted to love, but he missed him far
more than he would ever have thought possible.

Household changes followed inevitably.  Cobb, now over seventy, had
a handsome bequest in Havelock's will if only there had been money
to pay it.  Charles arranged for him to retire on a comfortable
pension, since a widowed sister in Scotland was ready to share a
home with him.  Charles then gave up the Westminster house and was
looking for something smaller when he was suddenly offered another
diplomatic post.  It was still only a First Secretaryship and in
one of the less important European capitals, but he knew how few
such jobs were available, with a whole crop of new men coming up on
the heels of the older ones.  Seniority was no longer the
overriding factor, and bright youngsters were sometimes drawn now
from other fields and pushed high on the ladder without ever having
had to climb it.  Charles did not think this bad, but he did feel
(modestly) that it made the profession of diplomacy less attractive
for a man like himself, and if he had been young again perhaps he
would have tried something else.  But he was not young, and here
was a perfectly good First Secretaryship to say yes or no to.  He
said yes, even though it meant an immediate departure from London
and missing Christmas with Gerald in Cheshire, where Aunt Birdie
had invited them.

                  *     *     *     *     *

The years passed.  Charles did pretty well, he thought, and heard
privately that some of the sly ironies he inserted into his briefs
and memoranda were passed round the highest circles for amusement
if not edification.  But he had better be careful.  Wit was apt to
be dangerous in English life; nine times out of ten the Gladstones
prevailed against the Disraelis--and he was only a duodecimo
Disraeli.

During this period the faade grew over the structure of his life
in a thin crust of mannerism.  He was aware of it, ruefully but
with resignation, while memory reminded him of the danger.  That
memory was of the elderly professor who had taken him out for a
breath of fresh air when he had collapsed over the desk on that hot
day of his Cambridge Tripos examinations.  Why, he had speculated
then, did university dons grow up like that--finicky, desiccated,
tee-heeish?  Now he knew, or could guess; and the understanding was
a warning.  He found a corrective in thinking (as he could now
without too much distress) of Jane, imagining her comments on this
and that, hearing her voice exclaim, if he went too far in the
dangerous direction:  'Oh, now, Andy, come off it!'  Or she had
said, as they went to a dinner party:  'If the Langlons are there,
don't tell that story about the Dragoman and the Archbishop--you
told it at the Nungessers' last year and the Langlons were there
then.'  (And it was a very amusing but long story which he told
very well indeed.)  Such things, among so many others, had made her
a treasure; and he felt this absence every time he put on or took
off his dress shirt.  For those had been the moments, not the most
important or profound in their lives, but the ones at which Jane
had been most of all Jane--before or after a party.

He did not get transferred to a more important post, and this made
the prospect of an eventual Legation so dim that he quenched his
hopes about it.  It was not so much that he was past the age,
meaning his own age, as that the age, meaning the post-war age, had
in some sense passed him.  It was hard but interesting to reckon
why this was so, and he had a number of theories.  Perhaps it was
because in some frozen corner of the hierarchic mind there still
lingered a breath of prejudice against him on account of that old
misbehaviour of Havelock's.  Perhaps it was because he did not know
the correct people who were new, or the new people who were
correct.  Perhaps it was because at some dinner party there had
been no Jane to stop him from being just too amusing about
something or somebody.  Perhaps it was because he dined out too
often and knew too many people altogether.  Perhaps it was because
of the nickname, or the handwriting--which for some reason had
tended to become even smaller with the years.  Perhaps it was
because he had been to Brookfield instead of Eton, or (in this new
era of topsyturviness) because he had been to Brookfield at all
instead of starting out with proletarian virtue from a state
elementary school.  Or perhaps it was simply because the world was
changing.  He had begun his career in an age when it was still an
asset to a diplomat to be suave and witty and impeccably dressed;
and he had lived into an age when the striped trousers and morning
coat had become a symbol to many of all that was blameworthy for
human ills, and when, perhaps because of this, generals and
politicians and journalists were apt to take over from professional
diplomats at every crisis.  But the IGNORANCE of some of the
supplanters--politicians especially!  How often Charles had had to
explain to elected representatives in the privacy of the Foreign
Office facts of history and geography that were more appropriate to
the lower fourth!  And he had once had contact with an M.P. of much
volubility on foreign affairs who mixed up Colombia with the
District of Columbia and British Columbia; and of this man, when he
became also a director of a large industrial combine, a lady
admirer exclaimed:  'Don't you think, Mr. Anderson, he's a splendid
example of how far a man can get nowadays without any of the
advantages of upbringing or education?'  To which Charles was
unable to resist the reply:  'Yes, indeed--except that you should
perhaps have said "DISadvantages".'  It was possibly incidents like
this that did not help Charles to become an Ambassador.

He sometimes recalled what his old friend Weigall had said at
Cambridge:  'You and I, Andy, are stuck in between--we weren't born
at Chatsworth or Blenheim, nor did we starve in tenements or pick
crusts out of gutters--we just come from country homes with bits of
land and families that go back a couple of centuries or so. . . .'
But when he reached as far as that in diagnosing his own case, a
sense of proportion as well as of humour came to the rescue.  For
what if he had found, at the time when the matter cropped up, that
Havelock had NOT been his father?  Would he have cared much?  He
knew he wouldn't.  Then where was his pride of ancestry, apart from
his pride in what he could claim as ancestry?  As for the bit of
land, it was now a disused airfield, and as for the country home,
it had been bombed and burned, and a score of young Englishmen (so
he had been told) had met death in those old rooms with cards and
glasses and billiard cues in their hands.  To believe that blood
mattered, in any sense that did not include theirs, was surely to
be bloodguilty.

During one of his leaves in London his boss at the Foreign Office
invited him to a small bachelor dinner at which the other guests
were a Minister of the Crown, a famous historian, a millionaire
motor manufacturer, and a soldier who had held a position in the
Middle East that enabled him to refer to Pontius Pilate as 'one of
my predecessors'.  Conversation was at times brilliantine if not
brilliant; it was also more pessimistic about the future than
Charles found pleasant to hear--his own favourite pessimisms being
of a much gayer kind.  The Minister of the Crown complained of a
lack of potential leaders among the younger men in government, the
motor manufacturer said Coventry could not seriously compete in
world markets with Detroit, the soldier said the Russians would
reach the Atlantic in three weeks if they set their army moving,
and the historian offered comfort in the reminder that both Greece
and Rome were much more powerful in the inheritance they left to
succeeding ages than ever in their own actual heyday.  Charles said
next to nothing.  Over the port the Minister further remarked that
one of the most popular of all errors was to confuse prophecy with
advocacy, so that a wise man often refrained from saying publicly
what he thought would happen lest he be widely supposed to wish it
to happen.  The historian agreed and said it would be interesting
to collect a few prophecies from persons who could feel, as they
made them, completely unhampered by such a consideration--if, for
instance, a man could set down honestly on a single sheet of paper
what he forecast for the next century, the paper to be signed, put
away, and guaranteed hidden till the year 2050.  The Minister
replied that by a curious coincidence he would be laying the
foundation stone of an atomic research plant the following week,
and it had already been arranged to seal under the stone such
miscellaneous articles as current copies of The Times, ration
books, coins, theatre programmes, and bus tickets.  If those
present that evening cared to write a few lines as the historian
had suggested (devoting not more than, say, ten minutes to the
task), he personally would undertake to place them along with the
other items. . . .  The idea was taken up with an alacrity that
soon became an absorption; rarely could an after-dinner argument
have been so effectively launched and stifled.  The butler brought
paper, pens, and ink, the time was noted, and the six men began to
write.  As the least distinguished of the group, Charles knew his
inclusion was only by courtesy, but this seemed to free him for a
special kind of inspiration.  He began as follows:


My name is Charles Anderson.  I belong to a somewhat out-of-date
profession called diplomacy.  This is a relic of the days when even
wars were polite, so I'm naturally polite myself and also a bit of
a relic.  I'm supposed to have certain 'immunities' under
international law, which means that in a foreign country I can
drive a car to the common danger without being prosecuted.  If,
however, that country gets into a war, then I must share the common
danger, since a neutral flag painted on a roof can't be seen at
night from four miles high.  And if my own country gets into a war
and loses, I might be hanged as a criminal if I were important
enough--so thank goodness I'm not.  The whole thing would have been
so unforeseeable a century ago that I doubt whether my own guesses
about the coming century can be much better.  Anyhow, one of them
(fathered by the wish, of course) is that England will survive--and
not only as an inheritance like Greece and Rome.  We're such a
damned peculiar people, such a mixed bag of stout fellahs and
decent idiots, with a smattering of high-minded hypocrites and
brainy saints.  We don't quite fit the theories--Spengler's or
Toynbee's or Marx's or anybody's.  So we can't be counted on by the
theorists--or counted out either.  Perhaps God isn't bored with us
yet (Victor Hugo's phrase, not mine).  Perhaps we shall solve the
trick of all tricks for this millennium--how to step down without
falling over backwards, and then how to build the new must-be on
the foundations of the old has-been.  I won't see it happen, but my
son may.

Another guess is that what I'm writing now won't stay under a stone
till 2050.  (Funny how the other fellows here seem to be taking
that for granted.)  But there's another kind of stone my father
once came across in the churchyard at Pumphrey Basset--an ancient
gravestone of a female dwarf with the inscription on it--'Parva sed
apta Domino'.  Somehow I wouldn't mind betting that will outlast an
atomic research plant, and perhaps in the long run mean more. . . .

                  *     *     *     *     *

In his minute script, and writing fast because he did not take the
occasion too seriously, Charles was having an easier time (he
surmised) than the other five, on whom posterity and the ticking
clock seemed to impose a gruelling test.  When the ten minutes were
up and he had almost filled both sides of the paper, he passed it
over without rereading and reached for the port while the others
were begging an extra minute to make corrections.

Musing thus on the future had set him thinking about Gerald, whom
he would send in due course to Brookfield and Cambridge if only
because he could not, in England at the middle of the twentieth
century, think of anything better to do with the boy.  I just as he
preferred a dinner to be 'black tie', not because he was a snob,
but because it avoided the problem of what else.

                  *     *     *     *     *

It was about this time that he took up painting again with full
knowledge not only that his work would never be of consequence, but
that even his talent was less than it had been thirty years before.
His pleasure, though, was nearly as great, and perhaps enhanced by
the small amateur reputation he acquired among people who really
did not know much about art at all.  Once, on a wet Sunday in a
Mediterranean city, he painted--from memory and in his bedroom at
the Legation--a curiously attractive portrait of his father, as he
remembered him during the old man's last years.  Havelock was
sitting by the window of the Westminster house, staring out over
wet pavements and the tops of umbrellas, with Big Ben and the Abbey
towers in the misty twilight.  'I made it rain for him,' Charles
later explained to friends who had known Havelock and admired the
portrait, 'just as I'd put a Sicilian peasant in the sun.  His life
was like a day that starts well, but then the clouds come up and it
begins to pour and all the things you'd rather do have to be
cancelled, but by the time evening comes you'll have found
something else to do and you won't even look to see if the sky has
stars in it.  But it may have.'

                  *     *     *     *     *

Later that year (1950) Charles again half expected promotion.
He was beguiled by a rumour that proved false, and in the
dispassionate mood that followed he began to think of retirement.
But then he was offered the chance of another switch to the Foreign
Office, which suited him because he liked to live in London; so he
put off the retirement and found the prospect of it an increasing
comfort and even a mental stimulus.  He felt mildly ambitious to do
something, within the nearer reach, that would bring back the
feeling of innocent schoolboy credit; on this, perhaps, he could
make his bow at the Prizegiving of life and receive a smattering of
applause from those who did not expect to see him again.

And yet the very mildness of the ambition made it hard to
accomplish.  The feeling of near-success, which is also near-
failure, followed him to Paris, where, as member of the British
delegation to a somewhat second-string international conference, he
could believe that his career had reached a peak--perhaps not its
highest, perhaps not even high, but still a peak of sorts, and very
likely the last.

These things were in his mind during dinner at the Cheval Noir on
Gerald's seventeenth birthday; they were in his mind as he followed
the boy in a taxi across the city; they were in his mind as he sat
in Rocher's ice-cream dispensary, facing his son and the girl his
son had gone there to meet.  'He thinks it's wonderful,' she had
said, 'that you should be representing England at the Conference.'
How could he live up to or down to such an image in his son's eyes?
It was just another thing to please and plague him, and suddenly he
saw the gulf between father and son far wider than he had imagined,
part of some structural rift of humanity.

It might have bothered him further had he not just then received a
second shock of a far more peremptory kind.  For outside, only a
few inches beyond the plate-glass windows, and peering in upon
their little group with riveted attention, was the face of a man
whom Charles least of all wanted to think about, much less
encounter in the flesh.  And the apparition, having seen that he
was seen, began immediately to wave the kind of greeting Charles
could not possibly ignore.

So Charles waved back and was only able to explain that the
intruder was one of the Conference delegates by the time that
Palan, plump and clumsy, yet curiously notable as always, came
threading his way amongst the tables towards them.  'This WOULD
happen,' Charles muttered to himself.



PARIS   IV


It was not only that Charles did not want to see Palan; he would
have been embarrassed to be discovered at a place like Rocher's by
anybody.  At the Cheval Noir a surprise of such a kind would have
been barely tolerable, little as he wished to spread the news of
that restaurant to outsiders; and at any ordinary Parisian pavement
caf, however proletarian, he could have summoned enough aplomb to
meet even Sir Malcolm Bingay's eye.  But to be spotted in an ice-
cream parlour sucking a pink concoction through a straw . . . it
simply did not add up to anything he could take in stride; it was
like those dreams he sometimes had in which he realized, at the
moment of being presented to a chef de cabinet at a garden party,
that he was completely nude from the waist down.

Nor did he expect that Palan would miss the ludicrousness of the
situation.  Doubtless it would stand him in good stead at the
Conference in the morning--would acidify his attitude, revitalize
his sarcasms.  He had already found so much in Charles to poke fun
at; from now on there would be more.  Charles braced himself for an
effort of courtesy as the fellow waited; clearly there was no
alternative but to introduce him.  He did so.  Palan then bowed and
stooped to kiss Miss Raynor's hand in a way that would please her
all the more (Charles reflected) if she were unaware that in
correct European circles one did not kiss the hands of unmarried
women.  And it was like Palan, who must certainly know that
himself, to take the impertinent liberty or else to have sized her
up as a susceptible American who would feel such gallantry to be
one of the perquisites of foreign travel.  Meanwhile Palan's eyes
were roving over the scene with a certain ironic detachment.  'It
looks very good, what you all have got in the glasses.  What do
they call it?'  To Charles's regret Miss Raynor smiled and told
him.  'Just a Raspberry frapp.'

'So?' answered Palan, regarding it judicially.  'But I think not
for me.'  His loud and bad French was already drawing attention
from nearby tables.  'I shall have Banane Split.'  He sat down and
shouted the order to the nearest waitress.  Then he pulled out a
handkerchief and began mopping his forehead.  'I must explain that
this is just bonne chance.  I am walking along and I see M'sieur
Anderson through the window.  He looks so happy, eating his ice
cream.  It is a sign of the times, is it not, that the French are
acquiring so many of your American habits . . .  It used to be
English--the rosbif--the afternoon tea . . . but now it is all
American--ice cream, soda fountain, jukebox.  But you, M'sieur
Anderson--somehow I did not think of you as an addict--yet why not,
after all?  It is doubtless a treat for you too.'  He turned again
to Miss Raynor.  'I am a great admirer of things American!'

The girl looked as if much of this had escaped her, but she caught
its complimentary flavour and responded with a second smile that
gave Charles a twinge of jealousy.  It was not that he thought
himself less physically attractive than Palan--on the contrary; but
he could not help feeling that Palan's style of success with women
should somehow be picketed as unfair to gentlemen.

'It's Gerald's seventeenth birthday,' he said in French, relieved
to have found an opening for a personal alibi.  'We were just
celebrating.'

'But of course.'  Palan now turned his attention to Gerald.
'Seventeen!  Ah, a wonderful age!  And how long are you to be in
Paris, Gerald?'

(He called him Gerald already--and as easily as that!  To Charles
this was something else to be jealous of, yet confusingly to be
appreciated as well.)  Charles answered:  'He's leaving for England
tonight.'  He added:  'And Miss Raynor has to leave for America--
also tonight.'  He felt as if he were quietly closing doors in
Palan's face.

Palan then transferred his attention to Charles.  'Leaving us two
old fogies here in Paris,' he commented; and Charles did not like
the phrase, for he was sure Palan was nearer sixty than fifty.

'But SEVENTEEN!' Palan was continuing.  'Can you guess where _I_
was at seventeen? . . .  In a military hospital--already I was
wounded in battle.  That was the Balkan War.'  (Charles did the
mental arithmetic--1911--it would make him fifty-eight.)  'I was
what they called a hothead in those days--at sixteen I ran away
from home to enlist--I lied about my age.  I have told many lies
since, but never one as crazy as that.'  He suddenly rolled up his
sleeve.  'You see?  I have it still.'  Along the whole length of a
hairy forearm there ran a scar like a highway between forests.
'You think I was a great patriot, eh?  But no, I ran away because I
thought I would prefer war to being at home.  But I found war was
even worse.  My father used to beat us when we were young.  He was
very rich and loved to beat people.  One day at last I beat him--
and that was why I had to run away. . . .  They killed him after
the Revolution.  So you have trains to catch tonight, both of you?
If my father had caught his train he would not have been killed.
But he was late at the station and the train had gone.  There were
no more trains.  That time comes in all our lives some day--when
there are no more trains.  But I hated him.  And now--just to make
things equal--my son hates me.'

'You have a son?' Charles said, with so little reason to be
astonished that he wondered why he was even interested.

'I have five--and seven daughters--but the son who hates me is the
only one who has anything to do with me.  Life is like that.'

'Why does he hate you?'

'Because he is a hothead too--though not the kind I was.  He is a
cold hothead.  He is in charge of soil conservation in the province
of Alma Valchinia, but already he is talked of as a coming man.
And at twenty-four!  What a career!  Why, when I was that age I was
wrecking trains with dynamite--I was ACTIVIST!  You could not have
made me spend my life examining dirt!'

Charles wished that Palan would not shout; it was unseemly that
such a conversation should be overheard, though he supposed that
Palan cared as little for that as for his other eccentricities.
Charles was glad when the Banana Split arrived.  He noticed that
Palan attacked it with a zest that was either childlike or wolfish--
depending, Charles mused, on how far one had gone in finding
excuses for the fellow.

'You like it?' Miss Raynor said, watching Palan quite tranquilly.
She spoke in English, though she had no reason to suppose he
understood.  Then, however, he answered in English with a definite
American accent:  'Do YOU?  _I_ think they make them far better at
Schrafft's.'

Miss Raynor laughed incredulously.  'SCHRAFFT'S?  That's where I
often have lunch.  There's one next to my office.'

'You have an office, Anne?'  (And even 'Anne' already!)

'I work in one. . . .  So you know New York, Mr. Palan?'

'For three years I lived there.  Central Park West.  I know the
Stork Club and also the Automat.  I have stayed at Ellis Island and
also at the Waldorf-Astoria.  I have eaten hot dogs and caviare.'

'But not together?  Or perhaps that's no worse than cheese and
apple pie.'

Palan laughed loudly and patted the girl's hand.  But Charles was
reddening.  He could not enjoy the joke because he was thinking
that after all those Conference sittings during which he had
suffered Palan's bad French, it now turned out that the man could
just as well have spared him such an ordeal--or at least have
substituted the lesser one of his English!  But it was not the
memory of the French that bothered Charles most, but the
possibility that on several occasions Palan might have caught a few
words of English that Charles had whispered to Sir Malcolm--a few
witty but tart asides, prompted by some specially irritating
attitude of Palan's, but not wholly excusable, not really
sanctioned by the codebook of good manners.  The thought that Palan
might have heard and understood made Charles feel slightly ashamed,
and the conclusion that, even if so, Palan had clearly not minded a
bit, made Charles feel also annoyed.  Perhaps, after all, the
fellow was as thick-skinned as those who opposed him needed to be.

Palan was still continuing, in English:  'But I was telling you
about my son.  He is a model.  He does not smoke or drink or have
women.  You cannot bribe him--or plead with him--you cannot even
make him laugh.  When _I_ laugh he probably reports it to the
secret police.'

Charles moved uncomfortably.  This was definitely not the sort of
talk to be indulged in loudly by any diplomat of any nation in any
language in a public place.  He wondered if Palan were slightly
drunk, or perhaps exceedingly drunk in some unique way of his own.
This gave Charles a solicitude that was entirely professional--in
the freemasonry of diplomacy, if it still existed to any degree at
all, one could surely pass a hint of warning even to an adversary.
Charles said, therefore, to change the subject:  'I agree that
stuff isn't as good as it could be, though you certainly seem to be
getting through it.'

Palan refused or was unaware of the hint.  'My son is not like me,'
he continued.  'He speaks carefully, he works carefully, he does
everything carefully.  And correctly.  And quietly.  He would not
raise his voice in sending you to the firing squad.  But it is
worse when he lectures on soil-conservation.  Then you are so bored
you WISH to be sent to the firing squad.'

Charles turned abruptly to Miss Raynor.  'I'm sorry about dinner.
It's too bad you weren't with Gerald and me.'

'Thanks, Mr. Anderson, but I knew it was a special occasion--I
expect you had a good time on your own.'

'Oh . . . so he DID mention it?'

'Yes, he said you'd had this date for years--to take him to dinner
when he was seventeen.  I think that's charming.'

'It really began as a joke,' said Charles, and he told of the
incident with Mrs. Fuessli when Gerald was six.

'FUESSLI, did you say?'

Charles nodded and spelt it.

'It's such an unusual name I wonder if they're the same people I
know.  They live in Connecticut--'

'Yes--a small place.  Parson's Corner.'

'That's it--they MUST be the same--Mr. Fuessli has a hardware
business--'

'--and Mrs. Fuessli's very pretty.'

'I'll tell her you said so.'

'They're both well, I hope.  Charming people.  I haven't heard from
them lately.'

'They're fine and they'll be so thrilled to know I've met you here
like this.'

Palan suddenly banged his spoon on the table top like a child to
whom enough attention has not been paid.  'So you two both know the
same people in America!  Is that not wonderful?  You will tell
me now that it is a small world.  But it is not.  It is a big
world. . . .  But I can pretend it is small too.  LOOK . . . do you
see that man out there--standing against the lamp-post pretending
to read a newspaper?'  He pointed through the windows.  'That man
also is thrilled to know that I am meeting you here.'

This would never do; Charles was now convinced that Palan was
drunk.  He looked at his watch; thank goodness it was already past
eleven.  He said, calling for the bill:  'We really mustn't make
you cut it too fine, Gerald--I'll leave you to take care of Miss
Raynor. . . .  Palan, if you're going my way . . .'

To his relief Palan seemed ready enough to leave, though only after
ceremonious farewells.  Charles shook hands with Gerald and the
girl; while he was doing this Palan grabbed the bill and tipped the
waitress extravagantly and ostentatiously.  Charles frowned at this
climax of bad manners, but somehow, remembering his own on those
several occasions at the Conference, he found that with barely a
gesture of protest he could take Palan's arm and marshal him into
the street.

                  *     *     *     *     *

At the kerbside Palan said in French:  'That ice cream is bad for
the stomach.  Let us go to my hotel and get some cognac.'

'No, if you want a drink come to mine.  And since you speak English
why don't we stick to that language?'

'All right, but you come to MY hotel.  It cannot be your everything--
YOUR language--YOUR son's birthday . . . how much more do you
want?  You come to MY hotel.'

Whatever reason Palan had for demanding this was a reason why
Charles should not consent to it, so he said merely:  'I think
perhaps it's too late for a drink anyhow.  We both have work
tomorrow.'  He hailed a taxi and gave the address of Palan's hotel;
he would drop him there on the way to the Crillon.  Palan made no
further mention of the drink and from this Charles concluded that
his earlier insistence on having it at his hotel had been merely a
whim.  But of course one could never be sure.  To such a level had
social intercourse between accredited diplomats reached by the
middle of the twentieth century.

Inside the taxi as they began the journey back to the more
fashionable boulevards Palan remarked:  'A very fine boy, M'sieur
Anderson.  I congratulate you.'

'Thanks.'

'And the girl too.  She is HIS girl?'

'Oh no--just someone he met in Switzerland.  They played tennis
together.'

'But he is in love.'

'I doubt that.  Probably just a holiday acquaintance--'

'The perfect structure for a love affair.  A few days only, with
goodbye at the end!  It is in countless dramas, in epic poetry, in
grand opera--'

'I daresay, and most of them Gerald wouldn't care for at all.  He's
rather realistic, and so's Miss Raynor, as far as I could judge.'

'You like her?'

'She seemed very nice.'

'So that if your son really wanted to marry her--'

'At SEVENTEEN?'

'At seventeen, my friend, I was already a father. . . .  You find
that hard to believe?'

'By no means.  You had also, so you say, fought in your first war.
In England we try not to do things quite so early.'

'And to balance that, you do many things late--perhaps too late.'

'Possibly.  And I'm glad to say that a great many things we don't
do at all.'  Charles shot that back as if to say:  I too can bandy
words, if you insist.

Palan continued:  'I suppose you wish Gerald eventually to make un
beau mariage dans le monde?'

'I hope he'll make a happy marriage, that's all.'

'You mean you would not object to an office girl as a daughter-in-
law?'

'Good heavens, no.  What do you take me for--a snob?'

'Of course--because it is one of the coefficients of power.  Your
country's power is now in decline, so you are trying hard to
diminish the snobbery.  It will make you a very attractive people
provided you do not succeed too well.  I would like to discuss this
further with you some day.'

'If we had more time.  I don't recall how we got on to the subject,
but--'

'We were talking about Gerald and Miss Raynor.'

'Since they'll soon be catching their trains in different
directions, there really isn't much to talk about.'

'If they DO catch those trains.  My father did not catch his.  He
delayed too long, trying to persuade his mistress to leave the
country with him--my mother, of course, had gone on ahead with the
family jewels.  She died at Monte Carlo twenty years later, whereas
my father missed his train and--'

'I know--you told us.  But I assure you Gerald won't miss his.'

'How can you be sure?'

'Well, for one reason, he has an appointment with his dentist in
London tomorrow morning.'

Palan seized Charles's hand and shook it amidst his loud guffaws.
'My friend, it is the most perfect of all reasons.  Credo quia
impossibile est.'

'Or because he said so--that'll do for me.'  (But would it, after
the lie about the boat-train?)  Charles added, with extra
conviction to mask his growing uncertainty:  'They'll catch their
trains, don't worry.'

'And what will it prove?'

'Does it have to prove anything?'

Palan guffawed again.  'Anatole France put it well.  "De toutes les
aberrations sexuelles, la plus singulire, c'est la chastet".'

Charles was amused in spite of himself.  'You seem to have quite a
range--Tertullian, Anatole France . . . what next, I wonder?'

'An epigram of my own . . . tennis among the Alps, ice cream in
Paris--bless their innocent little hearts . . . the Incorruptibles
. . . whereas you and I--in our far different ways--we are the
Incorrigibles.'

'I'm not sure I know exactly what you mean.'

'That is what makes it so funny--that in your own way you also
should be so innocent.  What has protected you?  Are you a deeply
religious man?'

Charles found this question too baffling either to be answered or
resented.  He said:  'I wouldn't say so, but if I were, I wouldn't
say so either.'

'Then you are very rich?'

That was easy.  'No . . . far from it.  But I don't see what all
this has to do--'

'Do you think the capitalist system will survive?'

'WHAT? . . .  Well, what a question!'

'Yes, is it not?  I should have thought you would have had your
answer ready--as we would on our side.  But perhaps you are not so
confident.'

'Perhaps also we're not so interested.  It's you people who've made
it the only question to be asked.  We believe it's only one--and
not the most important--that has to be answered.'

'That also I would like to discuss with you if there were time.'

Thank goodness there isn't, Charles reflected, as the taxi came to
a halt outside Palan's hotel.  'Here you are,' he said, helping
Palan to the pavement.  'We shall meet again in a few hours and
meanwhile I think we both need some sleep. . . .  Good night.'

'Good night, my friend.'  Palan pressed Charles's hand with a boozy
but not effeminate tenderness.  'I have enjoyed talking with you.
It is very funny today to be an English gentleman.  It is almost as
funny as to be an anarchist.  Both are out of style. . . .  Au
'voir, M'sieur.'

Charles waited to see him safely through the revolving doors, then
continued his own journey to the Crillon.  What a day, he
summarized, as he mixed himself a drink in his room and made
another jotting for the book he was going to write.  'It is very
funny today to be an English gentleman--almost as funny as to be an
anarchist.'  Not bad, not bad.  He also put down the quotation from
Anatole France.

                  *     *     *     *     *

But he lay awake thinking mainly about Gerald.  It was a different
sort of concern from the one he had had earlier; milder but more
persistent, just a small private regret--not that the boy should
have preferred Miss Raynor's company to his (how natural that was),
but that he should have chosen not to mention her during the
dinner.  And evidently, but for the way things had happened,
Charles would still have been in ignorance of her existence.  It
showed how little a son could wish to confide in a father . . . but
then Charles had to add to himself--'as if I didn't know that
already'.  Which brought him back to old thoughts, and the extent
to which he had tried (and perhaps failed) to come closer to Gerald
than Havelock had to him, and the extent to which his failure (if
any) had been an inheritance as lasting as the gold watch that had
belonged to the Shah.  Well, he had tried at least, and whether he
had so far failed or not, he knew he must go on trying.  He decided
that when he got back to England he would take Gerald on some
holiday of their own--the Lake District or North Wales, perhaps;
and to clinch the idea in his mind he made the amazing concession:
'Why, I'll even watch him play tennis, if that's what he'd like.'
This, surely, was il gran rifiuto of some kind or other, and having
made it, he fell asleep.

When he walked through the hotel lobby the next morning he saw Miss
Raynor sitting on a couch reading a newspaper.  He was more than
surprised; he remembered Palan's remark about not catching trains
and was perturbed.  Was it POSSIBLE . . .?  He walked over,
greeting her with a smile only.

'You're staying here too?' she exclaimed, showing some surprise and
perturbation of her own.

'Why, yes . . . but shouldn't I have said it first?'

'I know--or rather, I didn't know--I mean, I didn't know you were
staying here.  I just came here because I--I'd booked here weeks
ago.'

'Very sensible--they're often full up unless you do that.'

He regarded her with kindly shrewdness, as if to say:  Are you
going to tell me or do I have to ask you?  Evidently the latter,
for after a pause he continued:  'I thought you were leaving for
Cherbourg last night?'

'Yes, I--I intended to at first, but--but after I saw Gerald off on
his train . . .'

'So he left?'  Even unaccented the question seemed clumsy; he added
hastily:  'I daresay I got things muddled. . . .  Have you had
breakfast?'  And to forestall an answer:  'Perhaps another cup of
coffee?'

'But aren't you on your way--'

'The Conference starts at eleven.  I usually walk over for exercise--
it's not far.  But this morning I'll ride.'

They found a corner table in the restaurant.  She seemed
preoccupied, and while he chattered fluently about Paris and
Switzerland and as much about the Conference as she could read in
the papers, he too was preoccupied.  When the coffee arrived she
said abruptly:  'I'll have to tell you the truth.  I've been trying
to invent something for the past few minutes but it just won't work--
because I expect you'll tell Gerald you met me again here.'

'I daresay I might have, but not unless you wish.'

'He thinks I'm on my way to America.'

'So did I.'  Charles smiled encouragingly.

'I'd like him to go on thinking so.'

Charles waited for her to continue.  Being of a professionally
suspicious nature he was reflecting how easy it would be (though
perhaps unnecessary) to telephone his London flat to find if Gerald
had already arrived there.

She went on:  'I don't know how I can explain it without seeming
either--priggish or--or boastful--or something I hope I'm not.'

'I don't think there's much fear of you seeming that.'

'So I'd better just tell you the truth?  Well . . . the fact is . . .
Gerald has an idea he's in love with me.'

He waited again, remembering that this too was what Palan had said.

She went on:  'I don't suppose he told you.'

'No.'

'Probably he was afraid you'd think it too silly.'

Charles said gently:  'I hope he wasn't afraid of that.  I never
think any kind of love is silly.  And I'm not sure what the
difference is between being in love and having an idea you are--
especially when you're young.'

'But seventeen's perhaps TOO young--for thirty-three.'

'Thirty-three?'

'Yes.  Quite a problem if we were BOTH in love.'  She flushed a
little.  'And rather embarrassing to have to explain all this to
his father.'

'It needn't be embarrassing.  It could all very easily have
happened. . . .  But tell me how it did happen.'

'We met a couple of weeks ago--at Mrren.  Of course I liked him
immediately--perhaps I encouraged him at first, without intending
to.  We talked and argued.'

'What about?'

'Oh, politics, religion, economics, the state of the world--life in
general.  He's at the age for argument, and I can always enjoy
one.'

'So can I--though--for him--perhaps I seem to have passed the age.'
That sounded rather sad, so he went on gallantly:  'It's quite
possible you know my son better than I do.'

'Oh no, of course not.'

'Tell me about him, anyway.  What do you think of him?'

'You really want my opinion?'

'Very much.'

'Well, to begin with, he's first-rate company--clever--serious and
yet gay about it--full of enthusiasms and idealisms.  He's less
inhibited than most English boys, I should guess.  And all-round in
his interests--games as well as studies.  Dances well, for
instance.  He asked me to a dance at the hotel.'

'And to play tennis?'

'No, I suggested that.'

'He said you were good.'

'I wasn't bad, considering I hadn't played for years.  He's quite
good.  We won against some people who were very bad indeed.'

Charles nodded.  It was not unlike certain occasions that in his
own professional career had ranked as successes.  He was thinking
of this when she added:  'That's really the whole story.'

'Is it?'  He smiled.  'Well . . . so much for l'affaire suisse.'

'Don't joke about it.'

'I'm sorry.  You play tennis--I make jokes--each of us, it seems,
has a way of dealing with a delicate situation.'

She laughed then, for the first time.  'But you like making jokes--
far more than I like playing tennis.'

'I should hope so . . .  But seriously, how did the scene change to
Paris?'

'Because I left Switzerland when my stay there was finished--I've
been in Germany since--so he wanted to meet me here--just once--
before I finally go home.  I told him there wouldn't be time, as I
was only just passing through, but he said it so happened he'd be
in Paris anyway--because he was having dinner with you.'

'Plausible.'

'I still tried to put him off, but he said he was sure his dinner
with you would end in time to give us an hour or so.  He seemed to
think you'd want to go to bed early during the Conference.'

'He just thought of everything, eh?'

'He put me in a spot where I couldn't refuse.'

'Well, I don't really blame him.'

'I hope you don't blame me either.  If I hadn't kept up the
pretence of leaving I think he'd have changed all his own plans and
cancelled his appointments in London today.  Of course I didn't
want him to do that.'

'So there really ARE appointments?'

'Oh yes.  One of them's this morning--with his dentist.  He told me
all about it.  He's very punctilious about such things.  Almost
ascetic in some ways--doesn't drink or smoke--'

'He did both--a little--at dinner with me last night.'

'Then he loves you,' she said softly.  'The oddest things can prove
love, can't they?  And since you asked me, I must tell you what a
delightful son you have . . . the uninhibited ascetic.  All those
early formative years in America and then an English school--
really, you couldn't have devised anything more ingenious . . .  I
hated to lie to him, especially when I was seeing him off and he
thought I was just going to another platform to catch MY train.'

'You were lucky--and clever--to have managed it so well.  When ARE
you leaving?'

'Next Tuesday.  By air.'

Charles looked at his watch.  'I--I can't put into words--quite all--
that I feel . . . and how grateful I am to you for--for being so
kind to him.  I'm fond of that boy, though he probably doesn't
realize it--why should he?--we've had so little chance to get to
know each other.'  He turned the slight tremor of his voice into
the beginnings of a laugh.  'Just one more question--sheer
curiosity--before I have to go. . . .  Why Rocher's?'

'I know--of all places.  But even that was sweet of him.  He
thought because I'm American it was what I'd enjoy most.'

'Then you've given me the right cue--will you dine with me one
evening at a place I know you will enjoy?'

'Yes--if you won't be disappointed.'

'Why should I be?'

'Gerald told me you're a great authority on food and wine.  I'm
not.  I just love good eating and talking.'

'One of which I promise and the other you're bound to supply
yourself.'

'Oh, now, PLEASE. . . .  Is that the kind of thing diplomats have
to say at conferences?'

'If only it were. . . .  What about tonight?'

'Fine . . . and by the way, why did YOU come to Rocher's?'

'That's one of the embarrassing things _I_ might have to confess--
during dinner.'

And so it was arranged.  Before he finally left she said 'Good
luck', and as he rode to the Conference he felt both in need of and
fortified by it.

                  *     *     *     *     *

Sir Malcolm Bingay was still indisposed and Charles had to carry
the ball--to use an athletic metaphor which seemed to him
singularly inappropriate.  Most of the day he was embroiled with
Palan, who gave no sign of any effects of the previous evening's
dissipation--or indeed, of having had any social intercourse with
his opponent at all.  Charles was puzzled but not altogether
surprised.  His own strategy in such circumstances was to ease
himself into a situation like a key into a lock, to see first if it
fitted before one tried even the slightest turn.  All morning he
performed this fitment, matching Palan's performance by one of his
own that was perhaps equally baffling; but in the afternoon he gave
the first sharp twist by interjecting a phrase of English into his
French and adding (in French):  'I will not translate for the
benefit of M'sieur Palan, because I have a feeling I shall be
understood.'  Palan did not bat an eyelid.

The whole day was a nerve-exhausting stalemate, a laborious
exploration of deadlock.

In the evening Charles took Anne Raynor to a small restaurant near
Les Halles.  He put on a black tie and was interested to note that
her dress would have been suitable whether he had or not.  He also
noted that she knew more about food and wine than might have been
expected from her disclaimer.  All these matters, however, were
secondary to the fact that he liked her and that their shared
affection for Gerald seemed to bring them into a warm contact.
During the day he had had to telephone his London flat on some
business matter, and his housekeeper had mentioned that Gerald had
arrived there in time for breakfast (not that Charles had really
had doubts).  He told Anne that Gerald must have had a tiresome
day.  'I can't imagine anything worse than going to a dentist after
an all-night train-and-boat journey--except perhaps the kind of day
I've just had myself, arguing with that fellow who joined us last
night at Rocher's.  The odd thing is that personally I don't
dislike him.  He fascinates me slightly.  He has a peculiar trick--
I'm sure it's a trick--of making you feel he's always just about to
see your point of view.  Of course he never does.  He can't let
himself.  He has his line to follow and daren't deviate by a hair's-
breadth.  Only you don't always know what the line is till you've
wasted hours in futile debate.  That's another trick they have--
physical exhaustion as a weapon.'

'Don't you also have to follow a line?'

'Oh yes, but not so slavishly.  We allow ourselves a little leeway.
If I might make a parallel, Palan's side are the trams, but we're
the trolley-buses. . . .  What was your impression of him, by the
way?'

'I'd say he's an interesting character. . . .  No, I don't dislike
him either.'

'He's a braggart and I'm sure half the things he says about his
past are lies.'

'But if the other half are true it would still be remarkable.  Do
you really think he was being watched as he said last night?'

'By his own men, possibly.  Nobody's ever trusted completely on
their side.'

'I wonder why he joined us then.  Couldn't it get him into
trouble?'

'I thought of that too.  He wanted me to go back to his hotel
afterwards for a drink.  I fancy he'd drunk a little too much
himself.  He was talking in a rather wild way.  Of course I didn't
go.'

'In case he might be trying to trap you?'

'Into what? . . .  No, it's hard to give a reason, except one's
general suspicion of those fellows.  Their code's different,
therefore you have to be on your guard all the time.  A strange
thing, diplomacy, nowadays--full of novelties.'  He felt he had
better turn the subject a little.  'Television, for instance, in
your country.  I understand Gladwyn Jebb made a great hit that way
recently.  How would Metternich or Castlereagh or Disraeli have
taken to it, I wonder?'

'I think Disraeli would have been fine if he'd remembered to be
like George Arliss.'

'Then Abraham Lincoln should really have sounded like Charles
Laughton, but I'm quite sure he didn't.'

She laughed.  'I don't think YOU need worry, television or not.
You're rather like most Americans' idea of an English diplomat.'

'That alarms me.  Perhaps it also explains why I haven't climbed
any higher in my profession. . . .  You know what they call me?'
Some faintly masochistic urge propelled him to the disclosure.
'STUFFY ANDERSON.'  There--he had said it.  It was always a barrier
that had to be crossed, and in any friendship whose progress
pleased him he always wanted to mention it first, rather than have
it later discovered.

She said casually:  'Yes, I know.  Gerald told me.'

'What?  HE knew?  Now how would . . . oh, well, I suppose there are
all sorts of ways.'

'He said it showed how popular you were.'

Charles was somewhat consoled.  'Nice of him to think so--or to
pretend that he did.  But I don't believe he's altogether right.
Not that I'm unpopular--far from it.  But many of my colleagues
probably think the nickname suits, and I daresay it does--I'm a bit
of a back number in some ways . . .  For instance--my reason for
coming to Rocher's last night--I said I might have to confess it to
you.'  He then explained about Gerald's fidgetiness during dinner
and the excuse of the fictitious boat-train for an early departure.
'Of course it was just because he wanted to meet you--I don't
really blame him at all.  But I was curious, and also, well, being
the old-fashioned person I am, I thought he might have plans that
would land him in some less desirable company . . .  So I followed
him.  What an ignoble suspicion to have had, and what an out-of-
date thing to do!  But you see, it's the old world that I remember--
old in history as well as in geography.'

'I've sometimes found the new world not so young.'

'It would be a comfort to think so.  And back numbers ARE--
occasionally--more readable than the latest.  As an editor, hasn't
that ever worried you?'

'Why are you talking to me like this?'

'I really haven't the slightest idea--unless it's because I'm tired
after bickering with Palan all day.  To him I've got to appear
always alert and combative--whereas with you I can relax and be
myself.'

'But you're not yourself when you're too modest.'

'Yes, I am--and also when I'm conceited.  I'm both.'

She turned to him with a slow serene scrutiny, then asked:  'What
sort of life have you had?'

'LIFE?  My life?'

'Has it been happy--or--or rather unhappy?'

But this was going too far; he woke abruptly from the trance of
self-revelation into which his tiredness and her comfort had made
him slip.  He answered, talking fast while he pulled himself into
control:  'You Americans--it's the PURSUIT of happiness, isn't it,
not the happiness itself, that's laid down as one of the aims of
your republic?  My father used to point that out. . . .  So to you
it might seem that I haven't pursued happiness very successfully.
You might even say, if you knew, that once or twice it's pursued me
and I've run away from it.  That, of course, is unforgivable, and I
think had I been born in America I should at least have stood my
ground. . . .  But as for calling my life--as a whole--UNhappy, I'd
certainly say no to that.  Oh, definitely no--at least nothing to
complain of--mainly run of the mill. . . .  A little more wine?
Good. . . .  Things kept happening--the usual mixed bag of events--
and they still are.  This evening, for instance--how delightful!
Such a long time, Anne, since I enjoyed myself so--er--so
UNSPEAKABLY.  Meeting you last night was quite an event--for which,
to be fair, I have to thank my son, haven't I, and the fact that he
was so willing to deceive his father!  Unscrupulous but--in the
circumstances--very fortunate.  And not silly.  Oh no.  Love can be
many things, but that isn't one of them.  People who say so have
never known it--or else have forgotten it.  I was a few years older
than Gerald when I first had the experience, and the girl--she was
actually younger than he is now.  There were people then who said
it was silly.  I didn't think so, and I've never thought so since.'

'What became of her?'

'She married somebody else--and happily, I believe.'

'You also married somebody else?'

'Yes.  And that was happy too--until--'

'I know.'

'Gerald again the informer?'

'Yes, if you put it that way.'

'I hope, then, he also told you--though he could hardly have
remembered--what a remarkable woman my wife was.  She was great fun
and she had courage and loyalty and she knew how to get her own way
with people.  She helped me tremendously in my work.  She . . .'
The waiter came and took his order for another bottle of wine.  He
had drunk very little.  He went on smoothly, but as if it were not
what he had been going to say:  'She usually stopped me from making
a fool of myself. . . .  Now it's your turn. . . .  I mean, to
talk.'

'All right.'  She smiled.  'What shall I talk about?'

'Yourself.  I know so little about you.  For all I know
you're . . .'  He tried to think of a way to finish the sentence.
'. . . you're engaged to a Texas oil millionaire.'

'No . . .  But how did you know I was an editor?'

'I asked at the hotel desk.  I found out all I could about you.'

'I wouldn't like you to get a wrong impression.  It's a children's
magazine and I'm really a teacher. . . .'

                  *     *     *     *     *

He got back to his room about one o'clock, which was much later
than usual during the period of the Conference.  But he felt
refreshed and did not plan to hurry the ritual of the last drink
alone and the half-hour of pottering over his diary and letters.
As always after an evening out in good company he missed Jane.
'Now there's the kind of girl you ought to have married,' she had
said, in joking self-disparagement on a very few occasions; but the
peculiar thing was that she had had a rare knack of saying it about
the right--or at least not the utterly wrong--women.  There had
been Clara Delagny at Santiago, and the German baroness at the
Gismondi party at Villefranche . . . it had been fun, evaluating
them with Jane, who knew so much and could make such good guesses
even about what she didn't know. . . .  So he mused now upon what
Jane might have said about Anne Raynor, and was still musing a
moment later when the telephone rang.  It was exceptional to be
called at such an hour and he hoped Bingay didn't want him for
anything; he didn't feel like discussing business.  But the thought
that he might have to made him brace himself for the professional
and official manner, so that when he heard and recognized the voice
he was less taken aback than he might have been.

'M'sieur Anderson, a thousand apologies for disturbing you. . . .
It is I, Palan. . . .'

'Yes?'

'I would like, if I may, to see you for a few minutes.'

'You mean--NOW?'

'If you please.'

'But I--I'm just about to go to bed.'

'I am here, in the lobby downstairs.'

'Well, I'll come down if it's really important, but--'

'No, no, I will come up.  It will be easier that way.  What is the
number of your room?'

'It really IS important?'

'Yes.  May I come up now?'

There was a note in Palan's voice that intrigued Charles at least
as much as it warned him; it sounded like a child's eagerness until
one pictured Palan standing at the open desk within earshot of the
hotel clerks, as he would be, presumably; and Charles found such
lack of concealment far more puzzling than any amount of
deviousness.  That, he reflected, was the besetting neurosis of his
profession; when a man did anything straightforwardly one was
always suspicious.  An obscure distaste for the neurosis made
Charles answer:  'All right.  Come up.  Three-three-four.'

A measure of excitement gained on him during the short interval of
waiting.  It was, he knew, the result of his evening with Anne; it
had infected him with a curious sense of new adventure, of desire
to step boldly where normally he would have been circumspect.  He
warned himself, but even the warning only added to the inward
excitement.  Presently he heard footsteps along the corridor.
Assorted wisps of memory from a hundred spy and detective novels
came to him as he went to the door.  Bingay would certainly think
he was doing a foolish thing.  Suppose Palan were not alone?  One
heard fantastic stories of what those people were capable of. . . .
Anyhow, he opened the door, and Palan WAS alone, looking no more
fearsome than he always would at that hour, for he was one of those
men whose beards grow fast and dark.

'Merci, mon ami.  J'espre que vous n'tes pas fatigu.'

'Not too much, but I shall need some sleep soon. . . .  Come in--
and please speak in English.'

'Si vous voulez.'  Palan walked across the room and pulled the
blinds slightly aside at one of the windows overlooking the Place
de la Concorde.  Charles did not like this.  'What are you looking
for?' he asked rather sharply.

'To verify what I already guessed.  One cannot go anywhere without
someone watching.'

'You mean YOU cannot.  _I_ can, I hope.'

'Not always.  You were watched tonight.'  Palan laughed.  '_I_
watched you, my friend.  I saw you take the American girl to dinner
at Rousellin's--the American girl who was supposed to have returned
to America.  You were there for four hours.  Then you brought her
back here, where she is staying also.  Am I not right?'

Charles was on the point of becoming angry.  'Look . . . you said
you had something important to say.  The way I spend my evenings is
of no importance--except to me.'

'She is a very charming girl.'  Palan slumped into an easy chair
and stretched his legs.  'Do you remember, M'sieur Anderson, last
night you invited me here for a drink, but I permitted myself to
take a rain-check.'

'A WHAT?'

'I beg your pardon--an American word, meaning that one expects on a
later occasion the pleasure one has previously declined.'

'All right, but I have only whisky.'

'Excellent.'

As he was pouring it Charles could not repress the instincts of the
host.  'I hope you don't mind Irish.  The flavour is perhaps an
acquired taste.'

Palan took it, sniffed, swallowed, and nodded.  'It has my full
approval.'  He swallowed again.  'I must explain that I did not
follow you tonight with any sinister intent.  I merely wished to
see you as soon as possible without interfering with any other
engagement you had.'

'That's all right.  Anybody can follow me who wants to.'

'You are, I am sure, quite proud of that.  It is like your English
boast that your policemen do not carry guns, and that your speakers
in Hyde Park are allowed to say what they like.  It is all so very
true--up to a point.  But where IS that point?'

'Yes, indeed, since it's getting on for two o'clock and we resume
our official discussions at eleven.'

'M'sieur Anderson, you have come to the point yourself with great
accuracy.  I do not think that I shall be resuming any official
discussions.'  Palan pulled out a case and chose a cigar, offering
one to Charles.

'No, thanks. . . .  What do you mean?'

Palan lit his cigar with deliberate slowness, but Charles was now
tolerant, for he could detect emotion behind the movement and knew
that everyone is entitled to some such technique of delay and self-
control.

Palan said:  'You who have made so many small jokes about me at the
Conference--and of course I know you have--must now learn that the
biggest joke of all is not ABOUT me, but ON me.  Simply this--that
I have been recalled to my country.'

Charles was silent, asking the question merely by the way he placed
an ashtray at Palan's elbow.

Palan continued:  'They are not satisfied with the way I have
conducted its affairs at the Conference.  They think I have not
been strong enough.'

'WHAT?'  In his utter surprise Charles was aware of a pleased
puzzlement that anybody should think his own side had had even any
degree of success, and an equally puzzled and sudden sympathy with
Palan which, as he diagnosed it, he knew to be absurd.  He
exclaimed:  'But that hardly makes sense!  It's MY country that
should complain, not YOURS!  Why, dammit, you've had your own way
nine times out of ten in everything so far!'

'But you do not realize, M'sieur Anderson, that nine times is not
enough for my country.  It must be ALL the times.  Anything less
than that is failure.  Of course you cannot understand that.  You
cannot understand the methods of the cold young men who are rising
to the top.  So I will tell you what will happen now that I have
been recalled.  They will send you one of them to take my place and
he will not give way even that tenth time.  He will be like my
son.'

'Then the Conference will fail.'

'It has already failed.  Though it may continue for some time after
my successor arrives.'

'But how about your chief in all this?  Surely he must back you up--
you're under his direction--he can hardly let a subordinate be
blamed--'

'You think he cannot?  Remember, M'sieur Anderson, that as a nation
of innovators we are capables de tout.'

'But what's the evidence against you?  If you'll accept a left-
handed compliment, I think you've handled your side of things
deplorably well.'

'It is charming of you to say so.  Such a testimonial at my trial
might be of great help.'

'You're not serious?'

'Or perhaps no, there may be no trial.  I shall be liquidated
without any.'

'Oh, come now--It can't be so--so--'

'So SERIOUS, eh?  You are now seeing the joke?'

'I must admit I--I mean, it's hard for me to--'

'Because naturally you are not afraid of being liquidated
yourself?'

'ME?  Good God, no.'

'Your people do not do that sort of thing, as I am so well aware.'

'Even if we did, I don't think Sir Malcolm and I would be in much
danger.  Responsibility for the failure of the Conference is so
obviously not ours.'

Palan considered this for a moment, then said half whimsically:
'M'sieur Anderson, will you forget you are a diplomat for a moment
and answer truthfully a very simple question?'

'I can't promise, but you can ask.'

'All right. . . .  Just this:  If, by pressing a button, you could
set off an earthquake to destroy my country, what would you do?'

Charles smiled grimly.  'I wouldn't want to destroy your country,
but if by pressing a button I could destroy your government I'd not
only press it, I'd lean on it for an hour to make quite sure.'

'So when you forget you are a diplomat you become a schoolboy?'

'It was a schoolboy's question.'

'Would you have answered it differently when you were one?  Our
Revolution took place when you were at school--how did you feel
about it then?'

'So far as I can remember, everybody was most enthusiastic.  We all
hoped your country was going to become more like our own.'

'And of course you could not set for us a higher standard.'

'I daresay.  We were very nave.  We still are.  We're a nave
country.'

'It is your rightful boast.  Nothing else could have saved you in
1940. . . .  But I wonder if our personal positions had been
reversed--yours and mine, at that early age--I wonder if I should
have been more like you, or you more like me?'

'I doubt the latter.  I can't imagine myself dynamiting trains.'

'Oh, but I can.  Very easily. . . .  Surely you will not admit that
there is anything an Englishman cannot bring himself to do in an
emergency?  Why, you have even beheaded your king--a somewhat more
barbarous regicide, would you not say, than the one you condemned
us for recently?  In our country yours has always had many
admirers, including those who--returning the compliment, as it were--
hoped that yours was going to become more like ours.  Or does the
idea of that shock you?'

'If you mean going Communist it doesn't shock me at all.  I
personally would be against it, but if it had to happen we might do
a better job than your people have.  Of course it wouldn't be the
same job and we shouldn't give it the same name.  Your own
melancholy example would guide us a lot in what to avoid, but
besides that we have certain advantages--our Civil Service, for
instance--reasonably efficient and free from corruption.  Then too
our traditions, which we should keep as intact as possible--and our
constitution that so happily has no existence in any written
document.  After all, a thousand years' experience of making
changes IS rather a help in disguising them--next to the Papacy I
daresay we know more of the tricks of successful survival than any
other institution in history.'

'And all THIS . . . from STUFFY ANDERSON!'

After the initial shock Charles was neither so startled nor so
affronted as he would have expected.  He merely replied:  'I
suppose you overheard that somewhere.'

'A few of your younger colleagues--speaking of you entirely without
malice.'

'I'm quite sure of that.  Anyhow, it doesn't matter.'

'Of course not.  It was just their way of liquidating you.'

'WHAT? . . .  Oh, nonsense--why, I've had that nickname for God
knows how many years.'

'Then God must also know how long ago you began to be liquidated,
my friend.  But as you say, it does not matter.  Successful
survival is what counts--more than victory.'

'Successful survival, in this world, IS victory.'

'You are doubtless right--and that is another reason why the real
joke is on me. . . .  May I?'  He put his hand to the whisky
bottle, adding:  'You said it is an acquired taste.  I have already
acquired it.'

Charles smiled, but watched with some dismay while Palan poured
himself a very generous amount.  Palan then raised his glass with
ceremony.  'A toast . . . will you permit one?'

'If you like.'

'A toast, then, M'sieur Anderson, to your country--where they
liquidate you alive and imperceptibly--so that you can remain so
useful as well as ornamental for such a long time.'

'Palan, that's all very amusing, I'm sure, but I'm still in the
dark about the real purpose of your visit at this time of night.'
Charles then realized he had dropped the prefix to Palan's name--
with him a rather significant stage of intimacy.  What he really
wanted to convey, as a fellow professional, was that he was sorry
for Palan's personal predicament; but as a diplomat he was much
more skilled in expressing regrets he did not feel than those he
sincerely did.  He compromised, therefore, on a remark that could
have any meaning Palan chose to give it.  He said quietly:  'It's
very late--but don't let that discourage you.'

Palan stirred restlessly, as if probed by one or other of the
possible meanings, then put his hands to his temples in a sudden
access of emotion.  'M'sieur Anderson, have you ever--in your life--
been AFRAID--of anything?'

'Why, of course.'

'When?  Of what?'

'During the war--in some of the air-raids.  And other times too.'

'Did you ever--do you ever--have dreams in which you are afraid--
and when you wake up you are afraid even to remember them?'

'I don't know about that, but I sometimes dream I'm at some
important function without the right clothes.  Embarrassing
enough.'

'Without the right clothes?  And that is all?'

'Sometimes without ANY clothes.  I think the psychiatrists would
call it a recurrent anxiety dream.  Most people have one kind or
another--actors, I understand, dream of forgetting their lines--'

'And what kind do you suppose is mine?'  Charles noticed that
Palan's breathing had become heavy, as if he were under increasing
stress--or else, perhaps, the half tumbler of whisky was beginning
to take effect.  'I will tell you, my friend.  I will tell you of
the dream I have had lately, time and time again.'  Palan leaned
forward with hands clenching and unclenching.  'I have dreamed that
I am back in my own country--in the city of Gorki where I was born--
Nizhni-Novgorod it was in those days--but I am there again and it
is today in my dream--No, it is not a dream, it is already a
nightmare--I am there, and yet I cannot remember how I made the
journey or what possessed me to do it--and I keep saying to myself
in my nightmare--Why did you do it?  Are you MAD?  Why are you
here?  There is no chance now that you will ever leave again--why
did you come back?  Why?--Why?--WHY?'  Globes of perspiration
swelled out on Palan's forehead as he repeated the word.

'But then you wake up and find yourself in Paris.'

'For the time.  But there is not much more time.'

'When are you supposed to leave?'

'My replacement is due to arrive by air tomorrow.  I am expected to
return by a plane that leaves tomorrow also.'

'Expected to?'

'You said "supposed to".  I said "expected to".  What we both mean
is "ordered to" . . .  After tomorrow, if I am still in Paris, I
shall have burned my boats.  Perhaps I have already begun to do
that.  There were men in the street just now . . . and after all,
it would not be surprising . . . I have been careless at times--I
have the old kind of brain, the European kind, the brain that slips
its leash and scampers off for adventure and the fun of things . . .
I have perhaps laughed too much . . . and you may have noticed,
M'sieur Anderson, that in your excellent company I am still able to
laugh.  So if they have followed me here there can be little doubt
in their minds.'

'But there are still some doubts in mine.'

'I know.  It has been rather sudden--I mean, my decision what to
do.  I did not reach it, finally, till I walked past Rocher's by
chance last night.  By chance.  Utterly by chance.  My body was
wandering with my mind--not far, but suddenly too far ever to
return.  I was under a considerable strain, you understand, and to
see you there so comfortable, so gemtlich, eating your ice cream
like a good bourgeois--to see you there so--so en famille . . . for
I took the lady to be attached to you and not to your son till
you explained.  But perhaps I was right after all.  If so, I
congratulate you.  Only in America could anyone so charming be
still unmarried.  It is a great country and they are a great
people.  Just think--they call this city Paris, France, in order to
avoid any possible confusion with Paris, Texas, and Paris,
Illinois.'

Charles smiled.  'I think your mind's still wandering.  Let's get
back to the point.  Where were we?'

'In the Paris streets.  You cannot imagine what my emotions were.
I had walked for hours--and miles.'

Charles said quietly, as to himself:  '"It is not many miles to
Mantua, no further than the end of this mad world".'

'Pardon?'

'A quotation . . . nothing . . . MY mind was doing it then. . . .
Go on.'

'There is no more to say.  I am just waiting . . . for courage . . .
to destroy by a single act the work and faith of a lifetime.'

'Perhaps the faith, at least, is already destroyed.'

'Yes . . . dissolved in fear.'

'And disappointment.  I don't think, Palan, fear alone would have
brought you.'

'You are kind to say that.  It is why I have come to you instead of
Sir Malcolm--a whim, I admit--just as the condemned man in one of
your English prisons is allowed to choose what he wants for his
last breakfast--how truly civilized that is! . . .  Forgive me--I
am overwrought, near the breaking point, and at such a time I
cannot help seeming to take these matters lightly.'

'I understand.  I'm a little bit like that myself.'

'I have noticed it, and it makes you simpatico--whereas I do not
find Sir Malcolm simpatico.'

Charles could not repress a sharp twinge of pleasure, for he too
had never found Sir Malcolm simpatico.  He said:  'Sir Malcolm's
indisposed, anyway, so perhaps--'

'Perhaps it is even en rgle then, as well as a whim, that I should
put myself in your hands?'

'In MY hands?'

Palan bowed slightly.  'If you do not object, M'sieur.'

'Oh, not at all, not at all.'  Charles muttered the formula with
which an Englishman sloughs off anything that causes him too little
concern--or too much.  As he did so he returned Palan's glance
levelly and with a good deal of shrewdness.  The situation was
clearly of a kind he had read about lately, in newspapers and books
and also in official reports; it had not happened to him before,
but it had to a few others, though perhaps never so disconcertingly
as to that Scottish nobleman when Rudolf Hess suddenly dropped into
his back garden. . . .  Charles said, as casually as he could to
cover the flurry of his thoughts:  'Very well, Palan . . . but of
course you know I can't promise anything officially--I'll have to
talk to Sir Malcolm tomorrow, and he'll no doubt refer the matter
to London . . .  Though naturally if there's anything on your mind
I'm at your service for as long as you wish--all night if
necessary.'

'So now at last you are willing to lose your sleep?'

'In a good cause--always.  Do you mind if I jot down a few things
as you talk?'

'You evidently take it for granted that I have much to say.'

'I would assume so, yes.  You'd hardly expect us to accept your
bona fides without some more--or perhaps I should say--some LESS
tangible evidence than yourself in person.'

'Not only simpatico but a smart cookie.'

'WHAT?'

'American for clever chap.  You should learn American--might be
useful some day.'  And then, as if a breaking point had actually
been reached, Palan's mouth became shapeless and speechless for a
moment, while his eyes could only stare strickenly.  Charles said,
with sudden compassion:  'I've no authority to say this, but if I
were you I wouldn't worry about catching that plane tomorrow.'

'Or about NOT catching it?'

'Perhaps that's what I really meant.  Because surely there comes a
time when counting the cost and paying the price aren't things to
think about any more.  All that matters is value--the ultimate
value of what one does.'

'That has been your philosophy?'

'I've tried to make it so.'

Palan mopped his forehead and Charles waited, feeling he had said
all he could to convey those of his emotions that were both
expressible and permissible.  After a long pause Palan said:  'I
beg your pardon.  I am in control now.'  He moved his hand again to
the bottle.  'May I--once more?'

'Certainly.'  But Charles took it and began to fix the drink this
time--a much less potent one.  While he was so engaged he said
quietly:  'So you were born at Nizhni-Novgorod.'

'You know the city?'

'I've never been there.  It used to have a big fair every year,
didn't it?'

'Oh yes.  The Nizhni-Novgorod fair was famous all over the world.
In those days.  But not any more.  Nothing is the same any more.'

'No, I suppose not.'  Charles handed him the glass.  'Don't gulp it
now.  It's whisky, you know--not ice cream.'

Perhaps because this was the feeblest of all the jokes that had
passed between them, they both laughed immoderately, seeking to
relieve the tension that had gripped them and was also drawing them
together.  Then Palan said:  'Before I begin to talk seriously . . .
one more toast--to OURSELVES--to the stuffy shirt and to the old
hothead . . .  The one not so hot, as they say in America, and the
other--perhaps--not always so stuffy. . . .'  He raised his glass.
'I take it that the nickname is from the phrase "stuffy shirt", is
it not?'

'You mean STUFFED,' Charles corrected.  'No, nothing to do with it
at all--at least, not in origin.  But never mind . . . let's get to
work.'  He raised his own glass and muttered 'Cheers' or something
that remotely sounded like it, then drew a notebook and pencil from
a drawer of the desk.

                  *     *     *     *     *

Late one night a week later Charles wrote from his room at the
Crillon:


My dear Anne,

I daresay you'll have seen from your Times and Herald-Tribune that
l'affaire Palan has become public.  It's pretty big news in the
English and European papers, and my name has been given some
prominence--more, in fact, than a minor diplomat could expect or
desire.  I must say it seems odd that after a lifetime of doing my
job with fair success and no publicity at all I should suddenly
achieve headline fame (or is it notoriety?) because an allegedly
reformed character calls me simpatico and gives me the kind of
eulogy generally reserved for obituaries.  Of course the situation,
as well as being politically gratifying, has caused some private
amusement among our own people, but I shall hope to live it down if
only Palan will stop giving interviews.  However, the whole thing
is probably no more than a nine days' wonder, though it will give
me something extra to put in my book--which, by the way (and
doubtless as a result), Macmillans have tentatively agreed to
publish.  So I really must begin work on the thing soon.

The new man they sent over to take Palan's place is just what he
forecast--glum, grim, youngish, bald, and pink-cheeked, like a
rather nightmarish baby.  We have had our first clash already.
Somehow, though, I don't think our people will waste much more time
here--everything since the Palan defection has been really
anticlimax.  I shan't be sorry to get back to London again,
especially now you are back in America.  In a rather complicated
way (which I shall perhaps have the chance of explaining to you
some time) you yourself are at least partly responsible for the
outcome of the Palan thing, though of course neither of us could
have been even remotely aware of any such chain of cause and effect--
any more than (I will also explain this to you some time) the
monkey that bit the King of Greece in 1920 could ever have supposed
he was changing the history of the world.  On consideration the
parallel does not seem too flattering, but I will let it stand
since (after so much that Palan has said about me) my reputation as
a farceur is well established . . .

And now to more personal matters . . .


Several months later Charles wrote from his flat in Knightsbridge:


My dear Anne,

Thanks for your congratulations.  Of course it's just a routine
thing they give you more or less automatically when you've been a
certain amount of time in the Service.  I'm rather surprised the
American papers made any mention of it--it was only in small print
even over here.  No, it doesn't carry a handle, thank goodness.
Like my father, who was Sir Havelock for forty years, I'm snobbish
enough to feel that a knighthood would put one on a level with many
people one wouldn't care about--though of course if I were ever
offered it (which isn't, I think, any longer a good bet) I should
probably rejoice in secret.  Anyhow, the C.M.G. leaves me very
happily plain mister--it's really nothing but a small enamel cross
hanging on a red and blue ribbon just below the white tie when one
wears tails--and nowadays, even in London, there are few such
occasions . . .

. . . Gerald has just gone back to school after a fine Christmas we
had together in the Lake District, doing some of the easier climbs--
easier for him, that is, with his six-foot reach.  He's very well
and happy and has got to know a girl of about his own age to whom I
can only apply the adjective 'strapping' in revenge for the one
which, he reported, she bestowed on me--'spry'.  Now how do you
like that?  Am I spry?  Gerald met her halfway up a mountain, or
halfway down, whichever way you look at it, but the way he looks at
it is that fate engineered the whole thing.  Perhaps it did.  She's
a nice girl, anyhow. . .

. . . and Palan continues to enjoy the favour that so often in this
world seems to be granted to the one rather than to the ninety-and-
nine.  I understand he's already negotiating with Korda for the
motion picture rights of his life story . . .

. . . and I have the interesting news, which I hope will please
you, that I shall soon be crossing the ocean for a short spell in
Washington--nothing uniquely important except to me personally,
since there'll be a chance to see you.  I shall arrive in New York
about the tenth of next month . . .

. . . and now, before I send this off, may I add how much I . . .

                  *     *     *     *     *

When he had sealed and addressed the envelope Charles pottered
about for a while, looking for that last little thing he would do
before going to bed.  He took out his notes for the book, but could
think of nothing to add to them; then he pulled aside the curtains
and looked down on the cars and buses cruising under the lights of
a second post-war London in his lifetime.  He felt that so many
things had happened before, even though far differently, and the
thing to do was perhaps just to sit by the window for a few minutes
and remember how.


THE END




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