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Title: Limits and Renewals
Author: Rudyard Kipling
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Language: English
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Limits and Renewals
Rudyard Kipling




CONTENTS:

Dayspring Mishandled
Gertrude's Prayer
Dinah in Heaven
The Woman in His Life
Four-Feet
The Totem
The Tie
The Church that was at Antioch
The Disciple
The Playmate
Aunt Ellen
Naaman's Song
The Mother's Son
Fairy-Kist
The Coiner
A Naval Mutiny
The Debt
Akbar's Bridge
The Manner of Men
At his Execution
Unprofessional
The Threshold
Neighbours
Beauty Spots
The Expert
The Cur
The Miracle of Saint Jubanus
Song of Seventy Horses
Hymn to Physical Pain
The Tender Achilles
The Penalty
Uncovenanted Mercies
Azrael's Count




Dayspring Mishandled

C'est moi, c'est moi, c'est moi!
  Je suis la Mandragore!
La file des beaux jours qui s'veille  l'aurore--
  Et qui chante pour toi!

C. NODIER.


IN the days beyond compare and before the Judgments, a genius called
Graydon foresaw that the advance of education and the standard of
living would submerge all mind-marks in one mudrush of standardised
reading-matter, and so created the Fictional Supply Syndicate to meet
the demand.

Since a few days' work for him brought them more money than a week's
elsewhere, he drew many young men--some now eminent--into his employ.
He bade them keep their eyes on the Sixpenny Dream Book, the Army and
Navy Stores Catalogue (this for backgrounds and furniture as they
changed), and The Hearthstone Friend, a weekly publication which
specialised unrivalledly in the domestic emotions. Yet, even so, youth
would not be denied, and some of the collaborated love-talk in
'Passion Hath Peril,' and 'Ena's Lost Lovers,' and the account of the
murder of the Earl in 'The Wickwire Tragedies'--to name but a few
masterpieces now never mentioned for fear of blackmail--was as good as
anything to which their authors signed their real names in more
distinguished years.

Among the young ravens driven to roost awhile on Graydon's ark was
James Andrew Manallace--a darkish, slow northerner of the type that
does not ignite, but must be detonated. Given written or verbal
outlines of a plot, he was useless; but, with a half-dozen pictures
round which to write his tale, he could astonish.

And he adored that woman who afterwards became the mother of Vidal
Benzaquen,[*] and who suffered and died because she loved one unworthy.
There was, also, among the company a mannered, bellied person called
Alured Castorley, who talked and wrote about 'Bohemia,' but was always
afraid of being 'compromised' by the weekly suppers at Neminaka's
Cafes in Hestern Square, where the Syndicate work was apportioned, and
where everyone looked out for himself. He, too, for a time, had loved
Vidal's mother, in his own way.

[* 'The Village that voted the Earth was Flat.' A Diversity of
Creatures.]

Now, one Saturday at Neminaka's, Graydon, who had given Manallace a
sheaf of prints--torn from an extinct children's book called
Philippa's Queen--on which to improvise, asked for results. Manallace
went down into his ulster-pocket, hesitated a moment, and said the
stuff had turned into poetry on his hands.

'Bosh!'

'That's what it isn't,' the boy retorted. 'It's rather good.'

'Then it's no use to us.' Graydon laughed. 'Have you brought back the
cuts?'

Manallace handed them over. There was a castle in the series; a knight
or so in armour; an old lady in a horned head-dress; a young ditto; a
very obvious Hebrew; a clerk, with pen and inkhorn, checking wine-
barrels on a wharf; and a Crusader. On the back of one of the prints
was a note, 'If he doesn't want to go, why can't he be captured and
held to ransom?' Graydon asked what it all meant.

'I don't know yet. A comic opera, perhaps,' said Manallace.

Graydon, who seldom wasted time, passed the cuts on to someone else,
and advanced Manallace a couple of sovereigns to carry on with, as
usual; at which Castorley was angry and would have said something
unpleasant but was suppressed. Half-way through supper, Castorley told
the company that a relative had died and left him an independence; and
that he now withdrew from 'hackwork' to follow 'Literature.'
Generally, the Syndicate rejoiced in a comrade's good fortune, but
Castorley had gifts of waking dislike. So the news was received with a
vote of thanks, and he went out before the end, and, it was said,
proposed to 'Dal Benzaquen's mother, who refused him. He did not come
back. Manallace, who had arrived a little exalted, got so drunk before
midnight that a man had to stay and see him home. But liquor never
touched him above the belt, and when he had slept awhile, he recited
to the gas-chandelier the poetry he had made out of the pictures; said
that, on second thoughts, he would convert it into comic opera;
deplored the Upas-tree influence of Gilbert and Sullivan; sang
somewhat to illustrate his point; and--after words, by the way, with a
negress in yellow satin--was steered to his rooms.

In the course of a few years, Graydon's foresight and genius were
rewarded. The public began to read and reason upon higher planes, and
the Syndicate grew rich. Later still, people demanded of their printed
matter what they expected in their clothing and furniture. So,
precisely as the three guinea hand-bag is followed in three weeks by
its thirteen and sevenpence ha'penny, indistinguishable sister, they
enjoyed perfect synthetic substitutes for Plot, Sentiment, and
Emotion. Graydon died before the Cinemacaption school came in, but he
left his widow twenty-seven thousand pounds.

Manallace made a reputation, and, more important, money for Vidal's
mother when her husband ran away and the first symptoms of her
paralysis showed. His line was the jocundly-sentimental Wardour Street
brand of adventure, told in a style that exactly met, but never
exceeded, every expectation.

As he once said when urged to 'write a real book': 'I've got my label,
and I'm not going to chew it off. If you save people thinking, you can
do anything with 'em.' His output apart, he was genuinely a man of
letters. He rented a small cottage in the country and economised on
everything, except the care and charges of Vidal's mother.

Castorley flew higher. When his legacy freed him from 'hackwork,' he
became first a critic--in which calling he loyally scalped all his old
associates as they came up--and then looked for some speciality.
Having found it (Chaucer was the prey), he consolidated his position
before he occupied it, by his careful speech, his cultivated bearing,
and the whispered words of his friends whom he, too, had saved the
trouble of thinking. It followed that, when he published his first
serious articles on Chaucer, all the world which is interested in
Chaucer said: 'This is an authority.' But he was no impostor. He
learned and knew his poet and his age; and in a month-long dogfight in
an austere literary weekly, met and mangled a recognised Chaucer
expert of the day. He also, 'for old sake's sake,' as he wrote to a
friend, went out of his way to review one of Manallace's books with an
intimacy of unclean deduction (this was before the days of Freud)
which long stood as a record. Some member of the extinct Syndicate
took occasion to ask him if he would--for old sake's sake--help
Vidal's mother to a new treatment. He answered that he had 'known the
lady very slightly and the calls on his purse were so heavy that,'
etc. The writer showed the letter to Manallace, who said he was glad
Castorley hadn't interfered. Vidal's mother was then wholly paralysed.
Only her eyes could move, and those always looked for the husband who
had left her. She died thus in Manallace's arms in April of the first
year of the War.

During the War he and Castorley worked as some sort of departmental
dishwashers in the Office of Co-ordinated Supervisals. Here Manallace
came to know Castorley again. Castorley, having a sweet tooth, cadged
lumps of sugar for his tea from a typist, and when she took to giving
them to a younger man, arranged that she should be reported for
smoking in unauthorised apartments. Manallace possessed himself of
every detail of the affair, as compensation for the review of his
book. Then there came a night when, waiting for a big air-raid, the
two men had talked humanly, and Manallace spoke of Vidal's mother.
Castorley said something in reply, and from that hour--as was learned
several years later--Manallace's real life-work and interests began.

The War over, Castorley set about to make himself Supreme Pontiff on
Chaucer by methods not far removed from the employment of poison-gas.
The English Pope was silent, through private griefs, and influenza had
carried off the learned Hun who claimed continental allegiance. Thus
Castorley crowed unchallenged from Upsala to Seville, while Manallace
went back to his cottage with the photo of Vidal's mother over the
mantelpiece. She seemed to have emptied out his life, and left him
only fleeting interests in trifles. His private diversions were
experiments of uncertain outcome, which, he said, rested him after a
day's gadzooking and vitalstapping. I found him, for instance, one
week-end, in his toolshed-scullery, boiling a brew of slimy barks
which were, if mixed with oak-galls, vitriol and wine, to become an
ink-powder. We boiled it till the Monday, and it turned into an
adhesive stronger than birdlime, and entangled us both.

At other times, he would carry me off, once in a few weeks, to sit at
Castorley's feet, and hear him talk about Chaucer. Castorley's voice,
bad enough in youth, when it could be shouted down, had, with culture
and tact, grown almost insupportable. His mannerisms, too, had
multiplied and set. He minced and mouthed, postured and chewed his
words throughout those terrible evenings; and poisoned not only
Chaucer, but every shred of English literature which he used to
embellish him. He was shameless, too, as regarded self-advertisement
and 'recognition'--weaving elaborate intrigues; forming petty
friendships and confederacies, to be dissolved next week in favour of
more promising alliances; fawning, snubbing, lecturing, organising and
lying as unrestingly as a politician, in chase of the Knighthood due
not to him (he always called on his Maker to forbid such a thought)
but as tribute to Chaucer. Yet, sometimes, he could break from his
obsession and prove how a man's work will try to save the soul of him.
He would tell us charmingly of copyists of the fifteenth century in
England and the Low Countries, who had multiplied the Chaucer MSS., of
which there remained--he gave us the exact number--and how each scribe
could by him (and, he implied, by him alone) be distinguished from
every other by some peculiarity of letter-formation, spacing or like
trick of pen-work; and how he could fix the dates of their work within
five years. Sometimes he would give us an hour of really interesting
stuff and then return to his overdue 'recognition.' The changes
sickened me, but Manallace defended him, as a master in his own line
who had revealed Chaucer to at least one grateful soul.

This, as far as I remembered, was the autumn when Manallace holidayed
in the Shetlands or the Faroes, and came back with a stone 'quern'--a
hand corn-grinder. He said it interested him from the ethnological
standpoint. His whim lasted till next harvest, and was followed by a
religious spasm which, naturally, translated itself into literature.
He showed me a battered and mutilated Vulgate of 1485, patched up the
back with bits of legal parchments, which he had bought for thirty-
five shillings. Some monk's attempt to rubricate chapter-initials had
caught, it seemed, his forlorn fancy, and he dabbled in shells of gold
and silver paint for weeks.

That also faded out, and he went to the Continent to get local colour
for a love-story, about Alva and the Dutch, and the next year I saw
practically nothing of him. This released me from seeing much of
Castorley, but, at intervals, I would go there to dine with him, when
his wife--an unappetising, ash-coloured woman--made no secret that his
friends wearied her almost as much as he did. But at a later meeting,
not long after Manallace had finished his Low Countries' novel, I
found Castorley charged to bursting-point with triumph and high
information hardly withheld. He confided to me that a time was at hand
when great matters would be made plain, and 'recognition' would be
inevitable. I assumed, naturally, that there was fresh scandal or
heresy afoot in Chaucer circles, and kept my curiosity within bounds.

In time, New York cabled that a fragment of a hitherto unknown
Canterbury Tale lay safe in the steel-walled vaults of the seven-
million-dollar Sunnapia Collection. It was news on an international
scale--the New World exultant--the Old deploring the 'burden of
British taxation which drove such treasures, etc.,' and the
lighterminded journals disporting themselves according to their
publics; for 'our Dan,' as one earnest Sunday editor observed, 'lies
closer to the national heart than we wot of.' Common decency made me
call on Castorley, who, to my surprise, had not yet descended into the
arena. I found him, made young again by joy, deep in just-passed
proofs.

Yes, he said, it was all true. He had, of course, been in it from the
first. There had been found one hundred and seven new lines of Chaucer
tacked on to an abridged end of The Persone's Tale, the whole the work
of Abraham Mentzius, better known as Mentzel of Antwerp (1388--
1438/9)--I might remember he had talked about him--whose
distinguishing peculiarities were a certain Byzantine formation of his
g's, the use of a 'sickle-slanted' reed-pen, which cut into the vellum
at certain letters; and, above all, a tendency to spell English words
on Dutch lines, whereof the manuscript carried one convincing proof.
For instance (he wrote it out for me), a girl praying against an
undesired marriage, says:--

'Ah Jesu-Moder, pitie my oe peyne.

Daiespringe mishandeelt cometh nat agayne.'

Would I, please, note the spelling of 'mishandeelt'? Stark Dutch and
Mentzel's besetting sin! But in his position one took nothing for
granted. The page had been part of the stiffening of the side of an
old Bible, bought in a parcel by Dredd, the big dealer, because it had
some rubricated chapter-initials, and by Dredd shipped, with a
consignment of similar odds and ends, to the Sunnapia Collection,
where they were making a glass-cased exhibit of the whole history of
illumination and did not care how many books they gutted for that
purpose. There, someone who noticed a crack in the back of the volume
had unearthed it. He went on: 'They didn't know what to make of the
thing at first. But they knew about me! They kept quiet till I'd been
consulted. You might have noticed I was out of England for three
months.

'I was over there, of course. It was what is called a "spoil"--a page
Mentzel had spoiled with his Dutch spelling--I expect he had had the
English dictated to him--then had evidently used the vellum for trying
out his reeds; and then, I suppose, had put it away. The "spoil" had
been doubled, pasted together, and slipped in as stiffening to the old
book-cover. I had it steamed open, and analysed the wash. It gave the
flour-grains in the paste-coarse, because of the old millstone--and
there were traces of the grit itself. What? Oh, possibly a handmill of
Mentzel's own time. He may have doubled the spoilt page and used it
for part of a pad to steady wood-cuts on. It may have knocked about
his workshop for years. That, indeed, is practically certain because a
beginner from the Low Countries has tried his reed on a few lines of
some monkish hymn--not a bad lilt tho'--which must have been common
form. Oh yes, the page may have been used in other books before it was
used for the Vulgate. That doesn't matter, but this does. Listen! I
took a wash, for analysis, from a blot in one corner--that would be
after Mentzel had given up trying to make a possible page of it, and
had grown careless--and I got the actual ink of the period! It's a
practically eternal stuff compounded on--I've forgotten his name for
the minute--the scribe at Bury St. Edmunds, of course--hawthorn bark
and wine. Anyhow, on his formula. That wouldn't interest you either,
but, taken with all the other testimony, it clinches the thing.
(You'll see it all in my Statement to the Press on Monday.)
Overwhelming, isn't it?'

'Overwhelming,' I said, with sincerity. 'Tell me what the tale was
about, though. That's more in my line.'

'I know it; but I have to be equipped on all sides. The verses are
relatively easy for one to pronounce on. The freshness, the fun, the
humanity, the fragrance of it all, cries--no, shouts--itself as Dan's
work. Why "Daiespringe mishandled" alone stamps it from Dan's mint.
Plangent as doom, my dear boy--plangent as doom! It's all in my
Statement. Well, substantially, the fragment deals with a girl whose
parents wish her to marry an elderly suitor. The mother isn't so keen
on it, but the father, an old Knight, is. The girl, of course, is in
love with a younger and a poorer man. Common form? Granted. Then the
father, who doesn't in the least want to, is ordered off to a Crusade
and, by way of passing on the kick, as we used to say during the War,
orders the girl to be kept in duresse till his return or her consent
to the old suitor. Common form, again? Quite so. That's too much for
her mother. She reminds the old Knight of his age and infirmities, and
the discomforts of Crusading. Are you sure I'm not boring you?'

'Not at all,' I said, though time had begun to whirl backward through
my brain to a red-velvet, pomatum-scented side-room at Neminaka's and
Manallace's set face intoning to the gas.

'You'll read it all in my Statement next week. The sum is that the old
lady tells him of a certain Knight-adventurer on the French coast,
who, for a consideration, waylays Knights who don't relish crusading
and holds them to impossible ransoms till the trooping-season is over,
or they are returned sick. He keeps a ship in the Channel to pick 'em
up and transfers his birds to his castle ashore, where he has a
reputation for doing 'em well. As the old lady points out:

'And if perchance thou fall into his honde

By God how canstow ride to Holilonde?'

'You see? Modern in essence as Gilbert and Sullivan, but handled as
only Dan could! And she reminds him that "Honour and olde bones"
parted company long ago. He makes one splendid appeal for the spirit
of chivalry:

Let all men change as Fortune may send.
But Knighthood beareth service to the end.
and then, of course, he gives in
For what his woman willeth to be don
Her manne must or wauken Hell anon.

'Then she hints that the daughter's young lover, who is in the
Bordeaux wine-trade, could open negotiations for a kidnapping without
compromising him. And then that careless brute Mentzel spoils his page
and chucks it! But there's enough to show what's going to happen.
You'll see it all in my Statement. Was there ever anything in literary
finds to hold a candle to it?...And they give grocers Knighthoods
for selling cheese!'

I went away before he could get into his stride on that course. I
wanted to think, and to see Manallace. But I waited till Castorley's
Statement came out. He had left himself no loophole. And when, a
little later, his (nominally the Sunnapia people's) 'scientific'
account of their analyses and tests appeared, criticism ceased, and
some journals began to demand 'public recognition.' Manallace wrote me
on this subject, and I went down to his cottage, where he at once
asked me to sign a Memorial on Castorley's behalf. With luck, he said,
we might get him a K.B.E. in the next Honours List. Had I read the
Statement?

'I have,' I replied. 'But I want to ask you something first. Do you
remember the night you got drunk at Neminaka's, and I stayed behind to
look after you?'

'Oh, that time,' said he, pondering. 'Wait a minute! I remember
Graydon advancing me two quid. He was a generous paymaster. And I
remember--now, who the devil rolled me under the sofa--and what for?'

'We all did,' I replied. 'You wanted to read us what you'd written to
those Chaucer cuts.'

'I don't remember that. No! I don't remember anything after the sofa-
episode...You always said that you took me home--didn't you?'

'I did, and you told Kentucky Kate outside the old Empire that you had
been faithful, Cynara, in your fashion.'

'Did I?' said he. 'My God! Well, I suppose I have.' He stared into the
fire. 'What else?'

'Before we left Neminaka's you recited me what you had made out of the
cuts--the whole tale! So--you see?'

'Ye-es.' He nodded. 'What are you going to do about it?'

'What are you?'

'I'm going to help him get his Knighthood--first.'

'Why?'

'I'll tell you what he said about 'Dal's mother--the night there was
that air-raid on the offices.'

He told it.

'That's why,' he said. 'Am I justified?'

He seemed to me entirely so.

'But after he gets his Knighthood?' I went on.

'That depends. There are several things I can think of. It interests
me.'

'Good Heavens! I've always imagined you a man without interests.'

'So I was. I owe my interests to Castorley. He gave me every one of
'em except the tale itself.'

'How did that come?'

'Something in those ghastly cuts touched off something in me--a sort
of possession, I suppose. I was in love too. No wonder I got drunk
that night. I'd been Chaucer for a week! Then I thought the notion
might make a comic opera. But Gilbert and Sullivan were too strong.'

'So I remember you told me at the time.'

'I kept it by me, and it made me interested in Chaucer--philologically
and so on. I worked on it on those lines for years. There wasn't a
flaw in the wording even in '14. I hardly had to touch it after that.'

'Did you ever tell it to anyone except me?'

'No, only 'Dal's mother--when she could listen to anything--to put her
to sleep. But when Castorley said--what he did about her, I thought I
might use it. 'Twasn't difficult. He taught me. D'you remember my
birdlime experiments, and the stuff on our hands? I'd been trying to
get that ink for more than a year. Castorley told me where I'd find
the formula. And your falling over the quern, too?'

'That accounted for the stone-dust under the microscope?'

'Yes. I grew the wheat in the garden here, and ground it myself.
Castorley gave me Mentzel complete. He put me on to an MS. in the
British Museum which he said was the finest sample of his work. I
copied his "Byzantine g's" for months.'

'And what's a "sickle-slanted" pen?' I asked.

'You nick one edge of your reed till it drags and scratches on the
curves of the letters. Castorley told me about Mentzel's spacing and
margining. I only had to get the hang of his script.'

'How long did that take you?'

'On and off--some years. I was too ambitious at first--I wanted to
give the whole poem. That would have been risky. Then Castorley told
me about spoiled pages and I took the hint. I spelt "Dayspring
mishandeelt" Mentzel's way--to make sure of him. It's not a bad
couplet in itself. Did you see how he admires the "plangency" of it?'

'Never mind him. Go on!' I said.

He did. Castorley had been his unfailing guide throughout, specifying
in minutest detail every trap to be set later for his own feet. The
actual vellum was an Antwerp find, and its introduction into the cover
of the Vulgate was begun after a long course of amateur bookbinding.
At last, he bedded it under pieces of an old deed, and a printed page
(1686) of Horace's Odes, legitimately used for repairs by different
owners in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries; and at the last
moment, to meet Castorley's theory that spoiled pages were used in
workshops by beginners, he had written a few Latin words in fifteenth
century script the Statement gave the exact date--across an open part
of the fragment. The thing ran: 'Illa alma Mater ecca, secum afferens
me acceptum. Nicolaus Atrib.' The disposal of the thing was easiest of
all. He had merely hung about Dredd's dark bookshop of fifteen rooms,
where he was well known, occasionally buying but generally browsing,
till, one day, Dredd Senior showed him a case of cheap black-letter
stuff, English and Continental--being packed for the Sunnapia people--
into which Manallace tucked his contribution, taking care to wrench
the back enough to give a lead to an earnest seeker.

'And then?' I demanded.

'After six months or so Castorley sent for me. Sunnapia had found it,
and as Dredd had missed it, and there was no money-motive sticking
out, they were half convinced it was genuine from the start. But they
invited him over. He conferred with their experts, and suggested the
scientific tests. I put that into his head, before he sailed. That's
all. And now, will you sign our Memorial?'

I signed. Before we had finished hawking it round there was a host of
influential names to help us, as well as the impetus of all the
literary discussion which arose over every detail of the glorious
trove. The upshot was a K.B.E.[*] for Castorley in the next Honours
List; and Lady Castorley, her cards duly printed, called on friends
that same afternoon.

[* Officially it was on account of his good work in the Departmental of
Co-ordinated Supervisals, but all true lovers of literature knew the
real reason, and told the papers so.]

Manallace invited me to come with him, a day or so later, to convey
our pleasure and satisfaction to them both. We were rewarded by the
sight of a man relaxed and ungirt--not to say wallowing naked--on the
crest of Success. He assured us that 'The Title' should not make any
difference to our future relations, seeing it was in no sense
personal, but, as he had often said, a tribute to Chaucer; 'and, after
all,' he pointed out, with a glance at the mirror over the
mantelpiece, 'Chaucer was the prototype of the "veray parfit gentil
Knight" of the British Empire so far as that then existed.'

On the way back, Manallace told me he was considering either an
unheralded revelation in the baser Press which should bring
Castorley's reputation about his own ears some breakfast-time, or a
private conversation, when he would make clear to Castorley that he
must now back the forgery as long as he lived, under threat of
Manallace's betraying it if he flinched.

He favoured the second plan. 'If I pull the string of the shower-bath
in the papers,' he said, 'Castorley might go off his veray parfit
gentil nut. I want to keep his intellect.'

'What about your own position? The forgery doesn't matter so much. But
if you tell this you'll kill him,' I said.

'I intend that. Oh--my position? I've been dead since--April,
Fourteen, it was. But there's no hurry. What was it she was saying to
you just as we left?'

'She told me how much your sympathy and understanding had meant to
him. She said she thought that even Sir Alured did not realise the
full extent of his obligations to you.'

'She's right, but I don't like her putting it that way.'

'It's only common form--as Castorley's always saying.'

'Not with her. She can hear a man think.'

'She never struck me in that light.'

'You aren't playing against her.'

''Guilty conscience, Manallace?'

'H'm! I wonder. Mine or hers? I wish she hadn't said that. "More even
than he realises it." I won't call again for awhile.'

He kept away till we read that Sir Alured, owing to slight
indisposition, had been unable to attend a dinner given in his honour.

Inquiries brought word that it was but natural reaction, after strain,
which, for the moment, took the form of nervous dyspepsia, and he
would be glad to see Manallace at any time. Manallace reported him as
rather pulled and drawn, but full of his new life and position, and
proud that his efforts should have martyred him so much. He was going
to collect, collate, and expand all his pronouncements and inferences
into one authoritative volume.

'I must make an effort of my own,' said Manallace. 'I've collected
nearly all his stuff about the Find that has appeared in the papers,
and he's promised me everything that's missing. I'm going to help him.
It will be a new interest.'

'How will you treat it?' I asked.

'I expect I shall quote his deductions on the evidence, and parallel
'em with my experiments--the ink and the paste and the rest of it. It
ought to be rather interesting.'

'But even then there will only be your word. It's hard to catch up
with an established lie,' I said. 'Especially when you've started it
yourself.'

He laughed. 'I've arranged for that--in case anything happens to me.
Do you remember the "Monkish Hymn"?'

'Oh yes! There's quite a literature about it already.'

'Well, you write those ten words above each other,[*] and read down the
first and second letters of 'em; and see what you get.1 My Bank has
the formula.'

[*
I11a
alma
Mater
ecca
secum
afferens
me
acceptum
Nicolaus
Atrib.]

He wrapped himself lovingly and leisurely round his new task, and
Castorley was as good as his word in giving him help. The two
practically collaborated, for Manallace suggested that all Castorley's
strictly scientific evidence should be in one place, with his
deductions and dithyrambs as appendices. He assured him that the
public would prefer this arrangement, and, after grave consideration,
Castorley agreed.

'That's better,' said Manallace to me. 'Now I sha'n't have so many
hiatuses in my extracts. Dots always give the reader the idea you
aren't dealing fairly with your man. I shall merely quote him solid,
and rip him up, proof for proof, and date for date, in parallel
columns. His book's taking more out of him than I like, though. He's
been doubled up twice with tummy attacks since I've worked with him.
And he's just the sort of flatulent beast who may go down with
appendicitis.'

We learned before long that the attacks were due to gall-stones, which
would necessitate an operation. Castorley bore the blow very well. He
had full confidence in his surgeon, an old friend of theirs; great
faith in his own constitution; a strong conviction that nothing would
happen to him till the book was finished, and, above all, the Will to
Live.

He dwelt on these assets with a voice at times a little out of pitch
and eyes brighter than usual beside a slightly-sharpening nose.

I had only met Gleeag, the surgeon, once or twice at Castorley's
house, but had always heard him spoken of as a most capable man. He
told Castorley that his trouble was the price exacted, in some shape
or other, from all who had served their country; and that, measured in
units of strain, Castorley had practically been at the front through
those three years he had served in the Office of Co-ordinated
Supervisals. However, the thing had been taken betimes, and in a few
weeks he would worry no more about it.

'But suppose he dies?' I suggested to Manallace.

'He won't. I've been talking to Gleeag. He says he's all right.'

'Wouldn't Gleeag's talk be common form?'

'I wish you hadn't said that. But, surely, Gleeag wouldn't have the
face to play with me--or her.'

'Why not? I expect it's been done before.' But Manallace insisted
that, in this case, it would be impossible.

The operation was a success and, some weeks later, Castorley began to
recast the arrangement and most of the material of his book. 'Let me
have my way,' he said, when Manallace protested. 'They are making too
much of a baby of me. I really don't need Gleeag looking in every day
now.' But Lady Castorley told us that he required careful watching.
His heart had felt the strain, and fret or disappointment of any kind
must be avoided. 'Even,' she turned to Manallace, 'though you know
ever so much better how his book should be arranged than he does
himself.'

'But really,' Manallace began. 'I'm very careful not to fuss--'

She shook her finger at him playfully. 'You don't think you do; but,
remember, he tells me everything that you tell him, just the same as
he told me everything that he used to tell you. Oh, I don't mean the
things that men talk about. I mean about his Chaucer.'

'I didn't realise that,' said Manallace, weakly.

'I thought you didn't. He never spares me anything; but I don't mind,'
she replied with a laugh, and went off to Gleeag, who was paying his
daily visit. Gleeag said he had no objection to Manallace working with
Castorley on the book for a given time--say, twice a week--but
supported Lady Castorley's demand that he should not be over-taxed in
what she called 'the sacred hours.' The man grew more and more
difficult to work with, and the little check he had heretofore set on
his self-praise went altogether.

'He says there has never been anything in the History of Letters to
compare with it,' Manallace groaned. 'He wants now to inscribe--he
never dedicates, you know--inscribe it to me, as his "most valued
assistant." The devil of it is that she backs him up in getting it out
soon. Why? How much do you think she knows?'

'Why should she know anything at all?'

'You heard her say he had told her everything that he had told me
about Chaucer? (I wish she hadn't said that!) If she puts two and two
together, she can't help seeing that every one of his notions and
theories has been played up to. But then--but then...Why is she
trying to hurry publication? She talks about me fretting him. She's at
him, all the time, to be quick.'

Castorley must have over-worked, for, after a couple of months, he
complained of a stitch in his right side, which Gleeag said was a
slight sequel, a little incident of the operation. It threw him back
awhile, but he returned to his work undefeated.

The book was due in the autumn. Summer was passing, and his publisher
urgent, and--he said to me, when after a longish interval I called--
Manallace had chosen this time, of all, to take a holiday. He was not
pleased with Manallace, once his indefatigable aide, but now dilatory,
and full of time-wasting objections. Lady Castorley had noticed it,
too.

Meantime, with Lady Castorley's help, he himself was doing the best he
could to expedite the book; but Manallace had mislaid (did I think
through jealousy?) some essential stuff which had been dictated to
him. And Lady Castorley wrote Manallace, who had been delayed by a
slight motor accident abroad, that the fret of waiting was prejudicial
to her husband's health. Manallace, on his return from the Continent,
showed me that letter.

'He has fretted a little, I believe,' I said.

Manallace shuddered. 'If I stay abroad, I'm helping to kill him. If I
help him to hurry up the book, I'm expected to kill him. She knows,'
he said.

'You're mad. You've got this thing on the brain.'

'I have not! Look here! You remember that Gleeag gave me from four to
six, twice a week, to work with him. She called them the "sacred
hours." You heard her? Well, they are! They are Gleeag's and hers. But
she's so infernally plain, and I'm such a fool, it took me weeks to
find it out.'

'That's their affair,' I answered. 'It doesn't prove she knows
anything about the Chaucer.'

'She does! He told her everything that he had told me when I was
pumping him, all those years. She put two and two together when the
thing came out. She saw exactly how I had set my traps. I know it!
She's been trying to make me admit it.'

'What did you do?'

''Didn't understand what she was driving at, of course. And then she
asked Gleeag, before me, if he didn't think the delay over the book
was fretting Sir Alured. He didn't think so. He said getting it out
might deprive him of an interest. He had that much decency. She's the
devil!'

'What do you suppose is her game, then?'

'If Castorley knows he's been had, it'll kill him. She's at me all the
time, indirectly, to let it out. I've told you she wants to make it a
sort of joke between us. Gleeag's willing to wait. He knows
Castorley's a dead man. It slips out when they talk. They say "He
was," not "He is." Both of 'em know it. But she wants him finished
sooner.'

'I don't believe it. What are you going to do?'

'What can I? I'm not going to have him killed, though.'

Manlike, he invented compromises whereby Castorley might be lured up
by-paths of interest, to delay publication. This was not a success. As
autumn advanced Castorley fretted more, and suffered from returns of
his distressing colics. At last, Gleeag told him that he thought they
might be due to an overlooked gallstone working down. A second
comparatively trivial operation would eliminate the bother once and
for all. If Castorley cared for another opinion, Gleeag named a
surgeon of eminence. 'And then,' said he, cheerily, 'the two of us can
talk you over.' Castorley did not want to be talked over. He was
oppressed by pains in his side, which, at first, had yielded to the
liver-tonics Gleeag prescribed; but now they stayed--like a
toothache--behind everything. He felt most at ease in his bedroom-
study, with his proofs round him. If he had more pain than he could
stand, he would consider the second operation. Meantime Manallace--
'the meticulous Manallace,' he called him--agreed with him in thinking
that the Mentzel page-facsimile, done by the Sunnapia Library, was not
quite good enough for the great book, and the Sunnapia people were,
very decently, having it re-processed. This would hold things back
till early spring, which had its advantages, for he could run a fresh
eye over all in the interval.

One gathered these news in the course of stray visits as the days
shortened. He insisted on Manallace keeping to the 'sacred hours,' and
Manallace insisted on my accompanying him when possible. On these
occasions he and Castorley would confer apart for half an hour or so,
while I listened to an unendurable clock in the drawing-room. Then I
would join them and help wear out the rest of the time, while
Castorley rambled. His speech, now, was often clouded and uncertain--
the result of the 'liver-tonics'; and his face came to look like old
vellum.

It was a few days after Christmas--the operation had been postponed
till the following Friday--that we called together. She met us with
word that Sir Alured had picked up an irritating little winter cough,
due to a cold wave, but we were not, therefore, to abridge our visit.
We found him in steam perfumed with Friar's Balsam. He waved the old
Sunnapia facsimile at us. We agreed that it ought to have been more
worthy. He took a dose of his mixture, lay back and asked us to lock
the door. There was, he whispered, something wrong somewhere. He could
not lay his finger on it, but it was in the air. He felt he was being
played with. He did not like it. There was something wrong all round
him. Had we noticed it? Manallace and I severally and slowly denied
that we had noticed anything of the sort.

With no longer break than a light fit of coughing, he fell into the
hideous, helpless panic of the sick--those worse than captives who lie
at the judgment and mercy of the hale for every office and hope. He
wanted to go away. Would we help him to pack his Gladstone? Or, if
that would attract too much attention in certain quarters, help him to
dress and go out? There was an urgent matter to be set right, and now
that he had The Title and knew his own mind it would all end happily
and he would be well again. Please would we let him go out, just to
speak to--he named her; he named her by her 'little' name out of the
old Neminaka days? Manallace quite agreed, and recommended a pull at
the 'liver-tonic' to brace him after so long in the house. He took it,
and Manallace suggested that it would be better if, after his walk, he
came down to the cottage for a week-end and brought the revise with
him. They could then re-touch the last chapter. He answered to that
drug and to some praise of his work, and presently simpered drowsily.
Yes, it was good--though he said it who should not. He praised himself
awhile till, with a puzzled forehead and shut eyes, he told us that
she had been saying lately that it was too good--the whole thing, if
we understood, was too good. He wished us to get the exact shade of
her meaning. She had suggested, or rather implied, this doubt. She had
said--he would let us draw our own inferences--that the Chaucer find
had 'anticipated the wants of humanity.' Johnson, of course. No need
to tell him that. But what the hell was her implication? Oh God! Life
had always been one long innuendo! And she had said that a man could
do anything with anyone if he saved him the trouble of thinking. What
did she mean by that? He had never shirked thought. He had thought
sustainedly all his life. It wasn't too good, was it? Manallace didn't
think it was too good--did he? But this pick-pick-picking at a man's
brain and work was too bad, wasn't it? What did she mean? Why did she
always bring in Manallace, who was only a friend--no scholar, but a
lover of the game--Eh?--Manallace could confirm this if he were here,
instead of loafing on the Continent just when he was most needed.

'I've come back,' Manallace interrupted, unsteadily. 'I can confirm
every word you've said. You've nothing to worry about. It's your
find--your credit--your glory and--all the rest of it.'

'Swear you'll tell her so then,' said Castorley. 'She doesn't believe
a word I say. She told me she never has since before we were married.
Promise!'

Manallace promised, and Castorley added that he had named him his
literary executor, the proceeds of the book to go to his wife. 'All
profits without deduction,' he gasped. 'Big sales if it's properly
handled. You don't need money...Graydon'll trust you to any
extent. It 'ud be a long...'

He coughed, and, as he caught breath, his pain broke through all the
drugs, and the outcry filled the room. Manallace rose to fetch Gleeag,
when a full, high, affected voice, unheard for a generation,
accompanied, as it seemed, the clamour of a beast in agony, saying: 'I
wish to God someone would stop that old swine howling down there! I
can't...I was going to tell you fellows that it would be a dam'
long time before Graydon advanced me two quid.'

We escaped together, and found Gleeag waiting, with Lady Castorley, on
the landing. He telephoned me, next morning, that Castorley had died
of bronchitis, which his weak state made it impossible for him to
throw off. 'Perhaps it's just as well,' he added, in reply to the
condolences I asked him to convey to the widow. 'We might have come
across something we couldn't have coped with.'

Distance from that house made me bold.

'You knew all along, I suppose? What was it, really?'

'Malignant kidney-trouble--generalised at the end. 'No use worrying
him about it. We let him through as easily as possible. Yes! A happy
release...What?...Oh! Cremation. Friday, at eleven.'

There, then, Manallace and I met. He told me that she had asked him
whether the book need now be published; and he had told her this was
more than ever necessary, in her interests as well as Castorley's.

'She is going to be known as his widow--for a while, at any rate. Did
I perjure myself much with him?'

'Not explicitly,' I answered.

'Well, I have now--with her--explicitly,' said he, and took out his
black gloves...

As, on the appointed words, the coffin crawled sideways through the
noiselessly-closing doorflaps, I saw Lady Castorley's eyes turn
towards Gleeag.



Gertrude's Prayer

Gertrude's Prayer
(Modernised from the 'Chaucer' of Manallace.)

THAT which is marred at birth Time shall not mend.
    Nor water out of bitter well make clean;
A11 evil thing returneth at the end.
    Or elseway walketh in our blood unseen.
Whereby the more is sorrow in certaine--
Dayspring mishandled cometh not againe.

To-bruized be that slender, sterting spray
    Out of the oake's rind that should betide
A branch of girt and goodliness, straightway
    Her spring is turned on herself, and wried
And knotted like some gall or veiney wen.--
Dayspring mishandled cometh not agen.

Noontide repayeth never morning-bliss--
    Sith noon to morn is incomparable;
And, so it be our dawning goth amiss.
    None other after-hour serveth well.
Ah! Jesu-Moder, pitie my oe paine--
Dayspring mishandled cometh not againe!



Dinah In Heaven

SHE did not know that she was dead.
  But, when the pang was o'er.
Sat down to wait her Master's tread
  Upon the Golden Floor

With ears full-cock and anxious eyes.
  Impatiently resigned;
But ignorant that Paradise
  Did not admit her kind.

Persons with Haloes, Harps, and Wings
  Assembled and reproved;
Or talked to her of Heavenly things.
  But Dinah never moved.

There was one step along the Stair
  That led to Heaven's Gate;
And, till she heard it, her affair
  Was--she explained--to wait.

And she explained with flattened ear.
  Bared lip and milky tooth--
Storming against Ithuriel's Spear
  That only proved her truth!

Sudden--far down, the Bridge of Ghosts
  That anxious spirits clomb--
She caught that step in all the hosts.
  And knew that he had come.

She left them wondering what to do.
  But not a doubt had she.
Swifter than her own squeals she flew
  Across the Glassy Sea;

Flushing the Cherubs everywhere.
  And skidding as she ran.
She refuged under Peter's Chair
  And waited for her man.

.   .   .   .   .

There spoke a Spirit out of the press
  'Said:--'Have you any here
That saved a fool from drunkenness.
  And a coward from his fear?
'That turned a soul from dark to day

  When other help was vain.
That snatched it from wanhope and made
  A cur a man again?'

'Enter and look,' said Peter then.
  And set The Gate ajar.
'If I know aught of women and men
  I trow she is not far.'

'Neither by virtue, speech nor art
  Nor hope of grace to win;
But godless innocence of heart
  That never heard of sin:

'Neither by beauty nor belief
  Nor white example shown.
Something a wanton--more a thief;
  But--most of allmine own.'

'Enter and look,' said Peter then.
  'And send you well to speed;
But, for all that I know of women and men
  Your riddle is hard to read.'

Then flew Dinah from under the Chair.
  Into his arms she flew--
And licked his face from chin to hair
  And Peter passed them through!



The Woman in His Life

Fairest of darkie daughters
Was Dinah Doe!
--Negro Melody.

FROM his boyhood John Marden had a genius for improvising or improving
small labour-saving gadgets about his father's house and premises. So,
when the War came, shortly after he had been apprenticed to a tool-
making firm in the Midlands, he chose the Engineers, and eventually
found himself at a place called Messines, where he worked underground,
many months, among interesting devices. There he met a Cockney named
Burnea, who diagnosed sick machinery by touch--with his eyes shut.
Between them, and a few fellow-workers, Messines Ridge went up.

After the War, the two men joined forces on four thousand pounds
capital; a dozen young veterans of Messines; a lease of some sheds in
a London suburb, and a collection of second-hand lathes and stampers.
They gave out that they were ready to make anything for anybody.

A South African mine-manager asked about a detachable arrangement on a
drill-head, which he could not buy in open market for less than four
shillings and sevenpence wholesale. Marden considered the drawings,
cut down the moving parts a half. Burnea made an astonished machine
undertake strange duties, and by the time he had racked it to bits,
they were delivering the article at one shilling and tenpence. A newly
opened mine on a crest of the Andes, where llamas were, for the
moment, cheaper than lorries, needed metal stiffenings and clips for
pack-saddles (drawing enclosed). The first model went back in a month.
In another fortnight the order was filled, with improvements. At the
end of their first year, an Orinoco dredging concern, worried over
some barges which did not handle auriferous sludge as they ought; and
a wild-cat proposition on a New Guinea beach where natives treated
detonating capsules with contempt; were writing their friends that you
could send Burnea and Marden the roughest sketches of what you wanted,
because they understood them.

So the firm flourished. The young veterans drove the shifts ten hours
a day; the versatile but demoralised machinery was displaced by
sterner stuff; and their third year's profits ran into five figures.
Then Burnea, who had the financial head, died of pulmonary trouble, a
by-product of gas-poison, and left Marden his share of the Works, plus
thirty-six thousand pounds all on fixed deposit in a Bank, because the
head of one of its branches had once been friendly with him in a
trench. The Works were promptly enlarged, and Marden worked fourteen
hours a day instead of twelve, and, to save time, followed Burnea's
habit of pushing money which he did not need into the same Bank at the
same meek rate of interest. But, for the look of the thing, he hired a
genuine financial secretary, who was violently affected when John
explained the firm's theory of investments, and recommended some
alterations which Marden was too busy to attend to. Six months later,
there fell on him three big contracts, which surpassed his dreams of
avarice. At this point he took what sleep was forced on him in a cot
in Burnea's old office. At this point, too, Jerry Floyd, ex-Sergeant
of Sappers at Messines, and drawing eighteen pounds a week with
irregular bonuses, struck loudly.

'What's the matter with your job, Jerry?' John asked.

''Tain't a job--that's all. My machines do everything for me except
strike. I've got to do that,' said Jerry with reproach.

'Soft job. Stick to it,' John counselled.

'Stick to bloomin' what? Turnin' two taps and fiddlin' three levers?
Get a girl to do it for you. Repetition-work! I'm fed up!'

'Take ten days' leave, you fool,' said John; which Jerry did, and was
arrested for exceeding the speed-limit through angry gipsies at Brough
horse-fair. John Marden went to bed behind his office as usual, and--
without warning--suffered a night so memorable that he looked up the
nearest doctor in the Directory, and went to see him. Being
inarticulate, except where the Works were concerned, he explained that
he felt as though he had got the hump--was stale, fed-up, and so
forth. He thought, perhaps, he might have been working a bit too hard;
but he said not a word of the horror, the blackness, the loss of the
meaning of things, the collapses at the end, the recovery and
retraversing of the circle of that night's Inferno; nor how it had
waked up a certain secret dread which he had held off him since
demobilisation.

'Can't you rest a bit?' asked the doctor, whose real interests were
renal calculi.

'I've never tried.'

'Haven't you any hobbies or--friends, then?'

'Except the Works, none.'

'Nothing--more important in your life?'

John's face was answer enough. 'No! No! But what'll I do? What'll I
do?' he asked wildly. 'I--I have never been like this before!'

'I'll give you a sedative, but you must slack off, and divert your
mind. Yes! That's it. Divert your mind.'

John went back to the Works, and strove to tell his secretary
something about the verdict. The man was perfunctorily sympathetic,
but what he wanted John to understand (he seemed at the other end of
the world as he spoke) was that, owing to John's ignorance of finance,
the whole of the Works stood as John's personal property. So that, if
John died, they would be valued and taxed thirty or forty 'er cent for
death-duties, and that would cripple things badly. Not a minute should
be lost before turning the concern into a chain of companies. He had
the scheme drafted. It would need but a couple of days' study. John
looked at the papers, listened to the explanation, stared at a
calendar on the wall, and heard himself speaking as from the bottom of
a black, cold crater:

'It don't mean anything--half a million or three quarters or--or--or
anything. Oh sorry! It's gone up like the Ridge, and I'm a dud, you
know.'

Then he returned to his expensive flat, which the same secretary had
taken for him a year before, and prepared to do nothing for a month
except to think upon the night he had passed in Burnea's old office,
and to expect, and get, others like it. A few men came--once each--
grinned at him, told him to buck up, and went on to their own
concerns. He was ministered to by his ex-batman, Corporal Vincent
Shingle, systematically a peculator, intermittently a drunkard, and
emphatically a liar. Twice--once underground, where he had penetrated
with a thermos full of hot coffee, and a piece of gallery had sat down
on him; and once at Bailleul, when the lunatics of the local asylum
were let out, and he was chased by a homicidal maniac with a thigh-
bone--Marden had saved Shingle's life. Twice--once out of the
crumbling rim of a crater; and once by the slack of his breeches, when
a whiff of gas dropped him over the mouth of a shaft--he had saved
Marden's. Therefore, he came along with the rest of the Messines'
veterans to the Works, whence Jerry Floyd kicked him into space at the
end of the first month. Upon this, he returned to John Marden's
personal service and the study of John's private correspondence and
most intimate possessions. As he explained to Probert, the janitor of
the flats, the night after the doctor had spoken

'The 'ole game of gettin'-on is to save your bloke trouble. 'E don't
know it, but I do 'is 'ome work for 'im while 'e makes money for me at
'is office. Na-o! 'E don't spend it on me. That I 'ave to do meself.
But I don't grudge the labour.'

'Then what's 'e been seein' the doctor about?' said Probert, who had
an impure mind.

''Cause 'e's got what Jerry Floyd 'ad. 'E's fed up with repetition-
work and richness. I've watched it comin' on. It's the same as we used
to 'ave it in the War--but t'other way round. You can't mistake.'

'What's goin' to 'appen?'

'Gawd knows! I'm standin' to. The doctor 'as told 'im to lie off
everythin' for a month--in one motion. If you stop runnin' machinery
without slowin' 'er down, she'll lift 'erself off the bedplate. I've
seen so with pumps.'

But machinery suddenly arrested has no resources in itself. Human
mechanism under strain finds comfort in a drink or two. Running about
in cars with no definite object bored John Marden as much as drumming
under the clouds in aeroplanes; theatres made him think impotently of
new gadgets for handling the scenery, or extracting opera-glasses from
their clips; cards and golf ended in his counting the pips in his
hand, or the paces between shot and shot; whereas drinks softened the
outlines of things, if not at once, then after a little repetition-
work.

The result came when a Fear leaped out of the goose-fleshed streets of
London between the icy shop-fronts, and drove John to his flat. He
argued that it must have been a chill, and fortified himself against
it so resolutely that an advertisement, which had caught the tail-end
of his eye, stood up before him in the shape of a full-sized red and
white bullock, dancing in a tea-cup. It was succeeded a few days later
by a small dog, pressed against the skirting-board of his room--an
inky, fat horror with a pink tongue, crouched in the attitude of a
little beast he had often watched at Mr. William's fashionable West
End pet-shop, where dogs lived in excelsior-floored cubicles,
appealing to the passers-by. It began as a spreading blurr, which
morning after morning became more definite. It was better than the ox
in the tea-cup, till it was borne in on John Marden one dawn that, if
It crawled out into the centre of the room, the Universe would crash
down on him. He wondered till he sweated, dried and broke out again,
what would happen to him then, and how suicides were judged. After a
drink or two, he became cunning and diplomatic with--of all experts in
the world--his batman, to whom he told the tale of a friend who 'saw
things.' The result was tabulated that afternoon in the basement,
where Shingle and Probert were drinking his whisky.

'Well,--now we're arrivin' at objective A,' said Shingle. 'I knew last
week 'e'd begun seein' 'em, 'cause 'e couldn't turn 'is eyes out o'
corners. O' course, 'e says it's overtook a friend of 'is.'

'Reasonable enough,' said Probert. 'We all keep that friend.'

'Let's get down to figures,' Shingle went on. 'Two bottles is 'is
week's whack. An' we know 'e don't use cocktails. Well; that don't
make much more'n four drinks a day. You can't get nothin' special on
that issue--not in nature.'

'Women also?' Probert suggested.

'Be-e damned! I know there ain't. No. It's a black dawg. That's
neither 'ere nor there. But, if it comes out into the room, 'is pore
friend 'll go off 'is rocker. That is objective B.'

'Ye-es,' said Probert. 'I've 'ad 'em too. What about it?'

'I'm askin' you if reel dawgs are allowed in the flats. Are they?'
said Shingle.

Probert dismissed the matter loftily.

'As between us!' he began. 'Don't stay awake for it! I've sanctioned
kittens in two flats this spring. What's the game?'

''Air o' the dog that bit 'im,' Shingle answered. 'I mean 'is pore
friend!'

'What about small-arms in 'is possession,' said Probert. 'You know.'

'On'y 'is pistol, an' 'e'll 'ave a proper 'unt for that. Now mind you
don't go back on what you said about keepin' dawgs 'ere.'

Shingle went off, dressed in most items out of his master's wardrobe,
with the pawnticket for his master's revolver in his pocket.

John's state was less gracious. He was walking till he should tire
himself out and his brain would cease to flinch at every face that
looked so closely at him because he was going mad. If he walked for
two hours and a half without halt, round and round the Parks, he might
drug his mind by counting his paces till the rush of numbers would
carry on awhile after he finished. At seven o'clock he re-entered the
flat, and stared at his feet, while he raced through numbers from
eleven thousand up. When he lifted his eyes, the black Thing he
expected was pressed against the skirting-board. The tonic the doctor
had prescribed stood on a table. He drew the cork with his teeth, and
gulped down to the first mark on the glass. He fancied he heard small,
thumping sounds. Turning, it seemed to him that the Thing by the wall
was working outwards.

Then there were two John Mardens--one dissolved by terror; the other,
a long way off, detached, but as much in charge of him as he used to
be of his underground shift at Messines.

'It's coming out into the room,' roared the first. 'Now you've got to
go mad! Your pistol--before you make an exhibition of yourself!'

'Call it, you fool! Call it! ' the other commanded.

'Come along! Good dog! Come along!' John whispered.

Slowly, ears pressed to head, the inky blurr crawled across the
parquet on to the rug.

'Go-ood doggie. Come along, then!' John held out a clenched fist and
felt, he thought, a touch of hell-fire that would have sent him
through the window, except for the second John, who said:--

'Right! All right! A cold nose is the sign of a well dog. It's all
right! It's alive!'

'No. It's come alive!' shouted the first. 'It'll grow like the bullock
in the cup! Pistol, you!'

'No--no--alive! Quite alive!' the other interrupted. 'It's licking
your fist, and--nff!--it's made a mess in the corner--on the polished
three-eighth-inch oak-parquet, set on cement with brick archings.
Shovel!--Not pistol! Get the shovel, you ass!'

Then, John Marden repeated aloud:

'Yes. It's made a mess. I'll get the shovel--shovel--steel--nickel-
handled--one. Oh, you filthy little beast!'

He reached among the fire-irons and did what was necessary. The small
thing, flat, almost, as a postage-stamp, crawled after him. It was
sorry, it whimpered. Indeed, it had been properly brought up, but
circumstances had been too much for it, and it apologised--on its
back. John stirred it with a toe. Feeling its amends had been
accepted, it first licked and then rapturously bit his shoe.

'It's a dog right enough,' said John. He lifted a cracked voice and
called aloud:

'There is a dog here! I mean there's a dog here.'

As he remembered himself and leaned towards the bell-push, Shingle
entered from the bedroom, where he had been laying out dinner-kit,
with a story of some badly washed shirts that seemed on his mind.

'But there's a dog--' said John.

Oh, yes! Now that John mentioned it, a pup had arrived at 5.15 P.M.--
brought over from the dog-shop by Mr. Wilham himself who, having
observed Captain Marden's interest in his windows, had taken the
liberty of sending on approval--price fifteen guineas--one Dinah, jet
black Aberdeen of the dwarf type, aged five months and a fortnight,
with pedigree attached to Mr. Wilham's letter (on the mantelpiece,
left when Mr. Wilham found Captain Marden was not at home, sir) and
which would confirm all the above statements. Shingle took his time to
make everything clear, speaking in a tone that no man of his
acquaintance had ever heard. He broke back often to the badly washed
shirts, which somehow. John found comforting. The pup ceased to
grovel.

'Wilham was right about 'er breedin'. Not a white 'air on 'er! An'
look at 'er boo-som frills!' said Shingle voluptuously.

Dinah, ears just prickable, sat on the floor between them, looking
like a bandy-legged bat.

'But one can't keep dogs in these flats. It's forbidden, isn't it?'
John asked.

'Me an' the janitor 'll arrange that. Probert'll come in 'andy to take
'er walks, too.' Shingle mused aloud.

'But I don't know anything about dogs.'

'She'll look after all that. She's a bitch, you see, sir. An' so
that'll be all right.'

Shingle went back to the evening-kit.

John and Dinah faced each other before the fire. His feet, as he sat,
were crossed at the ankles. Dinah moved forward to the crotch thus
presented, jammed her boat-nosed head into it up to the gullet,
pressed down her chin till she found the exact angle that suited her,
tucked her forelegs beneath her, grunted, and went to sleep, warm and
alive. When John moved, she rebuked him, and Shingle, ten minutes
later, found him thus immobilised.

'H'sh!' said John.

But Dinah was awake and said so.

'Oh! That's it, is it?' Shingle grinned. 'She knows 'oo's what
already.'

'How d'you mean?' John asked.

'She knows where I come in. She's yours. I've got to look after 'er.
That's all. 'Tisn't as if she was a dog-pup.'

'Yes, but what am I to do about her?'

'We-ell, o' course, you must be careful you don't mix up with others.
She's just the right age for distemper. She'll 'ave to be took out on
the lead. An' then there'll be 'er basket an' sundries.'

John Marden did not attend, because in the corner, close to the
skirting-board, lay That Other, who had borne him company for the past
few days.

'She--looks like a good ratter,' he stammered.

'I'd forgot that. 'Ere! Young lady!' said Shingle, following the line
of John's eye. ''Ave you ever 'eard anything about rats?'

Dinah rose at once and signified that she had--lots.

'That's it, then! Rrrats! Rrats, ducky! Rrrout 'em out! '

She in turn followed the hint of Shingle's hand, scuttled to the
corner indicated, and said what she would have done had enemies been
present. When she trotted back, That Other took shape again behind
her, but John felt relieved.

'Now about dinner, sir!' said Shingle. 'It's 'er first night at 'ome.
'Twouldn't do to disappoint 'er, would it?'

'Bring something up here then,' said John. 'I'll dress now.'

On Shingle's departure he rose and, followed by an interested Dinah,
trod, not for the first time, firmly in the corners of his room. Then
he went to dress. Dinah backed against the bath, the wisdom of
centuries in her little solemn mask, till John's fluttering shirt-
tails broke it all up. She leaped, grabbed them, and swung into John's
calves. John kicked back. She retired under the bulge of the porcelain
and told him what she thought of him. He sat down and laughed. She
scolded till he dropped a stud, and the two hunted for it round the
cork mat, and he was just able to retrieve it from between her teeth.
Both sat down to meat, a little warm and dishevelled. That Other
watched them, but did not insist, though Dinah backed into him twice.

'I've made a temp'ry collar and lead off Probert. I'll take 'er for
'er last walk,' Shingle announced when he had cleared away.

'You will not,' said John. 'Give 'em to me.'

The upshot was some strenuous exercise in the Mall, when Dinah, to
whom night and London were new, lassoed John twice and a stranger
once, besides nearly choking when she was snatched from under the
wheels of a car. This so saddened her that she sat down, and had to be
brought home, languidly affectionate, in a taxi. As John said, the
adventure showed she would not be afraid of cars.

'There's nothin' that young woman's afraid of, 'cept not bein' made
much of,' Shingle replied. 'Green 'ud suit 'er better than red in
collars. But I expect you'll do your own buyin', sir.'

'I will. You get the dog-biscuit,' said John.

'Puppy-biscuit!' said Shingle, deeply shocked, and he mentioned the
only brand. 'A pup's like a child--all stummick.'

Going to bed was a riot. Dinah had no intention of being left out, and
when John moved a foot, tried to chew down to it through the blankets
till she was admitted. Shingle, with the shaving-water, would have
given her her walk before breakfast next morning; but John took the
duty, and she got muddy and had to be cleaned and dried on her return.
Then, at Shingle's reminder, came the shopping expedition. John bought
a green collar for Sunday, and a red for weekdays; two ditto leads;
one wicker basket with green baize squab; two brushes; one toothed
comb and one curry; and--Shingle sent him out again for these--pills,
alterative, tonic, and antithelmintic. Ungrateful Dinah chewed the
basket's varnished rim, ripped the bowels out of the squab, nipped
Marden's inexperienced fingers as he gave her her first pill, and
utterly refused to be brushed.

'Gawd!' said the agile Shingle, who was helping. 'Mother used to say a
child was a noosance. Twins ain't in it with you, Dinah. An' now I
suppose you'll 'ave to show 'em all off in your car.'

John's idea had been a walk down the Mall, but Shingle dwelt on the
dangers of distemper and advised Richmond Park in, since rain was
likely, the limousine. Dinah condescended a little when it came round,
but hopped up into the right-hand seat, and gave leave to get under
way. When they reached the Park she was so delighted that she clean
forgot her name, and John chivvied her, shouting till she remembered.
Shingle had put up a lunch, for fear, he explained, of hotels where
ladies brought infectious Pekes, flown over for them by reprobate
lovers in the Air Service; and after a couple of hours bounding
through bracken, John appreciated the half-bottle of Burgundy that
went with it. On their return, all Dinah's wordly pose dropped. 'I
am,' she sniffed, 'but a small pup with a large nose. Let me rest it
on your breast and don't you stop loving me for one minute.' So John
slept too, and the chauffeur trundled them back at five o'clock.

'Pubs?' Probert demanded out of a corner of his mouth when John had
gone indoors.

'Not in ther least,' said Shingle. 'Accordin' to our taxi-man'--
(Shingle did not love John's chauffeur)--'Women and Song was 'is game.
'E says you ought to 'ave 'eard 'im 'owling after 'er. 'E'll be out in
his own Hizzer-Swizzer in a week.'

'That's your business. But what about my commission on the price? You
don't expect me to sanction dawgs 'ere for nothin'? Come on! It's all
found money for you.'

John went drowsily up in the lift and finished his doze. When he
waked, That Other was in his corner, but Shingle had found two tennis
balls, with which Dinah was playing the Eton Wall Game by herself up
and down the skirting-board--pushing one with her nose, patting the
other along with her paws, right through That Other's profiles.

'That shows she's been kitten-trained,' said Shingle. 'I'll bring up
the janitor's and make sure.'

But the janitor's kitten had not been pup-trained and leaped on the
table, to make sure. Dinah followed. It took all hands ten minutes to
clear up the smashed glass of siphon, tumbler, and decanter, in case
she cut her feet. The aftermath was reaped by a palpitating vacuum-
cleaner, which Dinah insisted was hostile.

When she and John and That Other in the corner sat it out after
dinner, she discovered gifts of conversation. In the intervals of
gossip she would seek and nose both balls about the room, then return
to John's foot, lay her chin over it, and pick up where she had left
off, in eloquent whimperings.

'Does she want anything?' he asked Shingle.

'Nothin', excep' not to be out of your mind for a minute. 'Ow about a
bone now, Dinah?' Out came her little pink tongue, sideways, there was
a grunt and a sneeze, and she pirouetted gaily before the serving-man.

'Come downstairs, then,' he said.

'Bring it up here!' said John, sweeping aside Shingle's views on
Bokhara rugs. This was messy--till Dinah understood that bones must be
attended to on newspapers spread for that purpose.

These things were prelude to a month of revelations, in which Dinah
showed herself all that she was, and more, since she developed senses
and moods for John only. She was by turns, and in places, arrogant,
imbecile, coy, forthcoming, jealous, exacting, abject, humourous, or,
apparently, stone-cold, but in every manifestation adorable, and to be
attended to before drinks. Shingle, as necessary to her comfort, stood
on the fringe of her favours, but John was her Universe. And for her,
after four weeks, he found himself doing what he had never done since
Messines. He sang sentimental ditties--on his awful topnotes Dinah
would join in--such as:--

'Oh, show me a liddle where to find a rose
  To give to ma honey chi-ile!
Oh, show me a liddle where my love goes
  An' I'll follow her all de while!'
At which she would caper, one ear up and one a quarter down. Then:--
'Ma love she gave me a kiss on de mouf.
  An' how can I let her go-o?
And I'll follow her norf, and I'll follow her souf
  Because I love her so!'
''Oo-ooo I Oooo!' Dinah would wail to the ceiling.

And then came calamity, after a walk in the Green Park, and Shingle
said:--'I told you so.' Dinah went off her feed, shivered, stared, ran
at the nose, grew gummy round the eyes, and coughed.

'Ye-es,' said Shingle, rubbing his chin above her. 'The better the
breed, the worse they cop it. Oh, damn the 'ole Air Force! It'll be a
day-and-night job, I'm thinkin'. Look up a Vet in the Directory? Gawd!
No! This is distemper. I know a Canine Specialist and--'

He went to the telephone without asking leave.

The Canine Specialist was duly impressed by John and his wealth, and
more effectively by Shingle. He laid down rules of nursing and diet
which the two noted in duplicate, and split into watches round the
clock.

'She 'as worked like a charm 'itherto,' Shingle confided to Probert,
whose wife cooked for Dinah's poor appetite. 'She's jerked 'im out of
'isself proper. But if anythin' 'appens to 'er now, it'll be all
Messines over again for 'im.'

'Did 'e cop it bad there, then?'

'Once, to my knowledge. I 'eard 'im before 'e went underground prayin'
that 'is cup might parse. It 'ad come over 'im in an 'eap. Ye-es! It
'appens--it 'appens, as mother used to say when we was young.'

'Then it's up to you to see nothing happens this time.'

"Looks it! But she's as jealous as a school teacher over 'im. Pore
little bitch! Ain't it odd, though? She knows 'ow to play Weepin'
Agnes with 'im as well as a woman! But she's cured 'im of lookin' in
corners, an' 'e's been damnin' me something like 'olesome.'

John, indeed, was unendurably irritable while Dinah's trouble was
increasing. He slept badly at first, then too heavily, between
watches, and fussed so much that Shingle suggested Turkish baths to
recover his tone. But Dinah grew steadily worse, till there was one
double watch which Shingle reported to Probert as a 'fair curiosity.'
'I 'eard 'im Our Fatherin' in the bath-room when 'e come off watch and
she 'adn't conked out.'

Presently there was improvement, followed by relapse, and grave talk
of possible pneumonia. That passed, too, but left a dreadful
whimpering weakness, till one day she chose to patter back to life
with her scimitar tail going like an egg-whisk. During her
convalescence she had discovered that her sole concern was to love
John Marden unlimitedly; to follow him pace by pace when he moved; to
sit still and worship him when he stopped; to flee to his foot when he
took a chair; to defend him loudly against enemies, such as cats and
callers; to confide in, cherish, pet, cuddle, and deify without cease;
and, failing that, to mount guard over his belongings. Shingle bore it
very well.

'Yes, I know you!' he observed to her one morning when she was daring
him to displace John's pyjamas from their bed. 'I'd be no good to you
unless I was a puppy-biscuit. An' yet I did 'ave an' 'and in pullin'
you through, you pukka little bitch, you.'

For some while she preferred cars to her own feet, and her wishes were
gratified, especially in the Hizzer-Swizzer which, with John at the
wheel--you do not drink when you drive Hizzer-Swizzers--suited her.
Her place was at his left elbow, nose touching his sleeve, until the
needle reached fifty, when she had to throw it up and sing aloud.
Thus, she saw much of summer England, but somehow did not recover her
old form, in spite of Shingle's little doses of black coffee and
sherry.

John felt the drag of the dull, warm days too and went back to the
Works for half a week, where he sincerely tried to find out what his
secretary meant by plans for reorganisation. It sounded exactly like
words, but conveyed nothing. Then he spent a night like that first one
after Jerry Floyd had struck, and tried to deal with it by the same
means; but found himself dizzily drunk almost before he began.

'The fuse was advanced,' Shingle chuckled to Probert. ''E was like a
boy with 'is first pipe. An' a virgin's 'ead in the mornin'! That
shows the success of me treatment. But a man 'as to think of 'is own
interests once-awhile. It's time for me Bank 'Oliday.'

'You an' your 'olidays. Ain't your bloke got any will of 'is own?'

'Not yet. 'E's still on the dole. 'Urry your Mrs. P. up with our
medical comforts.'

That was Dinah's beef-tea, and very good. But if you mix with it a few
grains of a certain stuff, little dogs won't touch it.

'She's off 'er feed again,' said Shingle despairingly to John, whose
coaxings were of no avail.

'Change is what you want,' said Shingle to her under his breath.
''Tain't fair to keep a dawg in town in summer. I ain't sayin'
anythin' against the flat.'

'What's all that?' said John. Shingle's back was towards him.

'I said I wasn't sayin' anythin' against the flat, sir. A man can doss
down anywhere--'

'Doss? I pay eight hundred a year for the thing!'

'But it's different with dawgs, sir, was all I was going to remark.
Furniture's no treat to them.'

'She stays with me,' John snapped, while Dinah tried to explain how
she had been defrauded of her soup.

'Of course she stays--till she conks out.' Shingle removed the bowl
funereally...

'No, I 'ave not pulled it off at one go,' he said to Probert. 'If you
'ad jest finished with seein' dawgs in corners, you wouldn't want to
crash into society at a minute's notice, either. You'd think a bit
before'and an' look round for a dry dug-out. That's what we're doin'.'

Two days later, he dropped a word that he had a sister in the country,
married to a cowkeeper, who took in approved lodgers. If anyone
doubted the merits of the establishment, the Hizzer-Swizzer could get
there in two hours, and make sure. It did so, and orders were given
for the caravan to start next day, that not a moment might be lost in
restoring Dinah.

She hopped out into a world of fields full of red and white bullocks,
who made her (and John) flinch a little; and rabbits always on the
edge of being run down. There was, too, a cat called Ginger, evidently
used to dogs; and a dusty old collie, Jock, whom she snapped into line
after five abject minutes.

'It suits 'er,' Shingle pronounced. 'The worst she'll catch off Jock
is fleas. Fairy Anne! I've brought the Keatings.'

Dinah left Jock alone. Ginger, who knew all about rats and rabbits,
was more to her mind, and those two ladies would work together along
the brookside on fine, and through the barns on wet, mornings,
chaperoned by John and a nobby stick. She was bitten through the nose
at her first attempt, but said nothing about it at the time, nor when
she laid out the disinterred corpse in his bedroom--till she was
introduced to iodine.

The afternoons were given to walks which began with a mighty huntress
before her lord, standing on hind legs at every third bound to
overlook the tall September grass, and ended with a trailing pup, who
talked to John till he picked her up, laid her across his neck, a pair
of small feet in each hand, and carried her drowsily licking his right
cheek.

For evenings, there were great games. Dinah had invented a form of
'footer' with her tennis ball. John would roll it to her, and she
returned it with her nose, as straight as a die, till she thought she
had lulled him into confidence. Then angle and pace would change, and
John had to scramble across the room to recover and shoot it back, if
possible past her guard. Or she would hide (cheating like a child, the
while) till he threw it into a corner, and she stormed after it,
slipped, fetched up against the skirting-board and swore. Last of all
came the battle for the centre of the bed; the ferocious growling
onsets; the kisses on the nose; the grunt of affectionate defeat and
the soft jowl stretched out on his shoulder.

With all these preoccupations and demands, John's days slipped away
like blanks beneath a stamping-machine. But, somehow, he picked up a
slight cold one Sunday, and Shingle, who had been given the evening
off with a friend, had reduced the neglected whisky to a quarter
bottle. John eked it out with hot water, sugar, and three aspirins,
and told Dinah that she might play with Ginger while he kept himself
housed.

He was comfortably perspiring at 7 P.M., when he dozed on the sofa,
and only woke for Sunday cold supper at eight. Dinah did not enter
with it, and Shingle's sister, who had small time-sense, said that she
had seen her with Ginger mousing in the wash-house 'just now.' So he
did not draw the house for her till past nine; nor finish his search
of the barns, flashing his torch in all corners, till later. Then he
hurried to the kitchen and told his tale.

'She've been wired,' said the cowman. 'She've been poaching along with
Ginger, an' she've been caught in a rabbit-wire. Ginger wouldn't never
be caught--twice. It's different with dogs as cats. That's it. Wired.'

'Where, think you?'

'All about the woods somewhere--same's Jock did when 'e were young.
But 'e give tongue, so I dug 'im out.'

At the sound of his name, the old ruffian pushed his head knee-high
into the talk.

'She'd answer me from anywhere,' said John.

'Then you'd best look for her. I'd go with 'e, but it's foot-washin's
for me to-night. An' take you a graf' along. I'll tell Shingle to sit
up till you come back. 'E ain't 'ome yet.'

Shingle's sister passed him a rabbiting-spade out of the wash-house,
and John went forth with three aspirins and some whisky inside him,
and all the woods and fields under the stars to make choice of. He
felt Jock's nose in his hand and appealed to him desperately.

'It's Dinah! Go seek, boy! It's Dinah! Seek!'

Jock seemed unconcerned, but he slouched towards the brook, and turned
through wet grasses while John, calling and calling, followed him
towards a line of hanging woods that clothed one side of the valley.
Stumps presently tripped him, and John fell several times but Jock
waited. Last, for a long while, they quartered a full-grown wood, with
the spotlight of his torch making the fallen stuff look like coils of
half-buried wire between the Lines. He heard a church clock strike
eleven as he drew breath under the top of the rise, and wondered a
little why a spire should still be standing. Then he remembered that
this was England, and strained his ears to make sure that his calls
were not answered. The collie nosed ground and moved on, evidently
interested. John thought he heard a reply at last; plunged forward
without using his torch, fell, and rolled down a steep bank,
breathless and battered, into a darkness deeper than that of the
woods. Jock followed him whimpering. He called. He heard Dinah's
smothered whine--switched on the light and discovered a small cliff of
sandstone ribbed with tree-roots. He moved along the cliff towards the
sound, till his light showed him a miniature canon in its face, which
he entered. In a few yards the cleft became a tunnel, but--he was
calling softly now--there was no doubt that Dinah lay somewhere at the
end. He held on till the lowering roof forced him to knees and elbows
and, presently, stomach. Dinah's whimper continued. He wriggled
forward again, and his shoulders brushed either side of the downward-
sloping way. Then every forgotten or hardly-held-back horror of his
two years' underground-work returned on him with the imagined weight
of all earth overhead.

A handful of sand dropped from the roof and crumbled between his neck
and coat-collar. He had but to retire an inch or two and the pressure
would be relieved, and he could widen the bottlenecked passage with
his spade; but terror beyond all terrors froze him, even though Dinah
was appealing somewhere a little ahead. Release came in a spasm and a
wrench that drove him backward six feet like a prawn. Then he realised
that it would be all to do again, and shook as with fever.

At last his jerking hand steadied on the handle of the spade. He poked
it ahead of him, at halfarm's length, and gingerly pared the sides of
the tunnel, raking the sand out with his hands, and passing it under
his body in the old way of the old work, till he estimated, by
torchlight, that he might move up a little without being pinned again.
By some special mercy the tunnel beyond the section he had enlarged
grew wider. He followed on, flashed once more, and saw Dinah, her head
pressed close to the right-hand side of it, her white-rimmed eyes
green and set.

He pushed himself forward over a last pit of terror, and touched her.
There was no wire, but a tough, thumb-shaped root, sticking out of the
sand-wall, had hooked itself into her collar, sprung backwards and
upwards, and locked her helplessly by the neck. His fingers trembled
so at first that he could not follow the kinks of it. He shut his
eyes, and humoured it out by touch, as he had done with wires and
cables deep down under the Ridge; grabbed Dinah, and pushed himself
back to the free air outside.

There he was sick as never he had been in all his days or nights. When
he was faintly restored, he saw Dinah sitting beside Jock, wondering
why her Lover--King--and God did all these noisy things.

On his feet at last, he crawled out of the sandpit that had been a
warren, badger's holt, and foxes' larder for generations, and wavered
homeward, empty as a drum, cut, bruised, bleeding, streaked with dirt
and raffle that had caked where the sweat had dried on him, knees
bending both ways, and eyes unable to judge distance. Nothing in his
working past had searched him to these depths. But Dinah was in his
arms, and it was she who announced their return to the stilllighted
farm at the hour of 1 A.M.

Shingle opened the door, and without a word steered him into the wash-
house, where the copper was lit. He began to explain, but was pushed
into a tub of very hot water, with a blanket that came to his chin,
and a drink of something or other at his lips. Afterwards he was
helped upstairs to a bed with hot bricks in it, and there all the
world, and Dinah licking his nose, passed from him for the rest of the
night and well into the next day again. But Shingle's sister was
shocked when she saw his torn and filthy clothing thrown down in the
wash-house.

''Looks as if 'e'd been spending a night between the Lines, don't it?'
her brother commented. ''Asn't 'alf sweated either. Three hours of it,
Marg'ret, an' rainin' on an' off. Must 'ave been all Messines with 'im
till 'e found 'er.'

'An' 'e done it for 'is dog! What wouldn't 'e do for 'is woman!' said
she.

'Yes. You would take it that way. I'm thinkin' about 'im.'

'Ooh! Look at the blood. 'E must 'ave cut 'isself proper.'

'I went over 'im for scratches before breakfast. Even the iodine
didn't wake 'im. 'Got 'is tray ready?'

Shingle bore it up, and Dinah's impenitent greeting of him roused her
master.

'She wasn't wired. She knew too much for that,' were John's first
words. 'She was hung up by her collar in an old bury. Jock showed me,
an' I got her out. I fell about a bit, though. It was pitch-black;
quite like old times.'

He went into details between mouthfuls, and Dinah between mouthfuls
corroborated.

'So, you see, it wasn't her fault,' John concluded.

'That's what they all say,' Shingle broke in unguardedly.

'Do they? That shows they know Ginger. Dinah, you aren't to play with
Ginger any more. Do you hear me?'

She knew it was reproof, as she flattened beneath the hand that
caressed it away.

'Oh, and look here, Shingle,' John sat up and stretched himself. 'It's
about, time we went to work again. Perhaps you've noticed I have not
been quite fit lately?'

'What with Dinah and all?--ye-es, sir--a bit,' Shingle assented.

'Anyhow, I've got it off the books now. It's behind me.'

'Very glad to 'ear it. Shall I fill the bath?'

'No. We'll make our last night's boil do for to-day. Lay out some sort
of town-kit while I shave. I expect my last night's rig is pretty well
expended, isn't it?'

'There ain't one complete scarecrow in the 'ole entire aggregate.'

''Don't wonder. Look here, Shingle, I was underground a full half-hour
before I could get at her. I should have said there wasn't enough
money 'top of earth to make me do that over again. But I did. Damn
it--I did! Didn't I, Dinah? "Oh, show me a liddle where to find a
rose." Get off the bed and fetch my slippers, young woman! "To give to
ma honey chi-ile." No; put 'em down; don't play with 'em!'

He began to strop his razor, always a mystery to Dinah. 'Shingle, this
is the most damnable Government that was ever pupped. Look here! If I
die to-morrow, they take about a third of the cash out of the Works
for Death-duties, counting four per cent. interest on the money from
the time I begin to set. That means one-third of our working capital,
which is doing something, will be dug out from under us, so's these
dam' politicians can buy more dole-votes with it. An' I've got to
waste my thinkin' time, which means making more employment--(I say,
this razor pulls like a road-scraper)--I've got to knock off my payin'
work and spend Heaven knows how many days reorganising into companies,
so that we shan't have our business knocked out if I go under. It's
the time I grudge, Shingle. And we've got to make that up too, Dinah!'

The rasp of the blade on the chin set her tail thumping as usual. When
he was dressed, she went out to patronise Jock and Ginger by the barn,
where Shingle picked her up later, with orders to jump into the
Hizzer-Swizzer at once and return to duty. She made her regulation
walk round him, one foot crossing the other, and her tongue out
sideways.

'Yes, that's all right, Dinah! You're a bitch You're all the bitch
that ever was, but you're a useful bitch. That's where you ain't like
some of 'em. Now come and say good-bye to your friends.'

He took her to the kitchen to bid farewell to the cowman and his wife.
The woman looked at her coldly as she coquetted with the man.

'She'll get 'er come-uppance one of these days,' she said when the car
was reported.

'What for? She's as good a little thing as ever was. 'Twas Ginger's
fault,' said the cowman.

'I ain't thinkin' of her,' she replied. 'I'm thinkin' she may 'ave
started a fire that someone else'll warm at some fine day. It
'appens--it 'appens--as mother used to say when we was all young.'



Four-Feet

I have done mostly what most men do.
And pushed it out of my mind;
But I can't forget, if I wanted to.
Four-Feet trotting behind.

Day after day, the whole day through--
Wherever my road inclined--
Four-Feet said, 'I am coming with you!'
And trotted along behind.

Now I must go by some other round,--
Which I shall never find--
Somewhere that does not carry the sound
Of Four-Feet trotting behind.



The Totem

ERE the mother's milk had dried
  On my lips, the Brethren came--
Tore me from my nurse's side.
  And bestowed on me a name

Infamously overtrue--
  Such as 'Bunny,' 'Stinker,' 'Podge';--
But, whatever I should do.
  Mine for ever in the Lodge.

Then they taught with palm and toe--
  Then I learned with yelps and tears--
All the Armoured Man should know
  Through his Seven Secret Years...

Last, oppressing as oppressed.
  I was loosed to go my ways
With a Totem on my breast
  Governing my nights and days--

Ancient and unbribeable.
  By the virtue of its Name--
Which, however oft I fell
  Lashed me back into The Game.

And the World, that never knew.
  Saw no more beneath my chin
Than a patch of rainbow-hue.
  Mixed as Life and crude as Sin.



The Tie

This tale was written so long ago that I have honestly forgotten how
much of it, if any, may be my own and how much is in Christopher
Mervyn's own words. But it is certain that Mervyn is dead, with Blore
and Warrender. Macworth died ten years ago of tubercle after gas.
Morrison Haylock's father is a Peer of the Realm, and every trace of
the 26th Battalion (Birdfanciers), Welland and Withan Rifles, has
vanished. Nothing, unless some sort of useless moral, remains of a
tale of 1915.

MEN, in war, will instinctively act as they have been taught to do in
peace--for a certain time. The wise man is he who knows when that time
is up. Mr. Morrison Haylock (Vertue and Pavey, Contractors, E.C.) did
not know. But I give the tale, with a few omissions for decency's
sake, from the pen of Christopher Mervyn, anciently a schoolmaster of
an ancient foundation, and later Lieutenant in the 26th (Birdfanciers)
Battalion, Welland and Withan Rifles, quartered at Blagstowe. He
wrote, being then second Lieutenant:--

...We older men have learned most. It is hard for anyone over
thirty, with what he was used to think the rudiments of a mind, to
absorb the mechanics of militarism. My Lieutenant, aged twenty-two,
says to me:--'The more civilian rot a man has in his head, the less
use he is as a subaltern.' He is quite right. I make mistakes which, a
year ago, I should have called a child of sixteen a congenital idiot
for perpetrating. I am told so with oaths and curses and that sort of
sarcasm (I recognise it now) which I used to launch at the heads of
junior forms. So I die daily, but, I believe, am being slowly
reborn...

Macworth tells me he has told you of our little affair with Haylock,
the unjust caterer, and that you propose to dress it up in the public
interest. Don't! The undraped facts, as I shall give them to you, are
far beyond anything in the range of your art. I suppose I ought to be
ashamed of my share in the row, but I have dug up the remnant of my
civilian conscience. It is quite impenitent.

...The awful food for which the officers' mess pays six shillings a
head! You say things are as bad in other messes under other
contractors, but that is Satan's own argument--the arch-excuse for
inefficiency. You are wise enough never to break bread with us, so I
can't make you realise the extraordinary and composite vileness of our
meals nor the 'knotted horrors of the Anglo-Parisienne' menus--Jambons
 la Grecque, for instance, which are clods of rancid bacon on pats of
green dirt, supposed to be spinach; or our deep yellow blancmange,
daubed with pink sauce that tastes of cat. Food is the vital necessity
to men in hard work. One comes to lunch and dinner--breakfast is
always a farce--with the primitive emotions, and when, week after
week, the food is not only uneatable but actively poisonous, as our
sardine savouries are, one's emotions become more than primitive. I'm
prepared to suffer for my country, but ptomaine poisoning isn't
cricket!

As you know, our battalion is quartered in Blagstowe Gaol, a vast
improvement on huts. We should have been quite content had they only
given us prisoners' food. We tried every remedy our civilian minds
could suggest. We threatened our mess-steward, who was merely
insolent. We pleaded and implored. We tried to write to the papers,
but here the law of libel interfered. My platoon sergeant (he's a
partner in Healey and Butts, solicitors) expounded it to us. The C.O.
wrote officially to the directors of that infernal tripeshop, Haylock,
Vertue, and Pavey. The rest of us weighed in with a round-robin. I
composed it. Not half a bad bit of English either. We begged to have
our army rations given us, 'simple of themselves,' but by some
devilish chicane they were all mixed up, we were told, in the Jambons
 la Grecque and the catty blancmange and couldn't be dissected out...

If a man is not properly fed, he automatically takes to drink. I
didn't know this till I did. I steadily overdrank for a fortnight out
of pure hunger. I can hold my liquor, but it isn't fair on the
youngsters, my seniors...

On account of some scare or other, we had to furnish pickets to hold
up all cars on the London road, take owners' names and addresses, and
check drivers' licences. My picket was at the south entrance to the
town, close to the main gate of the Gaol, and out of pure zeal and bad
temper, I had put up a barricade made of a scaffold-pole resting on a
baker's cart at one end and on a cement barrel at the other. About
nine o'clock a natty little grey and black self-driven coupe came from
Brighton way at the rate of knots. It didn't brake soon enough after
the outlying sentry had warned it of my barricade, and so knocked my
scaffoldingpole down. Very good dependence for a quarrel, even before
the driver gave me his name, which he did at the top of his voice. He
sat in the glare of his own electrics with an Old E.H.W. School tie on
his false bosom, bawling: 'I'm Haylock. Carry on, you men! I tell you,
I'm Haylock.' He is one of the push-and-go type--with a lot of rib-
fat--not semitic, but the flower of the Higher Counterjumpery, by
Transatlantic out of Top-Hat. He was in a hurry; 'hustling' I presume.
I was monolithically military and--glory be!--he hadn't his licence on
him. My duty as second Lieutenant was clear. No licence, no passage,
and 'Come to the guard-room for examination.' Then, to put it
coarsely, he broke loose. In his pauses, Private Gillock, who poses as
a wit, was stage-whispering me for leave to 'put a shot into his
radiator.' (The New Armies are horrid quick on the trigger.) I
dismounted him from his wheel, detailed Gillock to drive--he mangled
the gears consumedly--and ran the whole confection into the guard-
room, which, when the Gaol we inhabit is at work, is the condemned
cell. I was perfectly sober at the time--no thanks to Haylock and his
minions. I was savage, though not murderous, from semi-starvation and
indigestion. I was glad to have some means of honourably annoying him,
but I assure you that not till the lock of the condemned cell clicked,
and I realised that this purveyor of filthy delicatessen was at my
mercy, did my real self wake up and sing. I went to the anteroom and
told them that God had delivered to us Morrison Haylock. We all ran
out to the condemned cell. No one spoke a word. That is how
revolutions are made. I unlocked the door and--condemned cells are
remorselessly lighted--there sat Haylock on the cot behind his flaming
O.E.H.W. tie. At least, that was our united impression afterwards. As
you know, it's the deuce and all of a tie, invented to match that
school's attitude towards life and taste and the Eternal Verities.

Anyhow, it fetched us up dead. We all looked at Mackworth, who's an
O.E.H.W., though a very junior lieutenant. The door was shut; and it's
sound-tight for reasons connected with the last nights of the
condemned. Mackworth took charge. He began 'What was your House at
school?' Haylock gave it with a smile. He thought--but he couldn't
have really--that he'd fallen among friends. 'What's your name?'
Mackworth went on in the prefectorial, which is the orderly-room,
voice. Haylock gave that too, quite perkily. I expect his suborned
press would call him 'breezy' and 'genial.'

'Is it?' said Mackworth. 'Then take that!' and he smacked the brute's
head--a full open handed smite, just as one smacks a chap who isn't
big enough to beat. It was sudden, I admit, but as inevitable as the
highest art, and it carried conviction and atmosphere at once, for
Haylock yapped and his hand went up to the hurt place absolutely on
the old school lines. Then Norgate, who is a corn-factor in a solid
way and my very rude Company Captain, pulled the hand down, and gave
him another slap on the chops. Warrender and Blore, boys under twenty-
two, but my seniors, followed, and I finished up with a judicial
stinger. Someone said, 'There!' in the very tone of virtuous youth
(forgive the alliteration), and everyone felt that justice had been
done. Even Haylock did, for all the grown-man dropped from him too,
and he snuffled: 'What's that for?' Fat Norgate, who is forty if a
day, stood in front of him with a ready hand and shouted: 'You jolly
well know what it's for.'

To him, Haylock trying to put his tie and collar straight (how well
one remembers the attitude!) 'No, I don't. And, anyhow, I can't be
supposed to look after 'em all.'

Norgate (triumphantly to the rest of us): 'That proves him a liar. He
said he doesn't know what it's for.' Not one of us by the way had
uttered a word about our grievance till then.

Me (ferociously clutching my sword in lieu of a cane): 'Haylock,
you're a dirty little thief.' I wasn't a second Lieutenant. I wasn't
even a beak any more. I was just starving, outraged Boy.

Haylock (with equal directness): 'Ugh! That's what you think, you big
brute! I don't get much out of it. I wish to God I had never touched
the rotten contracts.'

'That's confession and avoidance,' said my platoon sergeant, of Healey
and Butts. He'd slipped in with us, professionally and gratuitously as
he explained, to give legal colour to the proceedings. But we weren't
legal for the moment. Then Mackworth, whom we all regarded as head
prefect in the matter, went on: 'Nobody asked you to touch 'em. You
did it for your own beastly profits, and you've got to look after our
grub properly or you'll be toed all round the parade-ground.'

I give the exact words. Then we all began to talk at once, each man
recalling fragments of dreadful menus and what followed on 'em.
Silence is the Mother of Revolution, but Speech is the Father of
Atrocities. The more we dwelt on our wrongs, the redder we saw, but--I
stick to it--that flaming Old E.H.W. tie saved and steadied us.

Haylock, who was blue-scared, backed into a corner. His knuckles
weren't in his eyes, but that was the effect he produced. He still had
enough rags of speech left to assure us that he was on his way down to
investigate our complaints when I arrested him. I said--I mean, I
roared--'What a deliberate lie! You were bunking up to town as hard as
you could go when I collared you.'

Omnes (diverted for the moment from murder) 'Oh, you damned liar!'

Haylock: 'I'm not, I tell you.'

Omnes: 'Shut up. You are.'

Another pause. Then Norgate: 'Well, hurry up! What are you going to do
about it?'

Haylock: 'I'll speak to my agents.'

Mackworth: 'Swear you will. At once.'

Haylock: 'I swear I will. Right now.'

Me (and it's not my fault that I love English): 'None of your
Transatlantic slang here. Say "at once".'

Haylock: 'At once. At once! I'll do it the minute I get to town. I
swear I will.'

That seemed enough for us seniors (I speak of age, not rank), but we
hadn't allowed for the necessary cruelty (a wise provision of nature)
of the young. Warrender, my lieutenant, and Blore, another angry
child, said that Haylock must have supper with us before he left. They
indicated mess cake, what (and it was much) was left over of the
eternal blancmange, a sardine savoury, and the mess sherry. We
protested. They said he deserved to be poisoned, and that they didn't
value their commissions a tinker's curse. A vindictive lot! But
Haylock slipped the noose round his own neck when he assured us that
he 'wouldn't report anyone' for the recent proceedings. We groaned
with disgust, and escorted him from the condemned cell to the
anteroom, as our guest. It was twenty minutes before we could dig up
the mess-steward, who, when he saw Haylock, came near to swooning.
Haylock re-established himself in his own esteem by telling him off in
the tradesmen's style, which I had never heard before. It justifies
the Teuton's hatred of England. Warrender and Blore added cold meat
from the sideboard--the greener slices for choice--to our guest's
simple fare. Lastly, Mackworth, whose mind, except on parade, when
mine doesn't function, moves slowly, lectured--'jawed'--Haylock on the
disgrace he had brought on their school. He ended with the classical
tag: 'I've a great mind to give you a special licking on my own
account for the House's sake. You've got off very cheap with only your
head smacked.'

'Thank you,' said Haylock, mouthing through our ossuary. 'You see my
partners were educated privately.'

Debased as the dog was, he couldn't keep the proper note of scorn out
of his voice. We are of all nations the most incomprehensibly
marvellous!

He left at midnight, fulfilled with garbage--we looking at him as the
islanders looked at St. Paul. But he took no hurt--dura ilia
messorum--the indurated intestines of the mess-caterer and the reforms
began next day. We had clean, well-cooked gammon of bacon with pease
pudding, followed by excellent treacle-roll and an anchovy toast that
was toast and anchovy, not to mention twentieth century eggs. The
mess-steward drops on all fours and wags his tail when we whistle now.
The C.O. pretends officially to believe that it was the outcome of his
letter. One learns to lie in the Army quicker even than on the land.

I don't know what Mackworth may have told you, but these are the bald
facts. Use them as I furnish them. There are volumes, social,
political, and military in them, but for this occasion, do abstain
from dotting your i's and crossing your t's. Circumstances, not
scribes, are making the public to think.

After which, it is only fair to tell you that I tied up my platoon on
parade this morning owing to an exalted mentality which for the moment
(I was thinking over the moral significance of Old School ties and the
British social fabric) prevented me from distinguishing between my
left hand and my right. Nineveh was saved because there were six
hundred thousand inhabitants in just my case, as I told Norgate
afterwards. I won't tell you what he told me on the parade-ground!



The Church that was at Antioch

'But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face,
because he was to be blamed.'--St. Paul's Epistle to the Galatians,
ii. II.

HIS mother, a devout and well-born Roman widow, decided that he was
doing himself no good in an Eastern Legion so near to free-thinking
Constantinople, and got him seconded for civil duty in Antioch, where
his uncle, Lucius Sergius, was head of the urban Police. Valens obeyed
as a son and as a young man keen to see life, and, presently, cast up
at his uncle's door.

'That sister-in-law of mine,' said the elder, 'never remembers me till
she wants something. What have you been doing?'

'Nothing, Uncle.'

'Meaning everything?'

'That's what mother thinks. But I haven't.'

'We shall see. Your quarters are across the inner courtyard. Your--
er--baggage is there already...Oh, I shan't interfere with your
private arrangements! I'm not the uncle with the rough tongue. Get
your bath. We'll talk at supper.'

But before that hour 'Father Serga,' as the Prefect of Police was
called, learned from the Treasury that his nephew had marched overland
from Constantinople in charge of a treasure-convoy which, after a
brush with brigands in the pass outside Tarsus, he had duly delivered.

'Why didn't you tell me about it?' his uncle asked at the meal.

'I had to report to the Treasury first,' was the answer.

Serga looked at him. 'Gods! You are like your father,' said he.
'Cilicia is scandalously policed.'

'So I noticed. They ambushed us not five miles from Tarsus town. Are
we given to that sort of thing here?'

'You make yourself at home early. No. We are not, but Syria is a Non-
regulation Province--under the Emperor--not the Senate. We've the
entire unaccountable East to one side; the scum of the Mediterranean
on the other; and all hellicat Judaea southward. Anything can happen
in Syria. D'you like the prospect?'

'I shall--under you.'

'It's in the blood. The same with men as horses. Now what have you
done that distresses your mother so?'

'She's a little behind the times, sir. She follows the old school, of
course--the home-worships, and the strict Latin Trinity. I don't think
she recognises any Gods outside Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva.'

'I don't either--officially.'

'Nor I, as an officer, sir. But one wants more than that, and--and--
what I learned in Byzant squared with what I saw with the Fifteenth.'

'You needn't go on. All Eastern Legions are alike. You mean you follow
Mithras--eh?'

The young man bowed his head slightly.

'No harm, boy. It's a soldier's religion, even if it comes from
outside.'

'So I thought. But Mother heard of it. She didn't approve and--I
suppose that's why I'm here.'

'Off the trident and into the net! Just like a woman! All Syria is
stuffed with Mithraism. My objection to fancy religions is that they
mostly meet after dark, and that means more work for the Police. We've
a College here of stiff-necked Hebrews who call themselves
Christians.'

'I've heard of them,' said Valens. 'There isn't a ceremony or symbol
they haven't stolen from the Mithras ritual.'

''No news to me! Religions are part of my office-work; and they'll be
part of yours. Our Synagogue Jews are fighting like Scythians over
this new faith.'

'Does that matter much?'

'So long as they fight each other, we've only to keep the ring. Divide
and rule--especially with Hebrews. Even these Christians are divided
now. You see--one part of their worship is to eat together.'

'Another theft! The Supper is the essential Symbol with us,' Valens
interrupted.

'With us, it's the essential symbol of trouble for your uncle, my
dear. Anyone can become a Christian. A Jew may; but he still lives by
his Law of Moses (I've had to master that cursed code, too), and it
regulates all his doings. Then he sits down at a Christian love-feast
beside a Greek or Westerner, who doesn't kill mutton or pig--No! No!
Jews don't touch pork--as the Jewish Law lays down. Then the tables
are broken up--but not by laughter--No! No! Riot!'

'That's childish,' said Valens.

''Wish it were. But my lictors are called in to keep order, and I have
to take the depositions of Synagogue Jews, denouncing Christians as
traitors to Caesar. If I chose to act on half the stuff their Rabbis
swear to, I'd have respectable little Jew shop-keepers up every week
for conspiracy. Never decide on the evidence, when you're dealing with
Hebrews! Oh, you'll get your bellyful of it! You're for Market-duty
to-morrow in the Little Circus ward, all among 'em. And now, sleep you
well! I've been on this frontier as far back as anyone remembers--
that's why they call me the Father of Syria--and oh--it's good to see
a sample of the old stock again!'

Next morning, and for many weeks after, Valens found himself on
Market-inspection duty with a fat Aedile, who flew into rages because
the stalls were not flushed down at the proper hour. A couple of his
uncle's men were told off to him, and, of course, introduced him to
the thieves' and prostitutes' quarters, to the leading gladiators, and
so forth.

One day, behind the Little Circus, near Singon Street, he ran into a
mob, where a race-course gang were trying to collect, or evade, some
bets on recent chariot-races. The Aedile said it was none of his
affair and turned back. The lictors closed up behind Valens, but left
the situation in his charge. Then a small hard man with eyebrows was
punted on to his chest, amid howls from all around that he was the
ringleader of a conspiracy. 'Yes,' said Valens, 'that was an old trick
in Byzant; but I think we'll take you, my friend.' Turning the small
man loose, he gathered in the loudest of his accusers to appear before
his uncle.

'You were quite right,' said Serga next day.

'That gentleman was put up to the job--by someone else. I ordered him
one Roman dozen. Did you get the name of the man they were trying to
push off on you?'

'Yes. Gaius Julius Paulus. Why?'

'I guessed as much. He's an old acquaintance of mine, a Cilician from
Tarsus. Well-born--a citizen by descent, and well-educated, but his
people have disowned him. So he works for his living.'

'He spoke like a well-born. He's in splendid training, too. 'Felt him.
All muscle.'

'Small wonder. He can outmarch a camel. He is really the Prefect of
this new sect. He travels all over our Eastern Provinces starting
their Colleges and keeping them up to the mark. That's why the
Synagogue Jews are hunting him. If they could run him in on the
political charge, it would finish him.'

'Is he seditious, then?'

'Not in the least. Even if he were, I wouldn't feed him to the Jews
just because they wanted it. One of our Governors tried that game
down-coast--for the sake of peace--some years ago. He didn't get it.
Do you like your Market-work, my boy?'

'It's interesting. D'you know, uncle, I think the Synagogue Jews are
better at their slaughter-house arrangements than we.'

'They are. That's what makes 'em so tough. A dozen stripes are nothing
to Apella, though he'll howl the yard down while he's getting 'em.
You've the Christians' College in your quarter. How do they strike
you?'

''Quiet enough. They're worrying a bit over what they ought to eat at
their love-feasts.'

'I know it. Oh, I meant to tell you--we mustn't try 'em too high just
now, Valens. My office reports that Paulus, your small friend, is
going down-country for a few days to meet another priest of the
College, and bring him back to help smooth over their difficulties
about their victuals. That means their congregation will be at loose
ends till they return. Mass without mind always comes a cropper. So,
now is when the Synagogue Jews will try to compromise them. I don't
want the poor devils stampeded into what can be made to look like
political crime. ''Understand?'

Valens nodded. Between his uncle's discursive evening talks, studded
with kitchen-Greek and out-of-date Roman society-verses; his morning
tours with the puffing Aedile; and the confidences of his lictors at
all hours; he fancied he understood Antioch.

So he kept an eye on the rooms in the colonnade behind the Little
Circus, where the new faith gathered. One of the many Jew butchers
told him that Paulus had left affairs in the hands of some man called
Barnabas, but that he would come back with one, Petrus--evidently a
well-known character--who would settle all the food-differences
between Greek and Hebrew Christians. The butcher had no spite against
Greek Christians as such, if they would only kill their meat like
decent Jews.

Serga laughed at this talk, but lent Valens an extra man or two, and
said that this lion would be his to tackle, before long.

The boy found himself rushed into the arena one hot dusk, when word
had come that this was to be a night of trouble. He posted his lictors
in an alley within signal, and entered the common-room of the College,
where the love-feasts were held. Everyone seemed as friendly as a
Christian--to use the slang of the quarter--and Barnabas, a smiling,
stately man by the door, specially so.

'I am glad to meet you,' he said. 'You helped our Paulus in that
scuffle the other day. We can't afford to lose him. I wish he were
back!'

He looked nervously down the hall, as it filled with people, of middle
and low degree, setting out their evening meal on the bare tables, and
greeting each other with a special gesture.

'I assure you,' he went on, his eyes still astray, 'we've no intention
of offending any of the brethren. Our differences can be settled if
only--'

As though on a signal, clamour rose from half a dozen tables at once,
with cries of 'Pollution! Defilement! Heathen! The Law! The Law! Let
Caesar know!' As Valens backed against the wall, the crowd pelted each
other with broken meats and crockery, till at last stones appeared
from nowhere.

'It's a put-up affair,' said Valens to Barnabas.

'Yes. They come in with stones in their breasts. Be careful! They're
throwing your way,' Barnabas replied. The crowd was well-embroiled
now. A section of it bore down to where they stood, yelling for the
justice of Rome. His two lictors slid in behind Valens, and a man
leaped at him with a knife.

Valens struck up the hand, and the lictors had the man helpless as the
weapon fell on the floor. The clash of it stilled the tumult a little.
Valens caught the lull, speaking slowly: 'Oh, citizens,' he called,
'must you begin your love-feasts with battle? Our tripe-sellers'
burial-club has better manners.'

A little laughter relieved the tension.

'The Synagogue has arranged this,' Barnabas muttered. 'The
responsibility will be laid on me.'

'Who is the Head of your College?' Valens called to the crowd.

The cries rose against each other.

'Paulus! Saul! He knows the world---No! No! Petrus! Our Rock! He
won't betray us. Petrus, the Living Rock.'

'When do they come back?' Valens asked. Several dates were given,
sworn to, and denied.

'Wait to fight till they return. I'm not a priest; but if you don't
tidy up these rooms, our Aedile (Valens gave him his gross nick-name
in the quarter) will fine the sandals off your feet. And you mustn't
trample good food either. When you've finished, I'll lock up after
you. Be quick. I know our Prefect if you don't.'

They toiled, like children rebuked. As they passed out with baskets of
rubbish, Valens smiled. The matter would not be pressed further.

'Here is our key,' said Barnabas at the end. 'The Synagogue will swear
I hired this man to kill you.'

'Will they? Let's look at him.'

The lictors pushed their prisoner forward.

'Ill-fortune!' said the man. 'I owed you for my brother's death in
Tarsus Pass.'

'Your brother tried to kill me,' Valens retorted.

The fellow nodded.

'Then we'll call it even-throws,' Valens signed to the lictors, who
loosed hold. 'Unless you really want to see my uncle?'

The man vanished like a trout in the dusk. Valens returned the key to
Barnabas, and said:

'If I were you, I shouldn't let your people in again till your leaders
come back. You don't know Antioch as I do.'

He went home, the grinning lictors behind him, and they told his
uncle, who grinned also, but said that he had done the right thing--
even to patronising Barnabas.

'Of course, I don't know Antioch as you do; but, seriously, my dear, I
think you've saved their Church for the Christians this time. I've had
three depositions already that your Cilician friend was a Christian
hired by Barnabas. 'Just as well for Barnabas that you let the brute
go.'

'You told me you didn't want them stampeded into trouble. Besides, it
was fair-throws. I may have killed his brother after all. We had to
kill two of 'em.'

'Good! You keep a level head in a tight corner. You'll need it.
There's no lying about in secluded parks for us! I've got to see
Paulus and Petrus when they come back, and find out what they've
decided about their infernal feasts. Why can't they all get decently
drunk and be done with it?'

'They talk of them both down-town as though they were Gods. By the
way, uncle, all the riot was worked up by Synagogue Jews sent from
Jerusalem--not by our lot at all.'

'You don't say so? Now, perhaps, you understand why I put you on
market-duty with old Sow-Belly! You'll make a Police-officer yet.'

Valens met the scared, mixed congregation round the fountains and
stalls as he went about his quarter. They were rather relieved at
being locked out of their rooms for the time; as well as by the news
that Paulus and Petrus would report to the Prefect of Police before
addressing them on the great food-question.

Valens was not present at the first part of that interview, which was
official. The second, in the cool, awning-covered courtyard, with
drinks and hors-d'oeuvre, all set out beneath the vast lemon and
lavender sunset, was much less formal.

'You have met, I think,' said Serga to the little lean Paulus as
Valens entered.

'Indeed, yes. Under God, we are twice your debtors,' was the quick
reply.

'Oh, that was part of my duty. I hope you found our roads good on your
journey,' said Valens.

'Why, yes. I think they were.' Paulus spoke as if he had not noticed
them.

'We should have done better to come by boat,' said his companion,
Petrus, a large fleshy man, with eyes that seemed to see nothing, and
a half-palsied right hand that lay idle in his lap.

'Valens came overland from Byzant,' said his uncle. 'He rather fancies
his legs.'

'He ought to at his age. What was your best day's march on the Via
Sebaste?' Paulus asked interestedly, and, before he knew, Valens was
reeling off his mileage on mountain-roads every step of which Paulus
seemed to have trod.

'That's good,' was the comment. 'And I expect you march in heavier
order than I.'

'What would you call your best day's work? ' Valens asked in turn.

'I have covered...' Paulus checked himself. 'And yet not I but the
God,' he muttered. 'It's hard to cure oneself of boasting.'

A spasm wrenched Petrus' face.

'Hard indeed,' said he. Then he addressed himself to Paulus as though
none other were present. 'It is true I have eaten with Gentiles and as
the Gentiles ate. Yet, at the time, I doubted if it were wise.'

'That is behind us now,' said Paulus gently.

'The decision has been taken for the Church--that little Church which
you saved, my son.' He turned on Valens with a smile that half-
captured the boy's heart. 'Now--as a Roman and a Police-officer--what
think you of us Christians?'

'That I have to keep order in my own ward.'

'Good! Caesar must be served. But--as a servant of Mithras, shall we
say--how think you about our food-disputes?'

Valens hesitated. His uncle encouraged him with a nod. 'As a servant
of Mithras I eat with any initiate, so long as the food is clean,'
said Valens.

'But,' said Petrus, 'that is the crux.'

'Mithras also tells us,' Valens went on, 'to share a bone covered with
dirt, if better cannot be found.'

'You observe no difference, then, between peoples at your feasts?'
Paulus demanded.

'How dare we? We are all His children. Men make laws. Not Gods,'
Valens quoted from the old Ritual.

'Say that again, child!'

'Gods do not make laws. They change men's hearts. The rest is the
Spirit.'

'You heard it, Petrus? You heard that? It is the utter Doctrine
itself!' Paulus insisted to his dumb companion.

Valens, a little ashamed of having spoken of his faith, went on:

'They tell me the Jew butchers here want the monopoly of killing for
your people. Trade feeling's at the bottom of most of it.'

'A little more than that perhaps,' said Paulus. 'Listen a minute.' He
threw himself into a curious tale about the God of the Christians,
Who, he said, had taken the shape of a Man, and Whom the Jerusalem
Jews, years ago, had got the authorities to deal with as a
conspirator. He said that he himself, at that time a right Jew, quite
agreed with the sentence, and had denounced all who followed the new
God. But one day the Light and the Voice of the God broke over him,
and he experienced a rending change of heart--precisely as in the
Mithras creed. Then he met, and had been initiated by, some men who
had walked and talked and, more particularly, had eaten, with the new
God before He was killed, and who had seen Him after, like Mithras, He
had risen from His grave. Paulus and those others--Petrus was one of
them--had next tried to preach Him to the Jews, but that was no
success; and, one thing leading to another, Paulus had gone back to
his home at Tarsus, where his people disowned him for a renegade.
There he had broken down with overwork and despair. Till then, he
said, it had never occurred to any of them to show the new religion to
any except right Jews; for their God had been born in the shape of a
Jew. Paulus himself only came to realise the possibilities of outside
work, little by little. He said he had all the foreign preaching in
his charge now, and was going to change the whole world by it.

Then he made Petrus finish the tale, who explained, speaking very
slowly, that he had, some years ago, received orders from the God to
preach to a Roman officer of Irregulars down-country; after which that
officer and most of his people wanted to become Christians. So Petrus
had initiated them the same night, although none of them were Hebrews.
'And,' Petrus ended, 'I saw there is nothing under heaven that we dare
call unclean.'

Paulus turned on him like a flash and cried 'You admit it! Out of your
own mouth it is evident.' Petrus shook like a leaf and his right hand
almost lifted.

'Do you too twit me with my accent?' he began, but his face worked and
he choked.

'Nay! God forbid! And God once more forgive me!' Paulus seemed as
distressed as he, while Valens stared at the extraordinary outbreak.

'Talking of clean and unclean,' his uncle said tactfully, 'there's
that ugly song come up again in the City. They were singing it on the
city-front yesterday, Valens. Did you notice?'

He looked at his nephew, who took the hint.

'If it was "Pickled Fish," sir, they were. Will it make trouble?'

'As surely as these fish'--a jar of them stood on the table--'make
one thirsty. How does it go? Oh yes.' Serga hummed:

Oie-eaah!

'From the Shark and the Sardine--the clean and the unclean--

To the Pickled Fish of Galilee, said Petrus, shall be mine.

He twanged it off to the proper gutter-drawl.

(Ha-ow?)

In the nets or on the line.

Till the Gods Themselves decline.

(Whe-en?)

When the Pickled Fish of Galilee ascend the Esquiline!

That'll be something of a flood--worse than live fish in trees! Hey?'

'It will happen one day,' said Paulus.

He turned from Petrus, whom he had been soothing tenderly, and resumed
in his natural, hardish voice:

'Yes. We owe a good deal to that Centurion being converted when he
was. It taught us that the whole world could receive the God; and it
showed me my next work. I came over from Tarsus to teach here for a
while. And I shan't forget how good the Prefect of Police was to us
then.'

'For one thing, Cornelius was an early colleague,' Serga smiled
largely above his strong cup. '"Prime companion"--how does it go?--"we
drank the long, long Eastern day out together," and so on. For
another, I know a good workman when I see him. That camel-kit you made
for my desert-tours, Paul, is as sound as ever. And for a third--which
to a man of my habits is most important--that Greek doctor you
recommended me is the only one who understands my tumid liver.'

He passed a cup of all but unmixed wine, which Paulus handed to
Petrus, whose lips were flaky white at the corners.

'But your trouble,' the Prefect went on, 'will come from your own
people. Jerusalem never forgives. They'll get you run in on the charge
of laesa majestatis soon or late.'

'Who knows better than I?' said Petrus. 'And the decision we all have
taken about our love-feasts may unite Hebrew and Greek against us. As
I told you, Prefect, we are asking Christian Greeks not to make the
feasts difficult for Christian Hebrews by eating meat that has not
been lawfully killed. (Our way is much more wholesome, anyhow.) Still,
we may get round that. But there's one vital point. Some of our Greek
Christians bring food to the love-feasts that they've bought from your
priests, after your sacrifices have been offered. That we can't
allow.'

Paulus turned to Valens imperiously.

'You mean they buy Altar-scraps,' the boy said. 'But only the very
poor do it; and it's chiefly block-trimmings. The sale's a perquisite
of the Altar-butchers. They wouldn't like its being stopped.'

'Permit separate tables for Hebrew and Greek, as I once said,' Petrus
spoke suddenly.

'That would end in separate churches. There shall be but one Church,'
Paulus spoke over his shoulder, and the words fell like rods. 'You
think there may be trouble, Valens?'

'My uncle--' Valens began.

'No, no!' the Prefect laughed. 'Singon Street Markets are your Syria.
Let's hear what our Legate thinks of his Province.'

Valens flushed and tried to pull his wits together.

'Primarily,' he said, 'it's pig, I suppose. Hebrews hate pork.'

'Quite right, too. Catch me eating pig east the Adriatic! I don't want
to die of worms. Give me a young Sabine tush-ripe boar! I have
spoken!'

Serga mixed himself another raw cup and took some pickled Lake fish to
bring out the flavour.

'But, still,' Petrus leaned forward like a deaf man, 'if we admitted
Hebrew and Greek Christians to separate tables we should escape--'

'Nothing, except salvation,' said Paulus. 'We have broken with the
whole Law of Moses. We live in and through and by our God only. Else
we are nothing. What is the sense of harking back to the Law at meal-
times? Whom do we deceive? Jerusalem? Rome? The God? You yourself have
eaten with Gentiles! You yourself have said--'

'One says more than one means when one is carried away,' Petrus
answered, and his face worked again.

'This time you will say precisely what is meant,' Paulus spoke between
his teeth. 'We will keep the Churches one--in and through the Lord.
You dare not deny this?'

'I dare nothing--the God knows! But I have denied Him...I denied
Him...And He said--He said I was the Rock on which His Church
should stand.'

'I will see that it stands, and yet not I--' Paulus' voice dropped
again. 'To-morrow you will speak to the one Church of the one Table
the world over.'

'That's your business,' said the Prefect. 'But I warn you again, it's
your own people who will make you trouble.'

Paulus rose to say farewell, but in the act he staggered, put his hand
to his forehead and, as Valens steered him to a divan, collapsed in
the grip of that deadly Syrian malaria which strikes like a snake.
Valens, having suffered, called to his rooms for his heavy travelling-
fur. His girl, whom he had bought in Constantinople a few months
before, fetched it. Petrus tucked it awkwardly round the shivering
little figure; the Prefect ordered lime juice and hot water, and
Paulus thanked them and apologised, while his teeth rattled on the
cup.

'Better to-day than to-morrow,' said the Prefect. 'Drink--sweat--and
sleep here the night. Shall I send for my doctor?'

But Paulus said that the fit would pass naturally, and as soon as he
could stand he insisted on going away with Petrus, late though it was,
to prepare their announcement to the Church.

'Who was that big, clumsy man?' his girl asked Valens as she took up
the fur. 'He made more noise than the small one, who was really
suffering.'

'He's a priest of the new College by the Little Circus, dear. He
believes, uncle told me, that he once denied his God, Who, he says,
died for him.'

She halted in the moonlight, the glossy jackal skins over her arm.

'Does he? My God bought me from the dealers like a horse. Too much,
too, he paid. Didn't he? 'Fess, thou?'

'No, thee!' emphatically.

'But I wouldn't deny my God--living or dead! ...Oh--but not dead! My
God's going to live--for me. Live--live Thou, my heart's blood, for
ever!'

It would have been better had Paulus and Petrus not left the Prefect's
house so late; for the rumour in the city, as the Prefect knew, and as
the long conference seemed to confirm, was that Caesar's own Secretary
of State in Rome was, through Paulus, arranging for a general
defilement of the Hebrew with the Greek Christians, and that after
this had been effected, by promiscuous eating of unlawful foods, all
Jews would be lumped together as Christians--members, that is, of a
mere free-thinking sect instead of the very particular and troublesome
'Nation of Jews within the Empire.' Eventually, the story went, they
would lose their rights as Roman citizens, and could then be sold on
any slave-stand.

'Of course,' Serga explained to Valens next day, 'that has been put
about by the Jerusalem Synagogue. Our Antioch Jews aren't clever
enough. Do you see their game? Petrus is a defiler of the Hebrew
nation. If he is cut down to-night by some properly primed young
zealot so much the better.'

'He won't be,' said Valens. 'I'm looking after him.'

''Hope so. But, if he isn't knifed,' Serga went on, 'they'll try to
work up city riots on the grounds that, when all the Jews have lost
their civil rights, he'll set up as a sort of King of the Christians.'

'At Antioch? In the present year of Rome? That's crazy, Uncle.'

'Every crowd is crazy. What else do we draw pay for? But, listen. Post
a Mounted Police patrol at the back of the Little Circus. Use 'em to
keep the people moving when the congregation comes out. Post two of
your men in the Porch of their College itself. Tell Paulus and Petrus
to wait there with them, till the streets are clear. Then fetch 'em
both over here. Don't hit till you have to. Hit hard before the stones
fly. Don't get my little horses knocked about more than you can help,
and--look out for "Pickled Fish"!'

Knowing his own quarter, it seemed to Valens as he went on duty that
evening, that his uncle's precautions had been excessive. The
Christian Church, of course, was full, and a large crowd waited
outside for word of the decision about the feasts. Most of them seemed
to be Christians of sorts, but there was an element of gesticulating
Antiochene loafers, and like all crowds they amused themselves with
popular songs while they waited. Things went smoothly, till a group of
Christians raised a rather explosive hymn, which ran

'Enthroned above Caesar and Judge of the Earth!
We wait on Thy coming--oh tarry not long!
  As the Kings of the Sunrise
  Drew sword at Thy Birth.

So we arm in this midnight of insult and wrong!'

'Yes--and if one of their fish-stalls is bumped over by a camel--it's
my fault!' said Valens. 'Now they've started it!'

Sure enough, voices on the outskirts broke into 'Pickled Fish,' but
before Valens could speak, they were suppressed by someone crying:

'Quiet there, or you'll get your pickle before your fish.'

It was close on twilight when a cry rose from within the packed
Church, and its congregation breasted out into the crowd. They all
talked about the new orders for their love-feasts, most of them
agreeing that they were sensible and easy. They agreed, too, that
Petrus (Paulus did not seem to have taken much part in the debate) had
spoken like one inspired, and they were all extremely proud of being
Christians. Some of them began to link arms across the alley, and
strike into the 'Enthroned above Caesar' chorus.

'And this, I think,' Valens called to the young Commandant of the
Mounted Patrol, 'is where we'll begin to steer 'em home. Oh! And "Let
night also have her well-earned hymn," as Uncle 'ud say.'

There filed out from behind the Little Circus four blaring trumpets, a
standard, and a dozen Mounted Police. Their wise little grey Arabs
sidled, passaged, shouldered, and nosed softly into the mob, as though
they wanted petting, while the trumpets deafened the narrow street. An
open square, near by, eased the pressure before long. Here the Patrol
broke into fours, and gridironed it, saluting the images of the Gods
at each corner and in the centre. People stopped, as usual, to watch
how cleverly the incense was cast down over the withers into the
spouting cressets; children reached up to pat horses which they said
they knew; family groups re-found each other in the smoky dusk;
hawkers offered cooked suppers; and soon the crowd melted into the
main traffic avenues. Valens went over to the Church porch, where
Petrus and Paulus waited between his lictors.

'That was well done,' Paulus began.

'How's the fever?' Valens asked.

'I was spared for to-day. I think, too, that by The Blessing we have
carried our point.'

'Good hearing! My uncle bids me say you are welcome at his house.'

'That is always a command,' said Paulus, with a quick down-country
gesture. 'Now that this day's burden is lifted, it will be a delight.'

Petrus joined up like a weary ox. Valens greeted him, but he did not
answer.

'Leave him alone,' Paulus whispered. 'The virtue has gone out of me--
him--for the while.' His own face looked pale and drawn.

The street was empty, and Valens took a short cut through an alley,
where light ladies leaned out of windows and laughed. The three
strolled easily together, the lictors behind them, and far off they
heard the trumpets of the Night Horse saluting some statue of a
Caesar, which marked the end of their round. Paulus was telling Valens
how the whole Roman Empire would be changed by what the Christians had
agreed to about their love-feasts, when an impudent little Jew boy
stole up behind them, playing 'Pickled Fish' on some sort of desert
bag-pipe.

'Can't you stop that young pest, one of you?' Valens asked laughing.
'You shan't be mocked on this great night of yours, Paulus.'

The lictors turned back a few paces, and shook a torch at the brat,
but he retreated and drew them on. Then they heard Paulus shout, and
when they hurried back, found Valens prostrate and coughing--his blood
on the fringe of the kneeling Paul's robe. Petrus stooped, waving a
helpless hand above them.

'Someone ran out from behind that well-head. He stabbed him as he ran,
and ran on. Listen!' said Paulus.

But there was not even the echo of a footfall for clue, and the Jew
boy had vanished like a bat. Said Valens from the ground

'Home! Quick! I have it!'

They tore a shutter out of a shop-front, lifted and carried him, while
Paulus walked beside. They set him down in the lighted inner courtyard
of the Prefect's house, and a lictor hurried for the Prefect's
physician.

Paulus watched the boy's face, and, as Valens shivered a little,
called to the girl to fetch last night's fur rug. She brought it, laid
the head on her breast, and cast herself beside Valens.

'It isn't bad. It doesn't bleed much. So it can't be bad--can it?' she
repeated. Valens' smile reassured her, till the Prefect came and
recognised the deadly upward thrust under the ribs. He turned on the
Hebrews.

'To-morrow you will look for where your Church stood,' said he.

Valens lifted the hand that the girl was not kissing.

'No--no!' he gasped. 'The Cilician did it! For his brother! He said
it.'

'The Cilician you let go to save these Christians because I--?' Valens
signed to his uncle that it was so, while the girl begged him to steal
strength from her till the doctor should come.

'Forgive me,' said Serga to Paulus. 'None the less I wish your God in
Hades once for all...But what am I to write his mother? Can't
either of you two talking creatures tell me what I'm to tell his
mother?'

'What has she to do with him?' the slave-girl cried. 'He is mine--
mine! I testify before all Gods that he bought me! I am his. He is
mine.'

'We can deal with the Cilician and his friends later,' said one of the
lictors. ' But what now?'

For some reason, the man, though used to butcher-work, looked at
Petrus.

'Give him drink and wait,' said Petrus. 'I have--seen such a wound.'
Valens drank and a shade of colour came to him. He motioned the
Prefect to stoop.

'What is it? Dearest of lives, what troubles?'

'The Cilician and his friends...Don't be hard on them...They
get worked up...They don't know what they are doing...
Promise!'

'This is not I, child. It is the Law.'

''No odds. You're Father's brother...Men make laws--not Gods...
. Promise!...It's finished with me.'

Valens' head eased back on its yearning pillow.

Petrus stood like one in a trance. The tremor left his face as he
repeated

'"Forgive them, for they know not what they do." Heard you that,
Paulus? He, a heathen and an idolator, said it!'

'I heard. What hinders now that we should baptize him?' Paulus
answered promptly.

Petrus stared at him as though he had come up out of the sea.

'Yes,' he said at last. 'It is the little maker of tents...And
what does he now--command?'

Paulus repeated the suggestion.

Painfully, that other raised the palsied hand that he had once held up
in a hall to deny a charge.

'Quiet!' said he. 'Think you that one who has spoken Those Words needs
such as we are to certify him to any God?'

Paulus cowered before the unknown colleague, vast and commanding,
revealed after all these years.

'As you please--as you please,' he stammered, overlooking the
blasphemy. 'Moreover there is the concubine.'

The girl did not heed, for the brow beneath her lips was chilling,
even as she called on her God who had bought her at a price that he
should not die but live.



The Disciple

HE that hath a Gospel.
  To loose upon Mankind.
Though he serve it utterly--
  Body, soul, and mind--
Though he go to Calvary
  Daily for its gain--
It is His Disciple
  Shall make his labour vain.

He that bath a Gospel.
  For all earth to own--
Though he etch it on the steel.
  Or carve it on the stone--
Not to be misdoubted
  Through the after-days--
It is His Disciple
  Shall read it many ways.

It is His Disciple
  (Ere Those Bones are dust)
Who shall change the Charter
  Who shall split the Trust--
Amplify distinctions.
  Rationalise the Claim.
Preaching that the Master
  Would have done the same.

It is His Disciple
  Who shall tell us how
Much the Master would have scrapped
  Had he lived till now--
What he would have modified
  Of what he said before--
It is His Disciple
  Shall do this and more...

He that hath a Gospel
  Whereby Heaven is won
(Carpenter, or Cameleer.
  Or Maya's dreaming son).
Many swords shall pierce Him.
  Mingling blood with gall;
But His Own Disciple
  Shall wound Him worst of all!



The Playmate

SHE is not Folly--that I know.
Her steadfast eyelids tell me so
When, at the hour the lights divide.
She steals as summonsed to my side.

When, finger on the pursd lip;
In secret, mirthful fellowship
She, heralding new framed delights.
Breathes, 'This shall be a Night of Nights!'

Then out of Time and out of Space.
Is built an Hour and a Place
Where all an earnest, baffled Earth
Blunders and trips to make us mirth;

Where, from the trivial flux of Things.
Rise unconceived miscarryings
Outrageous but immortal, shown.
Of Her great love, to me alone...

She is not Wisdom but, may be.
Wiser than all the Norms is She
And more than Wisdom I prefer
To wait on Her,--to wait on Her!



Aunt Ellen

A PRUDENT man, working from the North to London, along the Eastern
Counties, provides himself with friends from whom he can get food and
lodging.

Miss Gillon, whom all her world calls 'Aunt Ellen,' gave me lunch at
her house near Grantham. She wished to send an eiderdown quilt to an
old family servant at Hammersmith. Surely I remembered Prescott from
past ages? To-morrow would be Prescott's birthday. The quilt had been
delayed for repairs. A man would not know, of course, how tender
eiderdown quilts were. Should I be in London that evening? Then, in
the morning, would I take the quilt round to Prescott's address?
Prescott would be so pleased! And surprised, too; for there were some
little birthday remembrances from herself and from Saunders wrapped up
in the quilt.

Saunders, Prescott's successor, went upstairs and returned, her mouth
full of knotted strings, clasping an outsized pasteboard coffin. The
eiderdown, a loudly-patterned affair, was rolled into bolster form,
bound in two places with broad puce ribbons, and coaxed into it.
Saunders wove lashings over all and I carried it out and up-ended it
beside my steering-wheel.

Going down the drive I could scarcely squint round the corner of the
thing, and at the turn into the road, it lurched into my eye. So I
declutched it, and tied it to the back of the two-seater. True, I made
most of the knots with my gloves on, but, to compensate, I wove
Saunders' reef-points into the rear of the car as carefully as the
pendulous oriole stays her nest.

Then I went on to dine at a seat of learning where I was due to pick
up a friend--Henry Brankes Lettcombe, O.B.E.--once a Colonel of
Territorials--whose mission, in peace, was the regeneration of our
native cinema industry. He was a man of many hopes, which translated
themselves into prospectuses that faded beneath the acid breath of
finance. Sometimes I wrote the prospectuses, because he promised me
that, when his ship came in, he would produce the supreme film of the
world--the 'Life of St. Paul.' He said it would be easier than falling
off a log, once he had launched his Pan-Imperial Life-Visions'
Association.

He had said I should find him at St. Martin's College, which lies in a
rather congested quarter of a University town. I always look on my
mudguards as hostages to Fortune; yet even I was a little piqued at
the waywardness of the traffic. It was composed of the hatless young,
in flannel trousers and vivid blazers, who came and went and stopped
without warning, in every manner of machine. They were as genial as
those should be whose fathers pay all their bills. Only one, a thick-
set youth in a canoe-ended natural wood sporting machine, rammed me on
the starboard quarter and declared it was my fault.

His companion-slim, spotless, and urbane--smiled disarmingly. 'I
shouldn't chide with him if I were you, sir,' he said. 'He's been
tuning-in.'

I disengaged, and passed on to St. Martin's where I found Lettcombe
also tuning-in. He was returned lately from a place called Hollywood,
and he told us of energies unparalleled, and inventions beyond our
imaginings, controlled by super-men who, having no racial
prepossessions, could satisfy the 'mass-appetence' of all the races
who attend 'Sinnymus.' He spoke, further, of 'injuncted psychoses' and
'endyoclinics'--unsafe words to throw at the Learned who do not attend
'Ki-ne-mas.' They retaliated with abracadabras of their own, and
demanded definitions of his. Lettcombe, always nebulous, except in
action, drank a little College Madeira to help him define, and when we
left, at last, for London, was quite definite.

While driving, I listened to the creation, on improved lines, of the
Pan-Imperial Life-Visions' Association. It was now, he said, to be run
in conjunction with Hollywood. (He had abandoned my scheme of vast
studios at the top of Helvellyn; with marine annexes on the Wash and
Holy Island!) I led back tactfully to the St. Paul, pointing out that
it would be silly to have the Apostle sunstruck among Californian
cacti which, in the nature of things, could not have been discovered
till fifteen hundred years after his martyrdom. Lettcombe retorted
that the spirit, not the letter, gave life, and offered a semi-
annually divorced Film Star for the part of the Elect Lady.

I was beginning to formulate some preliminary objections, when I heard
behind us one single smart, drum-like tap. Lettcombe had just unpacked
from his imported vocabulary the compelling word, 'crypto-psychic-
apperceptiveness.' I braked, being cryptically aware that Saunders'
coffin had come adrift, and was lying in the fairway, at the same time
as I psychically apperceived the scented loveliness of the early
summer night, and the stillness that emphasises percipience when one's
car has stopped. Lettcombe was so full of the shortcomings of all the
divorced husbands of the Lady to be elected, that he kept on taking
her part to the abandoned steering-wheel long after I had descended
and gone back afoot (the reverse not suiting my car's temperament) to
recover the lost packet.

The road behind us ran straight, a few hundred yards, to a small wood
and there turned. It was wholly void when I started. First I found the
coffin, void also; hacked it into the ditch that it had nearly
reached, and held on, looking for a bed-quilt tied in two places. A
large head-light illuminated the wood. A small car pelted round the
curve. A horn squawked. There was a sound of ironmongery in revolt;
the car bounded marsupially to its right, and, with its head-light,
disappeared. But before it did this, I fancied I had seen my bundle
lying in its path. I went to look.

Obviously no one had been hurt, for an even voice out of the dark
pronounced that someone had done it now. A second voice, gruff and
heated, asked if he had seen why he had done it. 'For Women and Wine,'
said the first voice dreamily. 'Unless that's how you always change
gears.'

They continued talking, like spirits who had encountered by chance in
pure space.

The car, meanwhile, knelt on its forehead, presenting a canoe-shaped
stern of elaborate carpenter's work to the chill road. Beneath its
hindwheels lay a longish lump, that stopped three of my heart-beats,
so humanly dead did it show, till I saw that I should have to find
Prescott another eiderdown; and I grew hot against those infants
growling and cooing together by the bows of their meretricious craft.
Let them enjoy my sensations unwarned, and all the better, if they
should imagine they had done murder. Thus I argued in my lower soul;
but, on the higher planes of it, where thought merges into Intuition
and Prophecy, my Demon of Irresponsibility sang:--'I am with you once
more! Stand back and let Me take charge. This night shall be also One
of the Nights.' So I stood back and waited, as I have before, on
Chance and Circumstance which, accepted humbly, betray not the True
Believer.

A shadow in a tight-waisted waterproof, with a dress-suit beneath it,
came out of the ditch; saw what I had seen; drew its breath sharply,
and, after a pause, laid hands slowly on the horror beneath the rear
wheels. Suddenly it raised one of its own hands to its mouth and
sucked it. I caught a hissing expulsion of relief and saw its outline
relax. It then tugged, drew things free, and hauled and hauled at--
shall we say Aunt Ellen?--till she was clear. The end of her that came
out last was, so to speak, burst. The shadow coiled her up, embraced
her with both arms, and partly decanted, partly stuffed, her into the
dicky of the car, which it closed silently. I heard a very low
chuckle, and I too laughed. The shadow tiptoed over to me. 'Yours?' it
breathed. 'Yes,' I whispered. 'Do you need it, sir?' 'I leave it to
you, partner,' I replied. It chuckled again and patted me on the
shoulder with what seemed a mixture of appreciation and almost filial
reverence, or even--but this might have been senile vanity--
camaraderie. Then it turned and spoke towards the ditch: 'Phil! She's
as dead as a classic.'

The reply, delivered apparently through herbage, was that 'Phil' had
ruined his shirt-front.

The shadow sighed, resignedly, 'Never mind. We'll break it to him
later, sir,' and patted my shoulder once more. In the silence that
followed I heard Lettcombe who, by now, had come to miss me, in search
along the road. He chanted his desire that the glow-worm should lend
me her eyes, and that shooting-stars, which are as rare as glow-worms
in early summer, should chaperone me through all the Eastern Counties.

A London-bound lorry came round the bend, and asked him how much of
the road he needed. Lettcombe replied in the terms of the front-line
of '16; the lorry hurled them back with additions from the same gory
lexicon, laughed pleasantly, and went on.

'Well,' said the voice called Phil, 'are you going to stick here all
night? I've got to get--'

'Hush,' replied the shadow. 'I've disposed of her now, thank goodness.
Back out, if you can.'

'"Thus--thus to come unto thee!"' carolled Lettcombe. 'Did you see
that lorry? 'Nearly ran me down! What's the matter? Has there been an
accident? I'm looking for a friend.'

'Was she a woman?' the shadow asked him.

The two had barely time to skip aside, when the car, with unnecessary
power, belched its indecent little self back on to the tar. Phil, a
thick-set youth, confused among levers, put pieces of questions to the
shadow, which at a vast leisure answered to the name of 'Bunny.'

'What's happened? What's really happened? What were you saying about
women?' Phil repeated.

'I seldom say anything about women. Not even when they are dead,'
Bunny replied.

'Have you seen a dead woman, then?' Phil turned on Lettcombe.

'Nothing but that dam' lorry. 'Nearly ran me down, too. Didn't you
see?'

'Look here, Bunny,' Phil went on. 'I've got to be at Cadogan Gardens
by midnight and--I--I'm here and--Haman's head-light's wonky.
Something must have happened. What's happened?'

'And I haven't seen my friend, either,'

Lettcombe struck in. 'I wouldn't worry about him, only I don't drive
much.' He described me with the lewd facility which pavement and
cinema artists are given in place of love of beauty or reverence for
intellect.

'Never mind him!' said Bunny. 'Here's the Regius Professor of Medicine
of--' he named the opposition seat of learning, and by a certain
exquisite expansion of bearing included me in the circle. Phil did
not.

'Then what the devil's he doing up our street? Home! Go home, sir!' he
said to me. There was no reverence in this address, but Bunny
apologised for him very prettily.

'You see, he's in love,' he began. 'He's using this car to--er thus--
thus--to come unto her. That makes him nervous and jealous. And he has
run over an old lady, though he doesn't realise it. When I get that
into his head he'll react quite differently. By the way, sir, did you
observe any sign of life after we released her?'

'I did not.' The actual Regius Professor of Medicine could not have
spoken more authoritatively.

'Oh, Lord! Someone dead?' Phil gasped. 'Where?'

'I slipped her into that lorry just now--to give her a chance. She
looked rather bitten about the back, but she may be alive. We must
catch up with her and find out,' said Bunny.

'You can't mistake the lorry either,' Lettcombe added. 'It stinks of
hens. 'Nearly ran me down. You saw it, didn't you?'

'In that case we had better get a move on,' Bunny suggested.

The ditching had not improved the car, but she was still far from
contemptible. Her left fore-wheel inclined, on its stub-axle, towards
(technically speaking) the Plane of the Ecliptic; her radiator sweated
like Samson at Gaza; her steering-gear played like all Wordsworth's
own daffodils; her swivelling head-light glared fixedly at the ground
beneath it like a Trappist monk under penance; but her cranking-handle
was beyond comparison, because it was not there. She answered,
however, to the self-starter, with promising kicks. There may have
been a few spare odds and ends left behind us, but, as Bunny said,
that was Haman's fault for not having provided a torch. I understood
that Mr. Haman was seldom permitted to use his own car in term-time,
because he had once volunteered that he was a 'thorough-goin' sport,'
and was now being educated; and as soon as Lettcombe understood why I
had accepted a Regius Professorship of Medicine, and what and where
the old lady was, he dropped a good deal of his morbid hate against
his lorry, and, for a man of his unimaginative trade, did good work.

Our labours were rather interrupted by Phil's officious attempts to
find out whether his victim were dead or like to live. Bunny was as
patient with him as any nurse, even when he began once more to hope to
reach Cadogan Gardens by 'a little after midnight'; it being then
eleven forty-seven and a clear night.

We all, except Phil, felt we knew each other well when Mr. Haman's car
was assembled and controllable, and, like the travellers of old,
'decided henceforth to journey in company.' Mr. Haman's car led, with
mine in support to light it should any of its electric fittings fail.

Owing to her brutalised fore-wheel, which gave her the look and gait
of a dachshund, she carried, as mariners say, a strong port helm; and
if let off the wind for an instant, slid towards the ditch. This
reduced her speed, but, on the other hand, there was not so much
overtaking, at which manoeuvre her infirmities made her deadlier than
Boadicea's chariots.

Thus, then, we laboured London ward for a while, deep in the heart of
the night and all its unpredictable allures. (The caption is
Lettcombe's.) Presently we smelt a smell out of the dear dead days
when horses drew carts, and blacksmiths shod them--but not at
midnight. Lettcombe was outlining 'The Shaving of Shagpat' for film
purposes, when our squadron-leader stopped; and Bunny, sniffing,
walked back to us. 'Do you happen to remember,' he asked, 'if she wore
a feather bonnet--or a boa?'

Lettcombe and I remembered both these articles distinctly.

'Then that's all right.' He called back: 'She did, Phil. See if it's
anywhere on the dumb-iron.'

Phil got out and grovelled, as we walked towards the smell. He rose
with a piece of loudly-patterned silk in his hand.

'I've found this!' said he hoarsely, 'Low down on the radiator.'

'Petticoat!' said Bunny. 'Torn off! Tck! Tck! I am sorry, old top.'

'It don't prove anything,' said Lettcombe, 'except that you may have
grazed her. What we've got to do is to catch up with that lorry.
Perhaps she's only stunned.'

'She's pretty well red-hot,' said Bunny, beside the crackling car.

He opened the bonnet, and the smell let itself out. It was complex,
but with no trace of inferiority.

I remembered then that at least a quarter of 'Aunt Ellen's' figure had
been missing after the collision. We recovered a good deal of it,
loose and blackening inside the bonnet yet I did not at first see why
there should be greasy, fluffy deposits over the exhaust and the
mechanism, any more than I could get abreast of the smell. There were
motives in it of fats, butyric acid, alcohols, mineral oils, heated
rubber, and singed leather, to a broadly-handled accompaniment of
charred feathers, lightened by suggestions of crisped flesh.

I began to work out the birthday presents which Miss Gillon and the
kindly Saunders must have packed inside 'Aunt Ellen.' Butter and hair-
oil I could identify; gloves, perhaps; a horn or tortoise-shell comb
certainly. The alcohol might have begun the journey as eau-de-Cologne;
and there were traces of kidney. On digital exploration, it appeared
to be the hair-oil that had really stopped so many of the radiator-
holes with pledgets of oiled down. The fan must have sucked the
mixture from the piece of quilt that had adhered to the radiator until
the whole had impacted, whereby Mr. Haman's machine had naturally
choked and her works turned plum-colour.

'Those holes ought to be cleared while she cools,' I said.

'Your tie-pin's the thing.' Bunny turned to Lettcombe, who, being of a
decorative breed, detached a cameo head of Eros from his green made-up
tie and handed it to Phil, who fell to work. A winkle-vendor could not
have excelled him.

As Regius Professor of Medicine, my diagnosis of his condition was
that the jolt into the ditch, combined with previous 'tunings-in,' had
passed Phil into a waking trance, in which he reacted mechanically to
stimuli, but felt no real pain.

'Now, we've got to fill the radiator,' said Bunny, while Phil blew at
each hole after it was cleared.

In democratic England, if you make noise enough in public, someone,
official or unofficial, will attend to your wants. While our twin
Klaxons were developing this theme, a man came out of a gate in a
hedge, and told us reproachfully that he had been sitting up solely in
order to catch 'W.E.A.F.' on the midnight hush. Lettcombe said that at
the present conjunction of the planets there was no chance of this
till crack of dawn. Instantly all arguments dissolved into the babble
of fellow-imbeciles. Bunny and I left them (the man tossed his head at
us sideways, saying 'Oh, that's all right. Ask Ma.') and went up a
path to a new, dampish bungalow where there was a room with a water-
tap and a jug. An old lady in a kimono came out of another room, and
at once fell a victim to Bunny in his partially revealed dress-suit,
who explained our position at the same time as he filled the jug,
which I bore out to the car. On my first trip I passed the bungalow-
man and Lettcombe still at the gate wrangling over the Alphabet. On my
next, they had run into the bungalow to decide whether the amours of
an ill-conducted cattery or the single note of a dismal flageolet
represented all that the Western Hemisphere could give of uplift. But
I continued to serve the radiator, and, before I had done, got to know
something of Phil. He had, he told me, devoted himself to rowing, but
that afternoon they had discarded him from his College boat on account
of a slipped cartilage; since when, he had been 'tuning in a little.'
He was, he said, the son of an Archdeacon, and would enter the Church
if forced, but much preferred an unembarrassed life in one of our
Dominions. He wanted to kill Mr. Haman, because Haman's car had
prevented him getting to Cadogan Gardens to keep an appointment on
which a great deal depended. And throughout, he perspired
inordinately. When the man and Lettcombe, followed by the old lady of
the kimono and Bunny, came out, each bearing one large bottle of Bass,
he accepted his with gratitude. The man told us he had been in the
service of a Malayan Rubber Company at Kalang-Alang, which is eighty-
three miles from the nearest white man, and that his mother had kept
house for him there. His mother told Bunny that, as between leeches
and tigers, she advised him to take tigers every time, because leeches
got up your legs. Then, with appropriate farewells, we resumed our
journey.

Barring the front wheel, which was an accident, the late Mr. Haman's
car behaved very well. We were going to compliment Phil on his work,
but as soon as he got in beside Bunny, who took the wheel, he fell
asleep.

Thanks to my iron nerve, and my refusal to be drawn from my orbit by
the performances of the car ahead, I reached the outer suburbs of
London, and steered among the heavy traffic that halts for refreshment
at the wayside coffee-stalls which are so quiet by day.

Only the speed of my reactions saved me from bumping into Bunny when
he pulled up without warning beside a lorry.

'We've found her,' he cried. 'Wake up, Phil, and ask for what I told
you.'

I heard Phil crash out of his sleep like a buffalo from a juicy
wallow, and shout:--'Have you got an old lady inside there?'

The reply, in a pleasant, though uncultivated, voice, was:--'Show
yourself, Maria. There's a man after ye at last.'

And that which Phil had been told to ask for he got. Only the shadow
of a profile, next the driver, showed in the lorry, so everything was
as impersonal as Erebus. The allocution supposed Phil to be several
things, and set them out in order and under heads. It imputed to him
motives, as it proved that he had manners, of a revolting sort, and
yet, by art beyond imitation, it implied all its profounder
obscenities. The shallower ones, as Lettcombe said, were pelted in
like maxim-belts between the descents of barrages. The pitch scarcely
varied, and the temperature of the whole was that of liquefied air.
When there was a pause, Bunny, who is ahead of his years in
comprehension and pity, got out, went to the lorry and, uncovering,
asked with reverence of the driver, 'Are you married to her, sir?'

'I am,' said the pleasant voice proudly. 'So it isn't often I can 'ear
it from the gallery, as you might say. Go on, Maria.'

Maria took breath between her teeth and went on. She defined Phil's
business as running up and down the world, murdering people better
than himself. That was the grey canvas she embroidered idly, at first,
as with flowers; then illuminated with ever-soaring fireworks; and
lastly rent asunder from wing to wing with forked lightning-like yells
of:--'Murderer! Murderer!'

All England seemed to be relieved by the silence when it came. Phil,
alone in the car, emitted (the caption, again, is Lettcombe's) a low
wolf-like howl, shifted into the driving-seat, and fled up the London
road.

'Better keep him in sight.' Bunny had already established himself
beside me. 'Better let me drive, sir'; and he was at the wheel,
hustling my astounded two-seater out of all her respectable past.
Phil, however, took insane risks among the lorries that were bringing
vegetables for London to boil, and kept in front.

'I can't make out what's the matter with him.' (Bunny seemed to find
talking and driving at high speeds quite normal.) 'He was all right
till the woman came.'

'They mostly are,' said Lettcombe cheaply.

'Perhaps he's worrying about the accident,' I suggested.

'Oh, I had forgotten about that. I've told him about it, for ever so
long, but he didn't seem to take it in at the time. I expect it's
realised remorse.'

'It ain't hydrophobia, at any rate,' said Lettcombe, who was keeping a
look-out ahead.

We had reached the opening of one of our much-advertised but usually
incomplete bypasses. It by-passed what had been a village where men
used to water horses and wash carriages in a paved 'flash' or pond
close to a public-house. Phil had turned into the pond and was
churning it up a good deal.

'What's the matter, old thing?' Bunny asked affectionately as we drew
up on the edge. 'Won't she swim?'

'I'm getting rid of the proofs,' Phil cried. 'You heard what that
woman said? She's right. This wheel's stiff with blood. So are the
cushions.' He flung them overboard, and continued his circular tour.

'I don't suppose Haman will miss 'em much more than the rest,' said
Bunny to me. 'I cut my hand on a bit of a bottle in your quilt, sir.
It was port wine, I think. It must have splashed up through the floor.
It splashed a lot.--Row ashore, Phil, and we'll search her properly.'

But Phil went astern. He said he was washing the underbody clear of
the head on the dumbiron, because no decent girl could be expected to
put up with that sort of thing at a dance.

'That is very strange,' Bunny mused to himself. 'I thought he'd
forgotten about that too. I only said "bonnet." He must have evolved
"head" out of his subliminal mind.--She's looking beautiful now,
Phil.'

'Do you really think so? Do you really think a girl 'ud like to see me
in it?' Phil roared above the waters he troubled.

We all said she would, and he swashed out of his pool, damp but
prepared to do his duty. Bunny took the wheel at once and said they
would show it to her before the dance ended.

'But then,' said Phil, 'would that be fair on the woman I've killed?
No decent girl could put up with that, you know. Doris least of all.'

'Oh, you can always explain,' Lettcombe suggested. 'Just a simple
explanation taken in the spirit in which it was offered.'

Phil thought upon it, while he crammed handfuls of wet dress-shirt-
front back into position.

'You're right,' he assented. 'I'll explain...Bunny, drive like
hell to Haman's diggings. I've got to kill him.'

'Quite right, old thing,' said Bunny, and headed for London.

Once again we followed, and for some absurd reason Lettcombe was laid
low by laughter. But I saw the zenith beginning to soften towards
dawn, and the dim shoulders of the world taking shape against the
first filtrations of light. It was the hour I knew of old--the one in
which my Demon wrought his mightiest. Therefore, I never insult him by
mirth till he has released the last foot of it.

(But what should a man who visits Hollywood for instruction know of
any God?)

Dawn breathed upon that immense width of barren arterial tar, with its
breadth of tintless stuff at either side. A red light marked a distant
crossing. Bunny was letting the dachshund range rather generously all
over the unoccupied area, and I suppose he hypnotised me. At any rate
both cars seemed to be abreast at the moment that one lonely young
Policeman stopped us and wanted to know what we were doing all that
for.

I speculated, while he partially undressed himself to get at his
notebook, what words my Demon would put into my mouth. They came--
weighted--gigantesque--of themselves.

'Robert William Peel,' they ran, 'it is necessary in the pursuit of
Art that these things should be. Amen!'

He answered that quoting Scripture had nothing to do with driving to
the common danger.

I pitied him--and that he might not go uncomforted to whatever doom
awaited, I told him so; merely adding that the other car had been
stolen from a Mr. Mordecai, Senior Acolyte of Old Bailey, and that I
was observing it on behalf of the Midland Motors' Recoveries Company.
This last convincing cadenza prevented him from trying to smell my
breath any longer. Then Phil said he had run over an old lady up the
road, but wished to explain and to hang like a gentleman. He continued
in this frame of mind and habit of speech for the rest of the
conference; but--thanks to the sublime instincts of an ancient people
broken to alcohol for a thousand years--the Bobby stuck to the civil
charge. Why were we driving to the common danger?

I repeated my firm's well-chosen name. To prevent theft, not murder,
were my instructions; and what was the Policeman going to do about it?
Bunny saved him trouble by owning that it was a fair cop, but, given
half a chance, he would reform. The Policeman said he didn't know, and
he couldn't say, but there was something wrong somewhere.

Then, of course, we all had to help him.

He pointed out that he had stopped us. We admitted it. Then would we
kindly wait where we were till he went and fetched his Sergeant? He
put it to us as gentlemen who wished to save trouble--would we? What
else could we do? He went off. We wished to save him trouble, so we
waited where we were. Phil sat down on the running-board of Mr.
Haman's car, whimpering 'Doris!' at intervals. Lettcombe, who does not
markedly click with Aurora, rubbed his chin and said he could do with
a shave. Bunny lit a cigarette and joined me. The night had left no
trace on him--not even a feather's weight on anything that he wore;
and his young face, insolent as the morning that hurried towards it,
had no fear of her revelations.

'By she way,' I asked, 'have you a plan or a policy, or, anything of
that sort?'

'Plan?' said he. 'When one is alive? What for?'

''Sorry,' said I. 'But I should like to know who your father is.'

'Speaking as an--er--Uncle, would you advise me so sell, sir, if you
were in my position?' the child replied.

'Certainly not,' I answered. 'I never did.'

Whereupon he told me and went on: 'If Police Sergeants have been up
all night on duty they appreciate a run in the fresh air before
turning in. If they've been hoicked out of bed, ad hoc, they're apt to
be anfractuous. It's the Sergeant Complex.'

A lorry came along, and asked Lettcombe if any particular complains
caused him so wave his hands in that way. Lettcombe said that the
Policeman had warned him and his friends not so go on till he came
back with the Borough Surveyor so see if the road was safe. Mass-
psychology being much the same in machines as in men, we presently
accumulated three lorries, who debated together with the crispness of
the coming morning's self. A north-bound vehicle approached, was
halted, and said that, so far as it knew, noshing was wrong wish the
road into London. This had so be discussed all over again, and then we
saw, far off, the Policeman and his Sergeant advancing at the
quickstep. Lettcombs, so encourage them, started a song with the
refrain 'Inky-pinky parlez-vous,' which the first and third lorries
took up in perfect time. The second hissed is conscientiously.

The Sergeant, however, did not attend so us all together. The lorries
wanted their cases considered first. Lettcombe said that the Bobby had
said that the road wasn't safe. The Bobby said that he had said, that
the way in which those two cars were driven on that road would make
any road unsafe. His remarks were means to be general--not particular.
He would have explained further, but the lorries said that they were
poor working-men. The Sergeant demurred at 'poor,' but, before any
protest could be organised, a voice from the second lorry said: 'A
word wish you, Master Sergeant Stinking Inspector General of Police,
if you please.'

The Sergeant as once changed manner, and answered, like a shop-walker:
'Oh, good morning, Mrs. Shemahen.' 'No good morning for you this
morning, thank you,' was she reply, and Mrs. Shemahen spoke, as she
had spoken to Phil not so long ago. Her discourse this time had more
of personal knowledge to relish it, and--which spurs every artist--all
her points were taken by her audience. (They seemed to be a
neighbourly lot along that stretch of road.) When she drew breath, the
Bobby would cry hopefully: 'Pass along! Pass along, there, please!'
but without the least effect on the enraptured lorries. When the
Sergeant tried to interrupt (as to an alleged bigamous marriage) they
all cried: 'Hush up!' and when Mrs. Shemahen said she had done with
such as him, they demanded an encore.

They then drove on, and the Sergeant, morally more naked than at
birth, turned to us as the loyal and zealous Policeman began: 'At or
about two-ten this morning, being on point duty--'

'I wish to hell you hadn't,' said the Sergeant.

'By the way,' said Bunny, in a tone that will work woe in his world
before long, 'who was the woman who was speaking just now? She told us
off a little while ago--much better than she did you. Her husband
called her Maria, didn't he?'

'Oh yes. She's quite a local character!' (the seduced Sergeant
returned to ease of manner, and natural bearing, as, some day, a girl
or two will drop her guard with Bunny and--) 'She runs a chicken-farm
a bit along hereabouts. They give out she's crazy. What do you think,
sir?'

'With a little training she'd be a revelation in our business,'
Lettcombe broke in. 'Speaking as one who knows something about it, I
can guarantee that.'

I started! Was my Demon going to lay the hot coal of inspiration on
Lettcombe's unshorn lips--not on mine? But I would allow him the count
fairly, and I began, 'One--Two--Three'--while the Bobby made a second
shot at his catechism--('Six--Seven')--After all, it was more in
Lettcombe's line than mine, yet--Lettcombe drew himself up, took
breath, and--I saw the end, coming with the day.

'Well, boys,' he began on what I feel sure is the standardised
Hollywood screech of a Producer. 'The light's about good enough now
for a trial-shot. Jimmy,' he pointed to Phil, 'you've got to register
guilt and remorse for the murder much stronger than you've done up to
now.'

'Here!' I broke in, on the off chance that my Demon might relent, 'let
me help too.'

'Not much,' Lettcombe replied. 'This is my St. Paul!'

'Ah! I think I see...' the Sergeant began.

'You're right, Sergeant.' Lettcombe swept on. 'It's called "Love among
the Leeches"--the English end of it. Doug!' (This was blackguardly of
Lettcombe. I do not resemble Mr. Fairbanks in the least.) You're out
of this. You've given up trying to blackmail Jimmy and you've doped
him.'

'You needn't have given Jimmy all our whisky, though,' said Bunny
aggrievedly. 'He'd have registered just as well on half of it.'

'Exactly,' Lettcombe resumed. 'That's what Mr. Fairbanks meant,
Sergeant, when he told your man about doing things for Art's sake.
You'll find it in his notebook. I saw him write it down. And, Jimmy,
register that you're quite convinced it was Clara you ran over in your
car, and that she had committed suicide through grief after the tigers
had killed her mother at Kalang-Alang. 'Got that? Say it, then.'

'Kalang-alang-alang-alang,' said Phil, like a level-crossing gong.
'Look here! When do I kill Haman?'

'In the second reel,' Lettcombe commanded. 'We must shoot the accident
to the car all over again. Oh, we use up cars in our job as easy as
lyin', Sergeant. Now! 'Tention! Charlie!'--(Bunny took this serve)--
'You're going to show poor Jimmy what he thought was Clara's corpse.
That comes after Jimmy's arrest. Sergeant, do you mind telling your
man to stand beside Jimmy? He has only got to look as if he didn't
know what's coming next. Ready?'

And down the fully revealed road moved the wind that comes with
morning-turn--a point or two south of sou-west, ever fortunate to me.
Bunny moved to the dicky of Mr. Haman's car and opened it.

'Stand closer to the Bobby, Phil,' he called, 'and, Bobby darling, put
your hand on his shoulder as though you were arresting him. Keep out
of the picture, Sergeant, and you'll be able to see exactly how it's
done.'

At the same time that Lettcombe levelled a light valise, in lieu of
camera, Bunny took out from the dicky what he had put there less than
two hours ago. And, as he had then hauled 'Aunt Ellen' out backwards,
so now he shook her and he shook her and he kept on shaking her,
forward from where her skirt was to where her head had been. Bits of
paper, buttered; bits of bottle-glass; pieces of pomatum-pot (I must
have been wrong about the hair-oil) and pieces of groceries came out;
but what came out most and seemed as if it would never stop, was the
down of the eider-duck (Somateria mollissima). Such is the ingenuity
of man, who, from a few square feet of bed-gear, can evoke earth-
enveloping smoke-screens of 'change, alarm, surprise'--but, above all,
surprise!

The Policeman disappeared. When we saw him again--Lo! he was older
than Abraham, and whiter than Lot's wife. He blew a good deal through
his Father Christmas moustache, but no words came. Then he took off
his Esquimaux gloves, and picked feebly at his Polar Bear belly.

Phil lurched towards us like a penguin through a blizzard. He was
whiter than the Policeman, for he had been hatless, and his hair had
been oiled, and he was damp all over. Bunny motioned him daintily to
the open dicky.

The Sergeant, as advised, had kept out of the picture, and so had been
able to see exactly how it was done. He sat at the base of the lamp-
post at the crossing of the arterial by-pass, and hugged its standard
with both arms. After repeated inquiries, none of which he was able to
answer, because he could not speak, we left him there, while the
Policeman persisted in trying to moult.

.   .   .   .   .

I do not laugh when I drive, which is why I was as nearly as possible
dead when we followed the dachshund into Cadogan Gardens, where the
numbers are ill-arranged, and drove round and round till some young
people, who had been dancing, came out from beneath a striped awning
into the first of the pure morning sunlight. One of them was called
Doris. Phil called her, so that all Cadogan Gardens were aware. Yet it
was an appreciable time before she connected the cry with the plumage
of that mating bird.



Naaman's Song

'GO, wash thyself in Jordan--go, wash thee and be clean!'
Nay, not for any Prophet will I plunge a toe therein!
For the banks of curious Jordan are parcelled into sites.
Commanded and embellished and patrolled by Israelites.

There rise her timeless capitals of Empires daily born.
Whose plinths are laid at midnight, and whose streets are packed at morn;
And here come hired youths and maids that feign to love or sin
In tones like rusty razor-blades to tunes like smitten tin.

And here be merry murtherings, and steeds with fiery hooves;
And furious hordes with guns and swords, and clamberings over rooves;
And horrid tumblings down from Heaven, and flights with wheels and wings;
And always one weak virgin who is chased through all these things.

And here is mock of faith and truth, for children to behold;
And every door of ancient dirt reopened to the old;
With every word that taints the speech, and show that weakens thought;
And Israel watcheth over each, and--doth not watch for nought...

But Pharphar--but Abana--which Hermon launcheth down--
They perish fighting desert-sands beyond Damascus-town.
But yet their pulse is of the snows--their strength is from on high.
And, if they cannot cure my woes, a leper will I die!



The Mother's Son

I HAVE a dream--a dreadful dream--
  A dream that is never done.
I watch a man go out of his mind.
  And he is My Mother's Son.

They pushed him into a Mental Home.
  And that is like the grave
For they do not let you sleep upstairs.
  And you're not allowed to shave.

And it was not disease or crime
  Which got him landed there.
But because They laid on My Mother's Son
  More than a man could bear.

What with noise, and fear of death.
  Waking, and wounds and cold.
They filled the Cup for My Mother's Son
  Fuller than it could hold.

They broke his body and his mind
  And yet They made him live.
And They asked more of My Mother's Son
  Than any man could give.

For, just because he had not died
  Nor been discharged nor sick
They dragged it out with My Mother's Son
  Longer than he could stick...

And no one knows when he'll get well--
  So, there he'll have to be
And, 'spite of the beard in the looking-glass.
  I know that man is me!



Fairy-Kist

THE only important society in existence to-day is the E.C.F.--the
Eclectic but Comprehensive Fraternity for the Perpetuation of
Gratitude towards Lesser Lights. Its founders were William Lemming, of
Lemming and Orton, print-sellers; Alexander Hay McKnight, of Ellis and
McKnight, provision-merchants; Robert Keede, M.R.C.P., physician,
surgeon, and accoucheur; Lewis Holroyd Burges, tobacconist and cigar
importer--all of the South Eastern postal districts--and its zealous,
hard-working, but unappreciated Secretary. The meetings are usually at
Mr. Lemming's little place in Berkshire, where he raises pigs.

I had been out of England for awhile, missing several dinners, but was
able to attend a summer one with none present but ourselves; several
red mullets in paper; a few green peas and ducklings; an arrangement
of cockscombs with olives, and capers as large as cherries;
strawberries and cream; some 1903 Chateau la Tour; and that locked
cabinet of cigars to which only Burges has the key.

It was at the hour when men most gracefully curvet abroad on their
hobbies, and after McKnight had been complaining of systematic
pilfering in his three big shops, that Burges told us how an
illustrious English astrologer called Lily had once erected a
horoscope to discover the whereabouts of a parcel of stolen fish. The
stars led him straight to it and the thief and, incidentally, into a
breeze with a lady over 'seven Portugal onions' also gone adrift, but
not included in the periscope. Then we wondered why detective-story
writers so seldom use astrology to help out the local Sherlock Holmes;
how many illegitimate children that great original had begotten in
magazine form; and so drifted on to murder at large. Keede, whose
profession gives him advantages, illustrated the subject.

'I wish I could do a decent detective story,' I said at last. 'I never
get further than the corpse.'

'Corpses are foul things,' Lemming mused aloud. 'I wonder what sort of
a corpse I shall make.'

'You'll never know,' the gentle, silver-haired Burges replied. 'You
won't even know you're dead till you look in the glass and see no
reflection. An old woman told me that once at Barnet Horse Fair--and I
couldn't have been more than seven at the time.'

We were quiet for a few minutes, while the Altar of the Lesser Lights,
which is also our cigar-lighter, came into use. The single burner
atop, representing gratitude towards Lesser Lights in general, was of
course lit. Whenever gratitude towards a named Lesser Light is put
forward and proven, one or more of the nine burners round the base can
be thrown into action by pulling its pretty silver draw-chain.

'What will you do for me,' said Keede, puffing, 'if I give you an
absolutely true detective yarn?'

'If I can make anything of it,' I replied, 'I'll finish the Millar
Gift.'

This meant the cataloguing of a mass of Masonic pamphlets (1832-59),
bequeathed by a Brother to Lodge Faith and Works 5836 E.C.--a job
which Keede and I, being on the Library Committee, had together
shirked for months.

'Promise you won't doctor it if you use it?' said Keede.

'And for goodness' sake don't bring me in any more than you can help,'
said Lemming.

No practitioner ever comprehends another practitioner's methods; but a
promise was given, a bargain struck; and the tale runs here
substantially as it was told.

That past autumn, Lemming's pig-man (who had been sitting up with a
delicate lady-Berkshire) discovered, on a wet Sunday dawn in October,
the body of a village girl called Ellen Marsh lying on the bank of a
deep cutting where the road from the village runs into the London
Road. Ellen, it seemed, had many friends with whom she used to make
evening appointments, and Channet's Ash, as the cross-roads were
called, from the big ash that overhung them, was one of her well-known
trysting-places. The body lay face down at the highest point of a
sloping footpath which the village children had trodden out up the
bank, and just where that path turned the corner under Channet's Ash
and dropped into the London Road. The pig-man roused the village
constable, an ex-soldier called Nicol, who picked up, close to the
corpse, a narrow-bladed fern-trowel, its handle wrapped with twine.
There were no signs of a struggle, but it had been raining all night.
The pig-man then went off to wake up Keede, who was spending the week-
end with Lemming. Keede did not disturb his host, Mrs. Lemming being
ill at the time, but he and the policeman commandeered a builder's
handcart from some half-built shops down the London Road; wheeled the
body to the nearest inn--the Cup o' Grapes--pushed a car out of a
lock-up; took the shove-halfpenny board from the Oddfellows' Room, and
laid the body on it till the regular doctor should arrive.

'He was out,' Keede said, 'so I made an examination on my own. There
was no question of assault. She had been dropped by one scientific
little jab, just at the base of the skull, by someone who knew his
anatomy. That was all. Then Nicol, the Bobby, asked me if I'd care to
walk over with him to Jimmy Tigner's house.'

'Who was Jimmy Tigner?' I asked.

'Ellen's latest young man--a believing soul. He was assistant at the
local tinsmith's, living with his mother in a cottage down the street.
It was seven o'clock then, and not a soul about. Jimmy had to be waked
up. He stuck his head out of the window, and Nicol stood in the garden
among the cabbages--friendly as all sin--and asked him what he'd been
doing the night before, because someone had been knocking Ellen about.
Well, there wasn't much doubt what Jimmy had been up to. He was
altogether "the morning after." He began dressing and talking out of
the window at the same time, and said he'd kill any man who touched
Ellen.'

'Hadn't the policeman cautioned him?' McKnight demanded.

'What for? They're all friends in this village. Then Jimmy said that,
on general principles, Ellen deserved anything she might have got.
He'd done with her. He told us a few details (some girl must have
given her away), but the point he kept coming back to was that they
had parted in "high dungeon." He repeated that a dozen times. Nicol
let him run on, and when the boy was quite dressed, he said "Well, you
may as well come on up-street an' look at her. She don't bear you any
malice now." (Oh, I tell you the War has put an edge on things all
round!) Jimmy came down, jumpy as a cat, and, when we were going
through the Cup o' Grapes yard, Nicol unlocked the garage and pushed
him in. The face hadn't been covered either.'

'Drastic,' said Burges, shivering.

'It was. Jimmy went off the handle at once; and Nicol kept patting him
on the back and saying: "That's all right! I'll go bail you didn't do
it." Then Jimmy wanted to know why the deuce he'd been dragged into
it. Nicol said "Oh, that's what the French call a confrontation. But
you're all right." Then Jimmy went for Nicol. So we got him out of the
garage, and gave him a drink, and took him back to his mother. But at
the inquest he accounted for every minute of his time. He'd left Ellen
under Channet's Ash, telling her what he thought of her over his
shoulder for a quarter of a mile down the lane (that's what "high
dungeon" meant in their language). Luckily two or three of the girls
and the bloods of the village had heard 'em. After that, he'd gone to
the Cup o' Grapes, filled himself up, and told everybody his
grievances against Ellen till closing-time. The interestin' thing was
that he seemed to be about the only decent boy of the lot.'

'Then,' Lemming interrupted, 'the reporters began looking for clues.
They--they behaved like nothing I've ever imagined! I was afraid we'd
be dragged into it. You see, that wretched Ellen had been our
scullery-maid a few months before, and--my wife--as ill as she was...But
mercifully that didn't come out at the inquest.'

'No' Keede went on. 'Nicol steered the thing. He's related to Ellen.
And by the time Jimmy had broken down and wept, and the reporters had
got their sensation, it was brought in "person or persons unknown."'

'What about the trowel?' said McKnight, who is a notable gardener.

'It was a most valuable clue, of course, because it explained the
modus operandi. The punch--with the handle, the local doctor said--had
been delivered through her back hair, with just enough strength to do
the job and no more. I couldn't have operated more neatly myself. The
Police took the trowel, but they couldn't trace it to anyone, somehow.
The main point in the village was that no one who knew her wanted to
go into Ellen's character. She was rather popular, you see. Of course
the village was a bit disappointed about Jimmy's getting off; and when
he broke down again at her funeral, it revived suspicion. Then the
Huish poisoning case happened up in the North; and the reporters had
to run off and take charge of it. What did your pig-man say about 'em,
Will?'

'Oh, Griffiths said: "'Twas Gawd's own Mercy those young gen'elmen
didn't 'ave 'alf of us 'ung before they left. They were that
energetic!"'

'They were,' said Keede. 'That's why I kept back my evidence.'

'There was the wife to be considered too,' said Lemming. 'She'd never
have stood being connected with the thing, even remotely.'

'I took it upon myself to act upon that belief,' Keede replied
gravely. 'Well--now for my little bit. I'd come down that Saturday
night to spend the week-end with Will here; and I couldn't get here
till late. It was raining hard, and the car skidded badly. Just as I
turned off the London Road into the lane under Channet's Ash, my
lights picked up a motor-bike lying against the bank where they found
Ellen; and I saw a man bending over a woman up the bank. Naturally one
don't interfere with these little things as a rule; but it occurred to
me there might have been a smash. So I called out: "Anything wrong?
Can I help?" The man said: "No, thanks. We're all right," or words to
that effect, and I went on. But the bike's letters happened to be my
own initials, and its number was the year I was born in. I wasn't
likely to forget 'em, you see.'

'You told the Police?' said McKnight severely.

''Took 'em into my confidence at once, Sandy,' Keede replied. 'There
was a Sergeant, Sydenham way, that I'd been treating for Salonika
fever. I told him I was afraid I'd brushed a motor-bike at night
coming up into West Wickham, on one of those blind bends--up the hill,
and I'd be glad to know I hadn't hurt him. He gave me what I wanted in
twenty-four hours. The bike belonged to one Henry Wollin--of
independent means--livin' near Mitcham.'

'But West Wickham isn't in Berkshire--nor is Mitcham,' McKnight began.

'Here's a funny thing,' Keede went on, without noticing. 'Most men and
nearly all women commit murder single-handed; but no man likes to go
man-hunting alone. Primitive instinct, I suppose. That's why I lugged
Will into the Sherlock Holmes business. You hated too.'

'I hadn't recovered from those reporters,' said Lemming.

'They were rather energetic. But I persuaded Will that we'd call upon
Master Wollin and apologise--as penitent motorists--and we went off to
Mitcham in my two-seater. Wollin had a very nice little detached villa
down there. The old woman--his housekeeper--who let us in, was West
Country, talkin' as broad as a pat o' butter. She took us through the
hall to Wollin, planting things in his back-garden.'

'A wonderful little garden for that soil,' said Lemming, who considers
himself an even greater gardener than McKnight, although he keeps two
men less.

'He was a big, strong, darkish chap--middle-aged--wide as a bull
between the eyes--no beauty, and evidently had been a very sick man.
Will and I apologised to him, and he began to lie at once. He said
he'd been at West Wickham at the time (on the night of the murder, you
know), and he remembered dodging out of the way of a car. He didn't
seem pleased that we should have picked up his number so promptly.
Seeing we were helping him to establish an alibi, he ought to have
been, oughtn't he?'

'Ye mean,' said McKnight, suddenly enlightened, 'that he was
committing the murder here in Berkshire on the night that he told you
he was in West Wickham, which is in Kent.'

'Which is in Kent. Thank you. It is. And we went on talking about that
West Wickham hill till he mentioned he'd been in the War, and that
gave me my chance to talk. And he was an enthusiastic gardener, he
said, and that let Will in. It struck us both that he was nervous in a
carneying way that didn't match his build and voice at all. Then we
had a drink in his study. Then the fun began. There were four pictures
on the wall.'

'Prints--prints,' Lemming corrected professionally.

''Same thing, aren't they, Will? Anyhow, you got excited enough over
them. At first I thought Will was only playing up. But he was
genuine.'

'So were they,' Lemming said. 'Sandy, you remember those four
"Apostles" I sold you last Christmas?'

'I have my counterfoil yet,' was the dry answer.

'What sort of prints were they?' Burges demanded.

The moonlike face of Alexander McKnight, who collects prints along
certain lines, lit with devout rapture. He began checking off on his
fingers.

'The firrst,' said he, 'was the draped one of Ray--the greatest o'
them all. Next, yon French print o' Morrison, when he was with the
Duke of Orleans at Blois; third, the Leyden print of Grew in his
youth; and, fourth, that wreathed Oxford print of Hales. The whole
aapostolic succession of them.'

'I never knew Morrison laid out links in France,' I said.

'Morrison? Links? Links? Did you think those four were gowfers then?'

'Wasn't old Tom Morrison a great golfer?' I ventured.

McKnight turned on me with utter scorn. 'Those prints--' he began.
'But ye'd not understand. They were--we'll say they were just pictures
of some garrdeners I happened to be interested in.'

This was rude of McKnight, but I forgave him because of the excellence
of his imported groceries. Keede went on.

'After Will had talked the usual buyer's talk, Wollin seemed willin'
to part with 'em, and we arranged we'd call again and complete the
deal. Will 'ud do business with a criminal on the drop o' course. He
gave Wollin his card, and we left; Wollin carneying and suckin' up to
us right to the front door. We hadn't gone a couple of miles when Will
found he'd given Wollin his personal card--not his business one--with
his private address in Berkshire! The murder about ten days old, and
the papers still stinkin' with it! I think I told you at the time you
were a fool, Will?'

'You did. I never saw how I came to make the mistake. These cards are
different sizes too,' poor Lemming said.

'No, we were not a success as man-hunters,' Keede laughed. 'But Will
and I had to call again, of course, to settle the sale. That was a
week after. And this time, of course, Wollin--not being as big a fool
as Will--had hopped it and left no address. The old lady said he was
given to going off for weeks at a time. That hung us up; but to do
Will justice, which I don't often, he saved the situation by his
damned commercial instincts. He said he wanted to look at the prints
again. The old lady was agreeable--rather forth-comin' in fact. She
let us into the study, had the prints down, and asked if we'd like
some tea. While she was getting it, and Will was hanging over the
prints, I looked round the room. There was a cupboard, half opened,
full of tools, and on top of 'em a new--what did you say it was,
Will?--fern-trowel. 'Same pattern as the one Nicol found by Ellen's
head. That gave me a bit of a turn. I'd never done any Sherlockin'
outside my own profession. Then the old lady came back and I made up
to her. When I was a sixpenny doctor at Lambeth, half my great
success--'

'Ye can hold that over,' McKnight observed. 'The murrder's what's
interestin' me.'

'Wait till your next go of gout. I'll interest you, Sandy. Well, she
expanded (they all do with me), and, like patients, she wanted advice
gratis. So I gave it. Then she began talking about Wollin. She'd been
his nurse, I fancy. Anyhow, she'd known him all his life, and she said
he was full of virtue and sickness She said he'd been wounded and
gassed and gangrened in the War, and after that--oh, she worked up to
it beautifully--he'd been practically off his head. She called it
"fairy-kist."'

'That's pretty--very pretty,' said Burges.

'Meanin' he'd been kissed by the fairies?' McKnight inquired.

'It would appear so, Sandy. I'd never heard the word before. 'West
Country, I suppose. And she had one of those slow, hypnotic voices,
like cream from a jug. Everything she said squared with my own
theories up to date. Wollin was on the break of life, and, given
wounds, gas, and gangrene just at that crisis, why anything--Jack the
Ripperism or religious mania--might come uppermost. I knew that, and
the old lady was as good as telling it me over again, and putting up a
defence for him in advance. 'Wonderful bit of work. Patients'
relatives are like that sometimes--specially wives.'

'Yes, but what about Wollin?' I said.

'Wait a bit. Will and I went away, and we talked over the fern-trowel
and so forth, and we both agreed we ought to release our evidence.
There, somehow, we stuck. Man-hunting's a dirty job. So we
compromised. I knew a fellow in the C.I.D., who thought he had a
floating kidney, and we decided to put the matter before him and let
him take charge. He had to go North, however, and he wrote he could
not see us before the Tuesday of next week. This would be four or five
weeks after the murder. I came down here again that week-end to stay
with Will, and on Saturday night Will and I went to his study to put
the finishing touches to our evidence. I was trying to keep my own
theory out of it as much as I could. Yes, if you want to know, Jack
the Ripper was my notion, and my theory was that my car had frightened
the brute off before he could do anything in that line. And then,
Will's housemaid shot into the study with Nicol after her, and Jimmy
Tigner after him!'

'Luckily my wife was up in town at the time,' said Lemming. 'They all
shouted at once too.'

'They did!' said Keede. 'Nicol shouted loudest, though. He was
plastered with mud, waving what was left of his helmet, and Jimmy was
in hysterics. Nicol yelled:--"Look at me Look at this! It's all right!
Look at me! I've got it!" He had got it too! It came out, when they
quieted down, that he had been walking with Jimmy in the lane by
Channet's Ash. Hearing a lorry behind 'em--you know what a narrow lane
it is--they stepped up on to that path on the bank (I told you about
it) that the school-children had made. It was a contractor's lorry--
Higbee and Norton, a local firm--with two girders for some new shops
on the London Road. They were deliverin' late on Saturday evening,
so's the men could start on Monday. Well, these girders had been
chucked in anyhow on to a brick lorry with a tail-board. Instead of
slopin' forward they cocked up backwards like a pheasant's tail,
sticking up high and overhanging. They were tied together with a few
turns of rope at the far ends. Do you see.'

So far we could see nothing. Keede made it plainer.

'Nicol said he went up the bank first Jimmy behind him--and after a
few steps he found his helmet knocked off. If he'd been a foot higher
up the bank his head 'ud have gone. The lorry had skidded on the tar
of the London Road, as it turned into it left-handed--her tail swung
to the right, and the girders swung with it, just missing braining
Nicol up on the bank. The lorry was well in the left-hand gutter when
he got his breath again. He went for the driver at once. The man said
all the lorries always skidded under Channet's Ash, when it was wet,
because of the camber of the road, and they allowed for it as a
regular stunt. And he damned the road authorities, and Nicol for being
in the light. Then Jimmy Tigner, Nicol told us, caught on to what it
meant, and he climbed into the lorry shouting: "You killed Ellen!" It
was all Nicol could do to prevent him choking the fellow there and
then; but Nicol didn't pull him off till Jimmy got it out of the
driver that he had been delivering girders the night Ellen was killed.
Of course, he hadn't noticed anything.

'Then Nicol came over to Lemming and me to talk it over. I gave Jimmy
a bromide and sent him off to his mother. He wasn't any particular
use, except as a witness--and no good after. Then Nicol went over the
whole thing again several times, to fix it in our minds. Next morning
he and I and Will called on old Higbee before he could get to church.
We made him take out the particular lorry implicated, with the same
driver, and a duplicate load packed the same way, and demonstrate for
us. We kept her stunting half Sunday morning in the rain, and the skid
delivered her into the left-hand gutter of the London Road every time
she took that corner; and every time her tail with the girders swiped
along the bank of that lane like a man topping a golf-ball. And when
she did that, there were half-a-dozen paces--not more--along that
schoolchildren's path, that meant sure death to anyone on it at the
time. Nicol was just climbing into the danger-zone when he stepped up,
but he was a foot too low. The girders only brushed through his hair.
We got some laths and stuck 'em in along the path (Jimmy Tigner told
us Ellen was five foot three) to test our theory. The last lath was as
near as could be to where the pig-man had found the body; and that
happened to be the extreme end of the lorry's skid. 'See what
happened? We did. At the end of her skid the lorry's rear wheels 'ud
fetch up every time with a bit of a jar against the bank, and the
girders 'ud quiver and lash out a few inches--like a golf-club
wigglin'. Ellen must have caught just enough of that little sideway
flick, at the base of her skull, to drop her like a pithed ox. We
worked it all out on the last lath. The rope wrappings on the end of
the damned things saved the skin being broken. Hellish, isn't it? And
then Jimmy Tigner realised that if she had only gone two paces further
she'd have been round the corner of the bank and safe. Then it came
back to him that she'd stopped talkin' "in dungeon" rather suddenly,
and he hadn't gone back to see! I spent most of the afternoon sitting
with him. He'd been tried too high--too high. I had to sign his
certificate a few weeks later. No! He won't get better.'

We commented according to our natures, and then McKnight said:--'But--
if so--why did Wollin disappear?'

'That comes next on the agenda, Worshipful Sir. Brother Lemming has
not the instincts of the real man-hunter. He felt shy. I had to remind
him of the prints before he'd call on Wollin again. We'd allowed our
prey ten days to get the news, while the papers were busy explainin'
Ellen's death, and people were writin' to 'em and saying they'd nearly
been killed by lorries in the same way in other places. Then old
Higbee gave Ellen's people a couple of hundred without prejudice (he
wanted to get a higher seat in the Synagogue--the Squire's pew, I
think), and everyone felt that her character had been cleared.'

'But Wollin?' McKnight insisted.

'When Will and I went to call on him he'd come home again. I hadn't
seen him for--let's see, it must have been going on for a month--but I
hardly recognised him. He was burned out--all his wrinkles gashes, and
his eyes readjustin' 'emselves after looking into Hell. One gets to
know that kind of glare nowadays. But he was immensely relieved to see
us. So was the old lady. If he'd been a dog, he'd have been wagging
his tall from the nose down. That was rather embarrassing too, because
it wasn't our fault we hadn't had him tried for his life. And while we
were talking over the prints, he said, quite suddenly: "I don't blame
you! I'd have believed it against myself on the evidence!" That broke
the ice with a brick. He told us he'd almost stepped on Ellen's body
that night--dead and stiffening. Then I'd come round the corner and
hailed him, and that panicked him. He jumped on his bike and fled,
forgetting the trowel. So he'd bought another with some crazy notion
of putting the Law off the track. That's what hangs murderers.

'When Will and I first called on him, with our fairy-tales about West
Wickham, he had fancied he might be under observation, and Will's
mixing up the cards clinched it...So he disappeared. He went down
into his own cellar, he said, and waited there, with his revolver,
ready to blow his brains out when the warrant came. What a month!
Think of it! A cellar and a candle, a file of gardening papers, and a
loaded revolver for company! Then I asked why. He said no jury on
earth would have believed his explanation of his movements. "Look at
it from the prosecution's point of view," he said. "Here's a middle-
aged man with a medical record that 'ud account for any loss of
controls--and that would mean Broadmoor--fifty or sixty miles from his
home in a rainstorm, on the top of a fifteen foot cutting, at night.
He leaves behind him, with the girl's body, the very sort of weapon
that might have caused her death. I read about the trowel in the
papers. Can't you see how the thing 'ud be handled?" he said.

'I asked him then what in the world he really was doing that had to be
covered up by suicide. He said he was planting things. I asked if he
meant stolen goods. After the trouble we'd given him, Will and I
wouldn't have peached on him for that, would we, Will?'

'No,' said Lemming. 'His face was enough. It was like--' and he named
a picture by an artist called Goya.

'"Stolen goods be damned," Wollin said to me. "If you must have it, I
was planting out plants from my garden." What did you say to him then,
Will?'

'I asked him what the plants were, of course,' said Lemming, and
turned to McKnight. 'They were daffodils, and a sort of red
honeysuckle, and a special loosestrife--a hybrid.' McKnight nodded
judicially while Lemming talked incomprehensible horticulture for a
minute or two.

'Gardening isn't my line,' Keede broke in, 'but Will's questions acted
on Master Wollin like a charm. He dropped his suicide talk, and began
on gardening. After that it was Will's operation. I hadn't a look-in
for ten minutes. Then I said: "What's there to make a fuss about in
all this?" Then he turned away from Will and spoke to me, carneying
again--like patients do. He began with his medical record--one
shrapnel peppering, and one gassing, with gangrene. He had put in
about fourteen months in various hospitals, and he was full of medical
talkee-talkee. Just like you, Sandy, when you've been seeing your
damned specialists. And he'd been doped for pain and pinched nerves,
till the wonder was he'd ever pulled straight again. He told us that
the only thing that had helped him through the War was his love of
gardening. He'd been mad keen on it all his life--and even in the
worst of the Somme he used to get comfort out of plants and bot'ny,
and that sort of stuff. I never did. Well, I saw he was speaking the
truth; but next minute he began to hedge. I noticed it, and said
something, and then he sweated in rivers. He hadn't turned a hair over
his proposed suicide, but now he sweated till he had to wipe it off
his forehead.

'Then I told him I was something else besides a G.P., and Will was
too, if that 'ud make things easier for him. And it did. From then on
he told the tale on the Square, in grave distress, you know. At his
last hospital he'd been particularly doped, and he fancied that that
was where his mind had gone. He told me that he was insane, and had
been for more than a year. I asked him not to start on his theories
till he'd finished with his symptoms. (You patients are all the same.)
He said there were Gotha raids round his hospital, which used to upset
the wards. And there was a V.A.D.--she must have been something of a
woman, too--who used to read to him and tell him stories to keep him
quiet. He liked 'em because, as far as he remembered, they were all
about gardening. But, when he grew better, he began to hear Voices--
little whispers at first, growing louder and ending in regular
uproars--ordering him to do certain things. He used to lie there
shaking with horror, because he funked going mad. He wanted to live
and be happy again, in his garden--like the rest of us.

'When he was discharged, he said, he left hospital with a whole Army
Corps shouting into his ears. The sum and substance of their orders
was that he must go out and plant roots and things at large up and
down the country-side. Naturally, he suffered a bit, but, after a
while, he went back to his house at Mitcham and obeyed orders,
because, he said, as long as he was carrying 'em out the Voices
stopped. If he knocked off even for a week, he said, they helled him
on again. Being a methodical bird, he'd bought a motor-bike and a
basket lined with oil-cloth, and he used to skirmish out planting his
silly stuff by the wayside, and in coppices and on commons. He'd spy
out likely spots by day and attend to 'em after dark. He was working
round Channet's Ash that night, and he'd come out of the meadow, and
down the school-children's path, right on to Ellen's body. That upset
him. I wasn't worryin' about Ellen for the moment. I headed him back
to his own symptoms. The devil of it was that, left to himself, there
was nothing he'd have liked better than this planting job; but the
Voices ordering him to do it, scared the soul out of him. Then I asked
him if the Voices had worried him much when he was in the cellar with
his revolver. He said, comin' to think of it, that they had not; and I
reminded him that there was very little seasickness in the boats when
submarines were around.'

'You've forgotten,' said Lemming, 'that he stopped fawning as soon as
he found out we were on the Square.'

'He did so,' Keede assented. 'And he insisted on our staying to
supper, so's he could tell his symptoms properly. ('Might have been
you again, Sandy.) The old lady backed him up. She was clinging to us
too, as though we'd done her a favour. And Wollin told us that if he'd
been in the dock, he knew he'd have come out with his tale of his
Voices and night-plantings, just like the Ancient Mariner; and that
would have sent him to Broadmoor. It was Broadmoor, not hanging, that
he funked. And so he went on and on about his Voices, and I cross-
examined. He said they used to begin with noises in his head like
rotten walnuts being smashed; but he fancied that must have been due
to the bombs in the raid. I reminded him again that I didn't want his
theories. The Voices were sometimes like his V.A.D.'s, but louder, and
they were all mixed up with horrible dope-dreams. For instance, he
said, there was a smiling dog that ran after him and licked his face,
and the dog had something to do with being able to read gardening
books, and that gave him the notion, as he lay abed in hospital, that
he had water on the brain, and that that 'ud prevent him from root-
gatherin' an' obeying his orders.'

'He used the words "root-gathering." It's an unusual combination
nowadays,' said Lemming suddenly. 'That made me take notice, Sandy.'

Keede held up his hand. 'No, you don't, Will! I tell this tale much
better than you. Well, then Will cut in, and asked Wollin if he could
remember exactly what sort of stuff his V.A.D. had read to him during
the raids. He couldn't; except that it was all about gardening, and it
made him feel as if he were in Paradise. Yes, Sandy, he used the word
"Paradise." Then Will asked him if he could give us the precise
wording of his orders to plant things. He couldn't do that either.
Then Will said, like a barrister: "I put it to you, that the Voices
ordered you to plant things by the wayside for such as have no
gardens." And Will went over it slowly twice. "My God!" said Wollin.
"That's the ipsissima verba." "Good," said Will. "Now for your dog. I
put it to you that the smiling dog was really a secret friend of
yours. What was his colour?" "Dunno," said Wollin. "It was yellow,"
says Will. "A big yellow bullterrier." Wollin thought a bit and
agreed. "When he ran after you," says Will, "did you ever hear anyone
trying to call him off, in a very loud voice?" "Sometimes," said
Wollin. "Better still," says Will. "Now, I put it to you that that
yellow bull-terrier came into a library with a Scotch gardener who
said it was a great privilege to be able to consult botanical books."
Wollin thought a bit, and said that those were some of the exact words
that were mixed up with his Voices, and his trouble about not being
able to read. I shan't forget his face when he said it, either. My
word, he sweated.'

Here Sandy McKnight smiled and nodded across to Lemming, who nodded
back as mysteriously as a Freemason or a gardener.

'All this time,' Keede continued, 'Will looked more important than
ever I've seen him outside of his shop; and he said to Wollin: "Now
I'll tell you the story, Mr. Wollin, that your V.A.D. read or told
you. Check me where your memory fails, and I'll refresh it." That's
what you said, wasn't it, Will? And Will began to spin him a long
nursery-yarn about some children who planted flowers out in a meadow
that wasn't theirs, so that such as had no gardens might enjoy them;
and one of the children called himself an Honest Rootgatherer, and one
of 'em had something like water on the brain; and there was an old
Squire who owned a smiling yellow bull-terrier that was fond of the
children, and he kept his walnuts till they were rotten, and then he
smashed 'em all. You ought to have heard Will! He can talk--even when
there isn't money in it.'

'Mary's Meadow!' Sandy's hand banged the table.

'Hsh!' said Burges, enthralled. 'Go on, Robin.'

'And Wollin checked it all, with the sweat drying on him--remember,
Will?--and he put in his own reminiscences--one about a lilac sun-
bonnet, I remember.'

'Not lilac-marigold. One string of it was canary-colour and one was
white.' McKnight corrected as though this were a matter of life and
death.

'Maybe. And there was a nightingale singing to the Man in the Moon,
and an old Herbal--not Gerard's, or I'd have known it--"Paradise"
something. Wollin contributed that sort of stuff all the time, with
ten years knocked off his shoulders and a voice like the Town Crier's.
Yes, Sandy, the story was called Mary's Meadow. It all came back to
him--via Will.'

'And that helped?' I asked.

'Well, Keede said slowly, 'a General Practitioner can't much believe
in the remission of sins, can he? But if that's possible, I know how a
redeemed soul looks. The old lady had pretended to get supper, but she
stopped when Will began his yarn, and listened all through. Then
Wollin put up his hand, as though he were hearing his dam' Voices.
Then he brushed 'em away, and he dropped his head on the table and
wept. My God, how he wept! And then she kissed him, and me. Did she
kiss you, Will?'

'She certainly did not,' said the scandalised Lemming, who has been
completely married for a long while.

'You missed something. She has a seductive old mouth still. And Wollin
wouldn't let us go--hung on to us like a child. So, after supper, we
went over the affair in detail, till all hours. The pain and the dope
had made that nursery story stick in one corner of his mind till it
took charge--it does sometimes--but all mixed up with bombings and
nightmares. As soon as he got the explanation it evaporated like ether
and didn't leave a stink. I sent him to bed full of his own beer, and
growing a shade dictatorial. He was a not uncommon cross between a
brave bully and an old maid; but a man, right enough, when the
pressures were off. The old lady let us out--she didn't kiss me again,
worse luck! She was primitive Stone Age--bless her! She looked on us
as a couple of magicians who's broken the spell on him, she said.'

'Well, you had,' said Burges. 'What did he do afterwards?'

''Bought a side-car to his bike, to hold more vegetables--he'll be had
up for poaching or trespassing, some day--and he cuts about the Home
Counties planting his stuff as happy as--Oh my soul! What wouldn't I
give to be even one fraction as happy as he is! But, mind you, he'd
have committed suicide on the nod if Will and I had had him arrested.
We aren't exactly first-class Sherlocks.'

McKnight was grumbling to himself. 'Juliaana Horratia Ewing,' said he.
'The best, the kindest, the sweetest, the most eenocent tale ever the
soul of a woman gied birth to. I may sell tapioca for a living in the
suburbs, but I know that. An' as for those prints o' mine,' he turned
to me, 'they were not garrdeners. They were the Four Great British
Botanists, an'--an'--I ask your pardon.'

He pulled the draw-chains of all the nine burners round the Altar of
the Lesser Lights before we had time to put it to the vote.



The Coiner

(To be sung by the unlearned to the tune of 'King John and the Abbot
of Canterbury,' and by the learned to 'Tempesta-brewing.')

AGAINST the Bermudas we foundered, whereby
This Master, that Swabber, yon Bo'sun, and I
(Our pinnace and crew being drowned in the main)
Must beg for our bread through old England again.

For a bite and a sup, and a bed of clean straw
We'll tell you such marvels as man never saw.
On a Magical Island which no one did spy
Save this Master, that Swabber, yon Bo'sun, and I.

Seven months among Mermaids and Devils and Sprites.
And Voices that howl in the cedars o' nights.
With further enchantments we underwent there.
Good Sirs, 'tis a tale to draw guts from a bear!

'Twixt Dover and Southwark it paid us our way.
Where we found some poor players were labouring a play;
And, willing to search what such business might be.
We entered the yard, both to hear and to see.

One hailed us for seamen and courteous-ly
Did take us apart to a tavern near by
Where we told him our tale (as to many of late).
And he gave us good cheer, so we gave him good weight.

Mulled sack and strong waters on bellies well lined
With beef and black pudding do strengthen the mind;
And seeing him greedy for marvels, at last
From plain salted truth to flat leasing we passed.

But he, when on midnight our reckoning he paid.
Says, 'Never match coins with a Coiner by trade.
Or he'll turn your lead pieces to metal as rare
As shall fill him this globe, and leave something to spare...'

We slept where they laid us, and when we awoke
'Was a crown or five shillings in every man's poke.
We bit them and rang them, and, finding them good.
We drank to that Coiner as honest men should!

For a cup and a crust, and a truss, etc.



A Naval Mutiny

WHAT bronchitis had spared of him came, by medical advice, to
Stephano's Island, that gem of sub-tropical seas, set at a height
above the Line where parrots do not breed.

Yet there were undoubtedly three of them, squawking through the
cedars. He asked a young lady, who knew the Island by descent, how
this came. 'Two are ours,' she replied. 'We used to feed them in the
veranda, but they got away, and set up housekeeping and had a baby.'

'What does a baby parrot look like?'

'Oh, just like a little Jew baby. I expect there will be some more
soon.' She smiled prophetically.

.   .   .   .   .

He watched H.M.S. Florealia work her way into the harbour. She moored,
and sent a gig ashore. The bull-terrier, who is de facto Chief
Superintendent of the Island Police, was explaining Port Regulations
to the dog in charge of a Florida lumber schooner at the quay. His
Policeman stood beside him. The gig, after landing her officer, lay
off. The Policeman said in a clear voice to the dog 'Come on, then,
Polly! Pretty Polly! Come on, Polly, Polly, Polly!' The gig's crew
seemed to grind their teeth a little as man and dog moved off. The
invalid exchanged a few sentences with the Policeman and limped along
the front street to the far and shallow end of the harbour, where
Randolph's boat-repairing yard stands, just off the main road, near
the mangrove clump by the poinsettias. A small mongrel fox-terrier
pup, recovering from distemper, lay in the path of two men, who wanted
to haul in a forty-foot craft, known to have been in the West India
trade for a century, and now needing a new barrel to her steering-
wheel.

'Let Lil lay,' Mr. Randolph called. 'Bring the boat in broadside, and
run a plank to her.' Then he greeted the visitor. 'Mornin', Mr.
Heatleigh. How's the cough? Our climate suitin' you? That's fine.
Lil's fine too. The milk's helpin' her. You ain't the only one of her
admirers. Winter Vergil's fetchin' her milk now. He ought to be here.'

'Winter Vergil! What the--who's he?'

'He hasn't been around the last week. He's had trouble.' Mr. Randolph
laughed softly. 'He's a Navy Bo'sun--any age you please. He took his
pension on the Island when I was a boy. 'Married on the Island too--a
widow out of Cornwall Parish. That 'ud make her a Gallop or a Mewett.
Hold a minute! It was Mewett. Her first man was a Gallop. He left her
five acres of good onion-ground, that a Hotel wanted for golf-
development. So-o, that way, an' Vergil havin' saved, he has his house
an' garden handy to the Dockyard. 'No more keepin' Daddy away from
there than land-crabs off a dead nigger. I'm expectin' him any time
now.'

Mr. Heatleigh unbuttoned his light coat, for the sun was beginning to
work deliciously. Behind the old boat lay a scarlet hydroplane crowded
with nickel fitments and reeking of new enamels.

'That's Rembrandt Casalis's latest,' Mr. Randolph explained. 'He's
Glucose Utilities--wuth fifteen million they say. But no boatman. He
took her alongside a wharf last week. That don't worry me. His estate
can pay my repair-bills. I'm doo to deliver her back this morning...
. Now! Now! Don't get movin' jest as you're come. Set in the shed
awhile. Vergil's bound to be along with Lil's milk. Lay-to an' meet
him. I'd not go, 'lest I had to. But Lil 'll keep you company.'

He splashed out to the hydroplane, which he woke to outrageous
howlings, and departed in one splitting crack. The dead-water-rubbish
swirled in under the mangrove-stems as the sound of her flight up-
harbour faded. Mr. Heatleigh watched the two hands on the West
Indiaman. They laid a gang-plank up to her counter, bore away the
rusty scarred wheel-barrel, and went elsewhere. Lil slept, and along
the white coral road behind passed a procession of horse-drawn
vehicles; for another tripper-steamer had arrived, and her passengers
were being dealt out to the various hotels. An old, spare, clean-
shaven man, in spotless tussore silk, stepped off the road into the
yard. He bore left-handedly (his right was bandaged) a sealed bottle
of sterilised milk. Lil ran to him, and he asked where her master
might be. Mr. Heatleigh told him, and they exchanged names. Mr. Vergil
rummaged a clean saucer out of the shed, but found he could not pour
single-handed. Mr. Heatleigh helped him.

'She may be worth seventy-five cents,' Mr. Vergil observed as Lil
lapped. 'She's cost more'n four dollars a week the last six weeks.
Well, she's Randolph's dam' dog, anyhow.'

''Not fond of dogs?' Mr. Heatleigh asked.

'Not of any pets you might say, just now.'

Mr. Heatleigh glanced at the neatly-bandaged hand and nodded.

'No--not dogs,' said Mr. Vergil.. 'Parrots. The medical officer at the
Dockyard said it was more like the works of vulshures.'

'I don't know much about parrots.'

'You get to know about most things in the Navy--sooner or later.
Burst-a-Frog, you do!'

'Mr. Randolph told me you had been in the Ser--Navy.'

'Boy and man--forty odd years. I took my pension here in Nineteen Ten
when Jacky's dam' first silly Dreadnought came in. All this so-called
noo Navy has hove up since my time. I was boy, for example, in the old
Black Fleet--Warrior, Minotaur, Hercules, an' those. In the Hungry Six
too, if that means anything...Are ye going away?' Mr. Heatleigh
had moved out from the shed.

'Oh no! I was only thinking of bringing my--sitting up there for a
bit.' Mr. Heatleigh turned towards the boat, but seemed to wait for
Mr. Vergil to precede him up the gang-plank. The old man ran up it and
dropped inboard little less nimbly than Mr. Heatleigh, who followed.
They settled themselves at the stern, by the wheel. All forward of her
mast was the naked hold of black rock-hard timbers. Mr. Vergil's
glance, under frosty eyebrows, swept his companion's long visage as a
searchlight sweeps a half-guessed foreshore. ''Tourist?' he demanded
suddenly.

'Yes, for a bit. I've got a motor-boat at Southampton.'

''Don't believe in 'em--never did. This beats 'em all!'

He pointed to the bleached and cracked mast. There was silence while
the two sunned themselves. Mr. Heatleigh joined hands across one knee
to help lift a rather stiff leg, as he lolled against the low stern-
rail. The action drew his coat-cuff more than half-way up his wrist,
which was tattooed. Mr. Vergil, backed against the sun, dug out his
pipe-bowl. A breath of warmed cedar came across a patch of gladioli.
'Think o' Southampton Water now!' said Mr. Vergil. 'Thick--an' cold!'

The three parrots screamed and whirled across the tip of the harbour.
Mr. Vergil shook his bandaged hand at them.

'How did it happen?' Mr. Heatleigh asked.

''Obligin' a friend. 'No surer way.'

'How?--If you don't mind.' But there was command in the voice.

Once more Mr. Vergil's eyes raked the lean figure. 'It's due,' he
said, 'to the Navy keepin' pets. Battleships an' armoured cruisers
carry bears till they start huggin' senior ranks. Smaller craft,
monkeys and parrots where allowed. There was a man in the old
Audacious--Go-ood Lord, an' how she steered!--kep' chameleons in the
engine-room, but they interfered with the movin' parts. Parrots are
best. People pay high for well-spoken parrots.'

'Who teaches 'em?'

'Parrots are like women. They pick up where they shouldn't. I've heard
it's the tone that attracts 'em. Now we've two cruisers--sloops I call
'em--on the Station. One's Bulleana, and t'other's the Florealia. Both
of 'em stinkin' with parrots. Every dam' kind o' green--an' those
pink-tailed greys like we used to get on the West Coast. Go-ood Lord!
Burst-a-Frog! When was I in the Bight last? An' what in? Theseus--St.
George, was it? Benin Expedition, was it? When we found those four
hundred sovereigns and the four dozen champagne left in the King's
Royal Canoe? An' no one noticed the cash till after!...But
parrots. There's a man called Mowlsey, a sort of Dockyard makee-do on
the Stores side. He came to see me, knowin' Mrs. Vergil had a parrot.
My house is handy to the Dockyard, because that way I can gratify my
tastes. What I mean is what I've worked at forty years is good enough
for me to stay by. That bein' so, I am often asked to bear a hand at
delicate jobs.'

'Quite so,' said Mr. Heatleigh, still further extending himself to
toast his lizard-like stomach. His coat-cuff was well above the wrist
now.

'An'--that evenin' I'm speakin' of--this Mowlsey wanted me for special
dooties. Owin' to approachin' target-practice for both ships, all
Squadron parrots was to be handed in to the Riggin' Loft. There would
be an O.C. Parrots, authorised to charge per diem for food an'
maintenance. On return of Squadron, parrots would be returned to
respective owners. He showed me the Orders--typed; an' Mrs. Vergil
havin' a parrot, an' Mowlsey saying I had the requisite prestige, made
me take on. The Riggin' Loft ain't a bad place, too, to sit in. Go-ood
Lord! I remember when it used to be chock-a-block with spars, an'
now--who'd know a stuns'le-boom from a wash-pole if they was crucified
on 'em?'

'Why do they send parrots ashore for target-practice?'

'On account of the concussion strikin' 'em dumb. They don't like it
themselves either. We had a big dog-baboon in the old Penelope (she
with that stern) never could stummick big gun-practice even with black
powder. He used to betake himself to the Head an' gnash his teeth
against all an' sundry. Now that was a noosance--because the Head--'

Mr. Heatleigh coughed. 'Bronchitis,' he explained swiftly. 'Car--go
ahead.'

'My instructions was to prepare to receive parrots at five bells. I
daresay they told you in your passenger-steamer comin' out what time
that is aboardship.'

'It's on the back of the passenger-list, I think,' Mr. Heatleigh
answered meekly.

Mr. Vergil drew an impatient breath and went on.

'There was a bin full of parrot-rations inside. I put it down to
Dockyard waste as usual. I had no notion what it'ud mean for me. Now a
Riggin' Loft, I may tell you, is mostly windows, an' along beneath 'em
was spare awnin'-stretchers and sailin'-boat spars stacked on booms. I
shifted some to make a shelving for the cages. I didn't see myself
squattin' on the deck to attend to 'em. 'Takes too long to get up
again, these days. (Go-ood Lord! Burst-a-Frog! An' I was an upper-
yard-man for six years--leadin' hand, fore cross-trees, in the
Resistance.) While I was busy, it sounded like our Marines landing in
Crete--an' how long ago was that, now? They marched up from the boat-
steps, Bulleanas leadin', Florealias in the rear, each man swingin' a
cage to keep his bird quiet. When they halted an' the motion ceased
they all began to rejoice--the birds, I mean--at findin' themselves
together. A Petty Officer wraps his hands round my ear an' megaphones:
"Look sharp, Daddy. 'Tain't a cargo that'll keep."

'Nor was it. I could only walk backwards, semaphorin' Bulleanas to
stack cages to port, an' Florealias to starboard o' the Loft. They
marched in an' stacked accordin'--forty-three Bulleana birds, an'
twenty-nine Florealias, makin' seventy-two in all.'

'Why didn't you say a hundred?' Mr. Heatleigh asked.

'Because there weren't that many. The landin' parties then proceeded
to the far doors, an', turnin' port or starboard, accordin' to their
ships, navigated back again along outside the premises to say good-
bye. Seventy-two birds, and seventy-two lower-deck ratin's leanin'
through the windows, tellin' 'em to be good an' true till they
returned. An' that had to be done in dumb-crambo too! A Petty Officer
towed me into the offing before we could communicate. But he only
said:--"Gawd help you, Daddy!" an' marched 'em aboard again. That
broke the birds' hearts...Do? If you can't do anything, don't make
yourself a laughing-stock. I hung on an' off outside waitin' for a
lull in the typhoon. Go-ood Lord-Burst-a-Frog! How many have I seen of
'em? But, look you--'wasn't any typhoon scuppered the Serpent! She was
overgunned forrard, an' couldn't shake her head clear of a ripple.
Sister-ship to Viper an' Cobra, was she? No! No! They were destroyers.
But all unlucky sampans!...An about my parrots. I went into the
Loft an' said:--"Hush!" like Mrs. Vergil. They detailed a coverin'-
party to keep up the fire, but most of 'em slued their heads round,
and took stock of me--sizin' me up, the same as the watches do their
Warrants and Bo'suns before the ship's shaken down. I took stock o'
them, to spot the funny-men an' trouble makers for the ensuin'
commission. Burst-a-Frog! How often have I done that! The screechers
didn't worry me. Most men can't live, let alone work, unless they're
chewin' the rag. It was the noocleus--the on-the-knee parties--that I
wanted to identify. Why? If a man knows one job properly, don't matter
what it is, he ought to know 'em all. For example. I had spent twenty
odd years headin' off bad hats layin' to aggravate me; and liars and
sea-lawyers tryin' to trip me on Admiralty Regulations; not to mention
the usual cheap muckin's, eatin' into the wind. An' there they was--
every man I'd ever logged or got twisted at seven bells--all there,
metamorfused into those dam' birds, an' o' course, havin' been Navy
trained, talkin' lowerdeck.'

As Mr. Vergil paused, Mr. Heatleigh nodded with apparent
understanding.

'There was a pink-tail grey--a West Coast ju-ju-wallah--squatting on
the floor of his cage. I'd ha' put him in the bowse on his general
tally if he'd been a regular ratin'. He waited till me eye travelled
past him, as I was lookin' 'em over. Then he called me It out of his
belly, ventriloquial. Now there was an upper-yard-man in--now which
one of those old bitch-cruisers was it? No! No! Resistance--five
masts. Yes,--who had the very same gift, and other men got the blame.
Jemmy Reader was his name--a sour dog with a broken mouth. I said to
him, the bird I mean: "The anchor ain't fairly stowed yet; so I didn't
hear you. But I won't forget it, Jemmy." And Burst-a-Frog! I hadn't
thought of Jemmy Reader in thirty odd years.

'An' there was a sulphur-crested cockatoo, swearin' like poison. He
reminded me o' someone I couldn't fit, but I saw he was good for
trouble. One way an' another, I spotted half-a-dozen proper jokers,
an' a dozen, maybe, that 'ud follow 'em if things went well. The rest
was ord'nary seamen, ready to haul with any crowd that promised a
kick-up. (I'd seen it all before, when I had to know seven hundred men
by name and station within the first week. 'Never allowed meself or
anyone else any longer.)

'Then Mrs. Vergil came down with me luncheon. We had to go a long way
outside the Loft to talk. They weren't ladies' birds. But she said,
quick as cordite:--"Our Polly's cage-cover's the thing." And I said:--
"The heart of her husband shall safely trust in her. Send it down now.
One of 'em's overdue for it already." She sent it, an' my Presentation
Whistle which they had presented to me on leaving the Raleigh. Burst-
a-Frog! She was a ship. Ten knots on a bowline, comin' out o'
Simonstown, draggin' her blasted screw.'

'What did you want your Call for?' Once more Mr. Vergil's eyes pierced
Mr. Heatleigh through at the question.

'If the game was workin' out on lower-deck lines, how could I do
without it? Next time that cockatoo-bird began cursin' me, I piped
down. It fetched him up with a round turn. He squatted an' said, "Lord
love a Duck!" He hadn't Jemmy's guts. An' just that, mark you, hove
him up in my mind for the man which he'd been. It was Number Three at
the port six-pounder--she hadn't much else--in the old Polyphemus--
ram, that broke the boom at Berehaven--how long back? He was a beefy
beggar, with a greasy lollopin' lovelock on his forehead--but I can't
remember his tally. There were some other duplicates o' men I had
known, but Jemmy and the Polyphemus bird were the ringleaders. Bye and
bye those green screechers cooled off a bit--creakin' an' mutterin'
like hens on a hot day; an' I did a caulk by the open door, where the
boat-rollers are. Then Jemmy sprung it on me, an' I heard what I
haven't in a long day! "Hand-of-a-Mess for biscuits!" They feed 'em on
French rolls in the so-called New Navy; but it used to be, when a boy
heard that, he sculled off an' drew what was on issue for his mess, or
got kicked. An' just then I was a boy bringin' a boat alongside the
old Squirrel training-brig in slow time. (Dreamin' I mean.) So I was
halfway down the Loft 'fore I woke, an' they all scoffed at me! Jemmy
leadin'. But there was somethin' at the back o' the noise (you can
always tell), an' while I was rubbin' my eyes open, I saw the bin o'
parrot-food. Seven bells in the afternoon-watch, it was, an' what they
wanted, an' what by Admiralty Regulations, d'ye see, they were
entitled to, was their food-pans refillin'. That's where Jemmy showed
his cunnin'! Lots o' food was still unexpended, but they were within
their rights; an' he had disrated me to Hand-of-a-Mess in his
birdshop!'

'What did you do?'

'Nothin'. It was a lower-deck try-on. 'Question was should I treat 'em
as birds or blue jackets. I gave 'em the benefit o' the doubt. Navy-
pattern they was, an' Navy tack they should get. I filled pans and
renewed water where requisite, an' they mocked me. They mocked me all
the time. That took me through the first dog-watch. Jemmy waited till
I had finished, an' then he called me It again. (Jemmy Reader out on a
weather-earrin' to the life!) An' that started Polyphemus. I dowsed
Jemmy's glim with our Polly s cage-cover. That short-circuited the
quiff bird too; provin' they was workin' off the same lead. I carried
on cleanin' their cages, with a putty-knife. It gratified 'em highly
to see me Captain of the Head as well as Mess Boy. Jemmy o' course
couldn't see, but Polyphemus told him, an' he said what he shouldn't
in the dark. He had guts. I give him that. I then locked up the Loft
and went home.

'Mrs. Vergil said that I had done well, but I knew that, so far, it
had only been ranging on the target. Mut'ny an' conspiracy was their
game, an' the question was how they'd work it. Go-ood Lord-Burst-a-
Frog! I've seen three years' continuous mut'ny, slave-dhowing in the
Red Sea, under single awnin's, with "Looney Dick" in the old Petruchio
corvette--the one that dropped her bottom out off The Minicoys. By the
end of the commission, all Officers not under open arrest was
demandin' court-martials, an' the lower-deck was prowlin' murder.'

'How did it finish?' Mr. Heatleigh asked.

'Navy-fashion. We came home. When our cockroaches had died--off Gozo
that would be--Dick piped all hands to look at a kit-bag full of
evidence, in the waist, under the Ensign. "There's enough bile an'
spite an' perjury there," he says, "to scupper all hands--an' me
first. If you want it taken home, say so." We didn't. "Then we'll give
it Christian burial," he says. We did; our Doctor actin' Chaplain...
. But about my parrots. I went back to 'em at sunrise--you could have
heard 'em off the Bahamas since dawn--but that was the bird in 'em. I
gave them room to swing till it crossed my mind they were mockin' me
again. (The nastiest rux I ever saw, when a boy, began with "All hands
to skylark." I don't hold with it.) When I took our Polly's cage-cover
off Jemmy, he didn't call me anything. He sat an' scoffed at me. I
couldn't tell what traverse he was workin' till he cocked one eye up--
Jemmy Reader workin' some dirty game to the life!--an' there, in the
roof, was a little green beggar skimmin' up an' down. He'd broke out
of his cage. Next minute, there was another promenadin' along a spar,
looking back at me like a Gosport lady to see how I took it. I shut
doors an' windows before they had made up their minds to run. Then I
inspected cages. They'd been busy since light unpickin' the wire
granny-knots this so-called Noo Navy had tied 'em in with. At sea, o'
course, there was nowhere to break out to, an' they knew it. Ashore,
they had me pawled as responsible for 'em if run or dead. An' that was
why Jemmy had scoffed. They'd been actin' under his orders.'

'But couldn't it have been Polyphemus?' Mr. Heatleigh suggested.

'He may have passed on Jemmy's orders, but he hadn't Jemmy's mind. All
I heard out of him was mockin's an' curses. Any way, I couldn't round
up those common greens, hoppin' out their cages by dozens, an' when
you can't exercise authority--don't. So I slipped out o' the door, and
listened outside. 'Reg'lar lower-deck palaver. Jemmy damned 'em all
for bitchin' the evolution. The first deserters ought to ha' run as
units, d'ye see, instead o' waitin' to make up a boatload. Polyphemus
damned back at Jemmy like a Chatham matey, an' the rest made noises
because they liked listenin'-in to themselves. If it wasn't for chin-
wagging, there'd be serious trouble in lots of families. But I thought
it was time this was being put a stop to. So I went to the house for a
pair o' scissors.'

'I don't quite see what--'

'I told you that that gunner in the Polyphemus had a quiff an' fancied
himself the whole watch an' a half till--Go-ood Lord, how it all came
back watchin' those poultry--he was run round to the barber an'
Dartmoor-clipped for wearin' oily and indecent appendages. It tamed
him. Only I can't remember his name.'

Mr. Vergil wrinkled his brows, and it seemed as though Mr. Heatleigh
did the like. But there was no result.

'When I went to 'em again, there must ha' been twenty small greens
loose. But they couldn't break out o' the ship, so I disregarded 'em,
an' struck at the root o' the matter. I tried to get Polyphemus to let
me scratch his head--the sweep! He bit like a bloodhound on the snap
of the scissors.' Mr. Vergil waved his right hand. 'I had to drag an'
scrag him 'fore I offed it--his quiff--crest, I mean. An' then--Go-ood
Lord-Burst-a-Frog!--he keeled over on his side in a dead faint like a
Christian! The barberin' had worked livin' wonders with--with the man
he was, but, even so, I was surprised at that pore bald fowl! "That's
for you, you yellow dog," I said. "The rest's for Jemmy Reader." Jemmy
hadn't missed a stroke of my operations. He knew what was comin'. He
turned on his back like a shark, an' began to fight tooth an' nail. It
must ha' meant as much to him as pigtails used to--his tail, I mean.

'I said:--"Jemmy, there's never been more than one Bo'sun in any ship
I've served in. Dead or alive, you're for disratin', so you can say
what you please. It won't go in the report."'

'And did he?'

'Yes--oh yes! But I didn't log it against him, the charge being
strictly mut'ny. I got him at last--torn to ribbons twice over--an' I
sheared off his red tail-feathers level with his bare behind. He'd
been askin' for it the whole Commission.'

'And what did he do?'

'He stopped. I've never heard anyone chat much after disratin'. They
can't manage the voice, dye see? He tried to squat, but his backstays
were carried away. Then he climbed up the wires to his ring, like an
old, old man; an' there he sat bobbin' an' balancin', all down by the
head like a collier-brig. Pore beggar!'

Mr. Heatleigh echoed him. 'And that finished the business?' he said.

'I had struck at the root of the matter,' Mr. Vergil replied simply.
'There was only those common greens flyin' loose. When they found I
didn't notice 'em, they began going back to their cages, two an' three
together for company's sake, an' arguin' about it. I hurried 'em up by
throwin' my cap (the Loft was gettin' warmish through bein' shut up),
an' 'fore sundown they were all back, an' I fastened up behind 'em
with the same spun-yarn tricks as their silly owners had. Don't anyone
teach anything in this Noo Navy nowadays?'

'What about Jemmy and Polyphemus?' Mr. Heatleigh asked.

'Jemmy was busy gettin' used to his new trim, an' Polyphemus squatted,
croakin' like a frog an' sayin', "Lord love a Duck!" No guts! That's
how it was till the Squadron returned.'

'But wasn't there some sort of fuss then between ships? A Policeman on
the wharf told me--and the Florealia's gig--'

'They've been rubbin' it in to 'em on the Island; that's why. Yes. The
banzai-parties came ashore, all hats and hosannas like a taxpayers'
treat. The Petty Officer checked my seventy-two cages--one bird per
cage--an' that finished my watch. But, then he gave the party time to
talk to their sweethearts instead o' marchin' off at once. Some oily-
wad of a Bulleana struck up about not having got his proper bird. I
heard a P.O. say:--"Settle it among yourselves." (Democratic, I
suppose he thought it.) The man naturally started across the Loft to
do so. He met a Florealia with the same complaint. They began settlin'
it. That let everything go by the run. They were holdin' up their
cages, and lookin' at 'em in the light like glasses o' port. Wonderful
thing--the eye o' Love! Yes, they began settlin' in pairs.'

'But what about Jemmy Reader and Polyphemus?'

'There was a good deal o' talk over them too. A torpedo-midwife, or
some such ratin', sculled about lookin' for the beggar who had cut off
his poor Josie's tail. (It never hit me till then that Jemmy might
have been a lady.) He fell foul of Polyphemus (the owner, I mean)
moaning over his quiff; an', not bein' shipmates, they began settlin'
too. Then such as had drawn their proper true-loves naturally cut in
for their ship or mess. I've seen worse ruxes in my time, but a
quicker breeze-up--never! As usual there was something behind it. I
heard one of the ships had been dished out pre-war cordite for target
practice, and so her shooting was like the old Superb's at Alexandria,
till we touched off the magazine. The other ship had stood by
condoling with five-flag hoists. So both parties landed more or less
horstile. When the noise was gettin' noticeable outside, a P.O. says
to me:--"They won't listen to us, Daddy. They say we ain't impartial!"
I said:--"God knows what you ain't. But I know what you are! You're
less use than ten mines in a Portuguee pig-knot. Close doors an'
windows, an' let me take charge." So they did, an' what with the noise
bein' bottled up inside, an' the Loft gettin' red-hot, an' no one
interferin', which was what I recommended, the lower-deck broke away
from the clinch, and began to pick up bashed cage-work an' argue.

'Then I piped "Clear Lower Deck," an' I told 'em how I'd disrated
Jemmy an' Polyphemus for doin' what they did. (Jemmy was a lady, after
all. He laid an egg next day aboard ship, an' his owner sent me a
kodak picture.) That took their minds off. I told 'em how I'd sweated
in the Loft, guardin' their treasures for 'em, an' they had no right
to complain if the poor little lonely beggars had mixed hammicks in
their absence. When I had 'em laughing, I told 'em they was all gas
an' gaspers an' hair-oil, like the rest of the so-called Noo Navy, an'
they were marched off. Otherwise--even if some fool wouldn't ha' sent
for the Marines, and spilled some silly mess into the papers--those
two ships 'ud ha' been sortin' parrots out of each other the rest of
the commission. You know what that means in the way of ruxes ashore!
As it is, they are actin' as a unit when they're chipped about "pretty
Pollies" all over the Island. The worse they'll do now is to kill a
Policeman or two. An', if I may say so, my handlin' of 'em--birds an'
lower-deck--shows what comes of a man knowing his profession, Sir
Richard.'

Mr. Heatleigh's countenance and bearing changed as they expanded. He
held out his hand. Mr. Vergil rose to his feet and shook it. The two
beamed on each other.

'I can testify to that, Vergil, since my first commission. You knew me
all along?'

'I thought it was you, sir, when you signalled me to go into this boat
ahead of you. But I wasn't certain till I saw that bit of work I put
on you.' Mr. Vergil pointed to the bared wrist, where the still deep
blue foul-anchor showed under red hairs.

'In the foretop of the Resistance, off Port Royal,' Mr. Heatleigh
said.

Mr. Vergil nodded and smiled. 'It's held,' said he. 'But--what's
happened to your proper tally, Sir Richard?'

'That was because better men than me died in the War. I inherited, you
see.'

'Meanin' you're a Lord now?'

The other nodded. Then he slapped his knee. ''Got it at last,' he
cried. 'That Polyphemus gunner! It was Harris--Chatty, not Bugs. He
was with me in the Comus and Euryalus after. 'Nov 20, 2002;Used to
lend money.'

'That's him,' Mr. Vergil cried. 'I always thought he was a bit of a
Jew. Who commanded the Comus then? I mean that time in the Adriatic,
when she was pooped an' dam-near drowned the owner in his cabin.'

Mr. Heatleigh fished up that name also from his memory; and backwards
and forwards through time they roved, recovering ships and men of
ancient and forgotten ages. For, as the old know, the dead draw the
dead, as iron does iron. The Admiral sat in the curve of the stern-
timbers, his hands clenched on his knees, as though tiller-lines might
still be there. Mr. Vergil, erect for the honour of great days and
names, faced him across the battered disconnected wheel, swaying a
shade in the rush of the memories that flooded past him. Victorias and
phaetons began to come back from the filled hotels. One of them held a
perspiring officer of the Bulleana, who had been instructed to find by
all means Admiral (Retired) Lord Heatleigh, somehow mis-registered in
some boarding-house, and to convey to him his Captain's invitation to
do them the honour of lunching with them. And it was already
perilously near cocktail time!...

Later, over those same cocktails, Lord Heatleigh gathered that the
opinion of His Majesty's Squadron on the station was that 'Daddy'
Vergil merited hanging at the yard-arm.

''Glad you haven't got one between you,' was the answer. 'He taught me
most of my seamanship when I was a Snotty. The best Bo'sun and--off
duty--the biggest liar in the Service.'



The Debt

THE Doctor of the Gaol and his wife had gone to tennis in the Gardens,
leaving their six-year-old son, William, in nominal care of his ayah,
but actually to One Three Two and old Mahmud Ali, his mother's dharzi,
or sewing-man, who had made frocks for her mother since the day when
skirts were skirts.

One Three Two was a 'lifer,' who had unluckily shot a kinsman a little
the wrong side of the British frontier. The killing was a matter he
could no more have shirked than a decent Englishman his Club dues. The
error in geography came from a head-wound picked up at Festubert,
which had affected his co-ordinations. But the judge who tried the
case made no allowance, and One Three Two only escaped the gallows on
an appeal engineered and financed by the Colonel and officers of his
old regiment, which he had left after twenty years of spotless service
with a pension and--as was pointed out at the trial--urgent private
affairs to settle.

His prison duties--he had been a noncommissioned officer--were to
oversee the convicts working in the Doctor's garden, where, bit by
bit, he took it upon his battered and dishonoured head to be William's
bodyguard or, as he called it, 'sacrifice.' Few people are more
faithful to such trusts than the man of one fair killing, and William
made him chief of all his court, with honorary title of Busi-bandah,
which means much the same as 'Goosey-gander.'

So, when William came out with his scooter into the afternoon smell of
newly watered paths, which attracts little snakes, One Three Two, with
a long-handled hoe, kept within striking distance of him at every
turn, till the child wearied of the play.

'Put away, Busi-bandah,' he commanded, and climbed up the veranda
steps to old Mahmud, cross-legged on the carpet, surrounded by
beautiful coloured stuffs. It was a dinner dress, and Mahmud held a
seam of it between his toes.

'Drink tobacco,' said William spaciously. 'They will not return till
dark.'

'But this stuff will tell,' said Mahmud above the frock, 'for the
smell of hukah tobacco clings.'

'Take of my father's cigarettes.' William pointed indoors with his
chin.

One Three Two went into the drawing-room and came back with a couple
of cigarettes from the store beside the wireless cabinet.

'What word of the Padishah's sickness?' he asked.

William swelled importantly. It was one of his prerogatives to
announce what the Man in the Box said about the sick Padishah.

'He slept little last night, because of the fever. He does not desire
to eat. None the less his strength holds. Five doctors have taken oath
to this. There will be no more talk out of the Bokkus till after I am
asleep.'

'What does thy father say?' Mahmud asked.

'My father says that it is in the balance--thus!' William picked up
Mahmud's embroidery-scissors and tried to make them ride on his
forefinger.

'Have a care! They may cut. Give me.' Mahmud took them back again.

'But my mother says that, now all people everywhere are praying for
the Padishah's health, their prayers will turn the balance, and he
will be well.'

'If Allah please,' said Mahmud, who in private life was Imam or leader
of the little mud mosque of the village by the Gaol gates, where he
preached on Fridays.

'I also pray every night,' William confided cheerily. 'After "Make me
a good boy," I stand to 'tenshin, and I say: "God save the King." Is
that good namaz (prayer)?'

'There is neither hem nor border nor fringe to the Mercy of Allah,'
Mahmud quoted.

'Well spoken, tailor-man.' One Three Two laughed. He was a hard-bitten
Afridi from the Khaiber hills, who, except among infidels, rode his
faith with a light hand.

'Good talk,' William echoed. 'For when I had the fever last year, and
my father said it was tach-an-go--that is, in the balance--my mother
prayed for me, and I became well. Oh, here is my blue buttony-bokkus!'
He reached out for Mahmud's lovely, old, lacquered Kashmiri pencase,
where oddments were kept, and busied himself with the beads and
sequins. One Three Two rolled a deep-set eye towards Mahmud.

'That news of the Padishah is bad,' said he. 'Hast thou inquired of
the Names, Imam, since his sickness came?'

The Koran discourages magic, but it is lawful to consult the Names of
Allah according to a system called the Abjad, in which each letter of
the Arabic alphabet carries one of the Nine-and-ninety Names of God
beginning with that letter. Each Name has its arbitrary Number,
Quality, Element, Zodiacal sign, Planet, and so forth. These tables
are often written out and used as amulets. Even William, who thought
he knew everything, did not know that Mahmud had sewn an Abjad into
the collar of his cold-weather dressing-gown.

'All the world has questioned,' Mahmud began.

'Doubtless. But I do not know much of the world from here. How came it
with thee?'

'I took the age of the Padishah, which is sixty-and-three. Now the
Number Sixty carries for its attribute the Hearer. This may be good or
bad, for Allah hears all things. Its star is Saturn, the outermost of
the Seven. That is good and commanding. But its sign is the Archer,
which is also the sign of the month (November) in which his sickness
first struck the Padishah. Twice, then, must the Archer afflict the
Padishah.'

One Three Two nodded. That seemed reasonable enough.

'As for the Number Three, its attribute is the Assembler, which again
may be good or bad. For who knows to what judgment Allah calls men
together? Its sign is the Crab, which, being female, is in friendship
with the Archer. It may be, then, that if the Archer spare the
Padishah both now and later--for he will surely smite twice--the
Padishah will be clear of his malady in the month of the Crab (late
June or early July).'

'And what is the Planet of the Number Three?' said the other.

'Mars assuredly. He is King. The Abjad does not lie. Hast thou used
it?'

'There was a priest of ours cast it for me, when I would learn how my
affairs would go. The dog said, truly enough, that I should punish my
cousin, but he said nothing of my punishment here.'

'Did he reckon by thy name-letters or by thy age?'

'By my name, I think. I am no great scholar.'

'Be merciful!' said Mahmud. 'No wonder thou art afflicted, O Zuhan
Khan. Thy letter is Zad, which carries for its Name the Punisher. Its
attribute is Terrible, and its quality Hate.'

'All true,' One Three Two returned. 'Am I not here till I die? I
submit myself to the fixed decree. And, certainly, were I free'--he
chuckled impiously--'my kin on the hills would kill me. But I live.
Why? Because a man may draw back-pay, as it were, for his good deeds.
I dug my Captain, who is now Colonel, out of some ground that fell
upon him in Frangistan (France). It was part of our work. He said
nothing--nor I. But seven years after--when I was condemned for that
affair of my burnt cousin--he spent money like water on lawyers and
lying witnesses for my sake. Otherwise--' One Three Two jerked his
beard towards a little black shed on a roof outside the high garden
wall. No one had ever told William what it was for.

'It may be thy good deed in saving that Captain's life was permitted
to count in thy balance,' Mahmud volunteered.

'And I am no more than a convict...What is the order, Baba? I am
here.'

William had suddenly shut the pencase. 'Enough,' he said. 'Bring again
my eskootah, Busi-bandah. I will be a horseman. I will play polo.'

Now little snakes, who have a habit of coming out on damp garden-
paths, cast no warning shadow when a low sun is blinded by thick
mango-trees.

'It is brought,' said One Three Two; but in place of getting it he
said to Mahmud: 'While he rides, I will tell thee a tale of the
Padishah which my Colonel told me.'

'No! Let be my eskootah. I will listen to that tale. Make me my
place!' said William.

It was not five steps to the man's side, but by the time William had
taken them, an inviting lap awaited him, into which he dropped, his
left cheek on the right shoulder in its prison blanket, his right hand
twined in the beard, and the rest of him relaxed along the curve of
the right arm.

'Begin, Busi-bandah,' he commanded from off his throne.

'By thy permission,' One Three Two began. 'Early in the year when thou
wast born, which was the year I came to be with thee, Baba, my Colonel
told me this tale to comfort my heart. It was when I--when I--'

'Was to be hanged for thy bad cousin,' said William, screwing up his
eyes as he pointed with his left third finger to the hut on the roof.
'I know.'

'"Keep a thing from women and children, and sieves will hold water,"'
Mahmud chuckled in his big, silver-black beard.

'Yes, Baba, that was the time,' said One Three Two, recovering
himself. 'My Colonel told me that after the war in Frangistan was
ended, the Padishah commanded that every man who had died in his
service--and there were multitudes upon multitudes--should be buried
according to his faith.'

William nodded. When he went out, he always met funeral processions on
their way to the Moslem cemetery near the race-course; and, being a
child below the age of personality, there were few details of wedding
or burial that he had not known since he could ask questions.

'This was done as commanded, and to each man was his tomb, with his
name, rank, and service cut in white stone, all one pattern, whether
he had been General or Sweeper--Sahib--Mussulman--Yahudi--Hubashi--or
heathen. My Colonel told me that the burial-places resembled walled
towns, divided by paths, and planted with trees and flowers, where all
the world might come and walk.'

'On Fridays,' murmured William. Friday is the day when Muhammedan
families visit their dead. He had often begged afternoons off for the
servants to go there.

'And every day. And when all was done, and the People of the Graves
were laid at ease and in honour, it pleased the Padishah to cross the
little water between Belait and Frangistan, and look upon them. He
give order for his going in this way. He said: "Let there be neither
music nor elephants nor princes about my way, nor at my stirrup. For
it is a pilgrimage. I go to salute the People of the Graves." Then he
went over. And where he saw his dead laid in their multitudes, there
he drew rein; there he saluted; there he laid flowers upon great
stones after the custom of his people: And for that matter,' One Three
Two addressed Mahmud, 'so do our women on Fridays. Yes, and the old
women and the little staring children of Frangistan pressed him close,
as he halted among the bricks and the ashes and the broken wood of the
towns which had been killed in the War.'

'Killed in the War,' William answered vaguely.

'But the People of the Graves waited behind their white walls, among
the grass and flowers--orderly in their lines--as it were an
inspection with all gear set out on the cots.'

One Three Two gathered the child closer as he grew heavier.

'My Colonel told me this. And my Colonel said--and Allah be my witness
I know!--it was killing cold weather. Frangistan is colder than all my
own hills in winter--cold that cuts off a man's toes. Yes! That is why
I lack two toes, Baba. And bitter it was when the Padishah came in
spring. The sun shone, but the winds cut. And, at the last, and the
last, was a narrow cemetery, walled with high walls, entered by one
door in a corner. Yes--like this Gaol-Khana. It was filled with our
own people for the most part--Mussulmans who had served. It lay
outside a city, among fields where the winds blew. Now, in the order
of the Padishah's pilgrimage, it was commanded that wheresoever he
chose to draw rein, there should wait on him some General-sahib, who
had fought near that place in the long War. Not princes, priests, nor
elephants, but a General of his service. And so to this narrow, high-
walled burial-place of the one gate came a General-sahib, sworded and
spurred, with many medals, to wait the Padishah's coming. And while he
waited he clothed himself--for he had been sick--in his big coat, his
Baritish warrum.'

'I know,' said William, rousing himself. 'Mahmud made me a little one
out of the old one of my father, when he came back. But Mahmud would
not sew me any crowns or stars on the shoulder.'

Mahmud drew a quick breath (he had been putting away his hand sewing-
machine) and went softly into the house. The sun was setting, and
there was a change in the air.

'Yes, all the world knows Baritish warrum. So the General waited,
sheltering himself from the wind that blew through that gate till the
feet of the Padishah were heard walking across the waste ground
without.'

One Three Two reached up his left hand, took the cold-weather
dressing-gown that Mahmud fetched from the nursery, and laid it
lightly over William.

His voice went on in a soothing purr. 'And when the feet of the
Padishah were heard without the gate, that General stripped off his
heavy coat and stood forth in his medalled uniform, as the order is.
Then the Padishah entered. The General saluted, but the Padishah did
not heed. He signed with his open hand thus, from right to left--my
Colonel showed me--and he cried out "By Allah, O man, I conjure thee
put on that coat on one breath! This is no season to catch sickness."
And he named the very sickness that was to fall upon himself five
years after. So the General cast himself into that big coat again with
speed, and in one breath the Padishah became in all respects again the
Padishah. His equerries rehearsed the General's name and honours, and
the General saluted and put forward his sword-hilt to be touched, and
he did the Padishah duty and attendance in that place through the
appointed hour. And on the out-going the Padishah said to him: "Take
heed that never again, O man, do I find thee at such seasons without
thy thick coat upon thee. For the good are scarce." And he went down
to the sea, and they cast off in the silence of ten thousand bare-
headed. (He had forbidden music because it was a haj [pilgrimage].)
And thus it was accomplished; and this, my Colonel told me, was his
last act in his haj to the People of the Graves...Wait thy prayer
awhile, Mahmud. The child sleeps. When the Padishah was gone the
General said to my Colonel, who was on leave in Frangistan, "By Allah,
to the Padishah do I owe my life, for an hour coatless in that chill
would have slain me!"'

'The Padishah forenamed the sickness that fell upon himself?' Mahmud
asked.

William breathed evenly.

'That very sickness--five full years before it fell.'

'It may be a sign,' Mahmud conceded, 'even though it is a little one.'

'A man's life is not a little thing. See what a tamasha (circus) that
fat Hindu pig of a judge made over the one I spilled.'

'A little thing beside the great things which the Padishah does daily,
in his power.'

'What do we know of them? He is Padishah. The more part of his rule is
worked by his headmen--as, but for my Colonel, my hanging would have
been. Nay! Nay! We say, in the Regiment: "How does a man bear himself
off parade?" And we say in our Hills, of those cursed crooked Kabul-
made rifles: "A gun does not throw true unless it has been bored
true." But thou art no soldier.'

'True! And yet in my trade we say: "As the silk, so the least shred of
it. As the heart, so the hand."'

'And it is truth! This deed that the Padishah did among the People of
the Graves declared the quality and nature of the Padishah himself. It
was a fair blood-debt between a man and a man. The life of that
General is owing to the Padishah. I hold it will be paid to him, and
that the Padishah will live.'

'If God please,' said Mahmud, and laid out his mat. The sun had set,
and it was time for the fourth prayer of the day. Mahmud, as Imam of a
mosque, was strict in ritual, but One Three Two only prayed at dawn
and full dark. So he sat till he heard the Doctor's car challenged at
the Gaol gate before he carried William in to the nursery.

'What did the Man in the Bokkus tell about the King?' William asked
his mother when she kissed him good-night in his cot. He was all but
asleep.

'Only the same as this morning. Shall I hear your prayers, little
man?'

'No need!' muttered William. Then he sat bolt upright, intensely
awake, and speaking in chosen English: 'Because Busi-bandah says the
King will get well, anyhow. He says it is his back-pay for making the
cold General put on his Baritish warrum.'

He flopped back, burrowed in his pillow, grunted, and dived far
beneath the floods of sleep.



Akbar's Bridge

JELALUDIN Muhammed Akbar, Guardian of Mankind.
Moved his standards out of Delhi to Jaunpore of lower Hind.
Where a mosque was to be builded, and a lovelier ne'er was planned;
And Munim Khan, his Viceroy, slid the drawings 'neath his hand.

(High as Hope upsheered her towers to the promised Heavens above.
Deep as Faith and dark as Judgment her unplumbed foundations dove.
Wide as Mercy, white as moonlight, stretched her fore courts to the dawn;
And Akbar gave commandment, 'Let it rise as it is drawn.')

Then he wearied--the mood moving--of the men and things he ruled.
And he walked beside the Goomti while the flaming sunset cooled.
Simply, without mark or ensign--singly, without guard or guide.
And he heard an angry woman screeching by the riverside.

'Twas the Widow of the Potter, a virago feared and known.
In haste to cross the ferry, but the ferry-man had gone.
So she cursed him and his office, and hearing Akbar's tread.
(She was very old and darkling) turned her wrath upon his head.

But he answered--being Akbar--'Suffer me to scull you o'er.'
Called her 'Mother,' stowed her bundles, worked the clumsy scow from shore.
Till they grounded on a sand-bank, and the Widow loosed her mind;
And the stars stole out and chuckled at the Guardian of Mankind.

'Oh, most impotent of bunglers! Oh, my daughter's daughter's brood.
Waiting hungry on the threshold for I cannot bring their food.
Till a fool has learned his business at their virtuous grandam's cost.
And a greater fool, our Viceroy, trifles while her name is lost!

'Munim Khan, that Sire of Asses, sees me daily come and go
As it suits a drunken boatman, or this ox who cannot row.
Munim Khan, the Owl's Own Uncle--Munim Khan, the Capon's seed.
Must build a mosque to Allah when a bridge is all we need!

'Eighty years I eat oppression and extortion and delays--
Snake and crocodile and fever--flood and drouth, beset my ways.
But Munim Khan must tax us for his mosque whate'er befall;
Allah knowing (May He hear me!) that a bridge would save us all!'

While she stormed that other laboured and, when they touched the shore.
Laughing brought her on his shoulder to her hovel's very door.
But his mirth renewed her anger, for she thought he mocked the weak;
So she scored him with her talons, drawing blood on either cheek...

Jelaludin Muhammed Akbar, Guardian of Mankind.
Spoke with Munim Khan his Viceroy, ere the midnight stars declined--
Girt and sworded, robed and jewelled, but, on either cheek appeared
Four shameless scratches running from the turban to the beard.

'Allah burn all Potters' Widows! Yet, since this same night was young.
One has shown me by sure token, there was wisdom on her tongue.
Yes, I ferried her for hire. Yes,' he pointed, 'I was paid.'
And he told the tale rehearsing all the Widow did and said.

And he ended, 'Sire of Asses--Capon--Owl's Own Uncle--know
I--most impotent of bunglers--I--this ox who cannot row
I--Jelaludin Muhammed Akbar, Guardian of Mankind--
Bid thee build the hag her bridge and put our mosque from out thy mind.'

So 'twas built, and Allah blessed it; and, through earthquake, flood, and sword.
Still the bridge his Viceroy builded throws her arch o'er Akbar's Ford!



The Manner of Men


'If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts.'--I COR. XV. 32.


HER cinnabar-tinted topsail, nicking the hot blue horizon, showed she
was a Spanish wheat-boat hours before she reached Marseilles mole.
There, her mainsail brailed itself, a spritsail broke out forward, and
a handy driver aft; and she threaded her way through the shipping to
her berth at the quay as quietly as a veiled woman slips through a
bazaar.

The blare of her horns told her name to the port. An elderly hook-
nosed Inspector came aboard to see if her cargo had suffered in the
run from the South, and the senior ship-cat purred round her captain's
legs as the after-hatch was opened.

'If the rest is like this--' the Inspector sniffed--'you had better
run out again to the mole and dump it.'

'That's nothing,' the captain replied. 'All Spanish wheat heats a
little. They reap it very dry.'

''Pity you don't keep it so, then. What would you call that--crop or
pasture?'

The Inspector pointed downwards. The grain was in bulk, and deck-
leakage, combined with warm weather, had sprouted it here and there in
sickly green films.

'So much the better,' said the captain brazenly. 'That makes it
waterproof. Pare off the top two inches, and the rest is as sweet as a
nut.'

'I told that lie, too, when I was your age. And how does she happen to
be loaded?'

The young Spaniard flushed, but kept his temper.

'She happens to be ballasted, under my eye, on lead-pigs and bagged
copper-ores.'

'I don't know that they much care for verdigris in their dole-bread at
Rome. But--you were saying?'

'I was trying to tell you that the bins happen to be grain-tight, two-
inch chestnut, floored and sided with hides.'

'Meaning dressed African leathers on your private account?'

'What has that got to do with you? We discharge at Port of Rome, not
here.'

'So your papers show. And what might you have stowed in the wings of
her?'

'Oh, apes! Circumcised apes--just like you!'

'Young monkey! Well, if you are not above taking an old ape's advice,
next time you happen to top off with wool and screw in more bales than
are good for her, get your ship undergirt before you sail. I know it
doesn't look smart coming into Port of Rome, but it 'll save your
decks from lifting worse than they are.'

There was no denying that the planking and waterways round the after-
hatch had lifted a little. The captain lost his temper.

'I know your breed!' he stormed. 'You promenade the quays all summer
at Caesar's expense, jamming your Jew-bow into everybody's business;
and when the norther blows, you squat over your brazier and let us
skippers hang in the wind for a week!'

'You have it! Just that sort of a man am I now,' the other answered.
'That'll do, the quarter-hatch!'

As he lifted his hand the falling sleeve showed the broad gold armlet
with the triple vertical gouges which is only worn by master mariners
who have used all three seas--Middle, Western, and Eastern.

'Gods!' the captain saluted. 'I thought you were--'

'A Jew, of course. Haven't you used Eastern ports long enough to know
a Red Sidonian when you see one?'

'Mine the fault--yours be the pardon, my father!' said the Spaniard
impetuously. 'Her topsides are a trifle strained. There was a three
days' blow coming up. I meant to have had her undergirt off the
Islands, but hawsers slow a ship so--and one hates to spoil a good
run.'

'To whom do you say it?' The Inspector looked the young man over
between horny sun and salt creased eyelids like a brooding pelican.
'But if you care to get up your girt-hawsers to-morrow, I can find men
to put 'em overside. It's no work for open sea. Now! Main-hatch,
there!...I thought so. She'll need another girt abaft the
foremast.' He motioned to one of his staff, who hurried up the quay to
where the port Guard-boat basked at her mooring-ring. She was a
stoutly-built, single-banker, eleven a side, with a short punching
ram; her duty being to stop riots in harbour and piracy along the
coast.

'Who commands her?' the captain asked.

'An old shipmate of mine, Sulinus--a River man. We'll get his
opinion.'

In the Mediterranean (Nile keeping always her name) there is but one
river--that shifty-mouthed Danube, where she works through her deltas
into the Black Sea. Up went the young man's eyebrows.

'Is he any kin to a Sulinor of Tomi, who used to be in the flesh-
traffic--and a Free Trader? My uncle has told me of him. He calls him
Mango.'

'That man. He was my second in the wheat-trade my last five voyages,
after the Euxine grew too hot to hold him. But he's in the Fleet
now...You know your ship best. Where do you think the after-girts ought
to come?'

The captain was explaining, when a huge dishfaced Dacian, in short
naval cuirass, rolled up the gangplank, carefully saluting the bust of
Caesar on the poop, and asked the captain's name.

'Baeticus, for choice,' was the answer.

They all laughed, for the sea, which Rome mans with foreigners, washes
out many shore-names.

'My trouble is this' Baeticus began, and they went into committee,
which lasted a full hour. At the end, he led them to the poop, where
an awning had been stretched, and wines set out with fruits and sweet
shore water.

They drank to the Gods of the Sea, Trade, and Good Fortune, spilling
those small cups overside, and then settled at ease.

'Girting's an all-day job, if it's done properly,' said the Inspector.
'Can you spare a real working-party by dawn to-morrow, Mango?'

'But surely--for you, Red.'

'I'm thinking of the wheat,' said Quabil curtly. He did not like
nicknames so early.

'Full meals and drinks,' the Spanish captain put in.

'Good! Don't return 'em too full. By the way'--Sulinor lifted a level
cup--'where do you get this liquor, Spaniard?'

'From our Islands (the Balearics). Is it to your taste?'

'It is.' The big man unclasped his gorget in solemn preparation.

Their talk ran professionally, for though each end of the
Mediterranean scoffs at the other, both unite to mock landward,
wooden-headed Rome and her stiff-jointed officials.

Sulinor told a tale of taking the Prefect of the Port, on a breezy
day, to Forum Julii, to see a lady, and of his lamentable condition
when landed.

'Yes,' Quabil sneered. 'Rome's mistress of the world--as far as the
foreshore.'

'If Caesar ever came on patrol with me,' said Sulinor, 'he might
understand there was such a thing as the Fleet.'

'Then he'd officer it with well-born young Romans,' said Quabil. 'Be
grateful you are left alone. You are the last man in the world to want
to see Caesar.'

'Except one,' said Sulinor, and he and Quabil laughed.

'What's the joke?' the Spaniard asked. Sulinor explained.

'We had a passenger, our last trip together, who wanted to see Caesar.
It cost us our ship and freight. That's all.'

'Was he a warlock--a wind-raiser?'

'Only a Jew philosopher. But he had to see Caesar. He said he had; and
he piled up the Eirene on his way.'

'Be fair,' said Quabil. 'I don't like the Jews--they lie too close to
my own hold--but it was Caesar lost me my ship.' He turned to
Baeticus. 'There was a proclamation, our end of the world, two seasons
back, that Caesar wished the Eastern wheat-boats to run through the
winter, and he'd guarantee all loss. Did you get it, youngster?'

'No. Our stuff is all in by September. I wager Caesar never paid you!
How late did you start?'

'I left Alexandria across the bows of the Equinox--well down in the
pickle, with Egyptian wheat--half pigeon's dung--and the usual load of
Greek sutlers and their women. The second day out the sou'-wester
caught me. I made across it north for the Lycian coast, and slipped
into Myra till the wind should let me get back into the regular grain-
track again.'

Sailor-fashion, Quabil began to illustrate his voyage with date and
olive stones from the table.

'The wind went into the north, as I knew it would, and I got under
way. You remember, Mango? My anchors were apeak when a Lycian patrol
threshed in with Rome's order to us to wait on a Sidon packet with
prisoners and officers. Mother of Carthage, I cursed him!'

''Shouldn't swear at Rome's Fleet. 'Weatherly craft, those Lycian
racers! Fast, too. I've been hunted by them! 'Never thought I'd
command one,' said Sulinor, half aloud.

'And now I'm coming to the leak in my decks, young man,' Quabil eyed
Baeticus sternly. 'Our slant north had strained her, and I should have
undergirt her at Myra. Gods know why I didn't! I set up the chain-
staples in the cable-tier for the prisoners. I even had the girt-
hawsers on deck--which saved time later; but the thing I should have
done, that I did not.'

'Luck of the Gods!' Sulinor laughed. 'It was because our little
philosopher wanted to see Caesar in his own way at our expense.'

'Why did he want to see him?' said Baeticus.

'As far as I ever made out from him and the centurion, he wanted to
argue with Caesar--about philosophy.'

'He was a prisoner, then?'

'A political suspect--with a Jew's taste for going to law,' Quabil
interrupted. 'No orders for irons. Oh, a little shrimp of a man, but--
but he seemed to take it for granted that he led everywhere. He messed
with us.'

'And he was worth talking to, Red,' said Sulinor.

'You thought so; but he had the woman's trick of taking the tone and
colour of whoever he talked to. Now--as I was saying...'

There followed another illustrated lecture on the difficulties that
beset them after leaving Myra. There was always too much west in the
autumn winds, and the Eirene tacked against it as far as Cnidus. Then
there came a northerly slant, on which she ran through the Aegean
Islands, for the tail of Crete; rounded that, and began tacking up the
south coast.

'Just darning the water again, as we had done from Myra to Cnidus,'
said Quabil ruefully. 'I daren't stand out. There was the bone-yard of
all the Gulf of Africa under my lee. But at last we worked into
Fairhaven--by that cork yonder. Late as it was, I should have taken
her on, but I had to call a ship-council as to lying up for the
winter. That Rhodian law may have suited open boats and cock-crow
coasters,1 but it's childish for ocean-traffic.'

'I never allow it in any command of mine,' Baeticus spoke quietly.
'The cowards give the order, and the captain bears the blame.'

Quabil looked at him keenly. Sulinor took advantage of the pause.

'We were in harbour, you see. So our Greeks tumbled out and voted to
stay where we were. It was my business to show them that the place was
open to many winds, and that if it came on to blow we should drive
ashore.'

'Then I,' broke in Quabil, with a large and formidable smile, 'advised
pushing on to Phenike, round the cape, only forty miles across the
bay. My mind was that, if I could get her undergirt there, I might
later--er--coax them out again on a fair wind, and hit Sicily. But the
undergirting came first. She was beginning to talk too much--like me
now.'

Sulinor chafed a wrist with his hand.

'She was a hard-mouthed old water-bruiser in any sea,' he murmured.

'She could lie within six points of any wind,' Quabil retorted, and
hurried on. 'What made Paul vote with those Greeks? He said we'd be
sorry if we left harbour.'

'Every passenger says that, if a bucketful comes aboard,' Baeticus
observed.

Sulinor refilled his cup, and looked at them over the brim, under
brows as candid as a child's, ere he set it down.

'Not Paul. He did not know fear. He gave me a dose of my own medicine
once. It was a morning watch coming down through the Islands. We had
been talking about the cut of our topsail--he was right--it held too
much lee wind--and then he went to wash before he prayed. I said to
him: "You seem to have both ends and the bight of most things coiled
down in your little head, Paul. If it's a fair question, what is your
trade ashore?" And he said: "I've been a man-hunter--Gods forgive me;
and now that I think The God has forgiven me, I am man-hunting again."
Then he pulled his shirt over his head, and I saw his back. Did you
ever see his back, Quabil?'

'I expect I did--that last morning, when we all stripped; but I don't
remember.'

'I shan't forget it! There was good, sound lictor's work and criss-
cross Jew scourgings like gratings; and a stab or two; and, besides
those, old dry bites--when they get good hold and rugg you. That
showed he must have dealt with the Beasts. So, whatever he'd done,
he'd paid for. I was just wondering what he had done, when he said:
"No; not your sort of man-hunting." "It's your own affair," I said:
"but I shouldn't care to see Caesar with a back like that. I should
hear the Beasts asking for me." "I may that, too, some day," he said,
and began sluicing himself, and--then--What's brought the girls out
so early? Oh, I remember!'

There was music up the quay, and a wreathed shore-boat put forth full
of Arlesian women. A long-snouted three-banker was hauling from a slip
till her trumpets warned the benches to take hold. As they gave way,
the hrmph-hrmph of the oars in the oar-ports reminded Sulinor, he
said, of an elephant choosing his man in the Circus.

'She has been here re-masting. They've no good rough-tree at Forum
Julii,' Quabil explained to Baeticus. 'The girls are singing her out.'

The shallop ranged alongside her, and the banks held water, while a
girl's voice came across the clock-calm harbour-face

'Ah, would swift ships had never been about the seas to rove!

For then these eyes had never seen nor ever wept their love.

Over the ocean-rim he came--beyond that verge he passed.

And I who never knew his name must mourn him to the last!'

'And you'd think they meant it,' said Baeticus, half to himself.

'That's a pretty stick,' was Quabil's comment as the man-of-war opened
the island athwart the harbour. 'But she's overmasted by ten foot. A
trireme's only a bird-cage.'

''Luck of the Gods I'm not singing in one now,' Sulinor muttered. They
heard the yelp of a bank being speeded up to the short sea-stroke.

'I wish there was some way to save mainmasts from racking.' Baeticus
looked up at his own, bangled with copper wire.

'The more reason to undergirt, my son,' said Quabil. 'I was going to
undergirt that morning at Fairhaven. You remember, Sulinor? I'd given
orders to overhaul the hawsers the night before. My fault! Never say
"To-morrow." The Gods hear you. And then the wind came out of the
south, mild as milk. All we had to do was to slip round the headland
to Phenike--and be safe.'

Baeticus made some small motion, which Quabil noticed, for he stopped.

'My father,' the young man spread apologetic palms, 'is not that lying
wind the in-draught of Mount Ida? It comes up with the sun, but
later--'

'You need not tell me! We rounded the cape, our decks like a fair (it
was only half a day's sail), and then, out of Ida's bosom the full
north-easier stamped on us! Run? What else? I needed a lee to clean up
in. Clauda was a few miles down wind; but whether the old lady would
bear up when she got there, I was not so sure.'

'She did.' Sulinor rubbed his wrists again. 'We were towing our
longboat half-full. I steered somewhat that day.'

'What sail were you showing?' Baeticus demanded.

'Nothing--and twice too much at that. But she came round when Sulinor
asked her, and we kept her jogging in the lee of the island. I said,
didn't I, that my girt-hawsers were on deck?'

Baeticus nodded. Quabil plunged into his campaign at long and large,
telling every shift and device he had employed. 'It was scanting
daylight,' he wound up, 'but I daren't slur the job. Then we streamed
our boat alongside, baled her, sweated her up, and secured. You ought
to have seen our decks!'

''Panic?' said Baeticus.

'A little. But the whips were out early. The centurion--Julius--lent
us his soldiers.'

'How did your prisoners behave?' the young man went on.

Sulinor answered him. 'Even when a man is being shipped to the Beasts,
he does not like drowning in irons. They tried to rive the chain-
staples out of her timbers.'

'I got the main-yard on deck'--this was Quabil. 'That eased her a
little. They stopped yelling after a while, didn't they?'

'They did,' Sulinor replied. 'Paul went down and told them there was
no danger. And they believed him! Those scoundrels believed him! He
asked me for the keys of the leg-bars to make them easier. "I've been
through this sort of thing before," he said, "but they are new to it
down below. Give me the keys." I told him there was no order for him
to have any keys; and I recommended him to line his hold for a week in
advance, because we were in the hands of the Gods. "And when are we
ever out of them?" he asked. He looked at me like an old gull lounging
just astern of one's taffrail in a full gale. You know that eye,
Spaniard?'

'Well do I!'

'By that time'--Quabil took the story again' we had drifted out of the
lee of Clauda, and our one hope was to run for it and pray we weren't
pooped. None the less, I could have made Sicily with luck. As a gale I
have known worse, but the wind never shifted a point, d'ye see? We
were flogged along like a tired ox.'

'Any sights?' Baeticus asked.

'For ten days not a blink.'

'Nearer two weeks,' Sulinor corrected. 'We cleared the decks of
everything except our groundtackle, and put six hands at the tillers.
She seemed to answer her helm--sometimes. Well, it kept me warm for
one.'

'How did your philosopher take it?'

'Like the gull I spoke of. He was there, but outside it all. You never
got on with him, Quabil?'

'Confessed! I came to be afraid at last. It was not my office to show
fear, but I was. He was fearless, although I knew that he knew the
peril as well as I. When he saw that trying to--er--cheer me made me
angry, he dropped it. 'Like a woman, again. You saw more of him,
Mango?'

'Much. When I was at the rudders he would hop up to the steerage, with
the lower-deck ladders lifting and lunging a foot at a time, and the
timbers groaning like men beneath the Beasts. We used to talk, hanging
on till the roll jerked us into the scuppers. Then we'd begin again.
What about? Oh! Kings and Cities and Gods and Caesar. He was sure he'd
see Caesar. I told him I had noticed that people who worried Those Up
Above'--Sulinor jerked his thumb towards the awning--'were mostly sent
for in a hurry.'

'Hadn't you wit to see he never wanted you for yourself, but to get
something out of you?' Quabil snapped.

'Most Jews are like that--and all Sidonians!' Sulinor grinned. 'But
what could he have hoped to get from anyone? We were doomed men all.
You said it, Red.'

'Only when I was at my emptiest. Otherwise I knew that with any luck I
could have fetched Sicily! But I broke--we broke. Yes, we got ready--
you too--for the Wet Prayer.'

'How does that run with you?' Baeticus asked, for all men are curious
concerning the bride-bed of Death.

'With us of the River,' Sulinor volunteered, 'we say: "I sleep;
presently I row again."'

'Ah! At our end of the world we cry: "Gods, judge me not as a God, but
a man whom the Ocean has broken."' Baeticus looked at Quabil, who
answered, raising his cup: 'We Sidonians say, "Mother of Carthage, I
return my oar!" But it all comes to the one in the end.' He wiped his
beard, which gave Sulinor his chance to cut in.

'Yes, we were on the edge of the Prayer when--do you remember,
Quabil?--he clawed his way up the ladders and said: "No need to call
on what isn't there. My God sends me sure word that I shall see
Caesar. And he has pledged me all your lives to boot. Listen! No man
will be lost." And Quabil said: "But what about my ship?"' Sulinor
grinned again.

'That's true. I had forgotten the cursed passengers,' Quabil
confirmed. 'But he spoke as though my Eirene were a fig-basket. "Oh,
she's bound to go ashore, somewhere," he said, "but not a life will be
lost. Take this from me, the Servant of the One God." Mad! Mad as a
magician on market-day!'

'No,' said Sulinor. 'Madmen see smooth harbours and full meals. I have
had to--soothe that sort.'

'After all,' said Quabil, 'he was only saying what had been in my head
for a long time. I had no way to judge our drift, but we likely might
hit something somewhere. Then he went away to spread his cook-house
yarn among the crew. It did no harm, or I should have stopped him.'

Sulinor coughed, and drawled:

'I don't see anyone stopping Paul from what he fancied he ought to do.
But it was curious that, on the change of watch, I--'

'No--I!' said Quabil.

'Make it so, then, Red. Between us, at any rate, we felt that the sea
had changed. There was a trip and a kick to her dance. You know,
Spaniard. And then--I will say that, for a man half-dead, Quabil here
did well.'

'I'm a bosun-captain, and not ashamed of it. I went to get a cast of
the lead. (Black dark and raining marlinspikes!) The first cast warned
me, and I told Sulinor to clear all aft for anchoring by the stern.
The next--shoaling like a slip-way--sent me back with all hands, and
we dropped both bowers and spare and the stream.'

'He'd have taken the kedge as well, but I stopped him,' said Sulinor.

'I had to stop her! They nearly jerked her stern out, but they held.
And everywhere I could peer or hear were breakers, or the noise of
tall seas against cliffs. We were trapped! But our people had been
starved, soaked, and halfstunned for ten days, and now they were close
to a beach. That was enough! They must land on the instant; and was I
going to let them drown within reach of safety? Was there panic? I
spoke to Julius, and his soldiers (give Rome her due!) schooled them
till I could hear my orders again. But on the kiss-of-dawn some of the
crew said that Sulinor had told them to lay out the kedge in the long-
boat.'

'I let 'em swing her out,' Sulinor confessed.

'I wanted 'em for warnings. But Paul told me his God had promised
their lives to him along with ours, and any private sacrifice would
spoil the luck. So, as soon as she touched water, I cut the rope
before a man could get in. She was ashore--stove--in ten minutes.'

'Could you make out where you were by then?' Baeticus asked Quabil.

'As soon as I saw the people on the beach--yes. They are my sort--a
little removed. Phoenicians by blood. It was Malta--one day's run from
Syracuse, where I would have been safe! Yes, Malta and my wheat gruel.
Good port-of-discharge, eh?'

They smiled, for Melita may mean 'mash' as well as 'Malta.'

'It puddled the sea all round us, while I was trying to get my
bearings. But my lids were salt-gummed, and I hiccoughed like a
drunkard.'

'And drunk you most gloriously were, Red, half an hour later!'

'Praise the Gods--and for once your pet Paul! That little man came to
me on the fore-bitts, puffed like a pigeon, and pulled out a breastful
of bread, and salt fish, and the wine--the good new wine. "Eat," he
said, "and make all your people eat, too. Nothing will come to them
except another wetting. They won't notice that, after they're full.
Don't worry about your work either," he said. "You can't go wrong to-
day. You are promised to me." And then he went off to Sulinor.'

'He did. He came to me with bread and wine and bacon--good they were!
But first he said words over them, and then rubbed his hands with his
wet sleeves. I asked him if he were a magician. "Gods forbid!" he
said. "I am so poor a soul that I flinch from touching dead pig." As a
Jew, he wouldn't like pork, naturally. Was that before or after our
people broke into the store-room, Red?'

'Had I time to wait on them?' Quabil snorted. 'I know they gutted my
stores full-hand, and a double blessing of wine atop. But we all took
that--deep. Now this is how we lay.' Quabil smeared a ragged loop on
the table with a wine-wet finger. 'Reefs--see, my son--and overfalls
to leeward here; something that loomed like a point of land on our
right there; and, ahead, the blind gut of a bay with a Cyclops surf
hammering it. How we had got in was a miracle. Beaching was our only
chance, and meantime she was settling like a tired camel. Every foot I
could lighten her meant that she'd take ground closer in at the last.
I told Julius. He understood. "I'll keep order," he said. "Get the
passengers to shift the wheat as long as you judge it's safe."'

'Did those Alexandrian achators really work? ' said Baeticus.

'I've never seen cargo discharged quicker. It was time. The wind was
taking off in gusts, and the rain was putting down the swells. I made
out a patch of beach that looked less like death than the rest of the
arena, and I decided to drive in on a gust under the spitfire-sprit--
and, if she answered her helm before she died on us, to humour her a
shade to starboard, where the water looked better. I stayed the
foremast; set the spritsail fore and aft, as though we were boarding;
told Sulinor to have the rudders down directly he cut the cables;
waited till a gust came; squared away the sprit, and drove.'

Sulinor carried on promptly:--

'I had two hands with axes on each cable, and one on each rudder-lift;
and, believe me, when Quabil's pipe went, both blades were down and
turned before the cable-ends had fizzed under! She jumped like a stung
cow! She drove. She sheared. I think the swell lifted her, and
overran. She came down, and struck aft. Her stern broke off under my
toes, and all the guts of her at that end slid out like a man's
paunched by a lion. I jumped forward, and told Quabil there was
nothing but small kindlings abaft the quarterhatch, and he shouted:
"Never mind! Look how beautifully I've laid her!"'

'I had. What I took for a point of land to starboard, y'see, turned
out to be almost a bridge-islet, with a swell of sea 'twixt it and the
main. And that meeting-swill, d'you see, surging in as she drove, gave
her four or five foot more to cushion on. I'd hit the exact instant.'

'Luck of the Gods, I think! Then we began to bustle our people over
the bows before she went to pieces. You'll admit Paul was a help
there, Red?'

'I dare say he herded the old judies well enough; but he should have
lined up with his own gang.'

'He did that, too,' said Sulinor. 'Some fool of an under-officer had
discovered that prisoners must be killed if they look like escaping;
and he chose that time and place to put it to Julius--sword drawn.
Think of hunting a hundred prisoners to death on those decks! It would
have been worse than the Beasts!'

'But Julius saw--Julius saw it,' Quabil spoke testily. 'I heard him
tell the man not to be a fool. They couldn't escape further than the
beach.'

'And how did your philosopher take that?' said Baeticus.

'As usual,' said Sulinor. 'But, you see, we two had dipped our hands
in the same dish for weeks; and, on the River, that makes an
obligation between man and man.'

'In my country also,' said Baeticus, rather stiffly.

'So I cleared my dirk--in case I had to argue. Iron always draws iron
with me. But he said "Put it back. They are a little scared." I said
"Aren't you?" "What?" he said; "of being killed, you mean? No. Nothing
can touch me till I've seen Caesar." Then he carried on steadying the
ironed men (some were slaveringmad) till it was time to unshackle them
by fives, and give 'em their chance. The natives made a chain through
the surf, and snatched them out breast-high.'

'Not a life lost! 'Like stepping off a jetty,' Quabil proclaimed.

'Not quite. But he had promised no one should drown.'

'How could they--the way I had laid her--gust and swell and swill
together?'

'And was there any salvage?'

'Neither stick nor string, my son. We had time to look, too. We stayed
on the island till the first spring ship sailed for Port of Rome. They
hadn't finished Ostia breakwater that year.'

'And, of course, Caesar paid you for your ship?'

'I made no claim. I saw it would be hopeless; and Julius, who knew
Rome, was against any appeal to the authorities. He said that was the
mistake Paul was making. And, I suppose, because I did not trouble
them, and knew a little about the sea, they offered me the Port
Inspectorship here. There's no money in it--if I were a poor man.
Marseilles will never be a port again. Narbo has ruined her for good.'

'But Marseilles is far from under-Lebanon,' Baeticus suggested.

'The further the better. I lost my boy three years ago in Foul Bay,
off Berenice, with the Eastern Fleet. He was rather like you about the
eyes, too. You and your circumcised apes!'

'But--honoured one! My master! Admiral!--Father mine--how could I have
guessed?'

The young man leaned forward to the other's knee in act to kiss it.
Quabil made as though to cuff him, but his hand came to rest lightly
on the bowed head.

'Nah! Sit, lad! Sit back. It's just the thing the Boy would have said
himself. You didn't hear it, Sulinor?'

'I guessed it had something to do with the likeness as soon as I set
eyes on him. You don't so often go out of your way to help lame
ducks.'

'You can see for yourself she needs undergirting, Mango!'

'So did that Tyrian tub last month. And you told her she might bear up
for Narbo or bilge for all of you! But he shall have his working-party
to-morrow, Red.'

Baeticus renewed his thanks. The River man cut him short.

'Luck of the Gods,' he said. 'Five--four--years ago I might have been
waiting for you anywhere in the Long Puddle with fifty River men--and
no moon.'

Baeticus lifted a moist eye to the slip-hooks on his yardarm, that
could hoist and drop weights at a sign.

'You might have had a pig or two of ballast through your benches
coming alongside,' he said dreamily.

'And where would my overhead-nettings have been?' the other chuckled.

'Blazing--at fifty yards. What are firearrows for?'

'To fizzle and stink on my wet sea-weed blindages. Try again.'

They were shooting their fingers at each other, like the little boys
gambling for olive-stones on the quay beside them.

'Go on--go on, my son! Don't let that pirate board,' cried Quabil.

Baeticus twirled his right hand very loosely at the wrist.

'In that case,' he countered, 'I should have fallen back on my foster-
kin--my father's island horsemen.'

Sulinor threw up an open palm.

'Take the nuts,' he said. 'Tell me, is it true that those infernal
Balearic slingers of yours can turn a bull by hitting him on the
horns?'

'On either horn you choose. My father farms near New Carthage. They
come over to us for the summer to work. There are ten in my crew now.'

Sulinor hiccoughed and folded his hands magisterially over his
stomach.

'Quite proper. Piracy must be put down! Rome says so. I do so,' said
he.

'I see,' the younger man smiled. 'But tell me, why did you leave the
slave--the Euxine trade, O Strategos?'

'That sea is too like a wine-skin. 'Only one neck. It made mine ache.
So I went into the Egyptian run with Quabil here.'

'But why take service in the Fleet? Surely the Wheat pays better?'

'I intended to. But I had dysentery at Malta that winter, and Paul
looked after me.'

'Too much muttering and laying-on of hands for me,' said Quabil;
himself muttering about some Thessalian jugglery with a snake on the
island.

'You weren't sick, Quabil. When I was getting better, and Paul was
washing me off once, he asked if my citizenship were in order. He was
a citizen himself. Well, it was and it was not. As second of a wheat-
ship I was ex officio Roman citizen--for signing bills and so forth.
But on the beach, my ship perished, he said I reverted to my original
shtay--status--of an extra-provinshal Dacian by a Sich--Sish--
Scythian--I think she was--mother. Awkward--what? All the Middle Sea
echoes like a public bath if a man is wanted.'

Sulinor reached out again and filled. The wine had touched his huge
bulk at last.

'But, as I was saying, once in the Fleet nowadays one is a Roman with
authority--no waiting twenty years for your papers. And Paul said to
me: "Serve Caesar. You are not canvas I can cut to advantage at
present. But if you serve Caesar you will be obeying at least some
sort of law." He talked as though I were a barbarian. Weak as I was, I
could have snapped his back with my bare hands. I told him so. "I
don't doubt it," he said. "But that is neither here nor there. If you
take refuge under Caesar at sea, you may have time to think. Then I
may meet you again, and we can go on with our talks. But that is as
The God wills. What concerns you now is that, by taking service, you
will be free from the fear that has ridden you all your life."'

'Was he right?' asked Baeticus after a silence.

'He was. I had never spoken to him of it, but he knew it. He knew!
Fire--sword--the sea--torture even--one does not think of them too
often. But not the Beasts! Aie! Not the Beasts! I fought two dog-
wolves for the life on a sand-bar when I was a youngster. Look!'

Sulinor showed his neck and chest.

'They set the sheep-dogs on Paul at some place or other once--because
of his philosophy And he was going to see Caesar--going to see Caesar!
And he--he had washed me clean after dysentery!'

'Mother of Carthage, you never told me that!' said Quabil.

'Nor should I now, had the wine been weaker.'



At His Execution

I am made all things to all men--
    Hebrew, Roman, and Greek--
    In each one's tongue I speak.
Suiting to each my word.
That some may be drawn to the Lord!

I am made all things to all men--
    In City or Wilderness
    Praising the crafts they profess
That some may be drawn to the Lord--
By any means to my Lord!

Since I was overcome
    By that great Light and Word.
I have forgot or forgone
The self men call their own
(Being made all things to all men)
    So that I might save some
    At such small price, to the Lord.
As being all things to all men.

I was made all things to all men.
But now my course is done--
And now is my reward--
Ah, Christ, when I stand at Thy Throne
With those I have drawn to the Lord.
Restore me my self again!



Unprofessional

SINCE Astronomy is even less remunerative than Architecture, it was
well for Harries that an uncle of his had once bought a desert in a
far country, which turned out to overlie oil. The result for Harries,
his only nephew, was over a million pounds invested, plus annual
royalties.

When the executors had arranged this, Harries, who might have been
called an almost-unpaid attach at Washe Observatory, gave a dinner to
three men, whom he had tried and proved beneath glaring and hostile
moons in No Man's Land.

Vaughan, Assistant Surgeon at St. Peggotty's, was building himself a
practice near Sloane Street. Loftie, pathologist, with the beginnings
of a reputation, was--for he had married the unstable daughter of one
of his earlier London landladies--bacteriological advisor to a Public
Department, on five-hundred-and-seventy pounds per annum, and a
prospect of being graded for pension. Ackerman, also a St. Peggotty's
man, had been left a few hundreds a year just after he had qualified,
and so had given up all serious work except gastronomy and the allied
arts.

Vaughan and Loftie knew of Harries' luck, which Harries explained in
detail at the dinner, and stated what, at the lowest count, his income
would be.

'Now,' said he, '"Tacks" can tell you.'

Ackerman made himself small in his chair, as though it had been the
shell-hole whence he had once engineered their retreat.

'We know each other fairly well,' he began. 'We've seen each other
stripped to the Ultimate Atom pretty often? We needn't camouflage?
Agreed? You're always saying what you'd do if you were independent.
Have you changed your minds?'

'Not me,' said Vaughan, whose oft-told dream was a nursing-home of his
own near Sloane Street. He had marked the very house for it.

'Do you think I'd keep on with this sewage job if it wasn't for the
pension?' Loftie asked. He had followed research the more keenly
since, at twenty-two, he had wrecked his own happiness.

'Be free, then,' said Ackerman. 'Take three thousand--'

'Hold on,' Harries broke in plaintively. 'I said "up to five."'

'Sorry, old man! I was trying for the commission. Take up to five
thousand a year from Harries for as long as you choose--for life, if
you like. Then research on your own lines, Loftie, and--and--let the
Bull know if you stumble on anything. That's the idea, isn't it?'

'Not all.' Harries surged a little in his seat. 'A man's entitled to
use a telescope as well as a microscope, isn't he? Well--I've got
notions I want to test. They mean keeping one's eyes open and--logging
the exact times that things happen.'

'That's what you said when you lectured our company about Astrology--
that night under Arras. D'you mean "planetary influences?"' Loftie
spoke with a scientist's scorn.

'This isn't my lecture.' Harries flushed. 'This is my gamble. We can't
tell on what system this dam' dynamo of our universe is wound, but we
know we're in the middle of every sort of wave, as we call 'em. They
used to be "influences."'

'Like Venus, Cancer, and that lot?' Vaughan inquired.

'Yes--if you choose. Now I want Vaughan to start his clinic, and give
me a chance to test my notions occasionally. No! Not faith-healing!
Loftie can worry his cells and tissues with radium as much as he
likes. But--'

'We're only on the threshold of radium,' Loftie snapped.

'Then get off it!' was the blasphemous retort. 'Radium's a post hoc,
not a propter. I want you merely to watch some of your cellgrowths all
round the clock. Don't think! Watch--and put down the times of any
changes you see.

'Or imagine?' Loftie supplemented.

'You've got it. Imagination is what we want. This rigid "thinking"
game is hanging up research. You told me yourself, the other night, it
was becoming all technique and no advance,' Harries ended.

'That's going too far. We're on the edge of big developments.'

'All the better! Take the money and go ahead. Think of your lab.,
Lofter! Stoves, filters, sterilisers, frigidaria--everything you
choose to indent for!'

'I've brought along Schermoltz's last catalogue. You might care to
look at it, later.' Ackerman passed the pamphlet into Loftie's
stretched hand.

'Five thousand a year,' Loftie muttered and turned the enthralling
pages. 'God! What one could afford!...But I'm not worth the money,
Bull. Besides, it's robbery...You'll never arrive at anything by
this astrology nonsense.'

'But you may, on your lines. What do you suppose is the good of
Research?'

'God knows,' Loftie replied, devouring the illustrations. 'Only--only
it looks--sometimes--as if He were going to tell.'

'That's all we want,' Harries coaxed. 'Keep your eye on Him, and if He
seems inclined to split about anything, put it down.'

'I've had my eye on that house for the last half-year. You could build
out a lift-shaft at the back.' Vaughan looked and spoke into the
future.

Here the padrone came in to say that if more drinks were needed, they
should be ordered.

Ackerman ordered; Harries stared at the fire; Loftie sank deeper into
the catalogue; and Vaughan into his vision of the desirable house for
his clinic. The padrone came back with a loaded tray.

'It's too much money to take--even from you, Bull.' Vaughan's voice
was strained. 'If you'd lend me a few hundred for my clinic, I could...'

Loftie came out of the catalogue and babbled to the same effect, while
he reckoned up for just how many pounds a week the horror that defiled
his life and lodgings could be honourably removed from both till it
drank itself dead.

Harries reared up over them like a walrus affronted.

'Do you remember the pill-box at Zillebeeke, and the skeleton in the
door? Who pinched the bombs for us then?' he champed.

'Me and The Lofter,' said Vaughan, sullen as a schoolboy.

'What for?'

'Because we dam' well needed 'em.'

'We need 'em worse now! We're up against the beggar in the pill-box.
He's called Death--if you've ever heard of him. This stuff of mine
isn't money, you imbeciles! It's a service-issue--same as socks. We--
we haven't kept on saving each other's silly lives for this! Oh, don't
let me down! Can't you see?' The big voice quavered.

'Kamerad, Bull! I'll come in,' said Loftie. Vaughan's hands had gone
up first, and he was the first to recover himself, saying: 'What about
"Tacks?" He isn't let off, is he?'

'No. I'm going to make commission out of the lot of you,' said
Ackerman. 'Meantime! Come on, me multi-millionaires! The Bald-headed
Beggar in the pill-box is old, but the night is yet young.'

The effects of five thousand a year are stimulating.

A mere Cabinet Minister, dependent on elections for his place, looking
in on a Committee where Loftie was giving technical evidence, asked in
too loud a whisper, if that all-but-graded Civil Servant were 'one of
my smell-and-tell temporaries.' Loftie's resignation was in that
evening. Vaughan, assisted by an aunt, started a little nursing-home
near Sloane Street, where his new household napery lift and drying-
cupboards almost led to his capture by 'just the kind of girl, my
dear, to make an ideal wife for a professional man.'

Harries continued to observe the heavens, and commissioned Ackerman to
find a common meeting-place. This--Simson House was its name--had been
a small boys' school in a suburb without too many trams. Ackerman put
in floods of water, light and power, an almost inspired kitchen-range,
a house-man and his cook-wife, and an ex-Navy petty rating as valet-
plumber, steward-engineer, and butler-electrician; set four cots in
four little bedrooms, and turned the classroom in the back garden into
a cement-floored hall of great possibilities, which Harries was the
first to recognise. He cut off a cubicle at one end of it, where he
stored books, clocks, and apparatus. Next, Loftie clamoured for a
laboratory and got it, dust and air-tight, with lots of the Schermoltz
toys laid out among taps and sinks and glass shelves. Hither he
brought various numbered odds-and-ends which Vaughan and other
specialists had sent him in the past, and on which, after examination,
he had pronounced verdicts of importance to unknown men and women.
Some of the samples--mere webs of cancerous tissue--he had, by arts of
his own, kept alive in broths and salts after sentence had been
executed on their sources of origin.

There were two specimens--Numbers 127 and 128--from a rarish sort of
affliction in exactly the same stage of development and precisely the
same position, in two women of the same age and physique, who had come
up to Vaughan on the same afternoon, just after Vaughan had been
appointed Assistant Surgeon at St. Peggotty's. And when the absurdly
identical operations were over, a man, whose praise was worth having,
but whose presence had made Vaughan sweat into his palms, had
complimented him. So far as St. Peggotty's knew, both cases were doing
well several months after. Harries found these samples specially
interesting, and would pore over them long times on end, for he had
always used the microscope very neatly.

'Suppose you watch what these do for a while,' he suggested to Loftie
one day.

'I know what they'll do well enough,' the other returned. He was
hunting a line of his own in respect to brain-cells.

'Then couldn't you put Frost on to watch 'em with a low-power lens?'
Harries went on. 'He's a trained observer in his own line. What? Of
course he's at your disposition, old man. You could make anything of
him. Oh, by the way, do you happen to remember what time of day you
operated on One-twenty-Seven and Eight?'

'Afternoon, of course--at St. Peggotty's--between three and five. It's
down somewhere.'

'It don't matter. I only wanted to get an idea. Then you'll turn on
Frost to watch 'em? Thanks awfully.'

Frost, the valet-plumber, etc., was ex-captain of a turret, with the
hard blue eye of the born gunlayer--a middle-aged, uncomely man, no
mean mechanic, and used to instruments of precision. He liked sitting
in a warm room, looking through a microscope at what he called
'muckings,' with instructions to 'watch 'em all round the clock and
log all changes.' But no sooner did he begin than Loftie, jealous as
two women, and knowing what beginner's luck may do, stood watch and
watch with him. Loftie was in hard work on his brain-cells, and the
monotony of this sentry-go made him fear that his mind might build
theories on self-created evidence. So he told Frost, after a while,
that the whole thing was absurd, as well as bad for the eyes. 'Isn't
it?' he added.

'I don't know how it is with you, sir,' Frost replied. 'It sometimes
makes me feel as if I were seeing a sort of ripple strike up along the
edges of 'em. Like broken water, with the sun tipping it. Like
Portland Race in open-and-shut weather.'

'That's eye-strain. But when does it come on--with you?'

'Sometimes through the middle watch--from twelve to four a.m. Then,
again, it will come on through the first and second dog-watches--four
to eight p.m., sir.'

'No matter which--what sample--you are looking at?' Loftie asked
keenly.

'I'd say it depended on the sample. Now, One-twenty-Eight--'seems to
me--plays up in the middle watch--from midnight on--and One-twenty-
Seven in the afternoon. I've logged it all.'

Three months later, at Simson House, Loftie told the others that,
while not in the least departing from his own theories, there was a
phenomenon, which for the sake of brevity he would call 'tide,' in
Samples 127 and 128. It occurred at certain hours, which had all been
noted and passed on to Harries--'for what that may be worth.'

Harries smiled, and hired an expensive expert to photo the two samples
and film them; which took several weeks and cost some hundreds of
pounds. They all checked the magnified 'tides' by some curious tables
which Harries had worked out--'for what that's worth,' as Loftie said.

Harries said it was worth the expense, and took to spending a good
deal of his leisure at Simson House. Vaughan, too, reeking of ether,
would put in for shelter there, as the hunt after him (which his aunt
whipped) quickened with his successes. Loftie had been almost a
fixture in his lab. from the first; and poor 'Tacks,' who could no
more have made a dishonest penny than he could have saved an honest
one, catered for them so lavishly that even the cook shied at the
weekly bills, which Harries flatly refused to audit.

Three months after their first film's 'release,' Loftie read them a
typed paper before dinner, asserting there was 'tide' in the normal
cells of all tissues which he and his helper, Frost, had observed; but
he could see no sign of 'tide' in the malignant areas. He detailed
tests and observations till they yawned. Then Frost ran the latest
film for them--in slow and quick time--and they sat round the fire.

'I'm not committing myself to anything,' said Loftie, speaking like a
badly-shaken human being, 'but every dam' tissue up till now seems to
have its own time for its own tides. Samples from the same source have
the same tides in strength and time. But, as I showed you just now,
there are minute constant variations--reactions to something or
other--in each tide, as individual as finger-prints. I wouldn't stake
my reputation on it except to you. But I know it's so.'

'What do you suppose it means?' Vaughan half-whispered.

'As I read it,' Harries spoke quietly, 'the minor differences in those
"tides" in the tissues are due to interferences with the main or
external influence--whichever it may be--which sets up, or which is,
the main tide in all matter. They both come from without. Not within.'

'How far out?' Vaughan asked.

''Can't tell--yet--to a few light-years. I've been trying to
disentangle the minor interferences or influences--which may be due to
the nearer--er--influences--from the main tide. In my opinion--'

'Stop!' Loftie cried shrilly. 'You swore us all not to theorise before
a year.'

'Hear me out! I've verified some of my calculations at my end of the
game, and they justify me in saying that...we are all justified in
getting tight to-night.'

So, then, they did: being drunk with the ferment of their own
speculations before they went to table. Loftie, whom Ackerman confined
to strong beer as best for tired brain-cells, rose up above the
savoury, and said that he was 'the Servant of the Infil-tresimally
Minute, but not of that fat tape-worm, Tacks.' Harries described to
them the vasts of the Ultimate Heavens fizzing in spirals 'with--or
rather like--champagne,' but all one generating station of one Power
drawn from the Absolute, and of one essence and substance with all
things. Then he slept soundly. Vaughan--the professional man--merely
wanted to telephone for a taxi that he might drive to discredit a
hated West End rival by calling him to his bedroom window and there
discussing 'dichotomy'--a hard word at 3 A.M.

Then they packed Loftie off for a month's holiday, with a cubic metre
of seven-and-sixpenny detective novels, plus Vaughan's aunt to see
that he ate and dressed properly. On his return, he began certain
experiments with mice, which Frost took charge of in the boiler-room,
because he remembered when their ancestors served in the earliest
submarines. It seemed that 'tides' worked in their tissues also; but
slipped a little round the clock according to the season of each
litter's birth.

And there were born to them mice among mice with prodigious 'tides.'
Some of these, inoculated at the flood, threw off the trouble, and
were promoted by Frost to the rating of pets. Treated on their lowest
ebbs, they perished less quickly than the average. Harries kept
careful count of their times in all things and ways, and had Frost
sling some of their cages on various compass-bearings or set them out
in moonlight or thunderstorms.

This last was too much for Loftie, who returned once more to the
legitimate drama of cultures and radium emanations, and the mysteries
of malignant cells which never acknowledge any 'tide.' At the end of
three weeks, he, and Frost, broke off the campaign.

He said to Harries one evening after watching their usual film: 'What
do you suppose germs think of?'

'If you've got as far as that,' was the answer, 'you'll develop an
imagination one day.'

Then Vaughan came in full of trouble. His matron had been immobilised
by sciatica, and his household staff had taken base advantages. He
needed at once, some table-napkins, some bathtowels, two jacketed
water jugs and a metal--not china--bedroom breakfast-set. Ackerman
said he would speak to Frost and see what could be spared from the
ship.

While they were laughing at Vaughan, St. Peggotty's rang him up. He
replied: 'Well, well! If it was coming, it was to be expected now...
. One of my beds empty?...You can have it...Send her over to
me...You must!...I'll warn my people to expect her?...Oh?
That's all right...I'll send the car...Yes, and all other
expenses...Because I operated on her originally, of course. We'll
expect her at nine, then...Righto!...Not in the least. Thank you,
old man.'

He then telephoned his home to prepare for a patient, and returned to
the still circle by the fire.

'It's one of those twin cases of mine,' he explained. 'One of 'em's
back again. Recurrence--in the scar--after eighteen months.'

'That means?' said Harries.

'With that particular kind of trouble--three--five months' reprieve--
perhaps. Then final recurrence. The other one's all right, so far,
they say.'

'She would be. This one is One-twenty-Eight,' said Loftie.

'How do you make that out?'

Frost had entered and was going through Vaughan's indent with
Ackerman.

'Frost, what is One-twenty-Eight's timing?' Loftie interposed.

'One-two-Eight, sir? Flood from midnight till four a.m.--ebb from four
to eight p.m...Yes, sir, I can make the table-linen all right, and
the jugs. But we're short on bath-towels just now.'

'Would it prove anything if she lasted out nine months?' Harries
picked up the thread of talk with Vaughan.

'No. There are rallies and reserves.'

'A full year?'

'I should accept that. But I know who wouldn't.' Vaughan gave a great
name.

'Thanks for reminding me,' said Ackerman over his shoulder. 'Frost,
the bathroom hotwater pipe has got arterial sclerosis, too. Operate on
it.'

'When shall you operate, Taffy?' Harries held on.

'To-morrow at a quarter to ten. I always feel fittest then.'

'Think of the patient for a change. Suppose you stand-to at a few
minutes to midnight tomorrow? I'll telephone you zero from here.'

Vaughan seemed a shade taken aback. 'Midnight? Oh, certainly,' he
said. 'But I'll have to warn my anaesthetist.'

'And Ferrers 'll swear you've taken to drink or drugs,' said Ackerman.
'Besides, think of your poor matron and the nurse who's got to have
her evening off? Much better let the woman conk out in Trades Union
hours, Taffy.'

'Dry up, padrone,' said Loftie. 'No need to bring in Ferrers. I'll
take his place--if you think I'm safe.'

Since this was as if Raeburn had volunteered to prime a canvas for
Benjamin West, Vaughan accepted, and they sat down to eat.

When he and Loftie had refreshed their memories of One-two-Eight's
construction and arrangements, they asked Harries why he had chosen
that time for the operation. Harries said that by his reckonings it
should fall nearer the woman's birthday. His guess at its actual date
he wrote down and was passing it to Vaughan, when Vaughan's Nursing
Home reported the arrival of the patient, not unduly fatigued and most
anxious to thank 'Doctor' Vaughan for the amazing kindness which had
rescued her from the open ward.

The table listened to Vaughan's reply, soothing and sustaining, and,
by tone, assuming the happiest issue out of this annoying little set-
back. When he hung up, he said: 'She--wants it the day after to-
morrow, because that's her birthday. She thinks it 'll be lucky.'

'Make it midnight, then, of the day after tomorrow, and look at the
date I wrote down...No! The Devil has nothing to do with it. By
the way--if it won't cramp your style--could you set the table on--'
Harries gave a compass bearing.

'Don't be shy,' said Ackerman. 'He'd stand her on her head to operate
now, if the Bull told him. Are you off, Taffy? Frost 'll put all your
towels and pots in a taxi. 'Sorry if I've hurt your feelings.'

Loftie's account of the operation did not interest Frost so much as
the samples he brought back. It took both of them three or four days
to plant them out properly. In return, Frost told Loftie that 'our end
of the show,' with Major Harries at the sidereal clock, waiting 'till
the sights came on,' and Captain Ackerman at the telephone, waiting to
pass the range to Captain Vaughan in Sloane Street, was 'just like
Jutland.'

'Now, this lady of ours,' he said after a busy silence. 'How would she
lie in her bed?'

Loftie gave a bearing which he had heard Harries give Vaughan.

'I expect Major Harries knows, if anyone,' was Frost's placid comment.
'It's the same as ships' compasses varying according as their heads
lay when they were building.'

'It's crazy mad. That's all!'

'Which was what the Admiralty said at first about steam in the Navy,'
Frost grinned.

He put away a set of sealed cover-glasses and reverently returned some
lenses to their velvet shrines.

'Not to talk of that lady of ours--' he straightened up as he spoke--
'some of my mice aren't behaving as I could wish.'

'Which?' said Loftie. There were several types of experiments under
way.

'One or two of some that recovered after inoculation--since discharged
and promoted to pets. But it looks as if they'd had a relapse. They're
highly restless--always trying to escape out--as if they were wild,
not white. I don't like it.'

'Clean up, then,' Loftie answered, 'and we'll go down to the boiler-
room.'

In one of the cages there, a doe with a plum-coloured saddle was
squeaking, as she strove desperately to work through the wires with
semitransparent hand-like forefeet. Frost set the cage on a table
under an electric and handed her dossier to Loftie. This gave her
birth, age, date and nature of inoculation, date also when her system
seemed to have cleared itself of the dose; and, of course, the times
and strengths of her 'tides.' It showed dead-ebb for her at that hour.

'What does she think she's doing?' Loftie whispered. 'It isn't her
natural squeak, either.'

They watched. She laboured increasingly at the barrier; sat up as
though most intently listening; leaped forward and tore into her task
beneath the glare of the basement-bulb.

'Turn it out,' said Loftie. 'It's distressing her.'

Frost obeyed. In a few seconds the little noises changed to a flutter
and ceased.

'I thought so! Now we'll look again,' said Loftie. 'Oh! Oh! God!'

'Too late,' Frost cried. 'She's broke her neck! Fair broken her pretty
little neck between the wires! How did she do it?'

'In convulsion,' Loftie stammered. 'Convulsion at the last. She pushed
and pushed with her head in the wires and that acted as a wedge...
and...what do you think?'

'I expect I'm thinking pretty much the same as you are, sir.' Frost
replaced the cage under the leads and fuses which he had painted man-
o'war fashion. 'It looks like two tides meeting,' he added. 'That
always sets up a race, and a race is worst at ebb. She must have been
caught on her ebb--an' knocked over! Pity! There ought to be some way
of pulling 'em through it.'

'Let's see if there isn't,' said Loftie, and lifted out the tiny warm
body with a needed droplet of blood on the end of the nose.

One-two-Eight (Mrs. Berners) made a good recovery, and since she
seemed alone in the world, Vaughan said that, as payment, she must
stay on in his home and complete it to his satisfaction. She was
touchingly grateful. After a few months (her strength returning) she
asked to do something for her benefactors. No one seemed to look after
the linen at Mr. Vaughan's. Might she repair, count, store, and, even,
give it out--for she had had experience in that line as a housekeeper.
Her prayer was granted, and the work of getting at the things Vaughan
had started the Home with; had bought, but had never entered; had
raided from Ackerman, and thought--or worse, was quite sure--that he
had sent back; or had lost by laundries and through servants, did her
good. It also brought her over to Simson House to return things to
Frost, where Harries and Ackerman complimented her on her appearance,
and Loftie asked her to administer his chance-bought body-linen. She
was delighted. She told them that, when she had nothing to do, she
mostly felt in people's way, and as if she ought to go on elsewhere.
Loftie asked her why. She answered that, when her troubles were on
her, they kept her busy, if it was only at trying not to cry. But now
that they had been removed and by such kind gentlemen--the busiest day
was none too full for her. She had a trick of tossing her head
sideways and upwards, sometimes in the midst of her overseeing, and
would say: 'Well, well! I can't keep at this all the time. I must be
off elsewhere where I'm wanted'--Loftie's Home or Simson House as the
case might be.

They discussed her at long and at large, one evening, throughout a
film which--Vaughan and Loftie collaborating--was based on her more
recent productions.

Vaughan was well satisfied. 'You see! Nothing has struck back. I know
that her strength--notice how the tides have steadied--and our new
blankets weigh a bit, too--is above normal. She has covered seven
months and twenty-three days, and--I tell you--her scar is simply
beautiful.'

'We'll take your word,' said Harries. 'Now bring on your mouse-film,
Loftie.'

And Loftie, while Frost slowed, speeded, or went back at command,
spoke of mice that had recovered apparently from certain infections,
but had fallen later into a characteristic unease, followed by nervous
crises--as shown--culminating in what seemed to be attempts at
suicide.

In every case where an attempt had succeeded, the vacuoles--the empty
centres--which do not take stain--of the brain-cells over a minute
area seemed to have blown out, apparently as('This'll interest you, I
know. I hired it from the Dominion Weather Bureau last week.') asa
house explodes through its own windows under the vacuum set up by a
tornado. They then beheld a three-storey, clapboarded hotel vomiting
itself outwards, while the black hook of a tornado's tip writhed and
fished above it.

Sometimes, Loftie went on, an affected mouse would recover, after
nervous upheavals very like those of tetanus--as they had seen--
followed by collapse and amazingly sub-normal temperatures, and then a
swift resumption of normal life. They could draw their own
conclusions.

Ackerman broke their stillness. 'Frost, go back, please, to that bit
showing the movement of their heads when the attacks are coming on.'
Frost began again.

'Who's that like?' Ackerman called out suddenly. 'Am I wrong?'

'No, sir,' Frost groaned out of the dark. Then they all saw.

'"Well, I can't stay here! I've got to move on elsewhere where I'm
wanted,"' Ackerman quoted half-aloud. 'And her hands working! The
forefeet--I mean her hands! Look! It's her!'

'That's exactly her listening attitude, too,' said Harries. 'I never
noticed it before.'

'Why would you--with nothing to check it by?' said Loftie. 'What does
it mean?'

'It means she's as likely as not to chuck herself under a lorry some
day, between here and Sloane Street,' Frost interrupted, as though he
had full knowledge and right.

'How do you know?' Vaughan began. 'She's absolutely normal.'

The flexes of the camera had not been disconnected, so they were still
darkling.

'She's not! She's all astray. God knows where she's straying; but
she's not here, more'n the dead.' Frost repacked the camera and went
out. They gathered round Harries.

'As I read it,' he laid down, after some preliminaries, 'she has been
carried yes, tided--over the time that her trouble ought to have
finished her. That is two or three months now, isn't it, Taffy? But,
she wasn't saved by the knife. She was saved by the knife at the
proper time of tide.'

'She has lasted seven months and twenty-three days. Most unusual, I
grant, with that type of growth; but not conclusive,' was Vaughan's
retort.

'Hear me out. Qua Death, as created or evolved, on this planet (He
needn't exist elsewhere, you know), and especially qua the instrument
of decay that was to kill her, she's some odd weeks owing to the
grave. But, qua the influence--tide, if you like--external to this
swab of culture which we call our world, she has been started on a new
tide of life. The gamble is that, after crises, something like those
we've seen in the mice, that tide may carry her beyond the--er--the
demand of the grave. It's beginning to be pull-devil, pull-baker
between 'em now, I should imagine.'

'I see your line, Bull,' said Loftie. 'When ought her crises to be
due? Because--it's all as insane as the rest--but there may be an off-
chance of--'

'The suicidal tendency comes first,' said Ackerman. 'Why not have her
watched when she goes out? Taffy's nurses can keep an eye on her
indoors.'

'You've been reading my sleuth-tales,' Loftie smiled.

'Make it so, then. Any decent inquiry-agency would undertake it, I
suppose,' said Harries.

'I'll leave the choice to Frost. I'll only take the commission. We're
in for a wildish time. She's a woman--not a white mouse!' Ackerman
said, and added thoughtfully: 'But the champion ass, as distinguished
from mere professional fool, of us all, is Taffy!'

Vaughan had ordered her never to go afoot between Simson House and the
Nursing Home, and, also, to take taxis to and from her little
'exercise walks' in the parks, where she so often picked up the nice
elderly lady's-maid with the pom, the sales-lady from the Stores, and
other well-spoken lady strangers near her own class (at ever so many
shillings an hour). Of Mr. Frost she saw but little that summer, owing
to the pressure of his duties and some return, they told her, of
rheumatism contracted in the defence of his country. The worst that
came to her was a slight attack of stiff neck, caught from sitting in
a draught. As to her health, she admitted that sometimes she felt a
bit flustered in the head, but otherwise could not be better.

She was recounting her mercies, a little fulsomely as usual, to Loftie
one afternoon in the common-room of Simson House, where she had
brought him some new shirts marked. Frost had taken them upstairs, and
Loftie had hinted that he must get back to his work. She flicked her
head sideways and said that she was busy, too. In the same breath, but
in a whisper, she ran on 'I don't want to die, Mr. Loftie. But I've
got to. I've reelly got to get out of this. I'm wanted elsewhere,
but'--she shivered--'I don't like going.'

Then she raced, with lowered head, straight towards the wall. Loftie
snatched at her dress, turned her, so that she struck the wall with
her shoulder and fell--and Frost came down to find him grappling with
her, not inexpertly.

She broke away and skimmed across the room. Frost ran and tripped her,
and brought her down. She would have beaten her head on the floor, but
he jerked it up, his palm beneath her chin, and dragged her to her
feet. Then he closed.

She was silent, absorbed in this one business of driving to the
nearest wall through whatever stood between. Small and fragile though
she was, she flung the twelve-stone Frost clear of her again and
again; and a side-pushing stroke of her open palm spun Loftie half
across the hall. The struggle lasted without a break, but her breath
had not quickened, when like a string she relaxed, repeating that she
did not want to die. As she cried to Loftie to hold her, she slipped
away between them, and they had to chase her round the furniture.

They backed her down on the couch at last, Loftie clinging to her
knees, while Frost's full strength and weight forced the thin arms
over her head. Again the body gave, and the low, casual whisper began:
'After what you said outside Barker's in the wet, you don't think I
reelly want to die. Mr. Frost? I don't--not a mite. But I've got to.
I've got to go where I'm wanted.'

Frost had to kneel on her right arm then, holding her left down with
both hands. Loftie, braced against the sofa, mastered her feet, till
the outbreak passed in shudders that shook all three. Her eyes were
shut. Frost raised an eyelid with his thumb and peered closely.

'Lor'!' said she, and flushed to the temples. The two shocked men
leapt clear at once. She lifted a hand to her disordered hair. 'Who's
done this?' she said. 'Why've I come all over like this? I ought to be
busy dying.' Loftie was ready to throw himself on her again, but Frost
held up a hand.

'You can suit yourself about that, Mrs. Berners,' he said. 'What I've
been at you all this time to find out is, what you've done with our
plated toast-rack, towels, etcetera.'

He shook her by the shoulders, and the rest of her pale hair
descended.

'One plated toast-rack and two egg-cups, which went over to Mr.
Vaughan's on indent last April twenty-eighth, together with four
table-napkins and six sheets. I ask because I'm responsible for 'em at
this end.'

'But I've got to die.'

'So we've all, Mrs. Berners. But before you do, I want to know what
you did with...' He repeated the list and the date. 'You know the
routine between the houses as well as I do. I sent 'em by Mr.
Ackerman's orders, on Mr. Vaughan's indent. When do you check your
linen? Monthly or quarterly?'

'Quarterly. But I'm wanted elsewhere.'

'If you aren't a little more to the point, Mrs. Berners, I'll tell you
where you will be wanted before long, and what for. I'm not going to
lose my character on account of your carelessness--if no worse. An'
here's Mr. Loftie...'

'Don't drag me in,' Loftie whispered, with male horror.

'Leave us alone! I know me class, sir...Mr. Loftie who has done
everything for you.'

'It was Mr. Vaughan. He wouldn't let me die.' She tried to stand, fell
back, and sat up on the couch.

'You won't get out of it that way. Cast back in your memory and see if
you can clear yourself!' Frost began anew, scientifically as a female
inquisitor; mingling details, inferences, dates, and innuendoes with
reminders of housekeeping ritual: never overwhelming her, save when
she tried to ride off on her one piteous side-issue, but never
accepting an answer. Painfully, she drew out of her obsession,
protesting, explaining, striving to pull her riven wits into service;
but always hunted from one rambling defence to the next, till, with
eyes like those of a stricken doe, she moaned: 'Oh, Fred! Fred! The
only thing I've ever took--you said so outside Barker's--was your own
'ard 'eart.'

Frost's face worked, but his voice was the petty-officer's with the
defaulter.

'No such names between us, Mrs. Berners, till this is settled.'

He crumpled his wet eyes, as though judging an immense range. Then
observed deliberately

''Ask me--I'd say you're a common thief.'

She stared at him for as long as a shell might take to travel to an
horizon. Then came the explosion of natural human wrath--she would not
stoop to denial, she said--till, choking on words of abuse, she hit
him weakly over the mouth, and dropped between his feet.

'She's come back!' said Frost, his face transfigured. 'What next?'

'My room. Tell Cook to put her to bed. Fill every hot-water bottle
we've got, and warm the blankets. I'll telephone the Home. Then we'll
risk the injections.'

Frost slung her, limp as a towel, over his shoulder, and, turning,
asked: 'This--all these symptoms don't need to be logged, sir--do
they? We--we know something like 'em?'

Loftie nodded assent.

She came up shuddering out of the seven days' chill of the cheated
grave, and Vaughan's nurses told her what a dreadful thing was this
'suppressed influenza' which had knocked her out, but that she might
report for duty in a few weeks. Ackerman, who loved Vaughan more than
the others put together, testified on their next film-night that Taffy
was almost worthy to be called a medical man for his handling of the
case.

'Tacks,' said Vaughan kindly, 'you are as big a dam' fool about my job
as I was about Frost. I injected what the Lofter gave me, at the times
that Harries told me. The rest was old wives' practice.'

'She always looked like a wet hen,' said Harries. 'Now she goes about
like a smiling sheep. I wish I'd seen her crises. Did you or Frost
time 'em, Lofter?'

'It wasn't worth it,' was the light answer. 'Just hysteria. But she's
covered her full year now. D'you suppose we've held her?'

'I should say yes. I don't know how you feel, but'--Vaughan beamed--
'the more I see of her scar, the more pleased I am. Ah! That was a
lovely bit of work, even if I am only a carpenter, Tacks!'

'But, speaking with some relation to ordinary life, what does all this
lunacy of ours prove?' Ackerman demanded.

'Not a dam' thing, except that it may give us some data and inferences
which may serve as some sort of basis for some detail of someone
else's work in the future,' Harries pronounced. 'The main point, as I
read it, is that it makes one--not so much think--Research is gummed
up with thinking--as imagine a bit.'

'That'll be possible, too--by the time Frost and I have finished with
this film,' said Loftie.

It included a sequence of cultures, from mice who had overcome their
suicidal fits, attenuated through a human being who, very obligingly,
in the intervals of running the camera, described the effects of
certain injections on his own rugged system. The earlier ones, he
admitted, had 'fair slung him round the deck.'

'It was chuck it and chance it,' Loftie apologised. 'You see, we
couldn't tell, all this summer, when Mrs. Berners might play up for
the grave. So I rather rushed the injections through Frost. I haven't
worked out my notes yet. You'll get 'em later.'

He stayed to help Frost put back some of the more delicate gear, while
the others went to change.

'Not to talk about that lady of ours,' Frost said presently. 'My
first--though, of course, her mother never warned me--drank a bit. She
disgraced me all round Fratton pretty much the whole of one
commission. And she died in Lock 'Ospital. So, I've had my knock.'

'Some of us seem to catch it. I've had mine, too,' Loftie answered.

'I never heard that. But'--the voice changed--'I knew it--surer than
if I'd been told.'

'Yes. God help us!' said Loftie, and shook his hand. Frost, not
letting go of it, continued 'One thing more, sir. I didn't properly
take it in at the time--not being then concerned--but--that first
operation on that lady of mine, was it of a nature that'll preclude--
so to say--expectations of--of offspring?'

'Absolutely, old man,' Loftie's free hand dropped on Frost's shoulder.

'Pity! There ought to be some way of pulling 'em through it--somehow--
oughtn't there?'



The Threshold

IN THEIR deepest caverns of limestone
  They pictured the Gods of Food--
The Horse, the Elk, and the Bison
  That the hunting might be good;
With the Gods of Death and Terror--
  The Mammoth, Tiger, and Bear.
And the pictures moved in the torchlight
  To show that the Gods were there!
      But that was before Ionia--
      (Or the Seven Holy Islands of Ionia)
      Any of the Mountains of Ionia.
      Had bared their peaks to the air.

The close years packed behind them.
  As the glaciers bite and grind
Filling the new gouged valleys.
  With Gods of every kind.
Gods of all-reaching power--
  Gods of all-searching eyes--
But each to be wooed by worship
  And won by sacrifice.
      Till, after many winters, rose Ionia--
      (Strange men brooding in Ionia)
      Crystal-eyed Sages of Ionia
      Who said, 'These tales are lies.

'We dream one Breath in all things.
  'That blows all things between.
'We dream one Matter in all things--
  'Eternal, changeless, unseen.
''That the heart of the Matter is single
  'Till the Breath shall bid it bring forth--
'By choosing or losing its neighbour
  'All things made upon Earth.'
      But Earth was wiser than Ionia
      (Babylon and Egypt than Ionia)
      And they overlaid the teaching of Ionia
      And the Truth was choked at birth.

It died at the Gate of Knowledge--
  The Key to the Gate in its hand--
And the anxious priests and wizards
  Re-blinded the wakening land;
For they showed, by answering echoes.
  And chasing clouds as they rose.
How shadows could stand for bulwarks
  Between mankind and its woes.
      It was then that men bethought them of Ionia
      (The few that had not allforgot Ionia)
      Or the Word that was whispered in Ionia;
      And they turned from the shadows and the shows.

They found one Breath in all things.
  That blows all things between.
They proved one Matter in all things--
  Eternal, changeless, unseen;
'That the heart of the Matter was single
  Till the Breath should bid it bring forth--
      Even as men whispered in Ionia.
      (Resolute unsatisfied Ionia)
      When the Word was stifled in lonia--
All things known upon earth.



Neighbours

THE MAN that is open of heart to his neighbour.
  And stops to consider his likes and dislikes.
His blood shall be wholesome whatever his labour.
  His luck shall be with him whatever he strikes.
The Splendour of Morning shall duly possess him.
  That he may not be sad at the falling of eve.
And, when he has done with mere living--God bless him!
  A many shall sigh, and one Woman shall grieve!--

But he that is costive of soul toward his fellow.
  Through the ways, and the works, and the woes of this life.
Him food shall not fatten, him drink shall not mellow;
  And his innards shall brew him perpetual strife.
His eye shall be blind to God's Glory above him;
  His ear shall be deaf to Earth's Laughter around;
His Friends and his Club and his Dog shall not love him;
  And his Widow shall skip when he goes under ground!



Beauty Spots

MR. WALTER GRAVELL was, after forty years, a director of the
Jannockshire and Chemical Manure Works. Chemicals and dyes were always
needed, and certain gases, derived from them, had been specially in
demand of late. Besides his money, which did not interest him greatly,
he had his adored son, James, a long, saddish person with a dusky,
mottled complexion and a pleuritic stitch which he had got during the
War through a leaky gas-mask. Jemmy was in charge of the firm's
research-work, for he had taken to the scientific side of things even
more keenly than his father had to the administrative.

But Mr. Gravell, having made his fortune out of solid manures, now
naturally wished to render them all unnecessary by breathing into the
soil such gases as should wake its dormant powers. He believed that he
had had successes with flowerpots on balconies, but he needed a larger
field, and a nice country-house, where Jemmy could bring down friends
for week-ends, and he could listen to them talking and watch how they
deferred to his son.

On a spring day, then, Mr. Gravell drove sixty miles by appointment to
a largish, comfortable house, with a hundred acres of land. These
included a ravishing little dell, planted with azaleas, and screened
from the tarred road by a belt of evergreens--a windless hollow, where
gas could lie undisturbedly to benefit vegetation.

Thereupon he bought the place, told Jemmy what he had done, and, as
usual, asked him to attend to the rest. Jemmy overhauled drains and
roofs; imported the housekeeper and staff of their London house;
reserved a couple of rooms for his own week-ends, and settled in
beside his father. There had been some talk lately, behind the
latter's back, of increased blood-pressures, which would benefit by
country life.

After a blissful honeymoon of months, Jemmy asked him whether he had
met a Major Kniveat in the village, who expected his name to be
pronounced 'Kniveed,' the t being soft in that very particular family.

'Is there a village here? No-o, my dear. Who is he?'

'One of the natives. You might have run across him.'

'No. I didn't come down here to run across people. I'm busy.' Mr.
Gravell went off to the dell as usual, to help the vegetation.

Jem had asked because Mrs. Saul, their housekeeper and a born gossip,
had told him that a Major Kniveat, retired, of the Regular Army, had
told everyone at the Golf Club that Mr. Gravell had bought the house
for the purpose of thrusting himself into local society, and that the
Major was eagerly awaiting any attempt in this direction, so that the
village might show how outsiders should be treated. Jem had not dwelt
on this till, at a tennis-party, he had been cross-examined by the
Rector's very direct wife as to whether his father meant to offer
himself for the Bench of Justices of the Peace, or the County,
District, or Parish Councils. She hinted that the Major was
ambitious--in those directions. Putting two and two together, as
scientific men should, Jem made the total four.

The house was burdened with a 'home farm,' which sent up milk, butter,
and eggs, at more than London prices. That month they were making some
hay. Jefferies, the working-foreman, was carrying the last field, and,
though it was Saturday, when 'work' in England stops at noon, had
cajoled his men to 'work' till five, promising he would pay them their
wages and overtime in a field near a public-house, and remote from
wives. While Mr. Gravell was busy in his dell, a woman came upon him,
crying: 'You ain't paid your men!'

'I don't,' said Mr. Gravell.

'But I've got to get into town for my week-end shoppin's. Why ain't
you paid 'em off at noon, same as always?'

'I don't know.'

'Don't ye? Then I lay you don't know what I'm goin' to do. I'm goin'
right up to the Street (village), an' I'm goin' to tell 'em there that
this 'ouse don't pay its people. That's what I'm goin' to say, and
I'll lay they'll believe it.'

Mr. Gravell was so sure that this was one of the things Jemmy attended
to that he forgot to mention her to him. But Mrs. Jefferies's tale
ran, by way of tradesmen, gardeners, and errand-boys, through the
village. After Major Kniveat had had his turn, it was common knowledge
that 'them Gravellses' (in the higher circles, 'those manure-dealers')
were undischarged bankrupts, who had made a practice of cheating their
'labour' elsewhere, but who could not hope to work that trick here.
Mrs. Saul told Jem, who asked Jefferies what it meant. Jefferies
apologised for the temper of his wife, who had nerves above her
station, and took tonic wines to steady them, and was sorry if there
had been any 'misunderstanding.' Jemmy, survivor of an unfeudal
generation which had had all the trouble it wanted, telephoned the
county town auctioneer to offer all live and dead stock on the home
farm at the first autumn sales. Next, he let the fields as
accommodation-land to local butchers; arranged for dairy produce to be
delivered at the house by a real farm at much lower rates, and--for
the North pays its debts--brought down from the main Jannockshire
Works a retired foreman, who had married Jem's nurse, to sit rent-free
in the farmhouse. But angry Mr. Jefferies joined the Public Services
of his country, and worked on the roads for one-and-threepence an hour
at Government stroke--till he became an overseer.

In six weeks nothing remained of the Gravells' agricultural past save
one Angelique, an enormous white sow, for whom none would bid at the
sales; she being stricken in years and a notorious gatecrasher. What
did not yield to the judicial end of her carried away before the
executive, and then she would wander far afield, where, though well-
meaning as a hound-pup (for she had been the weakling of her litter
and brought up in a Christian kitchen) her face and figure were
against her with strangers. That was why she was indicted by a local
body--on Major Kniveat's clamour--for obstructing a right-of-way by
terrifying foot-passengers--three summer London Lady lodgers, to wit.
They blocked her most-used gaps with barb-wire, which tickled her
pleasantly, and she broke out again and again, till the local body,
harried by the Major, indicted Mr. Gravell once more as proprietor of
a public nuisance.

After this, she was kept in a solid brick sty at the home farm, where
Mr. and Mrs. Enoch, the childless couple from the Jannockshire Works,
made much of her. At intervals she would be let out to test stock-
proof fencing or gates; when, often, Jemmy and his young friends would
be judges, and her prize a cabbage.

Father and son passed a pleasant autumn together, varied by visits to
town, and visits from young men who never showed up at church. But the
imported staff, headed by Mrs. Saul, went there regularly for the
honour of the establishment and to catch neighbourly comments after
divine service. They heard, for a fact, that Mr. Gravell had
'cohabitated' with a person of colour, which explained his son's
Asiatic complexion.

'All right,' said Jemmy to Mrs. Saul, who was full of it. 'Don't let
it get round to Dad, that's all.'

'And that Major Kniveat at their nasty little cat-parties he calls you
"The 'Alf-Caste,"' Mrs. Saul insisted.

'Nigger, if you like. Dad isn't here for that sort of thing. He
doesn't know there is a village. Tell your wenches to keep their
mouths shut, or I'll sack 'em.'

On Saturday of the next week-end, when Mr. Gravell had gone to bed,
Jemmy told the tale to Kit Birtle--all but his own brother. Kit was
the son of Jem's godfather and brevet-uncle, Sir Harry Birtle, who was
the Works' leading lawyer--and he ranked therefore as brevet-nephew to
Mr. Gravell, and kept changes of raiment at his house. He had done
time as an Army doctor, and now specialised in post-war afflictions
visible and invisible. Jem's point was that his own dusky colour gave
an interesting clue to the composition of some gas which he had
inhaled near Arras a few years before. Said Kit: 'You do look rather a
half-caste. Get yourself overhauled again by that man in France.'

'L'Espinasse, you mean? I will, but not just yet. It 'ud worry Dad.
But talking about gas:'

Then they both talked, for they were interested in some new
combinations which had produced interesting results.

'And you might use Angelique as a control for some of it,' Kit
suggested. 'She hasn't any nerves.'

That brought out the tale of her doings, the footpaths that she was
said to have blocked, and Major Kniveat's public-spirited activities
in general.

''Can't make him out,' said Jem. 'We came down here to be quiet, but
this sword-merchant seems to take it as a personal insult. What's the
complex, Kit?'

'We've something like it in our hamlet--a retired officer bung-full of
public-spirit and simian malignity. Idleness explains a lot, but I've
a theory it's glands at bottom. 'Rather noisome for you, though.'

'Oh, Dad don't notice anything. He hands it all over to me, and I
haven't time to fuss with the natives. What 'ud you care for to-
morrow? The golf course ain't fit yet, but I've got another patent
stock-gate if you like--'

'Angelique every time!' said Kit, who knew her of old, and often
compared her to one Harry Tate, an artist in the stage-handling of
deckchairs and motor-cars.

Sunday forenoon, they loafed over to the farm, released the lady, and
introduced her to the patent gate. Her preliminary search for weak
points was side-splitting enough: but by the time she had tucked up,
as it were, her skirts, had backed through the gate with the weight
and amplitude of a docking liner, had reached her cabbage, and stood
with the stalk of it, cigarette-wise, in her mouth, asking them what
they thought of Auntie now, the two young men were beating on the
grass with their hands. Getting her back to her sty was no small
affair either, for she valued her Sunday outings, and they laughed too
much to head her off quickly. As they rolled back across the fields,
reviewing the show, Major Kniveat appeared on a footpath near by. It
was, he had given out, part of his Sabbath works to see that public
paths were not closed by newly-arrived parvenues. The two passed him,
still guffawing over Angelique, and Monday morn brought by hand a
letter, complaining that the Major had been publicly mocked and
derided by his neighbours (there was some reference also to
'gentlemen') till he had been practically hooted off a right-of-way.
The car was due for town in half an hour, and Jemmy spent that while
in written disclaimer of any intent to offend, and apology if offence
had been taken. He did not want the thing to bother his father in his
absence. Major Kniveat accepted the apology, and ran about quoting it
to all above the rank of road-mender, as a sample of the spirit of
half-castes when frontally tackled.

Then spring bulb-catalogues began to arrive, but, in spite of them,
Mr. Gravell was worried by Jemmy's increasing duskiness; and he and
Kit at last got him shipped off to L'Espinasse, the French specialist,
who dealt in his kind of trouble. Mr. Gravell went with him to the
South of France, where the specialist wintered, and saw him bedded
down for the treatment. Thence he botanised along the heathy Italian
foreshore, branched north to Nancy, where the best lilacs are bred,
and so home by bulbous Holland. Altogether five weeks' refreshing
holiday. On return he found a good deal of accumulated correspondence
for Jem to attend to; but, since the boy was away, he opened one
letter all by himself. It was from the same local body as had written
about Angelique and her misdeeds. It informed Mr. Gravell that certain
trees on his property overhung the main road to an extent constituting
a nuisance of which ratepayers had complained, and which he was called
upon to abate within a given time. Failing this, the local body would
themselves abate the said nuisance, charging him with the cost of the
labour involved. It had been posted two days after he had left
England.

Mr. Gravell went to look.

For twenty yards along the main road, the mangled and lopped timber
laid the dell open to passing cars and charabancs. Nor was that all.
Under the trees ran a low sandstone wall, which time had hidden
beneath laurel and rhododendron. In dropping on to, hauling over, or
stacking behind it, the limbs that were cut, the rhododendrons had
been badly torn, and lengths of wall had collapsed. A raw track showed
where people had already entered the dell to pick primroses. A
gardener came up to him.

'They never told me,' the man said. 'If they'd said a word, I could
have tipped back they few branches they fussed about, and 'twould have
been done. But they said naught to nobody. They done it all in one day
like, and that Major Kniveat 'e came down the road and told 'em what
was to be done, like. They didn't know nothing. So they did it as 'e
told 'em. They've fair savaged it--them and Jefferies.'

'So I see,' said Mr. Gravell. Then he wrote to the Company's lawyer,
Sir Harry Birtle, his lifelong friend.

The answer ran:

'DEAR WALTER,--I also live in Arcadia. My advice to you is not to make
trouble with local authorities. They will regret that their employees
have exceeded their instructions, and that will be all. This Major
Kniveat of yours, not being on any public body, has no locus standi. I
know the type. We have one with us. If you insist, of course, my firm
will give you a losing run for your money; but you had much better
come up and dine with me, and I'll tell you pretty stories of this
kind. Love to your Jem, who writes my Kit that he is bleaching out
properly in France.

'Ever as ever, HARRY.'

This was, on the whole, a relief, for, after sending the letter, Mr.
Gravell saw that the weight of the campaign would fall on his son when
he came back and could attend to rebuilding the wall.

So he ordered his own meals, took his car when he wanted it, instead
of waiting till Jemmy should be free, and went up to the London Office
of the Works with the padded arm-rest down, which was never the case
when his Jemmy came along.

On his return he would visit the head of the dell before people were
about, and discharge the contents of carefully stoppered phials into
the traps of some two-inch land-drains, which had been laid down to
carry off surplus water. These followed the contours of the slopes,
and all met at the bottom of the hollow. By April he began to think
that the grasses there were responding to the stimulus of the liquids
that purred off softly into heavy gas, as he freed them down the
traps. It cheered him, for it showed that, despite lack of early
training, he was in the way to become such a scientist as his own
wonderful Jemmy.

By early summer, when azaleas and such are worth picking, motor-
traffic had increased on all roads, and the high, commanding
charabancs were much interested by the sight of Mr. Gravell's dell.
Their drivers pulled up by the broken wall, which the publican at the
White Hart, a little further up the road, recommended as a good pitch
between drinks. So people used it more and more for picnics and
pleasure, and after a Southern Counties Private Tour had removed as a
trophy the pitiful little 'Trespassers will be Prosecuted,' which was
Mr. Gravell's one protest, the gaps in the wall widened by feet in a
week; the rhododendron clumps shrank like water drops on a hot iron,
and the dell became dotted with coloured streamers, burst balloons,
tins, corks, food-bags, old paper, tyre-wrappers, bottles--intact or
broken--rags of the foulest, cigarette-cartons, and copious filth. But
Mr. Gravell's traps were on the upper levels, and, as has been said,
he attended to them before rush hours. He very rarely went down into
what had now become a rubbish-heap; for he was a fastidious man.

About that time, two children at the White Hart, who sold little
bunches of flowers to trippers, developed an eruption which puzzled
Dr. Frole, the local practitioner. He had never before seen orange and
greenish-copper blotches on the healthy young. But, as these faded
entirely in a week or so, he wrote it down 'errors of diet,' and said
there was no need to close the schools.

It was different when a private party of thirty-two gentlemen and
ladies, mostly in the retail jewellery business, and all near enough
neighbours in Shoreditch to use the same panel-doctor, poured into
that man's consulting-room, comparing blotches as far as they dared,
and wailing before an offended Deity. They were asked where they had
been and what they had eaten. They had, it seemed, been in ever so
many places, and by the way had eaten everything in Leviticus and out
of it. Then a practitioner in Bermondsey, where they also make up
select tours to the Beauty Spots of England, wrote to a local paper
about an interesting variety of summer rash. This--so bound together
is the English world--let loose a 'Welsh Mother,' who had trusted four
of her brood to a local pastor on a Beauties-of-England tour. She
complained in a popular journal of unprecedented circulation that they
had returned looking 'like the Heathen.'

Some weeks of perfect touring weather followed, and, as the roads
filled and stank with charabancs, Carlisle, Morecambe Bay, Frinton,
Tavistock, the Isle of Man, Newquay, and Alnwick, among others,
reported strange cases of 'blotching' in all ages and sexes.

Entered, duly, in the journals of the democracy, 'specialists,' who,
after blood-curdling forecasts, 'deprecated panic' and variously
ascribed the origin of the epidemic to different causes, but,
supremely, to the laissez-faire attitude of the Government.

At the height of the discussion, Jemmy wrote that he was coming home
on the Sunday boat, ready for anything.

Mr. Gravell, anxious to avoid an explosion  deux, had invited Sir
Harry and Kit to help welcome and divert the prodigal, whose stitch
and complexion had vastly improved. But Mrs. Saul waylaid Jem on the
stairs with a summary of Major Kniveat's doings in the past three
months, and his open exultation over Jefferies's work in the dell,
which sent Jem down there before dinner. The trippers had gone, but he
found Angelique busy among the remains of picnics. When he tried to
chase her out, she lay down and refused to be moved. So he threw
stones at her, sent word to the Enochs that she was loose again, and
changed for dinner, not in the best temper, although he tried not to
show it.

'It don't really matter,' his father said. 'Wait till you hear what
your Uncle Harry tells us. Oh, but I'm glad you're back, Jemmy! I've
wanted you desperate.'

'Me, too, Dad.' The hug was returned. 'You're quite right. We won't
have a shindy about the wall.. It ain't worth it.'

'Then, run along and get up the champagne. Your tie's crooked, my
dear.' He put up his hand tenderly, as a widower may who has had to
wash and dress a year-old baby.

'Oh, Dad, I am sorry! You must have had a hellish time of it.' Jem
hugged his parent again.

'Not a bit!' said Mr. Gravell, glad that the boy was taking it so
well. 'It hasn't interfered with my experiments. I always finish
before the trippers come. I'm on the track of a mixture now that
really gingers up the bacteria. I'll tell you about it, dear. Didn't
you notice how rich the grass was?'

'I didn't notice anything much except Angelique. I landed her one or
two for herself with a rock, though.'

Dinner went delightfully. Sir Harry Birtle was full of tales of 'bad
neighbours elsewhere, and the wisdom of leaving them alone, which, he
said, annoyed them most. The present business was to rebuild the wall,
and Jem was sketching it on a tablecloth for Kit, when the Sunday
paper came in. Sir Harry picked it up.

'One thousand and thirty-seven cases up to date,' he read aloud.

'What of? 'asked Mr. Gravell. 'I don't read the papers.'

'They call it Bloody Measles, Uncle Wally,' said Kit, the doctor.
'It's all over the place. It's a sort of ten-days' rash-greenish-
copper blotches on the face and body. Not catching. No temperature;
but no end of scratchin'. The papers have made rather a stunt of it.'

In time the young men went off to the billiard room, while the elders
sat over the wine, each disparaging his own offspring that he might
better draw the other's rebuke and tribute.

Billiards ended with an inquiry into Jem's treatment, and
L'Espinasse's views on gassing in general. 'I was right about the gas
that knocked me out,' said Jem., 'L'Espinasse admitted that, on my
symptoms, it must have been Adler's Mixture. That's one up for me and
the Works.'

'But the Hun was only using straight mustardgas round Arras then,'
said Kit.

'Not altogether. 'Remember that purple-and-white-band big stuff that
used to crack and whiflie? I got a dose in the cutting behind Fampoux
waiting for the train. That was Adler's...But--never mind that.
I've got to knock Hell's Bells out of the Major. He might have upset
Dad a good deal. But he took that outrage on the dell like a lamb.'

'There's a reason for that, too,' said Kit, and explained how Mr.
Gravell's blood-pressures had dropped satisfactorily.

''Glad to hear it,' said Jem. 'But it won't excuse Mister Field
Officer when I'm abreast of my arrears.'

They talked till bed-time, went up to town together next morning,
pursued their several businesses till Saturday, came down again, and
that evening wandered round the home-made nine-hole course, and
fetched up by Angelique's sty near the barn. It was empty.

'She's broken out again,' said Kit. 'Give her a shout.'

Jem hailed, and was answered by the lady, in a muffled key, from the
house.

They went to look. Mr. and Mrs. Enoch received them, and complimented
Jem on his improved appearance.

'Ah'm gradely,' Jem went back to the speech of the Works, in which he
and Kit had almost been born. 'But what's to doin' wi' t'owd la-ady in
t'house, Liz?'

'She've gotten Bloody Measles--like what's in arl t'pa-apers. We've
had her oop to t'washhouse,' Enoch explained.

He led along a back passage, and in the brickfloored wash-house, well
strawed, lay Angelique, patterned all over with greenish orange-brown
blotches, which she wore coquettishly.

'Good Lord!' said Kit. 'I didn't know Bloody Measles attacked animals!
She looks like a turtle with dropsy.'

''Nowt to what she wor o' Thursdaa. She wor like daffadillies an'
wall-flowers, Thursdaa.' Enoch spoke with pride.

'Ah, but she's hearty--she's rare an' hearty. Tha's none offen tha'
feed, is tha, ma luv?' said Mrs. Enoch tenderly.

'She'll have to be killed,' said Kit.

'Kill nowt,' said Mrs. Enoch. 'She'll lie oop here till t'spots gan
off again. They showed oop a' Tuesdaa neet, an' to-morra's Soondaa.'

'What's Sunday got to do with it?' Kit cried.

'T' Major, blast him!' said Enoch. Man and wife spoke together.
Translated out of their dialect, which broadened as it flowed, the
Major's Sunday patrol of rights-of-way generally included the path
round the barn beside Angelique's sty. If he should notice her now--
what his powers for making trouble might be they knew not, but feared
the worst. But they did know that an Englishman's house, even to his
wash-house, is his castle. Thither, then, they had conveyed Angelique
on Tuesday night, and there should she stay until her spots faded, as
they had faded upon the publican's brats at the White Hart.

'She came out with 'em on Tuesday--did she?' said Jem thoughtfully.
'Well, we don't want the Major poking his nose into this just now.'

That released Mrs. Enoch again. Mrs. Saul had said much about Major
Kniveat, but the gleanings of Mrs. Enoch's threshing-floor were richer
than all the housekeeper's harvests. She said he was consumed with
desire to take some step which the 'manure-makers' should be compelled
to notice. She reminded Jem of foremen and fore-women in the Works,
who had given trouble on the same lines. Psychologically it was
interesting, but Jem's concern was that neither she nor her husband
should talk to his father about it.

'If this epidemic is going to attack livestock, there'll be trouble,'
said Kit, on the way home.

'I don't think it will,' said Jem, who had been silent for some while.

'What's the idea?' his all-but-brother asked suspiciously.

'My idea is that it's Dad, if you want to know. Dad--and his dell!'

'The Devil! Why?'

'I asked our London Office (they were rather worried about it, too)
what sort of stuff he'd been drawing from the Lab. while I was away,
to ginger up his bacteria. Well, what he actually got was fairly
hectic, but he tells me he's taken to mixin' 'em. So--Lord knows what
they mayn't throw up! Anyhow, the dell must be soaked with it. Wait a
shake! Angelique was picnickin' down there the Sunday night I got
home. She came out with spots on Tuesday--call it forty-eight hours'
incubation.'

'Stop! Let me take this in properly,' said Kit. 'You mean your dad--is
responsible for--one thousand and thirty-seven cases of Bloody
Picnickers--up to date?'

Jem nodded. ''Looks like it. He's transmitted his scientific twist of
mind to me, but outside that he's a rank amateur, you know.'

Here Kit sat down. 'Amateur! You aren't fit to have my own Uncle Wally
for a father. An' he doesn't read the papers! An'--an' the British
Medical Association recommends treating Bloody Measles with chawal-
muggra oil. And Sir Herbert Buskitt says it's due to atonic glands.
The whole of my sacred profession's involved! Don't you realise what
your dad's done, you--you parricide?'

'Dam-well I do. Here are the bases of the stuff he's been working on.'
Jem passed over some chemical formula that sent Kit into fresh
hysterics. 'You see, he's avoided lethal constituents so far, but he's
strong on the colour-fixation bases. 'Spose he wants it for the gorze-
blooms.--Get up, you idiot!--Well! I've short-circuited that. He'll
have everything he writes for in future, as far as labels go. The muck
don't show or smell or taste. He'll be just as happy.'

'But I shan't,' said Kit, as soon as he could stand and talk straight.
'I want more. Let's lure the Major into the dell, and--er--Angelique
him! He'd look rather pretty, ma luv!'

'Not now. We'd be acting with guilty knowledge. The main thing is to
get Angelique right before he spots her. She'll come round, won't she?
'

''Question of temperament--and sex. After all, she's a lady. Wait and
see. Oh, my Uncle Wally! And my dad! How are we to keep our faces
straight with 'em?'

Since each of the Seven Ages of Man is separated from all the others
by sound-and-X-ray-proof bulkheads, the parents only noticed that
their young were in the spirits natural to their absurd thirty-odd
years. Sunday passed, and the Major, too, on his rounds, in peace.
They left Angelique in the wash-house Monday forenoon, visibly paling,
but as interested and as interesting as ever. (Mrs. Enoch said she was
company when one knitted.) On Saturday morning of that same week a
wire from Enoch told Jem in town that she had cleared up. He showed it
to Kit, who took him to lunch at a certain restaurant, before the
drive down. There sat at the next table a globular female, with
pendant mauve-washed cheeks, indigo eyelids, lips of orange vermilion,
and locks of Titian red. She reminded Kit of Angelique in the height
of her bloom, and...Here Jem and Kit together claimed the
parentage of the Great Idea.

At any rate, in that hour, between them it was born. They went to a
theatrical wigmaker and bought lavishly of grease-paints for Chinese,
Red Indian, and Asiatic make-ups, as well as for clowns and corner-
men.

They drove down, not a little to the public danger, and made a merry
feast before their ancestors that summer evening. Next morning--Sunday
at nine o'clock to be precise--Mrs. Enoch told them that her week in
the wash-house had so filled Angelique with social aspirations, that
'after setting with t'owd lady and readin' t'pa-apers to her, ah
hevn't heart to give her t' broomhead when she comes back again.'

'Ask her oop,' said Jem.

She came gratefully, and they told the Enochs what was in their minds.

'He'll say it's t'Bloody Measles, an' he'll turn all his blasted
committees on us,' said Enoch. 'He's a tongue on 'im like a vi-iper,
yon barstard.'

'That's what we're gambling on. But she's a bit too scurfy for the
stuff to hold,' said Jem, looking into the wash-house copper.

'But tha winna mak' a fool o' t'poor dumb beast, will tha', lads?'
Mrs. Enoch pleaded, as she dipped the broom in warm water and began on
that enormous back.

Angelique lay down at command, sure that these things were but prelude
to more admiration. They scrubbed her, till she was as white as a puff
ball. Then, area by area, she was painted with dazzle-patterns of
greenish-yellow and purple-brown, till it was hard to say whether she
moved to or from the beholder. Jem took her head, jowl, and neck,
where the space was limited. So he was forced to use spots which, by
divine ordering, suggested the foullest evidences of decomposition.
Remembering the lady in the restaurant, he paid special attention to
her eyes and brows.

'If t'Major niver had 'em before, she'll give 'em to him proper,' was
Enoch's verdict.

'She lukes like nowt o' God's makin' already,' Mrs. Enoch agreed. 'But
she's proud of hersen!--Sitha! She's tryin' to admire of her own
belly! Wicked wumman! She'll niver be t'saam to me again.'

'It'll wash off. Now we'll go for a walk. Shove her into t'sty, Enoch,
and pray the Major comes this morning.'

Their prayers were answered within the hour. They saw the Major, on
his regular Sunday round, descend the slope to the home farm. Then
they turned, on interior lines, which brought them face to face with
him rounding the barn by Angelique's sty. At the sound of their well-
known voices, she reared up ponderously, and hitched her elbows over
the low door, much as Jezebel, after her head was tyred, looked out of
the window. It was not the loathly brown and yellow-green blotches on
bosom and shoulder that appalled most, but the smaller ones on face,
jowl, and neck, for she had been rubbing her cheeks a little, and the
pattern had drawn into wedges and smears, perfectly simulating a mask
of unspeakable agony coupled with desperate appeal. Moreover, so
wholly is hearing dominated by sight, that her jovial grunt of welcome
seemed the too-human plaint of a beast against realised death.

When, with haggard, purple-bordered eyes, she looked for applause and
cabbage, the horror of that slow-turning head made even the artists
forget their well-thought-out lines.

''Mornin', old lady,' said Jem at last, and Kit echoed him.

But the Major's greeting was otherwise. He blenched. He held out one
dramatic arm. He stammered: 'How--how long has that creature been like
that?'

'Always, hasn't she, Jem?' said Kit sweetly. 'We're just taking her
for a walk.'

'I--I forbid you to touch her. Look at her spots! Look at her spots!'

'Spots?' Kit seemed puzzled for a moment.

'Yes. Spots!' The voice shook.

'Spo-ots! Oh yes. Of course.' This was in Kit's best bedside-manner.
'Certainly we won't let her out if you feel that way.'

'Feel! Can't you see? She's infected to the marrow. She's rotting
alive. Put her out of her misery at once!'

Here Enoch appeared with a broom, and the Major commanded him to kill
and keep the body.

Enoch merely opened the sty door, and Angelique came out. The Major
backed several yards, calling and threatening. But everyone except a
few female summer-visitors had always been kind to her. This person--
she argued--might be good for an apple, or--she was not bigoted--
cigarette-ends. So she went towards him smiling, and her smile, for
reasons given, was like the rolling back of the Gates of Golgotha.

Whether she would have rubbed herself against his Sunday trousers, or
fled when she had seen his face, are "matters arguable to all
eternity." It is only agreed that the Major floated out of her orbit
by about a bow-shot in the direction of the village, and thence onward
earnestly.

'Well, that proves it ain't glands, at any rate,' Kit pronounced.
'He'll stay away for a bit, but we won't take chances. Come along,
Angelique! Washee-washee, ma luv!'

Then and there they treated her in the washhouse with petrol, which
removes grease-paints, and sacking soaked in warm water, which takes
off the sting of it, till she was fit to turn out into the orchard and
root a bit, lest she should be too clean at any later inspection. By
then it was nearly lunch-time.

'Tha sees,' said Jem, slipping on his coat. 'Pe-wer as a lily! There's
nowt need come 'twix thee an' t'owd lady now, Liz--is there, ma luv?'

Upon which Mrs. Enoch very properly kissed him, while Enoch sat
helpless on a swill-bucket.

Mrs. Saul and the rest of the staff came back from evening service
fully informed, for the Major had spent every minute since his meeting
with Angelique in talking about her to everyone. He said, among other
things, that she had been wilfully hidden, that she was being taken
out for secret exercise when he discovered her condition, and that he
was going to attend to the matter himself.

Thus Mrs. Saul on the landing as the two young men went up to change.
'Very good,' said Jem. 'Don't go to Dad about it, though.'

'But we--but I've been down to Enoch's to look at her. She's as clean
as me. Isn't it shocking to be that way--on a Sunday morning? He took
the bag round, too! You can never tell what these old bachelors are
really like...'

They had finished dessert--the State-aided summer sunlight was still
on the table--and the boys had gone to the billiard-room, when the
Major was announced on an urgent matter.

'Better have him in here, Wally,' Sir Harry mildly suggested. 'I
believe he's a bit of a bore.'

So he entered, and told his story, summarising the steps he would
take, out of pure public spirit, to deal with this plague, and this
menace, and these evasions.

'I see! You've seen a spotted pig,' said Mr. Gravell at last. 'Well,
that couldn't have been our Angelique. She's a Large White, you know,
and--my son generally attends to this sort of thing.'

'He saw her, too. As I've been telling you, your son saw her! He was
perfectly cognisant of her condition. So was yours.'

The Major wheeled on Sir Harry, who was not a Company lawyer for
nothing.

'We won't dispute that. Better call the boys in, Wally,' said he.

They entered, without interest, as the young do when dragged from
private conferences.

'So far as I understand you, Major Kniveat,' Sir Harry resumed, 'you
saw a pig--spotted yellow and green and purple, wasn't it?--this
morning?'

'I did. I'm prepared to swear to it.'

'I accept your word without question. There's nothing to prevent
anyone seeing spotted pigs on Sunday mornings, of course; but there
are lots of things--on Saturday nights, for example--that may lead up
to it. Can you recall any of them for us?'

The Major wished to know what Sir Harry might infer.

'Oh, he saw them all right,' Kit put in.

'You did, too. You agreed with me at the time,' the Major panted.

'Naturally. Any medical man would--in the state you were then. Now,
can you remember, sir, whether the spots were fixed or floating?
Merely green and yellow, or iridescent with unstable black cores--oily
and, perhaps, vermicular?'

The Major rose to his feet.

'It's all right--all right,' Kit spoke soothingly. 'It won't come
here! We won't let the nasty pig come in here. And now, if you'll put
out your tongue, we'll see if the tip trembles.'

'Jem, what is it all about?' Mr. Gravell wailed against the torrent of
the Major's speech.

'Angelique,' Jem answered, wearily. 'He thinks she's spotted green and
purple and Lord knows what all.'

'Then why doesn't he go down to Enoch's and look at her? There's
plenty of light still,' the father answered. 'Take him down and let
him see her.'

'I suppose we must. Come on, Kit, and help...Oh, hush! Hush! Yes!
Yes! You shall have your dam' pig!'

The Major, among other things, said he wished for impartial witnesses
and no evasions.

'About half the village have been down there already,' said Kit.
'You'll have witnesses enough. Come along!'

'That's right. That's all right, then,' said Mr. Gravell, and dropped
further interest in the matter, for he was of a stock that attended to
their own business and held their own liquor. But Sir Harry Birtle
joined the house-party. He knew his Kit better than Mr. Gravell knew
his Jemmy.

They went down through the long last lights of evening to the home
farm. People were there already--a little group by Angelique's sty
that melted as they neared, leaving only the local solicitor; Dr.
Frole, the general practitioner; and a retired Navy Captain--a J.P.
who did not much affect the Major. As the other folk of lower degree
moved off, they halted for a few words with the Enochs at the
farmhouse door. Thence they joined friends who were waiting for them
in the lane.

'Do you want more witnesses?' Jem asked. The Major shook his head.

'Major Knivead--to see Angelique,' Jem announced to the local
solicitor. 'The Major says he saw her this morning after divine
service spotted green and yellow and purple. Look at her now, Major
Knivead, please. She is the only pig we have. Would you like an
affidavit?...We-ell, old lady.'

Angelique, once again hitched her elbows akimbo over her sty door,
crossed her front feet, smiled, and--white almost as a puff-ball--said
in effect to the company: 'Bless you, my children!'

'Wait a minute. You haven't seen all of her yet,' Kit opened the door.
She came out and--it was a trick of infancy learned in the Christian
kitchen--sat on her haunches like a dog, leering at the Major, Dr.
Frole, the solicitor, and the Navy J.P. This latter sniffed dryly but
very audibly. Sir Harry Birtle said, in the tone that had swayed many
juries: 'Yes. I think we all see.'

'Now,' said Jem. 'About your spots?'

The Major would have looked over his left shoulder, but Kit was there
softly patting it. 'It's all right. It's all right.' said Kit. 'The
ugly pig won't run after you this time. I'll attend to that. Look at
her from here and tell me how many spots you count now.'

'None,' said Major Kniveat. 'They're all gone. My God! Everything's
gone!'

'Quite right. Everything's gone now, and here's Dr. Frole, isn't it
yes, your own kind Dr. Frole--to see you safe home.'

The generation that tolerates but does not pity went away. They did
not even turn round when they heard the first dry sob of one from whom
all hope of office, influence, and authority was stripped for ever--
drowned by the laughter in the lane.



The Expert

YOUTH that trafficked long with Death.
  And to second life returns.
Squanders little time or breath
  On his fellow-man's concerns.
Earnd peace is all he asks
To fulfil his broken tasks.

Yet, if he find war at home
  (Waspish and importunate).
He hath means to overcome
  Any warrior at his gate;
For the past he buried brings
Back unburiable things--

Nights that he lay out to spy
  Whence and when the raid might start;
Or prepared in secrecy
  Sudden Things to break its heart--
All the lore of No-Man's Land
Moves his soul and arms his hand.

So, if conflict vex his life
  Where he thought all conflict done.
He, resuming ancient strife.
  Springs his mine or trains his gun.
And, in mirth more dread than wrath.
Wipes the nuisance from his path!



The Cur

LONG years ago, ere R--lls or R--ce
  Trebled the mileage man could cover;
When Sh--nks's Mare was H--bs--n's Choice.
  And Bl--r--ot had not flown to Dover
When good hoteliers looked askance
  If any power save horse-flesh drew vans--
'Time was in easy, hand-made France.
  I met the Cur of Saint Juvans.

He was no babbler, but, at last.
  One learned from things he left unspoken
How in some fiery, far-off past.
  His, and a woman's, heart were broken.
He sought for death, but found it not.
  Yet, seeking, found his true vocation.
And fifty years, by all forgot.
  Toiled at a simple folks' salvation.

His pay was lower than our Dole;
  The piteous little church he tended
Had neither roof nor vestments whole
  Save what his own hard fingers mended
While, any hour, at every need
  (As Conscience or La Grippe assailed 'em).
His parish bade him come with speed.
  And, foot or cart, he never failed 'em.

His speech--to suit his hearers--ran
  From pure Parisian to gross peasant.
With interludes North African
  If any Legionnaire were present:
And when some wine-ripe atheist mocked
  His office or the Faith he knelt in.
He left the sinner dumb and shocked
  By oaths his old Battalion dealt in...

And he was learned in Death and Life;
  And he was Logic's self (as France is).
He knew his folk--man, maid, and wife--
  Their forebears, failings, and finances.
Spite, Avarice, Devotion, Lies--
  Passion ablaze or sick Obsession--
He dealt with each physician-wise;
  Stern or most tender, at Confession.

.   .   .   .   .

To-day? God knows where he may lie--
  His Cross of weathered beads above him
But one not worthy to untie
  His shoe-string, prays you read--and love him!



The Miracle of Saint Jubanus

THE visitor had been drawn twenty kilometres beyond the end of the
communal road under construction, by a rumour of a small window of
thirteenth-century glass, said to represent a haloed saint in a
helmet--none other, indeed, than Saint Julian of Auvergne--and to be
found in the village church of Saint Jubans, down the valley.

But there was a wedding in the church, followed by the usual
collection for charity. After the bridal procession had passed into
the sunshine, two small acolytes began fighting over an odd sou. In a
stride the tall old priest was upon them, knocked their heads
together, unshelled them from their red, white-laced robes of office,
and they rolled--a pair of black-gabardined gamins locked in war--out
over the threshold on to the steep hillside.

He stood at the church door and looked down into the village beneath,
half buried among the candles of the horse-chestnuts. It climbed up,
house by house, from a busy river, to sharp, turfed slopes that lapped
against live rock, whence, dominating the red valley, rose enormous
ruins of an old chteau with bastions, curtains, and keeps, and a
flying bridge that spanned the dry moat. Valerian and lilac in flower
sprang wherever there was foothold.

'All acolytes are little devils,' said the priest benignly, and
descended to the wedding-breakfast, which one could see in plan, set
out by the stream in a courtyard of cut limes. His bearing was less
that of a cur than a soldier, for his soutane swung like a marching-
overcoat, and he lacked that bend of the neck, 'the priest's stoop,'
with which his Church stamps her sons when they are caught young.

The wedding-feast had ended, and the heat of the day was abated before
he climbed up again, beneath an enormous umbrella, to find the visitor
among the ruins beside the little church...

'I make a rule not to smoke unless it is offered. A thousand
thanks!...This ought to be Smyrna...' He exhaled the smoke through his
finely-cut nostrils. 'Yes, it is Smyrna...Good! And Monsieur
appreciates our "Marylands" also? Hmm. I remember the time when our
Government tobaccos were a national infamy...How long here am I?
Close upon forty years...No. Never much elsewhere. It suffices
me...'

'A good people. Composed of a few old clans--Meilhac--Leclos--
Falloux--Poivrain--Ballart. Monsieur may have observed their names
upon our Monument.' He pointed downward to the little cast-iron poilu,
which seemed to be standard pattern for War memorials in that region.
'Neither rich nor poor. When the charabanc-road through the valley is
made they will be richer...Postcards for the tourists, an hotel,
and an antiquity shop, for sure, here beside the church. A Syndicate
of Initiative has, indeed, approached me to write on the attractions
of the district, as well as on the life of Saint Jubanus...But
surely he existed! He was a Gaul commanding a Gaulish legion at the
time when Christianity was spreading in the Roman Army. We were--he
was engaged against the Bo--the Alemanni--and was on the eve of attack
when some of his officers chose that moment to throw down their swords
and embrace the Cross. Knowing that he had been baptized, they assumed
his sympathy; but he charged them to wait till the battle was
finished. He said, in effect "Render unto Caesar the things that are
Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." Some obeyed. Some did
not. But even with defaitist and demoralised forces he won the day.
They would then have given him a triumph, but he put aside the laurel
wreath, and from his own chariot publicly renounced his profession and
the old deities. So--I expect it was necessary for discipline to be
kept--he was beheaded on the field he had won. That is the legend...

'His miracles? But one only on record. He called a dying man back to
life by whispering in his ear, and the man sat up and laughed. (I wish
I knew that joke.) That is why we have a proverb in our valley: "It
would take Saint Jubans himself to make you smile." I imagine him as
an old soldier, strict in his duty, but also something of a farceur.
Every year I deliver on his Day a discourse in his honour. And you
will perceive that when the War came his life applied with singular
force to the situation...

'They called up the priests? Assuredly! I went...It is droll to
re-enter the old life in a double capacity. You see, one can
sometimes--er--replace a casualty if--if--one has been--had
experience. In that event, one naturally speaks secularly on secular
subjects. A moment later one gives them Absolution as they advance.
But they were good--good boys. And so wastefully used!...That is
why I am of all matchmakers in our village the least scrupulous. Ask
the old women!...Yes, monsieur...and I returned without a
scar...The good God spared me also the darkness of soul which
covered, and which covers still, so many--the doubt--the defiance--the
living damnation. I had thought--may He pardon me!--that it was hard
to reach the hearts of my people here. I saw them, after the War,
split open! Some entered hells of whose existence they had not
dreamed--of whose terrors they lacked words to tell. So they--men
distraught--needed more care in the years that followed the War than
even at Chemin des Dames...Yes, I was there, also, when it seemed
that hope had quitted France. I know now how a man can lay hands upon
himself out of pure fear!

'And there were those, untouched, whom the War had immobilised from
the soul outwards. In special, there was Martin Ballart, the only one
of his family who returned--the son of a good woman who died at his
birth. Him, frankly, I loved from the beginning, and, I think, he
loved me. Yes, even when I took him for one of my acolytes--you saw
the type at the wedding?--and I had very often to correct him. He was
not clever nor handsome, but he had the eyes of a joyous faithful dog,
and the laugh of Pan himself. And he came back at the last blasted,
withered, dumb--a ghost that gnawed itself. There had been his girl,
too...When they met again he did not know her. She said: "No
matter. I will wait." But he remained as he was. He lived, at first,
with his aunt down there. Oh, he worked--it was no time for idleness--
but the work did not restore. And he would hide himself for an hour or
two and come back visibly replunged in his torments. I watched him, of
course. It was a little photograph--one of those accursed Kodak
pictures, of a young man in a trench, dancing languorously with a
skeleton. It was the nail of his obsession...I left it with him.
Had I taken it, there might have been a crisis. Short of that, I tried
every expedient, even to exorcism...But why not? You call them mick-
robs. We call them Devils...One thing only gave me hope. He took
pleasure in my company. He looked at me with the eyes of a dog in
pain, and followed me always. It came about in effect that he lived up
here. He would sit still while I played piquet with our schoolmaster,
Falloux...

'Ah, that was a type upon whom our War had done bad work! No, he had
not served. He had some internal trouble, which I told him always was
a mere constipation of Atheism. Oh yes--he was enormously a
freethinker! A man with a thick black beard, and an intellect (he
carried it in front of him like his stomach) never happy unless it was
dirtily rude to the Bon Dieu and His Saints. Little unclean stories
and epigrams, you understand. He called Saint Jubanus a militarist and
an impostor--this defaitist of a Zeppelinistic belly! But he could
play piquet, and he was safer at my house than infecting our estaminet
with his witticisms. I told him always that he would be saved on
account of "invincible ignorance." Then he would thunder:

'"But if your God has any logic, I shall be damned!"'

'"Be content," I would reply. "The Bon Dieu will never hear your name.
You will be certified, together with the Cartel, by some totally
inferior specialist of a demon as incapable of receiving even
rudimentary instruction."

'Then he would clutch at his beard and throw down the cards, which
poor Martin picked up for us. But apart from his rudeness to God and
the Hierarchy, he was of exemplary life. Pardi, he had to be! She
charged herself with that. Not believing in God, he had naturally
married a devil before whom he trembled. She took him to Mass. That
was why he was always most extravagant at my house on Monday evenings.
His atheism, Monsieur, was, after all, but the panache without which a
good little Frenchman cannot exist. A fond, there are few atheists in
France. But, I concede, there are several arrivistes. Knowing this
(and her), I hardly troubled to pray for him.

'It was for poor Martin that I prayed always but not with full passion
until his aunt told me she would take him to Lourdes...Every man,
besides being all the other base characters in Scripture, is a Naaman
at heart. You have seen Lourdes, Monsieur? A-ah!...

'So I exposed this new trouble and my own mean little soul to the Bon
Dieu. It was He--I remember the very night--Who put it into my heart
to pray seriously to Saint Jubanus. I had prayed to him, oh, many
times before; but it occurred to me at that hour that my past demands
had not, in view of his secular career, been sufficiently precised or
underlined. The idea kept me awake. I got up. I went to the church,
which is, as you see, not three steps. There--it is--it was--an old
duty of my life in the world--I kept my--I walked up and down in the
dark. At last I found myself, constating my case, not formally to a
Saint, but officially as to my commanding officer. I said--
substantially:

'"Mon General, the time has come for action. You gave your single life
to uphold the honour of your military obligation. There are some two
million Gauls who have given up theirs for much the same object, as
well as twenty-three out of your very own village here. Surely some of
these must by now have appeared before you! I address you simply,
then, as an old moustache who is trying to beat off an attack of the
Devil on the soul of Martin Ballart, Corporal, 743rd of the Line, Two
Citations. (One must be precise always with the Hierarchy.) I am at
the end of my resources. God has ordered that I should report to you.
I ask no obvious miracles, because, between ourselves, I do not in the
least desire this pleasant retreat of ours to develop into a Lourdes.
I beg only your help as my officer in the case of a good boy who, by
fortune of war, is descending alive into Hell." I concluded,
textually: "Mon General, many reputations rest upon a single action.
That also is the fortune of war. But I submit, with respect, after
your sixteen-hundred years in retreat, it is not too much that an old
and very tired combatant of your own race should signal for a small
reinforcement from his Commandant..."

'I think--I know, indeed, from what happened afterwards--he was moved
by this last thrust. It was as though all God's good night had
chuckled above me. I went to my bed again and slept in confidence...

'Did I look for a sign? Did Gouraud give any when he took our revenge
for Chemin des Dames--when he let the enemy fall into the trap by
their own momentum? No! I continued my work, and always I prayed for
Martin. Then there came down the valley--as he does yearly--the
itinerant mender of umbrellas, for whom my housekeeper stores up her
repairs. She had acquired a piece of material to re-cover my umbrella,
which, as you can see, is somewhat formidable in point of size, and of
a certain antiquity. Indeed, I do not know whether there still exists
another effective machine of its type, constructed, see you, from the
authentic bone of the whale. Look! Vast as it is, it was still more
vast when that artist arrived. My Mathilde's piece of material was
found to be inadequate in extent. But the man said that, with a small
cutting down of the tips of the ribs, he could accommodate the area to
the fabric. The result you behold. A fraction smaller, but essentially
the same. And equally strong. Mon Dieu, that was needed!...Yes,
sometimes I dare to think that that crapulous vagrant might have been
Saint Jubanus himself!...

'This was in the interval--while the good Saint prepared his second
line just like our Gouraud. During that time I listened to poor
Martin's aunt making her arrangements to take him to Lourdes, of which
officially I had to approve. For, what miracle had we to offer?
Further, I endured the attacks of' that Falloux. Something that I may
have said in respect to The Almighty diverted his dirtinesses from
that quarter, and he fell back on Saint Jubanus. My own vanity--the
Syndicate of Initiative having approached me, as I have told you, to
write his life for prospective tourists--drew that on my head. I fear
that, once or twice, I may have lost my dignity with him as a priest.
He asserts that I swore like a Foot Chausseur, which had been his
service. (Poor little rats of the Line!)...

'And our Saint's Day that year, was wet, so I knew all the world would
attend. I had been summoned out of the village before the discourse--a
couple of kilometres down the road. On my return, because it dripped
water by rivers, I set my repaired umbrella to dry...But we will
go over to the church. It is not three steps, and I will show you the
place. Also, it will be cooler in there...It is true we are in
horrible neglect, but, as you say, that window is a jewel. It
represents beyond doubt Saint Jubanus...

'My umbrella? I deposited that behind this pillar here, outside the
sacristy. And by the side of the pillar, as you see, is as much as we
have of a vestiary--this press, with its shelves. Remark that I laid
my umbrella, always open, in this spot, on its side. Thus! For myself,
when I preach, though I am not an orator, I prefer the naked soutane--
it hampers action less; but--out of respect for our Saint--I put on
the cotta. At the same time I tell my two acolytes--who are of
precisely the type you saw after the wedding; it is fixed by the
Devil--to prepare me the vestments for the Service of the Benediction
which would succeed my discourse. It was to them to extract these
vestments with some decency from that press there. In this there was a
little delay. I stepped aside to look, for--an acolyte is capable of
anything--it seemed to me that they had chosen that hour to amuse
themselves with my umbrella. I demanded why they did not leave it
alone. One replied that he could not; and the other opened that
terrible giggle of the nervous small boy. Heaven pardon me, but I am
of limited patience! I signified that I had means of enforcing my
orders. There is a reverberation in this place effective for the voice
at dramatic moments.

'But it was my umbrella which at that moment began to take the stage.
It receded from me with those two young attached to different points
of its circumference. At the same time it gyrated painfully in that
shadow there. I followed, stupefied, and demanded some explanation of
the outrage. It replied in two voices of an equal regret that it was
attached and could not free itself. I hastened to aid. They said
afterwards they misconstrued my motives. All I know is that my
umbrella, open always, but tortured by unequal compressions, descended
indescribably those three steps here into the body of the church,
where the congregation awaited my discourse. On one side of its large
circle, which you see, was an acolyte, facing inwards, clawing at the
laces on his bosom and his elbow. On another was his companion,
inextricably caught high up under the armpit, which he could not reach
with the other hand, because he was facing outwards, pinned there by
his vestments. The central effect, Monsieur, was that of an undevout
pagoda conducting a pas de trois in a sacred edifice, to the
accompaniment of increasing whimpers. This was before they collapsed,
those young. Whether by accident or design, the child facing inwards
snatched at the back of the head of the other. We shave our boys'
heads in France, fortunately; but he had nails, that one, and the
other protested...

'I? I followed, men said, step by step, slowly, with my mouth open.
Some instinct doubtless warned me not to approach lest I should be--
er--caught up by that chariot. Also, which often happens to me
inopportunely, the incident struck me as humorous. I desired to see
the end...But this was but the beginning. My people gasped. My
umbrella pursued its career, undecidedly but continuously. Then one of
the little juggernauts--if that be the word--began to weep. The other
followed...And then? Then, Monsieur, that Falloux--that practical
and logical atheist, who believes reason is the source of allleapt
into the breach, crying: "But they are attached! Stand still, and I
will detach you." But that they would not do. My perambulating mosque
of an umbrella resumed command. Its handle, see, tripped and slid over
the stone floor like the pointed foot of a danseuse. This, with the
natural elasticity of the ribs, furnished all the motifs of the
ballet. As Falloux stooped to the rim of its circumference--being
short-sighted in all respects--one side elevated itself, and the point
of a rib caught him in the beard beneath the chin. It appeared then
that he could not disengage. He made several gestures. Then he cried:
"But it is I who am also attached! Stand still, you misbegotten little
brats, till I detach myself!" And he laboured with his hands in the
thickets of his beard like a suicide who has no time to lose. But he
remained--he rested there--conforming with yelps of agony to the
agonies of the rival circus, into whose orbit had now projected
itself, at their own level, the head of their abominated preceptor,
distorted and menacing...And then?...

'There are occasions, Monsieur, when one must lead or oneself mount
the tumbril. I exploded a fraction of a second before my people,
saving, doubtless, some a ruptured blood-vessel. We did not--see you--
laugh greatly. We were beyond that point when we began. Soon--very
soon--we could no more. We could but ache aloud, which I assure you is
most painful--while my insolent umbrella promenaded its three
adherents through pagan undulations and genuflexions. It was Salome's
basin, you understand, dancing by itself with every appearance of
enjoyment, and offering to all quarters the head of the Apostle and of
two of the Innocents. But not the Holy Ones!

'Then she rose in her place, and said: "Imbecile! But stand still. I
will bring the scissors."

'And she went out. It was cruel of the Saint to force us to
recommence. We could do nothing except continue to ache and hiccough
and implore Falloux to stand still. He would not--he could not--on
account of those young, who, weeping with shame, continued to
endeavour to extricate themselves individually. Falloux followed their
movements in every particular. You see, he was attached to his troupe
by hairs, which it hurts to pull--oh, exquisitely! But he did his
best. I have never conceived such motions, even in dreams. You will
comprehend, Monsieur, that there are certain physical phenomena
inseparable from the contortions of a globose man labouring through
unaccustomed exercises. These also were vouchsafed to us!...

'It is said that I was on my knees beating my forehead against the
back of a prie-Dieu, when we heard, above all, the laugh of Faunus
himself--the dear, natural voice of my Martin, rich with innocent
delight, crying: "But, do it again! If you love me, Uncle Falloux, do
it all again!"

'We turned as one, and Martin's girl, who sits always where she can
see him, took him in her arms. The miracle had happened!...Yes,
from that moment Falloux lost the centre of his stage. Then she
returned--like Atropos. She cut him free; she threw down the shears;
she led him out...I? I picked them up and I conducted my autopsy
on my acolytes with more of circumspection. Beards renew themselves,
but not our poor little church vestments when they are torn...

'The explanation? Modern and scientific, Monsieur. Saint Jubanus--the
repairer of umbrellas--had, as I have told you, shortened the ribs of
my umbrella. Look! He had then capped the point of each rib with a
large, stamped, tin tip, which you perceive locks down. It bears some
likeness to the old snap-hook on the pole of an Artillery waggon, and
is perfectly calculated to catch in any fabric--or hair. But, to make
sure, that inspired scoundrel had, in pushing on his labour-saving
capsules--which are marked S.G.D.G. (that ought to be "A.M.D.G.")--
bent back the terminal laminae--fibres--what do you call them?--of the
whale's bone. You can see them protruding hungrily from the neck of
each rib-cap, and also from the slits at the side of it...Have
you forgotten those heads of grass with which one used to entangle and
wind up the silky hairs in the nape of a girl's neck? Just that,
Monsieur; but in a sufficiently gross beard, inextricable, and causing
supreme torture at every twitch...

'Yes. We were all stilled after Martin had laughed, except Martin and
his girl. They wept together--the tears from the soul. I said to them:

'"Go out, my children. All the world is for you to-day Paradise. Enter
there!"

'I had reason. They would never have listened to my beautiful
discourse. Ah! It was necessary to reconstruct that while we regained
our gravity, because at that moment (it is true, Monsieur, that the
Devil's favourite lair is beneath the Altar), at that moment came my
temptation! Falloux had been delivered into my hands by Saint Jubanus.
He who had mocked and thrust out his chin against God and the Saints
had, logically, by that very chin been caught and shaken in the face
of the souk, as I myself--as I have seen a man handled at Sidi bel
Abbas! Never should he survive it! With my single tongue I would
unstick him from his office, his civilisation, and his self-respect.
But I recalled that he was a Gaul who had been shamed in public, and
was, therefore, now insane. One did--one should--not mock afresh a man
who has thus suffered. For so I have seen many good soldiers lost to
France. Also, he was a soul in my charge...

'Yet, you will concede, the volteface demanded skill. At that moment
Saint Jubanus came to my aid. It was as though he himself had
signalled: "To the next objective--charge! Martin is saved! Save now
by any means the man whom I have used as his saviour. If necessary,
old comrade, lie! Lie for the Honour of the Legion!" ('Pristi! What a
Commander he must have been in his prime!) I took at once for my text
our saying: "It would need Saint Jubans himself to make you laugh."

'I made plain to them first, of course, that his merits were wide
enough to cover the sin of laughing in church. I demonstrated what
that laughter had effected for our poor Martin, whose agonies they
knew all. I told them--and it is true--that the Bon Dieu demands
nothing better from honest people than honest laughter, and that he
who awakens it is a benefactor. Then I extolled the instrument by
which the miracle had been wrought. That is to say, I extolled
Falloux, who had lent himself so willingly and with such self-
sacrifice to this happy accident. (After all, he had sworn creditably
enough--for a Foot Chasseur!) I said that we two had often discussed
Martin together. (My orders were to lie, and I interpreted them
liberally.) I made clear how a smaller-minded man than he would have
broken loose (which he could not have done except by her scissors)
before the experiment had terminated; but that he, Falloux, was of a
moral stature sufficient to advance under a mitraille of derision to
the complete awakening of Martin's soul. I said that though a
freethinker, Falloux--this same animal Falloux--realised the value of
moral therapeuthy. (They were enormously delighted at this. They
thought it was a new vice from Paris.) For Falloux himself, who--she
told me later--was biting his nails in the hen-house convulsed with
shame, I extemporised a special citation. No. Our village does not
read Rabelais, but he did. So I compared--Heaven forgive me!--that
unhappy costive soul with all its belly to Gargantua. Oh, only by
implication, Monsieur! I stated that the grandeur of his moral gesture
of self-effacement was Gargantuan in its abandon. That phrase
impressed them also. They realised now that it was not a comedy at
which they had assisted, but a Miracle...

'And thus I laboured with my people. Mon Dieu, but I sweated like an
ox! At last they swung in the furrow, and I claimed their homage for
him. And I succeeded! I led them down the hill to offer it en masse!
He came out upon us like a wild beast. But when I had explained our
objective, he--this enormity Falloux--was convinced that he had
scientifically lent himself to a Gargantuan jest of abandoned self-
abnegation because he was an expert in moral therapeutics!...That,
setting aside my discourse, which was manifestly inspired, was the
second miracle, Monsieur--the abasement of Falloux on--my faith!--his
tenderest point. And his redemption! For it is she who is more the
unbeliever of the two these days. She is a woman. She knows that I can
be, on occasion, a liar almost as formidable...

'But this has been an orgy of the most excellent cigarettes, and, for
me, a debauch of conversation. It demands at least that I offer a cup
of coffee which may not be too detestable. Let us go...But my
little house is here--under the hand, see you--not three steps...
But think of the pleasure you give me, Monsieur!...What? What?
What is it that thou singest to me there?...A thousand pardons for
the phrase! But Saint Julian of Auvergne has no affinity whatever with
Saint Jubanus. They are uniquely different. I implore you to abandon
that heresy! Auvergne! Auvergne! "Famous for its colleges and
kettles," as I once read somewhere in the world. Impossible a million
times! Saint Julian was a Roman officer--doubtless of unimpeachable
sanctity--but a Latin; whereas our General was a Gaul--as Gallic as--'

He beckoned to a young man of the large-boned, well-fleshed, post-war
type, who was ascending the hill from the fields behind a yoke of gold
and silver oxen with sheepskin wigs. He moved up slowly, smiling.

'As Gallic as he,' the priest went on. 'Look at him! He was that one
who was pinned to my umbrella by his back on that day and--tell
Monsieur what they call you in the village now.'

The youth's smile widened to a heavenly grin. 'Parapluie, Monsieur,'
said he, and climbed on.

The priest stopped at his own door. 'Mathilde,' he cried, 'the larger
bottle--er--from Martinique; thy gingerbread; and my African coffee
for two. Pardi, Monsieur, forty years ago there would have been two
pistols also, had I known or cared anything about the Saints in those
days!...Saint Julian of Auvergne, indeed! But I will explain.'



Song of Seventy Horses

ONCE again the Steamer at Calais--the tackles
Easing the car-trays on to the quay. Release her!
Sign-refill, and let me away with my horses
(Seventy Thundering Horses!)
Slow through the traffic, my horses! It is enough--it is France

Whether the throat-closing brick fields by Lille, or her paves
Endlessly ending in rain between beet and tobacco;
Or that wind we shave by--the brutal North-Easter.
Rasping the newly dunged Somme.
(Into your collars, my horses!) It is enough--it is France!

Whether the dappled Argonne, the cloud-shadows packing
Either horizon with ghosts; or exquisite, carven
Villages hewn from the cliff, the torrents behind them
Feeding their never-quenched lights.
(Look to your footing, my horses!) It is enough--it is France!

Whether that gale where Biscay jammed in the corner
Herds and heads her seas at the Landes, but defeated
Bellowing smokes along Spain, till the uttermost headlands
Make themselves dance in the mist.
(Breathe--breathe deeply, my horses!) It is enough--it is France!

Whether the broken, honey-hued, honey-combed limestone
Cream under white-hot sun; the rosemary bee-bloom
Sleepily noisy at noon and, somewhere to Southward.
Sleepily noisy, the Sea.
(Tes, it is warm here, my horses!) It is enough--it is France

Whether the Massif in Spring, the multiplied lacets
Hampered by slips or drifts; the gentians, under
Turbaned snow, pushing up the heaven of Summer
Though the stark moors lie black.
(Neigh through the icicled tunnels;) 'It is enough--it is France!'



Hymn to Physical Pain

(Mr. C. R. Wilkett's version)

DREAD Mother of Forgetfulness
  Who, when Thy reign begins.
Wipest away the Soul's distress.
  And memory of her sins.

The trusty Worm that dieth not--
  The steadfast Fire also.
By Thy contrivance are forgot
  In a completer woe.

Thine are the lidless eyes of night
  That stare upon our tears.
Through certain hours which in our sight
  Exceed a thousand years:

Thine is the thickness of the Dark
  That presses in our pain.
As Thine the Dawn that bids us mark
  Life's grinning face again.

Thine is the weariness outworn
  No promise shall relieve
That says at eve, 'Would God 't were morn!'
  At morn, 'Would God 't were eve!'

Ad when Thy tender mercies cease
  And life unvexed is due.
Instant upon the false release
  The Worm and Fire renew.

Wherefore we praise Thee in the deep.
  And on our beds we pray
For Thy return that Thou may'st keep
  The Pains of Hell at bay!



The Tender Achilles

ST. PEGGOTTY'S annual 'Senior' dinner drew Keede from his south-
eastern suburbs to listen to the Head of his old Hospital reviewing
work and casualties for the past year.

Barring a few guests--I was one of Keede's--the company represented,
as the Press said, all branches of the healing art, from authoritative
specialists to rural G.P.'s, whose faces told that they worked their
practices in light cars. But they all cheered Sir James Belton's
speech as though they were students again. Its opening dealt guardedly
with the Great Search on which the Hospital teams were engaged in the
newly endowed and extended biological laboratories; and he was sure
that all who had the Search at heart would be glad to know that since
their Mr. C.R. Wilkett had resumed his old post of bacteriologist, a
certain amount of exploration of promising avenues had been initiated.

He then spoke of St. Peggotty's more domestic concerns. There were
esoteric allusions here; professional similes, anecdotes, nicknames,
and reminiscences which set some of the whiter heads shouting. But he
was not wholly inaudible till he expounded his well-known views on the
Pharmacopoeia Britannica, and, incidentally, the 'Galenical
Physician,' or General Practitioner. Then his hearers overbore him
with yells of applause or dissent according to their specialities, and
called upon him by the honoured name of Howlieglass, which he had
borne when they walked the hospitals, till, at last, they all went
home, merry and made young again by good wine and memories renewed.

Keede had discovered in an eminent guest, a friend and a colleague of
the War,--a dryish, clean-looking man, who kindly included me in his
invitation to come and smoke a pipe with him at his diggings. These
proved to be a large, well-administered house in Wimpole Street. He
took us to a room at the back of things, where we found the tray set
and the fire in order. Keede formally introduced him once as Sir
Thomas Horringe, who, he said, specialised in 'tripe.' Otherwise and
always he called him 'Scree.'

'He's all right,' Keede explained. 'He doesn't know anything really,
except how to climb Matterhorns. I only ask him in to please the
heirs. He's as ignorant as the rest of these knife wallahs.'

Sir Thomas said that the darkness of the surgeon was as electric light
beside the mediaeval murk of the 'medicine-man,' or General
Practitioner, and was beginning to tell me what Keede really did and
prescribed when he was a sixpenny doctor at Lambeth; but broke off to
tell him that, even if they were not too old to fight with siphons,
the wife would notice the mess on the rugs next morning, and he would
catch it.

Keede then advised me that all surgeon-specialists look on every case
as a surgical--'that is to say, a carpenter's'--job, whereas the G.P.,
who represents 'the Galenical integrity of medicine--before these dam'
barbers wriggled into it'--considers each patient as a human being.

'In other words,' he concluded, 'medicine and surgery is the
difference between the Priest and the pew-opener.'

Again the other dissented, and the two carried on some discussion they
had begun at dinner about the Great Search, and whether Mr. C.R.
Wilkett, whom they called 'Wilkie' or 'Wilks,' had hit on the right
line. The only flaw in this person's perfection, according to Sir
Thomas, was that he had once inclined to 'Maldoni's theory of the
causation of indeterminate growths,' which heresy he had now
abandoned.

'But he has got imagination,' Sir Thomas pointed out. 'That's what'
his coming back to St. Peggotty's will give the whole team.
Howlieglass never lost sight of him. He wanted to get him back to the
bug-run; and he did.'

'He's the only man who'd have had the nerve to do it. He's worthy to
be a G.P.'

'In the name of the College of Surgeons, ever so many thanks for the
compliment, Robin,' Sir Thomas laughed. 'Never mind. We've got him
again. Howlieglass wants his head, not his feet.'

'Or, for that matter, his hands. 'Rummy thing! You never find a man of
his type who really loves a neat job.' Keede made a suggestive motion
of the right hand above the left.

'Who is Wilkett?' I demanded, for these two were taking him very
seriously.

'Just now? The best man in his line at St. Peggotty's. What he'll be
in ten years' time, the Lord only knows; but Howlieglass is betting on
it.'

Keede interrupted the other for my benefit.

'He's bugs--agar-agar--guinea-pigs--slides--slices. The microbe-
game.'

'The Lancet's right,' Sir Thomas meditated aloud. 'You G.P.'s ought to
learn to read sometimes, and try to catch up with what's being done.'

'And leave you knife-wallahs to kill our patients? We daren't gut 'em
and tell the widows they died of shock.'

Sir Thomas turned to me.

'If you've had dealings with him, you'll know what an impostor Keede
is. He's as good with the knife as--'

'Any other post-War assassin. But I don't cut old ladies into bits
because it didn't kill youngsters in the pink of condition. I don't
pose as an expert because I had to take chances in the War. I don't
lecture and publish on insuff--'

'You're right, Robin.' Scree dropped a hand on his shoulder. 'There
has been a deal too much cut-and-thrust since the War. Specially among
the youngsters.'

''Glad some of you know that, at any rate. It's the same between
Doctor and Patient as it is between Man and Woman. Do you want to
prove things to her, or do you want to keep her?'

'There's a middle way, though,' Scree observed. 'Howlieglass wanted to
keep Wilkie, but he had to prove a few things to him first.'

'Why on earth was Wilks sent to the Front at all? 'Sheer waste!' said
Keede angrily.

'We knew it. Howlieglass did his best to have him kept back, but
Wilkie thought it was his duty.'

'Lummy! As if any of us could get out of that!' Keede snorted.

'The "duty" notion was part of the imaginative equipment, of course,'
said Scree. 'They used him at the base for a while. He was all right
there, because he had time to think.'

'That's the research-temperament. But there's a time for all things.'
Keede spoke severely.

'I don't say he was even second-class in his surgery,' Scree went on,'
but what did that matter under the circumstances? Only, as you say,
Robin, that type of mind wants absolute results, one way or the other;
or else absolute accuracy. You don't get either at a Clearing Station.
You've got to acknowledge the facts of life and your own limitations.
Ambitious men won't do that till they are broke--like Wilkie was.'

'What was his trouble?' I demanded.

Scree hesitated for a definition. Keede supplied it.

'Bleedin' vanity,' said he.

Scree nodded.

'Lambeth has spoken. The way Howlieglass would put it is a shade more
refined.'

'Let's have it!' Keede cried; then, to me 'Scree's splendid as
Howlieglass. Listen!'

Here Sir Thomas Horringe, whom few would suspect of parlour-tricks,
gave a perfect rendering of the Head of St. Peggotty's thus:

'Gen-tel-men. In our Pro-fession we are none of us Jee-ho-vahs.
Strange as it may seem, not an-y of us are Jee-ho-vahs.'

In the few precisely articulated words, one could see Sir James
himself--his likeness in face and carriage to the hawk-headed Egyptian
god, the mobile pursed lips, and the stillness of the wonderful hands
at his sides.

'I ought to know,' said Scree, after our compliments. 'I was his
dresser...Yes, Wilkie was sent up to the dog-fight, and it was
too much for him.'

'Why?' I said, foolishly enough.

'Robin'll tell,' was the reply. 'He had it.'

I waited on Keede, who delivered himself at some length; his half-shut
eyes on the past.

'When you are at the Front, you are either doing nothing or trying to
do ten times more than you can. When you are, you store up impressions
for future use. When you aren't, they develop. Either way, God help
you! A C.C.S. has to be near railhead, hasn't it?--to evacuate 'em.
That means troops and dumps. That means bombing, don't it?...The
actual setting?...Oh! They take a couple of E.P. tents and join
'em together, and floor 'em with tarpaulins that have--been in use.
Then they rig up a big acetylene over each operating table; your
anaesthetist gets his dope and the pads ready; your nurses and
orderlies stand by with the cutlery and odds and ends, and you're
ready for visitors. They've been tagged and labelled by some poor
devil up under fire--I've been him, too!--and the Receiving Officer
sends in the ones that look as if they had the best chance. About that
time, Jerry drops an egg or so to steady your hand, and someone
vomits.'

'He does,' said Scree.

'Then your job begins. You've got to make up your mind what you are
going to do, as soon as your man is on the table, because the others
are waiting. Often, you lead off with a long break of identical gun-
shot wounds in the head--shrapnel on tin-hats, advancing. Then the
five-point-nines find 'em, and it's abdominals. You have to explore
and act on your own judgment--one down, t'other come on--till you
drop.

'The longest single stretch I ever put in was three and a half days,
four hours' sleep each night, after Second Vermuizendaal in '16. The
last thing I remember, before I rolled over behind the stores, was old
"Duck" Ruthven sluicing off his fat arms in our tea-bucket, and
quacking, "Fifteen minutes! My God! Fifteen minutes per capita!" He
was the final London word in trephining, and he'd come out to show the
young 'uns how to do it. In his own theatre with his own troupe, he
considered an hour and a quarter good going for one case; but
Berkeley's team, at the next table, had been polishing 'em off four to
the hour for five hours. Talking of Ruthven, did you hear what he said
when the Aussies broke into the milliner's shop at Amiens, just before
Villers Bretonneux, and dressed 'emselves lady-fashion all through? He
had to cut three of 'em out of their undies afterwards.'

It was no language that Mr. Ruthven would use to a Harley Street
patient; but it made us laugh. Keede took on again:

'I've given you a rough notion of things. Six or seven teams working
like sin; the stink of the carbide from the acetylene; and the dope;
and the stink of your anaesthetist's pipe--my man ought to have been
hung!--mixed up with an occasional egg from Jerry.

'And when you've dropped in your boots, not dead, but dead and buried,
someone begins waggling your foot (the Inquisition invented that
trick!) and whisperin' to you to wake up and have a stab at some poor
devil who has been warmed and slept off some of his shock, and there's
just a chance for him. Then you dig yourself up and carry on if you
can. But God is great, as they say in Mespot. Sometimes you get a card
from the base saying you didn't stitch his diaphragm to his larynx,
and he's doing well. There was a machine-gunner (I remember his eyes)
and he had twenty-three perforations of the intestines. I was pretty
well all in by then, and my hands hadn't belonged to me for two days.
I must have left the bloke his stomach, but I fancy I made a clean
sweep of everything below the duodenum. And now he's a head-gardener
near Plaxtol. 'Pinches his employer's celery and sends it to me in
sugar-boxes.'

This reminded Scree of a man one-third of whose brain he had
personally removed, who on recovery wished to show his gratitude by
becoming his town chauffeur. As the two talked, the old Army oaths
blossomed on their happy tongues, and coloured the rest of their
speech for the night.

'This Hell's hoop-la was too much for Wilkie,' said Keede, when, at
last, I recalled him. 'He hadn't the time he needed to think things
out; and he was afraid of injuring his own reputation (God knows he
was no surgeon!) by doing the wrong thing. But I think what really
coopered him, was being in charge of an S.I.W. show just before
Armistice.'

'What is an S.I.W.?' I said.

'A hospital for self-inflicted wounds. He had to look after a crowd
who had blown off their big toes, and so on, and were due for court-
martial as soon as they could stand. Enough to send a tank up the
pole, ain't it? And a week before the Eleventh, a Gotha going home had
unloaded one on an outhouse, and a bit of tin or something had caught
him through the boot and lodged near--' Keede gave the bones their
proper names and showed the position of the wound on his own plump
little instep. 'It wasn't anything that mattered. He picked it out
with the forceps, cleaned it, and it healed. I got that from his
colleague when I was sitting on a court of inquiry into missing
medical comforts in that sector. (I was a Major then, by God!--so I
was.) And that's where I met Wilkie again. He hung on to himself till
proceedings were over; and then he wrung his hands. 'Don't often see a
man do that.'

'They do it oftener than women,' said Scree, which puzzled me till he
gave a reason.

'He said there was blood on everything that he ate. He said he'd been
guilty of the murder of a certain number of men because he hadn't
operated on 'em properly. He had their names down in a pocket-book. He
said he might have saved 'em if he hadn't knocked off for a cigarette
or a doss. He said he had kept himself going on rum sometimes, and was
woozy when the pinch came; and he hadn't waked up and carried on when
the orderlies waggled his foot and asked him to take a long shot with
a dog's-chancer. He didn't know that lot by name; but he had 'em
numbered and dated. He wanted me to go through all his vellum cards,
from the C.C.S., so he could prove it. And, of course, he was
eternally damned. Liquor? Not enough to have flustered a louse!
Besides--he couldn't stand it. 'Hairtrigger stomach. I've seen him. My
worrd! He had 'em bad. Everything that a man's brain automatically
shoves into the background was out before the footlights, and dancing
Hell's fox-trot, with drums and horns.'

The simile seemed to convey something to Scree.

'I didn't know that,' he said lazily. 'Were there noises, then, from
the first?'

'Yes. That's what made me take notice. Of course, I argued with him,
but you know how much good that is against fixed notions! I told him
we were all alike, and the conditions of our job hadn't been human. I
said there were limits to the machine. We'd been forced to go beyond
'em, and we ought to be thankful we'd been able to do as much as we
had. Then he wrung his hands and said, "To whom much has been given,
from the same much shall be required." That annoyed me. I hate
bookkeeping with God! It's dam' insolence, anyhow. Who was he to know
how much had been given to the other fellow? He wasn't the Almighty. I
told him so. Oh, I know I was a fool...

'The only thing that kept him at all anchored was his silly foot. That
wound I told you about had broken out and was discharging. He dressed
it himself twice a day. I reported on him, which I had no right to do,
and his Colonel shipped him off to one of those nice "nervous"
hospitals where they wore brown gloves and saluted their C.O.'s in
case they should forget there had been a war. But I was so busy
getting demobbed and trying to pick up what my locum-tenens had left
of my practice, that I lost sight of him. He went off to live with his
mother.' Keede gave way to Scree at this point.

'Yes, his mother kidnapped him. She didn't know there had been a war,
either. She was afraid neighbours might think he was insane, and there
hadn't been any insanity in her family, and she didn't want the
tradespeople to talk. So she hid him in the country and suppressed all
letters. There were lots like her. I was trying to get back my
practice, too. Do you suppose that mattered to Howlieglass? He had his
new bug-runs built and endowed, but he hadn't got his Wilkie to manage
'em, and he chose to damn my eyes for not producing him. He gave me
the telling-off of my life the day I went up for my Knighthood. I told
him I wasn't a gynecologist, and he'd better make touch with the old
lady and tackle her himself. No! He said that was my job, because I'd
worked with Wilkie on some of the earlier research details. So I had
to trace him.'

'Is--er--Sir James that kind of person?' I ventured.

''Don't know what you mean by "person,"' said Scree. 'But when Howlie
begins to dissect his words, you generally attend to him. Luckily, I
found a woman who had kept her eye on Wilkie's whereabouts--mother or
no mother. I gave Howlieglass the address, and he kindly let me go on
with my practice.'

'He didn't me!' said Keede. 'He wrote me to report to him after
consulting hours, and I went. He told me to look up Wilkie at once. It
was only two hundred miles, and one night out. It was lodgings by the
seaside, and his mother did social small-talk without daring to stop,
and Wilkie played up to her. She said he was all right, and he swore
he was.

'And it rained. I got him let out for a walk on the beach with me. He
went to bits behind a bathing-machine. It was the trephining work that
had stuck on his mental retina. (Odd! It used to be abdominals with
me, the first few months after.) He saw perspectives of heads--gunshot
wounds--seen from above and a little behind, as they'd lie on the
tables; with the pad over their mouths, but still they all accused him
of murder. On off nights he had orderlies whispering to him to wake up
and give some poor beggar a chance to live. Then they'd waggle his
foot, and he'd wake up grateful for the pain, and change the
dressings. His foot was in a filthy state. The thing had formed a
sinus. 'Acted as a safety valve, perhaps.'

'None of your mediaeval speculations here, Robin,' said Scree. 'Facts
are all that the ex-am-in-ers reequire, gen-tel-men.'

'He was quite rational, apart from being damned, and walking down
those perspectives, and hearing shouts of "Murder!" We had high tea,
with a kerosene lamp and crossword puzzles after. She talked about the
pretty walks in the neighbourhood. Great thing--mother-love, ain't it?
...I turned in my notes to Howlieglass, and he asked me to dinner.
My worrd!' Keede patted his round little pot. 'And where does he get
his champagne?'

'From grateful appendices--same as your bloody 'umble,' said Scree.
'G.P.'s are only entitled to birds and foie gras.'

'Get out! I had a whole tin of salmon once from a kosher butcher...
. We-ell! Howlie took me through Wilkie's case for half an hour, on my
notes. I can't imitate him, but he said that none of us were Jee-ho-
vahs, and if, in my considered judgment, Wilkie's foot was
tuberculous, the best thing would be to give him a bed in his old
hospital, and have Scree operate. I hadn't said a word about tubercle.
I'd been working out mental symptoms...Where in Hell does
hysteria shade into mania?' Keede broke off.

'Not on these premises, old man. I'm a knife-wallah,' said Scree.
'Carry on.'

'Howlieglass told me that the best of us make mistakes; but a mistake
made by a G.P. of my standing and antecedents would only be natural,
and would not shake the faith of my flat-u-lent old ladies. Just that!
He was prepared to abide by my verdict because I knew Wilkie's
constitutional needs; and if I recommended homeopathic treatment, he
would bow to that, too.'

'But you tumbled to it?' said Sir Thomas Horringe, K.C.B., with a
grin.

'Not that very minute, because it was my third glass. But I noticed he
was beginning to dissect his words, so I agreed at once. Then he said
it might amuse Wilkie to conduct his own tubercle tests with guinea-
pigs and culture in his own fetid atmosphere. That wasn't my affair. I
was to go back and tell the mother that the foot needed attention. He
left the rest to my bedside-manner. You needn't laugh, Scree. He said
that you'd come in later as the "bungling amateur," and--you dam' well
did.

'Then I went back to the "British Riviera," and convinced the old
lady. She said the change might do him good. But Wilkie became the
bacteriologist at once. He disputed the notion of tubercle; but when I
told him he could put the question to the guinea-pigs, and examine the
slides himself, he was willing to come up and show me what a fool I
was. I say, Scree, was Wilkie always as offensive as he is?'

'Pretty nearly. It's his sniffle does it. But he's a genius.'

'I don't care for geniuses. He came up with me, and I gave him a bed
for the night. He began to see his heads when he was turning in; and,
not having his mother to play up to, he let go aloud.'

''Was he playing up to you?' Scree demanded.

'How can one tell with a patient? I 'phoned to Howlieglass to come and
look. He stayed till nearly daylight, watching. Wilkie talked about
being damned and having much required of him. Howlieglass never said a
word till just as he was going. Then he told me he couldn't afford to
lose Wilkie's intellect for the sake of his bleedin' vanity. No, old
man! That wasn't Lambeth. It was Howlieglass said it.'

'I apologise to Lambeth.'

'And then, on the doorstep--he'd sent his car home, and my man waited
for him just as he was getting in, he saw a star (you know how keen he
is on astronomy) and he stared at Tweed for about half a minute, and
then he said: "Oh, Lord! What do You expect for the money?" He was
only questioning the general scheme of things, the way he does
sometimes; but my man thinks he's the Devil. He's more afraid of him
than I am...Oh, well, and then we put Wilkie into one of the new
paying-rooms at the Hospital, and we hurried up the tests, and they
showed unmistakable tubercle. Wilkie saw it for himself. He was fairly
winded. What annoyed him more than anything was that it would have to
be a Syme operation.'

'Who is Syme?' I asked.

'He's dead,' said Scree, 'but he begat rather a pretty operation on
the foot.' Bob Sawyer-like, he illustrated it with a folded sandwich.
'Then you turn the flap under like this,' he concluded, 'and it makes
a false heel that a man can walk about on very comfily.'

'Then, why was Wilkie annoyed?' I inquired. Keede answered the
question.

'Because he'd done a good few of 'em in the S.I.W. on chaps who had
fired into their own insteps. He said it was a judgment on him for
shirking. He was seeing his heads every night while he waited.
Howlieglass never noticed 'em. He'd drop in and talk bugs with him
however looney he was.'

'I never knew Wilkie more brilliant than he was in his lucid
intervals, then. He used to talk bugs to me, too,' said Scree. 'I
operated, of course. Howlieglass came to look (he never thinks it
makes a man nervous) and--I couldn't help laughing--just as Wilks was
going under--Howlie turned to one of the nurses and said: "Yes, my de-
ar. The best of us can make mis-takes. We are none of us Je-ho-vahs--
not even Mr. Wilkett." All the same, I made rather a neat job of that
Syme..'

'You hadn't to stand being kicked for it,' said Keede. 'We gave Wilks
a week to pull round in. Then I called and told him that, if he'd been
a patient, I should have held my tongue: but, as he was one of us--No,
I said, as he had been one of us, and that made him wince--I had to
confess that his foot was no more tuberculous than mine. I took full
responsibility for the error...Do you want me to tell you what he
really said to me?'

I did indeed.

'He said: "You! What on earth do you matter? You're only a G.P. The
tests were scientific. They can't lie. I'll go into that later; but
I'll attend to you first." He did. He ended up by annoying me a
little, though I'm the meekest medico on the register. He said: "How
could even you make such a ghastly blunder? You had all the time there
was. You had whatever judgment you possess under your control. You
weren't hurried. Were you drunk?"

'I said I wasn't, but I didn't say it with too much conviction. As I
told you, he annoyed me. I said that his infernal heads' nonsense and
his hysteria must have biased me, but, if he was eternally damned, the
mistake wasn't worth fussing about. If he wasn't, he knew as well as I
did that errors of this kind happened under the most careful system;
and he'd be hopping about on his Syme heel in no time; and at any rate
he ought to be grateful I hadn't diagnosed his trouble as something
scandalous.'

'Not bad, for the meekest medico on the register,' said Scree
approvingly.

'I was annoyed,' Keede confessed, 'but I wasn't as annoyed as Wilkie.
When he'd polished me off, he wanted the slides and test records. I
don't know what hanky-panky they had worked; but a youth turned up
from the bug-run and said there had been a mistake in the samples or
the filing of the guinea-pigs, and they were tracing the
responsibility in the basement. Meantime, here were the genuine
articles.

'Then Wilks began again on him: "But you had all the time you wanted!
You had no reason to hurry! You were under no strain! You had only to
label and number." That showed what he had been suffering from, at the
back of his mind, at the Front. But he went too far. He asked the pup
how long he thought he would be allowed to hold his job after this
disgraceful exposure.

'I had to remind him that he was one blooming civil case in one
blooming bed, and he would get his bill, and he could bring his civil
action when he pleased, but he did not command the Hospital staff. The
youth got out. I took the rest of the barrage. No mistake about it--it
was a desperately important affair to Wilkie, damned or saved. Then
that "bungling amateur," Scree, came in.'

'Was this all a put-up job?' I asked.

'Not in the least. It was Scree's regular round. Wilkie wasn't as
offensive to him as he'd been to me. More professionally pained and
shocked, you know. That put Scree on his high horse at once. He said
he was an operative mason, not a speculative one.'

'You infernal old liar,' Scree broke in, passing over the siphon.

'That was the sense of it, at any rate. Scree said he'd been told to
operate on a foot reported as tuberculous, and it wasn't his job to
question me. Then he mentioned the figures that the crowned heads of
Europe always paid him for cutting their corns, and he implied that
being operated on by him was equivalent to a K.C.B. You ought to hear
Scree's top-note. It cowed the bacteriologist. And then he sat down by
the old boy's bed and began to talk Research with him, giving the
impression that he was sitting at the feet of Gamaliel. It was--shut
up, Scree! This is true!--the prettiest and kindest bit of work I've
ever known even that hardened ruffian do. It had Wilkie steadied in
five minutes, and in another five he was sailing away about Research,
with his brain working like treacle.'

The tiny muscle that twitches when we feel certain sorts of shame
showed itself beneath Scree's lower eyelid.

'In the middle of it Howlie came in, and Scree put up his hand to stop
him speaking till Wilkie had finished.'

'Wilkie was giving his reasons for having chucked Maldoni's theory,'
said Scree in extenuation.

'Then Howlieglass slid into the conference, and there they sat, with
me playing bad boy in the corner, while they talked about taming
spirochetes. Didn't you, Scree?'

'We talked, if you want to know, about the general administration of
St. Peggotty's New Biological Laboratories Extension,' said Scree.

'Did you? Then you can carry on,' said Keede; and Sir James Belton was
heard speaking through Scree's lips: '"I am ver-ree sor-ree to say
that there has been a mis-take, Mis-ter Wilkett, about your foot. It
was due to an erroneous di-ag-nosis on the part of Mis-ter Keede, who
is onlee a sub-urban Gen-eral Prac-titioner. We must not judge him too
hard-ly."'

'And then,' Keede supplemented, 'Scree, who might have had the decency
to have kept out of it, said it was an infernal and grotesque blunder
on my part.'

'Sorry,' said Scree, returning to his natural voice, 'I thought you
only wanted to know what Howlieglass said. Yes, of course I went for
Keede for compromising my professional career that way. We all went
for Keede.

'I haven't forgotten.' Keede turned to me again. 'I'm rather an
exponent of the bedside manner, though you mightn't think it; but for
sheer bluff and tying a poor devil into knots I never heard anything
within miles of that show round Wilkie's bed. They had him apologising
at last for owning a foot at all, and hoping he hadn't given too much
trouble.'

'But how about the mix-up of the slides? Did they saddle you with it?'
said I.

'Worse! Much worse! Wilkie was drawing up to the subject--he'd have
apologised for that, too--but Howlieglass got in first, and--'

Keede nodded towards the obedient Scree. Once more we heard the voice
of the head of St. Peggotty's, preciser than ever.

'"If you had been at your post here after the War, Mis-ter Wil-kett,
in-stead of relaxing your mind in rest-cures, this lit-tle af-fair,
which we have ag-reed to for-get, would never have ta-ken place. I
trust you will not al-low it to oc-cur again." And, damn it all!'--
Scree's operating hand smacked on my knee--'poor Wilk's mouth went
down at the corners like a child's, and he said, "I see that now, sir.
I'm so sorry, sir."'

'Did it cure him?' I asked later as we moved towards the taxi-cup.

'Ab-so-bally-lutely,' said Keede. 'Not a head or a hoot since.'

'And was the foot tuberculous?' I persisted.

'Anything with a sinus of long-standing may turn into anything. It's
always best to be on the safe side,' was the response. 'We were
playing for the man's reason--not his carcass.'

'One more,' I ventured. 'How was the mix-up in the slides managed?
It's rather a grave matter to play with samples, isn't it?'

'By the same woman who knew where his mother had taken him. It wasn't
a job to trust to a man. A man would have said that he had a
reputation or something to lose.'

'Arising out of the reply to the previous question, does Mr. Wilkett
realise about the lady?...'

'No,' said Sir Thomas Horringe very gravely to me; 'that's where he
has made a mistake.'

'Mistake! Poor devil! He has!' said Keede with equal solemnity.



The Penalty

ONCE in life I watched a Star;
  But I whistled, 'Let her go!
There are others, fairer far.
  Which my favouring skies shall show.'
Here I lied, and herein I
Stood to pay the penalty.

Marvellous the Planets shone
  As I ranged from coast to coast;
But beyond comparison
  Rode the Star that I had lost.
I had lied, and only I
Did not guess the penalty!

When my Heavens were turned to blood.
  When the dark had filled my day.
Furthest, but most faithful, stood
  That lone Star I cast away.
I had loved myself, and I
Have not lived and dare not die!



Uncovenanted Mercies

IF the Order Above be but the reflection of the Order Below, as that
Ancient affirms who has had experience of the Orders,1 it follows that
in the Administration of the Universe all Departments must work
together.

This explains why Azrael, Angel of Death, and Gabriel, Adam's First
Servant and Courier of the Thrones, were talking with the Prince of
Darkness in the office of the Archangel of the English, who--Heaven
knows--is more English than his people.

Two Guardian Spirits had been reported to the Archangel for allowing
their respective charges to meet against Orders. The affair involved
Gabriel, as official head of all Guardian Spirits, and also Satan,
since Guardian Spirits are exhuman souls, reconditioned for re-issue
by the Lower Hierarchy. There was a doubt, too, whether the Orders
which the couple had disobeyed were absolute or conditional. And,
further, Ruya'il, the female spirit, had refused to tell the Archangel
of the English what the woman in her charge had said or thought when
she met the man, for whom Kalka'il, the male Guardian Spirit, was
responsible. Kalka'il had been equally obstinate; both Spirits
sheltering themselves behind the old Ruling:--'Who knoweth the spirit
of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth
downward to the earth?' The Archangel of the English, ever anxious to
be just, had therefore invited Azrael, who separates the Spirit from
the Flesh, to assist at the inquiry.

The four Powers were going over the case in detail.

'I am afraid,' said Gabriel at last, 'no Guardian Spirit is obliged
to--er--give away, as your people say, his or her charge. But'--he
turned towards the Angel of Death--'what's your view of the Ruling?'

'"Ecclesiastes, Three, Twenty-one,"' Satan prompted.

'Thank you so much. I should say that it depends on the interpretation
of "Who,"' Azrael answered. 'And it is certainly laid down that
Whoever Who may be'--his halo paled as he bowed his head--'it is not
any member of either Hierarchy.'

'So I have always understood,' said Satan.

'To my mind'--the Archangel of the English spoke fretfully--'this lack
of--er--loyalty in the rank and file of the G.S. comes from our
pernicious system of employing reconditioned souls on such delicate
duties.'

The shaft was to Satan's address, who smiled in acknowledgment.

'They have some human weaknesses, of course,' he returned. 'By the
way, where on earth were that man and the woman allowed to meet?'

'Under the Clock at---Terminus, I understand.'

'How interesting! 'By appointment?'

'Not at all. Ruya'il says that her woman stopped to look for her
ticket in her bag. Kalka'il says that his man bumped into her. Pure
accident, but a breach of Orders--trivial, in my judgment, for--'

'Was it a breach of Orders for Life?' Azrael asked.

He referred to that sentence, written on the frontal sutures of the
skull of every three-year-old child, which is supposed, by the less
progressive Departments, to foreshadow his or her destiny.

'As a matter of detail,' said the Archangel, 'there were Orders for
Life--identical in both cases. Here's the copy. But nowadays we rely
on training and environment to counteract this sort of auto-
suggestion.'

'Let's make sure,' Satan picked up the typed slip, and read aloud:--
'"If So-and-so shall meet So-and-So, their state at the last shall be
such as even Evil itself shall pity." H'm! That's not absolutely
prohibitive. It's conditional--isn't it? 'There's great virtue in your
"if," and'--he muttered to himself--'it will all come back to me.'

'Nonsense!' the Archangel replied. 'I intend that man and that woman
for far better things. Orders for Life nowadays are no more than
Oriental flourishes--aren't they?'

But the level-browed Gabriel, in whose department these trifles lie,
was not to be drawn.

'I hope you're right,' Satan said after a pause. 'So you intend that
couple for better things?'

'Yes!' the Archangel of the English cleared his throat ominously.
'Rightly or wrongly, I'm an optimist. I do believe in the general
upward trend of life. It connotes, of course, a certain restlessness
among my people--the English, you know.'

'The English I know,' said Satan.

'But in my humble judgment, they are developing on new planes. They
must be met and guided by new methods. Surely in your dealings with
the--er--more temperamental among them, you must have noticed this new
sense of a larger outlook.'

'In a measure--ye-es,' Satan replied. 'But I remember much the same
sort of thing after printing was invented. Your people used to come
down to me then, reeking--positively Caxtonised--with words. Some of
'em were convinced they had invented new sins. We-ell! Boiled and
peeled (we had to do a little of that, of course) their novelties were
only variations on the Imperfect Octave--Pride, Envy, Anger, Sloth,
Gluttony, Covetousness, Lust. Technique, I grant you. Originality,
nil. You may find it so with this new Zeitgeist of theirs.'

'Ah, but you're such a pessimist,' the Archangel retorted, smiling. 'I
do wish you could meet these two I have in my eye. Charmin' people.
Cultured, capable, devout, of the happiest influences on their
respective entourages; practical, earnest, and--er--so forth--they
will each, in their spheres, supply just that touch which My People
need at the present moment for their development. Therefore, I am
giving them each full advantages for self-expression and realisation.
These will include impeccable surroundings, wealth, culture, health,
felicity (unhappy people can't make other people happy, can they?),
and--everything else commensurate with the greatness of the destiny
for which I--er--destine them.'

The Archangel of the English rubbed his soft hands and beamed on his
colleagues.

'I hope you're justified,' said Satan. 'But are you quite sure that
your method of--may I call it cosseting people, gets the best out of
them?'

''Rather what I was thinking,' said Azrael. 'I've seen wonderful work
done--with My Sword practically at people's throats--even when I've
had to haggle a bit. They're a hard lot sometimes.'

'Let's take Job's case.' Satan continued. 'He didn't reach the top of
his form, as your people say, till I had handled him a little--did
he?'

'Possibly not--by the standards of his age. But nowadays we don't give
very high marks to the Man of Uz. Qua Literature, rhetorical, Qua
Theology, anthropomorphic and unobserved. No-o, you can't get away
from the fact that new standards demand new methods, new outlooks, and
above all, enlarged acceptances--yes, enlarged acceptances. That
reminds me'--the Archangel of the English addressed himself to Azrael
'I've sent in--perhaps it hasn't come up to you yet--a Demi-Official
asking if you can't see your way towards mitigating some of your
Departmental methods, so far as those affect your--er--final despatch-
work. My people's standards of comfort have risen, you know; and
they're complaining of the--the crudity of certain vital phenomena
which lie within your provenance.'

For one instant Azrael lifted his eyes full on the hopeful countenance
of the Archangel of the English, but no muscle twitched round his
mouth as he replied:--'Death is a little crude. For that matter, so's
Birth; but the two seem, somehow, to hang together. What would you say
to an Inter-Departmental Committee--'

'Or Commission--that gives ampler powers--to explore all possible
avenues with a view to practical co-ordination? The very thing,' the
Archangel ran on. 'As a matter of fact, I've had the terms of
reference for such a conference drafted in the Office. I'll run
through 'em with you--if you can spare a few minutes.'

''Nothing I should like better,' Satan cried whole-heartedly.
'Unluckily, I'm not always master of my time.' He rose. The others
followed his example and, due leave taken, launched into the Void that
lay flush with the Office windows.

.   .   .   .   .

'Now, that,' Satan observed after an interval which had sunk three
Universes behind them, 'is a perfect example of the dyer's hand being
subdued to what it works in. "We don't give high marks to the Man of
Uz." Don't we? I'm glad I've always dealt faithfully with all
schoolmasters.'

'And he objects to my methods!' Azrael muttered. 'If he weren't
immortal--unfortunately--I--I could show him something.'

The notion set them laughing so much that the Ruler of an
Unconditioned Galaxy hailed them from his throne; and to Satan's half-
barked 'No!--No!'--sign that they were Powers in flight and not
halting--returned a courteous 'On You be the Blessing.'

'He has left out "and the Peace,"' said Azrael critically.

'There is no need. They've never conceived of Your existence in these
parts,' Gabriel explained, as one free of all the Creations.

'Really?' Azreal seemed a little dashed. 'Our young English friend
ought to apply for a transfer here. I fancy I should have to follow
him before long.'

'Oh no,' Gabriel chuckled. 'He'd eliminate you by training and
environment. You're only an Oriental flourish--like Orders for Life to
a soul. D'you suppose there's no one in his Office who knows what
Kismet means?'

'I should say not--from the quality of the stuff he sends down to us,'
Satan complained. 'Did you notice his dig at me about "our pernicious
system" of Guardian Spirits? I do my best to recondition his damned
souls for reissue, but--'

'You do it very thoroughly indeed,' said Gabriel. 'I've said as much
in my last Report on Our Personnel.'

'Thank you. It's heavier work than you'd imagine. If you're free for a
little, I'd like to show you how heavy--'

'You're sure it wouldn't--?' Gabriel began politely.

'Not in the least. Come along, then!...Take Space! Drop Time!
Forgive my going first...Now!'

The Three nose-dived at that point where Infinity returns upon itself,
till they folded their wings beneath the foundations of Time and
Space, whose double weight bore down on them through the absolute
Zeroes of Night and Silence.

Gabriel breathed uneasily; for, the greater the glory, the more
present the imperfections.

'It's the pressures,' Satan reassured him. 'We came down too quickly.
Swallow a little and they'll go off. Meantime, we'll have some light
on our subjects.'

The glare of the halo he wore in His Own Place fought against the
Horror of Great Darkness.

'Have we gone beyond The Mercy?' Azrael whispered, appalled at the
little light it won.

'They're delivered into My hands now,' Satan answered.

'Usen't there to be a notice hereabouts, requesting visitors to leave
all their hopes behind them?' Gabriel peered into the Gulf as he
spoke.

'We've taken it down. We work on hope deferred now,' Satan answered.
'It acts more certainly.'

'But I'm not conscious of anything going on,' Azrael remarked.

'The processes are largely mental. But now and again...For
example!' There was a minute sound, hardly louder than the parting of
fever-gummed lips in delirium, but the Silence multiplied it like
thunders in a nightmare. 'That is one reconditioning now,' Satan
explained.

'A hard lot. They frighten me sometimes,' said Azrael.

'And me always,' Gabriel added. 'I suppose that is because We are
their servants.'

'Of whom I am the hardest-worked,' Satan insisted.

'Oh, but you've every sort of labour-saving device, these days,
haven't you?' Gabriel said vaguely.

'None that eliminate responsibility. Take the case of that man and
that woman we were talking about just now. What conclusion did you
draw from the evidence of their Guardian Spirits?'

'There was only one conclusion possible--if they should meet,' Gabriel
replied. 'You yourself read the copy of their Orders for Life.'

'And what did our young friend do? 'Rode off on glittering
generalities about uplift and idealism and his precious scheme for
debauching them both with all the luxuries, because "unhappy people
can't make others happy." You heard him say it? He's hopeless.' Satan
spoke indignantly.

'Oh, I wouldn't go as far as that. He's English.' Gabriel smiled.

'And then,' Satan held on, 'did you see him look at me when I read out
"Evil itself shall pity?" That means, if and when the worst comes to
the worst I shall have to put it straight again. I shall be expected
to do the whole of his dirty work--unofficially--and shoulder the
unpopularity--officially. I shall have to give that couple Hell--and
our young friend will take the credit of my success.'

'The attitude is not unknown elsewhere,' said Azrael. 'Ve-ry little
would persuade our worthy Michael, for instance, that his Sword is as
effective as mine.'

'I'll prove my contention now,' Satan turned to Gabriel, 'if you'll
permit--we don't need both of 'em--the woman's guardian, Ruya'il, to
report here for a moment. It's night in England now. I can jam "all
ill dreams" while she's off duty. We shall have to manage the
interview like one of their own cinemas, but you'll overlook that, I
hope.'

Gabriel gave the permission without which no Guardian Spirit may quit
station, even for a breath, and on the instant, monstrously enlarged
upon Space, her eyes shut against the glare that revealed her, stood
Ruya'il in her last human shape as a woman upon earth.

Azrael moved forward.

'One instant,' said he. 'I think I have had the pleasure of meeting
you, Mrs.--' (he gave her her name, address, and the date of her
death). 'You called for me at the time. You seemed glad to meet me.
Why?'

'Because I wanted to meet Gregory,' came the answer, in the flat tones
of the held.

'There's our trouble in a nutshell,' said Satan, and took over the
inquiry, saying:--'You were under Our Hand for recondition and re-
issue, Mrs.--. For what cause?'

'Because of Gregory.'

'Who was re-issued as Kalka'il. And he because of you?'

'Yes.'

'On what terms were you issued as Guardian Spirits, please?'

'There were no terms. Gregory and I were free to meet in the course of
our duties, if we could. So we did. It wasn't his fault.'

'Those, by the way, were the last words Eve ever spoke to me,' Azrael
whispered to Gabriel.

'Indeed!' Satan resumed. 'So you met and, incidentally, your charges
met, too. I think that will be all--oh, one minute more. You know--?'
he named a railway terminus.

'Yes.' The eyelids quivered.

'In London and--Ours here?'

'Oh, please, don't! Yes!' A tear forced its way out, and glittered
horribly on the cheek.

'I beg your pardon! Thank you so much. I needn't detain you any
longer.'

'Now you see my position,' said Satan to the others. 'Our young friend
should have had all this information on his blotter before his inquiry
began. When he called me in, he should have communicated it to me.
Then I should have known where I stood. But he didn't. He makes my job
ten times more difficult than it need be by burking the essentials of
it--stabs me in the back with his crazy schemes of betterment--and
expects me to carry on!'

'I'm afraid my Department must be responsible for the original error
of detailing those two particular Guardian Spirits to those two
particular people,' said Gabriel. 'At any rate, I accept the
responsibility, and apologise.'

Satan laughed frankly. 'No need. We've been opposite numbers since
Adam. Mistakes will happen. I merely wished to show you something of
our young friend's loyal and helpful nature.'

'Meantime, what steps are you taking with that man and that woman?'
Azrael asked.

'Tentative, only. Listen!'

He lifted his hand for silence. A broken whisper that seemed one with
all Space fought itself into their hearing:

'My God! My God! Why hast Thou forsaken me?'

'Was that an echo?' said Gabriel presently. 'Or was it in duplicate?'

'In duplicate. But we don't attach too much value to that class of
expression. Very often it's only hysteria--or vanity. One can't be
sure till much later.'

'What were those curious metallic clicks after the message?' Azrael
asked.

'In the woman's case,' Satan explained, 'it was one of her rings
against her tiara as she was putting it on to go to Court. In the
second, it was the Star of some Order that the man was being invested
with by his Sovereign. That proves how happy they are!'

A certain amount of human time passed.

'Surely there's music, too,' Gabriel went on. 'And words?'

Both were most faint, but quite clear:

'I have a song to sing, oh!

Sing me your song, oh!'

A break, a patter of verse, and then--on an almost unendurable
movement that seemed to brush the heart-strings:

'Misery me! Lackaday-dee!

He died for the love of a lady!'

Last, the fall of a body.

'Oh, that's on a stage somewhere,' said Satan. 'They must be enjoying
themselves now at a theatre. Everything's coming their way. "Unhappy
people can't make people happy, y'know." Well! Now you've heard them,
I suggest that, if it doesn't bore you too much, you meet me here on--
Azrael must know the dates--they are due for filing and we'll watch
the result.'

After a glance into the future, Azrael gave a date in time as earth
reckons it, and they parted.

As Death returned to his own sphere, by way of that Galaxy which had
been denied knowledge of his existence, its Ruler heard a voice under
the stars framing words, to him meaningless, such as these

'His speech is a burning fire.

  With his lips he travaileth.

At his heart is a blind desire.

  In his eye foreknowledge of Death.'

.   .   .   .   .

The Archangel of the English, to whom, as to his people, the years had
brought higher education, was more optimistic than ever. This time, he
confided to the Three Archangels that, since Mass-Action was the Note
of the Age, he had discovered and was training an entire battalion of
hand-picked souls, whose collective efforts towards the world's well-
being he would aid with improved sanitary appliances and gratuitous
sterilised public transport.

'What grasp and vision you have!' said Satan. 'By the way, do you
remember a man and a woman you were rather interested in, some time
ago? "Male and female created He them"--didn't He? Ruya'il, I think,
was the woman's Guardian Spirit.'

'Perfectly,' said the Archangel of the English. 'They had a certain--
not quite so large, perhaps, as they thought, but a certain--share in
paving the way towards these present developments, which I have the
honour to direct a little, perhaps, from my inconspicuous post in the
background.'

'Good! I remember you spoke rather highly of them.'

'None the less '--the Archangel joined his hands across a stomach that
insisted a little--'none the less I should ha-ardly mark those two
definitely as among the Saviours of Society. We say in the Department
that social service can be divided into two categories--Saviours and
Paviours. Ha! Ha!'

'How very neat!' and Satan laughed, too.

'You see it? As a matter of fact, it arose out of one of my own
marginal notes on an Hierarchical docket. No-o! I think I should be
constrained to mark that couple as first-class among second-class
Paviours of Society.'

'And what has happened to them?' Satan pursued.

The Archangel of the English glanced towards Azrael, who replied:
'Both filed.'

''Sorry for that--'sorry for that,' the Archangel chirped briskly.
'But of course I was only concerned to get the best work out of them
which their limitations permitted. And I think, without unduly
vaunting my methods, I have succeeded. By the way, I have just drafted
a little bit of propaganda on the Interdependence of True Happiness
and Vital Effort. It won't take ten minutes to--'

But once again it appeared that his hearers had business elsewhere.
And indeed they met, soon after, on the Edge of the Abyss.

'If I had nerves,' said Satan, 'my young friend would arride them, as
he'd say. What was he telling you when we left?'

'Oh,' said Azrael, 'our Interdepartmental Commission hadn't come up to
his expectations. We couldn't agree on a form of words for a modus
moriendi.'

'And then,' Gabriel added, 'he said Azrael hadn't the judicial mind.'

'How can! have?' said Azrael simply. 'I'm strictly executive. My
instructions are to dismiss to the Mercy. Apropos--what has happened
to that couple you were talking over with him, just now?'

'I'll show you in a minute.' Satan looked about him. The light from
his halo was answered by a throb of increased productivity through all
the Hells. He shaped some wordless questions across Space, and nodded.
'It's all right,' he said. 'She's been in one of our shops, on test
for Breaking Strain. He's due for final test too. We'--Satan parodied
the manner of the Archangel of the English--'took the liberty of
thinking that there was a little more work to be got out of him in the
Paviour line, after our young friend above had dropped him. So we made
him do it--rather as job did--on an annuity bought by his friends, in
what they call a Rowton lodginghouse, with an incurable disease on
him. In our humble judgment, his last five years' realisation-output
was worth all his constructive efforts.'

'Does--did he know it?' Gabriel asked.

'Hardly. He was down and out, as the English say. I'll show them both
to you in a little. They met first at---Terminus; didn't they?...
Good!...Follow me till you see me check!--So I...And here we
are!'

'But this is the Terminus! Line for line and'--Gabriel pointed to the
newspaper posters--'letter for letter!'

'Of course it is. We don't babble about Progress. We keep up with it.'

'Then why'--Gabriel coughed as a locomotive belched smoke to the
roof--'why don't you electrify your system? I never smelt such fuel.'

'I have,' said Azrael, expert in operations. 'It's ether--'he sniffed
again--'it's nitrous oxide--it's--it's every sort of anaesthetic.'

'It is. Smells wake memory,' said Satan.

'But what's the idea?' Gabriel demanded.

'Quite simple. A large number of persons in Time have weaknesses for
making engagements--on oath, I regret to say--to meet other persons
for all Eternity. Most of these appointments are forgotten or overlaid
by later activities which have first claim on our attention. But the
residue--say two per cent--comes here. Naturally, it represents a high
level of character, passion, and tenacity which, ipso facto, reacts
generously to our treatments. At first we used to put 'em into
pillories and chaff 'em. When coaches came in, we accommodated them in
replicas of roadside inns. With the advance of transportation, we
duplicated all the leading London stations. (You ought to see some of
'em on a Saturday night!) But that's a detail. The essence of our idea
is that every soul here is waiting for a train, which may or may not
bring the person with whom they have contracted to spend Eternity.
And, as the English say, they don't half have to wait either.'

Satan smiled on Hell's own---Terminus as that would appear to men and
women at the end of a hot, stale, sticky, petrol-scented summer
afternoon under summer-time--twenty past six o'clock standing for
twenty past seven.

A train came in. Porters cried the number of its platform; many of the
crowd grouped by the barriers, but some stood fast under the Clock,
men straightening their ties and women tweaking their hats. An elderly
female with a string-bag observed to a stranger: 'I always think it's
best to stay where you promised you would. 'Less chance o' missing 'im
that way.' 'Oh, quite,' the other answered. 'That's what I always do';
and then both moved towards the barrier as though drawn by cords.

The passengers filed out--they and the waiting crowd devouring each
other with their eyes. Some, misled by a likeness or a half-heard
voice, hurried forward crying a name or even stretching out their
arms. To cover their error, they would pretend they had made no sign
and bury themselves among their uninterested neighbours. As the last
passenger came away, a little moan rose from the assembly.

A fat Jew suddenly turned and butted his way back to the ticket-
collector, who was leaving for another platform.

'Every living soul's out, sir,' the man began, 'but--thank ye, sir--
you can make sure if you like.'

The Jew was already searching beneath each seat and opening each shut
door, till, at last, he pulled up in tears at the emptied luggage-van.
He was followed on the same errand by a looseknit person in golfing-
kit, seeking, he said, a bag of clubs, who swore bitterly when a
featureless woman behind him asked: 'Was you looking for a sweetheart,
ducky?'

Another train was called. The crowd moved over--some hopeful in step
and bearing; others upheld only by desperate will. Several
ostentatiously absorbed themselves in newspapers and magazines round
the bookstalls; but their attention would not hold and when people
brushed against them they jumped.

'They are all under moderately high tension,' Satan said. 'Come into
the Hotel--it's less public there--in case any of them come unstuck.'

The Archangels moved slowly till they were blocked by a seedy-looking
person button-holing the Stationmaster between two barrows of
unlabelled luggage. He talked thickly. The official disengaged himself
with practised skill. 'That's all right, Sir. I understand,' he said.
'Now, if I was you I'd slip over to the Hotel and sit down and wait a
bit. You can be quite sure, Sir, that the instant your friend arrives
I'll slip over and advise you.'

The man, muttering and staring, drifted on.

'That's him,' said Satan. '"And behold he was in My hand "--with a
vengeance. Did you hear him giving his titles to impress the
Stationmaster?'

'What will happen to him?' said Gabriel.

'One can't be certain. My Departmental Heads are independent in their
own spheres. They arrange all sorts of effects. There's one, yonder,
for instance, that 'ud never be allowed in the other station up
above.'

A woman with a concertina and a tin cup took her stand on the kerb of
the road by Number One platform, where a crowd was awaiting a train.
After a pitiful flourish she began to sing:--

'The Sun stands still in Heaven--
  Dusk and the stars delay.
There is no order given
  To cut the throat of the day.
My Glory is gone with my Power.
  Only my torments remain.
    Hear me! Oh, hear me!
All things wait on the hour
  That sets me my doom again.'

But the song seemed unpopular, and few coins fell into the cup.

'They used to pay anything you please to hear her--once,' Satan said,
and gave her name. 'She's saving up her pennies now to escape.'

'Do they ever?' Gabriel asked.

'Oh, yes--often. They get clear away till--the very last. Then they're
brought back again. It's an old Inquisition effect, but they never
fail to react to it. You'll see them in the Reading-Rooms making their
plans and looking up Continental Bradshaws. By the way, we've taken
some liberties with the decorations of the Hotel itself. I hope you'll
approve.'

He ushered them into an enormously enlarged Terminus Hotel with
passages and suites of public rooms, giving on to a further confusion
of corridors and saloons. Through this maze men and women wandered and
whispered, opening doors into hushed halls whence polite attendants
reconducted them to continue their cycle of hopeless search elsewhere.
Others, at little writing-tables in the suites of overheated rooms,
made notes for honeymoons, as Satan had said, from the Bradshaws and
steamer-folders, or wrote long letters which they posted furtively.
Often, one of them would hurry out into the yard, with some idea of
stopping a taxi which seemed to be carrying away a known face. And
there were women who fished frayed correspondence out of their vanity-
bags and read it with moist eyes close up to the windows.

'Everything is provided for--"according to their own imaginations,"'
said Satan with some pride. 'Now I wonder what sort of test our man
will--'

The seedy-looking person was writing busily when a page handed him a
telegram. He turned, his face transfigured with joy, read, stared
deeply at the messenger, and collapsed in a fit. Satan picked up the
paper which ran:--'Reconsidered. Forgive. Forget.'

'Tck!' said Satan. 'That isn't quite cricket. But we'll see how he
takes it.'

Well-trained attendants bore the snorting, inert body out, into a
little side-room, and laid it on a couch. When Satan and the others
entered they found a competent-looking doctor in charge.

'"He that sinneth--let him fall into the hands of the Physician,"'
said Satan. 'I wonder what choice he'll make?'

'Has he any?' said Gabriel.

'Always. This is his last test. I can't say I exactly approve of the
means, but if one interferes with one's subordinates it weakens
initiative.'

'Do you mean to say, then, that that telegram was forged?' cried
Gabriel hotly.

'"There are lying spirits also, was the smooth answer." Wait and see.'

The man had been brought to with brandy and salvolatile. As he
recovered consciousness he groaned.

'I remember now,' said he.

'You needn't;' the doctor spoke slowly. 'We can take away your
memory--'

'If--if,' said Satan, as one prompting a discourteous child.

'If you please,' the doctor went on, looking Satan full in the face,
and adding under his breath:--'Am I in charge here or are You? "Who
knoweth--"'

'If I please?' the man stammered.

'Yes. If you authorise me,' the doctor went on.

'Then what becomes of me?'

'You'll be free from that pain at any rate. Do you authorise me?'

'I do not. I'll see you damned first.'

The doctor's face lit, but his answer was not cheering.

'Then you'd better go.'

'Go? Where in Hell to?'

'That's not my business. This room's needed for other patients.'

'Well, if that's the case, I suppose I'd better.' He rebuttoned his
loosed flannel shirt all awry, rolled off the couch, and fumbled
towards the door, where he turned and said thickly:--'Look here--I've
got something to say--I think...'I--I charge you at the Judgment--
make it plain. Make it plain, y'know...I charge you--'

But whatever the charge may have been, it ended in indistinct
mutterings as he went out, and the doctor followed him with the bottle
of spirits that had clogged his tongue.

'There!' said Satan. 'You've seen a full test for Ultimate Breaking
Strain.'

'But now?' Gabriel demanded.

'Why do you ask?'

'Because it was written: "Even Evil itself shall pity."'

'I told you long ago it would all be laid on me at last,' said Satan
bitterly.

Here Azrael interposed, icy and resplendent. 'My orders,' said he,
'are to dismiss to the Mercy. Where is it?'

Satan put out his hand, but did not speak.

The Three waited in that casualty room, with its porcelain washstand
beneath the glass shelf of bottles, its oxygen cylinders tucked under
the leatherette couch, and its heart-lowering smell of spent
anaesthetics--waited till the agony of waiting that shuffled and
mumbled outside crept in and laid hold; dimming, first, the lustre of
their pinions; bowing, next, their shoulders as the motes in the
never-shifted sunbeam filtered through it and settled on them,
masking, finally, the radiance of Robe, Sword, and very Halo, till
only their eyes had light.

The groan broke first from Azrael's lips. 'How long?' he muttered.
'How long?' But Satan sat dumb and hooded under cover of his wings.

There was a flurry of hysterics at the opening door. An uniformed
nurse half supported, half led a woman to the couch.

'But I can't! I mustn't!' the woman protested, striving to push away
the hands. 'I--I've got an appointment. I've got to meet the 7.12. I
have really. It's rather--you don't know how important it is. Won't
you let me go? Please, let me go I If you'll let me go, I'll give you
all my diamonds.'

'Just a little lay-down and a nice cup o' tea. I'll fetch it in a
minute,' the nurse cooed.

'Tea? How do I know it won't be poisoned. It will be poisoned--I know
it will. Let me go I I'll tell the police if you don't let me go! I'll
tell--I'll tell! Oh God!--who can I tell?...Dick! Dick! They're
trying to drug me! Come and help me! Oh, help me! It's me, Dickie!'

Presently the unbridled screams exhausted themselves and turned into
choking, confidential, sobbing whispers: 'Nursie! I'm so sorry I made
an exhibition of myself just now. I won't do it again--on my honour I
won't--if you'll just let me--just let me slip out to meet the 7.12.
I'll be back the minute it's in, and then I'll be good. Please, take
your arm away!'

But it was round her already. The nurse's head bent down as she blew
softly on the woman's forehead till the grey hair parted and the Three
could see the Order for Life, where it had been first written. The
body began to relax for sleep.

'Don't--don't be so silly,' she murmured. 'Well, only for a minute,
then. You mustn't make me late for the 7.12, because--because...
Oh! Don't forget..."I charge you at the Judgment make it plain--I
charge you--"'She ceased. The nurse looked as Kalka'il had done,
straight into Satan's eyes, and:--'Go!' she commanded.

Satan bowed his head.

There was a knock, a scrabbling at the door, and the seedy-looking man
shambled in.

'Sorry!' he began, 'but I think I left my hat here.'

The woman on the couch waked and, turning, chin in hand, chuckled
deliciously:--'What does it matter now, dear?'

.   .   .   .   .

The Three found themselves whirled into the Void--two of them a little
ruffled, the third somewhat apologetic.

'How did it happen?' Gabriel smoothed his plumes.

'Well--as a matter of fact, we were rather ordered away,' said Satan.

'Ordered away? I?' Azrael cried.

'Not to mention your senior in the Service,'

Satan answered. 'I don't know whether you noticed that that nurse
happened to be Ruya'il--'

'Then I shall take official action.' But Azrael's face belied his
speech.

'I think you'll find she is protected by that ruling you have so
lucidly explained to our young friend. It all turns upon the
interpretation of "Who," you know.'

'Even so,' said Gabriel, 'that does not excuse the neck-and-crop
abruptness--the cinema--like trick--of our--our expulsion.'

'I'm afraid, as the little girl said about her spitting at her nurse,
that that was my invention. But, my Brothers'--the Prince of Darkness
smiled--'did you really think that we were needed there much longer?'



Azrael's Count

LO! the Wild Cow of the Desert, her yeanling estrayed from her--
Lost in the wind plaited sand-dunes--athirst in the maze of them.
Hot foot she follows those foot-prints--the thrice tangled ways of them.
Her soul is shut save to one thing--the love-quest consuming her.
Fearless she lows past the camp, men's fires affright her not.
Ranges she close to the tethered ones--the mares by the lances held.
Noses she softly apart the veil in the women's tent.
Next--withdrawn under moonlight, a shadow afar off--
Fades. Ere men cry, 'Hold her fast!' darkness recovers her.
She the love-crazed and forlorn, when the dogs threaten her
Only a side-tossed horn, as though a fly troubled her.
Shows she hath heard, till a lance in the heart of her quivereth.
--Lo, from that carcass aheap--where speeds the soul of it?
Where is the tryst it must keep? Who is her pandar? Death!

Men I dismiss to the Mercy greet me not willingly;
Crying, 'Why seekest Thou me first? Are not my kin unslain?'
Shrinking aside from the Sword-edge, blinking the glare of it.
Sinking the chin in the neck-bone. How shall that profit them?
Yet, among men a ten thousand, few meet me otherwise.

Yet, among women a thousand, one comes to me mistress-wise.
Arms open, breasts open, mouth open--hot is her need on her.
Crying, 'Ho Servant, acquit me, the bound by Love's promises!
Haste Thou! He waits! I would go! Handle me lustily!'
Lo! her eyes stare past my wings, as things unbeheld by her.
Lo! her lips summonsing part. I am not whom she calls.
Lo! My sword sinks and returns. At no time she heedeth it
More than the dust of a journey, her garments brushed clear of it.
Lo! Ere the blood-rush has ceased, forward her soul rushes.
She is away to her tryst. Who is her pandar? Death!



THE END





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