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THE LONGEST JOURNEY

E. M. Forster
PART I CAMBRIDGE

The cow is there,said Anselllighting a match and holding it
out over the carpet. No one spoke. He waited till the end of the
match fell off. Then he said againShe is there, the cow.
There, now.

You have not proved it,said a voice.

I have proved it to myself.

I have proved to myself that she isn't,said the voice.
The cow is not there.Ansell frowned and lit another match.

She's there for me,he declared. "I don't care whether she's
there for you or not. Whether I'm in Cambridge or Iceland or
deadthe cow will be there."

It was philosophy. They were discussing the existence of objects.
Do they exist only when there is some one to look at them? Or
have they a real existence of their own? It is all very
interestingbut at the same time it is difficult. Hence the cow.
She seemed to make things easier. She was so familiarso solid
that surely the truths that she illustrated would in time become
familiar and solid also. Is the cow there or not? This was better
than deciding between objectivity and subjectivity. So at
Oxfordjust at the same timeone was askingWhat do our
rooms look like in the vac.?

Look here, Ansell. I'm there--in the meadow--the cow's
there. You're there--the cow's there. Do you agree so far?
Well?

Well, if you go, the cow stops; but if I go, the cow goes.
Then what will happen if you stop and I go?

Several voices cried out that this was quibbling.

I know it is,said the speaker brightlyand silence
descended againwhile they tried honestly to think the
matter out.

Rickieon whose carpet the matches were being droppeddid not
like to join in the discussion. It was too difficult
for him. He could not even quibble. If he spokehe should
simply make himself a fool. He preferred to listenand to
watch the tobacco-smoke stealing out past the window-seat
into the tranquil October air. He could see the court too


and the college cat teasing the college tortoiseand the
kitchen-men with supper-trays upon their heads. Hot food
for one--that must be for the geographical donwho never
came in for Hall; cold food for threeapparently at
half-a-crown a headfor some one he did not know; hot
fooda la carte--obviously for the ladies haunting the next
staircase; cold food for twoat two shillings--going to
Ansell's rooms for himself and Anselland as it passed under
the lamp he saw that it was meringues again. Then the
bedmakers began to arrivechatting to each other pleasantly
and he could hear Ansell's bedmaker sayOh dang!when she
found she had to lay Ansell's tablecloth; for there was not a
breath stirring. The great elms were motionlessand seemed still
in the glory of midsummerfor the darkness hid the yellow
blotches on their leavesand their outlines were still rounded
against the tender sky. Those elms were Dryads--so Rickie
believed or pretendedand the line between the two is subtler
than we admit. At all events they were lady treesand had for
generations fooled the college statutes by their residence
in the haunts of youth.

But what about the cow? He returned to her with a startfor this
would never do. He also would try to think the matter out. Was
she there or not? The cow. There or not. He strained his eyes
into the night.

Either way it was attractive. If she was thereother cows were
there too. The darkness of Europe was dotted with themand in
the far East their flanks were shining in the rising sun. Great
herds of them stood browsing in pastures where no man came nor
need ever comeor plashed knee-deep by the brink of impassable
rivers. And thismoreoverwas the view of Ansell. Yet
Tilliard's view had a good deal in it. One might do worse than
follow Tilliardand suppose the cow not to be there unless
oneself was there to see her. A cowless worldthenstretched
round him on every side. Yet he had only to peep into a field
andclick! it would at once become radiant with bovine life.

Suddenly he realized that thisagainwould never do. As
usualhe had missed the whole pointand was overlaying
philosophy with gross and senseless details. For if the cow
was not therethe world and the fields were not there either.
And what would Ansell care about sunlit flanks or impassable
streams? Rickie rebuked his own groveling souland turned his
eyes away from the nightwhich had led him to such absurd
conclusions.

The fire was dancingand the shadow of Ansellwho stood close
up to itseemed to dominate the little room. He was still
talkingor rather jerkingand he was still lighting matches and
dropping their ends upon the carpet. Now and then he would make a
motion with his feet as if he were running quickly backward
upstairsand would tread on the edge of the fenderso that the
fire-irons went flying and the buttered-bun dishes crashed
against each other in the hearth. The other philosophers were
crouched in odd shapes on the sofa and table and chairsand one
who was a little boredhad crawled to the piano and was timidly
trying the Prelude to Rhinegold with his knee upon the soft
pedal. The air was heavy with good tobacco-smoke and the pleasant
warmth of teaand as Rickie became more sleepy the events of the
day seemed to float one by one before his acquiescent eyes. In
the morning he had read Theocrituswhom he believed to be the
greatest of Greek poets; he had lunched with a merry don and had
tasted Zwieback biscuits; then he had walked with people he


likedand had walked just long enough; and now his room was full
of other people whom he likedand when they left he would go and
have supper with Ansellwhom he liked as well as any one. A year
ago he had known none of these joys. He had crept cold and
friendless and ignorant out of a great public schoolpreparing
for a silent and solitary journeyand praying as a highest
favour that he might be left alone. Cambridge had not answered
his prayer. She had taken and soothed himand warmed himand
had laughed at him a littlesaying that he must not be so tragic
yet awhilefor his boyhood had been but a dusty corridor that
led to the spacious halls of youth. In one year he had made many
friends and learnt muchand he might learn even more if he could
but concentrate his attention on that cow.

The fire had died downand in the gloom the man by the piano
ventured to ask what would happen if an objective cow had a
subjective calf. Ansell gave an angry sighand at that moment
there was a tap on the door.

Come in!said Rickie.

The door opened. A tall young woman stood framed in the light
that fell from the passage.

Ladies!whispered every-one in great agitation.

Yes?he said nervouslylimping towards the door (he was rather
lame). "Yes? Please come in. Can I be any good--"

Wicked boy!exclaimed the young ladyadvancing a gloved finger
into the room. "Wickedwicked boy!"

He clasped his head with his hands.

Agnes! Oh how perfectly awful!

Wicked, intolerable boy!She turned on the electric light. The
philosophers were revealed with unpleasing suddenness. "My
goodnessa tea-party! Oh reallyRickieyou are too bad! I say
again: wickedabominableintolerable boy! I'll have you
horsewhipped. If you please"--she turned to the symposiumwhich
had now risen to its feet "If you pleasehe asks me and my
brother for the week-end. We accept. At the stationno Rickie.
We drive to where his old lodgings were--Trumpery Road or some
such name--and he's left them. I'm furiousand before I can stop
my brotherhe's paid off the cab and there we are stranded. I've
walked--walked for miles. Pray can you tell me what is to be done
with Rickie?"

He must indeed be horsewhipped,said Tilliard pleasantly. Then
he made a bolt for the door.

Tilliard--do stop--let me introduce Miss Pembroke--don't all
go!For his friends were flying from his visitor like mists
before the sun. "OhAgnesI am so sorry; I've nothing to say. I
simply forgot you were comingand everything about you."

Thank you, thank you! And how soon will you remember to ask
where Herbert is?

Where is he, then?

I shall not tell you.


But didn't he walk with you?

I shall not tell, Rickie. It's part of your punishment. You are
not really sorry yet. I shall punish you again later.

She was quite right. Rickie was not as much upset as he ought to
have been. He was sorry that he had forgottenand that he had
caused his visitors inconvenience. But he did not feel profoundly
degradedas a young man should who has acted discourteously to a
young lady. Had he acted discourteously to his bedmaker or his
gyphe would have minded just as muchwhich was not polite of
him.

First, I'll go and get food. Do sit down and rest. Oh, let me
introduce--

Ansell was now the sole remnant of the discussion party. He still
stood on the hearthrug with a burnt match in his hand. Miss
Pembroke's arrival had never disturbed him.

Let me introduce Mr. Ansell--Miss Pembroke.

There came an awful moment--a moment when he almost regretted
that he had a clever friend. Ansell remained absolutely
motionlessmoving neither hand nor head. Such behaviour is so
unknown that Miss Pembroke did not realize what had happenedand
kept her own hand stretched out longer than is maidenly.

Coming to supper?asked Ansell in lowgrave tones.

I don't think so,said Rickie helplessly.

Ansell departed without another word.

Don't mind us,said Miss Pembroke pleasantly. "Why shouldn't
you keep your engagement with your friend? Herbert's finding
lodgings--that's why he's not here--and they're sure to be able
to give us some dinner. What jolly rooms you've got!"

Oh no--not a bit. I say, I am sorry. I am sorry. I am most
awfully sorry.

What about?

AnsellThen he burst forth. "Ansell isn't a gentleman. His
father's a draper. His uncles are farmers. He's here because he's
so clever--just on account of his brains. Nowsit down. He isn't
a gentleman at all." And he hurried off to order some dinner.

What a snob the boy is getting!thought Agnesa good deal
mollified. It never struck her that those could be the words of
affection--that Rickie would never have spoken them about a
person whom he disliked. Nor did it strike her that Ansell's
humble birth scarcely explained the quality of his rudeness. She
was willing to find life full of trivialities. Six months ago and
she might have minded; but now--she cared not what men might do
unto herfor she had her own splendid loverwho could have
knocked all these unhealthy undergraduates into a cocked-hat. She
dared not tell Gerald a word of what had happened: he might have
come up from wherever he was and half killed Ansell. And she
determined not to tell her brother eitherfor her nature was
kindlyand it pleased her to pass things over.

She took off her glovesand then she took off her ear-rings and


began to admire them. These ear-rings were a freak of hers--her
only freak. She had always wanted someand the day Gerald asked
her to marry him she went to a shop and had her ears pierced. In
some wonderful way she knew that it was right. And he had given
her the rings--little gold knobscopiedthe jeweller told them
from something prehistoric and he had kissed the spots of blood
on her handkerchief. Herbertas usualhad been shocked.

I can't help it,she criedspringing up. "I'm not like other
girls." She began to pace about Rickie's roomfor she hated to
keep quiet. There was nothing much to see in it. The pictures
were not attractivenor did they attract her--school groups
Watts' "Sir Percival a dog running after a rabbit, a man
running after a maid, a cheap brown Madonna in a cheap green
frame--in short, a collection where one mediocrity was generally
cancelled by another. Over the door there hung a long photograph
of a city with waterways, which Agnes, who had never been to
Venice, took to be Venice, but which people who had been to
Stockholm knew to be Stockholm. Rickie's mother, looking rather
sweet, was standing on the mantelpiece. Some more pictures had
just arrived from the framers and were leaning with their faces
to the wall, but she did not bother to turn them round. On the
table were dirty teacups, a flat chocolate cake, and Omar
Khayyam, with an Oswego biscuit between his pages. Also a vase
filled with the crimson leaves of autumn. This made her smile.

Then she saw her host's shoes: he had left them lying on the
sofa. Rickie was slightly deformed, and so the shoes were not the
same size, and one of them had a thick heel to help him towards
an even walk. Ugh!" she exclaimedand removed them gingerly to
the bedroom. There she saw other shoes and boots and pumpsa
whole row of themall deformed. "Ugh! Poor boy! It is too bad.
Why shouldn't he be like other people? This hereditary business
is too awful." She shut the door with a sigh. Then she recalled
the perfect form of Geraldhis athletic walkthe poise of his
shouldershis arms stretched forward to receive her. Gradually
she was comforted.

I beg your pardon, miss, but might I ask how many to lay?It
was the bedmakerMrs. Aberdeen.

Three, I think,said Agnessmiling pleasantly. "Mr. Elliot'll
be back in a minute. He has gone to order dinner.

Thank you, miss.

Plenty of teacups to wash up!

But teacups is easy washing, particularly Mr. Elliot's.

Why are his so easy?

Because no nasty corners in them to hold the dirt. Mr.
Anderson--he's below-has crinkly noctagons, and one wouldn't
believe the difference. It was I bought these for Mr. Elliot. His
one thought is to save one trouble. I never seed such a
thoughtful gentleman. The world, I say, will be the better for
him.She took the teacups into the gyp roomand then returned
with the tableclothand addedif he's spared.

I'm afraid he isn't strong,said Agnes.

Oh, miss, his nose! I don't know what he'd say if he knew I
mentioned his nose, but really I must speak to someone, and he


has neither father nor mother. His nose! It poured twice with
blood in the Long.

Yes?

It's a thing that ought to be known. I assure you, that little
room!... And in any case, Mr. Elliot's a gentleman that can ill
afford to lose it. Luckily his friends were up; and I always say
they're more like brothers than anything else.

Nice for him. He has no real brothers.

Oh, Mr. Hornblower, he is a merry gentleman, and Mr. Tilliard
too! And Mr. Elliot himself likes his romp at times. Why, it's
the merriest staircase in the buildings! Last night the bedmaker
from W said to me,'What are you doing to my gentlemen? Here's Mr.
Ansell come back 'ot with his collar flopping.' I said, 'And a
good thing.' Some bedders keep their gentlemen just so; but
surely, miss, the world being what it is, the longer one is able
to laugh in it the better.

Bedmakers have to be comic and dishonest. It is expected of them.
In a picture of university life it is their only function. So
when we meet one who has the face of a ladyand feelings of
which a lady might be proudwe pass her by.

Yes?said Miss Pembrokeand then their talk was stopped by the
arrival of her brother.

It is too bad!he exclaimed. "It is really too bad."

Now, Bertie boy, Bertie boy! I'll have no peevishness.

I am not peevish, Agnes, but I have a full right to be. Pray,
why did he not meet us? Why did he not provide rooms? And pray,
why did you leave me to do all the settling? All the lodgings I
knew are full, and our bedrooms look into a mews. I cannot help
it. And then--look here! It really is too bad.He held up his
foot like a wounded dog. It was dripping with water.

Oho! This explains the peevishness. Off with it at once. It'll
be another of your colds.

I really think I had better.He sat down by the fire and
daintily unlaced his boot. "I notice a great change in university
tone. I can never remember swaggering three abreast along the
pavement and charging inoffensive visitors into a gutter when I
was an undergraduate. One of the mentoowore an Eton tie. But
the othersI should saycame from very queer schoolsif they
came from any schools at all."

Mr. Pembroke was nearly twenty years older than his sisterand
had never been as handsome. But he was not at all the person to
knock into a gutterfor though not in ordershe had the air of
being on the verge of themand his featuresas well as his
clotheshad the clerical cut. In his presence conversation
became pure and colourless and full of understatementsand--just
as if he was a real clergyman--neither men nor boys ever forgot
that he was there. He had observed thisand it pleased him very
much. His conscience permitted him to enter the Church whenever
his professionwhich was the scholasticshould demand it.

No gutter in the world's as wet as this,said Agneswho had
peeled off her brother's sockand was now toasting it at the


embers on a pair of tongs.

Surely you know the running water by the edge of the Trumpington
road? It's turned on occasionally to clear away the refuse--a
most primitive idea. When I was up we had a joke about it, and
called it the 'Pem.'

How complimentary!

You foolish girl,--not after me, of course. We called it the
'Pem' because it is close to Pembroke College. I remember--He
smiled a littleand twiddled his toes. Then he remembered the
bedmakerand saidMy sock is now dry. My sock, please.

Your sock is sopping. No, you don't!She twitched the tongs
away from him. Mrs. Aberdeenwithout speakingfetched a pair of
Rickie's socks and a pair of Rickie's shoes.

Thank you; ah, thank you. I am sure Mr. Elliot would allow it.

Then he said in French to his sisterHas there been the
slightest sign of Frederick?

Now, do call him Rickie, and talk English. I found him here. He
had forgotten about us, and was very sorry. Now he's gone to get
some dinner, and I can't think why he isn't back.

Mrs. Aberdeen left them.

He wants pulling up sharply. There is nothing original in
absent-mindedness. True originality lies elsewhere. Really, the
lower classes have no nous. However can I wear such
deformities?For he had been madly trying to cram a right-hand
foot into a left-hand shoe.

Don't!said Agnes hastily. "Don't touch the poor fellow's
things." The sight of the smartstubby patent leather made her
almost feel faint. She had known Rickie for many yearsbut it
seemed so dreadful and so different now that he was a man. It was
her first great contact with the abnormaland unknown fibres of
her being rose in revolt against it. She frowned when she heard
his uneven tread upon the stairs.

Agnes--before he arrives--you ought never to have left me and
gone to his rooms alone. A most elementary transgression. Imagine
the unpleasantness if you had found him with friends. If Gerald--

Rickie by now had got into a fluster. At the kitchens he had lost
his headand when his turn came--he had had to wait--he had
yielded his place to those behindsaying that he didn't matter.
And he had wasted more precious time buying bananasthough he
knew that the Pembrokes were not partial to fruit. Amid much
tardy and chaotic hospitality the meal got under way. All the
spoons and forks were anyhowfor Mrs. Aberdeen's virtues were
not practical. The fish seemed never to have been alivethe meat
had no kickand the cork of the college claret slid forth silently
as if ashamed of the contents. Agnes was particularly pleasant. But
her brother could not recover himself. He still remembered their
desolate arrivaland he could feel the waters of the Pem eating
into his instep.

Rickie,cried the ladyare you aware that you haven't
congratulated me on my engagement?


Rickie laughed nervouslyand saidWhy no! No more I have.

Say something pretty, then.

I hope you'll be very happy,he mumbled. "But I don't know
anything about marriage."

Oh, you awful boy! Herbert, isn't he just the same? But you do
know something about Gerald, so don't be so chilly and cautious.
I've just realized, looking at those groups, that you must have
been at school together. Did you come much across him?

Very little,he answeredand sounded shy. He got up hastily
and began to muddle with the coffee.

But he was in the same house. Surely that's a house group?

He was a prefect.He made his coffee on the simple system. One
had a brown potinto which the boiling stuff was poured. Just
before serving one put in a drop of cold waterand the idea was
that the grounds fell to the bottom.

Wasn't he a kind of athletic marvel? Couldn't he knock any boy
or master down?

Yes.

If he had wanted to,said Mr. Pembrokewho had not spoken for
some time.

If he had wanted to,echoed Rickie. "I do hopeAgnesyou'll
be most awfully happy. I don't know anything about the armybut
I should think it must be most awfully interesting."

Mr. Pembroke laughed faintly.

Yes, Rickie. The army is a most interesting profession,--the
profession of Wellington and Marlborough and Lord Roberts; a most
interesting profession, as you observe. A profession that may
mean death--death, rather than dishonour.

That's nice,said Rickiespeaking to himself. "Any profession
may mean dishonourbut one isn't allowed to die instead. The
army's different. If a soldier makes a messit's thought rather
decent of himisn't itif he blows out his brains? In the other
professions it somehow seems cowardly."

I am not competent to pronounce,said Mr. Pembrokewho was not
accustomed to have his schoolroom satire commented on. "I merely
know that the army is the finest profession in the world. Which
reminds meRickie--have you been thinking about yours?"

No.

Not at all?

No.

Now, Herbert, don't bother him. Have another meringue.

But, Rickie, my dear boy, you're twenty. It's time you thought.
The Tripos is the beginning of life, not the end. In less than
two years you will have got your B.A. What are you going to do
with it?


I don't know.

You're M.A., aren't you?asked Agnes; but her brother
proceeded-


I have seen so many promising, brilliant lives wrecked simply on
account of this--not settling soon enough. My dear boy, you must
think. Consult your tastes if possible--but think. You have not a
moment to lose. The Bar, like your father?

Oh, I wouldn't like that at all.

I don't mention the Church.

Oh, Rickie, do be a clergyman!said Miss Pembroke. "You'd be
simply killing in a wide-awake."

He looked at his guests hopelessly. Their kindness and competence
overwhelmed him. "I wish I could talk to them as I talk to
myself he thought. I'm not such an ass when I talk to myself.
I don't believefor instancethat quite all I thought about the
cow was rot." Aloud he saidI've sometimes wondered about
writing.

Writing?said Mr. Pembrokewith the tone of one who gives
everything its trial. "Wellwhat about writing? What kind of
writing?"

I rather like,--he suppressed something in his throat--"I
rather like trying to write little stories."

Why, I made sure it was poetry!said Agnes. "You're just the
boy for poetry."

I had no idea you wrote. Would you let me see something? Then I
could judge.

The author shook his head. "I don't show it to any one. It isn't
anything. I just try because it amuses me."

What is it about?

Silly nonsense.

Are you ever going to show it to any one?

I don't think so.

Mr. Pembroke did not replyfirstlybecause the meringue he was
eating wasafter allRickie's; secondlybecause it was gluey
and stuck his jaws together. Agnes observed that the writing was
really a very good idea: there was Rickie's aunt--she could push
him.

Aunt Emily never pushes any one; she says they always rebound
and crush her.

I only had the pleasure of seeing your aunt once. I should have
thought her a quite uncrushable person. But she would be sure to
help you.

I couldn't show her anything. She'd think them even sillier than
they are.


Always running yourself down! There speaks the artist!

I'm not modest,he said anxiously. "I just know they're bad."

Mr. Pembroke's teeth were clear of meringueand he could refrain
no longer. "My dear Rickieyour father and mother are deadand
you often say your aunt takes no interest in you. Therefore your
life depends on yourself. Think it over carefullybut settle
and having once settledstick. If you think that this writing is
practicableand that you could make your living by it--that you
couldif needs besupport a wife--then by all means write. But
you must work. Work and drudge. Begin at the bottom of the ladder
and work upwards."

Rickie's head drooped. Any metaphor silenced him. He never
thought of replying that art is not a ladder--with a curateas
it wereon the first runga rector on the secondand a bishop
still nearer heavenat the top. He never retorted that the
artist is not a bricklayer at allbut a horsemanwhose business
it is to catch Pegasus at oncenot to practise for him by
mounting tamer colts. This is hardhotand generally ungraceful
workbut it is not drudgery. For drudgery is not artand cannot
lead to it.

Of course I don't really think about writing,he saidas he
poured the cold water into the coffee. "Even if my things ever
were decentI don't think the magazines would take themand the
magazines are one's only chance. I read somewheretoothat
Marie Corelli's about the only person who makes a thing out of
literature. I'm certain it wouldn't pay me."

I never mentioned the word 'pay,'said Mr. Pembroke uneasily.

You must not consider money. There are ideals too.

I have no ideals.

Rickie!" she exclaimed. "Horrible boy!"

No, Agnes, I have no ideals.Then he got very redfor it was a
phrase he had caught from Anselland he could not remember what
came next.

The person who has no ideals,she exclaimedis to be pitied.

I think so too,said Mr. Pembrokesipping his coffee. "Life
without an ideal would be like the sky without the sun."

Rickie looked towards the nightwherein there now twinkled
innumerable stars--gods and heroesvirgins and bridesto whom
the Greeks have given their names.

Life without an ideal--repeated Mr. Pembrokeand then
stoppedfor his mouth was full of coffee grounds. The same
affliction had overtaken Agnes. After a little jocose laughter
they departed to their lodgingsand Rickiehaving seen them as
far as the porter's lodgehurriedsinging as he wentto
Ansell's roomburst open the doorand saidLook here!
Whatever do you mean by it?

By what?Ansell was sitting alone with a piece of paper in
front of him. On it was a diagram--a circle inside a square
inside which was again a square.


By being so rude. You're no gentleman, and I told her so.He
slammed him on the head with a sofa cushion. "I'm certain one
ought to be politeeven to people who aren't saved." ("Not
saved" was a phrase they applied just then to those whom they did
not like or intimately know.) "And I believe she is saved. I
never knew any one so always good-tempered and kind. She's been
kind to me ever since I knew her. I wish you'd heard her trying
to stop her brother: you'd have certainly come round. Not but
what he was only being nice as well. But she is really nice. And
I thought she came into the room so beautifully. Do you know--oh
of courseyou despise music--but Anderson was playing Wagner
and he'd just got to the part where they sing

'Rheingold!

'Rheingold!

and the sun strikes into the watersand the musicwhich up to
then has so often been in E flat--"

Goes into D sharp. I have not understood a single word, partly
because you talk as if your mouth was full of plums, partly
because I don't know whom you're talking about.
Miss Pembroke--whom you saw.

I saw no one.

Who came in?

No one came in.

You're an ass!shrieked Rickie. "She came in. You saw her come
in. She and her brother have been to dinner."

You only think so. They were not really there.

But they stop till Monday.

You only think that they are stopping.

But--oh, look here, shut up! The girl like an empress--

I saw no empress, nor any girl, nor have you seen them.

Ansell, don't rag.

Elliot, I never rag, and you know it. She was not really there.

There was a moment's silence. Then Rickie exclaimedI've got
you. You say--or was it Tilliard?--no, YOU say that the cow's
there. Well--there these people are, then. Got you. Yah!

Did it never strike you that phenomena may be of two kinds: ONE,
those which have a real existence, such as the cow; TWO, those
which are the subjective product of a diseased imagination, and
which, to our destruction, we invest with the semblance of
reality? If this never struck you, let it strike you now.

Rickie spoke againbut received no answer. He paced a little up
and down the sombre roam. Then he sat on the edge of the table
and watched his clever friend draw within the square a circle
and within the circle a squareand inside that another circle
and inside that another square.


Whv will you do that?

No answer.

Are they real?

The inside one is--the one in the middle of everything, that
there's never room enough to draw.

A little this side of Madingleyto the left of the roadthere
is a secluded dellpaved with grass and planted with fir-trees.
It could not have been worth a visit twenty years agofor then
it was only a scar of chalkand it is not worth a visit at the
present dayfor the trees have grown too thick and choked it.
But when Rickie was upit chanced to be the brief season of its
romancea season as brief for a chalk-pit as a man--its divine
interval between the bareness of boyhood and the stuffiness of
age. Rickie had discovered it in his second termwhen the
January snows had melted and left fiords and lagoons of clearest
water between the inequalities of the floor. The place looked as
big as Switzerland or Norway--as indeed for the moment it was-and
he came upon it at a time when his life too was beginning to
expand. Accordingly the dell became for him a kind of church--a
church where indeed you could do anything you likedbut where
anything you did would be transfigured. Like the ancient Greeks
he could even laugh at his holy place and leave it no less holy.
He chatted gaily about itand about the pleasant thoughts with
which it inspired him; he took his friends there; he even took
people whom he did not like. "Procul esteprofani!" exclaimed
a delighted aesthete on being introduced to it. But this was
never to be the attitude of Rickie. He did not love the vulgar
herdbut he knew that his own vulgarity would be greater if he
forbade it ingressand that it was not by preciosity that he
would attain to the intimate spirit of the dell. Indeedif he
had agreed with the aesthetehe would possibly not have
introduced him. If the dell was to bear any inscriptionhe would
have liked it to be "This way to Heaven painted on a sign-post
by the high-road, and he did not realize till later years that
the number of visitors would not thereby have sensibly increased.

On the blessed Monday that the Pembrokes left, he walked out here
with three friends. It was a day when the sky seemed enormous.
One cloud, as large as a continent, was voyaging near the sun,
whilst other clouds seemed anchored to the horizon, too lazy or
too happy to move. The sky itself was of the palest blue, paling
to white where it approached the earth; and the earth, brown,
wet, and odorous, was engaged beneath it on its yearly duty of
decay. Rickie was open to the complexities of autumn; he felt
extremely tiny--extremely tiny and extremely important; and
perhaps the combination is as fair as any that exists. He hoped
that all his life he would never be peevish or unkind.

Elliot is in a dangerous state said Ansell. They had reached
the dell, and had stood for some time in silence, each leaning
against a tree. It was too wet to sit down.

How's that?" asked Rickiewho had not known he was in any state
at all. He shut up Keatswhom he thought he had been reading
and slipped him back into his coat-pocket. Scarcely ever was he
without a book.


He's trying to like people.

Then he's done for,said Widdrington. "He's dead."

He's trying to like Hornblower.

The others gave shrill agonized cries.

He wants to bind the college together. He wants to link us to
the beefy set.

I do like Hornblower,he protested. "I don't try."

And Hornblower tries to like you.

That part doesn't matter.

But he does try to like you. He tries not to despise you. It is
altogether a most public-spirited affair.

Tilliard started them,said Widdrington. "Tilliard thinks it
such a pity the college should be split into sets."

Oh, Tilliard!said Ansellwith much irritation. "But what can
you expect from a person who's eternally beautiful? The other
night we had been discussing a long timeand suddenly the light
was turned on. Every one else looked a sightas they ought. But
there was Tilliardsitting neatly on a little chairlike an
undersized godwith not a curl crooked. I should say he will get
into the Foreign Office."

Why are most of us so ugly?laughed Rickie.

It's merely a sign of our salvation--merely another sign that
the college is split.

The college isn't split,cried Rickiewho got excited on this
subject with unfailing regularity. "The college isand has been
and always will beone. What you call the beefy set aren't a set
at all. They're just the rowing peopleand naturally they
chiefly see each other; but they're always nice to me or to any
one. Of coursethey think us rather assesbut it's quite in a
pleasant way."

That's my whole objection,said Ansell. "What right have they
to think us asses in a pleasant way? Why don't they hate us? What
right has Hornblower to smack me on the back when I've been rude
to him?"

Well, what right have you to be rude to him?

Because I hate him. You think it is so splendid to hate no one.
I tell you it is a crime. You want to love every one equally, and
that's worse than impossible it's wrong. When you denounce sets,
you're really trying to destroy friendship.

I maintain,said Rickie--it was a verb he clung toin the hope
that it would lend stability to what followed--"I maintain that
one can like many more people than one supposes."

And I maintain that you hate many more people than you pretend.

I hate no one,he exclaimed with extraordinary vehemenceand


the dell re-echoed that it hated no one.

We are obliged to believe you,said Widdringtonsmiling a
little "but we are sorry about it."

Not even your father?asked Ansell.

Rickie was silent.

Not even your father?

The cloud above extended a great promontory across the sun. It
only lay there for a momentyet that was enough to summon the
lurking coldness from the earth.

Does he hate his father?said Widdringtonwho had not known.
Oh, good!

But his father's dead. He will say it doesn't count.

Still, it's something. Do you hate yours?

Ansell did not reply. Rickie said: "I sayI wonder whether one
ought to talk like this?"

About hating dead people?

Yes--

Did you hate your mother?asked Widdrington.

Rickie turned crimson.

I don't see Hornblower's such a rotter,remarked the other man
whose name was James.

James, you are diplomatic,said Ansell. "You are trying to tide
over an awkward moment. You can go."

Widdrington was crimson too. In his wish to be sprightly he had
used words without thinking of their meanings. Suddenly he
realized that "father" and "mother" really meant father and
mother--people whom he had himself at home. He was very
uncomfortableand thought Rickie had been rather queer. He too
tried to revert to Hornblowerbut Ansell would not let him. The
sun came outand struck on the white ramparts of the dell.
Rickie looked straight at it. Then he said abruptly-


I think I want to talk.

I think you do,replied Ansell.

Shouldn't I be rather a fool if I went through Cambridge without
talking? It's said never to come so easy again. All the people
are dead too. I can't see why I shouldn't tell you most things
about my birth and parentage and education.

Talk away. If you bore us, we have books.

With this invitation Rickie began to relate his history. The
reader who has no book will be obliged to listen to it.

Some people spend their lives in a suburband not for any urgent
reason. This had been the fate of Rickie. He had opened his eyes


to filmy heavensand taken his first walk on asphalt. He had
seen civilization as a row of semi-detached villasand society
as a state in which men do not know the men who live next door.
He had himself become part of the grey monotony that surrounds
all cities. There was no necessity for this--it was only rather
convenient to his father.

Mr. Elliot was a barrister. In appearance he resembled his son
being weakly and lamewith hollow little cheeksa broad white
band of foreheadand stiff impoverished hair. His voicewhich
he did not transmitwas very suavewith a fine command of
cynical intonation. By altering it ever so little he could make
people winceespecially if they were simple or poor. Nor did he
transmit his eyes. Their peculiar flatnessas if the soul looked
through dirty window-panesthe unkindness of themthe
cowardicethe fear in themwere to trouble the world no longer.

He married a girl whose voice was beautiful. There was no caress
in it yet all who heard it were soothedas though the world held
some unexpected blessing. She called to her dogs one night over
invisible watersand hea tourist up on the bridgethought
that is extraordinarily adequate.In time he discovered that
her figurefaceand thoughts were adequate alsoand as she was
not impossible sociallyhe married her. "I have taken a plunge
he told his family. The family, hostile at first, had not a word
to say when the woman was introduced to them; and his sister
declared that the plunge had been taken from the opposite bank.

Things only went right for a little time. Though beautiful
without and within, Mrs. Elliot had not the gift of making her
home beautiful; and one day, when she bought a carpet for the
dining-room that clashed, he laughed gently, said he really
couldn't and departed. Departure is perhaps too strong a word.
In Mrs. Elliot's mouth it became, My husband has to sleep more
in town." He often came down to see themnearly always
unexpectedlyand occasionally they went to see him. "Father's
house as Rickie called it, only had three rooms, but these were
full of books and pictures and flowers; and the flowers, instead
of being squashed down into the vases as they were in mummy's
house, rose gracefully from frames of lead which lay coiled at
the bottom, as doubtless the sea serpent has to lie, coiled at
the bottom of the sea. Once he was let to lift a frame out--only
once, for he dropped some water on a creton. I think he's
going to have taste said Mr. Elliot languidly. It is quite
possible his wife replied. She had not taken off her hat and
gloves, nor even pulled up her veil. Mr. Elliot laughed, and soon
afterwards another lady came in, and they--went away.

Why does father always laugh?" asked Rickie in the evening when
he and his mother were sitting in the nursery.

It is a way of your father's.

Why does he always laugh at me? Am I so funny?Then after a
pauseYou have no sense of humour, have you, mummy?

Mrs. Elliotwho was raising a thread of cotton to her lipsheld
it suspended in amazement.

You told him so this afternoon. But I have seen you laugh.He
nodded wisely. "I have seen you laugh ever so often. One day you
were laughing alone all down in the sweet peas."

Was I?


Yes. Were you laughing at me?

I was not thinking about you. Cotton, please--a reel of No. 50
white from my chest of drawers. Left hand drawer. Now which is
your left hand?

The side my pocket is.

And if you had no pocket?

The side my bad foot is.

I meant you to say, 'the side my heart is,' said Mrs. Elliot
holding up the duster between them. "Most of us--I mean all of
us--can feel on one side a little watchthat never stops
ticking. So even if you had no bad foot you would still know
which is the left. No. 50 whiteplease. No; I'll get it myself."
For she had remembered that the dark passage frightened him.

These were the outlines. Rickie filled them in with the slowness
and the accuracy of a child. He was never told anythingbut he
discovered for himself that his father and mother did not love
each otherand that his mother was lovable. He discovered that
Mr. Elliot had dubbed him Rickie because he was ricketythat he
took pleasure in alluding to his son's deformityand was sorry
that it was not more serious than his own. Mr. Elliot had not one
scrap of genius. He gathered the pictures and the books and the
flower-supports mechanicallynot in any impulse of love. He
passed for a cultured man because he knew how to selectand he
passed for an unconventional man because he did not select quite
like other people. In reality he never did or said or thought one
single thing that had the slightest beauty or value. And in time
Rickie discovered this as well.

The boy grew up in great loneliness. He worshipped his mother
and she was fond of him. But she was dignified and reticentand
pathoslike tattlewas disgusting to her. She was afraid of
intimacyin case it led to confidences and tearsand so all her
life she held her son at a little distance. Her kindness and
unselfishness knew no limitsbut if he tried to be dramatic and
thank hershe told him not to be a little goose. And so the only
person he came to know at all was himself. He would play
Halma against himself. He would conduct solitary conversations
in which one part of him asked and another part answered. It was
an exciting gameand concluded with the formula: "Good-bye.
Thank you. I am glad to have met you. I hope before long we shall
enjoy another chat." And then perhaps he would sob for
lonelinessfor he would see real people--real brothersreal
friends--doing in warm life the things he had pretended. "Shall I
ever have a friend?" he demanded at the age of twelve. "I don't
see how. They walk too fast. And a brother I shall never have."

("No loss interrupted Widdrington.

But I shall never have oneand so I quite want oneeven now.")

When he was thirteen Mr. Elliot entered on his illness. The
pretty rooms in town would not do for an invalidand so he came
back to his home. One of the first consequences was that Rickie
was sent to a public school. Mrs. Elliot did what she couldbut
she had no hold whatever over her husband.

He worries me,he declared. "He's a joke of which I have got


tired."

Would it be possible to send him to a private tutor's?

No,said Mr. Elliotwho had all the money. "Coddling."

I agree that boys ought to rough it; but when a boy is lame and
very delicate, he roughs it sufficiently if he leaves home.
Rickie can't play games. He doesn't make friends. He isn't
brilliant. Thinking it over, I feel that as it's like this, we
can't ever hope to give him the ordinary education. Perhaps you
could think it over too.No.

I am sure that things are best for him as they are. The
day-school knocks quite as many corners off him as he can stand.
He hates it, but it is good for him. A public school will not be
good for him. It is too rough. Instead of getting manly and hard,
he will--

My head, please.

Rickie departed in a state of bewildered miserywhich was
scarcely ever to grow clearer.

Each holiday he found his father more irritableand a little
weaker. Mrs. Elliot was quickly growing old. She had to manage
the servantsto hush the neighbouring childrento answer the
correspondenceto paper and re-paper the rooms--and all for the
sake of a man whom she did not likeand who did not conceal his
dislike for her. One day she found Rickie tearfuland said
rather crosslyWell, what is it this time?

He repliedOh, mummy, I've seen your wrinkles your grey hair-I'm
unhappy.

Sudden tenderness overcame herand she criedMy darling, what
does it matter? Whatever does it matter now?

He had never known her so emotional. Yet even better did he
remember another incident. Hearing high voices from his father's
roomhe went upstairs in the hope that the sound of his tread
might stop them. Mrs. Elliot burst open the doorand seeing him
exclaimedMy dear! If you please, he's hit me.She tried to
laugh it offbut a few hours later he saw the bruise which the
stick of the invalid had raised upon his mother's hand.

God alone knows how far we are in the grip of our bodies. He
alone can judge how far the cruelty of Mr. Elliot was the outcome
of extenuating circumstances. But Mrs. Elliot could accurately
judge of its extent.

At last he died. Rickie was now fifteenand got off a whole
week's school for the funeral. His mother was rather strange. She
was much happiershe looked youngerand her mourning was as
unobtrusive as convention permitted. All this he had expected.
But she seemed to be watching himand to be extremely anxious
for his opinion on anysubject--more especially on his father.
Why? At last he saw that she was trying to establish confidence
between them. But confidence cannot be established in a moment.
They were both shy. The habit of years was upon themand they
alluded to the death of Mr. Elliot as an irreparable loss.

Now that your father has gone, things will be very different.


Shall we be poorer, mother?No.

Oh!

But naturally things will be very different.

Yes, naturally.

For instance, your poor father liked being near London, but I
almost think we might move. Would you like that?

Of course, mummy.He looked down at the ground. He was not
accustomed to being consultedand it bewildered him.

Perhaps you might like quite a different life better?

He giggled.

It's a little difficult for me,said Mrs. Elliotpacing
vigorously up and down the roomand more and more did her black
dress seem a mockery. "In some ways you ought to be consulted:
nearly all the money is left to youas you must hear some time
or other. But in other ways you're only a boy. What am I to do?"

I don't know,he repliedappearing more helpless and unhelpful
than he really was.

For instance, would you like me to arrange things exactly as I
like?

Oh do!he exclaimedthinking this a most brilliant suggestion.

The very nicest thing of all.And he addedin his
half-pedantichalf-pleasing wayI shall be as wax in your
hands, mamma.

She smiled. "Very welldarling. You shall be." And she pressed
him lovinglyas though she would mould him into something
beautiful.

For the next few days great preparations were in the air. She
went to see his father's sisterthe gifted and vivacious Aunt
Emily. They were to live in the country--somewhere right in the
countrywith grass and trees up to the doorand birds singing
everywhereand a tutor. For he was not to go back to school.
Unbelievable! He was never to go back to schooland the headmaster
had written saying that he regretted the stepbut that
possibly it was a wise one.

It was raw weatherand Mrs. Elliot watched over him with
ceaseless tenderness. It seemed as if she could not do too much
to shield him and to draw him nearer to her.

Put on your greatcoat, dearest,she said to him.

I don't think I want it,answered Rickieremembering that he
was now fifteen.

The wind is bitter. You ought to put it on.

But it's so heavy.

Do put it on, dear.


He was not very often irritable or rudebut he answeredOh, I
shan't catch cold. I do wish you wouldn't keep on bothering.
He did not catch coldbut while he was out his mother died. She
only survived her husband eleven daysa coincidence which was
recorded on their tombstone.

Suchin substancewas the story which Rickie told his friends
as they stood together in the shelter of the dell. The green bank
at the entrance hid the road and the worldand nowas in
springthey could see nothing but snow-white ramparts and the
evergreen foliage of the firs. Only from time to time would a
beech leaf flutter in from the woods aboveto comment on the
waning yearand the warmth and radiance of the sun would vanish
behind a passing cloud.

About the greatcoat he did not tell themfor he could not have
spoken of it without tears.

Mr. Ansella provincial draper of moderate prosperityought by
rights to have been classed not with the cowbut with those
phenomena that are not really there. But his sonwith pardonable
illogicalityexcepted him. He never suspected that his father
might be the subjective product of a diseased imagination. From
his earliest years he had taken him for grantedas a most
undeniable and lovable fact. To be born one thing and grow up
another--Ansell had accomplished this without weakening one of
the ties that bound him to his home. The rooms above the shop
still seemed as comfortablethe garden behind it as graciousas
they had seemed fifteen years beforewhen he would sit behind
Miss Appleblossom's central throneand shelike some
allegorical figurewould send the change and receipted bills
spinning away from her in little boxwood balls. At first the
young man had attributed these happy relations to his own tact.
But in time he perceived that the tact was all on the side of his
father. Mr. Ansell was not merely a man of some education; he had
what no education can bring--the power of detecting what is
important. Like many fathershe had spared no expense over his
boy--he had borrowed money to start him at a rapacious and
fashionable private school; he had sent him to tutors; he had
sent him to Cambridge. But he knew that all this was not the
important thing. The important thing was freedom. The boy must
use his education as he choseand if he paid his father back it
would certainly not be in his own coin. So when Stewart saidAt
Cambridge, can I read for the Moral Science Tripos?Mr. Ansell
had only repliedThis philosophy--do you say that it lies
behind everything?

Yes, I think so. It tries to discover what is good and true.

Then, my boy, you had better read as much of it as you can.

And a year later: "I'd like to take up this philosophy seriously
but I don't feel justified."

Why not?

Because it brings in no return. I think I'm a great philosopher,
but then all philosophers think that, though they don't dare to
say so. But, however great I am. I shan't earn money. Perhaps I
shan't ever be able to keep myself. I shan't even get a good


social position. You've only to say one word, and I'll work for
the Civil Service. I'm good enough to get in high.

Mr. Ansell liked money and social position. But he knew that
there is a more important thingand repliedYou must take up
this philosophy seriously, I think.

Another thing--there are the girls.

There is enough money now to get Mary and Maud as good husbands
as they deserve.And Mary and Maud took the same view.
It was in this plebeian household that Rickie spent part of the
Christmas vacation. His own homesuch as it waswas with the
Siltsneedy cousins of his father'sand combined to a peculiar
degree the restrictions of hospitality with the discomforts of a
boarding-house. Such pleasure as he had outside Cambridge was in
the homes of his friendsand it was a particular joy and honour
to visit Ansellwhothough as free from social snobbishness as
most of us will ever manage to bewas rather careful when he
drove up to the facade of his shop.

I like our new lettering,he said thoughtfully. The words
Stewart Ansellwere repeated again and again along the High
Street--curly gold letters that seemed to float in tanks of
glazed chocolate.

Rather!said Rickie. But he wondered whether one of the bonds
that kept the Ansell family united might not be their complete
absence of taste--a surer bond by far than the identity of it.
And he wondered this again when he sat at tea opposite a long row
of crayons--Stewart as a babyStewart as a small boy with large
feetStewart as a larger boy with smaller feetMary reading a
book whose leaves were as thick as eiderdowns. And yet again did
he wonder it when he woke with a gasp in the night to find a harp
in luminous paint throbbing and glowering at him from the
adjacent wall. "Watch and pray" was written on the harpand
until Rickie hung a towel over it the exhortation was partially
successful.

It was a very happy visit. Miss Appleblosssom--who now acted as
housekeeper--had met him beforeduring her never-forgotten
expedition to Cambridgeand her admiration of University life
was as shrill and as genuine now as it had been then. The girls
at first were a little aggressivefor on his arrival he had been
tiredand Maud had taken it for haughtinessand said he was
looking down on them. But this passed. They did not fall in love
with himnor he with thembut a morning was spent very
pleasantly in snow-balling in the back garden. Ansell was rather
different to what he was in Cambridgebut to Rickie not less
attractive. And there was a curious charm in the hum of the shop
which swelled into a roar if one opened the partition door on a
market-day.

Listen to your money!said Rickie. "I wish I could hear mine. I
wish my money was alive."

I don't understand.

Mine's dead money. It's come to me through about six dead
people--silently.

Getting a little smaller and a little more respectable each
time, on account of the death-duties.


It needed to get respectable.

Why? Did your people, too, once keep a shop?

Oh, not as bad as that! They only swindled. About a hundred
years ago an Elliot did something shady and founded the fortunes
of our house.

I never knew any one so relentless to his ancestors. You make up
for your soapiness towards the living.

You'd be relentless if you'd heard the Silts, as I have, talk
about 'a fortune, small perhaps, but unsoiled by trade!' Of
course Aunt Emily is rather different. Oh, goodness me! I've
forgotten my aunt. She lives not so far. I shall have to call on
her.

Accordingly he wrote to Mrs. Failingand said he should like to
pay his respects. He told her about the Ansellsand so worded
the letter that she might reasonably have sent an invitation to
his friend.

She replied that she was looking forward to their tete-a-tete.

You mustn't go round by the trains,said Mr. Ansell. "It means
changing at Salisbury. By the road it's no great way. Stewart
shall drive you over Salisbury Plainand fetch you too."

There's too much snow,said Ansell.

Then the girls shall take you in their sledge.

That I will,said Maudwho was not unwilling to see the inside
of Cadover. But Rickie went round by the trains.

We have all missed you,said Ansellwhen he returned. "There
is a general feeling that you are no nuisanceand had better
stop till the end of the vac."

This he could not do. He was bound for Christmas to the Silts-"
as a REAL guest Mrs. Silt had written, underlining the word
real" twice. And after Christmas he must go to the Pembrokes.

These are no reasons. The only real reason for doing a thing is
because you want to do it. I think the talk about 'engagements'
is cant.

I think perhaps it is,said Rickie. But he went. Never had the
turkey been so athleticor the plum-pudding tied into its cloth
so tightly. Yet he knew that both these symbols of hilarity had
cost moneyand it went to his heart when Mr. Silt said in a
hungry voiceHave you thought at all of what you want to be?
No? Well, why should you? You have no need to be anything.And
at dessert: "I wonder who Cadover goes to? I expect money will
follow money. It always does." It was with a guilty feeling of
relief that he left for the Pembrokes'.

The Pembrokes lived in an adjacent suburbor rather
sububurb,--the tract called Sawstoncelebrated for its
public school. Their style of lifehoweverwas not particularly
suburban. Their house was small and its name was Shelthorpebut
it had an air about it which suggested a certain amount of money
and a certain amount of taste. There were decent water-colours in
the drawing-room. Madonnas of acknowledged merit hung upon the


stairs. A replica of the Hermes of Praxiteles--of course only the
bust--stood in the hall with a real palm behind it. Agnesin her
slap-dash waywas a good housekeeperand kept the pretty things
well dusted. It was she who insisted on the strip of brown
holland that led diagonally from the front door to the door of
Herbert's study: boys' grubby feet should not go treading on her
Indian square. It was she who always cleaned the picture-frames
and washed the bust and the leaves of the palm. In shortif a
house could speak--and sometimes it does speak more clearly than
the people who live in it--the house of the Pembrokes would have
saidI am not quite like other houses, yet I am perfectly
comfortable. I contain works of art and a microscope and books.
But I do not live for any of these things or suffer them to
disarrange me. I live for myself and for the greater houses that
shall come after me. Yet in me neither the cry of money nor the
cry for money shall ever be heard.

Mr. Pembroke was at the station. He did better as a host than as
a guestand welcomed the young man with real friendliness.

We were all coming, but Gerald has strained his ankle slightly,
and wants to keep quiet, as he is playing next week in a match.
And, needless to say, that explains the absence of my sister.

Gerald Dawes?

Yes; he's with us. I'm so glad you'll meet again.

So am I,said Rickie with extreme awkwardness. "Does he
remember me?"

Vividly.

Vivid also was Rickie's remembrance of him.

A splendid fellow,asserted Mr. Pembroke.

I hope that Agnes is well.

Thank you, yes; she is well. And I think you're looking more
like other people yourself.

I've been having a very good time with a friend.

Indeed. That's right. Who was that?

Rickie had a young man's reticence. He generally spoke of "a
friend a person I know a place I was at." When the book of
life is openingour readings are secretand we are unwilling to
give chapter and verse. Mr. Pembrokewho was half way through
the volumeand had skipped or forgotten the earlier pagescould
not understand Rickie's hesitationnor why with such awkwardness
he should pronounce the harmless dissyllable "Ansell."

Ansell? Wasn't that the pleasant fellow who asked us to lunch?

No. That was Anderson, who keeps below. You didn't see Ansell.
The ones who came to breakfast were Tilliard and Hornblower.

Of course. And since then you have been with the Silts. How are
they?

Very well, thank you. They want to be remembered to you.


The Pembrokes had formerly lived near the Elliotsand had shown
great kindness to Rickie when his parents died. They were thus
rather in the position of family friends.

Please remember us when you write.He addedalmost roguishly
The Silts are kindness itself. All the same, it must be just a
little--dull, we thought, and we thought that you might like a
change. And of course we are delighted to have you besides. That
goes without saying.

It's very good of you,said Rickiewho had accepted the
invitation because he felt he ought to.

Not a bit. And you mustn't expect us to be otherwise than quiet
on the holidays. There is a library of a sort, as you know, and
you will find Gerald a splendid fellow.

Will they be married soon?

Oh no!whispered Mr. Pembrokeshutting his eyesas if Rickie
had made some terrible faux pas. "It will be a very long
engagement. He must make his way first. I have seen such endless
misery result from people marrying before they have made their
way."

Yes. That is so,said Rickie despondentlythinking of the
Silts.

It's a sad unpalatable truth,said Mr. Pembrokethinking that
the despondency might be personalbut one must accept it. My
sister and Gerald, I am thankful to say, have accepted it, though
naturally it has been a little pill.

Their cab lurched round the corner as he spokeand the two
patients came in sight. Agnes was leaning over the creosoted
garden-gateand behind her there stood a young man who had the
figure of a Greek athlete and the face of an English one. He was
fair and cleanshavenand his colourless hair was cut rather
short. The sun was in his eyesand theylike his mouthseemed
scarcely more than slits in his healthy skin. Just where he began
to be beautiful the clothes started. Round his neck went an
up-and-down collar and a mauve-and-gold tieand the rest of his
limbs were hidden by a grey lounge suitcarefully creased in the
right places.

Lovely! Lovely!cried Agnesbanging on the gateYour train
must have been to the minute.

Hullo!said the athleteand vomited with the greeting a cloud
of tobacco-smoke. It must have been imprisoned in his mouth some
timefor no pipe was visible.

Hullo!returned Rickielaughing violently. They shook hands.

Where are you going, Rickie?asked Agnes. "You aren't grubby.
Why don't you stop? Geraldget the large wicker-chair. Herbert
has lettersbut we can sit here till lunch. It's like spring."

The garden of Shelthorpe was nearly all in front an unusual and
pleasant arrangement. The front gate and the servants' entrance
were both at the sideand in the remaining space the gardener
had contrived a little lawn where one could sit concealed from
the road by a fencefrom the neighbour by a fencefrom the
house by a treeand from the path by a bush.


This is the lovers' bower,observed Agnessitting down on the

bench. Rickie stood by her till the chair arrived.

Are you smoking before lunch?asked Mr. Dawes.

No, thank you. I hardly ever smoke.

No vices. Aren't you at Cambridge now?

Yes.

What's your college?

Rickie told him.

Do you know Carruthers?

Rather!

I mean A. P. Carruthers, who got his socker blue.

Rather! He's secretary to the college musical society.

A. P. Carruthers?

Yes.
Mr. Dawes seemed offended. He tapped on his teethand remarked
that the weather bad no business to be so warm in winter.
But it was fiendish before Christmas,said Agnes.


He frownedand askedDo you know a man called Gerrish?


No.


Ah.


Do you know James?


Never heard of him.


He's my year too. He got a blue for hockey his second term.


I know nothing about the 'Varsity.


Rickie winced at the abbreviation "'Varsity." It was at that time


the proper thing to speak of "the University."
I haven't the time,pursued Mr. Dawes.
No, no,said Rickie politely.
I had the chance of being an Undergrad, myself, and, by Jove,


I'm thankful I didn't!
Why?asked Agnesfor there was a pause.
Puts you back in your profession. Men who go there first, before


the Army, start hopelessly behind. The same with the Stock


Exchange or Painting. I know men in both, and they've never


caught up the time they lost in the 'Varsity--unless, of course,


you turn parson.


I love Cambridge,said she. "All those glorious buildingsand
every one so happy and running in and out of each other's rooms
all day long."

That might make an Undergrad happy, but I beg leave to state it
wouldn't me. I haven't four years to throw away for the sake of
being called a 'Varsity man and hobnobbing with Lords.

Rickie was prepared to find his old schoolfellow ungrammatical
and bumptiousbut he was not prepared to find him peevish.
Athleteshe believedwere simplestraightforward peoplecruel
and brutal if you likebut never petty. They knocked you down
and hurt youand then went on their way rejoicing. For this
Rickie thoughtthere is something to be said: he had escaped the
sin of despising the physically strong--a sin against which the
physically weak must guard. But here was Dawes returning again
and again to the subject of the Universityfull of transparent
jealousy and petty spitenaggingnaggingnagginglike a
maiden lady who has not been invited to a tea-party. Rickie
wondered whetherafter allAnsell and the extremists might not
be rightand bodily beauty and strength be signs of the soul's
damnation.

He glanced at Agnes. She was writing down some orderings for the
tradespeople on a piece of paper. Her handsome face was intent on
the work. The bench on which she and Gerald were sitting had no
backbut she sat as straight as a dart. Hethough strong enough
to sit straightdid not take the trouble.

Why don't they talk to each other?thought Rickie.

Gerald, give this paper to the cook.

I can give it to the other slavey, can't I?

She'd be dressing.

Well, there's Herbert.

He's busy. Oh, you know where the kitchen is. Take it to the
cook.

He disappeared slowly behind the tree.

What do you think of him?she immediately asked. He murmured
civilly.

Has he changed since he was a schoolboy?

In a way.

Do tell me all about him. Why won't you?

She might have seen a flash of horror pass over Rickie's face.
The horror disappearedforthank Godhe was now a manwhom
civilization protects. But he and Gerald had metas it were
behind the scenesbefore our decorous drama opensand there the
elder boy had done things to him--absurd thingsnot worth
chronicling separately. An apple-pie bed is nothing; pinches
kicksboxed earstwisted armspulled hairghosts at night
inky booksbefouled photographsamount to very little by
themselves. But let them be united and continuousand you have a
hell that no grown-up devil can devise. Between Rickie and Gerald
there lay a shadow that darkens life more often than we suppose.


The bully and his victim never quite forget their first
relations. They meet in clubs and country housesand clap one
another on the back; but in both the memory is green of a more
strenuous daywhen they were boys together.

He tried to sayHe was the right kind of boy, and I was the
wrong kind.But Cambridge would not let him smooth the situation
over by self-belittlement. If he had been the wrong kind of boy
Gerald had been a worse kind. He murmuredWe are different,
very,and Miss Pembrokeperhaps suspecting somethingasked no
more. But she kept to the subject of Mr. Daweshumorously
depreciating her lover and discussing him without reverence.
Rickie laughedbut felt uncomfortable. When people were engaged
he felt that they should be outside criticism. Yet here he was
criticizing. He could not help it. He was dragged in.

I hope his ankle is better.

Never was bad. He's always fussing over something.

He plays next week in a match, I think Herbert says.

I dare say he does.

Shall we be going?

Pray go if you like. I shall stop at home. I've had enough of
cold feet.

It was all very colourless and odd.

Gerald returnedsayingI can't stand your cook. What's she
want to ask me questions for? I can't stand talking to servants.
I say, 'If I speak to you, well and good'--and it's another thing
besides if she were pretty.

Well, I hope our ugly cook will have lunch ready in a minute,
said Agnes. "We're frightfully unpunctual this morningand I
daren't say anythingbecause it was the same yesterdayand if I
complain again they might leave. Poor Rickie must be starved."

Why, the Silts gave me all these sandwiches and I've never eaten
them. They always stuff one.

And you thought you'd better, eh?said Mr. Dawesin case you
weren't stuffed here.

Miss Pembrokewho house-kept somewhat economicallylooked
annoyed.

The voice of Mr. Pembroke was now heard calling from the house
Frederick! Frederick! My dear boy, pardon me. It was an
important letter about the Church Defence, otherwise--. Come in
and see your room.

He was glad to quit the little lawn. He had learnt too much
there. It was dreadful: they did not love each other.
More dreadful even than the case of his father and motherfor
theyuntil they marriedhad got on pretty well. But this man
was already rude and brutal and cold: he was still the school
bully who twisted up the arms of little boysand ran pins into
them at chapeland struck them in the stomach when they were
swinging on the horizontal bar. Poor Agnes; why ever had she done
it? Ought not somebody to interfere?


He had forgotten his sandwichesand went back to get them.

Gerald and Agnes were locked in each other's arms.

He only looked for a momentbut the sight burnt into his brain.
The man's grip was the stronger. He had drawn the woman on to his
kneewas pressing herwith all his strengthagainst him.
Already her hands slipped off himand she whisperedDon't you
hurt--Her face had no expression. It stared at the intruder
and never saw him. Then her lover kissed itand immediately it
shone with mysterious beautylike some star.

Rickie limped away without the sandwichescrimson and afraid. He
thoughtDo such things actually happen?and he seemed to be
looking down coloured valleys. Brighter they glowedtill gods of
pure flame were born in themand then he was looking at
pinnacles of virgin snow. While Mr. Pembroke talkedthe riot of
fair images increased.

They invaded his being and lit lamps at unsuspected shrines.
Their orchestra commenced in that suburban housewhere he had to
stand aside for the maid to carry in the luncheon. Music flowed
past him like a river. He stood at the springs of creation and
heard the primeval monotony. Then an obscure instrument gave out
a little phrase.

The river continued unheeding. The phrase was repeated and a
listener might know it was a fragment of the Tune of tunes.
Nobler instruments accepted itthe clarionet protectedthe
brass encouragedand it rose to the surface to the whisper of
violins. In full unison was Love bornflame of the flame
flushing the dark river beneath him and the virgin snows above.
His wings were infinitehis youth eternal; the sun was a jewel
on his finger as he passed it in benediction over the world.
Creationno longer monotonousacclaimed himin widening
melodyin brighter radiances. Was Love a column of fire? Was he
a torrent of song? Was he greater than either--the touch of a man
on a woman?

It was the merest accident that Rickie had not been disgusted.
But this he could not know.

Mr. Pembrokewhen he called the two dawdlers into lunchwas
aware of a hand on his arm and a voice that murmuredDon't-they
may be happy.

He staredand struck the gong. To its music they approached
priest and high priestess.

Rickie, can I give these sandwiches to the boot boy?said the
one. "He would love them."

The gong! Be quick! The gong!

Are you smoking before lunch?said the other.

But they had got into heavenand nothing could get them out of
it. Others might think them surly or prosaic. He knew. He could
remember every word they spoke. He would treasure every motion
every glance of eitherand so in time to comewhen the gates of
heaven had shutsome faint radiancesome echo of wisdom might
remain with him outside.


As a matter of facthe saw them very little during his visit. He
checked himself because he was unworthy. What right had he to
pryeven in the spiritupon their bliss? It was no crime to
have seen them on the lawn. It would be a crime to go to it
again. He tried to keep himself and his thoughts awaynot
because he was asceticbut because they would not like it if
they knew. This behaviour of his suited them admirably. And when
any gracious little thing occurred to them--any little thing that
his sympathy had contrived and allowed--they put it down to
chance or to each other.

So the lovers fall into the background. They are part of the
distant sunriseand only the mountains speak to them. Rickie
talks to Mr. Pembrokeamidst the unlit valleys of our
over-habitable world.

Sawston School had been founded by a tradesman in the seventeenth
century. It was then a tiny grammar-school in a tiny townand
the City Company who governed it had to drive half a day through
the woods and heath on the occasion of their annual visit. In the
twentieth century they still drovebut only from the railway
station; and found themselves not in a tiny townnor yet in a
large onebut amongst innumerable residencesdetached and
semi-detachedwhich had gathered round the school. For the
intentions of the founder had been alteredor at all events
amplifiedinstead of educating the "poore of my home he now
educated the upper classes of England. The change had taken place
not so very far back. Till the nineteenth century the
grammar-school was still composed of day scholars from the
neighbourhood. Then two things happened. Firstly, the school's
property rose in value, and it became rich. Secondly, for no
obvious reason, it suddenly emitted a quantity of bishops. The
bishops, like the stars from a Roman candle, were all colours,
and flew in all directions, some high, some low, some to distant
colonies, one into the Church of Rome. But many a father traced
their course in the papers; many a mother wondered whether her
son, if properly ignited, might not burn as bright; many a family
moved to the place where living and education were so cheap,
where day-boys were not looked down upon, and where the orthodox
and the up-to-date were said to be combined. The school doubled
its numbers. It built new class-rooms, laboratories and a
gymnasium. It dropped the prefix Grammar." It coaxed the sons of
the local tradesmen into a new foundationthe "Commercial
School built a couple of miles away. And it started
boarding-houses. It had not the gracious antiquity of Eton or
Winchester, nor, on the other hand, had it a conscious policy
like Lancing, Wellington, and other purely modern foundations.
Where tradition served, it clung to them. Where new departures
seemed desirable, they were made. It aimed at producing the
average Englishman, and, to a very great extent, it succeeded.

Here Mr. Pembroke passed his happy and industrious life. His
technical position was that of master to a form low down on the
Modern Side. But his work lay elsewhere. He organized. If no
organization existed, he would create one. If one did exist, he
would modify it. An organization he would say, is after all
not an end in itself. It must contribute to a movement." When one
good custom seemed likely to corrupt the schoolhe was ready
with another; he believed that without innumerable customs there
was no safetyeither for boys or men.


Perhaps he is rightand always will be right. Perhaps each of us
would go to ruin if for one short hour we acted as we thought
fitand attempted the service of perfect freedom. The school
capswith their elaborate symbolismwere his; his the
many-tinted bathing-drawersthat showed how far a boy could
swim;
his the hierarchy of jerseys and blazers. It was he who
instituted Boundsand calland the two sorts of exercise-paper
and the three sorts of caningand "The Sawtonian a bi-terminal
magazine. His plump finger was in every pie. The dome of his
skull, mild but impressive, shone at every master's meeting. He
was generally acknowledged to be the coming man.

His last achievement had been the organization of the day-boys.
They had been left too much to themselves, and were weak in
esprit de corps; they were apt to regard home, not school, as the
most important thing in their lives. Moreover, they got out of
their parents' hands; they did their preparation any time and
some times anyhow. They shirked games, they were out at all
hours, they ate what they should not, they smoked, they bicycled
on the asphalt. Now all was over. Like boarders, they were to be
in at 7:15 P.M., and were not allowed out after unless with a
written order from their parent or guardian; they, too, must work
at fixed hours in the evening, and before breakfast next morning
from 7 to 8. Games were compulsory. They must not go to parties
in term time. They must keep to bounds. Of course the reform was
not complete. It was impossible to control the dieting, though,
on a printed circular, day-parents were implored to provide
simple food. And it is also believed that some mothers disobeyed
the rule about preparation, and allowed their sons to do all the
work over-night and have a longer sleep in the morning. But the
gulf between day-boys and boarders was considerably lessened, and
grew still narrower when the day-boys too were organized into a
House with house-master and colours of their own. Through the
House said Mr. Pembroke, one learns patriotism for the school
just as through the school one learns patriotism for the country.
Our only coursethereforeis to organize the day-boys into a
House." The headmaster agreedas he often didand the new
community was formed. Mr. Pembroketo avoid the tongues of
malicehad refused the post of house-master for himselfsaying
to Mr. Jacksonwho taught the sixthYou keep too much in the
background. Here is a chance for you.But this was a failure.
Mr. Jacksona scholar and a studentneither felt nor conveyed
any enthusiasmand when confronted with his Housewould say
Well, I don't know what we're all here for. Now I should think
you'd better go home to your mothers.He returned to his
backgroundand next term Mr. Pembroke was to take his place.

Such were the themes on which Mr. Pembroke discoursed to Rickie's
civil ear. He showed him the schooland the libraryand the
subterranean hall where the day-boys might leave their coats and
capsand whereon festal occasionsthey supped. He showed him
Mr. Jackson's pretty houseand whisperedWere it not for his
brilliant intellect, it would be a case of Ouickmarch!He showed
him the racquet-courthappily completedand the chapel
unhappily still in need of funds. Rickie was impressedbut then
he was impressed by everything. Of course a House of day-boys
seemed a little shadowy after Agnes and Geraldbut he imparted
some reality even to that.

The racquet-court,said Mr. Pembrokeis most gratifying. We
never expected to manage it this year. But before the Easter
holidays every boy received a subscription card, and was given to


understand that he must collect thirty shillings. You will
scarcely believe me, but they nearly all responded. Next term
there was a dinner in the great school, and all who had
collected, not thirty shillings, but as much as a pound, were
invited to it--for naturally one was not precise for a few
shillings, the response being the really valuable thing.
Practically the whole school had to come.

They must enjoy the court tremendously.

Ah, it isn't used very much. Racquets, as I daresay you know, is
rather an expensive game. Only the wealthier boys play--and I'm
sorry to say that it is not of our wealthier boys that we are
always the proudest. But the point is that no public school can
be called first-class until it has one. They are building them
right and left.

And now you must finish the chapel?

Now we must complete the chapel.He paused reverentlyand
saidAnd here is a fragment of the original building.
Rickie at once had a rush of sympathy. Hetoolooked with
reverence at the morsel of Jacobean brickworkruddy and
beautiful amidst the machine-squared stones of the modern apse.
The two menwho had so little in commonwere thrilled with
patriotism. They rejoiced that their country was greatnoble
and old.

Thank God I'm English,said Rickie suddenly.

Thank Him indeed,said Mr. Pembrokelaying a hand on his back.

We've been nearly as great as the Greeks, I do believe. Greater,
I'm sure, than the Italians, though they did get closer to
beauty. Greater than the French, though we do take all their
ideas. I can't help thinking that England is immense. English
literature certainly.

Mr. Pembroke removed his hand. He found such patriotism somewhat
craven. Genuine patriotism comes only from the heart. It knows no
parleying with reason. English ladies will declare abroad that
there are no fogs in Londonand Mr. Pembrokethough he would
not go to thiswas only restrained by the certainty of being
found out. On this occasion he remarked that the Greeks lacked
spiritual insightand had a low conception of woman.

As to women--oh! there they were dreadful,said Rickieleaning
his hand on the chapel. "I realize that more and more. But as to
spiritual insightI don't quite like to say; and I find Plato
too difficultbut I know men who don'tand I fancy they
mightn't agree with you."

Far be it from me to disparage Plato. And for philosophy as a
whole I have the greatest respect. But it is the crown of a man's
education, not the foundation. Myself, I read it with the utmost
profit, but I have known endless trouble result from boys who
attempt it too soon, before they were set.

But if those boys had died first,cried Rickie with sudden
vehemencewithout knowing what there is to know--

Or isn't to know!said Mr. Pembroke sarcastically.

Or what there isn't to know. Exactly. That's it.


My dear Rickie, what do you mean? If an old friend may be frank,
you are talking great rubbish.Andwith a few well-worn
formulaehe propped up the young man's orthodoxy. The props were
unnecessary. Rickie had his own equilibrium. Neither the
Revivalism that assails a boy at about the age of fifteennor
the scepticism that meets him five years latercould sway him
from his allegiance to the church into which he had been born.
But his equilibrium was personaland the secret of it useless to
others. He desired that each man should find his own.

What does philosophy do?the propper continued. "Does it make
a man happier in life? Does it make him die more peacefully? I
fancy that in the long-run Herbert Spencer will get no further
than the rest of us. AhRickie! I wish you could move among the
school boysand see their healthy contempt for all they cannot
touch!" Here he was going too farand had to addTheir
spiritual capacities, of course, are another matter.Then he
remembered the Greeksand saidWhich proves my original
statement.

Submissive signsas of one proppedappeared in Rickie's face.
Mr. Pembroke then questioned him about the men who found Plato
not difficult. But here he kept silencepatting the school
chapel gentlyand presently the conversation turned to topics
with which they were both more competent to deal.

Does Agnes take much interest in the school?

Not as much as she did. It is the result of her engagement. If
our naughty soldier had not carried her off, she might have made
an ideal schoolmaster's wife. I often chaff him about it, for he
a little despises the intellectual professions. Natural,
perfectly natural. How can a man who faces death feel as we do
towards mensa or tupto?

Perfectly true. Absolutely true.

Mr. Pembroke remarked to himself that Frederick was improving.

If a man shoots straight and hits straight and speaks straight,
if his heart is in the right place, if he has the instincts of a
Christian and a gentleman--then I, at all events, ask no better
husband for my sister.

How could you get a better?he cried. "Do you remember the
thing in 'The Clouds'?" And he quotedas well as he couldfrom
the invitation of the Dikaios Logosthe description of the
young Athenianperfect in bodyplacid in mindwho neglects his
work at the Bar and trains all day among the woods and meadows
with a garland on his head and a friend to set the pace; the
scent of new leaves is upon them; they rejoice in the freshness
of spring; over their heads the plane-tree whispers to the elm
perhaps the most glorious invitation to the brainless life that
has ever been given.

Yes, yes,said Mr. Pembrokewho did not want a brother-in-law
out of Aristophanes. Nor had he got onefor Mr. Dawes would not
have bothered over the garland or noticed the springand would
have complained that the friend ran too slowly or too fast.

And as for her--!But he could think of no classical parallel
for Agnes. She slipped between examples. A kindly Medeaa
Cleopatra with a sense of duty--these suggested her a little. She


was not born in Greecebut came overseas to it--a dark
intelligent princess. With all her splendourthere were hints of
splendour still hidden--hints of an olderricherand more
mysterious land. He smiled at the idea of her being "not there."
Ansellclever as he washad made a bad blunder. She had more
reality than any other woman in the world.

Mr. Pembroke looked pleased at this boyish enthusiasm. He was
fond of his sisterthough he knew her to be full of faults.
Yes, I envy her,he said. "She has found a worthy helpmeet for
life's journeyI do believe. And though they chafe at the long
engagementit is a blessing in disguise. They learn to know each
other thoroughly before contracting more intimate ties."

Rickie did not assent. The length of the engagement seemed to him
unspeakably cruel. Here were two people who loved each otherand
they could not marry for years because they had no beastly money.
Not all Herbert's pious skill could make this out a blessing. It
was bad enough being "so rich" at the Silts; here he was more
ashamed of it than ever. In a few weeks he would come of age and
his money be his own. What a pity things were so crookedly
arranged. He did not want moneyor at all events he did not want
so much.

Suppose,he meditatedfor he became much worried over this-"
suppose I had a hundred pounds a year less than I shall have.
WellI should still have enough. I don't want anything but food
lodgingclothesand now and then a railway fare. I haven't any
tastes. I don't collect anything or play games. Books are nice to
havebut after all there is Mudie'sor if it comes to thatthe
Free Library. Ohmy profession! I forgot I shall have a
profession. Wellthat will leave me with more to spare than
ever." And he supposed away till he lost touch with the world and
with what it permitsand committed an unpardonable sin.

It happened towards the end of his visit--another airless day of
that mild January. Mr. Dawes was playing against a scratch team
of cadsand had to go down to the ground in the morning to
settle something. Rickie proposed to come too.

Hitherto he had been no nuisance. "You will be frightfully
bored said Agnes, observing the cloud on her lover's face. And
Gerald walks like a maniac."

I had a little thought of the Museum this morning,said Mr.
Pembroke. "It is very strong in flint arrow-heads."

Ah, that's your line, Rickie. I do envy you and Herbert the way
you enjoy the past.

I almost think I'll go with Dawes, if he'll have me. I can walk
quite fast just to the ground and back. Arrowheads are wonderful,
but I don't really enjoy them yet, though I hope I shall in
time.

Mr. Pembroke was offendedbut Rickie held firm.

In a quarter of an hour he was back at the house alonenearly
crying.

Oh, did the wretch go too fast?called Miss Pembroke from her
bedroom window.

I went too fast for him.He spoke quite sharplyand before he


had time to say he was sorry and didn't mean exactly thatthe
window had shut.

They've quarrelled,she thought. "Whatever about?"

She soon heard. Gerald returned in a cold stormy temper. Rickie
had offered him money.

My dear fellow don't be so cross. The child's mad.

If it was, I'd forgive that. But I can't stand unhealthiness.

Now, Gerald, that's where I hate you. You don't know what it is
to pity the weak.

Woman's job. So you wish I'd taken a hundred pounds a year from
him. Did you ever hear such blasted cheek? Marry us--he, you, and
me--a hundred pounds down and as much annual--he, of course, to
pry into all we did, and we to kowtow and eat dirt-pie to him. If
that's Mr. Rickety Elliot's idea of a soldier and an Englishman,
it isn't mine, and I wish I'd had a horse-whip.

She was roaring with laughter. "You're babiesa pair of youand
you're the worst. Why couldn't you let the little silly down
gently? There he was puffing and sniffing under my windowand I
thought he'd insulted you. Why didn't you accept?"

Accept?he thundered.

It would have taken the nonsense out of him for ever. Why, he
was only talking out of a book.

More fool he.

Well, don't be angry with a fool. He means no harm. He muddles
all day with poetry and old dead people, and then tries to bring
it into life. It's too funny for words.

Gerald repeated that he could not stand unhealthiness.

I don't call that exactly unhealthy.

I do. And why he could give the money's worse.

What do you mean?

He became shy. "I hadn't meant to tell you. It's not quite for a
lady." Forlike most men who are rather animalhe was
intellectually a prude. "He says he can't ever marryowing to
his foot. It wouldn't be fair to posterity. His grandfather was
crockedhis father tooand he's as bad. He thinks that it's
hereditaryand may get worse next generation. He's discussed it
all over with other Undergrads. A bright lot they must be. He
daren't risk having any children. Hence the hundred quid."

She stopped laughing. "Ohlittle beastif he said all that!"

He was encouraged to proceed. Hitherto he had not talked about
their school days. Now he told her everything--the
barley-sugar,as he called itthe pins in chapeland how one
afternoon he had tied him head-downward on to a tree trunk and
then ran away--of course only for a moment.

For this she scolded him well. But she had a thrill of joy when


she thought of the weak boy in the clutches of the strong one.

Gerald died that afternoon. He was broken up in the football
match. Rickie and Mr. Pembroke were on the ground when the
accident took place. It was no good torturing him by a drive to
the hospitaland he was merely carried to the little pavilion
and laid upon the floor. A doctor cameand so did a clergyman
but it seemed better to leave him for the last few minutes with
Agneswho had ridden down on her bicycle.

It was a strange lamentable interview. The girl was so accustomed
to healththat for a time she could not understand. It must be a
joke that he chose to lie there in the dustwith a rug over him
and his knees bent up towards his chin. His arms were as she knew
themand their admirable muscles showed clear and clean beneath
the jersey. The facetoothough a little flushedwas
uninjured: it must be some curious joke.

Gerald, what have you been doing?

He repliedI can't see you. It's too dark.

Oh, I'll soon alter that,she said in her old brisk way. She
opened the pavilion door. The people who were standing by it
moved aside. She saw a deserted meadowsteaming and greyand
beyond it slateroofed cottagesrow beside rowclimbing a
shapeless hill. Towards London the sky was yellow. "There. That's
better." She sat down by him againand drew his hand into her
own. "Now we are all rightaren't we?"

Where are you?

This time she could not reply.

What is it? Where am I going?

Wasn't the rector here?said she after a silence.

He explained heaven, and thinks that I--but--I couldn't tell a
parson; but I don't seem to have any use for any of the things
there.

We are Christians,said Agnes shyly. "Dear lovewe don't talk
about these thingsbut we believe them. I think that you will
get well and be as strong again as ever; butin any casethere
is a spiritual lifeand we know that some day you and I--"

I shan't do as a spirit,he interruptedsighing pitifully. "I
want you as I amand it cannot be managed. The rector had to say
so. I want--I don't want to talk. I can't see you. Shut that
door."

She obeyedand crept into his arms. Only this time her grasp was
the stronger. Her heart beat louder and louder as the sound of
his grew more faint. He was crying like a little frightened
childand her lips were wet with his tears. "Bear it bravely
she told him.

I can't he whispered. It isn't to be done. I can't see you
and passed from her trembling with open eyes.


She rode home on her bicycle, leaving the others to follow. Some
ladies who did not know what had happened bowed and smiled as she
passed, and she returned their salute.

Ohmissis it true?" cried the cookher face streaming with
tears.

Agnes nodded. Presumably it was true. Letters had just arrived:
one was for Gerald from his mother. Lifewhich had given them no
warningseemed to make no comment now. The incident was outside
natureand would surely pass away like a dream. She felt
slightly irritableand the grief of the servants annoyed her.

They sobbed. "Ahlook at his marks! Ahlittle he thought-little
he thought!" In the brown holland strip by the front door
a heavy football boot had left its impress. They had not liked
Geraldbut he was a manthey were womenhe had died. Their
mistress ordered them to leave her.

For many minutes she sat at the foot of the stairsrubbing her
eyes. An obscure spiritual crisis was going on.

Should she weep like the servants? Or should she bear up and
trust in the consoler Time? Was the death of a man so terrible
after all? As she invited herself to apathy there were steps on
the graveland Rickie Elliot burst in. He was splashed with mud
his breath was goneand his hair fell wildly over his meagre
face. She thoughtThese are the people who are left alive!
>From the bottom of her soul she hated him.

I came to see what you're doing,he cried.

Resting.

He knelt beside herand she saidWould you please go away?

Yes, dear Agnes, of course; but I must see first that you mind.
Her breath caught. Her eves moved to the treadsgoing outwards
so firmlyso irretrievably.

He pantedIt's the worst thing that can ever happen to you in
all your life, and you've got to mind it you've got to mind it.
They'll come saying, 'Bear up trust to time.' No, no; they're
wrong. Mind it.

Through all her misery she knew that this boy was greater than
they supposed. He rose to his feetand with intense conviction
cried: "But I know--I understand. It's your death as well as his.
He's goneAgnesand his arms will never hold you again. In
God's namemind such a thingand don't sit fencing with your
soul. Don't stop being great; that's the one crime he'll never
forgive you."

She falteredWho--who forgives?

Gerald.

At the sound of his name she slid forwardand all her dishonesty
left her. She acknowledged that life's meaning had vanished.
Bending downshe kissed the footprint. "How can he forgive me?"
she sobbed. "Where has he gone to? You could never dream such an
awful thing. He couldn't see me though I opened the door--wide-plenty
of light; and then he could not remember the things that


should comfort him. He wasn't a--he wasn't ever a great reader
and he couldn't remember the things. The rector triedand he
couldn't--I cameand I couldn't--" She could not speak for
tears. Rickie did not check her. He let her accuse herselfand
fateand Herbertwho had postponed their marriage. She might
have been a wife six months; but Herbert had spoken of
self-control and of all life before them. He let her kiss the
footprints till their marks gave way to the marks of her lips.
She moaned. "He is gone--where is he?" and then he replied quite
quietlyHe is in heaven.

She begged him not to comfort her; she could not bear it.

I did not come to comfort you. I came to see that you mind. He
is in heaven, Agnes. The greatest thing is over.

Her hatred was lulled. She murmuredDear Rickie!and held up
her hand to him. Through her tears his meagre face showed as a
seraph's who spoke the truth and forbade her to juggle with her
soul. "Dear Rickie--but for the rest of my life what am I to do?"

Anything--if you remember that the greatest thing is over.

I don't know you,she said tremulously. "You have grown up in a
moment. You never talked to usand yet you understand it all.
Tell me again--I can only trust you--where he is."

He is in heaven.

You are sure?

It puzzled her that Rickiewho could scarcely tell you the time
without a saving clauseshould be so certain about immortality.

He did not stop for the funeral. Mr. Pembroke thought that he had
a bad effect on Agnesand prevented her from acquiescing in the
tragedy as rapidly as she might have done. As he expressed it
one must not court sorrow,and he hinted to the young man that
they desired to be alone.

Rickie went back to the Silts.

He was only there a few days. As soon as term opened he returned
to Cambridgefor which he longed passionately. The journey
thither was now familiar to himand he took pleasure in each
landmark. The fair valley of Tewin Waterthe cutting into
Hitchin where the train traverses the chalkBaldock Church
Royston with its promise of downswere nothing in themselves
but dear as stages in the pilgrimage towards the abode of peace.
On the platform he met friends. They had all had pleasant
vacations: it was a happy world. The atmosphere alters.

Cambridgeaccording to her customwelcomed her sons with open
drains. Pettycury was upso was Trinity Streetand
navvies peeped out of King's Parade. Here it was gasthere
electric lightbut everywhere somethingand always a smell. It
was also the day that the wheels fell off the station tramand
Rickiewho was naturally insidewas among the passengers who
sustained no injury but a shock, and had as hearty a laugh over
the mishap afterwards as any one.


Tilliard fled into a hansomcursing himself for having tried to
do the thing cheaply. Hornblower also swept past yelling
derisivelywith his luggage neatly piled above his head. "Let's
get out and walk muttered Ansell. But Rickie was succouring a
distressed female--Mrs. Aberdeen.

OhMrs. AberdeenI never saw you: I am so glad to see you--I
am so very glad." Mrs. Aberdeen was cold. She did not like being
spoken to outside the collegeand was also distrait about her
basket. Hitherto no genteel eye had even seen inside itbut in
the collision its little calico veil fell offand there vas
revealed--nothing. The basket was emptyand never would hold
anything illegal. All the same she was distraitand "We shall
meet latersirI dessy was all the greeting Rickie got from
her.

Now what kind of a life has Mrs. Aberdeen?" he exclaimedas he
and Ansell pursued the Station Road. "Here these bedders come and
make us comfortable. We owe an enormous amount to themtheir
wages are absurdand we know nothing about them. Off they go to
Barnwelland then their lives are hidden. I just know that Mrs.
Aberdeen has a husbandbut that's all. She never will talk about
him. Now I do so want to fill in her life. I see one-half of it.
What's the other half? She may have a real jolly housein good
tastewith a little garden and booksand pictures. Oragain
she mayn't. But in any case one ought to know. I know she'd
dislike itbut she oughtn't to dislike. After allbedders are
to blame for the present lamentable state of thingsjust as much
as gentlefolk. She ought to want me to come. She ought to
introduce me to her husband."

They had reached the corner of Hills Road. Ansell spoke for the
first time. He saidUgh!

Drains?

Yes. A spiritual cesspool.

Rickie laughed.

I expected it from your letter.

The one you never answered?

I answer none of your letters. You are quite hopeless by now.
You can go to the bad. But I refuse to accompany you. I refuse to
believe that every human being is a moving wonder of supreme
interest and tragedy and beauty--which was what the letter in
question amounted to. You'll find plenty who will believe it.
It's a very popular view among people who are too idle to think;
it saves them the trouble of detecting the beautiful from the
ugly, the interesting from the dull, the tragic from the
melodramatic. You had just come from Sawston, and were apparently
carried away by the fact that Miss Pembroke had the usual amount
of arms and legs.

Rickie was silent. He had told his friend how he feltbut not
what had happened. Ansell could discuss love and death admirably
but somehow he would not understand lovers or a dying manand in
the letter there had been scant allusion to these concrete facts.
Would Cambridge understand them either? He watched some dons who
were peeping into an excavationand throwing up their hands with
humorous gestures of despair. These men would lecture next week


on Catiline's conspiracyon Lutheron Evolutionon Catullus.
They dealt with so much and they had experienced so little. Was
it possible he would ever come to think Cambridge narrow? In his
short life Rickie had known two sudden deathsand that is enough
to disarrange any placid outlook on the world. He knew once for
all that we are all of us bubbles on an extremely rough sea. Into
this sea humanity has builtas it weresome little
breakwaters--scientific knowledgecivilized restraint--so that
the bubbles do not break so frequentlv or so soon. But the sea
has not alteredand it was only a chance that heAnsell
Tilliardand Mrs. Aberdeen had not all been killed in the tram.

They waited for the other tram by the Roman Catholic Church
whose florid bulk was already receding into twilight. It is the
first big building that the incoming visitor sees. "Ohhere come
the colleges!" cries the Protestant parentand then learns that
it was built by a Papist who made a fortune out of movable eyes
for dolls. "Built out of doll's eyes to contain idols"--thatat
all eventsis the legend and the joke. It watches over the
apostate citytaller by many a yard than anything withinand
assertinghowever wildlythat here is eternitystabilityand
bubbles unbreakable upon a windless sea.

A costly hymn tune announced five o'clockand in the distance
the more lovable note of St. Mary's could be heardspeaking from
the heart of the town. Then the tram arrived--the slow stuffy
tram that plies every twenty minutes between the unknown and the
marketplace--and took them past the desecrated grounds of Downing
past Addenbrookes Hospitalgirt like a Venetian palace with a
mantling canalpast the Fitz Williamtowering upon immense
substructions like any Roman templeright up to the gates of
one's own collegewhich looked like nothing else in the world.
The porters were glad to see thembut wished it had been a
hansom. "Our luggage explained Rickie, comes in the hotel
omnibusif you would kindly pay a shilling for mine." Ansell
turned aside to some large lighted windowsthe abode of a
hospitable donand from other windows there floated familiar
voices and the familiar mistakes in a Beethoven sonata. The
collegethough smallwas civilizedand proud of its
civilization. It was not sufficient glory to be a Blue therenor
an additional glory to get drunk. Many a maiden lady who had read
that Cambridge men were sad dogswas surprised and perhaps a
little disappointed at the reasonable life which greeted her.
Miss Appleblossom in particular had had a tremendous shock. The
sight of young fellows making tea and drinking water had made her
wonder whether this was Cambridge College at all. "It is so she
exclaimed afterwards. It is just as I say; and what's moreI
wouldn't have it otherwise; Stewart says it's as easy as easy to
get into the swimand not at all expensive." The direction of
the swim was determined a little by the genius of the place--for
places have a geniusthough the less we talk about it the
better--and a good deal by the tutors and resident fellowswho
treated with rare dexterity the products that came up yearly from
the public schools. They taught the perky boy that he was not
everythingand the limp boy that he might be something. They
even welcomed those boys who were neither limp nor perkybut
odd--those boys who had never been at a public school at alland
such do not find a welcome everywhere. And they did everything
with ease--one might almost say with nonchalanceso that the
boys noticed nothingand received educationoften for the first
time in their lives.

But Rickie turned to none of these friendsfor just then he
loved his rooms better than any person. They were all he really


possessed in the worldthe only place he could call his own.
Over the door was his nameand through the paintlike a grey
ghosthe could still read the name of his predecessor. With a
sigh of joy he entered the perishable home that was his for a
couple of years. There was a beautiful fireand the kettle
boiled at once. He made tea on the hearth-rug and ate the
biscuits which Mrs. Aberdeen had brought for him up from
Anderson's. "Gentlemen she said, must learn to give and take."
He sighed again and againlike one who had escaped from danger.
With his head on the fender and all his limbs relaxedhe felt
almost as safe as he felt once when his mother killed a ghost in
the passage by carrying him through it in her arms. There was no
ghost now; he was frightened at reality; he was frightened at the
splendours and horrors of the world.

A letter from Miss Pembroke was on the table. He did not hurry to
open itfor sheand all that she didwas overwhelming. She
wrote like the Sibyl; her sorrowful face moved over the stars and
shattered their harmonies; last night he saw her with the eyes of
Blakea virgin widowtallveiledconsecratedwith her hands
stretched out against an everlasting wind. Whv should she write?
Her letters were not for the likes of himnor to be read in
rooms like his.

We are not leaving Sawston,she wrote. "I saw how selfish it
was of me to risk spoiling Herbert's career. I shall get used to
any place. Now that he is gonenothing of that sort can matter.
Every one has been most kindbut you have comforted me most
though you did not mean to. I cannot think how you did itor
understood so much. I still think of you as a little boy with a
lame leg--I know you will let me say this--and yet when it came
to the point you knew more than people who have been all their
lives with sorrow and death."

Rickie burnt this letterwhich he ought not to have donefor it
was one of the few tributes Miss Pembroke ever paid to
imagination. But he felt that it did not belong to him: words so
sincere should be for Gerald alone. The smoke rushed up the
chimneyand he indulged in a vision. He saw it reach the outer
air and beat against the low ceiling of clouds. The clouds were
too strong for it; but in them was one chinkrevealing one star
and through this the smoke escaped into the light of stars
innumerable. Then--but then the vision failedand the voice of
science whispered that all smoke remains on earth in the form of
smutsand is troublesome to Mrs. Aberdeen.

I am jolly unpractical,he mused. "And what is the point of it
when real things are so wonderful? Who wants visions in a world
that has Agnes and Gerald?" He turned on the electric light and
pulled open the table-drawer. Thereamong spoons and corks and
stringhe found a fragment of a little story that he had tried
to write last term. It was called "The Bay of the Fifteen
Islets and the action took place on St. John's Eve off the
coast of Sicily. A party of tourists land on one of the islands.
Suddenly the boatmen become uneasy, and say that the island is
not generally there. It is an extra one, and they had better have
tea on one of the ordinaries. Poohvolcanic!" says the leading
touristand the ladies say how interesting. The island begins to
rockand so do the minds of its visitors. They start and quarrel
and jabber. Fingers burst up through the sand-black fingers of
sea devils. The island tilts. The tourists go mad. But just
before the catastrophe one maninteger vitce scelerisque
purussees the truth. Here are no devils. Other musclesother
mindsare pulling the island to its subterranean home. Through


the advancing wall of waters he sees no grisly facesno ghastly
medieval limbsbut--But what nonsense! When real things are so
wonderfulwhat is the point of pretending?

And so Rickie deflected his enthusiasms. Hitherto they had played
on gods and heroeson the infinite and the impossibleon virtue
and beauty and strength. Nowwith a steadier radiancethey
transfigured a man who was dead and a woman who was still alive.

Lovesay orderly peoplecan be fallen into by two methods: (1)
through the desires(2) through the imagination. And if the
orderly people are Englishthey add that (1) is the inferior
methodand characteristic of the South. It is inferior. Yet
those who pursue it at all events know what they want; they are
not puzzling to themselves or ludicrous to others; they do not
take the wings of the morning and fly into the uttermost parts of
the sea before walking to the registry office; they cannot breed
a tragedy quite like Rickie's.

He isof courseabsurdly young--not twenty-one and he will be
engaged to be married at twenty-three. He has no knowledge of the
world; for examplehe thinks that if you do not want money you
can give it to friends who do. He believes in humanity because he
knows a dozen decent people. He believes in women because he has
loved his mother. And his friends are as young and as ignorant as
himself. They are full of the wine of life. But they have not
tasted the cup--let us call it the teacup--of experiencewhich
has made men of Mr. Pembroke's type what they are. Ohthat
teacup! To be taken at prayersat friendshipat lovetill we
are quite saneefficientquite experiencedand quite useless
to God or man. We must drink itor we shall die. But we need not
drink it always. Here is our problem and our salvation. There
comes a moment--God knows when--at which we can sayI will
experience no longer. I will create. I will be an experience.
But to do this we must be both acute and heroic. For it is not
easyafter accepting six cups of teato throw the seventh in
the face of the hostess. And to Rickie this moment has notas
yetbeen offered.

Ansellat the end of his third yeargot a first in the Moral
Science Tripos. Being a scholarhe kept his rooms in college
and at once began to work for a Fellowship. Rickie got a
creditable second in the Classical TriposPart I.and retired
to sallow lodgings in Mill banecarrying with him the degree of

B.A. and a small exhibitionwhich was quite as much as he
deserved. For Part II. he read Greek Archaeologyand got a
second. All this means that Ansell was much cleverer than Rickie.
As for the cowshe was still going strongthough turning a
little academic as the years passed over her.
We are bound to get narrow,sighed Rickie. He and his friend
were lying in a meadow during their last summer term. In his
incurable love for flowers he had plaited two garlands of
buttercups and cow-parsleyand Ansell's lean Jewish face was
framed in one of them. "Cambridge is wonderfulbut--but it's so
tiny. You have no idea--at leastI think you have no idea--how
the great world looks down on it."

I read the letters in the papers.


It's a bad look-out.

How?

Cambridge has lost touch with the times.

Was she ever intended to touch them?

She satisfies,said Rickie mysteriouslyneither the
professions, nor the public schools, nor the great thinking mass
of men and women. There is a general feeling that her day is
over, and naturally one feels pretty sick.

Do you still write short stories?

Because your English has gone to the devil. You think and talk
in Journalese. Define a great thinking mass.

Rickie sat up and adjusted his floral crown.

Estimate the worth of a general feeling.

Silence.

And thirdly, where is the great world?

Oh that--!

Yes. That,exclaimed Ansellrising from his couch in violent
excitement. "Where is it? How do you set about finding it? How
long does it take to get there? What does it think? What does it
do? What does it want? Oblige me with specimens of its art and
literature." Silence. "Till you domy opinions will be as
follows: There is no great world at allonly a little earthfor
ever isolated from the rest of the little solar system. The earth
is full of tiny societiesand Cambridge is one of them. All the
societies are narrowbut some are good and some are bad--just as
one house is beautiful inside and another ugly. Observe the
metaphor of the houses: I am coming back to it. The good
societies say`I tell you to do this because I am Cambridge.'
The bad ones say`I tell you to do that because I am the great
worldnot because I am 'Peckham' or `Billingsgate' or `Park
Lane' but `because I am the great world.' They lie. And fools
like you listen to themand believe that they are a thing which
does not exist and never has existedand confuse 'great' which
has no meaning whateverwith 'good' which means salvation. Look
at this great wreath: it'll be dead tomorrow. Look at that good
flower: it'll come up again next year. Now for the other
metaphor. To compare the world to Cambridge is like comparing the
outsides of houses with the inside of a house. No intellectual
effort is neededno moral result is attained. You only have to
say'Ohwhat a difference!' and then come indoors again and
exhibit your broadened mind."

I never shall come indoors again,said Rickie. "That's the
whole point." And his voice began to quiver. "It's well enough
for those who'll get a Fellowshipbut in a few weeks I shall go
down. In a few years it'll be as if I've never been up. It
matters very much to me what the world is like. I can't answer
your questions about it; and that's no loss to youbut so much
the worse for me. And then you've got a house--not a metaphorical
onebut a house with father and sisters. I haven'tand never
shall have. There'll never again be a home for me like Cambridge.
I shall only look at the outside of homes. According to your


metaphorI shall live in the streetand it matters very much to
me what I find there."

You'll live in another house right enough,said Ansellrather
uneasily. "Only take care you pick out a decent one. I can't
think why you flop about so helplesslylike a bit of seaweed. In
four years you've taken as much root as any one."

Where?

I should say you've been fortunate in your friends.

Oh--that!But he was not cynical--or cynical in a very tender
way. He was thinking of the irony of friendship--so strong it is
and so fragile. We fly togetherlike straws in an eddyto part
in the open stream. Nature has no use for us: she has cut her
stuff differently. Dutiful sonsloving husbandsresponsible
fathers these are what she wantsand if we are friends it must
be in our spare time. Abram and Sarai were sorrowfulyet their
seed became as sand of the seaand distracts the politics of
Europe at this moment. But a few verses of poetry is all that
survives of David and Jonathan.

I wish we were labelled,said Rickie. He wished that all the
confidence and mutual knowledge that is born in such a place as
Cambridge could be organized. People went down into the world
sayingWe know and like each other; we shan't forget.But they
did forgetfor man is so made that he cannot remember long
without a symbol; he wished there was a societya kind of
friendship officewhere the marriage of true minds could be
registered.

Why labels?

To know each other again.

I have taught you pessimism splendidly.He looked at his watch.

What time?

Not twelve.

Rickie got up.

Why go?He stretched out his hand and caught hold of Rickie's
ankle.

I've got that Miss Pembroke to lunch--that girl whom you say
never's there.

Then why go? All this week you have pretended Miss Pembroke
awaited you. Wednesday--Miss Pembroke to lunch. Thursday--Miss
Pembroke to tea. Now again--and you didn't even invite her.

To Cambridge, no. But the Hall man they're stopping with has so
many engagements that she and her friend can often come to me,
I'm glad to say. I don't think I ever told you much, but over two
years ago the man she was going to marry was killed at football.
She nearly died of grief. This visit to Cambridge is almost the
first amusement she has felt up to taking. Oh, they go back
tomorrow! Give me breakfast tomorrow.

All right.


But I shall see you this evening. I shall be round at your paper
on Schopenhauer. Lemme go.


Don't go,he said idly. "It's much better for you to talk to
me."


Lemme go, Stewart.


It's amusing that you're so feeble. You--simply--can't--get-away.
I wish I wanted to bully you.


Rickie laughedand suddenly over balanced into the grass.
Ansellwith unusual playfulnessheld him prisoner. They lay
there for few minutestalking and ragging aimlessly. Then Rickie
seized his opportunity and jerked away.


Go, go!yawned the other. But he was a little vexedfor he was
a young man with great capacity for pleasureand it pleased him
that morning to be with his friend. The thought of two ladies
waiting lunch did not deter him; stupid womenwhy shouldn't they
wait? Why should they interfere with their betters? With his ear
on the ground he listened to Rickie's departing stepsand
thoughtHe wastes a lot of time keeping engagements. Why will
he be pleasant to fools?And then he thoughtWhy has he turned
so unhappy? It isn't as it he's a philosopher, or tries to solve
the riddle of existence. And he's got money of his own: Thus
thinkinghe fell asleep.


Meanwhile Rickie hurried away from himand slackened and
stoppedand hurried again. He was due at the Union in ten
minutesbut he could not bring himself there. He dared not meet
Miss Pembroke: he loved her.


The devil must have planned it. They had started so gloriously;
she had been a goddess both in joy and sorrow. She was a goddess
still. But he had dethroned the god whom once he had glorified
equally. Slowlyslowlythe image of Gerald had faded. That was
the first step. Rickie had thoughtNo matter. He will be bright
again. Just now all the radiance chances to be in her.And on
her he had fixed his eyes. He thought of her awake. He
entertained her willingly in dreams. He found her in poetry and
music and in the sunset. She made him kind and strong. She made
him clever. Through her he kept Cambridge in its proper place
and lived as a citizen of the great world. But one night he
dreamt that she lay in his arms. This displeased him. He
determined to think a little about Gerald instead. Then the
fabric collapsed.


It was hard on Rickie thus to meet the devil. He did not deserve
itfor he was comparatively civilizedand knew that there was
nothing shameful in love. But to love this woman! If only it had
been any one else! Love in return--that he could expect from no
onebeing too ugly and too unattractive. But the love he offered
would not then have been vile. The insult to Miss Pembrokewho
was consecratedand whom he had consecratedwho could still see
Geraldand always would see himshining on his everlasting
throne this was the crime from the devilthe crime that no
penance would ever purge. She knew nothing. She never would know.
But the crime was registered in heaven.


He had been tempted to confide in Ansell. But to what purpose? He
would sayI love Miss Pembroke.and Stewart would replyYou
ass.And then. "I'm never going to tell her." "You ass again.



After all, it was not a practical question; Agnes would never
hear of his fall. If his friend had been, as he expressed it,
labelled"; if he had been a fatheror still better a brother
one might tell him of the discreditable passion. But why irritate
him for no reason? Thinking "I am always angling for sympathy; I
must stop myself he hurried onward to the Union.

He found his guests half way up the stairs, reading the
advertisements of coaches for the Long Vacation. He heard Mrs.
Lewin say, I wonder what he'll end by doing." A little
overacting his parthe apologized nonchalantly for his lateness.

It's always the same,cried Agnes. "Last time he forgot I was
coming altogether." She wore a flowered muslin--something
indescribably liquid and cool. It reminded him a little of those
swift piercing streamsneither blue nor greenthat gush out of
the dolomites. Her face was clear and brownlike the face of a
mountaineer; her hair was so plentiful that it seemed banked up
above it; and her little toquethough it answered the note of
the dresswas almost ludicrouspoised on so much natural glory.
When she movedthe sunlight flashed on her ear-rings.

He led them up to the luncheon-room. By now he was conscious of
his limitations as a hostand never attempted to entertain
ladies in his lodgings. Moreoverthe Union seemed less intimate.
It had a faint flavour of a London club; it marked the
undergraduate's nearest approach to the great world. Amid its
waiters and serviettes one felt impersonaland able to conceal
the private emotions. Rickie felt that if Miss Pembroke knew one
thing about himshe knew everything. During this visit he took
her to no place that he greatly loved.

Sit down, ladies. Fall to. I'm sorry. I was out towards Coton
with a dreadful friend.

Mrs. Lewin pushed up her veil. She was a typical May-term
chaperonalways pleasantalways hungryand always tired. Year
after year she came up to Cambridge in a tight silk dressand
year after year she nearly died of it. Her feet hurther limbs
were cramped in a canoeblack spots danced before her eyes from
eating too much mayonnaise. But still she cameif not as a
mother as an auntif not as an aunt as a friend. Still she
ascended the roof of King'sstill she counted the balls of
Clarestill she was on the point of grasping the organization of
the May races. "And who is your friend?" she asked.

His name is Ansell.

Well, now, did I see him two years ago--as a bedmaker in
something they did at the Foot Lights? Oh, how I roared.

You didn't see Mr. Ansell at the Foot Lights,said Agnes
smiling.

How do you know?asked Rickie.

He'd scarcely be so frivolous.

Do you remember seeing him?

For a moment.

What a memory she had! And how splendidly during that moment she
had behaved!


Isn't he marvellously clever?

I believe so.

Oh, give me clever people!cried Mrs. Lewin. "They are kindness
itself at the Hallbut I assure you I am depressed at times. One
cannot talk bump-rowing for ever."

I never hear about him, Rickie; but isn't he really your
greatest friend?

I don't go in for greatest friends.

Do you mean you like us all equally?

All differently, those of you I like.

Ah, you've caught it!cried Mrs. Lewin. "Mr. Elliot gave it you
there well."

Agnes laughedandher elbows on the tableregarded them both
through her fingers--a habit of hers. Then she saidCan't we
see the great Mr. Ansell?

Oh, let's. Or would he frighten me?

He would frighten you,said Rickie. "He's a trifle weird."

My good Rickie, if you knew the deathly dullness of Sawston-every
one saying the proper thing at the proper time, I so
proper, Herbert so proper! Why, weirdness is the one thing I long
for! Do arrange something.

I'm afraid there's no opportunity. Ansell goes some vast bicycle
ride this afternoon; this evening you're tied up at the Hall; and
tomorrow you go.

But there's breakfast tomorrow,said Agnes. "Look hereRickie
bring Mr. Ansell to breakfast with us at Buoys."

Mrs. Lewin seconded the invitation.

Bad luck again,said Rickie boldly; "I'm already fixed up for
breakfast. I'll tell him of your very kind intention."

Let's have him alone,murmured Agnes.

My dear girl, I should die through the floor! Oh, it'll be all
right about breakfast. I rather think we shall get asked this
evening by that shy man who has the pretty rooms in Trinity.

Oh, very well. Where is it you breakfast, Rickie?

He faltered. "To Ansell'sit is--" It seemed as if he was making
some great admission. So self-conscious was hethat he thought
the two women exchanged glances. Had Agnes already explored that
part of him that did not belong to her? Would another chance step
reveal the part that did? He asked them abruptly what they would
like to do after lunch.

Anything,said Mrs. Lewin--"anything in the world."

A walk? A boat? Ely? A drive? Some objection was raised to each.


To tell the truth,she said at lastI do feel a wee bit
tired, and what occurs to me is this. You and Agnes shall leave
me here and have no more bother. I shall be perfectly happy
snoozling in one of these delightful drawing-room chairs. Do
what you like, and then pick me up after it.

Alas, it's against regulations,said Rickie. "The Union won't
trust lady visitors on its premises alone."

But who's to know I'm alone? With a lot of men in the
drawing-room, how's each to know that I'm not with the others?

That would shock Rickie,said Agneslaughing. "He's
frightfully high-principled."

No, I'm not,said Rickiethinking of his recent shiftiness
over breakfast.

Then come for a walk with me. I want exercise. Some connection
of ours was once rector of Madingley. I shall walk out and see
the church.

Mrs. Lewin was accordingly left in the Union.

This is jolly!Agnes exclaimed as she strode along the somewhat
depressing road that leads out of Cambridge past the observatory.
Do I go too fast?

No, thank you. I get stronger every year. If it wasn't for the
look of the thing, I should be quite happy.

But you don't care for the look of the thing. It's only ignorant
people who do that, surely.

Perhaps. I care. I like people who are well-made and beautiful.
They are of some use in the world. I understand why they are
there. I cannot understand why the ugly and crippled are there,
however healthy they may feel inside. Don't you know how Turner
spoils his pictures by introducing a man like a bolster in the
foreground? Well, in actual life every landscape is spoilt by men
of worse shapes still.

You sound like a bolster with the stuffing out.They laughed.
She always blew his cobwebs away like thiswith a puff of
humorous mountain air. Just now the associations he attached to
her were various--she reminded him of a heroine of Meredith's-but
a heroine at the end of the book. All had been written about
her. She had played her mighty partand knew that it was over.
He and he alone was not contentand wrote for her daily a
trivial and impossible sequel.

Last time they had talked about Gerald. But that was some six
months agowhen things felt easier. Today Gerald was the
faintest blur. Fortunately the conversation turned to Mr.
Pembroke and to education. Did women lose a lot by not knowing
Greek? "A heap said Rickie, roughly. But modern languages? Thus
they got to Germany, which he had visited last Easter with
Ansell; and thence to the German Emperor, and what a to-do he
made; and from him to our own king (still Prince of Wales), who
had lived while an undergraduate at Madingley Hall. Here it was.
And all the time he thought, It is hard on her. She has no right
to be walking with me. She would be ill with disgust if she knew.
It is hard on her to be loved."


They looked at the Halland went inside the pretty little
church. Some Arundel prints hung upon the pillarsand Agnes
expressed the opinion that pictures inside a place of worship
were a pity. Rickie did not agree with this. He said again that
nothing beautiful was ever to be regretted.

You're cracked on beauty,she whispered--they were still inside
the church. "Do hurry up and write something."

Something beautiful?

I believe you can. I'm going to lecture you seriously all the
way home. Take care that you don't waste your life.

They continued the conversation outside. "But I've got to hate my
own writing. I believe that most people come to that stage--not
so early though. What I write is too silly. It can't happen. For
instancea stupid vulgar man is engaged to a lovely young lady.
He wants her to live in the townsbut she only cares for woods.
She shocks him this way and thatbut gradually he tames herand
makes her nearly as dull as he is. One day she has a last
explosion--over the snobby wedding presents--and flies out of the
drawing-room windowshouting'Freedom and truth!' Near the
house is a little dell full of fir-treesand she runs into it.
He comes there the next moment. But she's gone."

Awfully exciting. Where?

Oh Lord, she's a Dryad!cried Rickiein great disgust. "She's
turned into a tree."

Rickie, it's very good indeed. The kind of thing has something in
it. Of course you get it all through Greek and Latin. How upset
the man must be when he sees the girl turn.

He doesn't see her. He never guesses. Such a man could never see
a Dryad.

So you describe how she turns just before he comes up?

No. Indeed I don't ever say that she does turn. I don't use the
word 'Dryad' once.

I think you ought to put that part plainly. Otherwise, with such
an original story, people might miss the point. Have you had any
luck with it?

Magazines? I haven't tried. I know what the stuff's worth. You
see, a year or two ago I had a great idea of getting into touch
with Nature, just as the Greeks were in touch; and seeing England
so beautiful, I used to pretend that her trees and coppices and
summer fields of parsley were alive. It's funny enough now, but
it wasn't funny then, for I got in such a state that I believed,
actually believed, that Fauns lived in a certain double hedgerow
near the Cog Magogs, and one evening I walked a mile sooner
than go through it alone.

Good gracious!She laid her hand on his shoulder.

He moved to the other side of the road. "It's all right now. I've
changed those follies for others. But while I had them I began to
writeand even now I keep on writingthough I know better. I've
got quite a pile of little storiesall harping on this
ridiculous idea of getting into touch with Nature."


I wish you weren't so modest. It's simply splendid as an idea.
Though--but tell me about the Dryad who was engaged to be
married. What was she like?

I can show you the dell in which the young person disappeared.
We pass it on the right in a moment.

It does seem a pity that you don't make something of your
talents. It seems such a waste to write little stories and never
publish them. You must have enough for a book. Life is so full in
our days that short stories are the very thing; they get read by
people who'd never tackle a novel. For example, at our Dorcas we
tried to read out a long affair by Henry James--Herbert saw it
recommended in 'The Times.' There was no doubt it was very good,
but one simply couldn't remember from one week to another what
had happened. So now our aim is to get something that just lasts
the hour. I take you seriously, Rickie, and that is why I am so
offensive. You are too modest. People who think they can do
nothing so often do nothing. I want you to plunge.

It thrilled him like a trumpet-blast. She took him seriously.
Could he but thank her for her divine affability! But the words
would stick in his throator worse still would bring other words
along with them. His breath came quicklyfor he seldom spoke of
his writingand no onenot even Ansellhad advised him to
plunge.

But do you really think that I could take up literature?

Why not? You can try. Even if you fail, you can try. Of course
we think you tremendously clever; and I met one of your dons at
tea, and he said that your degree was not in the least a proof of
your abilities: he said that you knocked up and got flurried in
examinations. Oh!--her cheek flushed--"I wish I was a man. The
whole world lies before them. They can do anything. They aren't
cooped up with servants and tea parties and twaddle. But where's
this dell where the Dryad disappeared?"

We've passed it.He had meant to pass it. It was too beautiful.
All he had readall he had hoped forall he had lovedseemed
to quiver in its enchanted air. It was perilous. He dared not
enter it with such a woman.

How long ago?She turned back. "I don't want to miss the dell.
Here it must be she added after a few moments, and sprang up
the green bank that hid the entrance from the road. Ohwhat a
jolly place!"

Go right in if you want to see it,said Rickieand did not
offer to go with her. She stood for a moment looking at the view
for a few steps will increase a view in Cambridgeshire. The wind
blew her dress against her. Thenlike a cataract againshe
vanished pure and cool into the dell.

The young man thought of her feelings no longer. His heart
throbbed louder and louderand seemed to shake him to pieces.
Rickie!

She was calling from the dell. For an answer he sat down where he
wason the dust-bespattered margin. She could call as loud as
she liked. The devil had done muchbut he should not take him to
her.


Rickie!--and it came with the tones of an angel. He drove his
fingers into his earsand invoked the name of Gerald. But there
was no signneither angry motion in the air nor hint of January
mist. June--fields of Junesky of Junesongs of June. Grass of
June beneath himgrass of June over the tragedy he had deemed
immortal. A bird called out of the dell: "Rickie!"

A bird flew into the dell.

Did you take me for the Dryad?she asked. She was sitting down
with his head on her lap. He had laid it there for a moment
before he went out to dieand she had not let him take it away.

I prayed you might not be a woman,he whispered.

Darling, I am very much a woman. I do not vanish into groves and
trees. I thought you would never come.

Did you expect--?

I hoped. I called hoping.

Inside the dell it was neither June nor January. The chalk walls
barred out the seasonsand the fir-trees did not seem to feel
their passage. Only from time to time the odours of summer
slipped in from the wood aboveto comment on the waxing year.
She bent down to touch him with her lips.

He startedand cried passionatelyNever forget that your
greatest thing is over. I have forgotten: I am too weak. You
shall never forget. What I said to you then is greater than what
I say to you now. What he gave you then is greater than anything
you will get from me.

She was frightened. Again she had the sense of something
abnormal. Then she saidWhat is all this nonsense?and folded
him in her arms.

Ansell stood looking at his breakfast-tablewhich was laid for
four instead of two. His bedmakerequally peevishexplained how
it had happened. Last nightat one in the morningthe porter
had been awoke with a note for the kitchensand in that note Mr.
Elliot said that all these things were to be sent to Mr.
Ansell's.

The fools have sent the original order as well. Here's the
lemon-sole for two. I can't move for food.

The note being ambigerous, the Kitchens judged best to send it
all.She spoke of the kitchens in a half-respectful
half-pitying waymuch as one speaks of Parliament.

Who's to pay for it?He peeped into the new dishes. Kidneys
entombed in an omelettehot roast chicken in watery gravya
glazed but pallid pie.

And who's to wash it up?said the bedmaker to her help outside.

Ansell had disputed late last night concerning Schopenhauerand
was a little cross and tired. He bounced over to Tilliardwho


kept opposite. Tilliard was eating gooseberry jam.

Did Elliot ask you to breakfast with me?

No,said Tilliard mildly.

Well, you'd better come, and bring every one you know.

So Tilliard camebearing himself a little formallyfor he was
not very intimate with his neighbour. Out of the window they
called to Widdrington. But he laid his hand on his stomachthus
indicating it was too late.

Who's to pay for it?repeated Ansellas a man appeared from
the Buttery carrying coffee on a bright tin tray.

College coffee! How nice!remarked Tilliardwho was cutting
the pie. "But before term ends you must come and try my new
machine. My sister gave it me. There is a bulb at the topand as
the water boils--"

He might have counter-ordered the lemon-sole. That's Rickie all
over. Violently economical, and then loses his head, and all the
things go bad.

Give them to the bedder while they're hot.This was done. She
accepted them dispassionatelywith the air of one who lives
without nourishment. Tilliard continued to describe his sister's
coffee machine.

What's that?They could hear panting and rustling on the
stairs.

It sounds like a lady,said Tilliard fearfully. He slipped the
piece of pie back. It fell into position like a brick.

Is it here? Am I right? Is it here?The door opened and in came
Mrs. Lewin. "Oh horrors! I've made a mistake."

That's all right,said Ansell awkwardly.

I wanted Mr. Elliot. Where are they?

We expect Mr. Elliot every-moment,said Tilliard.

Don't tell me I'm right,cried Mrs. Lewinand that you're the
terrifying Mr. Ansell.Andwith obvious reliefshe wrung
Tilliard warmly by the hand.

I'm Ansell,said Anselllooking very uncouth and grim.

How stupid of me not to know it,she gaspedand would have
gone on to I know not whatbut the door opened again. It was
Rickie.

Here's Miss Pembroke,he said. "I am going to marry her."

There was a profound silence.

We oughtn't to have done things like this,said Agnesturning
to Mrs. Lewin. "We have no right to take Mr. Ansell by surprise.
It is Rickie's fault. He was that obstinate. He would bring us.
He ought to be horsewhipped."


He ought, indeed,said Tilliard pleasantlyand bolted. Not
till he gained his room did he realize that he had been less apt
than usual. As for Ansellthe first thing he said wasWhy
didn't you counter-order the lemon-sole?

In such a situation Mrs. Lewin was of priceless value. She led
the way to the tableobservingI quite agree with Miss
Pembroke. I loathe surprises. Never shall I forget my horror when
the knife-boy painted the dove's cage with the dove inside. He
did it as a surprise. Poor Parsival nearly died. His feathers
were bright green!

Well, give me the lemon-soles,said Rickie. "I like them."

The bedder's got them.

Well, there you are! What's there to be annoyed about?

And while the cage was drying we put him among the bantams. They
had been the greatest allies. But I suppose they took him for a
parrot or a hawk, or something that bantams hate for while his
cage was drying they picked out his feathers, and PICKED and
PICKED out his feathers, till he was perfectly bald. 'Hugo,
look,' said I. 'This is the end of Parsival. Let me have no more
surprises.' He burst into tears.

Thus did Mrs. Lewin create an atmosphere. At first it seemed
unrealbut gradually they got used to itand breathed scarcely
anything else throughout the meal. In such an atmosphere
everything seemed of small and equal valueand the engagement of
Rickie and Agnes like the feathers of Parsivalfluttered lightly
to the ground. Ansell was generally silent. He was no match for
these two quite clever women. Only once was there a hitch.

They had been talking gaily enough about the betrothal when
Ansell suddenly interrupted withWhen is the marriage?

Mr. Ansell,said AgnesblushingI wish you hadn't asked
that. That part's dreadful. Not for years, as far as we can see.

But Rickie had not seen as far. He had not talked to her of this
at all. Last night they had spoken only of love. He exclaimed
Oh, Agnes-don't!Mrs. Lewin laughed roguishly.

Why this delay?asked Ansell.

Agnes looked at Rickiewho repliedI must get money, worse
luck.

I thought you'd got money.

He hesitatedand then saidI must get my foot on the ladder,
then.

Ansell began withOn which ladder?but Mrs. Lewinusing the
privilege of her sexexclaimedNot another word. If there's a
thing I abominate, it is plans. My head goes whirling at once.
What she really abominated was questionsand she saw that Ansell
was turning serious. To appease himshe put on her clever manner
and asked him about Germany. How had it impressed him? Were we so
totally unfitted to repel invasion? Was not German scholarship
overestimated? He replied discourteouslybut he did reply; and
if she could have stopped him thinkingher triumph would have
been complete.


When they rose to goAgnes held Ansell's hand for a moment in
her own.

Good-bye,she said. "It was very unconventional of us to come
as we didbut I don't think any of us are conventional people."

He only repliedGood-bye.The ladies started off. Rickie
lingered behind to whisperI would have it so. I would have you
begin square together. I can't talk yet--I've loved her for
years--can't think what she's done it for. I'm going to write
short stories. I shall start this afternoon. She declares there
may be something in me.

As soon as he had leftTilliard burst inwhite with agitation
and cryingDid you see my awful faux pas--about the horsewhip?
What shall I do? I must call on Elliot. Or had I better write?

Miss Pembroke will not mind,said Ansell gravely. "She is
unconventional." He knelt in an arm-chair and hid his face in the
back.

It was like a bomb,said Tilliard.

It was meant to be.

I do feel a fool. What must she think?

Never mind, Tilliard. You've not been as big a fool as myself.
At all events, you told her he must be horsewhipped.

Tilliard hummed a little tune. He hated anything nastyand there
was nastiness in Ansell. "What did you tell her?" he asked.

Nothing.

What do you think of it?

I think: Damn those women.

Ah, yes. One hates one's friends to get engaged. It makes one
feel so old: I think that is one of the reasons. The brother just
above me has lately married, and my sister was quite sick about
it, though the thing was suitable in every way.

Damn THESE women, then,said Ansellbouncing round in the
chair. "Damn these particular women."

They looked and spoke like ladies.

Exactly. Their diplomacy was ladylike. Their lies were ladylike.
They've caught Elliot in a most ladylike way. I saw it all during
the one moment we were natural. Generally we were clattering
after the married one, whom--like a fool--I took for a fool. But
for one moment we were natural, and during that moment Miss
Pembroke told a lie, and made Rickie believe it was the truth.

What did she say?

She said `we see' instead of 'I see.'

Tilliard burst into laughter. This jaundiced young philosopher
with his kinky view of lifewas too much for him.


She said 'we see,'repeated Ansellinstead of 'I see,' and
she made him believe that it was the truth. She caught him and
makes him believe that he caught her. She came to see me and
makes him think that it is his idea. That is what I mean when I
say that she is a lady.

You are too subtle for me. My dull eyes could only see two happy
people.

I never said they weren't happy.

Then, my dear Ansell, why are you so cut up? It's beastly when a
friend marries,--and I grant he's rather young,--but I should say
it's the best thing for him. A decent woman--and you have proved
not one thing against her--a decent woman will keep him up to the
mark and stop him getting slack. She'll make him responsible and
manly, for much as I like Rickie, I always find him a little
effeminate. And, really,--his voice grew sharperfor he was
irritated by Ansell's conceitand, really, you talk as if you
were mixed up in the affair. They pay a civil visit to your
rooms, and you see nothing but dark plots and challenges to war.

War!cried Ansellcrashing his fists together. "It's war
then!"

Oh, what a lot of tommy-rot,said Tilliard. "Can't a man and
woman get engaged? My dear boy--excuse me talking like this--what
on earth is it to do with us?"

We're his friends, and I hope we always shall be, but we shan't
keep his friendship by fighting. We're bound to fall into the
background. Wife first, friends some way after. You may resent
the order, but it is ordained by nature.

The point is, not what's ordained by nature or any other fool,
but what's right.

You are hopelessly unpractical,said Tilliardturning away.
And let me remind you that you've already given away your case
by acknowledging that they're happy.

She is happy because she has conquered; he is happy because he
has at last hung all the world's beauty on to a single peg. He
was always trying to do it. He used to call the peg humanity.
Will either of these happinesses last? His can't. Hers only for a
time. I fight this woman not only because she fights me, but
because I foresee the most appalling catastrophe. She wants
Rickie, partly to replace another man whom she lost two years
ago, partly to make something out of him. He is to write. In time
she will get sick of this. He won't get famous. She will only see
how thin he is and how lame. She will long for a jollier husband,
and I don't blame her. And, having made him thoroughly miserable
and degraded, she will bolt--if she can do it like a lady.

Such were the opinions of Stewart Ansell.

Seven letters written in June:-


Cambridge


Dear Rickie

I would rather writeand you can guess what kind of letter this
is when I say it is a fair copy: I have been making rough drafts
all the morning. When I talk I get angryand also at times try
to be clever--two reasons why I fail to get attention paid to me.
This is a letter of the prudent sort. If it makes you break off
the engagementits work is done. You are not a person who ought
to marry at all. You are unfitted in body: that we once
discussed. You are also unfitted in soul: you want and you need
to like many peopleand a man of that sort ought not to marry.
You never were attached to that great sectwho can like one
person onlyand if you try to enter it you will find
destruction. I have read in books and I cannot afford to despise
booksthey are all that I have to go by--that men and women
desire different things. Man wants to love mankind; woman wants
to love one man. When she has him her work is over. She is the
emissary of Natureand Nature's bidding has been fulfilled. But
man does not care a damn for Nature--or at least only a very
little damn. He cares for a hundred things besidesand the more
civilized he is the more he will care for these other hundred
thingsand demand not only--a wife and childrenbut also
friendsand workand spiritual freedom.

I believe you to be extraordinarily civilized.--Yours ever

S.A.
Shelthorpe9 Sawston Park Road
Sawston

Dear Ansell

But I'm in love--a detail you've forgotten. I can't listen to
English Essays. The wretched Agnes may be an "emissary of
Nature but I only grinned when I read it. I may be
extraordinarily civilized, but I don't feel so; I'm in love, and
I've found a woman to love me, and I mean to have the hundred
other things as well. She wants me to have them--friends and
work, and spiritual freedom, and everything. You and your books
miss this, because your books are too sedate. Read poetry--not
only Shelley. Understand Beatrice, and Clara Middleton, and
Brunhilde in the first scene of Gotterdammerung. Understand
Goethe when he says the eternal feminine leads us on and don't
write another English Essay.--Yours ever affectionately,

R.E
Cambridge

Dear Rickie:

What am I to say? Understand Xanthippeand Mrs. Bennetand
Elsa in the question scene of Lohengrin"? "Understand Euripides
when he says the eternal feminine leads us a pretty dance"? I
shall say nothing of the sort. The allusions in this English
Essay shall not be literary. My personal objections to Miss
Pembroke are as follows:-


(1) She is not serious.
(2) She is not truthful.

Shelthorpe9 Sawston Park Road
Sawston

My Dear Stewart

You couldn't know. I didn't know for a moment. But this letter of
yours is the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to me
yet--more wonderful (I don't exaggerate) than the moment when
Agnes promised to marry me. I always knew you liked mebut I
never knew how much until this letter. Up to now I think we have
been too much like the strong heroes in books who feel so much
and say so littleand feel all the more for saying so little.
Now that's over and we shall never be that kind of an ass again.
We've hit--by accident--upon something permanent. You've written
to meI hate the woman who will be your wife,and I write
backHate her. Can't I love you both?She will never come
between usStewart (She wouldn't wish tobut that's by the
way)because our friendship has now passed beyond intervention.
No third person could break it. We couldn't ourselvesI fancy.
We may quarrel and argue till one of us diesbut the thing is
registered. I only wishdear manyou could be happier. For me
it's as if a light was suddenly held behind the world.

R.E.
Shelthorpe9 Sawston Park Road
Sawston

Dear Mrs. Lewin-


The time goes flyingbut I am getting to learn my wonderful boy.
We speak a great deal about his work. He has just finished a
curious thing called "Nemi"--about a Roman ship that is actually
sunk in some lake. I cannot think how he describes the things
when he has never seen them. Ifas I hopehe goes to Italy next
yearhe should turn out something really good. Meanwhile we are
hunting for a publisher. Herbert believes that a collection of
short stories is hard to get published. It isafter allbetter
to write one long one.

But you must not think we only talk books. What we say on other
topics cannot so easily be repeated! OhMrs Lewinhe is a dear
and dearer than ever now that we have him at Sawston. Herbertin
a quiet wayhas been making inquiries about those Cambridge
friends of his. Nothing against thembut they seem to be
terribly eccentric. None of them are good at gamesand they
spend all their spare time thinking and discussing. They discuss
what one knows and what one never will know and what one had much
better not know. Herbert says it is because they have not got
enough to do.--Ever your grateful and affectionate friend

Agnes Pembroke

Shelthorpe9 Sawston Park Road
Sawston

Dear Mr. Silt-


Thank you for the congratulationswhich I have handed over to
the delighted Rickie.


(The congratulations were really addressed to Agnes--a social
blunder which Mr. Pembroke deftly corrects.)

I am sorry that the rumor reached you that I was not pleased.
Anything pleases me that promises my sister's happinessand I
have known your cousin nearly as long as you have. It will be a
very long engagementfor he must make his way first. The dear
boy is not nearly as wealthy as he supposed; having no tastes
and hardly any expenseshe used to talk as if he were a
millionaire. He must at least double his income before he can
dream of more intimate ties. This has been a bitter pillbut I
am glad to say that they have accepted it bravely.

Hoping that you and Mrs. Silt will profit by your week at
Margate.-I remainyours very sincerely

Herbert Pembroke

CadoverWilts.

Dear {Miss Pembroke
{Agnes-

I hear that you are going to marry my nephew. I have no idea what
he is likeand wonder whether you would bring him that I may
find out. Isn't September rather a nice month? You might have to
go to Stone Hengebut with that exception would be left
unmolested. I do hope you will manage the visit. We met once at
Mrs. Lewin'sand I have a very clear recollection of you.-Believe
meyours sincerely

Emily Failing

The rain tilted a little from the south-west. For the most part
it fell from a grey cloud silentlybut now and then the tilt
increasedand a kind of sigh passed over the country as the
drops lashed the wallstreesshepherdsand other motionless
objects that stood in their slanting career. At times the cloud
would descend and visibly embrace the earthto which it had only
sent messages; and the earth itself would bring forth clouds
--clouds of a whiter breed--which formed in shallow valleys and
followed the courses of the streams. It seemed the beginning of
life. Again God saidShall we divide the waters from the land
or not? Was not the firmament labour and glory sufficient?At
all events it was the beginning of life pastoralbehind which
imagination cannot travel.

Yet complicated people were getting wet--not only the shepherds.
For instancethe piano-tuner was sopping. So was the vicar's
wife. So were the lieutenant and the peevish damsels in his
Battleston car. Gallantrycharityand art pursued their various
missionsperspiring and muddywhile out on the slopes beyond
them stood the eternal man and the eternal dogguarding eternal
sheep until the world is vegetarian.

Inside an arbour--which faced eastand thus avoided the bad
weather--there sat a complicated person who was dry. She looked
at the drenched world with a pleased expressionand would smile
when a cloud would lay down on the villageor when the rain


sighed louder than usual against her solid shelter. Ink
paperclipsand foolscap paper were on the table before herand
she could also reach an umbrellaa waterproofa walking-stick
and an electric bell. Her age was between elderly and oldand
her forehead was wrinkled with an expression of slight but
perpetual pain. But the lines round her mouth indicated that she
had laughed a great deal during her lifejust as the clean tight
skin round her eyes perhaps indicated that she had not often
cried. She was dressed in brown silk. A brown silk shawl lay most
becomingly over her beautiful hair.

After long thought she wrote on the paper in front of herThe
subject of this memoir first saw the light at Wolverhampton on
May the 14th, 1842.She laid down her pen and said "Ugh!" A
robin hopped in and she welcomed him. A sparrow followed and she
stamped her foot. She watched some thick white water which was
sliding like a snake down the gutter of the gravel path. It had
just appeared. It must have escaped from a hollow in the chalk up
behind. The earth could absorb no longer. The lady did not think
of all thisfor she hated questions of whence and whereforeand
the ways of the earth ("our dull stepmother") bored her
unspeakably. But the waterjust the snake of waterwas
amusingand she flung her golosh at it to dam it up. Then she
wrote feverishlyThe subject of this memoir first saw the light
in the middle of the night. It was twenty to eleven. His pa was a
parson, but he was not his pa's son, and never went to heaven.
There was the sound of a trainand presently white smoke
appearedrising laboriously through the heavy air. It distracted
herand for about a quarter of an hour she sat perfectly still
doing nothing. At last she pushed the spoilt paper asidetook
afresh pieceand was beginning to writeOn May the 14th,
1842,when there was a crunch on the graveland a furious voice
saidI am sorry for Flea Thompson.

I daresay I am sorry for him too,said the lady; her voice was
languid and pleasant. "Who is he?"

Flea's a liar, and the next time we meet he'll be a football.
Off slipped a sodden ulster. He hung it up angrily upon a peg:
the arbour provided several.

But who is he, and why has he that disastrous name?

Flea? Fleance. All the Thompsons are named out of Shakespeare.
He grazes the Rings.

Ah, I see. A pet lamb.

Lamb! Shepherd!

One of my Shepherds?

The last time I go with his sheep. But not the last tune he sees
me. I am sorry for him. He dodged me today,

Do you mean to say--she became animated--"that you have been
out in the wet keeping the sheep of Flea Thompson?"

I had to.He blew on his fingers and took off his cap. Water
trickled over his unshaven cheeks. His hair was so wet that it
seemed worked upon his scalp in bronze.

Get away, bad dog!screamed the ladyfor he had given himself
a shake and spattered her dress with water. He was a powerful boy


of twentyadmirably muscularbut rather too broad for his
height. People called him "Podge" until they were dissuaded. Then
they called him "Stephen" or "Mr. Wonham." Then he saidYou can
call me Podge if you like.

As for Flea--!he began tempestuously. He sat down by herand
with much heavy breathing told the story--"Flea has a girl at
Wintersbridgeand I had to go with his sheep while he went to
see her. Two hours. We agreed. Half an hour to goan hour to
kiss his girland half an hour back--and he had my bike. Four
hours! Four hours and seven minutes I was on the Ringswith a
fool of a dogand sheep doing all they knew to get the turnips."

My farm is a mystery to me,said the ladystroking her
fingers.

Some day you must really take me to see it. It must be like a
Gilbert and Sullivan opera, with a chorus of agitated employers.
How is it that I have escaped? Why have I never been summoned to
milk the cows, or flay the pigs, or drive the young bullocks to
the pasture?

He looked at her with astonishingly blue eyes--the only dry
things he had about him. He could not see into her: she would
have puzzled an older and clever man. He may have seen round her.

A thing of beauty you are not. But I sometimes think you are a
joy for ever.

I beg your pardon?

Oh, you understand right enough,she exclaimed irritablyand
then smiledfor he was conceitedand did not like being told
that he was not a thing of beauty. "Large and steady feet she
continued, have this disadvantage--you can knock down a manbut
you will never knock down a woman."

I don't know what you mean. I'm not likely--

Oh, never mind--never, never mind. I was being funny. I repent.
Tell me about the sheep. Why did you go with them?

I did tell you. I had to.

But why?

He had to see his girl.

But why?

His eyes shot past her again. It was so obvious that the man had
to see his girl. For two hours though--not for four hours seven
minutes.

Did you have any lunch?

I don't hold with regular meals.

Did you have a book?

I don't hold with books in the open. None of the older men
read.

Did you commune with yourself, or don't you hold with that?


Oh Lord, don't ask me!

You distress me. You rob the Pastoral of its lingering romance.
Is there no poetry and no thought in England? Is there no one, in
all these downs, who warbles with eager thought the Doric lay?

Chaps sing to themselves at times, if you mean that.

I dream of Arcady. I open my eyes. Wiltshire. Of Amaryllis: Flea
Thompson's girl. Of the pensive shepherd, twitching his mantle
blue: you in an ulster. Aren't you sorry for me?

May I put in a pipe?

By all means put a pipe in. In return, tell me of what you were
thinking for the four hours and the seven minutes.

He laughed shyly. "You do ask a man such questions."

Did you simply waste the time?

I suppose so.

I thought that Colonel Robert Ingersoll says you must be
strenuous.

At the sound of this name he whisked open a little cupboardand
declaringI haven't a moment to spare,took out of it a pile
of "Clarion" and other reprintsadorned as to their covers with
bald or bearded apostles of humanity. Selecting a bald onehe
began at once to readoccasionally exclaimingThat's got
them,That's knocked Genesis,with similar ejaculations of an
aspiring mind. She glanced at the pile. Reranminus the style.
Darwinminus the modesty. A comic edition of the book of Jobby
Excelsior,PittsburghPa. "The Beginning of Life with
diagrams. Angel or Ape?" by Mrs. Julia P. Chunk. She was amused
and wondered idly what was passing within his narrow but not
uninteresting brain. Did he suppose that he was going to "find
out"? She had tried once herselfbut had since subsided into a
sprightly orthodoxy. Why didn't he read poetryinstead of
wasting his time between books like these and country like that?

The cloud partedand the increase of light made her look up.
Over the valley she saw a grave sullen downand on its flanks a
little brown smudge--her sheeptogether with her shepherd
Fleance Thompsonreturned to his duties at last. A trickle of
water came through the arbour roof. She shrieked in dismay.

That's all right,said her companionmoving her chairbut
still keeping his place in his book.

She dried up the spot on the manuscript. Then she wrote: "Anthony
Eustace Failingthe subject of this memoirwas born at
Wolverhampton." But she wrote no more. She was fidgety. Another
drop fell from the roof. Likewise an earwig. She wished she had
not been so playful in flinging her golosh into the path. The boy
who was overthrowing religion breathed somewhat heavily as he did
so. Another earwig. She touched the electric bell.

I'm going in,she observed. "It's far too wet." Again the cloud
parted and caused her to addWeren't you rather kind to Flea?
But he was deep in the book. He read like a poor personwith
lips apart and a finger that followed the print. At times he


scratched his earor ran his tongue along a straggling blonde
moustache. His face had after all a certain beauty: at all events
the colouring was regal--a steady crimson from throat to
forehead: the sun and the winds had worked on him daily ever
since he was born. "The face of a strong man thought the lady.
Let him thank his stars he isn't a silent strong manor I'd
turn him into the gutter." Suddenly it struck her that he was
like an Irish terrier. He worried infinity as if it was a bone.
Gnashing his teethhe tried to carry the eternal subtleties by
violence. As a man he often bored herfor he was always saying
and doing the same things. But as a philosopher he really was a
joy for everan inexhaustible buffoon. Taking up her penshe
began to caricature him. She drew a rabbit-warren where rabbits
were at play in four dimensions. Before she had introduced the
principal figureshe was interrupted by the footman. He had come
up from the house to answer the bell. On seeing her he uttered a
respectful cry.

Madam! Are you here? I am very sorry. I looked for you
everywhere. Mr. Elliot and Miss Pembroke arrived nearly an hour
ago.

Oh dear, oh dear!exclaimed Mrs. Failing. "Take these papers.
Where's the umbrella? Mr. Stephen will hold it over me. You hurry
back and apologize. Are they happy?"

Miss Pembroke inquired after you, madam.

Have they had tea?

Yes, madam.

Leighton!

Yes, sir.

I believe you knew she was here all the time. You didn't want to
wet your pretty skin.

You must not call me 'she' to the servants,said Mrs. Failing
as they walked awayshe limping with a stickhe holding a great
umbrella over her. "I will not have it." Then more pleasantly
And don't tell him he lies. We all lie. I knew quite well they
were coming by the four-six train. I saw it pass.

That reminds me. Another child run over at the Roman crossing.
Whish--bang--dead.

Oh my foot! Oh my foot, my foot!said Mrs. Failingand paused
to take breath.

Bad?he asked callously.

Leightonwith bowed headpassed them with the manuscript and
disappeared among the laurels. The twinge of painwhich had been
slightpassed awayand they proceededdescending a green
airless corridor which opened into the gravel drive.

Isn't it odd,said Mrs. Failingthat the Greeks should be
enthusiastic about laurels--that Apollo should pursue any one who
could possibly turn into such a frightful plant? What do you make
of Rickie?

Oh, I don't know.


Shall I lend you his story to read?

He made no reply.

Don't you think, Stephen, that a person in your precarious
position ought to be civil to my relatives?

Sorry, Mrs. Failing. I meant to be civil. I only hadn't-anything
to say.

She a laughed. "Are you a dear boy? I sometimes wonder; or are
you a brute?"

Again he had nothing to say. Then she laughed more mischievously
and said-


How can you be either, when you are a philosopher? Would you
mind telling me--I am so anxious to learn--what happens to people
when they die?

Don't ask ME.He knew by bitter experience that she was making
fun of him.

Oh, but I do ask you. Those paper books of yours are so
up-to-date. For instance, what has happened to the child you say
was killed on the line?

The rain increased. The drops pattered hard on the leavesand
outside the corridor men and women were strugglinghowever
stupidlywith the facts of life. Inside it they wrangled. She
teased the boyand laughed at his theoriesand proved that no
man can be an agnostic who has a sense of humour. Suddenly she
stoppednot through any skill of hisbut because she had
remembered some words of Bacon: "The true atheist is he whose
hands are cauterized by holy things." She thought of her distant
youth. The world was not so humorous thenbut it had been more
important. For a moment she respected her companionand
determined to vex him no more.

They left the shelter of the laurelscrossed the broad drive
and were inside the house at last. She had got quite wetfor the
weather would not let her play the simple life with impunity. As
for himhe seemed a piece of the wet.

Look here,she criedas he hurried up to his atticdon't
shave!

He was delighted with the permission.

I have an idea that Miss Pembroke is of the type that pretends
to be unconventional and really isn't. I want to see how she
takes it. Don't shave.

In the drawing-room she could hear the guests conversing in the
subdued tones of those who have not been welcomed. Having changed
her dress and glanced at the poems of Miltonshe went to them
with uplifted hands of apology and horror.

But I must have tea,she announcedwhen they had assured her
that they understood. "Otherwise I shall start by being cross.
Agnesstop me. Give me tea."

Agneslooking pleasedmoved to the table and served her


hostess. Rickie followed with a pagoda of sandwiches and little
cakes.

I feel twenty-seven years younger. Rickie, you are so like your
father. I feel it is twenty-seven years ago, and that he is
bringing your mother to see me for the first time. It is
curious--almost terrible--to see history repeating itself.

The remark was not tactful.

I remember that visit well,she continued thoughtfullyI
suppose it was a wonderful visit, though we none of us knew it at
the time. We all fell in love with your mother. I wish she would
have fallen in love with us. She couldn't bear me, could she?

I never heard her say so, Aunt Emily.

No; she wouldn't. I am sure your father said so, though. My dear
boy, don't look so shocked. Your father and I hated each other.
He said so, I said so, I say so; say so too. Then we shall start
fair.--Just a cocoanut cake.--Agnes, don't you agree that it's
always best to speak out?

Oh, rather, Mrs. Failing. But I'm shockingly straightforward.

So am I,said the lady. "I like to get down to the bedrock.-Hullo!
Slippers? Slippers in the drawingroom?"

A young man had come in silently. Agnes observed with a feeling
of regret that he had not shaved. Rickieafter a moment's
hesitationremembered who it wasand shook hands with him.
You've grown since I saw you last."

He showed his teeth amiably.

How long was that?asked Mrs. Failing.

Three years, wasn't it? Came over from the Ansells--friends.

How disgraceful, Rickie! Why don't you come and see me oftener?

He could not retort that she never asked him.

Agnes will make you come. Oh, let me introduce Mr. Wonham--Miss
Pembroke.

I am deputy hostess,said Agnes. "May I give you some tea?"

Thank you, but I have had a little beer.

It is one of the shepherds,said Mrs. Failingin low tones.

Agnes smiled rather wildly. Mrs. Lewin had warned her that
Cadover was an extraordinary placeand that one must never be
astonished at anything. A shepherd in the drawing-room! No harm.
Still one ought to know whether it was a shepherd or not. At all
events he was in gentleman's clothing. She was anxious not to
start with a blunderand therefore did not talk to the young
fellowbut tried to gather what he was from the demeanour of
Rickie.

I am sure, Mrs. Failing, that you need not talk of 'making'
people come to Cadover. There will be no difficulty, I should
say.


Thank you, my dear. Do you know who once said those exact words
to me?

Who?

Rickie's mother.

Did she really?

My sister-in-law was a dear. You will have heard Rickie's
praises, but now you must hear mine. I never knew a woman who was
so unselfish and yet had such capacities for life.

Does one generally exclude the other?asked Rickie.

Unselfish people, as a rule, are deathly dull. They have no
colour. They think of other people because it is easier. They
give money because they are too stupid or too idle to spend
it properly on themselves. That was the beauty of your mother-she
gave away, but she also spent on herself, or tried to.

The light faded out of the drawing-roomin spite of it being
September and only half-past six. From her low chair Agnes could
see the trees by the driveblack against a blackening sky. That
drive was half a mile longand she was praising its gravelled
surface when Rickie called in a voice of alarmI say, when did
our train arrive?

Four-six.

I said so.

It arrived at four-six on the time-table,said Mr. Wonham. "I
want to know when it got to the station?"

I tell you again it was punctual. I tell you I looked at my
watch. I can do no more.

Agnes was amazed. Was Rickie mad? A minute ago and they were
boring each other over dogs. What had happened?

Now, now! Quarrelling already?asked Mrs. Failing.

The footmanbringing a lamplit up two angry faces.

He says--

He says--

He says we ran over a child.

So you did. You ran over a child in the village at four-seven by
my watch. Your train was late. You couldn't have got to the
station till four-ten.

I don't believe it. We had passed the village by four-seven.
Agnes, hadn't we passed the village? It must have been an express
that ran over the child.

Now is it likely--he appealed to the practical world --"is it
likely that the company would run a stopping train and then an
express three minutes after it?"


A child--said Rickie. "I can't believe that the train killed a
child." He thought of their journey. They were alone in the
carriage. As the train slackened speed he had caught her
for a moment in his arms. The rain beat on the windowsbut they
were in heaven.

You've got to believe it,said the otherand proceeded to "rub
it in." His healthyirritable face drew close to Rickie's. "Two
children were kicking and screaming on the Roman crossing. Your
trainbeing latecame down on them. One of them was pulled off
the linebut the other was caught. How will you get out of
that?"

And how will you get out of it?cried Mrs. Failingturning the
tables on him. "Where's the child now? What has happened to its
soul? You must knowAgnesthat this young gentleman is a
philosopher."

Oh, drop all that,said Mr. Wonhamsuddenly collapsing.

Drop it? Where? On my nice carpet?

I hate philosophy,remarked Agnestrying to turn the subject
for she saw that it made Rickie unhappy.

So do I. But I daren't say so before Stephen. He despises us
women.

No, I don't,said the victimswaying to and fro on the
window-sillwhither he had retreated.

Yes, he does. He won't even trouble to answer us. Stephen!
Podge! Answer me. What has happened to the child's soul?

He flung open the window and leant from them into the dusk. They
heard him mutter something about a bridge.

What did I tell you? He won't answer my question.

The delightful moment was approaching when the boy would lose his
temper: she knew it by a certain tremor in his heels.

There wants a bridge,he exploded. "A bridge instead of all
this rotten talk and the level-crossing. It wouldn't break you to
build a two-arch bridge. Then the child's soulas you call it-well
nothing would have happened to the child at all."

A gust of night air enteredaccompanied by rain. The flowers in
the vases rustledand the flame of the lamp shot up and smoked
the glass. Slightly irritatedshe ordered him to close the
window.

Cadover was not a large house. But it is the largest house with
which this story has dealingsand must always be thought of with
respect. It was built about the year 1800and favoured the
architecture of ancient Rome--chiefly by means of five lank
pilasterswhich stretched from the top of it to the bottom.
Between the pilasters was the glass front doorto the right of
them the drawing room windowsto the left of them the windows of
the dining-roomabove them a triangular areawhich the


better-class servants knew as a "pendiment and which had in its
middle a small round hole, according to the usage of Palladio.
The classical note was also sustained by eight grey steps which
led from the building down into the drive, and by an attempt at a
formal garden on the adjoining lawn. The lawn ended in a Ha-ha
(Ha! ha! who shall regard it?")and thence the bare land sloped
down into the village. The main garden (walled) was to the left
as one faced the housewhile to the right was that laurel
avenueleading up to Mrs. Failing's arbour.

It was a comfortable but not very attractive placeandto a
certain type of mindits situation was not attractive either.
>From the distance it showed as a grey boxhuddled against
evergreens. There was no mystery about it. You saw it for miles.
Its hill had none of the beetling romance of Devonshirenone of
the subtle contours that prelude a cottage in Kentbut
profferred its burden crudelyon a huge bare palm. "There's
Cadover visitors would say. How small it still looks. We shall
be late for lunch." And the view from the windowsthough
extensivewould not have been accepted by the Royal Academy. A
valleycontaining a streama roada railway; over the valley
fields of barley and wurzeldivided by no pretty hedgesand
passing into a great and formless down--this was the outlook
desolate at all timesand almost terrifying beneath a cloudy
sky. The down was called "Cadbury Range" ("Cocoa Squares" if you
were young and funny)because high upon it--one cannot say "on
the top there being scarcely any tops in Wiltshire--because
high upon it there stood a double circle of entrenchments. A bank
of grass enclosed a ring of turnips, which enclosed a second bank
of grass, which enclosed more turnips, and in the middle of the
pattern grew one small tree. British? Roman? Saxon? Danish? The
competent reader will decide. The Thompson family knew it to be
far older than the Franco-German war. It was the property of
Government. It was full of gold and dead soldiers who had fought
with the soldiers on Castle Rings and been beaten. The road to
Londinium, having forded the stream and crossed the valley road
and the railway, passed up by these entrenchments. The road to
London lay half a mile to the right of them.

To complete this survey one must mention the church and the farm,
both of which lay over the stream in Cadford. Between them they
ruled the village, one claiming the souls of the labourers, the
other their bodies. If a man desired other religion or other
employment he must leave. The church lay up by the railway, the
farm was down by the water meadows. The vicar, a gentle
charitable man scarcely realized his power, and never tried
to abuse it. Mr. Wilbraham, the agent, was of another mould. He
knew his place, and kept others to theirs: all society seemed
spread before him like a map. The line between the county and the
local, the line between the labourer and the artisan--he knew
them all, and strengthened them with no uncertain touch.
Everything with him was graduated--carefully graduated civility
towards his superior, towards his inferiors carefully graduated
incivility. So--for he was a thoughtful person--so alone,
declared he, could things be kept together.

Perhaps the Comic Muse, to whom so much is now attributed, had
caused his estate to be left to Mr. Failing. Mr. Failing was the
author of some brilliant books on socialism,--that was why his
wife married him--and for twenty-five years he reigned up at
Cadover and tried to put his theories into practice. He believed
that things could be kept together by accenting the similarities,
not the differences of men. We are all much more alike than we
confess was one of his favourite speeches. As a speech it


sounded very well, and his wife had applauded; but when it
resulted in hard work, evenings in the reading-rooms,
mixed-parties, and long unobtrusive talks with dull people, she
got bored. In her piquant way she declared that she was not going
to love her husband, and succeeded. He took it quietly, but his
brilliancy decreased. His health grew worse, and he knew that
when he died there was no one to carry on his work. He felt,
besides, that he had done very little. Toil as he would, he had
not a practical mind, and could never dispense with Mr.
Wilbraham. For all his tact, he would often stretch out the hand
of brotherhood too soon, or withhold it when it would have been
accepted. Most people misunderstood him, or only understood him
when he was dead. In after years his reign became a golden age;
but he counted a few disciples in his life-time, a few young
labourers and tenant farmers, who swore tempestuously that he was
not really a fool. This, he told himself, was as much as he
deserved.

Cadover was inherited by his widow. She tried to sell it; she
tried to let it; but she asked too much, and as it was neither a
pretty place nor fertile, it was left on her hands. With many a
groan she settled down to banishment. Wiltshire people, she
declared, were the stupidest in England. She told them so to
their faces, which made them no brighter. And their county was
worthy of them: no distinction in it--no style--simply land.

But her wrath passed, or remained only as a graceful fretfulness.
She made the house comfortable, and abandoned the farm to Mr.
Wilbraham. With a good deal of care she selected a small circle
of acquaintances, and had them to stop in the summer months. In
the winter she would go to town and frequent the salons of the
literary. As her lameness increased she moved about less, and at
the time of her nephew's visit seldom left the place that had
been forced upon her as a home. Just now she was busy. A
prominent politician had quoted her husband. The young generation
asked, Who is this Mr. Failing?" and the publishers wroteNow
is the time.She was collecting some essays and penning an
introductory memoir.

Rickie admired his auntbut did not care for her. She reminded
him too much of his father. She had the same afflictionthe same
heartlessnessthe same habit of taking life with a laugh--as if
life is a pill! He also felt that she had neglected him. He would
not have asked much: as for "prospects they never entered his
head, but she was his only near relative, and a little kindness
and hospitality during the lonely years would have made
incalculable difference. Now that he was happier and could bring
her Agnes, she had asked him to stop at once. The sun as it rose
next morning spoke to him of a new life. He too had a purpose and
a value in the world at last. Leaning out of the window, he gazed
at the earth washed clean and heard through the pure air the
distant noises of the farm.

But that day nothing was to remain divine but the weather. His
aunt, for reasons of her own, decreed that he should go for a
ride with the Wonham boy. They were to look at Old Sarum, proceed
thence to Salisbury, lunch there, see the sights, call on a
certain canon for tea, and return to Cadover in the evening. The
arrangement suited no one. He did not want to ride, but to be
with Agnes; nor did Agnes want to be parted from him, nor Stephen
to go with him. But the clearer the wishes of her guests became,
the more determined was Mrs. Failing to disregard them. She
smoothed away every difficulty, she converted every objection
into a reason, and she ordered the horses for half-past nine.


It is a bore he grumbled as he sat in their little private
sitting-room, breaking his finger-nails upon the coachman's
gaiters. I can't ride. I shall fall off. We should have been so
happy here. It's just like Aunt Emily. Can't you imagine her
saying afterwards'Lovers are absurd. I made a point of keeping
them apart' and then everybody laughing."

With a pretty foretaste of the futureAgnes knelt before him and
did the gaiters up. "Who is this Mr. Wonhamby the bye?"

I don't know. Some connection of Mr. Failing's, I think.

Does he live here?

He used to be at school or something. He seems to have grown
into a tiresome person.

I suppose that Mrs. Failing has adopted him.

I suppose so. I believe that she has been quite kind. I do hope
she'll be kind to you this morning. I hate leaving you with her.

Why, you say she likes me.

Yes, but that wouldn't prevent--you see she doesn't mind what
she says or what she repeats if it amuses her. If she thought it
really funny, for instance, to break off our engagement, she'd
try.

Dear boy, what a frightful remark! But it would be funnier for
us to see her trying. Whatever could she do?

He kissed the hands that were still busy with the fastenings.
Nothing. I can't see one thing. We simply lie open to each
other, you and I. There isn't one new corner in either of us that
she could reveal. It's only that I always have in this house the
most awful feeling of insecurity.

Why?

If any one says or does a foolish thing it's always here. All
the family breezes have started here. It's a kind of focus for
aimed and aimless scandal. You know, when my father and mother
had their special quarrel, my aunt was mixed up in it,--I never
knew how or how much--but you may be sure she didn't calm things
down, unless she found things more entertaining calm.

Rickie! Rickie!cried the lady from the gardenYour
riding-master's impatient.

We really oughtn't to talk of her like this here,whispered
Agnes. "It's a horrible habit."

The habit of the country, Agnes. Ugh, this gossip!Suddenly he
flung his arms over her. "Dear--dear--let's beware of I don't
know what--of nothing at all perhaps."

Oh, buck up!yelled the irritable Stephen. "Which am I to
shorten--left stirrup or right?"

Left!shouted Agnes.

How many holes?


They hurried down. On the way she said: "I'm glad of the warning.
Now I'm prepared. Your aunt will get nothing out of me."

Her betrothed tried to mount with the wrong foot according to his
invariable custom. She also had to pick up his whip. At last they
startedthe boy showing off pretty consistentlyand she was
left alone with her hostess.

Dido is quiet as a lamb,said Mrs. Failingand Stephen is a
good fielder. What a blessing it is to have cleared out the men.
What shall you and I do this heavenly morning?

I'm game for anything.

Have you quite unpacked?

Yes.

Any letters to write?No.

Then let's go to my arbour. No, we won't. It gets the morning
sun, and it'll be too hot today.Already she regretted clearing
out the men. On such a morning she would have liked to drivebut
her third animal had gone lame. She fearedtoothat Miss
Pembroke was going to bore her. Howeverthey did go to the
arbour. In languid tones she pointed out the various objects of
interest.

There's the Cad, which goes into the something, which goes into
the Avon. Cadbury Rings opposite, Cadchurch to the extreme left:
you can't see it. You were there last night. It is famous for the
drunken parson and the railway-station. Then Cad Dauntsey. Then
Cadford, that side of the stream, connected with Cadover, this.
Observe the fertility of the Wiltshire mind.

A terrible lot of Cads,said Agnes brightly.

Mrs. Failing divided her guests into those who made this joke and
those who did not. The latter class was very small.

The vicar of Cadford--not the nice drunkard--declares the name
is really 'Chadford,' and he worried on till I put up a window to
St. Chad in our church. His Cambridge wife pronounces it
'Hyadford.' I could smack them both. How do you like Podge? Ah!
you jump; I meant you to. How do you like Podge Wonham?

Very nice,said Agneslaughing.

Nice! He is a hero.

There was a long interval of silence. Each lady lookedwithout
much interestat the view. Mrs. Failing's attitude towards
Nature was severely aesthetic--an attitude more sterile than the
severely practical. She applied the test of beauty to shadow and
odour and sound; they never filled her with reverence or
excitement; she never knew them as a resistless trinity that may
intoxicate the worshipper with joy. If she liked a ploughed
fieldit was only as a spot of colour--not also as a hint of the
endless strength of the earth. And today she could approve of one
cloudbut object to its fellow. As for Miss Pembrokeshe was
not approving or objecting at all. "A hero?" she queriedwhen
the interval had passed. Her voice was indifferentas if she had
been thinking of other things.


A hero? Yes. Didn't you notice how heroic he was?

I don't think I did.

Not at dinner? Ah, Agnes, always look out for heroism at dinner.
It is their great time. They live up to the stiffness of their
shirt fronts. Do you mean to say that you never noticed how he
set down Rickie?

Oh, that about poetry!said Agneslaughing. "Rickie would not
mind it for a moment. But why do you single out that as heroic?"

To snub people! to set them down! to be rude to them! to make
them feel small! Surely that's the lifework of a hero?

I shouldn't have said that. And as a matter of fact Mr. Wonham
was wrong over the poetry. I made Rickie look it up afterwards.

But of course. A hero always is wrong.

To me,she persistedrather gentlya hero has always been a
strong wonderful being, who champions--

Ah, wait till you are the dragon! I have been a dragon most of
my life, I think. A dragon that wants nothing but a peaceful
cave. Then in comes the strong, wonderful, delightful being, and
gains a princess by piercing my hide. No, seriously, my dear
Agnes, the chief characteristics of a hero are infinite disregard
for the feelings of others, plus general inability to understand
them.

But surely Mr. Wonham--

Yes; aren't we being unkind to the poor boy. Ought we to go on
talking?

Agnes waitedremembering the warnings of Rickieand thinking
that anything she said might perhaps be repeated.

Though even if he was here he wouldn't understand what we are
saying.

Wouldn't understand?

Mrs. Failing gave the least flicker of an eye towards her
companion. "Did you take him for clever?"

I don't think I took him for anything.She smiled. "I have been
thinking of other thingsand another boy."

But do think for a moment of Stephen. I will describe how he
spent yesterday. He rose at eight. From eight to eleven he sang.
The song was called, 'Father's boots will soon fit Willie.' He
stopped once to say to the footman, 'She'll never finish her
book. She idles: 'She' being I. At eleven he went out, and stood
in the rain till four, but had the luck to see a child run over
at the level-crossing. By half-past four he had knocked the
bottom out of Christianity.

Agnes looked bewildered.

Aren't you impressed? I was. I told him that he was on no
account to unsettle the vicar. Open that cupboard, one of those


sixpenny books tells Podge that he's made of hard little black
things, another that he's made of brown things, larger and
squashy. There seems a discrepancy, but anything is better for a
thoughtful youth than to be made in the Garden of Eden. Let us
eliminate the poetic, at whatever cost to the probable.When for
a moment she spoke more gravely. "Here he is at twentywith
nothing to hold on by. I don't know what's to be done. I suppose
it's my fault. But I've never had any bother over the Church of
England; have you?"

Of course I go with my Church,said Miss Pembrokewho hated
this style of conversation. "I don't knowI'm sure. I think you
should consult a man."

Would Rickie help me?

Rickie would do anything he can.And Mrs. Failing noted the
half official way in which she vouched for her lover. "But of
course Rickie is a little--complicated. I doubt whether Mr.
Wonham would understand him. He wants--doesn't he?--some one
who's a little more assertive and more accustomed to boys. Some
one more like my brother."

Agnes!she seized her by the arm. "Do you suppose that Mr.
Pembroke would undertake my Podge?"

She shook her head. "His time is so filled up. He gets a
boarding-house next term. Besides--after all I don't know what
Herbert would do."

Morality. He would teach him morality. The Thirty-Nine Articles
may come of themselves, but if you have no morals you come to
grief. Morality is all I demand from Mr. Herbert Pembroke. He
shall be excused the use of the globes. You know, of course, that
Stephen's expelled from a public school? He stole.

The school was not a public oneand the expulsionor rather
request for removalhad taken place when Stephen was fourteen. A
violent spasm of dishonesty--such as often heralds the approach
of manhood--had overcome him. He stole everythingespecially
what was difficult to stealand hid the plunder beneath a loose
plank in the passage. He was betrayed by the inclusion of a ham.
This was the crisis of his career. His benefactress was just then
rather bored with him. He had stopped being a pretty boyand she
rather doubted whether she would see him through. But she was so
raged with the letters of the schoolmasterand so delighted with
those of the criminalthat she had him back and gave him a
prize.

No,said AgnesI didn't know. I should be happy to speak to
Herbert, but, as I said, his time will be very full. But I know
he has friends who make a speciality of weakly or--or unusual
boys.

My dear, I've tried it. Stephen kicked the weakly boys and
robbed apples with the unusual ones. He was expelled again.

Agnes began to find Mrs. Failing rather tiresome. Wherever you
trod on hershe seemed to slip away from beneath your feet.
Agnes liked to know where she was and where other people were as
well. She said: "My brother thinks a great deal of home life. I
daresay he'd think that Mr. Wonham is best where he is--with you.
You have been so kind to him. You"--she paused--"have been to him
both father and mother."


I'm too hot,was Mrs. Failing's reply. It seemed that Miss
Pembroke had at last touched a topic on which she was reticent.
She rang the electric bell--it was only to tell the footman to
take the reprints to Mr. Wonham's room--and then murmuring
something about workproceeded herself to the house.

Mrs. Failing--said Agneswho had not expected such a speedy
end to their chat.

Call me Aunt Emily. My dear?

Aunt Emily, what did you think of that story Rickie sent you?

It is bad,said Mrs. Failing. "But. But. But." Then she
escapedhaving told the truthand yet leaving a pleasurable
impression behind her.

The excursion to Salisbury was but a poor business--in fact
Rickie never got there. They were not out of the drive before Mr.
Wonham began doing acrobatics. He showed Rickie how very quickly
he could turn round in his saddle and sit with his face to
Aeneas's tail. "I see said Rickie coldly, and became almost
cross when they arrived in this condition at the gate behind the
house, for he had to open it, and was afraid of falling. As
usual, he anchored just beyond the fastenings, and then had to
turn Dido, who seemed as long as a battleship. To his relief a
man came forward, and murmuring, Worst gate in the parish
pushed it wide and held it respectfully. Thank you cried
Rickie; many thanks." But Stephenwho was riding into the world
back firstsaid majesticallyNo, no; it doesn't count. You
needn't think it does. You make it worse by touching your hat.
Four hours and seven minutes! You'll see me again.The man
answered nothing.

Eh, but I'll hurt him,he chantedas he swung into position.
That was Flea. Eh, but he's forgotten my fists; eh, but I'll
hurt him.

Why?ventured Rickie. Last nightover cigaretteshe had been
bored to death by the story of Flea. The boy had a little
reminded him of Gerald--the Gerald of historynot the Gerald of
romance. He was more genialbut there was the same brutality
the same peevish insistence on the pound of flesh.

Hurt him till he learns.

Learns what?

Learns, of course,retorted Stephen. Neither of them was very
civil. They did not dislike each otherbut they each wanted to
be somewhere else--exactly the situation that Mrs. Failing had
expected.

He behaved badly,said Rickiebecause he is poorer than we
are, and more ignorant. Less money has been spent on teaching him
to behave.

Well, I'll teach him for nothing.


Perhaps his fists are stronger than yours!

They aren't. I looked.

After this conversation flagged. Rickie glanced back at Cadover
and thought of the insipid day that lay before him. Generally he
was attracted by fresh peopleand Stephen was almost fresh: they
had been to him symbols of the unknownand all that they did was
interesting. But now he cared for the unknown no longer. He knew.

Mr. Wilbraham passed them in his dog-cartand lifted his hat to
his employer's nephew. Stephen he ignored: he could not find him
on the map.

Good morning,said Rickie. "What a lovely morning!"

I say,called the otheranother child dead!Mr. Wilbraham
who had seemed inclined to chatwhipped up his horse and left
them.

There goes an out and outer,said Stephen; and thenas if
introducing an entirely new subject-- "Don't you think Flea
Thompson treated me disgracefully?"

I suppose he did. But I'm scarcely the person to sympathize.
The allusion fell flatand he had to explain it. "I should have
done the same myself--promised to be away two hoursand stopped
four."

Stopped-oh--oh, I understand. You being in love, you mean?

He smiled and nodded.

Oh, I've no objection to Flea loving. He says he can't help it.
But as long as my fists are stronger, he's got to keep it in
line.

In line?

A man like that, when he's got a girl, thinks the rest can go to
the devil. He goes cutting his work and breaking his word.
Wilbraham ought to sack him. I promise you when I've a girl I'll
keep her in line, and if she turns nasty, I'll get another.

Rickie smiled and said no more. But he was sorry that any one
should start life with such a creed--all the more sorry because
the creed caricatured his own. He too believed that life should
be in a line--a line of enormous lengthfull of countless
interests and countless figuresall well beloved. But woman was
not to be "kept" to this line. Rather did she advance it
continuallylike some triumphant generalmaking each unit still
more interestingstill more lovablethan it had been before. He
loved Agnesnot only for herselfbut because she was lighting
up the human world. But he could scarcely explain this to an
inexperienced animalnor did he make the attempt.

For a long time they proceeded in silence. The hill behind
Cadover was in harvestand the horses moved regretfully between
the sheaves. Stephen had picked a grass leafand was blowing
catcalls upon it. He blew very welland this morning all his
soul went into the wail. For he was ill. He was tortured with the
feeling that he could not get away and do--do somethinginstead
of being civil to this anaemic prig. Four hours in the rain was
better than this: he had not wanted to fidget in the rain. But


now the air was like wineand the stubble was smelling of wet
and over his head white clouds trundled more slowly and more
seldom through broadening tracts of blue. There never had been
such a morningand he shut up his eyes and called to it. And
whenever he calledRickie shut up his eyes and winced.

At last the blade broke. "We don't go quickdo we" he remarked
and looked on the weedy track for another.

I wish you wouldn't let me keep you. If you were alone you would
be galloping or something of that sort.

I was told I must go your pace,he said mournfully. "And you
promised Miss Pembroke not to hurry

WellI'll disobey." But he could not rise above a gentle trot
and even that nearly jerked him out of the saddle.

Sit like this,said Stephen. "Can't you see like this?" Rickie
lurched forwardand broke his thumb nail on the horse's neck. It
bled a littleand had to be bound up.

Thank you--awfully kind--no tighter, please--I'm simply spoiling
your day.

I can't think how a man can help riding. You've only to leave it
to the horse so!--so!--just as you leave it to water in
swimming.

Rickie left it to Didowho stopped immediately.

I said LEAVE it.His voice rose irritably. "I didn't say 'die.'
Of course she stops if you die. First you sit her as if you're
Sandow exercisingand then you sit like a corpse. Can't you tell
her you're alive? That's all she wants."

In trying to convey the informationRickie dropped his whip.
Stephen picked it up and rammed it into the belt of his own
Norfolk jacket. He was scarcely a fashionable horseman. He was
not even graceful. But he rode as a living manthough Rickie was
too much bored to notice it. Not a muscle in him was idlenot a
muscle working hard. When he returned from the gallop his limbs
were still unsatisfied and his manners still irritable. He did
not know that he was ill: he knew nothing about himself at all.

Like a howdah in the Zoo,he grumbled. "Mother Failing will buy
elephants." And he proceeded to criticize his benefactress.
Rickiekeenly alive to bad tastetried to stop himand gained
instead a criticism of religion. Stephen overthrew the Mosaic
cosmogony. He pointed out the discrepancies in the Gospels. He
levelled his wit against the most beautiful spire in the world
now rising against the southern sky. Between whiles he went for a
gallop. After a time Rickie stopped listeningand simply went
his way. For Dido was a perfect mountand as indifferent to the
motions of Aeneas as if she was strolling in the Elysian fields.
He had had a bad nightand the strong air made him sleepy. The
wind blew from the Plain. Cadover and its valley had disappeared
and though they had not climbed much and could not see farthere
was a sense of infinite space. The fields were enormouslike
fields on the Continentand the brilliant sun showed up their
colours well. The green of the turnipsthe gold of the harvest
and the brown of the newly turned clodswere each contrasted
with morsels of grey down. But the general effect was paleor
rather silveryfor Wiltshire is not a county of heavy tints.


Beneath these colours lurked the unconquerable chalkand
wherever the soil was poor it emerged. The grassy trackso gay
with scabious and bedstrawwas snow-white at the bottom of its
ruts. A dazzling amphitheatre gleamed in the flank of a distant
hillcut for some Olympian audience. And here and there
whatever the surface cropthe earth broke into little
embankmentslittle ditcheslittle mounds: there had been no
lack of drama to solace the gods.

In Cadoverthe perilous houseAgnes had already parted from
Mrs. Failing. His thoughts returned to her. Was shethe soul of
truthin safety? Was her purity vexed by the lies and
selfishness? Would she elude the caprice which hadhe vaguely
knewcaused suffering before? Ahthe frailty of joy! Ahthe
myriads of longings that pass without fruitionand the turf
grows over them! Better menwomen as noble--they had died up
here and their dust had been mingledbut only their dust. These
are morbid thoughtsbut who dare contradict them? There is much
good luck in the worldbut it is luck. We are none of us safe.
We are childrenplaying or quarreling on the lineand some of
us have Rickie's temperamentor his experiencesand admit it.

So be musedthat anxious little speckand all the land seemed
to comment on his fears and on his love.

Their path lay upwardover a great bald skullhalf grasshalf
stubble. It seemed each moment there would be a splendid view.
The view never camefor none of the inclines were sharp enough
and they moved over the skull for many minutesscarcely shifting
a landmark or altering the blue fringe of the distance. The spire
of Salisbury did alterbut very slightlyrising and falling
like the mercury in a thermometer. At the most it would be half
hidden; at the least the tip would show behind the swelling
barrier of earth. They passed two elder-trees--a great event. The
bare patchsaid Stephenwas owing to the gallows. Rickie
nodded. He had lost all sense of incident. In this great
solitude--more solitary than any Alpine range--he and Agnes were
floating alone and for everbetween the shapeless earth and the
shapeless clouds. An immense silence seemed to move towards them.
A lark stopped singingand they were glad of it. They were
approaching the Throne of God. The silence touched them; the
earth and all danger dissolvedbut ere they quite vanished
Rickie heard himself sayingIs it exactly what we intended?

Yes,said a man's voice; "it's the old plan." They were in
another valley. Its sides were thick with trees. Down it ran
another stream and another road: ittoosheltered a string of
villages. But all was richerlargerand more beautiful--the
valley of the Avon below Amesbury.

I've been asleep!said Rickiein awestruck tones.

Never!said the other facetiously. "Pleasant dreams?"

Perhaps--I'm really tired of apologizing to you. How long have
you been holding me on?

All in the day's work.He gave him back the reins.

Where's that round hill?

Gone where the good niggers go. I want a drink.

This is Nature's joke in Wiltshire--her one joke. You toil on


windy slopesand feel very primeval. You are miles from your
fellowsand lo! a little valley full of elms and cottages.
Before Rickie had waked up to itthey had stopped by a thatched
public-houseand Stephen was yelling like a maniac for beer.

There was no occasion to yell. He was not very thirstyand they
were quite ready to serve him. Nor need he have drunk in the
saddlewith the air of a warrior who carries important
dispatches and has not the time to dismount. A real soldier
bound on a similar errandrode up to the innand Stephen feared
that he would yell louderand was hostile. But they made friends
and treated each otherand slanged the proprietor and ragged the
pretty girls; while Rickieas each wave of vulgarity burst over
himsunk his head lower and lowerand wished that the earth
would swallow him up. He was only used to Cambridgeand to a
very small corner of that. He and his friends there believed in
free speech. But they spoke freely about generalities. They were
scientific and philosophic. They would have shrunk from the
empirical freedom that results from a little beer.

That was what annoyed him as he rode down the new valley with two
chattering companions. He was more skilled than they were in the
principles of human existencebut he was not so indecently
familiar with the examples. A sordid village scandal--such as
Stephen described as a huge joke--sprang from certain defects in
human naturewith which he was theoretically acquainted. But the
example! He blushed at it like a maiden ladyin spite of its
having a parallel in a beautiful idyll of Theocritus. Was
experience going to be such a splendid thing after all? Were the
outside of houses so very beautiful?

That's spicy!the soldier was saying. "Got any more like that?"

I'se got a pome,said Stephenand drew a piece of paper from
his pocket. The valley had broadened. Old Sarum rose before them
ugly and majestic.

Write this yourself?he askedchuckling.

Rather,said Stephenlowering his head and kissing Aeneas
between the ears.

But who's old Em'ly?Rickie winced and frowned.

Now you're asking.

Old Em'ly she limps
And as--"

I am so tired,said Rickie. Why should he stand it any longer?

He would go home to the woman he loved. "Do you mind if I give up
Salisbury?"

But we've seen nothing!cried Stephen.

I shouldn't enjoy anything, I am so absurdly tired.

Left turn, then--all in the day's work.He bit at his moustache
angrily.

Good gracious me, man!--of course I'm going back alone. I'm not
going to spoil your day. How could you think it of me?


Stephen gave a loud sigh of relief. "If you do want to go home
here's your whip. Don't fall off. Say to her you wanted itor
there might be ructions."

Certainly. Thank you for your kind care of me.

'Old Em'ly she limps,
And as--'

Soon he was out of earshot. Soon they were lost to view. Soon
they were out of his thoughts. He forgot the coarseness and the
drinking and the ingratitude. A few months ago he would not have
forgotten so quicklyand he might also have detected something
else. But a lover is dogmatic. To him the world shall be

beautiful and pure. When it is nothe ignores it.

He's not tired,said Stephen to the soldier; "he wants his
girl." And they winked at each otherand cracked jokes over the
eternal comedy of love. They asked each other if they'd let a
girl spoil a morning's ride. They both exhibited a profound
cynicism. Stephenwho was quite without ballastdescribed the
household at Cadover: he should say that Rickie would find Miss
Pembroke kissing the footman.

I say the footman's kissing old Em'ly.

Jolly day,said Stephen. His voice was suddenly constrained. He
was not sure whether he liked the soldier after allnor whether
he had been wise in showing him his compositions.

'Old Em'ly she limps,
And as--'

All right, Thomas. That'll do.

Old Em'ly--'

I wish you'd dry up, like a good fellow. This is the lady's
horse, you know, hang it, after all.

In-deed!

Don't you see--when a fellow's on a horse, he can't let another
fellow--kind of--don't you know?

The man did know. "There's sense in that." he said approvingly.
Peace was restoredand they would have reached Salisbury if they
had not had some more beer. It unloosed the soldier's fancies
and again he spoke of old Em'lyand recited the poemwith
Aristophanic variations.

Jolly day,repeated Stephenwith a straightening of the
eyebrows and a quick glance at the other's body. He then warned
him against the variations. In consequence he was accused of
being a member of the Y.M.C.A. His blood boiled at this. He
refuted the chargeand became great friends with the soldier
for the third time.

Any objection to 'Saucy Mr. and Mrs. Tackleton'?

Rather not.

The soldier sang "Saucy Mr. and Mrs. Tackkleton." It is really a


work for two voicesmost of the sauciness disappearing when
taken as a solo. Nor is Mrs. Tackleton's name Em'lv.

I call it a jolly rotten song,said Stephen crossly. "I won't
stand being got at."

P'r'aps y'like therold song. Lishen.

'Of all the gulls that arsshmart
There's none line pretty--Em'ly;
For she's the darling of merart'"

Now, that's wrong.He rode up close to the singer.

Shright.

'Tisn't.

It's as my mother taught me.

I don't care.

I'll not alter from mother's way.

Stephen was baffled. Then he saidHow does your mother make it
rhyme?

Wot?

Squat. You're an ass, and I'm not. Poems want rhymes. 'Alley'
comes next line.

He said "alley" was--welcome to come if it liked.

It can't. You want Sally. Sally--alley. Em'ly-alley doesn't do.

Emily-femily!cried the soldierwith an inspiration that was
not his when sober. "My mother taught me femily.

'For she's the darling of merart,
And she lives in my femily.'

Well, you'd best be careful, Thomas, and your mother too.

Your mother's no better than she should be,said Thomas
vaguely.

Do you think I haven't heard that before?retorted the boy.
The other concluded he might now say anything. So he might--the
name of old Emily excepted. Stephen cared little about his
benefactress's honourbut a great deal about his own. He had
made Mrs. Failing into a test. For the moment he would die for
heras a knight would die for a glove. He is not to be
distinguished from a hero.

Old Sarum was passed. They approached the most beautiful spire in
the world. "Lord! another of these large churches!" said the
soldier. Unfriendly to Gothiche lifted both hands to his nose
and declared that old Em'ly was buried there. He lay in the mud.
His horse trotted back towards AmesburyStephen had twisted him
out of the saddle.

I've done him!he yelledthough no one was there to hear. He
rose up in his stirrups and shouted with joy. He flung his arms


round Aeneas's neck. The elderly horse understoodcaperedand
bolted. It was a centaur that dashed into Salisbury and scattered
the people. In the stable he would not dismount. "I've done him!"
he yelled to the ostlers--apathetic men. Stretching upwardshe
clung to a beam. Aeneas moved on and he was left hanging. Greatly
did he incommode them by his exercises. He pulled uphe circled
he kicked the other customers. At last he fell to the earth
deliciously fatigued. His body worried him no longer.

He wentlike the baby he wasto buy a white linen hat. There
were soldiers aboutand he thought it would disguise him. Then
he had a little lunch to steady the beer. This day had turned out
admirably. All the money that should have fed Rickie he could
spend on himself. Instead of toiling over the Cathedral and
seeing the stuffed penguinshe could stop the whole thing in the
cattle market. There he met and made some friends. He watched the
cheap-jacksand saw how necessary it was to have a confident
manner. He spoke confidently himself about lambsand people
listened. He spoke confidently about pigsand they roared with
laughter. He must learn more about pigs. He witnessed a
performance--not too namby-pamby--of Punch and Judy. "Hullo
Podge!" cried a naughty little girl. He tried to catch herand
failed. She was one of the Cadford children. For Salisbury on
market daythough it is not picturesqueis certainly
representativeand you read the names of half the Wiltshire
villages upon the carriers' carts. He foundin Penny Farthing
Streetthe cart from Wintersbridge. It would not start for
several hoursbut the passengers always used it as a cluband
sat in it every now and then during the day. No less than three
ladies were these nowstaring at the shafts. One of them was
Flea Thompson's girl. He asked herquite politelywhy her lover
had broken faith with him in the rain. She was silent. He warned
her of approaching vengeance. She was still silentbut another
woman hoped that a gentleman would not be hard on a poor person.
Something in this annoyed him; it wasn't a question of gentility
and poverty--it was a question of two men. He determined to go
back by Cadbury Rings where the shepherd would now be.

He did. But this part must be treated lightly. He rode up to the
culprit with the air of a Saint Georgespoke a few stern words
from the saddletethered his steed to a hurdleand took off his
coat. "Are you ready?" he asked.

Yes, sir,said Fleaand flung him on his back.

That's not fair,he protested.

The other did not replybut flung him on his head.

How on earth did you learn that?

By trying often,said Flea.

Stephen sat on the groundpicking mud out of his forehead. "I
meant it to be fists he said gloomily.

I knowsir."

It's jolly smart though, and--and I beg your pardon all round.
It cost him a great deal to say thisbut he was sure that it was
the right thing to say. He must acknowledge the better man.
Whereas most peopleif they provoke a fight and are flungsay
You cannot rob me of my moral victory.


There was nothing further to be done. He mounted againnot
exactly depressedbut feeling that this delightful world is
extraordinarily unreliable. He had never expected to fling the
soldieror to be flung by Flea. "One nips or is nipped he
thought, and never knows beforehand. I should not be surprised
if many people had more in them than I supposewhile others
were just the other way round. I haven't seen that sort of thing
in Ingersollbut it's quite important." Then his thoughts turned
to a curious incident of long agowhen he had been "nipped"--as
a little boy. He was trespassing in those woodswhen he met in a
narrow glade a flock of sheep. They had neither dog nor shepherd
and advanced towards him silently. He was accustomed to sheep
but had never happened to meet them in a wood beforeand
disliked it. He retiredslowly at firstthen fast; and the
flockin a dense masspressed after him. His terror increased.
He turned and screamed at their long white faces; and still they
came onall stuck togetherlike some horrible jell--. If once
he got into them! Bellowing and screechinghe rushed into the
undergrowthtore himself all overand reached home in
convulsions. Mr. Failinghis only grown-up friendwas
sympatheticbut quite stupid. "Pan ovium custos he
sympathetic, as he pulled out the thorns. Why not?" "Pan ovium
custos." Stephen learnt the meaning of the phrase at schoolA
pan of eggs for custard.He still remembered how the other boys
looked as he peeped at them between his legsawaiting the
descending cane.

So he returnedfull of pleasant disconnected thoughts. He had
had a rare good time. He liked every one--even that poor little
Elliot--and yet no one mattered. They were all out. On the
landing he saw the housemaid. He felt skittish and irresistible.
Should he slip his arm round her waist? Perhaps better not; she
might box his ears. And he wanted to smoke on the roof before
dinner. So he only saidPlease will you stop the boy blacking
my brown boots,and she with downcast eyesansweredYes, sir;
I will indeed.

His room was in the pediment. Classical architecturelike all
things in this world that attempt serenityis bound to have its
lapses into the undignifiedand Cadover lapsed hopelessly when
it came to Stephen's room. It gave him one round windowto see
through which he must lie upon his stomachone trapdoor opening
upon the leadsthree iron girdersthree beamssix buttresses
no circlingunless you count the wallsno walls unless you
count the ceiling and in its embarrassment presented him with the
gurgly cistern that supplied the bath water. Here he lived
absolutely happyand unaware that Mrs. Failing had poked him up
here on purposeto prevent him from growing too bumptious. Here
he worked and sang and practised on the ocharoon. Herein the
crannieshe had constructed shelves and cupboards and useless
little drawers. He had only one picture--the Demeter of Cnidos-and
she hung straight from the roof like a joint of meat. Once
she was in the drawing-room; but Mrs. Failing had got tired of
herand decreed her removal and this degradation. Now she faced
the sunrise; and when the moon rose its light also fell on her
and trembledlike light upon the sea. For she was never still
and if the draught increased she would twist on her stringand
would sway and tap upon the rafters until Stephen woke up and
said what he thought of her. "Want your nose?" he would murmur.
Don't you wish you may get itThen he drew the clothes over his
earswhile above himin the wind and the darknessthe goddess
continued her motions.

Todayas he enteredhe trod on the pile of sixpenny reprints.


Leighton had brought them up. He looked at the portraits in their
coversand began to think that these people were not everything.
What a fateto look like Colonel Ingersollor to marry Mrs.
Julia P. Chunk! The Demeter turned towards him as he bathedand
in the cold water he sang-


They aren't beautiful, they aren't modest;
I'd just as soon follow an old stone goddess,

and sprang upward through the skylight on to the roof. Years ago
when a nurse was washing himhe had slipped from her soapy hands
and got up here. She implored him to remember that he was a
little gentleman; but he forgot the fact--if it was a fact--and
not even the butler could get him down. Mr. Failingwho was
sitting alone in the garden too ill to readheard a shoutAm I
an acroterium?He looked up and saw a naked child poised on the
summit of Cadover. "Yes he replied; but they are
unfashionable. Go in and the vision had remained with him as
something peculiarly gracious. He felt that nonsense and beauty
have close connections,--closer connections than Art will allow,-
and that both would remain when his own heaviness and his own
ugliness had perished. Mrs. Failing found in his remains a
sentence that puzzled her. I see the respectable mansion. I see
the smug fortress of culture. The doors are shut. The windows are
shut. But on the roof the children go dancing for ever."

Stephen was a child no longer. He never stood on the pediment
nowexcept for a bet. He neveror scarcely everpoured water
down the chimneys. When he caught the cathe seldom dropped her
into the housekeeper's bedroom. But stillwhen the weather was
fairhe liked to come up after bathingand get dry in the sun.
Today he brought with him a towela pipe of tobaccoand
Rickie's story. He must get it done some timeand he was tired
of the six-penny reprints. The sloping gable was warmand he lay
back on it with closed eyesgasping for pleasure. Starlings
criticized himsnots fell on his clean bodyand over him a
little cloud was tinged with the colours of evening. "Good!
good!" he whispered. "Goodoh good!" and opened the manuscript
reluctantly.

What a production! Who was this girl? Where did she go to? Why so
much talk about trees? "I take it he wrote it when feeling bad
he murmured, and let it fall into the gutter. It fell face
downwards, and on the back he saw a neat little resume in Miss
Pembroke's handwriting, intended for such as him. Allegory. Man
= modern civilization (in bad sense). Girl = getting into touch
with Nature."

In touch with Nature! The girl was a tree! He lit his pipe and
gazed at the radiant earth. The foreground was hiddenbut there
was the village with its elmsand the Roman Roadand Cadbury
Rings. Theretoowere those woodsand little beech copses
crowning a waste of down. Not to mention the airor the sunor
water. Goodoh good!

In touch with Nature! What cant would the books think of next?
His eyes closed. He was sleepy. Goodoh good! Sighing into his
pipehe fell asleep.


Glad as Agnes was when her lover returned for lunchshe was at
the same time rather dismayed: she knew that Mrs. Failing would
not like her plans altered. And her dismay was justified. Their
hostess was a little stiffand asked whether Stephen had been
obnoxious.

Indeed he hasn't. He spent the whole time looking after me.

From which I conclude he was more obnoxious than usual.
Rickie praised him diligently. But his candid nature showed
everything through. His aunt soon saw that they had not got on.
She had expected this--almost planned it. Nevertheless she
resented itand her resentment was to fall on him.

The storm gathered slowlyand many other things went to swell
it. Weakly peopleif they are not carefulhate one anotherand
when the weakness is hereditary the temptation increases. Elliots
had never got on among themselves. They talked of "The Family
but they always turned outwards to the health and beauty that lie
so promiscuously about the world. Rickie's father had turned, for
a time at all events, to his mother. Rickie himself was turning
to Agnes. And Mrs. Failing now was irritable, and unfair to the
nephew who was lame like her horrible brother and like herself.
She thought him invertebrate and conventional. She was envious of
his happiness. She did not trouble to understand his art. She
longed to shatter him, but knowing as she did that the human
thunderbolt often rebounds and strikes the wielder, she held her
hand.

Agnes watched the approaching clouds. Rickie had warned her; now
she began to warn him. As the visit wore away she urged him to be
pleasant to his aunt, and so convert it into a success.

He replied, Why need it be a success?"--a reply in the manner of
Ansell.

She laughed. "Ohthat's so like you men--all theory! What about
your great theory of hating no one? As soon as it comes in
useful you drop it."

I don't hate Aunt Emily. Honestly. But certainly I don't want to
be near her or think about her. Don't you think there are two
great things in life that we ought to aim at--truth and kindness?
Let's have both if we can, but let's be sure of having one or the
other. My aunt gives up both for the sake of being funny.

And Stephen Wonham,pursued Agnes. "There's another person you
hate--or don't think aboutif you prefer it put like that."

The truth is, I'm changing. I'm beginning to see that the world
has many people in it who don't matter. I had time for them once.
Not now.There was only one gate to the kingdom of heaven now.

Agnes surprised him by sayingBut the Wonham boy is evidently a
part of your aunt's life. She laughs at him, but she is fond of
him.

What's that to do with it?

You ought to be pleasant to him on account of it.

Why on earth?

She flushed a little. "I'm old-fashioned. One ought to consider


one's hostessand fall in with her life. After we leave it's
another thing. But while we take her hospitality I think it's our
duty."

Her good sense triumphed. Henceforth he tried to fall in with
Aunt Emily's life. Aunt Emily watched him trying. The storm
brokeas storms sometimes doon Sunday.

Sunday church was a function at Cadoverthough a strange one.
The pompous landau rolled up to the house at a quarter to eleven.
Then Mrs. Failing saidWhy am I being hurried?and after an
interval descended the steps in her ordinary clothes. She
regarded the church as a sort of sitting-roomand refused even
to wear a bonnet there. The village was shockedbut at the same
time a little proud; it would point out the carriage to strangers
and gossip about the pale smiling lady who sat in italways
alonealways lateher hair always draped in an expensive shawl.

This Sundaythough late as usualshe was not alone. Miss
Pembrokeen grande toilettesat by her side. Rickielooking
plain and devoutperched opposite. And Stephen actually came
toomurmuring that it would be the Benedicitewhich he had
never minded. There was also the Litanywhich drove him into the
air againmuch to Mrs. Failing's delight. She enjoyed this sort
of thing. It amused her when her Protege left the pewlooking
boredathleticand dishevelledand groping most obviously for
his pipe. She liked to keep a thoroughbred pagan to shock people.
He's gone to worship Nature,she whispered. Rickie did not look
up. "Don't you think he's charming?" He made no reply.

Charming,whispered Agnes over his head.

During the sermon she analysed her guests. Miss Pembroke-undistinguished
unimaginativetolerable. Rickie--intolerable.
And how pedantic!she mused. "He smells of the University
library. If he was stupid in the right way he would be a don."
She looked round the tiny church; at the whitewashed pillarsthe
humble pavementthe window full of magenta saints. There was the
vicar's wife. And Mrs. Wilbraham's bonnet. Ugh! The rest of the
congregation were poor womenwith flathopeless faces--she saw
them Sunday after Sundaybut did not know their names-diversified
with a few reluctant plough-boysand the vile little
school children row upon row. "Ugh! what a hole thought Mrs.
Failing, whose Christianity was the type best described as
cathedral." "What a hole for a cultured woman! I don't think it
has blunted my sensationsthough; I still see its squalor as
clearly as ever. And my nephew pretends he is worshipping. Pah!
the hypocrite." Above her the vicar spoke of the danger of
hurrying from one dissipation to another. She treasured his
wordsand continued: "I cannot stand smugness. It is the one
the unpardonable sin. Fresh air! The fresh air that has made
Stephen Wonham fresh and companionable and strong. Even if it
killsI will let in the fresh air."

Thus reasoned Mrs. Failingin the facile vein of Ibsenism. She
imagined herself to be a cold-eyed Scandinavian heroine. Really
she was an English old ladywho did not mind giving other people
a chill provided it was not infectious.

Agneson the way backnoted that her hostess was a little
snappish. But one is so hungry after morning serviceand either
so hot or so coldthat he would be a saint indeed who becomes a
saint at once. Mrs. Failingafter asserting vindictively that it
was impossible to make a living out of literaturewas


courteously left alone. Roast-beef and moselle might yet work
miraclesand Agnes still hoped for the introductions--the
introductions to certain editors and publishers--on which her
whole diplomacy was bent. Rickie would not push himself. It was
his besetting sin. Well for him that he would have a wifeand a
loving wifewho knew the value of enterprise.

Unfortunately lunch was a quarter of an hour lateand during
that quarter of an hour the aunt and the nephew quarrelled. She
had been inveighing against the morning serviceand he quietly
and deliberately repliedIf organized religion is anything--and
it is something to me--it will not be wrecked by a harmonium and
a dull sermon.

Mrs. Failing frowned. "I envy you. It is a great thing to have no
sense of beauty."

I think I have a sense of beauty, which leads me astray if I am
not careful.

But this is a great relief to me. I thought the present day
young man was an agnostic! Isn't agnosticism all the thing at
Cambridge?

Nothing is the 'thing' at Cambridge. If a few men are agnostic
there, it is for some grave reason, not because they are
irritated with the way the parson says his vowels.

Agnes intervened. "WellI side with Aunt Emily. I believe in
ritual."

Don't, my dear, side with me. He will only say you have no sense
of religion either.

Excuse me,said Rickieperhaps he too was a little hungry--"I
never suggested such a thing. I never would suggest such a thing.
Why cannot you understand my position? I almost feel it is that
you won't."

I try to understand your position night and day dear--what you
mean, what you like, why you came to Cadover, and why you stop
here when my presence is so obviously unpleasing to you.

Luncheon is served,said Leightonbut he said it too late.
They discussed the beef and the moselle in silence. The air was
heavy and ominous. Even the Wonham boy was affected by it
shivered at timeschoked onceand hastened anew into the sun.
He could not understand clever people.

Agnesin a brief anxious interviewadvised the culprit to take
a solitary walk. She would stop near Aunt Emilyand pave the way
for an apology.

Don't worry too much. It doesn't really matter.

I suppose not, dear. But it seems a pity, considering we are so
near the end of our visit.

Rudeness and Grossness matter, and I've shown both, and already
I'm sorry, and I hope she'll let me apologize. But from the
selfish point of view it doesn't matter a straw. She's no more to
us than the Wonham boy or the boot boy.

Which way will you walk?


I think to that entrenchment. Look at it.They were sitting on
the steps. He stretched out his hand to Cadsbury Ringsand then
let it rest for a moment on her shoulder. "You're changing me
he said gently. God bless you for it."

He enjoyed his walk. Cadford was a charming village and for a
time he hung over the bridge by the mill. So clear was the stream
that it seemed not water at allbut some invisible quintessence
in which the happy minnows and the weeds were vibrating. And he
paused again at the Roman crossingand thought for a moment
of the unknown child. The line curved suddenly: certainly it was
dangerous. Then he lifted his eyes to the down. The entrenchment
showed like the rim of a saucerand over its narrow line peeped
the summit of the central tree. It looked interesting. He hurried
forwardwith the wind behind him.

The Rings were curious rather than impressive. Neither embankment
was over twelve feet highand the grass on them had not the
exquisite green of Old Sarumbut was grey and wiry. But Nature
(if she arranges anything) had arranged that from themat all
eventsthere should be a view. The whole system of the country
lay spread before Rickieand he gained an idea of it that he
never got in his elaborate ride. He saw how all the water
converges at Salisbury; how Salisbury lies in a shallow basin
just at the change of the soil. He saw to the north the Plain
and the stream of the Cad flowing down from itwith a tributary
that broke out suddenlyas the chalk streams do: one village had
clustered round the source and clothed itself with trees. He saw
Old Sarumand hints of the Avon valleyand the land above Stone
Henge. And behind him he saw the great wood beginning
unobtrusivelyas if the down too needed shaving; and into it the
road to London slippedcovering the bushes with white dust.
Chalk made the dust whitechalk made the water clearchalk made
the clean rolling outlines of the landand favoured the grass
and the distant coronals of trees. Here is the heart of our
island: the Chilternsthe North Downsthe South Downs radiate
hence. The fibres of England unite in Wiltshireand did we
condescend to worship herhere we should erect our national
shrine.

People at that time were trying to think imperiallyRickie
wondered how they did itfor he could not imagine a place larger
than England. And other people talked of Italythe spiritual
fatherland of us all. Perhaps Italy would prove marvellous. But
at present he conceived it as something exoticto be admired and
reverencedbut not to be loved like these unostentatious fields.
He drew out a bookit was natural for him to read when he was
happyand to read out loud--and for a little time his voice
disturbed the silence of that glorious afternoon. The book was
Shelleyand it opened at a passage that he had cherished greatly
two years beforeand marked as "very good."

I never was attached to that great sect
Whose doctrine is that each one should select
Out of the world a mistress or a friend,
And all the rest, though fair and wise, commend
To cold oblivion,--though it is the code
Of modern morals, and the beaten road
Which those poor slaves with weary footsteps tread
Who travel to their home among the dead
By the broad highway of the world,--and so
With one sad friend, perhaps a jealous foe,
The dreariest and the longest journey go.


It was "very good"--fine poetryandin a sensetrue. Yet he
was surprised that he had ever selected it so vehemently. This
afternoon it seemed a little inhuman. Half a mile off two lovers
were keeping company where all the villagers could see them. They
cared for no one else; they felt only the pressure of each other
and so progressedsilent and obliviousacross the land. He felt
them to be nearer the truth than Shelley. Even if they suffered
or quarrelledthey would have been nearer the truth. He wondered
whether they were Henry Adams and Jessica Thompsonboth of this
parishwhose banns had been asked for the second time in the
church this morning. Why could he not marry on fifteen shillings
a-week? And be looked at them with respectand wished that he
was not a cumbersome gentleman.

Presently he saw something less pleasant--his aunt's pony
carriage. It had crossed the railwayand was advancing up the
Roman road along by the straw sacks. His impulse was to retreat
but someone waved to him. It was Agnes. She waved continuallyas
much as to sayWait for us.Mrs. Failing herself raised the
whip in a nonchalant way. Stephen Wonham was following on foot
some way behind. He put the Shelley back into his pocket and
waited for them. When the carriage stopped by some hurdles he
went down from the embankment and helped them to dismount. He
felt rather nervous.

His aunt gave him one of her disquieting smilesbut said
pleasantly enoughAren't the Rings a little immense? Agnes and
I came here because we wanted an antidote to the morning
service.

Pang!said the church bell suddenly; "pang! pang!" It sounded
petty and ludicrous. They all laughed. Rickie blushedand Agnes
with a glance that said "apologize darted away to the
entrenchment, as though unable to restrain her curiosity.

The pony won't move said Mrs. Failing. Leave him for Stephen
to tie up. Will you walk me to the tree in the middle? Booh! I'm
tired. Give me your arm--unless you're tired as well."

No. I came out partly in the hope of helping you.

How sweet of you.She contrasted his blatant unselfishness
with the hardness of Stephen. Stephen never came out to help you.
But if you got hold of him he was some good. He didn't wobble and
bend at the critical moment. Her fancy compared Rickie to the
cracked church bell sending forth its message of "Pang! pang!" to
the countrysideand Stephen to the young pagans who were said to
lie under this field guarding their pagan gold.

This place is full of ghosties, she remarked; "have you seen
any yet?"

I've kept on the outer rim so far.

Let's go to the tree in the centre.

Here's the path.The bank of grass where he had sat was broken
by a gapthrough which chariots had enteredand farm carts
entered now. The trackfollowing the ancient trackled straight
through turnips to a similar gap in the second circleand thence
continuedthrough more turnipsto the central tree.

Pang!said the bellas they paused at the entrance.


You needn't unharness,shouted Mrs. Failingfor Stephen was
approaching the carriage.

Yes, I will,he retorted.

You will, will you?she murmured with a smile. "I wish your
brother wasn't quite so uppish. Let's get on. Doesn't that church
distract you?"

It's so faint here,said Rickie. And it sounded fainter inside
though the earthwork was neither thick nor tall; and the view
though not hiddenwas greatly diminished. He was reminded for a
minute of that chalk pit near Madingleywhose ramparts excluded
the familiar world. Agnes was hereas she had once been there.
She stood on the farther barrierwaiting to receive them when
they had traversed the heart of the camp.

Admire my mangel-wurzels,said Mrs. Failing. "They are said
to grow so splendidly on account of the dead soldiers. Isn't it a
sweet thought? Need I say it is your brother's?"

Wonham's?he suggested. It was the second time that she had
made the little slip. She noddedand he asked her what kind of
ghosties haunted this curious field.

The D.,was her prompt reply. "He leans against the tree in the
middleespecially on Sunday afternoons and all the worshippers
rise through the turnips and dance round him."

Oh, these were decent people,he repliedlooking downwards-"
soldiers and shepherds. They have no ghosts. They worshipped
Mars or Pan-Erda perhaps; not the devil."

Pang!went the churchand was silentfor the afternoon
service had begun. They entered the second entrenchmentwhich
was in heightbreadthand compositionsimilar to the first
and excluded still more of the view. His aunt continued friendly.
Agnes stood watching them.

Soldiers may seem decent in the past,she continuedbut wait
till they turn into Tommies from Bulford Camp, who rob the
chickens.

I don't mind Bulford Camp,said Rickielookingthough in
vainfor signs of its snowy tents. "The men there are the sons
of the men hereand have come back to the old country. War's
horribleyet one loves all continuity. And no one could mind a
shepherd."

Indeed! What about your brother--a shepherd if ever there was?
Look how he bores you! Don't be so sentimental.

But--oh, you mean--

Your brother Stephen.

He glanced at her nervously. He had never known her so queer
before. Perhaps it was some literary allusion that he had not
caught; but her face did not at that moment suggest literature.
In the differential tones that one uses to an old and infirm
person he said "Stephen Wonham isn't my brotherAunt Emily."

My dear, you're that precise. One can't say 'half-brother' every


time.

They approached the central tree.

How you do puzzle me,he saiddropping her arm and beginning
to laugh. "How could I have a half-brother?"

She made no answer.

Then a horror leapt straight at himand he beat it back and
saidI will not be frightened.The tree in the centre
revolvedthe tree disappearedand he saw a room--the room where
his father had lived in town. "Gently he told himself,
gently." Still laughinghe saidI, with a brother-younger
it's not possible.The horror leapt againand he exclaimed
It's a foul lie!

My dear, my dear!

It's a foul lie! He wasn't--I won't stand--

My dear, before you say several noble things, remember that it's
worse for him than for you--worse for your brother, for your
half-brother, for your younger brother.

But he heard her no longer. He was gazing at the pastwhich he
had praised so recentlywhich gaped ever widerlike an
unhallowed grave. Turn where he wouldit encircled him. It took
visible form: it was this double entrenchment of the Rings. His
mouth went coldand he knew that he was going to faint among the
dead. He started runningmissed the exitstumbled on the inner
barrierfell into darkness-


Get his head down,said a voice. "Get the blood back into him.
That's all he wants. Leave him to me. Elliot!"--the blood was
returning--"Elliotwake up!"

He woke up. The earth he had dreaded lay close to his eyesand
seemed beautiful. He saw the structure of the clods. A tiny
beetle swung on the grass blade. On his own neck a human
hand pressedguiding the blood back to his brain.

There broke from him a crynot of horror but of acceptance. For
one short moment he understood. "Stephen--" he beganand then he
heard his own name called: "Rickie! Rickie!" Agnes hurried from
her post on the marginandas if understanding alsocaught him
to her breast.

Stephen offered to help them furtherbut finding that he made
things worsehe stepped aside to let them pass and then
sauntered inwards. The whole fieldwith concentric circleswas
visibleand the broad leaves of the turnips rustled in the
gathering wind. Miss Pembroke and Elliot were moving towards the
Cadover entrance. Mrs. Failing stood watching in her turn on the
opposite bank. He was not an inquisitive boy; but as he leant
against the tree he wondered what it was all aboutand whether
he would ever know.

On the way back--at that very level-crossing where he had paused
on his upward route--Rickie stopped suddenly and told the girl


why he had fainted. Hitherto she had asked him in vain. His tone
had gone from himand he told her harshly and brutallyso that
she started away with a horrified cry. Then his manner altered
and he exclaimed: "Will you mind? Are you going to mind?"

Of course I mind,she whispered. She turned from himand saw
up on the sky-line two figures that seemed to be of enormous
size.

They're watching us. They stand on the edge watching us. This
country's so open--you--you can't they watch us wherever we go.
Of course you mind.

They heard the rumble of the trainand she pulled herself
together. "Comedearestwe shall be run over next. We're saying
things that have no sense." But on the way back he repeated:
They can still see us. They can see every inch of this road.
They watch us for ever.And when they arrived at the steps
theresure enoughwere still the two figures gazing from the
outer circle of the Rings.

She made him go to his room at once: he was almost hysterical.
Leighton brought out some tea for herand she sat drinking it on
the little terrace. Of course she minded.

Again she was menaced by the abnormal. All had seemed so fair and
so simpleso in accordance with her ideas; and thenlike a
corpsethis horror rose up to the surface. She saw the two
figures descend and pause while one of them harnessed the pony;
she saw them drive downwardand knew that before long she must
face them and the world. She glanced at her engagement ring.

When the carriage drove up Mrs. Failing dismountedbut did not
speak. It was Stephen who inquired after Rickie. Shescarcely
knowing the sound of her own voicereplied that he was a little
tired.

Go and put up the pony,said Mrs. Failing rather sharply.

Agnes, give me some tea.

It is rather strong,said Agnes as the carriage drove off and
left them alone. Then she noticed that Mrs. Failing herself was
agitated. Her lips were tremblingand she saw the boy depart
with manifest relief.

Do you know,she said hurriedlyas if talking against time-"
Do you know what upset Rickie?"

I do indeed know.

Has he told any one else?

I believe not.

Agnes--have I been a fool?

You have been very unkind,said the girland her eyes filled
with tears.

For a moment Mrs. Failing was annoyed. "Unkind? I do not see that
at all. I believe in looking facts in the face. Rickie must know
his ghosts some time. Why not this afternoon?"


She rose with quiet dignitybut her tears came faster. "That is
not so. You told him to hurt him. I cannot think what you did it
for. I suppose because he was rude to you after church. It is a
meancowardly revenge.

What--what if it's a lie?

Then, Mrs. Failing, it is sickening of you. There is no other
word. Sickening. I am sorry--a nobody like myself--to speak like
this. How COULD you, oh, how could you demean yourself? Why, not
even a poor person--Her indignation was fine and genuine. But her
tears fell no longer. Nothing menaced her if they were not really
brothers.

It is not a liemy clear; sit down. I will swear so much
solemnly. It is not a liebut--"

Agnes waited.

--we can call it a lie if we choose.

I am not so childish. You have said it, and we must all suffer.
You have had your fun: I conclude you did it for fun. You cannot
go back. He--She pointed towards the stablesand could not
finish her sentence.

I have not been a fool twice.

Agnes did not understand.

My dense lady, can't you follow? I have not told Stephen one
single word, neither before nor now.

There was a long silence.

IndeedMrs. Failing was in an awkward position.

Rickie had irritated herandin her desire to shock himshe
had imperilled her own peace. She had felt so unconventional upon
the hillsidewhen she loosed the horror against him; but now it
was darting at her as well. Suppose the scandal came out.
Stephenwho was absolutely without delicacywould tell it to
the people as soon as tell them the time. His paganism would be
too assertive; it might even be in bad taste. After allshe had
a prominent position in the neighbourhood; she was talked about
respectedlooked up to. After allshe was growing old. And
thereforethough she had no true regard for Rickienor for
Agnesnor for Stephennor for Stephen's parentsin whose
tragedy she had assistedyet she did feel that if the scandal
revived it would disturb the harmony of Cadoverand therefore
tried to retrace her steps. It is easy to say shocking things: it
is so different to be connected with anything shocking. Life and
death were not involvedbut comfort and discomfort were.

The silence was broken by the sound of feet on the gravel. Agnes
said hastilyIs that really true--that he knows nothing?

You, Rickie, and I are the only people alive that know. He
realizes what he is--with a precision that is sometimes alarming.
Who he is, he doesn't know and doesn't care. I suppose he would
know when I'm dead. There are papers.

Aunt Emily, before he comes, may I say to you I'm sorry I was so
rude?


Mrs. Failing had not disliked her courage. "My dearyou may.
We're all off our hinges this Sunday. Sit down by me again."

Agnes obeyedand they awaited the arrival of Stephen. They were
clever enough to understand each other. The thing must be hushed
up. The matron must repair the consequences of her petulance. The
girl must hide the stain in her future husband's family. Why not?
Who was injured? What does a grown-up man want with a grown
brother? Rickie upstairshow grateful he would be to them for
saving him.

Stephen!

Yes.

I'm tired of you. Go and bathe in the sea.

All right.

And the whole thing was settled. She liked no fussand so did
he. He sat down on the step to tighten his bootlaces. Then he
would be ready. Mrs. Failing laid two or three sovereigns on the
step above him. Agnes tried to make conversationand saidwith
averted eyesthat the sea was a long way off.

The sea's downhill. That's all I know about it.He swept up the
money with a word of pleasure: he was kept like a baby in such
things. Then he started offbut slowlyfor he meant to walk
till the morning.

He will be gone days,said Mrs. Failing. "The comedy is
finished. Let us come in."

She went to her room. The storm that she had raised had shattered
her. Yetbecause it was stilled for a momentshe resumed her
old emancipated mannerand spoke of it as a comedy.

As for Miss Pembrokeshe pretended to be emancipated no longer.
People like "Stephen Wonham" were social thunderboltsto be
shunned at all costsor at almost all costs. Her joy was now
unfeignedand she hurried upstairs to impart it to Rickie.

I don't think we are rewarded if we do right, but we
are punished if we lie. It's the fashion to laugh at poetic
justice, but I do believe in half of it. Cast bitter bread upon
the waters, and after many days it really will come back to you.
These were the words of Mr. Failing. They were also the opinions
of Stewart Ansellanother unpractical person. Rickie was trying
to write to him when she entered with the good news.

Dear, we're saved! He doesn't know, and he never is to know. I
can't tell you how glad I am. All the time we saw them standing
together up there, she wasn't telling him at all. She was keeping
him out of the way, in case you let it out. Oh, I like her! She
may be unwise, but she is nice, really. She said, 'I've been a
fool but I haven't been a fool twice.' You must forgive her,
Rickie. I've forgiven her, and she me; for at first I was so
angry with her. Oh, my darling boy, I am so glad!

He was shivering all overand could not reply. At last he said
Why hasn't she told him?

Because she has come to her senses.


But she can't behave to people like that. She must tell him.

Because he must be told such a real thing.

Such a real thing?the girl echoedscrewing up her forehead.
But--but you don't mean you're glad about it?

His head bowed over the letter. "My God--no! But it's a real
thing. She must tell him. I nearly told him myself--up there-when
he made me look at the groundbut you happened to prevent
me."

How Providence had watched over them!

She won't tell him. I know that much.

Then, Agnes, darling--he drew her to the table "we must talk
together a little. If she won'tthen we ought to."

WE tell him?cried the girlwhite with horror. "Tell him now
when everything has been comfortably arranged?"

You see, darling--he took hold of her hand--"what one must do
is to think the thing out and settle what's rightI'm still all
trembling and stupid. I see it mixed up with other things. I want
you to help me. It seems to me that here and there in life we
meet with a person or incident that is symbolical. It's
nothing in itselfyet for the moment it stands for some eternal
principle. We accept itat whatever costsand we have accepted
life. But if we are frightened and reject itthe momentso to
speakpasses; the symbol is never offered again. Is this
nonsense? Once before a symbol was offered to me--I shall not
tell you how; but I did accept itand cherished it through much
anxiety and repulsionand in the end I am rewarded. There will
be no reward this time. I thinkfrom such a man--the son of such
a man. But I want to do what is right."

Because doing right is its own reward,said Agnes anxiously.

I do not think that. I have seen few examples of it. Doing right
is simply doing right.

I think that all you say is wonderfully clever; but since you
ask me, it IS nonsense, dear Rickie, absolutely.

Thank you,he said humblyand began to stroke her hand. "But
all my disgust; my indignation with my fathermy love for--" He
broke off; he could not bear to mention the name of his mother.
I was trying to say, I oughtn't to follow these impulses too
much. There are others things. Truth. Our duty to acknowledge
each man accurately, however vile he is. And apart from ideals
(here she had won the battle)and leaving ideals aside, I
couldn't meet him and keep silent. It isn't in me. I should blurt
it out.

But you won't meet him!she cried. "It's all been arranged.
We've sent him to the sea. Isn't it splendid? He's gone. My own
boy won't be fantasticwill he?" Then she fought the fantasy on
its own ground. "Andbye the byewhat you call the 'symbolic
moment' is over. You had it up by the Rings. You tried to tell
himI interrupted you. It's not your fault. You did all you
could."


She thought this excellent logicand was surprised that he
looked so gloomy. "So he's gone to the sea. For the present that
does settle it. Has Aunt Emily talked about him yet?"

No. Ask her tomorrow if you wish to know. Ask her kindly. It
would be so dreadful if you did not part friends, and--

What's that?

It was Stephen calling up from the drive. He had come back. Agnes
threw out her hand in despair.

Elliot!the voice called.

They were facing each othersilent and motionless. Then Rickie
advanced to the window. The girl darted in front of him. He
thought he had never seen her so beautiful. She was stopping his
advance quite franklywith widespread arms.

Elliot!

He moved forward--into what? He pretended to himself he would
rather see his brother before he answered; that it was easier to
acknowledge him thus. But at the back of his soul he knew that
the woman had conqueredand that he was moving forward to
acknowledge her. "If he calls me again--" he thought.

Elliot!

Well, if he calls me once again, I will answer him, vile as he
is.

He did not call again.

Stephen had really come back for some tobaccobut as he passed
under the windows he thought of the poor fellow who had been
nipped(nothing serioussaid Mrs. Failing)and determined to
shout good-bye to him. And once or twiceas he followed the
river into the darknesshe wondered what it was like to be so
weak--not to ridenot to swimnot to care for anything but
books and a girl.

They embraced passionately. The danger had brought them very near
to each other. They both needed a home to confront the menacing
tumultuous world. And what weary years of workof waitinglay
between them and that home! Still holding her fasthe saidI
was writing to Ansell when you came in.

Do you owe him a letter?

No.He paused. "I was writing to tell him about this. He would
help us. He always picks out the important point."

Darling, I don't like to say anything, and I know that Mr.
Ansell would keep a secret, but haven't we picked out the
important point for ourselves?

He released her and tore the letter up.


The sense of purity is a puzzling and at times a fearful thing.
It seems so nobleand it starts as one with morality. But it is
a dangerous guideand can lead us away not only from what is
graciousbut also from what is good. Agnesin this tanglehad
followed it blindlypartly because she was a womanand it meant
more to her than it can ever mean to a man; partly because
though dangerousit is also obviousand makes no demand upon
the intellect. She could not feel that Stephen had full human
rights. He was illicitabnormalworse than a man diseased. And
Rickie remembering whose son he wasgradually adopted her
opinion. Hetoocame to be glad that his brother had passed
from him untriedthat the symbolic moment had been rejected.
Stephen was the fruit of sin; therefore he was sinfulHetoo
became a sexual snob.

And now he must hear the unsavoury details. That evening they sat
in the walled garden. Aguesaccording to arrangementleft him
alone with his aunt. He asked herand was not answered.

You are shocked,she said in a hardmocking voiceIt is very
nice of you to be shocked, and I do not wish to grieve you
further. We will not allude to it again. Let us all go on just as
we are. The comedy is finished.

He could not tolerate this. His nerves were shatteredand all
that was good in him revolted as well. To the horror of Agnes
who was within earshothe repliedYou used to puzzle me, Aunt
Emily, but I understand you at last. You have forgotten what
other people are like. Continual selfishness leads to that. I am
sure of it. I see now how you look at the world. 'Nice of me to
be shocked!' I want to go tomorrow, if I may.

Certainly, dear. The morning trains are the best.And so the
disastrous visit ended.

As he walked back to the house he met a certain poor womanwhose
child Stephen had rescued at the level-crossingand who had
decidedafter some delaythat she must thank the kind gentleman
in person. "He has got some brute courage thought Rickie, and
it was decent of him not to boast about it." But he had labelled
the boy as "Bad and it was convenient to revert to his good
qualities as seldom as possible. He preferred to brood over his
coarseness, his caddish ingratitude, his irreligion. Out of these
he constructed a repulsive figure, forgetting how slovenly his
own perceptions had been during the past week, how dogmatic and
intolerant his attitude to all that was not Love.

During the packing he was obliged to go up to the attic to find
the Dryad manuscript which had never been returned. Leighton came
too, and for about half an hour they hunted in the flickering
light of a candle. It was a strange, ghostly place, and Rickie
was quite startled when a picture swung towards him, and he saw
the Demeter of Cnidus, shimmering and grey. Leighton suggested
the roof. Mr. Stephen sometimes left things on the roof. So they
climbed out of the skylight--the night was perfectly still--and
continued the search among the gables. Enormous stars hung
overhead, and the roof was bounded by chasms, impenetrable and
black. It doesn't matter said Rickie, suddenly convinced of
the futility of all that he did. Ohlet us look properly said
Leighton, a kindly, pliable man, who had tried to shirk coming,
but who was genuinely sympathetic now that he had come. They were
rewarded: the manuscript lay in a gutter, charred and smudged.

The rest of the year was spent by Rickie partly in bed,--he had a


curious breakdown,--partly in the attempt to get his little
stories published. He had written eight or nine, and hoped they
would make up a book, and that the book might be called Pan
Pipes." He was very energetic over this; he liked to workfor
some imperceptible bloom had passed from the worldand he no
longer found such acute pleasure in people. Mrs. Failing's old
publishersto whom the book was submittedreplied thatgreatly
as they found themselves interestedthey did not see their way
to making an offer at present. They were very politeand singled
out for special praise "Andante Pastorale which Rickie had
thought too sentimental, but which Agnes had persuaded him to
include. The stories were sent to another publisher, who
considered them for six weeks, and then returned them. A fragment
of red cotton, Placed by Agnes between the leaves, had not
shifted its position.


Can't you try something longerRickie?" she said;
I believe we're on the wrong track. Try an out--and--out
love-story.


My notion just now,he repliedis to leave the passions on
the fringe.She noddedand tapped for the waiter: they had met
in a London restaurant. "I can't soar; I can only indicate.
That's where the musicians have the pullfor music has wings
and when she says 'Tristan' and he says 'Isolde' you are on the
heights at once. What do people mean when they call love music
artificial?"


I know what they mean, though I can't exactly explain. Or
couldn't you make your stories more obvious? I don't see any harm
in that. Uncle Willie floundered hopelessly. He doesn't read
much, and he got muddled. I had to explain, and then he was
delighted. Of course, to write down to the public would be quite
another thing and horrible. You have certain ideas, and you must
express them. But couldn't you express them more clearly?


You see--He got no further than "you see."


The soul and the body. The soul's what matters,said Agnesand
tapped for the waiter again. He looked at her admiringlybut
felt that she was not a perfect critic. Perhaps she was too
perfect to be a critic. Actual life might seem to her so real
that she could not detect the union of shadow and adamant that
men call poetry. He would even go further and acknowledge that
she was not as clever as himself--and he was stupid enough! She
did not like discussing anything or reading solid booksand she
was a little angry with such women as did. It pleased him to make
these concessionsfor they touched nothing in her that he
valued. He looked round the restaurantwhich was in Soho and
decided that she was incomparable.


At half-past two I call on the editor of the 'Holborn.' He's got
a stray story to look at, and he's written about it.


Oh, Rickie! Rickie! Why didn't you put on a boiled shirt!


He laughedand teased her. "'The soul's what matters. We
literary people don't care about dress."


Well, you ought to care. And I believe you do. Can't you
change?


Too far.He had rooms in South Kensington. "And I've forgot my
card-case. There's for you!"



She shook her head. "Naughtynaughty boy! Whatever will you do?"

Send in my name, or ask for a bit of paper and write it. Hullo!
that's Tilliard!

Tilliard blushedpartly on account of the faux pas he had made
last Junepartly on account of the restaurant. He explained how
he came to be pigging in Soho: it was so frightfully convenient
and so frightfully cheap.

Just why Rickie brings me,said Miss Pembroke.

And I suppose you're here to study life?said Tilliardsitting
down.

I don't know,said Rickiegazing round at the waiters and the
guests.

Doesn't one want to see a good deal of life for writing? There's
life of a sort in Soho,--Un peu de faisan, s'il vows plait.

Agnes also grabbed at the waiterand paid. She always did the
payingRickie muddled with his purse.

I'm cramming,pursued Tilliardand so naturally I come into
contact with very little at present. But later on I hope to see
things.He blushed a littlefor he was talking for Rickie's
edification. "It is most frightfully important not to get a
narrow or academic outlookdon't you think? A person like
Ansellwho goes from Cambridgehome--homeCambridge--it must
tell on him in time."

But Mr. Ansell is a philosopher.

A very kinky one,said Tilliard abruptly. "Not my idea of a
philosopher. How goes his dissertation?"

He never answers my letters,replied Rickie. "He never would.
I've heard nothing since June."

It's a pity he sends in this year. There are so many good people
in. He'd have afar better chance if he waited.

So I said, but he wouldn't wait. He's so keen about this
particular subject.

What is it?asked Agnes.

About things being real, wasn't it, Tilliard?

That's near enough.

Well, good luck to him!said the girl. "And good luck to you
Mr. Tilliard! Later onI hopewe'll meet again."

They parted. Tilliard liked herthough he did not feel that she
was quite in his couche sociale. His sisterfor instance
would never have been lured into a Soho restaurant--except for
the experience of the thing. Tilliard's couche sociale permitted
experiences. Provided his heart did not go out to the poor and
the unorthodoxhe might stare at them as much as he liked. It
was seeing life.


Agnes put her lover safely into an omnibus at Cambridge Circus.
She shouted after him that his tie was rising over his collar
but he did not hear her. For a moment she felt depressedand
pictured quite accurately the effect that his appearance would
have on the editor. The editor was a tall neat man of fortyslow
of speechslow of souland extraordinarily kind. He and Rickie
sat over a firewith an enormous table behind them whereon stood
many books waiting to be reviewed.

I'm sorry,he saidand paused.

Rickie smiled feebly.

Your story does not convince.He tapped it. "I have read it
with very great pleasure. It convinces in partsbut it does not
convince as a whole; and storiesdon't you thinkought to
convince as a whole?"

They ought indeed,said Rickieand plunged into
self-depreciation. But the editor checked him.

No--no. Please don't talk like that. I can't bear to hear any
one talk against imagination. There are countless openings for
imagination,--for the mysterious, for the supernatural, for all
the things you are trying to do, and which, I hope, you will
succeed in doing. I'm not OBJECTING to imagination; on the
contrary, I'd advise you to cultivate it, to accent it. Write a
really good ghost story and we'd take it at once. Or--he
suggested it as an alternative to imagination--"or you might get
inside life. It's worth doing."

Life?echoed Rickie anxiously.

He looked round the pleasant roomas if life might be fluttering
there like an imprisoned bird. Then he looked at the editor:
perhaps he was sitting inside life at this very moment.
See life, Mr. Elliot, and then send us another story.He held
out his hand. "I am sorry I have to say 'Nothank you'; it's so
much nicer to say'Yesplease.'" He laid his hand on the young
man's sleeveand addedWell, the interview's not been so
alarming after all, has it?

I don't think that either of us is a very alarming person,was
not Rickie's reply. It was what he thought out afterwards in the
omnibus. His reply was "Ow delivered with a slight giggle.

As he rumbled westward, his face was drawn, and his eyes moved
quickly to the right and left, as if he would discover something
in the squalid fashionable streets some bird on the wing, some
radiant archway, the face of some god beneath a beaver hat. He
loved, he was loved, he had seen death and other things; but the
heart of all things was hidden. There was a password and he could
not learn it, nor could the kind editor of the Holborn" teach
him. He sighedand then sighed more piteously. For had he not
known the password once--known it and forgotten it already?
But at this point his fortunes become intimately connected with
those of Mr. Pembroke.

PART 2 SAWSTON


In three years Mr. Pembroke had done much to solidify the
day-boys at Sawston School. If they were not solidthey were at
all events curdlingand his activities might reasonably turn
elsewhere. He had served the school for many yearsand it was
really time he should be entrusted with a boarding-house. The
headmasteran impulsive man who darted about like a minnow and
gave his mother a great deal of troubleagreed with himand
also agreed with Mrs. Jackson when she said that Mr. Jackson had
served the school for many years and that it was really time he
should be entrusted with a boarding-house. Consequentlywhen
Dunwood House fell vacant the headmaster found himself in rather
a difficult position.

Dunwood House was the largest and most lucrative of the
boarding-houses. It stood almost opposite the school buildings.
Originally it had been a villa residence--a red-brick villa
covered with creepers and crowned with terracotta dragons. Mr.
Annisonfounder of its gloryhad lived hereand had had one or
two boys to live with him. Times changed. The fame of the bishops
blazed brighterthe school increasedthe one or two boys became
a dozenand an addition was made to Dunwood House that more than
doubled its size. A huge new buildingreplete with every
conveniencewas stuck on to its right flank. Dormitories
cubiclesstudiesa preparation-rooma dining-roomparquet
floorshot-air pipes--no expense was sparedand the twelve boys
roamed over it like princes. Baize doors communicated on every
floor with Mr. Annison's partand hean anxious gentleman
would stroll backwards and forwardsa little depressed at the
hygienic splendoursand conscious of some vanished intimacy.
Somehow he had known his boys better when they had all muddled
together as one familyand algebras lay strewn upon the drawing
room chairs. As the house filledhis interest in it decreased.
When he retired--which he did the same summer that Rickie left
Cambridge--it had already passed the summit of excellence and was
beginning to decline. Its numbers were still satisfactoryand
for a little time it would subsist on its past reputation. But
that mysterious asset the tone had loweredand it was therefore
of great importance that Mr. Annison's successor should be a
first-class man. Mr. Coateswho came next in senioritywas
passed overand rightly. The choice lay between Mr. Pembroke and
Mr. Jacksonthe one an organizerthe other a humanist. Mr.
Jackson was master of the Sixthand--with the exception of the
headmasterwho was too busy to impart knowledge--the only
first-class intellect in the school. But he could not or rather
would notkeep order. He told his form that if it chose to
listen to him it would learn; if it didn'tit wouldn't. One half
listened. The other half made paper frogsand bored holes in the
raised map of Italy with their penknives. When the penknives
gritted he punished them with undue severityand then forgot to
make them show the punishments up. Yet out of this chaos two
facts emerged. Half the boys got scholarships at the University
and some of them--including several of the paper-frog sort-remained
friends with him throughout their lives. Moreoverhe
was richand had a competent wife. His claim to Dunwood House
was stronger than one would have supposed.

The qualifications of Mr. Pembroke have already been indicated.
They prevailed--but under conditions. If things went wronghe
must promise to resign.


In the first place,said the headmasteryou are doing so
splendidly with the day-boys. Your attitude towards the parents
is magnificent. I--don't know how to replace you there. Whereas,
of course, the parents of a boarder--

Of course,said Mr. Pembroke.

The parent of a boarderwho only had to remove his son if he was
discontented with the schoolwas naturally in a more independent
position than the parent who had brought all his goods and
chattels to Sawstonand was renting a house there.

Now the parents of boarders--this is my second point-practically
demand that the house-master should have a wife.

A most unreasonable demand,said Mr. Pembroke.

To my mind also a bright motherly matron is quite sufficient.
But that is what they demand. And that is why--do you see?--we
HAVE to regard your appointment as experimental. Possibly Miss
Pembroke will be able to help you. Or I don't know whether if
ever--He left the sentence unfinished. Two days later Mr.
Pembroke proposed to Mrs. Orr.

He had always intended to marry when he could afford it; and once
he had been in loveviolently in lovebut had laid the passion
asideand told it to wait till a more convenient season. This
wasof coursethe proper thing to doand prudence should have
been rewarded. But whenafter the lapse of fifteen yearshe
wentas it wereto his spiritual larder and took down Love from
the top shelf to offer him to Mrs. Orrhe was rather dismayed.
Something had happened. Perhaps the god had flown; perhaps he had
been eaten by the rats. At all eventshe was not there.

Mr. Pembroke was conscientious and romanticand knew that
marriage without love is intolerable. On the other handhe could
not admit that love had vanished from him. To admit thiswould
argue that he had deteriorated.

Whereas he knew for a fact that he had improvedyear by year.
Each year be grew more moralmore efficientmore learnedmore
genial. So how could he fail to be more loving? He did not speak
to himself as followsbecause he never spoke to himself; but the
following notions moved in the recesses of his mind: "It is not
the fire of youth. But I am not sure that I approve of the fire
of youth. Look at my sister! Once she has sufferedtwice she has
been most imprudentand put me to great inconvenience besides
for if she was stopping with me she would have done the
housekeeping. I rather suspect that it is a noblerriper emotion
that I am laying at the feet of Mrs. Orr." It never took him long
to get muddledor to reverse cause and effect. In a short time
he believed that he had been pining for yearsand only waiting
for this good fortune to ask the lady to share it with him.

Mrs. Orr was quietcleverkindlycapableand amusing and they
were old acquaintances. Altogether it was not surprising that he
should ask her to be his wifenor very surprising that she
should refuse. But she refused with a violence that alarmed them
both. He left her house declaring that he had been insultedand
sheas soon as he leftpassed from disgust into tears.

He was much annoyed. There was a certain Miss Herriton who
though far inferior to Mrs. Orrwould have done instead of her.
But now it was impossible. He could not go offering himself about


Sawston. Having engaged a matron who had the reputation for being
bright and motherlyhe moved into Dunwood House and opened the
Michaelmas term. Everything went wrong. The cook left; the boys
had a disease called roseola; Agneswho was still drunk with her
engagementwas of no assistancebut kept flying up to London to
push Rickie's fortunes; andto crown everythingthe matron was
too bright and not motherly enough: she neglected the little boys
and was overattentive to the big ones. She left abruptlyand the
voice of Mrs. Jackson aroseprophesying disaster.

Should he avert it by taking orders? Parents do not demand that a
house-master should be a clergymanyet it reassures them when he
is. And he would have to take orders some timeif he hoped for a
school of his own. His religious convictions were ready to hand
but he spent several uncomfortable days hunting up his religious
enthusiasms. It was not unlike his attempt to marry Mrs. Orr. But
his piety was more genuineand this time he never came to the
point. His sense of decency forbade him hurrying into a Church
that he reverenced. Moreoverhe thought of another solution:
Agnes must marry Rickie in the Christmas holidaysand they must
comeboth of themto Sawstonshe as housekeeperhe as
assistant-master. The girl was a good worker when once she was
settled down; and as for Rickiehe could easily be fitted in
somewhere in the school. He was not a good classicbut good
enough to take the Lower Fifth. He was no athletebut boys might
profitably note that he was a perfect gentleman all the same. He
had no experiencebut he would gain it. He had no decisionbut
he could simulate it. "Above all thought Mr. Pembroke, it will
be something regular for him to do." Of course this was not
above all.Dunwood House held that position. But Mr. Pembroke
soon came to think that it wasand believed that he was planning
for Rickiejust as he had believed he was pining for Mrs. Orr.

Agneswhen she got back from the lunch in Sohowas told of the
plan. She refused to give any opinion until she had seen her
lover. A telegram was sent to himand next morning he arrived.
He was very susceptible to the weatherand perhaps it was
unfortunate that the morning was foggy. His train had been
stopped outside Sawston Stationand there he had sat for half an
hourlistening to the unreal noises that came from the lineand
watching the shadowy figures that worked there. The gas was
alight in the great drawing-roomand in its depressing rays he
and Agnes greeted each otherand discussed the most momentous
question of their lives. They wanted to be married: there was no
doubt of that. They wanted itboth of themdreadfully. But
should they marry on these terms?

I'd never thought of such a thing, you see. When the scholastic
agencies sent me circulars after the Tripos, I tore them up at
once.

There are the holidays,said Agnes. "You would have three
months in the year to yourselfand you could do your writing
then."

But who'll read what I've written?and he told her about the
editor of the "Holborn."

She became extremely grave. At the bottom of her heart she had
always mistrusted the little storiesand now people who knew
agreed with her. How could Rickieor any onemake a living by
pretending that Greek gods were aliveor that young ladies could
vanish into trees? A sparkling society talefull of verve and
pathoswould have been another thingand the editor might have


been convinced by it.

But what does he mean?Rickie was saying. "What does he mean by
life?"

I know what he means, but I can't exactly explain. You ought to
see life, Rickie. I think he's right there. And Mr. Tilliard was
right when he said one oughtn't to be academic.

He stood in the twilight that fell from the windowshe in the
twilight of the gas. "I wonder what Ansell would say he
murmured.

Ohpoor Mr. Ansell!"

He was somewhat surprised. Why was Ansell poor? It was the first
time the epithet had been applied to him.

But to change the conversation,said Agnes.

If we did marry, we might get to Italy at Easter and escape this
horrible fog.

Yes. Perhaps there--Perhaps life would be there. He thought of
Renanwho declares that on the Acropolis at Athens beauty and
wisdom do existreally existas external powers. He did not
aspire to beauty or wisdombut he prayed to be delivered from
the shadow of unreality that had begun to darken the world. For
it was as if some power had pronounced against him--as ifby
some heedless actionhe had offended an Olympian god. Like many
anotherhe wondered whether the god might be appeased by work-hard
uncongenial work. Perhaps he had not worked hard enoughor
had enjoyed his work too muchand for that reason the shadow was
falling.

--And above all, a schoolmaster has wonderful opportunities for
doing good; one mustn't forget that.

To do good! For what other reason are we here? Let us give up our
refined sensationsand our comfortsand our artif thereby we
can make other people happier and better. The woman he loved had
urged him to do good! With a vehemence that surprised herhe
exclaimedI'll do it.

Think it over,she cautionedthough she was greatly pleased.

No; I think over things too much.

The room grew brighter. A boy's laughter floated inand it
seemed to him that people were as important and vivid as they had
been six months before. Then he was at Cambridgeidling in the
parsley meadowsand weaving perishable garlands out of flowers.
Now he was at Sawstonpreparing to work a beneficent machine.
No man works for nothingand Rickie trusted that to him also
benefits might accrue; that his wound might heal as he laboured
and his eyes recapture the Holy Grail.

In practical matters Mr. Pembroke was often a generous man. He
offered Rickie a good salaryand insisted on paying Agnes as
well. And as he housed them for nothingand as Rickie would also


have a salary from the schoolthe money question disappeared--if
not foreverat all events for the present.

I can work you in,he said. "Leave all that to meand in a few
days you shall hear from the headmaster.

He shall create a vacancy. And once inwe stand or fall
together. I am resolved on that."

Rickie did not like the idea of being "worked in but he was
determined to raise no difficulties. It is so easy to be refined
and high-minded when we have nothing to do. But the active,
useful man cannot be equally particular. Rickie's programme
involved a change in values as well as a change of occupation.

Adopt a frankly intellectual attitude Mr. Pembroke continued.
I do not advise you at present even to profess any interest in
athletics or organization. When the headmaster writeshe will
probably ask whether you are an all-round man. Boldly say no. A
bold 'no' is at times the best. Take your stand upon classics and
general culture."

Classics! A second in the Tripos. General culture. A smattering
of English Literatureand less than a smattering of French.

That is how we begin. Then we get you a little post--say that of
librarian. And so on, until you are indispensable.

Rickie laughed; the headmaster wrotethe reply was satisfactory
and in due course the new life began.

Sawston was already familiar to him. But he knew it as an
amateurand under an official gaze it grouped itself afresh. The
schoola bland Gothic buildingnow showed as a fortress of
learningwhose outworks were the boarding-houses. Those
straggling roads were full of the houses of the parents of the
day-boys. These shops were in boundsthose out. How often had he
passed Dunwood House! He had once confused it with its rival
Cedar View. Now he was to live there--perhaps for many years. On
the left of the entrance a large saffron drawing-roomfull of
cosy corners and dumpy chairs: here the parents would be
received. On the right of the entrance a studywhich he shared
with Herbert: here the boys would be caned--he hoped not often.
In the hall a framed certificate praising the drainsthe bust of
Hermesand a carved teak monkey holding out a salver. Some of
the furniture had come from Shelthorpesome had been bought from
Mr. Annisonsome of it was new. But throughout he recognized a
certain decision of arrangement. Nothing in the house was
accidentalor there merely for its own sake. He contrasted it
with his room at Cambridgewhich had been a jumble of things
that he loved dearly and of things that he did not love at all.
Now these also had come to Dunwood Houseand had been
distributed where each was seemly--Sir Percival to the
drawing-roomthe photograph of Stockholm to the passagehis
chairhis inkpotand the portrait of his mother to the study.
And then he contrasted it with the Ansells' houseto which their
resolute ill-taste had given unity. He was extremely sensitive to
the inside of a householding it an organism that expressed the
thoughtsconscious and subconsciousof its inmates. He was
equally sensitive to places. He would compare Cambridge with
Sawstonand either with a third type of existenceto whichfor
want of a better namehe gave the name of "Wiltshire."

It must not be thought that he is going to waste his time. These


contrasts and comparisons never took him longand he never
indulged in them until the serious business of the day was over.
Andas time passedhe never indulged in them at all.
The school returned at the end of Januarybefore he had been
settled in a week. His health had improvedbut not greatlyand
he was nervous at the prospect of confronting the assembled
house. All day long cabs had been driving upfull of boys in
bowler hats too big for them; and Agnes had been superintending
the numbering of the said hatsand the placing of them in
cupboardssince they would not be wanted till the end of the
term. Each boy hador should have hada bagso that he need
not unpack his box till the morrowOne boy had only a
brown-paper parceltied with hairy stringand Rickie heard the
firm pleasant voice sayBut you'll bring a bag next term,and
the submissiveYes, Mrs. Elliot,of the reply. In the passage
he ran against the head boywho was alarmingly like an
undergraduate. They looked at each other suspiciouslyand
parted. Two minutes later he ran into another boyand then into
anotherand began to wonder whether they were doing it on
purposeand if sowhether he ought to mind. As the day wore on
the noises grew louder-trampings of feetbreakdownsjolly
little squawks--and the cubicles were assignedand the bags
unpackedand the bathing arrangements posted upand Herbert
kept on sayingAll this is informal--all this is informal. We
shall meet the house at eight fifteen.

And soat eight tenRickie put on his cap and gown--hitherto
symbols of pupilagenow to be symbols of dignity--the very cap
and gown that Widdrington had so recently hung upon the college
fountain. Herbertsimilarly attiredwas waiting for him in
their private dining-roomwhere also sat Agnesravenously
devouring scrambled eggs. "But you'll wear your hoods she
cried. Herbert considered, and them said she was quite right. He
fetched his white silk, Rickie the fragment of rabbit's wool that
marks the degree of B.A. Thus attired, they proceeded through the
baize door. They were a little late, and the boys, who were
marshalled in the preparation room, were getting uproarious. One,
forgetting how far his voice carried, shouted, Cave! Here comes
the Whelk." And another young devil yelledThe Whelk's brought
a pet with him!

You mustn't mind,said Herbert kindly. "We masters make a point
of never minding nicknames--unlessof coursethey are applied
openlyin which case a thousand lines is not too much." Rickie
assentedand they entered the preparation room just as the
prefects had established order.

Here Herbert took his seat on a high-legged chairwhile Rickie
like a queen-consortsat near him on a chair with somewhat
shorter legs. Each chair had a desk attached to itand Herbert
flung up the lid of hisand then looked round the preparation
room with a quick frownas if the contents had surprised him. So
impressed was Rickie that he peeped sidewaysbut could only see
a little blotting-paper in the desk. Then he noticed that the
boys were impressed too. Their chatter ceased. They attended.

The room was almost full. The prefectsinstead of lolling
disdainfully in the back rowwere ranged like councillors
beneath the central throne. This was an innovation of Mr.
Pembroke's. Carruthersthe head boysat in the middlewith his
arm round Lloyd. It was Lloyd who had made the matron too bright:
he nearly lost his colours in consequence. These two were grown
up. Beside them sat Tewsona saintly child in the spectacles
who had risen to this height by reason of his immense learning.


Helike the otherswas a school prefect. The house prefectsan
inferior brandwere beyondand behind came the
indistinguishable many. The faces all looked alike as yet--except
the face of one boywho was inclined to cry.


School,said Mr. Pembrokeslowly closing the lid of the desk
--"school is the world in miniature." Then he pausedas a man
well may who has made such a remark. It is nothoweverthe
intention of this work to quote an opening address. Rickieat
all eventsrefused to be critical: Herbert's experience was far
greater than hisand he must take his tone from him. Nor
could any one criticize the exhortations to be patriotic
athleticlearnedand religiousthat flowed like a four-part
fugue from Mr. Pembroke's mouth. He was a practised speaker--that
is to sayhe held his audience's attention. He told them that
this termthe second of his reignwas THE term for Dunwood
House; that it behooved every boy to labour during it for his
house's honourandthrough the housefor the honour of the
school. Taking a wider rangehe spoke of Englandor rather of
Great Britainand of her continental foes. Portraits of
empire-builders hung on the walland he pointed to them. He
quoted imperial poets. He showed how patriotism had broadened
since the days of Shakespearewhofor all his genius
could only write of his country as-


This fortress built by nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This hazy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea.


And it seemed that only a short ladder lay between the
preparation room and the Anglo-Saxon hegemony of the globe. Then
he pausedand in the silence came "sobsobsob from a little
boy, who was regretting a villa in Guildford and his mother's
half acre of garden.


The proceeding terminated with the broader patriotism of the
school anthem, recently composed by the organist. Words and tune
were still a matter for taste, and it was Mr. Pembroke (and he
only because he had the music) who gave the right intonation to


Perish each laggard! Let it not be said
That Sawston such within her walls hath bred."


Come, come,he said pleasantlyas they ended with harmonies in
the style of Richard Strauss. "This will never do. We must
grapple with the anthem this term--you're as tuneful as--as
day-boys!"


Hearty laughterand then the whole house filed past them and
shook hands.


But how did it impress you?Herbert askedas soon as they were
back in their own part. Agnes had provided them with a tray of
food: the meals were still anyhowand she had to fly at once to
see after the boys.


I liked the look of them.


I meant rather, how did the house impress you as a house?


I don't think I thought,said Rickie rather nervously. "It is
not easy to catch the spirit of a thing at once. I only saw a
roomful of boys."



My dear Rickie, don't be so diffident. You are perfectly right.
You only did see a roomful of boys. As yet there's nothing else
to see. The house, like the school, lacks tradition. Look at
Winchester. Look at the traditional rivalry between Eton and
Harrow. Tradition is of incalculable importance, if a school is
to have any status. Why should Sawston be without?

Yes. Tradition is of incalculable value. And I envy those
schools that have a natural connection with the past. Of course
Sawston has a past, though not of the kind that you quite want.
The sons of poor tradesmen went to it at first. So wouldn't its
traditions be more likely to linger in the Commercial School?he
concluded nervously.

You have a great deal to learn--a very great deal. Listen to me.
Why has Sawston no traditions?His roundrather foolishface
assumed the expression of a conspirator. Bending over the mutton
he whisperedI can tell you why. Owing to the day-boys. How can
traditions flourish in such soil? Picture the day-boy's life--at
home for meals, at home for preparation, at home for sleep,
running home with every fancied wrong. There are day-boys in your
class, and, mark my words, they will give you ten times as much
trouble as the boarders, late, slovenly, stopping away at the
slightest pretext. And then the letters from the parents! 'Why
has my boy not been moved this term?' 'Why has my boy been moved
this term?' 'I am a dissenter, and do not wish my boy to
subscribe to the school mission.' 'Can you let my boy off early
to water the garden?' Remember that I have been a day-boy
house-master, and tried to infuse some esprit de corps into them.
It is practically impossible. They come as units, and units they
remain. Worse. They infect the boarders. Their pestilential,
critical, discontented attitude is spreading over the school. If
I had my own way--

He stopped somewhat abruptly.

Was that why you laughed at their singing?

Not at all. Not at all. It is not my habit to set one section of
the school against the other.

After a little they went the rounds. The boys were in bed now.
Good-night!called Herbertstanding in the corridor of the
cubiclesand from behind each of the green curtains came the
sound of a voice replyingGood-night, sir!Good-night,he
observed into each dormitory.

Then he went to the switch in the passage and plunged the whole
house into darkness. Rickie lingered behind himstrangely
impressed. In the morning those boys had been scattered over
Englandleading their own lives. Nowfor three monthsthey
must change everything--see new facesaccept new ideals. They
like himselfmust enter a beneficent machineand learn the
value of esprit de corps. Good luck attend them--good luck and a
happy release. For his heart would have them not in these
cubicles and dormitoriesbut each in his own dear homeamongst
faces and things that he knew.

Next morningafter chapelhe made the acquaintance of his
class. Towards that he felt very differently. Esprit de corps was
not expected of it. It was simply two dozen boys who were
gathered together for the purpose of learning Latin. His duties
and difficulties would not lie here. He was not required to


provide it with an atmosphere. The scheme of work was already
mapped outand he started gaily upon familiar words-


Pan, ovium custos, tua si tibi Maenala curae
Adsis, O Tegaee, favens.

Do you think that beautiful?he askedand received the honest
answerNo, sir; I don't think I do.He met Herbert in high
spirits in the quadrangle during the interval. But Herbert
thought his enthusiasm rather amateurishand cautioned him.

You must take care they don't get out of hand. I approve of a
lively teacher, but discipline must be established first.

I felt myself a learner, not a teacher. If I'm wrong over a
point, or don't know, I mean to tell them at once.
Herbert shook his head.

It's different if I was really a scholar. But I can't pose as
one, can I? I know much more than the boys, but I know very
little. Surely the honest thing is to be myself to them. Let them
accept or refuse me as that. That's the only attitude we shall
any of us profit by in the end.

Mr. Pembroke was silent. Then he observedThere is, as you say,
a higher attitude and a lower attitude. Yet here, as so often,
cannot we find a golden mean between them?

What's that?said a dreamy voice. They turned and saw a tall
spectacled manwho greeted the newcomer kindlyand took hold of
his arm. "What's that about the golden mean?"

Mr. Jackson--Mr. Elliot: Mr. Elliot--Mr. Jackson,said Herbert
who did not seem quite pleased. "Rickiehave you a moment to
spare me?"

But the humanist spoke to the young man about the golden mean and
the pinchbeck meanaddingYou know the Greeks aren't broad church
clergymen. They really aren't, in spite of much conflicting
evidence. Boys will regard Sophocles as a kind of enlightened
bishop, and something tells me that they are wrong.

Mr. Jackson is a classical enthusiast,said Herbert. "He makes
the past live. I want to talk to you about the humdrum present."

And I am warning him against the humdrum past. That's another
pointMr. Elliot. Impress on your class that many Greeks and
most Romans were frightfully stupidand if they disbelieve you
read Ctesiphon with themor Valerius Flaccus. Whatever is
that noise?"

It comes from your class-room, I think,snapped the other
master.

So it does. Ah, yes. I expect they are putting your little
Tewson into the waste-paper basket.

I always lock my class-room in the interval--

Yes?

--and carry the key in my pocket.

Ah. But, Mr. Elliot, I am a cousin of Widdrington's. He wrote to


me about you. I am so glad. Will you, first of all, come to
supper next Sunday?

I am afraid,put in Herbertthat we poor housemasters must
deny ourselves festivities in term time.

But mayn't he come once, just once?

May, my dear Jackson! My brother-in-law is not a baby. He
decides for himself.

Rickie naturally refused. As soon as they were out of hearing
Herbert saidThis is a little unfortunate. Who is Mr.
Widdrington?

I knew him at Cambridge.

Let me explain how we stand,he continuedafter a pause.

Jackson is the worst of the reactionaries here, while I--why
should I conceal it?--have thrown in my lot with the party of
progress. You will see how we suffer from him at the masters'
meetings. He has no talent for organization, and yet he is always
inflicting his ideas on others. It was like his impertinence to
dictate to you what authors you should read, and meanwhile the
sixth-form room like a bear-garden, and a school prefect being
put into the waste-paper basket. My good Rickie, there's nothing
to smile at. How is the school to go on with a man like that? It
would be a case of 'quick march,' if it was not for his brilliant
intellect. That's why I say it's a little unfortunate. You will
have very little in common, you and he.

Rickie did not answer. He was very fond of Widdringtonwho was a
quaintsensitive person. And he could not help being attracted
by Mr. Jacksonwhose welcome contrasted pleasantly with the
official breeziness of his other colleagues. He wonderedtoo
whether it is so very reactionary to contemplate the antique.

It is true that I vote Conservative,pursued Mr. Pembroke
apparently confronting some objector. "But why? Because the
Conservativesrather than the Liberalsstand for progress. One
must not be misled by catch-words."

Didn't you want to ask me something?

Ah, yes. You found a boy in your form called Varden?

Varden? Yes; there is.

Drop on him heavily. He has broken the statutes of the school.
He is attending as a day-boy. The statutes provide that a boy
must reside with his parents or guardians. He does neither. It
must be stopped. You must tell the headmaster.

Where does the boy live?

At a certain Mrs. Orr's, who has no connection with the school
of any kind. It must be stopped. He must either enter a
boarding-house or go.

But why should I tell?said Rickie. He remembered the boyan
unattractive person with protruding earsIt is the business of
his house-master.


House-master--exactly. Here we come back again. Who is now the
day-boys' house-master? Jackson once again--as if anything was
Jackson's business! I handed the house back last term in a most
flourishing condition. It has already gone to rack and ruin for
the second time. To return to Varden. I have unearthed a put-up
job. Mrs. Jackson and Mrs. Orr are friends. Do you see? It all
works round.

I see. It does--or might.

The headmaster will never sanction it when it's put to him
plainly.

But why should I put it?said Rickietwisting the ribbons of
his gown round his fingers.

Because you're the boy's form-master.

Is that a reason?

Of course it is.

I only wondered whether--He did not like to say that he
wondered whether he need do it his first morning.

By some means or other you must find out--of course you know
already, but you must find out from the boy. I know--I have it!
Where's his health certificate?

He had forgotten it.

Just like them. Well, when he brings it, it will be signed by
Mrs. Orr, and you must look at it and say, 'Orr--Orr--Mrs.
Orr?' or something to that effect, and then the whole thing will
come naturally out.

The bell rangand they went in for the hour of school that
concluded the morning. Varden brought his health certificate--a
pompous document asserting that he had not suffered from roseola
or kindred ailments in the holidays--and for a long time Rickie
sat with it before himspread open upon his desk. He did not
quite like the job. It suggested intrigueand he had come to
Sawston not to intrigue but to labour. Doubtless Herbert was
rightand Mr. Jackson and Mrs. Orr were wrong. But why could
they not have it out among themselves? Then he thoughtI am a
coward, and that's why I'm raising these objections,called the
boy up to himand it did all come out naturallymore or less.
Hitherto Varden had lived with his mother; but she had left
Sawston at Christmasand now he would live with Mrs. Orr. "Mr.
Jacksonsirsaid it would be all right."

Yes, yes,said Rickie; "quite so." He remembered Herbert's
dictum: "Masters must present a united front. If they do not--the
deluge." He sent the boy back to his seatand after school took
the compromising health certificate to the headmaster. The
headmaster was at that time easily excited by a breach of the
constitution. "Parents or guardians he reputed--parents or
guardians and flew with those words on his lips to Mr. Jackson.
To say that Rickie was a cat's-paw is to put it too strongly.
Herbert was strictly honourable, and never pushed him into an
illegal or really dangerous position; but there is no doubt that
on this and on many other occasions he had to do things that he
would not otherwise have done. There was always some diplomatic
corner that had to be turned, always something that he had to say


or not to say. As the term wore on he lost his independence-almost
without knowing it. He had much to learn about boys, and
he learnt not by direct observation--for which he believed he was
unfitted--but by sedulous imitation of the more experienced
masters. Originally he had intended to be friends with his
pupils, and Mr. Pembroke commended the intention highly; but you
cannot be friends either with boy or man unless you give yourself
away in the process, and Mr. Pembroke did not commend this. He,
for personal intercourse substituted the safer personal
influence and gave his junior hints on the setting of kindly
traps, in which the boy does give himself away and reveals his
shy delicate thoughts, while the master, intact, commends or
corrects them. Originally Rickie had meant to help boys in the
anxieties that they undergo when changing into men: at Cambridge
he had numbered this among life's duties. But here is a subject
in which we must inevitably speak as one human being to another,
not as one who has authority or the shadow of authority, and for
this reason the elder school-master could suggest nothing but a
few formulae. Formulae, like kindly traps, were not in Rickie's
line, so he abandoned these subjects altogether and confined
himself to working hard at what was easy. In the house he did as
Herbert did, and referred all doubtful subjects to him. In his
form, oddly enough, he became a martinet. It is so much simpler
to be severe. He grasped the school regulations, and insisted on
prompt obedience to them. He adopted the doctrine of collective
responsibility. When one boy was late, he punished the whole
form. I can't help it he would say, as if he was a power of
nature. As a teacher he was rather dull. He curbed his own
enthusiasms, finding that they distracted his attention, and that
while he throbbed to the music of Virgil the boys in the back row
were getting unruly. But on the whole he liked his form work: he
knew why he was there, and Herbert did not overshadow him so
completely.

What was amiss with Herbert? He had known that something was
amiss, and had entered into partnership with open eyes. The man
was kind and unselfish; more than that he was truly charitable,
and it was a real pleasure to him to give--pleasure to others.
Certainly he might talk too much about it afterwards; but it was
the doing, not the talking, that he really valued, and
benefactors of this sort are not too common. He was, moreover,
diligent and conscientious: his heart was in his work, and his
adherence to the Church of England no mere matter of form. He was
capable of affection: he was usually courteous and tolerant. Then
what was amiss? Why, in spite of all these qualities, should
Rickie feel that there was something wrong with him--nay, that he
was wrong as a whole, and that if the Spirit of Humanity should
ever hold a judgment he would assuredly be classed among the
goats? The answer at first sight appeared a graceless one--it was
that Herbert was stupid. Not stupid in the ordinary sense--he had
a business-like brain, and acquired knowledge easily--but stupid
in the important sense: his whole life was coloured by a contempt
of the intellect. That he had a tolerable intellect of his own
was not the point: it is in what we value, not in what we have,
that the test of us resides. Now, Rickie's intellect was not
remarkable. He came to his worthier results rather by imagination
and instinct than by logic. An argument confused him, and he
could with difficulty follow it even on paper. But he saw in this
no reason for satisfaction, and tried to make such use of his
brain as he could, just as a weak athlete might lovingly exercise
his body. Like a weak athlete, too, he loved to watch the
exploits, or rather the efforts, of others--their efforts not so
much to acquire knowledge as to dispel a little of the darkness
by which we and all our acquisitions are surrounded. Cambridge


had taught him this, and he knew, if for no other reason, that
his time there had not been in vain. And Herbert's contempt for
such efforts revolted him. He saw that for all his fine talk
about a spiritual life he had but one test for things--success:
success for the body in this life or for the soul in the life to
come. And for this reason Humanity, and perhaps such other
tribunals as there may be, would assuredly reject him.

XVIII

Meanwhile he was a husband. Perhaps his union should have been
emphasized before. The crown of life had been attained, the vague
yearnings, the misread impulses, had found accomplishment at
last. Never again must he feel lonely, or as one who stands out
of the broad highway of the world and fears, like poor Shelley,
to undertake the longest journey. So he reasoned, and at first
took the accomplishment for granted. But as the term passed he
knew that behind the yearning there remained a yearning, behind
the drawn veil a veil that he could not draw. His wedding had
been no mighty landmark: he would often wonder whether such and
such a speech or incident came after it or before. Since that
meeting in the Soho restaurant there had been so much to do-clothes
to buy, presents to thank for, a brief visit to a
Training College, a honeymoon as brief. In such a bustle, what
spiritual union could take place? Surely the dust would settle
soon: in Italy, at Easter, he might perceive the infinities of
love. But love had shown him its infinities already. Neither by
marriage nor by any other device can men insure themselves a
vision; and Rickie's had been granted him three years before,
when he had seen his wife and a dead man clasped in each other's
arms. She was never to be so real to him again.

She ran about the house looking handsomer than ever. Her cheerful
voice gave orders to the servants. As he sat in the study
correcting compositions, she would dart in and give him a kiss.
Dear girl--" he would murmurwith a glance at the rings on her
hand. The tone of their marriage life was soon set. It was to be
a frank good-fellowshipand before long he found it difficult to
speak in a deeper key.

One evening he made the effort. There had been more beauty than
was usual at Sawston. The air was pure and quiet. Tomorrow the
fog might be herebut today one saidIt is like the country.
Arm in arm they strolled in the side-gardenstopping at times to
notice the crocusesor to wonder when the daffodils would
flower. Suddenly he tightened his pressureand saidDarling,
why don't you still wear ear-rings?

Ear-rings?She laughed. "My taste has improvedperhaps."

So after all they never mentioned Gerald's name. But he hoped it
was still dear to her. He did not want her to forget the greatest
moment in her life. His love desired not ownership but
confidenceand to a love so pure it does not seem terrible to
come second.

He valued emotion--not for itselfbut because it is the only
final path to intimacy. Sheever robust and practicalalways
discouraged him. She was not cold; she would willingly embrace
him. But she hated being upsetand would laugh or thrust him off
when his voice grew serious. In this she reminded him of his
mother. But his mother--he had never concealed it from himself-



had glories to which his wife would never attain: glories that
had unfolded against a life of horror--a life even more horrible
than he had guessed. He thought of her often during these earlier
months. Did she bless his unionso different to her own? Did she
love his wife? He tried to speak of her to Agnesbut again she
was reluctant. And perhaps it was this aversion to acknowledge
the deadwhose images alone have immortalitythat made her own
image somewhat transientso that when he left her no mystic
influence remainedand only by an effort could he realize that
God had united them forever.

They conversed and differed healthily upon other topics. A rifle
corps was to be formed: she hoped that the boys would have proper
uniformsinstead of shooting in their old clothesas Mr.
Jackson had suggested. There was Tewson; could nothing be done
about him? He would slink away from the other prefects and go
with boys of his own age. There was Lloyd: he would not learn the
school anthemsaying that it hurt his throat. And above all
there was Vardenwhoto Rickie's bewildermentwas now a member
of Dunwood House.

He had to go somewhere,said Agnes. "Lucky for his mother that
we had a vacancy."

Yes--but when I meet Mrs. Orr--I can't help feeling ashamed.

Oh, Mrs. Orr! Who cares for her? Her teeth are drawn. If she
chooses to insinuate that we planned it, let her. Hers was rank
dishonesty. She attempted to set up a boarding-house.

Mrs. Orrwho was quite richhad attempted no such thing. She
had taken the boy out of charityand without a thought of being
unconstitutional. But in had come this officious "Limpet" and
upset the headmasterand she was scoldedand Mrs. Varden was
scoldedand Mr. Jackson was scoldedand the boy was scolded and
placed with Mr. Pembrokewhom she revered less than any man in
the world. Naturally enoughshe considered it a further attempt
of the authorities to snub the day-boysfor whose advantage the
school had been founded. She and Mrs. Jackson discussed the
subject at their tea-partiesand the latter lady was sure that
no goodno good of any kindwould come to Dunwood House from
such ill-gotten plunder.

We say, 'Let them talk,'persisted Rickiebut I never did
like letting people talk. We are right and they are wrong, but I
wish the thing could have been done more quietly. The headmaster
does get so excited. He has given a gang of foolish people their
opportunity. I don't like being branded as the day-boy's foe,
when I think how much I would have given to be a day-boy myself.
My father found me a nuisance, and put me through the mill, and I
can never forget it particularly the evenings.

There's very little bullying here,said Agnes.

There was very little bullying at my school. There
was simply the atmosphere of unkindness, which no discipline can
dispel. It's not what people do to you, but what they mean, that
hurts.

I don't understand.

Physical pain doesn't hurt--at least not what I call hurt--if a
man hits you by accident or play. But just a little tap, when you
know it comes from hatred, is too terrible. Boys do hate each


other: I remember it, and see it again. They can make strong
isolated friendships, but of general good-fellowship they haven't
a notion.

All I know is there's very little bullying here.

You see, the notion of good-fellowship develops late: you can
just see its beginning here among the prefects: up at Cambridge
it flourishes amazingly. That's why I pity people who don't go up
to Cambridge: not because a University is smart, but because
those are the magic years, and--with luck--you see up there what
you couldn't see before and mayn't ever see again.

Aren't these the magic years?" the lady demanded.

He laughed and hit at her. "I'm getting somewhat involved. But
hear meO Agnesfor I am practical. I approve of our public
schools. Long may theyflourish. But I do not approve of the
boarding-house system. It isn't an inevitable adjunct--"

Good gracious me!she shrieked. "Have you gone mad?"

Silence, madam. Don't betray me to Herbert, or I'll give us the
sack. But seriously, what is the good of, throwing boys so much
together? Isn't it building their lives on a wrong basis? They
don't understand each other. I wish they did, but they don't.
They don't realize that human beings are simply marvellous.
When they do, the whole of life changes, and you get the true
thing. But don't pretend you've got it before you have.
Patriotism and esprit de corps are all very well, but masters a
little forget that they must grow from sentiment. They cannot
create one. Cannot-cannot--cannot. I never cared a straw for
England until I cared for Englishmen, and boys can't love the
school when they hate each other. Ladies and gentlemen, I will
now conclude my address. And most of it is copied out of Mr.
Ansell.

The truth ishe was suddenly ashamed. He had been carried away
on the flood of his old emotions. Cambridge and all that it meant
had stood before him passionately clearand beside it stood his
mother and the sweet family life which nurses up a boy until he
can salute his equals. He was ashamedfor he remembered his new
resolution--to work without criticizingto throw himself
vigorously into the machinenot to mind if he was pinched now
and then by the elaborate wheels.

Mr. Ansell!cried his wifelaughing somewhat shrilly. "Aha!
Now I understand. It's just the kind of thing poor Mr. Ansell
would say. WellI'm brutal. I believe it does Varden good to
have his ears pulled now and thenand I don't care whether they
pull them in play or not. Boys ought to rough itor they never
grow up into menand your mother would have agreed with me. Oh
yes; and you're all wrong about patriotism. It cancancreate a
sentiment."

She was unusually preciseand had followed his thoughts with an
attention that was also unusual. He wondered whether she was not
rightand regretted that she proceeded to sayMy dear boy, you
mustn't talk these heresies inside Dunwood House! You sound just
like one of that reactionary Jackson set, who want to fling the
school back a hundred years and have nothing but day-boys all
dressed anyhow.

The Jackson set have their points.


You'd better join it.

The Dunwood House set has its points.For Rickie suffered from
the Primal Cursewhich is not--as the Authorized Version
suggests--the knowledge of good and evilbut the knowledge of
good-and-evil.

Then stick to the Dunwood House set.

I do, and shall.Again he was ashamed. Why would he see the
other side of things? He rebuked his soulnot unsuccessfully
and then they returned to the subject of Varden.

I'm certain he suffers,said hefor she would do nothing but
laugh. "Each boy who passes pulls his ears--very funnyno doubt;
but every day they stick out more and get redderand this
afternoonwhen he didn't know he was being watchedhe was
holding his head and moaning. I hate the look about his eyes."

I hate the whole boy. Nasty weedy thing.

Well, I'm a nasty weedy thing, if it comes to that.

No, you aren't,she criedkissing him. But he led her back to
the subject. Could nothing be suggested? He drew up some new
rules--alterations in the times of going to bedand so on--the
effect of which would be to provide fewer opportunities for the
pulling of Varden's ears. The rules were submitted to Herbert
who sympathized with weakliness more than did his sisterand
gave them his careful consideration. But unfortunately they
collided with other rulesand on a closer examination he found
that they also ran contrary to the fundamentals on which the
government of Dunwood House was based. So nothing was done. Agnes
was rather pleasedand took to teasing her husband about Varden.
At last he asked her to stop. He felt uneasy about the boy-almost
superstitious. His first morning's work had brought sixty
pounds a year to their hotel.

They did not get to Italy at Easter. Herbert had the offer of
some private pupilsand needed Rickie's help. It seemed
unreasonable to leave England when money was to be made in itso
they went to Ilfracombe instead. They spent three weeks among the
natural advantages and unnatural disadvantages of that resort. It
was out of the seasonand they encamped in a huge hotelwhich
took them at a reduction. By a disastrous chance the Jacksons
were down there tooand a good deal of constrained civility had
to pass between the two families. Constrained it was not in Mr.
Jackson's case. At all times he was ready to talkand as long as
they kept off the school it was pleasant enough. But he was very
indiscreetand feminine tact had often to intervene. "Go away
dear ladies he would then observe. You think you see life
because you see the chasms in it. Yet all the chasms are full of
female skeletons." The ladies smiled anxiously. To Rickie he was
friendly and even intimate. They had long talks on the deserted
Capstonewhile their wives sat reading in the Winter Garden and
Mr. Pembroke kept an eye upon the tutored youths. "Once I had
tutored youths said Mr. Jackson, but I lost them all by
letting them paddle with my nieces. It is so impossible to
remember what is proper." And sooner or later their talk


gravitated towards his central passion--the Fragments of
Sophocles. Some day ("never said Herbert) he would edit them.
At present they were merely in his blood. With the zeal of a
scholar and the imagination of a poet he reconstructed lost
dramas--Niobe, Phaedra, Philoctetes against Troy, whose names,
but for an accident, would have thrilled the world. Is it worth
it?" he cried. "Had we better be planting potatoes?" And then:
We had; but this is the second best.

Agnes did not approve of these colloquies. Mr. Jackson was not a
buffoonbut he behaved like onewhich is what matters; and from
the Winter Garden she could see people laughing at himand at
her husbandwho got excited too. She hinted once or twicebut
no notice was takenand at last she said rather sharplyNow,
you're not to, Rickie. I won't have it.

He's a type that suits me. He knows people I know, or would like
to have known. He was a friend of Tony Failing's. It is so hard
to realize that a man connected with one was great. Uncle Tony
seems to have been. He loved poetry and music and pictures, and
everything tempted him to live in a kind of cultured paradise,
with the door shut upon squalor. But to have more decent people
in the world--he sacrificed everything to that. He would have
'smashed the whole beauty-shop' if it would help him. I really
couldn't go as far as that. I don't think one need go as far-pictures
might have to be smashed, but not music or poetry;
surely they help--and Jackson doesn't think so either.

Well, I won't have it, and that's enough.She laughedfor her
voice had a little been that of the professional scold. "You see
we must hang together. He's in the reactionary camp."

He doesn't know it. He doesn't know that he is in any camp at
all.

His wife is, which comes to the same.

Still, it's the holidays--He and Mr. Jackson had drifted apart
in the termchiefly owing to the affair of Varden. "We were to
have the holidays to ourselvesyou know." And following some
line of thoughthe continuedHe cheers one up. He does believe
in poetry. Smart, sentimental books do seem absolutely absurd to
him, and gods and fairies far nearer to reality. He tries to

express all modern life in the terms of Greek mythology, because
the Greeks looked very straight at things, and Demeter or
Aphrodite are thinner veils than 'The survival of the fittest',
or 'A marriage has been arranged,' and other draperies of modern
journalese.

And do you know what that means?

It means that poetry, not prose, lies at the core.

No. I can tell you what it means--balder-dash.

His mouth fell. She was sweeping away the cobwebs with a
vengeance. "I hope you're wrong he replied, for those are the
lines on which I've been writinghowever badlyfor the last two
years."

But you write stories, not poems.

He looked at his watch. "Lessons again. One never has a moment's


peace."

Poor Rickie. You shall have a real holiday in the summer.And
she called after him to sayRemember, dear, about Mr. Jackson.
Don't go talking so much to him.

Rather arbitrary. Her tone had been a little arbitrary of late.
But what did it matter? Mr. Jackson was not a friendand he must
risk the chance of offending Widdrington. After the lesson he
wrote to Ansellwhom he had not seen since Juneasking him to
come down to Ilfracombeif only for a day. On reading the letter
overits tone displeased him. It was quite pathetic: it sounded
like a cry from prison. "I can't send him such nonsense he
thought, and wrote again. But phrase it as he would the letter
always suggested that he was unhappy. What's wrong?" he
wondered. "I could write anything I wanted to him once." So he
scrawled "Come!" on a post-card. But even this seemed too
serious. The post-card followed the lettersand Agnes found them
all in the waste-paper basket.

Then she saidI've been thinking--oughtn't you to ask Mr.
Ansell over? A breath of sea air would do the poor thing good.

There was no difficulty now. He wrote at onceMy dear Stewart,
We both so much wish you could come over.But the invitation was
refused. A little uneasy he wrote againusing the dialect of
their past intimacy. The effect of this letter was not pathetic
but jauntyand he felt a keen regret as soon as it slipped into
the box. It was a relief to receive no reply.

He brooded a good deal over this painful yet intangible episode.
Was the pain all of his own creating? or had it been produced by
something external? And he got the answer that brooding always
gives--it was both. He was morbidand had been so since his
visit to Cadover--quicker to register discomfort than joy. But
none the lessAnsell was definitely brutaland Agnes definitely
jealous. Brutality he could understandalien as it was to
himself. Jealousyequally alienwas a harder matter. Let
husband and wife be as sun and moonor as moon and sun. Shall
they therefore not give greeting to the stars? He was willing to
grant that the love that inspired her might be higher than his
own. Yet did it not exclude them both from much that is gracious?
That dream of his when he rode on the Wiltshire expanses--a
curious dream: the lark silentthe earth dissolving. And he
awoke from it into a valley full of men.

She was jealous in many ways--sometimes in an open humorous
fashionsometimes more subtlynever content till "we" had
extended our patronageandif possibleour pity. She began to
patronize and pity Anselland most sincerely trusted that he
would get his fellowship. Otherwise what was the poor fellow to
do? Ridiculous as it may seemshe was even jealous of Nature.
One day her husband escaped from Ilfracombe to Morthoeand came
back ecstatic over its fangs of slatepiercing an oily sea.
Sounds like an hippopotamus,she said peevishly. And when they
returned to Sawston through the Virgilian countiesshe disliked
him looking out of the windowsfor all the world as if Nature
was some dangerous woman.

He resumed his duties with a feeling that he had never left
them. Again he confronted the assembled house. This term was
again the term; school still the world in miniature. The music of
the four-part fugue entered into him more deeplyand he began to
hum its little phrases. The same routinethe same diplomacies


the same old sense of only half knowing boys or men--he returned
to it all: and all that changed was the cloud of unrealitywhich
ever brooded a little more densely than before. He spoke to his
wife about thishe spoke to her about everythingand she was
alarmedand wanted him to see a doctor. But he explained that it
was nothing of any practical importancenothing that interfered
with his work or his appetitenothing more than a feeling that
the cow was not really there. She laughedand "how is the cow
today?" soon passed into a domestic joke.

Ansell was in his favourite haunt--the reading-room of the British Museum.
In that book-encircled space he always could find peace. He loved
to see the volumes rising tier above tier into the misty dome. He loved
the chairs that glide so noiselesslyand the radiating desksand the central
areawhere the catalogue shelves curveround the superintendent's throne.
There he knew that his life was not ignoble. It was worth while to grow old
and dusty seeking for truth though truth is unattainablerestating questions
that have been stated at the beginning of the world. Failure would await him
but not disillusionment. It was worth while reading booksand writing a book
or two which few would readand no oneperhapsendorse. He was not a hero
and he knew it. His father and sisterby their steady goodnesshad
made this life possible. Butall the sameit was not the life
of a spoilt child.

In the next chair to him sat Widdringtonengaged in his
historical research. His desk was edged with enormous volumes
and every few moments an assistant brought him more. They rose
like a wall against Ansell. Towards the end of the morning a gap
was madeand through it they held the following conversation.

I've been stopping with my cousin at Sawston.

M'm.

It was quite exciting. The air rang with battle. About
two-thirds of the masters have lost their heads, and are trying
to produce a gimcrack copy of Eton. Last term, you know, with a
great deal of puffing and blowing, they fixed the numbers of the
school. This term they want to create a new boarding-house.

They are very welcome.

But the more boarding-houses they create, the less room they
leave for day-boys. The local mothers are frantic, and so is my
queer cousin. I never knew him so excited over sub-Hellenic
things. There was an indignation meeting at his house. He is
supposed to look after the day-boys' interests, but no one
thought he would--least of all the people who gave him the post.
The speeches were most eloquent. They argued that the school was
founded for day-boys, and that it's intolerable to handicap them.
One poor lady cried, 'Here's my Harold in the school, and my
Toddie coming on. As likely as not I shall be told there is no
vacancy for him. Then what am I to do? If I go, what's to become
of Harold; and if I stop, what's to become of Toddie?' I must say
I was touched. Family life is more real than national life--at
least I've ordered all these books to prove it is--and I fancy
that the bust of Euripides agreed with me, and was sorry for the
hot-faced mothers. Jackson will do what he can. He didn't quite
like to state the naked truth-which is, that boardinghouses pay.
He explained it to me afterwards: they are the only, future open


to a stupid master. It's easy enough to be a beak when you're
young and athletic, and can offer the latest University
smattering. The difficulty is to keep your place when you get old
and stiff, and younger smatterers are pushing up behind you.
Crawl into a boarding-house and you're safe. A master's life is
frightfully tragic. Jackson's fairly right himself, because he
has got a first-class intellect. But I met a poor brute who was
hired as an athlete. He has missed his shot at a boarding-house,
and there's nothing in the world for him to do but to trundle
down the hill.

Ansell yawned.

I saw Rickie too. Once I dined there.

Another yawn.

My cousin thinks Mrs. Elliot one of the most horrible women he
has ever seen. He calls her 'Medusa in Arcady.' She's so
pleasant, too. But certainly it was a very stony meal.

What kind of stoniness

No one stopped talking for a moment.

That's the real kind,said Ansell moodily. "The only kind."

Well, I,he continuedam inclined to compare her to an
electric light. Click! she's on. Click! she's off. No waste. No
flicker.

I wish she'd fuse.

She'll never fuse--unless anything was to happen at the main.

What do you mean by the main?said Ansellwho always pursued a
metaphor relentlessly.

Widdrington did not know what he meantand suggested that Ansell
should visit Sawston to see whether one could know.

It is no good me going. I should not find Mrs. Elliot: she has
no real existence.

Rickie has.

I very much doubt it. I had two letters from Ilfracombe last
April, and I very much doubt that the man who wrote them can
exist.Bending downwards he began to adorn the manuscript of his
dissertation with a squareand inside that a circleand inside
that another square. It was his second dissertation: the first
had failed.

I think he exists: he is so unhappy.

Ansell nodded. "How did you know he was unhappy?"

Because he was always talking.After a pause he addedWhat
clever young men we are!

Aren't we? I expect we shall get asked in marriage soon. I say,
Widdrington, shall we--?

Accept? Of course. It is not young manly to say no.


I meant shall we ever do a more tremendous thing,--fuse Mrs.
Elliot.

No,said Widdrington promptly. "We shall never do that in all
our lives." He addedI think you might go down to Sawston,
though.

I have already refused or ignored three invitations.

So I gathered.

What's the good of it?said Ansell through his teeth. "1 will
not put up with little things. I would rather be rude than to
listen to twaddle from a man I've known.

You might go down to Sawston, just for a night, to see him.

I saw him last month--at least, so Tilliard informs me. He says
that we all three lunched together, that Rickie paid, and that
the conversation was most interesting.

Well, I contend that he does exist, and that if you go--oh, I
can't be clever any longer. You really must go, man. I'm certain
he's miserable and lonely. Dunwood House reeks of commerce and
snobbery and all the things he hated most. He doesn't do
anything. He doesn't make any friends. He is so odd, too. In this
day-boy row that has just started he's gone for my cousin. Would
you believe it? Quite spitefully. It made quite a difficulty when
I wanted to dine. It isn't like him either the sentiments or the
behaviour. I'm sure he's not himself. Pembroke used to look after
the day-boys, and so he can't very well take the lead against
them, and perhaps Rickie's doing his dirty work--and has overdone
it, as decent people generally do. He's even altering to talk to.
Yet he's not been married a year. Pembroke and that wife simply
run him. I don't see why they should, and no more do you; and
that's why I want you to go to Sawston, if only for one night.

Ansell shook his headand looked up at the dome as other men
look at the sky. In it the great arc lamps sputtered and flared
for the month was again November. Then he lowered his eyes from
the cold violet radiance to the books.

No, Widdrington; no. We don't go to see people because they are
happy or unhappy. We go when we can talk to them. I cannot talk
to Rickie, therefore I will not waste my time at Sawston.

I think you're right,said Widdrington softly. "But we are
bloodless brutes. I wonder whether-If we were different
people--something might be done to save him. That is the curse of
being a little intellectual. You and our sort have always seen
too clearly. We stand aside--and meanwhile he turns into stone.
Two philosophic youths repining in the British Museum! What have
we done? What shall we ever do? Just drift and criticizewhile
people who know what they want snatch it away from us and laugh."

Perhaps you are that sort. I'm not. When the moment comes I
shall hit out like any ploughboy. Don't believe those lies about
intellectual people. They're only written to soothe the majority.
Do you suppose, with the world as it is, that it's an easy matter
to keep quiet? Do you suppose that I didn't want to rescue him
from that ghastly woman? Action! Nothing's easier than action; as
fools testify. But I want to act rightly.


The superintendent is looking at us. I must get back to my
work.

You think this all nonsense,said Anselldetaining him.
Please remember that if I do act, you are bound to help me.

Widdrington looked a little grave. He was no anarchist. A few
plaintive cries against Mrs. Elliot were all that he prepared to
emit.

There's no mystery,continued Ansell. "I haven't the shadow of
a plan in my head. I know not only Rickie but the whole of his
history: you remember the day near Madingley. Nothing in either
helps me: I'm just watching."

But what for?

For the Spirit of Life.

Widdrington was surprised. It was a phrase unknown to their
philosophy. They had trespassed into poetry.

You can't fight Medusa with anything else. If you ask me what
the Spirit of Life is, or to what it is attached, I can't tell
you. I only tell you, watch for it. Myself I've found it in
books. Some people find it out of doors or in each other. Never
mind. It's the same spirit, and I trust myself to know it
anywhere, and to use it rightly.

But at this point the superintendent sent a message.

Widdrington then suggested a stroll in the galleries. It was
foggy: they needed fresh air. He loved and admired his friend
but today he could not grasp him. The world as Ansell saw it
seemed such a fantastic placegoverned by brand-new laws. What
more could one do than to see Rickie as often as possibleto
invite his confidenceto offer him spiritual support? And Mrs.
Elliot--what power could "fuse" a respectable woman?

Ansell consented to the strollbutas usualonly breathed
depression. The comfort of books deserted him among those marble
goddesses and gods. The eye of an artist finds pleasure in
texture and poisebut he could only think of the vanished
incense and deserted temples beside an unfurrowed sea.

Let us go,he said. "I do not like carved stones."

You are too particular,said Widdrington. "You are always
expecting to meet living people. One never does. I am content
with the Parthenon frieze." And he moved along a few yards of it
while Ansell followedconscious only of its pathos.

There's Tilliard,he observed. "Shall we kill him?"

Please,said Widdringtonand as he spoke Tilliard joined them.
He brought them news. That morning he had heard from Rickie: Mrs.
Elliot was expecting a child.

A child?said Ansellsuddenly bewildered.

Oh, I forgot,interposed Widdrington. "My cousin did tell me."

You forgot! Well, after all, I forgot that it might be, We are
indeed young men.He leant against the pedestal of Ilissus and


remembered their talk about the Spirit of Life. In his ignorance
of what a child means he wondered whether the opportunity he
sought lay here.

I am very glad,said Tilliardnot without intention. "A child
will draw them even closer together. I like to see young people
wrapped up in their child."

I suppose I must be getting back to my dissertation,said
Ansell. He left the Parthenon to pass by the monuments of our
more reticent beliefs--the temple of the Ephesian Artemisthe
statue of the Cnidian Demeter. Honesthe knew that here were
powers he could not cope withnoras yetunderstand.

The mists that had gathered round Rickie seemed to be breaking.
He had found light neither in work for which he was unfitted nor
in a woman who had ceased to respect himand whom he was ceasing
to love. Though he called himself fickle and took all the blame
of their marriage on his own shouldersthere remained in Agnes
certain terrible faults of heart and headand no self-reproach
would diminish them. The glamour of wedlock had faded; indeedhe
saw now that it had faded even before wedlockand that during
the final months he had shut his eyes and pretended it was still
there. But now the mists were breaking.

That November the supreme event approached. He saw it with
Nature's eyes. It dawned on himas on Ansellthat personal
love and marriage only cover one side of the shieldand that on
the other is graven the epic of birth. In the midst of lessons he
would grow dreamyas one who spies a new symbol for the
universea fresh circle within the square. Within the square
shall be a circlewithin the circle another squareuntil the
visual eye is baffled. Here is meaning of a kind. His mother had
forgotten herself in him. He would forget himself in his son.

He was at his duties when the news arrived--taking preparation.
Boys are marvellous creatures. Perhaps they will sink below the
brutes; perhaps they will attain to a woman's tenderness. Though
they despised Rickieand had suffered under Agnes's meanness
their one thought this term was to be gentle and to give no
trouble.

Rickie--one moment--

His face grew ashen. He followed Herbert into the passage
closing the door of the preparation room behind him. "Ohis she
safe?" he whispered.

Yes, yes,said Herbert; but there sounded in his answer a
sombre hostile note.

Our boy?

Girl--a girl, dear Rickie; a little daughter. She--she is in many
ways a healthy child. She will live--oh yes.A flash of horror
passed over his face. He hurried into the preparation room
lifted the lid of his deskglanced mechanically at the boysand
came out again.

Mrs. Lewin appeared through the door that led into their own part
of the house.


Both going on well!she cried; but her voice also was grave
exasperated.

What is it?he gasped. "It's something you daren't tell me."

Only this--stuttered Herbert. You mustn't mind when you see-she's
lame."

Mrs. Lewin disappeared. "Lame! but not as lame as I am?"

Oh, my dear boy, worse. Don't--oh, be a man in this. Come away
from the preparation room. Remember she'll live--in many ways
healthy--only just this one defect.

The horror of that week never passed away from him. To the end of
his life he remembered the excuses--the consolations that the
child would live; suffered very littleif at all; would walk
with crutches; would certainly live. God was more merciful. A
window was opened too wide on a draughty day--after a short
painless illness his daughter died. But the lesson he had learnt
so glibly at Cambridge should be heeded now; no child should ever
be born to him again.

That same term there took place at Dunwood House another event.
With their private tragedy it seemed to have no connection; but
in time Rickie perceived it as a bitter comment. Its developments
were unforeseen and lasting. It was perhaps the most terrible
thing he had to bear.

Varden had now been a boarder for ten months. His health had
broken in the previous term--partlyit is to be fearedas the
result of the indifferent food--and during the summer holidays he
was attacked by a series of agonizing earaches. His mothera
feeble personwished to keep him at homebut Herbert dissuaded
her. Soon after the death of the child there arose at Dunwood
House one of those waves of hostility of which no boy knows the
origin nor any master can calculate the course. Varden had never
been popular--there was no reason why he should be--but he had
never been seriously bullied hitherto. One evening nearly the
whole house set on him. The prefects absented themselvesthe
bigger boys stood round and the lesser boysto whom power was
delegatedflung him downand rubbed his face under the desks
and wrenched at his ears. The noise penetrated the baize doors
and Herbert swept through and punished the whole houseincluding
Vardenwhom it would not do to leave out. The poor man was
horrified. He approved of a little healthy roughnessbut this
was pure brutalization. What had come over his boys? Were they
not gentlemen's sons? He would not admit that if you herd together
human beings before they can understand each other the
great god Pan is angryand will in the end evade your
regulations and drive them mad. That night the victim was
screaming with painand the doctor next day spoke of an
operation. The suspense lasted a whole week. Comment was made in
the local papersand the reputation not only of the house but of
the school was imperilled. "If only I had known repeated
Herbert--if only I had known I would have arranged it all
differently. He should have had a cubicle." The boy did not die
but he left Sawstonnever to return.


The day before his departure Rickie sat with him some timeand
tried to talk in a way that was not pedantic. In his own sorrow
which he could share with no oneleast of all with his wifehe
was still alive to the sorrows of others. He still fought against
apathythough he was losing the battle.

Don't lose heart,he told him. "The world isn't all going to be
like this. There are temptations and trialsof coursebut
nothing at all of the kind you have had here."

But school is the world in miniature, is it not, sir?asked the
boyhoping to please one master by echoing what had been told
him by another. He was always on the lookout for sympathy--: it
was one of the things that had contributed to his downfall.

I never noticed that myself. I was unhappy at school, and in the
world people can be very happy.

Varden sighed and rolled about his eyes. "Are the fellows sorry
for what they did to me?" he asked in an affected voice. "I am
sure I forgive them from the bottom of my heart. We ought to
forgive our enemiesoughtn't wesir?"

But they aren't your enemies. If you meet in five years' time
you may find each other splendid fellows.

The boy would not admit this. He had been reading some
revivalistic literature. "We ought to forgive our enemies he
repeated; and however wicked they arewe ought not to wish them
evil. When I was illand death seemed nearestI had many kind
letters on this subject."

Rickie knew about these "many kind letters." Varden had induced
the silly nurse to write to people--people of all sortspeople
that he scarcely knew or did not know at all--detailing his
misfortuneand asking for spiritual aid and sympathy.

I am sorry for them,he pursued. "I would not like to be like
them."

Rickie sighed. He saw that a year at Dunwood House had produced a
sanctimonious prig. "Don't think about themVarden. Think about
anything beautiful--saymusic. You like music. Be happy. It's
your duty. You can't be good until you've had a little happiness.
Then perhaps you will think less about forgiving people and more
about loving them."

I love them already, sir.And Rickiein desperationasked if
he might look at the many kind letters.

Permission was gladly given. A neat bundle was producedand for
about twenty minutes the master perused itwhile the invalid
kept watch on his face. Rooks cawed out in the playing-fields
and close under tile window there was the sound of delightful
good-tempered laughter. A boy is no devilwhatever boys may be.
The letters were chilly productionssomewhat clerical in tone
by whomsoever written. Vardenbecause he was ill at the time
had been taken seriously. The writers declared that his illness
was fulfilling some mysterious purpose: suffering engendered
spiritual growth: he was showing signs of this already. They
consented to pray for himsome majesticallyothers shyly. But
they all consented with one exceptionwho worded his refusal as
follows:-



Dear A.C. Varden-


I ought to say that I never remember seeing you. I am sorry that
you are illand hope you are wrong about it. Why did you not
write beforefor I could have helped you then? When they pulled
your earyou ought to have gone like this (here was a rough
sketch). I could not undertake prayingbut would think of you
insteadif that would do. I am twenty-two in Aprilbuilt rather
heavyordinary broad facewith eyesetc. I write all this
because you have mixed me with some one elsefor I am not
marriedand do not want to be. I cannot think of you alwaysbut
will promise a quarter of an hour daily (say 7.00-7.15 A.M.)and
might come to see you when you are better--that isif you are a
kidand you read like one. I have been otter-hunting-


Yours sincerely

Stephen Wonham

XXIII

Riekie went straight from Varden to his wifewho lay on the sofa
in her bedroom. There was now a wide gulf between them. Shelike
the world she had created for himwas unreal.

Agnes, darling,he beganstroking her handsuch an awkward
little thing has happened.

What is it, dear? Just wait till I've added up this hook.

She had got over the tragedy: she got over everything.

When she was at leisure he told her. Hitherto they had seldom
mentioned Stephen. He was classed among the unprofitable dead.

She was more sympathetic than he expected. "Dear Rickie she
murmured with averted eyes. How tiresome for you."

I wish that Varden had stopped with Mrs. Orr.

Well, he leaves us for good tomorrow.

Yes, yes. And I made him answer the letter and apologize. They
had never met. It was some confusion with a man in the Church
Army, living at a place called Codford. I asked the nurse. It is
all explained.

There the matter ends.

I suppose so--if matters ever end.

If, by ill-luck, the person does call. I will just see him and
say that the boy has gone.

You, or I. I have got over all nonsense by this time. He's
absolutely nothing to me now.He took up the tradesman's book
and played with it idly. On its crimson cover was stamped a
grotesque sheep. How stale and stupid their life had become!

Don't talk like that, though,she said uneasily. "Think how
disastrous it would be if you made a slip in speaking to him."


Would it? It would have been disastrous once. But I expect, as a
matter of fact, that Aunt Emily has made the slip already.

His wife was displeased. "You need not talk in that cynical way.
I credit Aunt Emily with better feeling. When I was there she did
mention the matterbut only once. Sheand Iand all who have
any sense of decencyknow better than to make slipsor to think
of making them."

Agnes kept up what she called "the family connection." She had
been once alone to Cadoverand also corresponded with Mrs.
Failing. She had never told Rickie anything about her visit nor
had he ever asked her. Butfrom this momentthe whole subject
was reopened.

Most certainly he knows nothing,she continued. "Whyhe does
not even realize that Varden lives in our house! We are perfectly
safe--unless Aunt Emily were to die. Perhaps then--but we are
perfectly safe for the present."

When she did mention the matter, what did she say?

We had a long talk,said Agnes quietly. "She told me nothing
new--nothing new about the pastI mean. But we had a long talk
about the present. I think" and her voice grew displeased again-"
that you have been both wrong and foolish in refusing to make up
your quarrel with Aunt Emily."

Wrong and wise, I should say.

It isn't to be expected that she--so much older and so
sensitive--can make the first step. But I know she'd he glad to
see you.

As far as I can remember that final scene in the garden, I
accused her of 'forgetting what other people were like.' She'll
never pardon me for saying that.

Agnes was silent. To her the phrase was meaningless. Yet Rickie
was correct: Mrs. Failing had resented it more than anything.

At all events,she suggestedyou might go and see her.

No, dear. Thank you, no.

She is, after all--She was going to say "your father's
sister but the expression was scarcely a happy one, and she
turned it into, She isafter allgrowing old and lonely."

So are we all!he criedwith a lapse of tone that was now
characteristic in him.

She oughtn't to be so isolated from her proper relatives.

There was a moment's silence. Still playing with the book, he
remarked, You forgetshe's got her favourite nephew."

A bright red flush spread over her cheeks. "What is the matter
with you this afternoon?" she asked. "I should think you'd better
go for a walk."

Before I go, tell me what is the matter with you.He also
flushed. "Why do you want me to make it up with my aunt?"


Because it's right and proper.

So? Or because she is old?

I don't understand,she retorted. But her eyes dropped. His
sudden suspicion was true: she was legacy hunting.

Agnes, dear Agnes,he began with passing tendernesshow can
you think of such things? You behave like a poor person. We don't
want any money from Aunt Emily, or from any one else. It isn't
virtue that makes me say it: we are not tempted in that way: we
have as much as we want already.

For the present,she answeredstill looking aside.

There isn't any future,he cried in a gust of despair.

Rickie, what do you mean?

What did he mean? He meant that the relations between them were
fixed--that there would never be an influx of interestnor even
of passion. To the end of life they would go on beating timeand
this was enough for her. She was content with the daily round
the common taskperformed indifferently. But he had dreamt of
another helpmateand of other things.

We don't want money--why, we don't even spend any on travelling.
I've invested all my salary and more. As far as human foresight
goes, we shall never want money.And his thoughts went out to
the tiny grave. "You spoke of 'right and proper' but the right
and proper thing for my aunt to do is to leave every penny she's
got to Stephen."

Her lip quiveredand for one moment he thought that she was
going to cry. "What am I to do with you?" she said. "You talk
like a person in poetry."

I'll put it in prose. He's lived with her for twenty years, and
he ought to be paid for it.

Poor Agnes! Indeedwhat was she to do? The first moment she set
foot in Cadover she had thoughtOh, here is money. We must try
and get it.Being a ladyshe never mentioned the thought to her
husbandbut she concluded that it would occur to him too. And
nowthough it had occurred to him at lasthe would not even
write his aunt a little note.

He was to try her yet further. While they argued this point he
flashed out withI ought to have told him that day when he
called up to our room. There's where I went wrong first.

Rickie!

In those days I was sentimental. I minded. For two pins I'd
write to him this afternoon. Why shouldn't he know he's my
brother? What's all this ridiculous mystery?

She became incoherent.

But WHY not? A reason why he shouldn't know.

A reason why he SHOULD know,she retorted. "I never heard such
rubbish! Give me a reason why he should know."


Because the lie we acted has ruined our lives.

She looked in bewilderment at the well-appointed room.

It's been like a poison we won't acknowledge. How many times
have you thought of my brother? I've thought of him every day-not
in love; don't misunderstand; only as a medicine I shirked.
Down in what they call the subconscious self he has been hurting
me.His voice broke. "Ohmy darlingwe acted a lie thenand
this letter reminds us of it and gives us one more chance. I have
to say 'we' lied. I should be lying again if I took quite all the
blame. Let us ask God's forgiveness together. Then let us write
as coldly as you pleaseto Stephenand tell him he is my
father's son."

Her reply need not be quoted. It was the last time he
attempted intimacy. And the remainder of their conversation
though long and stormyis also best forgotten.

Thus the first effect of Varden's letter was to make them
quarrel. They had not openly disagreed before. In the evening he
kissed her and saidHow absurd I was to get angry about things
that happened last year. I will certainly not write to the
person.She returned the kiss. But he knew that they had
destroyed the habit of reverenceand would quarrel again.
On his rounds he looked in at Varden and asked nonchalantly for
the letter. He carried it off to his room. It was unwise of him
for his nerves were already unstrungand the man he had tried to
bury was stirring ominously. In the silence he examined the
handwriting till he felt that a living creature was with him
whereas hebecause his child had diedwas dead. He perceived
more clearly the cruelty of Natureto whom our refinement and
piety are but as bubbleshurrying downwards on the turbid
waters. They breakand the stream continues. His fatheras a
final insulthad brought into the world a man unlike all the
rest of thema man dowered with coarse kindliness and rustic
strengtha kind of cynical ploughboyagainst whom their own
misery and weakness might stand more vividly relieved. "Born an
Elliot--born a gentleman." So the vile phrase ran. But here was
an Elliot whose badness was not even gentlemanly. For that
Stephen was bad inherently he never doubted for a moment and he
would have children: henot Rickiewould contribute to the
stream; hethrough his remote posteritymight mingled with the
unknown sea.

Thus musing he lay down to sleepfeeling diseased in body and
soul. It was no wonder that the night was the most terrible he
had ever known. He revisited Cambridgeand his name was a grey
ghost over the door. Then there recurred the voice of a gentle
shadowy womanMrs. AberdeenIt doesn't seem hardly right.
Those had been her wordsher only complaint against the
mysteries of change and death. She bowed her head and laboured to
make her "gentlemen" comfortable. She was labouring still. As he
lay in bed he asked God to grant him her wisdom; that he might
keep sorrow within due bounds; that he might abstain from extreme
hatred and envy of Stephen. It was seldom that he prayed so
definitelyor ventured to obtrude his private wishes. Religion
was to him a servicea mystic communion with good; not a means
of getting what he wanted on the earth. But tonightthrough
sufferinghe was humbledand became like Mrs. Aberdeen.
Hour after hour he awaited sleep and tried to endure the faces
that frothed in the gloom--his aunt'shis father'sandworst
of allthe triumphant face of his brother. Once he struck at it
and awokehaving hurt his hand on the wall. Then he prayed


hysterically for pardon and rest.

Yet again did he awakeand from a more mysterious dream. He
heard his mother crying. She was crying quite distinctly in the
darkened room. He whisperedNever mind, my darling, never
mind,and a voice echoedNever mind--come away--let them die
out--let them die out.He lit a candleand the room was
empty. Thenhurrying to the windowhe saw above mean houses the
frosty glories of Orion.

Henceforward he deteriorates. Let those who censure him suggest
what he should do. He has lost the work that he lovedhis
friendsand his child. He remained conscientious and decentbut
the spiritual part of him proceeded towards ruin.

The coming monthsthough full of degradation and anxietywere
to bring him nothing so terrible as that night. It was the crisis
of this agony. He was an outcast and a failure. But he was not
again forced to contemplate these facts so clearly. Varden left
in the morningcarrying the fatal letter with him. The whole
house was relieved. The good angel was with the boys againor
else (as Herbert preferred to think) they had learnt a lesson
and were more humane in consequence. At all eventsthe
disastrous term concluded quietly.

In the Christmas holidays the two masters made an abortive
attempt to visit Italyand at Easter there was talk of a cruise
in the Aegean. Herbert actually wentand enjoyed Athens and
Delphi. The Elliots paid a few visits together in England. They
returned to Sawston about ten days before school openedto find
that Widdrington was again stopping with the Jacksons.
Intercourse was painfulfor the two families were scarcely on
speaking terms; nor did the triumphant scaffoldings of the new
boarding-house make things easier. (The party of progress had
carried the day.) Widdrington was by nature touchybut on this
occasion he refused to take offenceand often dropped in to see
them. His manner was friendly but critical. They agreed he was a
nuisance. Then Agnes leftvery abruptlyto see Mrs. Failing
and while she was away Rickie had a little stealthy intercourse.

Her absenceconvenient as it waspuzzled him. Mrs. Silthalf
goosehalf stormy-petrelhad recently paid a flying visit to
Cadoverand thence had flownwithout an invitationto Sawston.
Generally she was not a welcome guest. On this occasion Agnes had
welcomed herand--so Rickie thought--had made her promise not to
tell him something that she knew. The ladies had talked
mysteriously. "Mr. Silt would be one with you there said Mrs.
Silt. Could there be any connection between the two visits?

Agnes's letters told him nothing: they never did. She was too
clumsy or too cautious to express herself on paper. A drive to
Stonehenge; an anthem in the Cathedral; Aunt Emily's love. And
when he met her at Waterloo he learnt nothing (if there was
anything to learn) from her face.

How did you enjoy yourself?"

Thoroughly.

Were you and she alone?


Sometimes. Sometimes other people.

Will Uncle Tony's Essays be published?

Here she was more communicative. The book was at last in proof.
Aunt Emily had written a charming introduction; but she was so
idleshe never finished things off.

They got into an omnibus for the Army and Navy Stores: she wanted
to do some shopping before going down to Sawston.

Did you read any of the Essays?

Every one. Delightful. Couldn't put them down. Now and then he
spoilt them by statistics--but you should read his descriptions
of Nature. He agrees with you: says the hills and trees are
alive! Aunt Emily called you his spiritual heir, which I thought
nice of her. We both so lamented that you have stopped writing.
She quoted fragments of the Essays as they went up in the Stores'
lift.

What else did you talk about?

I've told you all my news. Now for yours. Let's have tea first.

They sat down in the corridor amid ladies in every stage of
fatigue--haggard ladiesscarlet ladiesladies with parcels that
twisted from every finger like joints of meat. Gentlemen were
scarcerbut all were of the sub-fashionable typeto which
Rickie himself now belonged.

I haven't done anything,he said feebly. "Atereadbeen rude
to tradespeopletalked to Widdrington. Herbert arrived this
morning. He has brought a most beautiful photograph of the
Parthenon."

Mr. Widdrington?

Yes.

What did you talk about?

She might have heard every word. It was only the feeling of
pleasure that he wished to conceal. Even when we love peoplewe
desire to keep some corner secret from themhowever small: it is
a human right: it is personality. She began to cross-question
himbut they were interrupted. A young lady at an adjacent table
suddenly rose and criedYes, it is you. I thought so from your
walk.It was Maud Ansell.

Oh, do come and join us!he cried. "Let me introduce my wife."
Maud bowed quite stifflybut Agnestaking it for ill-breeding
was not offended.

Then I will come!she continued in shrillpleasant tones
adroitly poising her tea things on either handand transferring
them to the Elliots' table. "Why haven't you ever come to us
pray?"

I think you didn't ask me!

You weren't to be asked.She sprawled forward with a wagging
finger. But her eyes had the honesty of her brother's. "Don't you


remember the day you left us? Father said'NowMr. Elliot--' Or
did he call you 'Elliot'? How one does forget. Anyhowfather
said you weren't to wait for an invitationand you said
'NoI won't.' Ours is a fair-sized house--she turned somewhat
haughtily to Agnes,--and the second spare roomon account of a
harp that hangs on the wallis always reserved for Stewart's
friends."


How is Mr. Ansell, your brother?
Maud's face fell. "Hadn't you heard?" she said in awe-struck
tones.


No.


He hasn't got his fellowship. It's the second time he's failed.
That means he will never get one. He will never be a don, nor
live in Cambridge and that, as we had hoped.


Oh, poor, poor fellow!said Mrs. Elliot with a remorse that was
sincerethough her congratulations would not have been. "I am so
very sorry."


But Maud turned to Rickie. "Mr. Elliotyou might know. Tell me.
What is wrong with Stewart's philosophy? What ought he to put in
or to alterso as to succeed?"


Agneswho knew better than thissmiled.


I don't know,said Rickie sadly. They were none of them so
cleverafter all.


Hegel,she continued vindictively. "They say he's read too much
Hegel. But they never tell him what to read instead. Their own
stuffy booksI suppose. Look here--nothat's the 'Windsor.'"
After a little groping she produced a copy of "Mind and handed
it round as if it was a geological specimen. Inside that there's
a paragraph written about something Stewart's written about
beforeand there it says he's read too much Hegeland it seems
now that that's been the trouble all along." Her voice trembled.
I call it most unfair, and the fellowship's gone to a man who
has counted the petals on an anemone.


Rickie had no inclination to smile.


I wish Stewart had tried Oxford instead.


I don't wish it!


You say that,she continued hotlyand then you never come to
see him, though you knew you were not to wait for an invitation.


If it comes to that, Miss Ansell,retorted Rickiein the
laughing tones that one adopts on such occasionsStewart won't
come to me, though he has had an invitation.


Yes,chimed in Agneswe ask Mr. Ansell again and again, and
he will have none of us.


Maud looked at her with a flashing eye. "My brother is a very
peculiar personand we ladies can't understand him. But I know
one thingand that's that he has a reason all round for what he
does. Look hereI must be getting on. Waiter! Wai-ai-aiter!
Billplease. Separatelyof course. Call the Army and Navy



cheap! I know better!"

How does the drapery department compare?said Agnes sweetly.

The girl gave a sharp choking soundgathered up her parcelsand
left them. Rickie was too much disgusted with his wife to speak.

Appalling person!she gasped. "It was naughty of mebut I
couldn't help it. What a dreadful fate for a clever man! To fail
in life completelyand then to be thrown back on a family like
that!"

Maud is a snob and a Philistine. But, in her case, something
emerges.

She glanced at himbut proceeded in her suavest tonesDo let
us make one great united attempt to get Mr. Ansell to Sawston.

No.

What a changeable friend you are! When we were engaged you were
always talking about him.

Would you finish your tea, and then we will buy the linoleum for
the cubicles.

But she returned to the subject againnot only on that day but
throughout the term. Could nothing be done for poor Mr. Ansell?
It seemed that she could not rest until all that he had once held
dear was humiliated. In this she strayed outside her nature: she
was unpractica1. And those who stray outside their nature invite
disaster. Rickiegoaded by herwrote to his friend again. The
letter was in all ways unlike his old self. Ansell did not answer
it. But he did write to Mr. Jacksonwith whom he was not
acquainted.

Dear Mr. Jackson,-


I understand from Widdrington that you have a large house. I
would like to tell you how convenient it would be for me to come
and stop in it. June suits me best.-


Yours truly,

Stewart Ansell

To which Mr. Jackson replied that not only in June but during the
whole year his house was at the disposal of Mr. Ansell and of any
one who resembled him.

But Agnes continued her life, cheerfully beating time. She, too,
knew that her marriage was a failure, and in her spare moments
regretted it. She wished that her husband was handsomer, more
successful, more dictatorial. But she would think, Nono; one
mustn't grumble. It can't be helped." Ansell was wrong in supposing
she might ever leave Rickie. Spiritual apathy prevented
her. Nor would she ever be tempted by a jollier man. Here
criticism would willingly alter its tone. For Agnes also has her
tragedy. She belonged to the type--not necessarily an elevated
one--that loves once and once only. Her love for Gerald had not
been a noble passion: no imagination transfigured it. But such as
it wasit sprang to embrace himand he carried it away with him
when he died. Les amours gui suivrent sont moins involuntaires:


by an effort of the will she had warmed herself for Rickie.

She is not conscious of her tragedyand therefore only the gods
need weep at it. But it is fair to remember that hitherto she
moves as one from whom the inner life has been withdrawn.

I am afraid,said Agnesunfolding a letter that she had
received in the morningthat things go far from satisfactorily
at Cadover.

The three were alone at supper. It was the June of Rickie's
second year at Sawston.

Indeed?said Herbertwho took a friendly interest. "In what
way?

Do you remember us talking of Stephen--Stephen Wonham, who by an
odd coincidence--

Yes. Who wrote last year to that miserable failure Varden. I
do.

It is about him.

I did not like the tone of his letter.

Agnes had made her first move. She waited for her husband to
reply to it. But hethough full of a painful curiositywould
not speak. She moved again.

I don't think, Herbert, that Aunt Emily, much as I like her, is
the kind of person to bring a young man up. At all events the
results have been disastrous this time.

What has happened?

A tangle of things.She lowered her voice. "Drink."

Dear! Really! Was Mrs. Failing fond of him?

She used to be. She let him live at Cadover ever since he was a
little boy. Naturally that cannot continue.

Rickie never spoke.

And now he has taken to be violent and rude,she went on.

In short, a beggar on horseback. Who is he? Has he got
relatives?

She has always been both father and mother to him. Now it must
all come to an end. I blame her--and she blames herself--for not
being severe enough. He has grown up without fixed principles. He
has always followed his inclinations, and one knows the result of
that

Herbert assented. "To me Mrs. Failing's course is perfectly
plain. She has a certain responsibility. She must pay the youth's
passage to one of the coloniesstart him handsomely in some
businessand then break off all communications."


How funny! It is exactly what she is going to do.


I shall then consider that she has behaved in a thoroughly
honourable manner.He held out his plate for gooseberries. "His
letter to Varden was neither helpful nor sympatheticandif
written at allit ought to have been both. I am not in the least
surprised to learn that he has turned out badly. When you write
nextwould you tell her how sorry I am?"


Indeed I will. Two years ago, when she was already a little
anxious, she did so wish you could undertake him.


I could not alter a grown man." But in his heart he thought he
couldand smiled at his sister amiably. "Terribleisn't it?" he
remarked to Rickie. Rickiewho was trying not to mind anything
assented. And an onlooker would have supposed them a
dispassionate triowho were sorry both for Mrs. Failing and for
the beggar who would bestride her horses' backs no longer. A new
topic was introduced by the arrival of the evening post


Herbert took up all the lettersas he often did.


Jackson?he exclaimed. "What does the fellow want?" He read
and his tone was mollified'Dear Mr. Pembroke,--Could you, Mrs.
Elliot, and Mr. Elliot come to supper with us on Saturday next? I
should not merely be pleased, I should be grateful. My wife is
writing formally to Mrs. Elliot'--(Here, Agnes, take your
letter),--but I venture to write as well, and to add my more
uncouth entreaties.'--An olive-branch. It is time! But
(ridiculous person!) does he think that we can leave the House
deserted and all go out pleasuring in term time?--Rickie, a
letter for you.


Mine's the formal invitation,said Agnes. "How very odd! Mr.
Ansell will be there. Surely we asked him here! Did you know he
knew the Jacksons?"


This makes refusal very difficult,said Herbertwho was
anxious to accept. "At all eventsRickie ought to go."


I do not want to go,said Rickieslowly opening his own
letter. "As Agnes saysAnsell has refused to come to us. I
cannot put myself out for him."


Who's yours from?she demanded.


Mrs. Silt,replied Herbertwho had seen the handwriting.
I trust she does not want to pay us a visit this term, with the
examinations impending and all the machinery at full pressure.
Though, Rickie, you will have to accept the Jacksons'
invitation.


I cannot possibly go. I have been too rude; with Widdrington we
always meet here. I'll stop with the boys--His voice caught
suddenly. He had opened Mrs. Silt's letter.


The Silts are not ill, I hope?


No. But, I say,--he looked at his wife--"I do think this is
going too far. ReallyAgnes."


What has happened?



It is going too far,he repeated. He was nerving himself for
another battle. "I cannot stand this sort of thing. There are
limits."

He laid the letter down. It was Herbert who picked it upand
read: "Aunt Emily has just written to us. We are so glad that her
troubles are overin spite of the expense. It never does to live
apart from one's own relatives so much as she has done up to now.
He goes next Saturday to Canada. What you told her about him just
turned the scale. She has asked us--"

No, it's too much,he interrupted. "What I told her--told her
about him--noI will have it out at last. Agnes!"

Yes?said his wiferaising her eyes from Mrs. Jackson's formal
invitation.

It's you--it's you. I never mentioned him to her. Why, I've
never seen her or written to her since. I accuse you.

Then Herbert overbore himand he collapsed. He was asked what he
meant. Why was he so excited? Of what did he accuse his wife.
Each time he spoke more feeblyand before long the brother and
sister were laughing at him. He felt bewilderedlike a boy who
knows that he is right but cannot put his case correctly. He
repeatedI've never mentioned him to her. It's a libel. Never
in my life.And they criedMy dear Rickie, what an absurd
fuss!Then his brain cleared. His eye fell on the letter that
his wife had received from his auntand he reopened the battle.

Agnes, give me that letter, if you please.

Mrs. Jackson's?

My aunt's.

She put her hand on itand looked at him doubtfully. She saw
that she had failed to bully him.

My aunt's letter,he repeatedrising to his feet and bending
over the table towards her.

Why, dear?

Yes, why indeed?echoed Herbert. He too had bullied Rickiebut
from a purer motive: he had tried to stamp out a dissension
between husband and wife. It was not the first time he had
intervened.

The letter. For this reason: it will show me what you have done.
I believe you have ruined Stephen. you have worked at it for two
years. You have put words into my mouth to 'turn the scale'
against him. He goes to Canada--and all the world thinks it is
owing to me. As I said before--I advise you to stop smiling--you
have gone a little too far.

They were all on their feet nowstanding round the little table.
Agnes said nothingbut the fingers of her delicate hand
tightened upon the letter. When her husband snatched at it she
resistedand with the effect of a harlequinade everything went
on the floor--lambmint saucegooseberrieslemonadewhisky.
At once they were swamped in domesticities. She rang the bell for
the servantcries arosedusters were broughtbroken crockery
(a wedding present) picked up from the carpet; while he stood


wrathfully at the windowregarding the obscured sun's decline.

I MUST see her letter,he repeatedwhen the agitation was
over. He was too angry to be diverted from his purpose. Only
slight emotions are thwarted by an interlude of farce.

I've had enough of this quarrelling,she retorted. "You know
that the Silts are inaccurate. I think you might have given me
the benefit of the doubt. If you will know--have you forgotten
that ride you took with him.?"

I--he was again bewildered. "The ride where I dreamt--"

The ride where you turned back because you could not listen to a
disgraceful poem?

I don't understand.

The poem was Aunt Emily. He read it to you and a stray soldier.
Afterwards you told me. You said, 'Really it is shocking, his
ingratitude. She ought to know about it' She does know, and I
should be glad of an apology.

He had said something of the sort in a fit of irritation. Mrs.
Silt was right--he had helped to turn the scale.

Whatever I said, you knew what I meant. You knew I'd sooner cut
my tongue out than have it used against him. Even then.He
sighed. Had he ruined his brother? A curious tenderness came over
himand passed when he remembered his own dead child. "We have
ruined himthen. Have you any objection to 'we'? We have
disinherited him."

I decide against you,interposed Herbert. "I have now heard
both sides of this deplorable affair. You are talking most
criminal nonsense. 'Disinherit!' Sentimental twaddle. It's been
clear to me from the first that Mrs. Failing has been imposed
upon by the Wonham mana person with no legal claim on herand
any one who exposes him performs a public duty--"

--And gets money.

Money?He was always uneasy at the word. "Who mentioned money?"

Just understand me, Herbert, and of what it is that I accuse my
wife.Tears came into his eyes. "It is not that I like the
Wonham manor think that he isn't a drunkard and worse. He's too
awful in every way. But he ought to have my aunt's moneybecause
he's lived all his life with herand is her nephew as much as I
am. You seemy father went wrong." He stoppedamazed at
himself. How easy it had been to say! He was withering up: the
power to care about this stupid secret had died.

When Herbert understoodhis first thought was for Dunwood House.

Why have I never been told?was his first remark.

We settled to tell no one,said Agnes. "Rickiein his anxiety
to prove me a liarhas broken his promise."

I ought to have been told,said Herberthis anger increasing.
Had I known, I could have averted this deplorable scene.

Let me conclude it,said Rickieagain collapsing and leaving


the dining-room. His impulse was to go straight to Cadover and
make a business-like statement of the position to Stephen. Then
the man would be armedand perhaps fight the two women
successfullyBut he resisted the impulse. Why should he help one
power of evil against another? Let them go intertwined to
destruction. To enrich his brother would be as bad as enriching
himself. If their aunt's money ever did come to himhe would
refuse to accept it. That was the easiest and most dignified
course. He troubled himself no longer with justice or pityand
the next day he asked his wife's pardon for his behaviour.

In the dining-room the conversation continued. Agneswithout
much difficultygained her brother as an ally. She acknowledged
that she had been wrong in not telling himand he then declared
that she had been right on every other point. She slurred a
little over the incident of her treacheryfor Herbert was
sometimes clearsighted over detailsthough easily muddled in a
general survey. Mrs. Failing had had plenty of direct causes of
complaintand she dwelt on these. She dealttooon the very
handsome way in which the young manthough he knew nothing, had
never asked to know,was being treated by his aunt.

'Handsome' is the word,said Herbert. "I hope not indulgently.
He does not deserve indulgence."

And she knew that helike herselfcould remember moneyand
that it lent an acknowledged halo to her cause.

It is not a savoury subject,he continuedwith sudden
stiffness. "I understand why Rickie is so hysterical.
My impulse"--he laid his hand on her shoulder--"is to abandon it
at once. But if I am to be of any use to youI must hear it all.
There are moments when we must look facts in the face."

She did not shrink from the subject as much as he thoughtas
much as she herself could have wished. Two years beforeit had
filled her with a physical loathing. But by now she had
accustomed herself to it.

I am afraid, Bertie boy, there is nothing else to bear, I have
tried to find out again and again, but Aunt Emily will not tell
me. I suppose it is natural. She wants to shield the Elliot name.
She only told us in a fit of temper; then we all agreed to keep
it to ourselves; then Rickie again mismanaged her, and ever since
she has refused to let us know any details.

A most unsatisfactory position.
So I feel.She sat down again with a sigh. Mrs. Failing had
been a great trial to her orderly mind. "She is an odd woman. She
is always laughing. She actually finds it amusing that we know no
more."

They are an odd family.

They are indeed.

Herbertwith unusual sweetnessbent down and kissed her.

She thanked him.

Their tenderness soon passed. They exchanged it with averted
eyes. It embarrassed them. There are moments for all of us when
we seem obliged to speak in a new unprofitable tongue. One might
fancy a seraphvexed with our normal languagewho touches the


pious to blasphemythe blasphemous to piety. The seraph passes
and we proceed unaltered--conscioushoweverthat we have not
been ourselvesand that we may fail in this function yet again.
So Agnes and Herbertas they proceeded to discuss the Jackson's
supper-partyhad an uneasy memory of spiritual deserts
spiritual streams.

Poor Mr. Ansell was actually sitting in the garden of Dunwood
House. It was Sunday morning. The air was full of roasting beef.
The sound of a manly hymntaken very fastfloated over the road
from the school chapel. He frownedfor he was reading a book
the Essays of Anthony Eustace Failing.

He was here on account of this book--at least so he told himself.
It had just been publishedand the Jacksons were sure that Mr.
Elliot would have a copy. For a book one may go anywhere. It
would not have been logical to enter Dunwood House for the
purpose of seeing Rickiewhen Rickie had not come to supper
yesterday to see him. He was at Sawston to assure himself of his
friend's grave. With quiet eyes he had intended to view the sods
with unfaltering fingers to inscribe the epitaph. Love remained.
But in high matters he was practical. He knew that it would be
useless to reveal it.

Morning!said a voice behind him.

He saw no reason to reply to this superfluous statementand went
on with his reading.

Morning!said the voice again.

As for the Essaysthe thought was somewhat old-fashionedand he
picked many holes in it; nor was he anything but bored by the
prospect of the brotherhood of man. HoweverMr. Failing stuck to
his gunssuch as they wereand fired from them several good
remarks. Very notable was his distinction between coarseness and
vulgarity (coarsenessrevealing something; vulgarityconcealing
something)and his avowed preference for coarseness. Vulgarity
to himhad been the primal cursethe shoddy reticence that
prevents man opening his heart to manthe power that makes
against equality. From it sprang all the things that he hated-class
shibbolethsladieslidiesthe game lawsthe
Conservative party--all the things that accent the divergencies
rather than the similarities in human nature. Whereas coarseness-But
at this point Herbert Pembroke had scrawled with a blue
pencil: "Childish. One reads no further."

Morning!repeated the voice.

Ansell read furtherfor here was the book of a man who had
triedhowever unsuccessfullyto practice what he preached. Mrs.
Failingin her Introductiondescribed with delicate irony his
difficulties as a landlord; but she did not record the love in
which his name was held. Nor could her irony touch him when he
cried: "Attain the practical through the unpractical. There is no
other road." Ansell was inclined to think that the unpractical is
its own rewardbut he respected those who attempted to journey
beyond it. We must all of us go over the mountains. There is
certainly no other road.


Nice morning!said the voice.

It was not a nice morningso Ansell felt bound to speak. He
answered: "No. Why?" A clod of earth immediately struck him on
the back. He turned round indignantlyfor he hated physical
rudeness. A square man of ruddy aspect was pacing the gravel
pathhis hands deep in his pockets. He was very angry. Then he
saw that the clod of earth nourished a blue lobeliaand that a
wound of corresponding size appeared on the pie-shaped bed. He
was not so angry. "I expect they will mind it he reflected.
Last night, at the Jacksons', Agnes had displayed a brisk pity
that made him wish to wring her neck. Maude had not exaggerated.
Mr. Pembroke had patronized through a sorrowful voice and large
round eyes. Till he met these people he had never been told that
his career was a failure. Apparently it was. They would never
have been civil to him if it had been a success, if they or
theirs had anything to fear from him.

In many ways Ansell was a conceited man; but he was never proud
of being right. He had foreseen Rickie's catastrophe from the
first, but derived from this no consolation. In many ways he was
pedantic; but his pedantry lay close to the vineyards of life-far
closer than that fetich Experience of the innumerable teacups.
He had a great many facts to learn, and before he died he
learnt a suitable quantity. But he never forgot that the holiness
of the heart's imagination can alone classify these facts--can
alone decide which is an exception, which an example. How
unpractical it all is!" That was his comment on Dunwood House.
How unbusiness-like! They live together without love. They
work without conviction. They seek money without requiring it.
They die, and nothing will have happened, either for themselves
or for others.It is a comment that the academic mind will often
make when first confronted with the world.

But he was becoming illogical. The clod of earth had disturbed
him. Brushing the dirt off his backhe returned to the book.
What a curious affair was the essay on "Gaps"! Solitude
star-crownedpacing the fields of Englandhas a dialogue with
Seclusion. Hepoor little manlives in the choicest scenery-among
rocksforestsemerald lawnsazure lakes. To keep people
out he has built round his domain a high wallon which is graven
his motto--"Procul este profani." But he cannot enjoy himself.
His only pleasure is in mocking the absent Profane. They are in
his mind night and day. Their blemishes and stupidities form the
subject of his great poemIn the Heart of Nature.Then
Solitude tells him that so it always will be until he makes a gap
in the walland permits his seclusion to be the sport of
circumstance. He obeys. The Profane invade him; but for short
intervals they wander elsewhereand during those intervals the
heart of Nature is revealed to him.

This dialogue had really been suggested to Mr. Failing by a talk
with his brother-in-law. It also touched Ansell. He looked at the
man who had thrown the clodand was now pacing with obvious
youth and impudence upon the lawn. "Shall I improve my soul at
his expense?" he thought. "I suppose I had better." In friendly
tones he remarkedWere you waiting for Mr. Pembroke?

No,said the young man. "Why?"

Ansellafter a moment's admirationflung the Essays at him.
They hit him in the back. The next moment he lay on his own back
in the lobelia pie.


But it hurts!he gaspedin the tones of a puzzled
civilization. "What you do hurts!" For the young man was nicking
him over the shins with the rim of the book cover. "Little brute-
ee--ow!"

Then say Pax!

Something revolted in Ansell. Why should he say Pax? Freeing his
handhe caught the little brute under the chinand was again
knocked into the lobelias by a blow on the mouth.

Say Pax!he repeatedpressing the philosopher's skull into the
mould; and he addedwith an anxiety that was somehow not
offensiveI do advise you. You'd really better.

Ansell swallowed a little blood. He tried to moveand he could
not. He looked carefully into the young man's eyes and into the
palm of his right handwhich at present swung unclenchedand he
said "Pax!"

Shake hands!said the otherhelping him up. There was nothing
Ansell loathed so much as the hearty Britisher; but he shook
handsand they stared at each other awkwardly. With civil
murmurs they picked the little blue flowers off each other's
clothes. Ansell was trying to remember why they had quarrelled
and the young man was wondering why he had not guarded his chin
properly. In the distance a hymn swung off-


Fight the good. Fight with. All thy. Might.

They would be across from the chapel soon.

Your book, sir?

Thank you, sir--yes.

Why!cried the young man--"whyit's 'What We Want'! At least
the binding's exactly the same."

It's called 'Essays,'said Ansell.

Then that's it. Mrs. Failing, you see, she wouldn't ca11 it
that, because three W's, you see, in a row, she said, are vulgar,
and sound like Tolstoy, if you've heard of him.

Ansell confessed to an acquaintanceand then saidDo you think
'What We Want' vulgar?He was not at all interestedbut he
desired to escape from the atmosphere of pugilistic courtesy
more painful to him than blows themselves.

It IS the same book,said the other--"same titlesame
binding." He weighed it like a brick in his muddy hands.

Open it to see if the inside corresponds,said Ansell
swallowing a laugh and a little more blood with it.

With a liberal allowance of thumb-markshe turned the pages over
and read'the rural silence that is not a poet's luxury but a
practical need for all men.' Yes, it is the same book.Smiling
pleasantly over the discoveryhe handed it back to the owner.

And is it true?

I beg your pardon?


Is it true that rural silence is a practical need?

Don't ask me!

Have you ever tried it?

What?

Rural silence.

A field with no noise in it, I suppose you mean. I don't
understand.

Ansell smiledbut a slight fire in the man's eye checked him.
After allthis was a person who could knock one down. Moreover
there was no reason why he should be teased. He had it in him to
retort "No. Why?" He was not stupid in essentials. He was
irritable--in Ansell's eyes a frequent sign of grace. Sitting
down on the upturned seathe remarkedI like the book in many
ways. I don't think 'What We Want' would have been a vulgar
title. But I don't intend to spoil myself on the chance of
mending the world, which is what the creed amounts to. Nor am I
keen on rural silences.

Curse!he said thoughtfullysucking at an empty pipe.

Tobacco?

Please.

Rickie's is invariably--filthy.

Who says I know Rickie?

Well, you know his aunt. It's a possible link. Be gentle with
Rickie. Don't knock him down if he doesn't think it's a nice
morning.

The other was silent.

Do you know him well?

Kind of.He was not inclined to talk. The wish to smoke was
very violent in himand Ansell noticed how he gazed at the
wreaths that ascended from bowl and stemand howwhen the stem
was in his mouthhe bit it. He gave the idea of an animal with
just enough soul to contemplate its own bliss. United with
refinementsuch a type was common in Greece. It is not common
todayand Ansell was surprised to find it in a friend of
Rickie's. Rickieif he could even "kind of know" such a
creaturemust be stirring in his grave.

Do you know his wife too?

Oh yes. In a way I know Agnes. But thank you for this tobacco.
Last night I nearly died. I have no money.

Take the whole pouch--do.

After a moment's hesitation he did. "Fight the good" had scarcely
endedso quickly had their intimacy grown.

I suppose you're a friend of Rickie's?


Ansell was tempted to replyI don't know him at all.But it
seemed no moment for the severer truthsso he saidI knew him
well at Cambridge, but I have seen very little of him since.

Is it true that his baby was lame?

I believe so.

His teeth closed on his pipe. Chapel was over. The organist was
prancing through the voluntaryand the first ripple of boys had
already reached Dunwood House. In a few minutes the masters would
be here tooand Ansellwho was becoming interestedhurried the
conversation forward.

Have you come far?

From Wiltshire. Do you know Wiltshire?And for the first time
there came into his face the shadow of a sentimentthe passing
tribute to some mystery. "It's a good country. I live in one of
the finest valleys out of Salisbury Plain. I meanI lived."

Have you been dismissed from Cadover, without a penny in your
pocket?

He was alarmed at this. Such knowledge seemed simply diabolical.
Ansell explained that if his boots were chalkyif his clothes
had obviously been slept inif he knew Mrs. Failingif he knew
Wiltshireand if he could buy no tobacco--then the deduction was
possible. "You do just attend he murmured.

The house was filling with boys, and Ansell saw, to his regret,
the head of Agnes over the thuyia hedge that separated the small
front garden from the side lawn where he was sitting. After a few
minutes it was followed by the heads of Rickie and Mr. Pembroke.
All the heads were turned the other way. But they would find his
card in the hall, and if the man had left any message they would
find that too. What are you?" he demanded. "Who are you--your
name--I don't care about that. But it interests me to class
peopleand up to now I have failed with you."

I--He stopped. Ansell reflected that there are worse answers.
I really don't know what I am. Used to think I was something
special, but strikes me now I feel much like other chaps. Used to
look down on the labourers. Used to take for granted I was a
gentleman, but really I don't know where I do belong.

One belongs to the place one sleeps in and to the people one
eats with.

As often as not I sleep out of doors and eat by myself, so that
doesn't get you any further.

A silenceakin to poetryinvaded Ansell. Was it only a pose to
like this manor was he really wonderful? He was not romantic
for Romance is a figure with outstretched handsyearning for the
unattainable. Certain figures of the Greeksto whom we
continually returnsuggested him a little. One expected nothing
of him--no purity of phrase nor swift edged thought. Yet the
conviction grew that he had been back somewhere--back to some
table of the godsspread in a field where there is no noiseand
that he belonged for ever to the guests with whom he had eaten.
Meanwhile he was simple and frankand what he could tell he
would tell to any one. He had not the suburban reticence. Ansell


asked himWhy did Mrs. Failing turn you out of Cadover? I
should like to hear that too.

Because she was tired of me. Because, again, I couldn't keep
quiet over the farm hands. I ask you, is it right?He became
incoherent. Ansell caughtAnd they grow old--they don't play
games--it ends they can't play.An illustration emerged. "Take a
kitten--if you fool about with hershe goes on playing well into
a cat."

But Mrs. Failing minded no mice being caught.

Mice?said the young man blankly. "What I was going to say is
that some one was jealous of my being at Cadover. I'll mention no
namesbut I fancy it was Mrs. Silt. I'm sorry for her if it was.
Anyhowshe set Mrs. Failing against me. It came on the top of
other things--and out I went."

What did Mrs. Silt, whose name I don't mention, say?

He looked guilty. "I don't know. Easy enough to find something to
say. The point is that she said something. You knowMr.--I don't
know your namemine's Wonhambut I'm more grateful than I can
put it over this tobacco. I meanyou ought to know there is
another side to this quarrel. It's wrongbut it's there."

Ansell told him not to be uneasy: he lad already guessed that
there might be another side. But he could not make out why Mr.
Wonham should have come straight from the aunt to the nephew.
They were now sitting on the upturned seat. "What We Want a
good deal shattered, lay between them.

On account of above-mentioned reasonsthere was a row. I don't
know--you can guess the style of thing. She wanted to treat me to
the coloniesand had up the parson to talk soft-sawder and
make out that a boundless continent was the place for a lad like
me. I said'I can't run up to the Rings without getting tired
nor gallop a horse out of this view without tiring itso what is
the point of a boundless continent?' Then I saw that she was
frightened of meand bluffed a bit moreand in the end I was
nipped. She caught me--just like her! when I had nothing on but
flannelsand was coming into the househaving licked the
Cadchurch team. She stood up in the doorway between those stone
pilasters and said'No! Never again!' and behind her was
Wilbrahamwhom I tried to turn outand the gardenerand poor
old Leightonwho hates being hurt. She said'There's a hundred
pounds for you at the London bankand as much more in December.
Go!' I said'Keep your--moneyand tell me whose son I am.' I
didn't care really. I only said it on the off-chance of hurting
her. Sure enoughshe caught on to the doorhandle (being lame)
and said'I can't--I promised--I don't really want to' and
Wilbraham did stare. Then--she's very queer--she burst out
laughingand went for the packet after alland we heard her
laugh through the window as she got it. She rolled it at me down
the stepsand she says'A leaf out of the eternal comedy for
youStephen' or something of that sort. I opened it as I walked
down the driveshe laughing always and catching on to the handle
of the front door. Of course it wasn't comic at all. But down in
the village there were both cricket teamsalready a little
tightand the mad plumber shouting 'Rights of Man!' They knew I
was turned out. We did have a rowand kept it up too. They
daren't touch Wilbraham's windowsbut there isn't much glass
left up at Cadover. When you startit's worth going onbut in
the end I had to cut. They subscribed a bob here and a bob there


and these are Flea Thompson's Sundays. I sent a line to Leighton
not to forward my own things: I don't fancy them. They aren't
really mine." He did not mention his great symbolic act
performedit is to be fearedwhen he was rather drunk and the
friendly policeman was looking the other way. He had cast all his
flannels into the little millpondand then waded himself through
the dark cold water to the new clothes on the other side. Some
one had flung his pipe and his packet after him. The packet had
fallen short. For this reason it was wet when he handed it to
Anselland ink that had been dry for twenty-three years had
begun to run again.

I wondered if you're right about the hundred pounds,said
Ansell gravely. "It is pleasant to be proudbut it is unpleasant
to die in the night through not having any tobacco."

But I'm not proud. Look how I've taken your pouch! The hundred
pounds was--well, can't you see yourself, it was quite different?
It was, so to speak, inconvenient for me to take the hundred
pounds. Or look again how I took a shilling from a boy who earns
nine bob a-week! Proves pretty conclusively I'm not proud.

Ansell saw it was useless to argue. He perceivedbeneath the
slatternly use of wordsthe manbuttoned up in themjust as
his body was buttoned up in a shoddy suit--and he wondered more
than ever that such a man should know the Elliots. He looked at
the facewhich was frankproudand beautifulif truth is
beauty. Of mercy or tact such a face knew little. It might be
coarsebut it had in it nothing vulgar or wantonly cruel. "May I
read these papers?" he said.

Of course. Oh yes; didn't I say? I'm Rickie's half-brother, come
here to tell him the news. He doesn't know. There it is, put
shortly for you. I was saying, though, that I bolted in the dark,
slept in the rifle-butts above Salisbury, the sheds where they
keep the cardboard men, you know, never locked up as they ought
to be. I turned the whole place upside down to teach them.

Here is your packet again,said Ansell. "Thank you. How
interesting!" He rose from the seat and turned towards Dunwood
House. He looked at the bow-windowsthe cheap picturesque
gablesthe terracotta dragons clawing a dirty sky. He listened
to the clink of plates and to the voice of Mr. Pembroke taking
one of his innumerable roll-calls. He looked at the bed of
lobelias. How interesting! What else was there to say?

One must be the son of some one,remarked Stephen. And that was
all he had to say. To him those names on the moistened paper were
mere antiquities. He was neither proud of them nor ashamed. A man
must have parentsor he cannot enter the delightful world. A
manif he has a brothermay reasonably visit himfor they may
have interests in common. He continued his narrativehow in the
night he had heard the clockshow at daybreakinstead of
entering the cityhe had struck eastward to save money--while
Ansell still looked at the house and found that all his
imagination and knowledge could lead him no farther than this:
how interesting!

--And what do you think of that for a holy horror?

For a what?said Ansellhis thoughts far away.

This man I am telling you about, who gave me a lift towards
Andover, who said I was a blot on God's earth.


One o'clock struck. It was strange that neither of them had had
any summons from the house.

He said I ought to be ashamed of myself. He said, 'I'll not be
the means of bringing shame to an honest gentleman and lady.' I
told him not to be a fool. I said I knew what I was about. Rickie
and Agnes are properly educated, which leads people to look at
things straight, and not go screaming about blots. A man like me,
with just a little reading at odd hours--I've got so far, and
Rickie has been through Cambridge.

And Mrs. Elliot?

Oh, she won't mind, and I told the man so; but he kept on
saying, 'I'll not be the means of bringing shame to an honest
gentleman and lady,' until I got out of his rotten cart.His eye
watched the man a Nonconformistdriving away over God's earth.
I caught the train by running. I got to Waterloo at--

Here the parlour-maid fluttered towards themWould Mr. Wonham
come in? Mrs. Elliot would be glad to see him now.

Mrs. Elliot?cried Ansell. "Not Mr. Elliot?"

It's all the same,said Stephenand moved towards the house.

You see, I only left my name. They don't know why I've come.

Perhaps Mr. Elliot sees me meanwhile?

The parlour-maid looked blank. Mr. Elliot had not said so. He had
been with Mrs. Elliot and Mr. Pembroke in the study. Now the
gentlemen had gone upstairs.

All right, I can wait.After allRickie was treating him as he
had treated Rickieas one in the graveto whom it is futile to
make any loving motion. Gone upstairs--to brush his hair for
dinner! The irony of the situation appealed to him strongly. It
reminded him of the Greek Dramawhere the actors know so little
and the spectators so much.

But, by the bye,he called after StephenI think I ought to
tell you--don't--

What is it?

Don't--Then he was silent. He had been tempted to explain
everythingto tell the fellow how things stoodthat he must
avoid this if he wanted to attain that; that he must break the
news to Rickie gently; that he must have at least one battle
royal with Agnes. But it was contrary to his own spirit to coach
people: he held the human soul to be a very delicate thingwhich
can receive eternal damage from a little patronage. Stephen must
go into the house simply as himselffor thus alone would he
remain there.

I ought to knock my pipe out? Was that it?By no means. Go in,
your pipe and you.

He hesitatedtorn between propriety and desire. Then he followed
the parlour-maid into the house smoking. As he entered the
dinner-bell rangand there was the sound of rushing feetwhich
died away into shuffling and silence. Through the window of the


boys' dining-hall came the colourless voice of Rickie


'Benedictus benedicat.'

Ansell prepared himself to witness the second act of the drama;
forgetting that all this worldand not part of itis a stage.

XXVII

The parlour-maid took Mr. Wonham to the study. He had been in the
drawing-room beforebut had got boredand so had strolled out
into the garden. Now he was in better spiritsas a man ought to
be who has knocked down a man. As he passed through the hall he
sparred at the teak monkeyand hung his cap on the bust of
Hermes. And he greeted Mrs. Elliot with a pleasant clap of
laughter. "OhI've come with the most tremendous news!" he
cried.

She bowedbut did not shake handswhich rather surprised him.
But he never troubled over "details." He seldom watched people
and never thought that they were watching him. Nor could he guess
how much it meant to her that he should enter her presence smoking.
Had she not said once at CadoverOh, please smoke; I love
the smell of a pipe?

Would you sit down? Exactly there, please.She placed him at a
large tableopposite an inkpot and a pad of blotting-paper.

Will you tell your 'tremendous news' to me? My brother and my
husband are giving the boys their dinner.

Ah!said Stephenwho had had neither time nor money for
breakfast in London.

I told them not to wait for me.

So he came to the point at once. He trusted this handsome woman.
His strength and his youth called to hersexpecting no prudish
response. "It's very odd. It is that I'm Rickie's brother. I've
just found out. I've come to tell you all."

Yes?

He felt in his pocket for the papers. "Half-brother I ought to
have said."

Yes?

I'm illegitimate. Legally speaking, that is, I've been turned
out of Cadover. I haven't a penny. I--

There is no occasion to inflict the details.Her facewhich
had been an even brownbegan to flush slowly in the centre of
the cheeks. The colour spread till all that he saw of her was
suffusedand she turned away. He thought he had shocked herand
so did she. Neither knew that the body can be insincere and
express not the emotions we feel but those that we should like to
feel. In reality she was quite calmand her dislike of him had
nothing emotional in it as yet.

You see--he began. He was determined to tell the fidgety
storyfor the sooner it was over the sooner they would have


something to eat. Delicacy he lackedand his sympathies were
limited. But such as they werethey rang true: he put no
decorous phantom between him and his desires.

I do see. I have seen for two years.She sat down at the head
of the tablewhere there was another ink-pot. Into this she
dipped a pen. "I have seen everythingMr. Wonham--who you are
how you have behaved at Cadoverhow you must have treated Mrs.
Failing yesterday; and now"--her voice became very grave--"I see
why you have come herepenniless. Before you speakwe know what
you will say."

His mouth fell openand he laughed so merrily that it might have
given her a warning. But she was thinking how to follow up her
first success. "And I thought I was bringing tremendous news!" he
cried. "I only twisted it out of Mrs. Failing last night. And
Rickie knows too?"

We have known for two years.

But come, by the bye,--if you've known for two years, how is it
you didn't--The laugh died out of his eyes. "You aren't
ashamed?" he askedhalf rising from his chair. "You aren't like
the man towards Andover?"

Please, please sit down,said Agnesin the even tones she used
when speaking to the servants; "let us not discuss side issues. I
am a horribly direct personMr. Wonham. I go always straight to
the point." She opened a chequebook. "I am afraid I shall shock
you. For how much?"

He was not attending.

There is the paper we suggest you shall sign.She pushed
towards him a pseudo-legal documentjust composed by Herbert.

In consideration of the sum of..., I agree to perpetual silence-
to restrain from libellous...never to molest the said Frederick
Elliot by intruding--'

His brain was not quick. He read the document over twiceand he
could still sayBut what's that cheque for?

It is my husband's. He signed for you as soon as we heard you
were here. We guessed you had come to be silenced. Here is his
signature. But he has left the filling in for me. For how much? I
will cross it, shall I? You will just have started a banking
account, if I understand Mrs. Failing rightly. It is not quite
accurate to say you are penniless: I heard from her just before
you returned from your cricket. She allows you two hundred a-
year, I think. But this additional sum--shall I date the cheque
Saturday or for tomorrow?

At last he found words. Knocking his pipe out on the tablehe
said slowlyHere's a very bad mistake.

It is quite possible,retorted Agnes. She was glad she had
taken the offensiveinstead of waiting till he began his
blackmailingas had been the advice of Rickie. Aunt Emily had
said that very springOne's only hope with Stephen is to start
bullying first.Here he wasquite bewilderedsmearing the
pipe-ashes with his thumb. He asked to read the document again.
A stamp and all!he remarked.


They had anticipated that his claim would exceed two pounds.

I see. All right. It takes a fool a minute. Never mind. I've
made a bad mistake.

You refuse?she exclaimedfor he was standing at the door.
Then do your worst! We defy you!

That's all right, Mrs. Elliot,he said roughly. "I don't want a
scene with younor yet with your husband. We'll say no more
about it. It's all right. I mean no harm."

But your signature then! You must sign--you--

He pushed past herand said as he reached for his capThere,
that's all right. It's my mistake. I'm sorry.He spoke like a
farmer who has failed to sell a sheep. His manner was utterly
prosaicand up to the last she thought he had not understood
her. "But it's money we offer you she informed him, and then
darted back to the study, believing for one terrible moment that
he had picked up the blank cheque. When she returned to the hall
he had gone. He was walking down the road rather quickly. At the
corner he cleared his throat, spat into the gutter, and
disappeared.

There's an odd finish she thought. She was puzzled, and
determined to recast the interview a little when she related it
to Rickie. She had not succeeded, for the paper was still
unsigned. But she had so cowed Stephen that he would probably
rest content with his two hundred a-year, and never come
troubling them again. Clever management, for one knew him to be
rapacious: she had heard tales of him lending to the poor and
exacting repayment to the uttermost farthing. He had also stolen
at school. Moderately triumphant, she hurried into the side-
garden: she had just remembered Ansell: she, not Rickie, had
received his card.

OhMr. Ansell!" she exclaimedawaking him from some day-dream.
Haven't either Rickie or Herbert been out to you? Now, do come
into dinner, to show you aren't offended. You will find all of us
assembled in the boys' dining-hall.

To her annoyance he accepted.

That is, if the Jacksons are not expecting you.

The Jacksons did not matter. If he might brush his clothes and
bathe his liphe would like to come.

Oh, what has happened to you? And oh, my pretty lobelias!

He repliedA momentary contact with reality,and shewho did
not look for sense in his remarkshurried away to the dining-
hall to announce him.

The dining-hall was not unlike the preparation room. There was
the same parquet floorand dado of shiny pitchpine. On its walls
also were imperial portraitsand over the harmonium to which
they sang the evening hymns was spread the Union Jack. Sunday
dinnerthe most pompous meal of the weekwas in progress. Her
brother sat at the head of the high tableher husband at the
head of the second. To each he gave a reassuring nod and went to
her own seatwhich was among the junior boys. The beef was being
carried out; she stopped it. "Mr. Ansell is coming she called.


Herbert there is more room by you; sit up straightboys." The
boys sat up straightand a respectful hush spread over the room.

Here he is!called Rickie cheerfullytaking his cue from his
wife. "Ohthis is splendid!" Ansell came in. "I'm so glad you
managed this. I couldn't leave these wretches last night!" The
boys tittered suitably. The atmosphere seemed normal. Even
Herbertthough longing to hear what had happened to the
blackmailergave adequate greeting to their guest: "Come inMr.
Ansell; come here. Take us as you find us!"

I understood,said Stewartthat I should find you all. Mrs.
Elliot told me I should. On that understanding I came.

It was at once evident that something had gone wrong.

Ansell looked round the room carefully. Then clearing his throat
and ruffling his hairhe began


I cannot see the man with whom I have talked, intimately, for an
hour, in your garden.

The worst of it was they were all so far from him and from each
othereach at the end of a tableful of inquisitive boys. The two
masters looked at Agnes for informationfor her reassuring nod
had not told them much. She looked hopelessly back.

I cannot see this man,repeated Ansellwho remained by the
harmonium in the midst of astonished waitresses. "Is he to be
given no lunch?"

Herbert broke the silence by fresh greetings. Rickie knew that
the contest was lostand that his friend had sided with the
enemy. It was the kind of thing he would do. One must face the
catastrophe quietly and with dignity. Perhaps Ansell would have
turned on his heeland left behind him only vague suspicionsif
Mrs. Elliot had not tried to talk him down. "Man she cried-
what man? OhI know--terrible bore! Did he get hold of you?"-thus
committing their first blunderand causing Ansell to say to
RickieHave you seen your brother?

I have not.

Have you been told he was here?

Rickie's answer was inaudible.

Have you been told you have a brother?

Let us continue this conversation later.

Continue it? My dear man, how can we until you know what I'm
talking about? You must think me mad; but I tell you solemnly
that you have a brother of whom you've never heard, and that he
was in this house ten minutes ago.He paused impressively. "Your
wife has happened to see him first. Being neither serious nor
truthfulshe is keeping you aparttelling him some lie and not
telling you a word."

There was a murmur of alarm. One of the prefects roseand Ansell
set his back to the wallquite ready for a battle. For two years
he had waited for his opportunity. He would hit out at Mrs.
Elliot like any ploughboy now that it had come. Rickie said:
There is a slight misunderstanding. I, like my wife, have known


what there is to know for two years--a dignified rebuffbut
their second blunder.

Exactly,said Agnes. "Now I think Mr. Ansell had better go."

Go?exploded Ansell. "I've everything to say yet. I beg your
pardonMrs. ElliotI am concerned with you no longer. This
man"--he turned to the avenue of faces--"this man who teaches you
has a brother. He has known of him two years and been ashamed. He
has--oh--oh--how it fits together! Rickieit's younot Mrs.
Siltwho must have sent tales of him to your aunt. It's you
who've turned him out of Cadover. It's you who've ordered him to
be ruined today.

Now Herbert arose. "Out of my sightsir! But have it from me
first that Rickie and his aunt have both behaved most generously.
NonoAgnesI'll not be interrupted. Garbled versions must
not get about. If the Wonham man is not satisfied nowhe must be
insatiable. He cannot levy blackmail on us for ever. SirI give
you two minutes; then you will be expelled by force."

Two minutes!sang Ansell. "I can say a great deal in that." He
put one foot on a chair and held his arms over the quivering
room. He seemed transfigured into a Hebrew prophet passionate for
satire and the truth. "Ohkeep quiet for two minutes he cried,
and I'll tell you something you'll be glad to hear. You're a
little afraid Stephen may come back. Don't be afraid. I bring
good news. You'll never see him nor any one like him again. I
must speak very plainlyfor you are all three fools. I don't
want you to say afterwards'Poor Mr. Ansell tried to be clever.'
Generally I don't mindbut I should mind today. Please listen.
Stephen is a bully; he drinks; he knocks one down; but he would
sooner die than take money from people he did not love. Perhaps
he will diefor he has nothing but a few pence that the poor
gave him and some tobacco whichto my eternal gloryhe accepted
from me. Please listen again. Why did he come here? Because he
thought you would love himand was ready to love you. But I tell
youdon't be afraid. He would sooner die now than say you were
his brother. Please listen again--"

Now, Stewart, don't go on like that,said Rickie bitterly.
It's easy enough to preach when you are an outsider. You would
be more charitable if such a thing had happened to yourself. Easy
enough to be unconventional when you haven't suffered and know
nothing of the facts. You love anything out of the way,
anything queer, that doesn't often happen, and so you get excited
over this. It's useless, my dear man; you have hurt me, but you
will never upset me. As soon as you stop this ridiculous scene we
will finish our dinner. Spread this scandal; add to it. I'm too
old to mind such nonsense. I cannot help my father's disgrace, on
the one hand; nor, on the other, will I have anything to do with
his blackguard of a son.

So the secret was given to the world. Agnes might colour at his
speech; Herbert might calculate the effect of it on the entries
for Dunwood House; but he cared for none of these things. Thank
God! he was withered up at last.

Please listen again,resumed Ansell. "Please correct two slight
mistakes: firstlyStephen is one of the greatest people I have
ever met; secondlyhe's not your father's son. He's the son of
your mother."

It was Rickienot Ansellwho was carried from the halland it


was Herbert who pronounced the blessing-


Benedicto benedicatur.

A profound stillness succeeded the stormand the boysslipping
away from their mealtold the news to the rest of the schoolor
put it in the letters they were writing home.

The soul has her own currency. She mints her spiritual coinage
and stamps it with the image of some beloved face. With it she
pays her debtswith it she reckonssayingThis man has worth,
this man is worthless.And in time she forgets its origin; it
seems to her to be a thing unalterabledivine. But the soul can
also have her bankruptcies.

Perhaps she will be the richer in the end. In her agony she
learns to reckon clearly. Fair as the coin may have beenit was
not accurate; and though she knew it notthere were treasures
that it could not buy. The facehowever belovedwas mortaland
as liable as the soul herself to err. We do but shift
responsibility by making a standard of the dead.

There isindeedanother coinage that bears on it not man's
image but God's. It is incorruptibleand the soul may trust it
safely; it will serve her beyond the stars. But it cannot give us
friendsor the embrace of a loveror the touch of childrenfor
with our fellow mortals it has no concern. It cannot even give
the joys we call trivial--fine weatherthe pleasures of meat and
drinkbathing and the hot sand afterwardsrunningdreamless
sleep. Have we learnt the true discipline of a bankruptcy if we
turn to such coinage as this? Will it really profit us so much if
we save our souls and lose the whole world?

PART 3 WILTSHIRE

Robert--there is no occasion to mention his surname: he was a
young farmer of some education who tried to coax the aged soil of
Wiltshire scientifically--came to Cadover on business and fell in
love with Mrs. Elliot. She was there on her bridal visitand he
an obscure nobodywas received by Mrs. Failing into the house
and treated as her social equal. He was good-looking in a bucolic
wayand people sometimes mistook him for a gentleman until they
saw his hands. He discovered thisand one of the slowgentle
jokes he played on society was to talk upon some cultured subject
with his hands behind his back and then suddenly reveal them. "Do
you go in for boating?" the lady would ask; and then he explained
that those particular weals are made by the handles of the
plough. Upon which she became extremely interestedbut found an
early opportunity of talking to some one else.

He played this joke on Mrs. Elliot the first eveningnot knowing
that she observed him as he entered the room. He walked heavily
lifting his feet as if the carpet was furrowedand he had no
evening clothes. Every one tried to put him at his easebut she
rather suspected that he was there alreadyand envied him. They


were introducedand spoke of Byronwho was still fashionable.
Out came his hands--the only rough hands in the drawing-roomthe
only hands that had ever worked. She was filled with some strange
approvaland liked him.

After dinner they met againto speak not of Byron but of manure.
The other people were so clever and so amusing that it relieved
her to listen to a man who told her three times not to buy
artificial manure ready madebutif she would use itto make
it herself at the last moment. Because the ammonia evaporated.
Here were two packets of powder. Did they smell? No. Mix them
together and pour some coffee--An appalling smell at once burst
forthand every one began to cough and cry. This was good for
the earth when she felt sourfor he knew when the earth was ill.
He knewtoowhen she was hungry he spoke of her tantrums--the
strange unscientific element in her that will baffle the
scientist to the end of time. "Study awayMrs. Elliot he told
her; read all the books you can get hold of; but when it comes
to the pointstroll out with a pipe in your mouth and do a bit
of guessing." As he talkedthe earth became a living being--or
rather a being with a living skin--and manure no longer dirty
stuffbut a symbol of regeneration and of the birth of life from
life. "So it goes on for ever!" she cried excitedly. He replied:
Not for ever. In time the fire at the centre will cool, and
nothing can go on then.

He advanced into love with open eyesslowlyheavilyjust as he
had advanced across the drawing room carpet. But this time the
bride did not observe his tread. She was listening to her
husbandand trying not to be so stupid. When he was close to
her--so close that it was difficult not to take her in his arms-he
spoke to Mr. Failingand was at once turned out of Cadover.

I'm sorry,said Mr. Failingas he walked down the drive with
his hand on his guest's shoulder. "I had no notion you were that
sort. Any one who behaves like that has to stop at the farm."

Any one?

Any one.He sighed heavilynot for any personal grievancebut
because he saw how unrulyhow barbaricis the soul of man.
After allthis man was more civilized than most.

Are you angry with me, sir?He called him "sir not because he
was richer or cleverer or smarter, not because he had helped to
educate him and had lent him money, but for a reason more
profound--for the reason that there are gradations in heaven.

I did think you--that a man like you wouldn't risk making people
unhappy. My sister-in-law--I don't say this to stop you loving
her; something else must do that--my sister-in-lawas far as I
knowdoesn't care for you one little bit. If you had said
anythingif she had guessed that a chance person was in--this
fearful stateyou would simply--have opened hell. A woman of her
sort would have lost all--"

I knew that.

Mr. Failing removed his hand. He was displeased.

But something here,said Robert incoherently. "This here." He
struck himself heavily on the heart. "This heredoing something
so unusualmakes it not matter what she loses--I--" After a
silence he askedHave I quite followed you, sir, in that


business of the brotherhood of man?

How do you mean?

I thought love was to bring it about.

Love of another man's wife? Sensual love? You have understood
nothing--nothing.Then he was ashamedand criedI understand
nothing myself.For he remembered that sensual and spiritual are
not easy words to use; that there areperhapsnot two
Aphroditesbut one Aphrodite with a Janus face. "I only
understand that you must try to forget her."

I will not try.

Promise me just this, then--not to do anything crooked.

I'm straight. No boasting, but I couldn't do a crooked thing-No,
not if I tried.

And so appallingly straight was he in after yearsthat Mr.
Failing wished that he had phrased the promise differently.

Robert simply waited. He told himself that it was hopeless; but
something deeper than himself declared that there was hope. He
gave up drinkand kept himself in all ways cleanfor he wanted
to be worthy of her when the time came. Women seemed fond of him
and caused him to reflect with pleasureThey do run after me.
There must be something in me. Good. I'd be done for if there
wasn't.For six years he turned up the earth of Wiltshireand
read books for the sake of his mindand talked to gentlemen for
the sake of their patoisand each year he rode to Cadover to
take off his hat to Mrs. Elliotandperhapsto speak to her
about the crops. Mr. Failing was generally presentand it struck
neither man that those dull little visits were so many words out
of which a lonely woman might build sentences. Then Robert went
to London on business. He chanced to see Mr. Elliot with a
strange lady. The time had come.

He became diplomaticand called at Mr. Elliot's rooms to find
things out. For if Mrs. Elliot was happier than he could ever
make herhe would withdrawand love her in renunciation. But if
he could make her happierhe would love her in fulfilment. Mr.
Elliot admitted him as a friend of his brother-in-law'sand felt
very broad-minded as he did so. Roberthoweverwas a success.
The youngish men there found him interestingand liked to shock
him with tales of naughty London and naughtier Paris. They spoke
of "experience" and "sensations" and "seeing life and when a
smile ploughed over his face, concluded that his prudery was
vanquished. He saw that they were much less vicious than they
supposed: one boy had obviously read his sensations in a book.
But he could pardon vice. What he could not pardon was
triviality, and he hoped that no decent woman could pardon it
either. There grew up in him a cold, steady anger against these
silly people who thought it advanced to be shocking, and who
described, as something particularly choice and educational,
things that he had understood and fought against for years. He
inquired after Mrs. Elliot, and a boy tittered. It seemed that
she did not know that she lived in a remote suburb, taking
care of a skinny baby. I shall call some time or other said
Robert. Do said Mr. Elliot, smiling. And next time he saw his
wife he congratulated her on her rustic admirer.

She had suffered terribly. She had asked for bread, and had been


given not even a stone. People talk of hungering for the ideal,
but there is another hunger, quite as divine, for facts. She had
asked for facts and had been given views emotional
standpoints attitudes towards life." To a woman who believed
that facts are beautifulthat the living world is beautiful
beyond the laws of beautythat manure is neither gross nor
ludicrousthat a firenot eternalglows at the heart of the
earthit was intolerable to be put off with what the Elliots
called "philosophy and, if she refused, to be told that she had
no sense of humour. Tarrying into the Elliot family." It had
sounded so splendidfor she was a penniless child with nothing
to offerand the Elliots held their heads high. For what reason?
What had they ever doneexcept say sarcastic thingsand limp
and be refined? Mr. Failing suffered toobut she suffered more
inasmuch as Frederick was more impossible than Emily. He did not
like herhe practically lived aparthe was not even faithful or
polite. These were grave faultsbut they were human ones: she
could even imagine them in a man she loved. What she could never
love was a dilettante.

Robert brought her an armful of sweet-peas. He laid it on the
tableput his hands behind his backand kept them there till
the end of the visit. She knew quite well why he had comeand
though she also knew that he would failshe loved him too much
to snub him or to stare in virtuous indignation. "Why have you
come?" she asked gravelyand why have you brought me so many
flowers?

My garden is full of them,he answered. "Sweetpeas need picking
down. Andgenerally speakingflowers are plentiful in July."

She broke his present into bunches--so much for the drawing-room
so much for the nurseryso much for the kitchen and her
husband's room: he would be down for the night. The most
beautiful she would keep for herself. Presently he saidYour
husband is no good. I've watched him for a week. I'm thirty, and
not what you call hasty, as I used to be, or thinking that
nothing matters like the French. No. I'm a plain Britisher, yet-I--
I've begun wrong end, Mrs. Elliot; I should have said that
I've thought chiefly of you for six years, and that though I talk
here so respectfully, if I once unhooked my hands--

There was a pause. Then she said with great sweetnessThank
you; I am glad you love me,and rang the bell.

What have you done that for?he cried.

Because you must now leave the house, and never enter it again.

I don't go alone,and he began to get furious.

Her voice was still sweetbut strength lay in it tooas she
saidYou either go now with my thanks and blessing, or else you
go with the police. I am Mrs. Elliot. We need not discuss Mr.
Elliot. I am Mrs. Elliot, and if you make one step towards me I
give you in charge.

But the maid answered the bell not of the drawing-roombut of
the front door. They were joined by Mr. Elliotwho held out his
hand with much urbanity. It was not taken. He looked quickly at
his wifeand saidAm I de trop?There was a long silence.
At last she saidFrederick, turn this man out.

My love, why?


Robert said that he loved her.


Then I am de trop,said Mr. Elliotsmoothing out his gloves.
He would give these sodden barbarians a lesson. "My hansom is
waiting at the door. Pray make use of it."


Don't!she criedalmost affectionately. "Dear Frederickit
isn't a play. Just tell this man to goor send for the police."


On the contrary; it is French comedy of the best type. Don't you
agree, sir, that the police would be an inartistic error?He was
perfectly calm and collectedwhereas they were in a pitiable
state.


Turn him out at once!she cried. "He has insulted your wife.
Save mesave me!" She clung to her husband and wept. "He was
going I had managed him--he would never have known--" Mr. Elliot
repulsed her.


If you don't feel inclined to start at once,he said with easy
civilityLet us have a little tea. My dear sir, do forgive me
for not shooting you. Nous avons change tout cela. Please don't
look so nervous. Please do unclasp your hands--


He was alone.


That's all right,he exclaimedand strolled to the door. The
hansom was disappearing round the corner. "That's all right he
repeated in more quavering tones as he returned to the drawing-
room and saw that it was littered with sweet-peas. Their colour
got on his nerves--magenta, crimson; magenta, crimson. He tried
to pick them up, and they escaped. He trod them underfoot, and
they multiplied and danced in the triumph of summer like a
thousand butterflies. The train had left when he got to the
station. He followed on to London, and there he lost all traces.
At midnight he began to realize that his wife could never belong
to him again.


Mr. Failing had a letter from Stockholm. It was never known what
impulse sent them there. I am sorry about it allbut it was the
only way." The letter censured the law of Englandwhich obliges
us to behave like this, or else we should never get married. I
shall come back to face things: she will not come back till she
is my wife. He must bring an action soon, or else we shall try
one against him. It seems all very unconventional, but it is not
really. it is only a difficult start. We are not like you or your
wife: we want to be just ordinary people, and make the farm pay,
and not be noticed all our lives.


And they were capable of living as they wanted. The class
differencewhich so intrigued Mrs. Failingmeant very little to
them. It was therebut so were other things.


They both cared for work and living in the openand for not
speaking unless they had got something to say. Their love of
beautylike their love for each otherwas not dependent on
detail: it grew not from the nerves but from the soul.


I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey work
of the stars
And the pismire is equally perfect, and a grain of sand,
and the egg of the wren,
And the tree toad is a chef-d'oeuvre for the highest,



And the running blackberry would adorn the parlours
of heaven.

They had never read these linesand would have thought them
nonsense if they had. They did not dissect--indeed they could
not. But sheat all eventsdivined that more than perfect
health and perfect weathermore than personal lovehad gone to
the making of those seventeen days.

Ordinary people!cried Mrs. Failing on hearing the letter. At
that time she was young and daring. "Whythey're divine! They're
forces of Nature! They're as ordinary as volcanoes. We all knew
my brother was disgustingand wanted him to be blown to pieces
but we never thought it would happen. Do look at the thing
bravelyand sayas I dothat they are guiltless in the
sight of God."

I think they are,replied her husband. "But they are not
guiltless in the sight of man."

You conventional!she exclaimed in disgust.
What they have done means misery not only for themselves but for
others. For your brother, though you will not think of him. For
the little boy--did you think of him? And perhaps for another
child, who will have the whole world against him if it knows.
They have sinned against society, and you do not diminish the
misery by proving that society is bad or foolish. It is the
saddest truth I have yet perceived that the Beloved Republic-here
she took up a book--"of which Swinburne speaks"--she put the
book down--"will not be brought about by love alone. It will
approach with no flourish of trumpetsand have no declaration of
independence. Self-sacrifice and--worse still--self-mutilation
are the things that sometimes help it mostand that is why we
should start for Stockholm this evening." He waited for her
indignation to subsideand then continued. "I don't know whether
it can be hushed up. I don't yet know whether it ought to be
hushed up. But we ought to provide the opportunity. There is no
scandal yet. If we goit is just possible there never will be
any. We must talk over the whole thing and--"

--And lie!interrupted Mrs. Failingwho hated travel.

--And see how to avoid the greatest unhappiness.

There was to be no scandal. By the time they arrived Robert had
been drowned. Mrs. Elliot described how they had gone swimming
and howsince he always lived inland,the great waves had
tired him. They had raced for the open sea.

What are your plans?he asked. "I bring you a message from
Frederick."

I heard him call,she continuedbut I thought he was
laughing. When I turned, it was too late. He put his hands behind
his back and sank. For he would only have drowned me with him. I
should have done the same.

Mrs. Failing was thrilledand kissed her. But Mr. Failing knew
that life does not continue heroic for longand he gave her the
message from her husband: Would she come back to him?

To his intense astonishment--at first to his regret--she replied
I will think about it. If I loved him the very least bit I
should say no. If I had anything to do with my life I should say


no. But it is simply a question of beating time till I die.
Nothing that is coming matters. I may as well sit in his
drawing-room and dust his furniture, since he has suggested it.

And Mr. Elliotthough he made certain stipulationswas
positively glad to see her. People had begun to laugh at himand
to say that his wife had run away. She had not. She had been with
his sister in Sweden. In a half miraculous way the matter was
hushed up. Even the Silts only scented "something strange." When
Stephen was bornit was abroad. When he came to Englandit was
as the child of a friend of Mr. Failing's. Mrs. Elliot returned
unsuspected to her husband.

But though things can be hushed upthere is no such thing as
beating time; and as the years passed she realized her terrible
mistake. When her lover sankeluding her last embraceshe
thoughtas Agnes was to think after herthat her soul had sunk
with himand that never again should she be capable of earthly

love. Nothing mattered. She might as well go and be useful to her
husband and to the little boy who looked exactly like himand
whoshe thoughtwas exactly like him in disposition. Then
Stephen was bornand altered her life. She could still love
people passionately; she still drew strength from the heroic
past. Yetto keep to her bondshe must see this son only as a
stranger. She was protected be the conventionsand must pay them
their fee. And a curious thing happened. Her second child drew
her towards her first. She began to love Rickie alsoand to be
more than useful to him. And as her love revivedso did her
capacity for suffering. Lifemore importantgrew more bitter.
She minded her husband morenot less; and when at last he died
and she saw a glorious autumnbeautiful with the voices of boys
who should call her motherthe end came for her as wellbefore
she could remember the grave in the alien north and the dust that
would never return to the dear fields that had given it.

Stephenthe son of these peoplehad one instinct that troubled
him. At night--especially out of doors--it seemed rather strange
that he was alive. The dry grass pricked his cheekthe fields
were invisible and muteand here was hethrowing stones at the
darkness or smoking a pipe. The stones vanishedthe pipe would
burn out. But he would be here in the morning when the sun rose
and he would batheand run in the mist. He was proud of his good
circulationand in the morning it seemed quite natural. But at
nightwhy should there be this difference between him and the
acres of land that cooled all round him until the sun returned?
What lucky chance had heated him upand sent himwarm and
lovableinto a passive world? He had other instinctsbut these
gave him no trouble. He simply gratified each as it occurred
provided he could do so without grave injury to his fellows. But
the instinct to wonder at the night was not to be thus appeased.
At first he had lived under the care of Mr. Failing the only
person to whom his mother spoke freelythe only person who had
treated her neither as a criminal nor as a pioneer. In their rare
but intimate conversations she had asked him to educate her son.
I will teach him Latin,he answered. "The rest such a boy must
remember." Latinat all eventswas a failure: who could attend
to Virgil when the sound of the thresher aroseand you knew that
the stack was decreasing and that rats rushed more plentifully
each moment to their doom? But he was fond of Mr. Failingand


cried when he died. Mrs. Elliota pleasant womandied soon
after.

There was something fatal in the order of these deaths. Mr.
Failing had made no provision for the boy in his will: his wife
had promised to see to this. Then came Mr. Elliot's deathand
before the new home was createdthe sudden death of Mrs. Elliot.
She also left Stephen no money: she had none to leave. Chance
threw him into the power of Mrs. Failing. "Let things go on as
they are she thought. I will take care of this pretty little
boyand the ugly little boy can live with the Silts. After my
death--wellthe papers will be found after my deathand they
can meet then. I like the idea of their mutual ignorance. It is
amusing."

He was then twelve. With a few brief intervals of schoolhe
lived in Wiltshire until he was driven out. Life had two distinct
sides--the drawing-room and the other. In the drawing-room people
talked a good deallaughing as they talked. Being cleverthey
did not care for animals: one man had never seen a hedgehog. In
the other life people talked and laughed separatelyor even did
neither. On the wholein spite of the wet and gamekeepersthis
life was preferable. He knew where he was. He glanced at the boy
or later at the manand behaved accordingly. There was no law-the
policeman was negligible. Nothing bound him but his own word
and he gave that sparingly.

It is impossible to be romantic when you have your heart's
desireand such a boy disappointed Mrs. Failing greatly. His
parents had met for one brief embracehad found one little
interval between the power of the rulers of this world and the
power of death. He was the child of poetry and of rebellionand
poetry should run in his veins. But he lived too near the things
he loved to seem poetical. Parted from themhe might yet satisfy
herand stretch out his hands with a pagan's yearning. As it
washe only rode her horsesand trespassedand bathedand
workedfor no obvious reasonupon her fields. Affection she did
not believe inand made no attempt to mould him; and hefor his
partwas very content to harden untouched into a man. His
parents had given him excellent gifts--healthsturdy limbsand
a face not ugly--gifts that his habits confirmed. They had also
given him a cloudless spirit--the spirit of the seventeen days in
which he was created. But they had not given him the spirit of
their sit years of waitingand love for one person was never to
be the greatest thing he knew.

Philosophyhad postponed the quarrel between them. Incurious
about his personal originhe had a certain interest in our
eternal problems. The interest never became a passion: it sprang
out of his physical growthand was soon merged in it again. Or
as he put it himselfI must get fixed up before starting.He
was soon fixed up as a materialist. Then he tore up the sixpenny
reprintsand never amused Mrs. Failing so much again.

About the time he fixed himself uphe took to drink. He knew of
no reason against it. The instinct was in himand it hurt
nobody. Hereas elsewherehis motions were decidedand he
passed at once from roaring jollity to silence. For those who
live on the fuddled borderlandwho crawl home by the railings
and maunder repentance in the morninghe had a biting contempt.
A man must take his tumble and his headache. He wasin factas
little disgusting as is conceivable; and hitherto he had not
strained his constitution or his will. Nor did he get drunk as
often as Agnes suggested. Thc real quarrel gathered elsewhere.


Presentable people have run wild in their youth. But the hour
comes when they turn from their boorish company to higher things.
This hour never came for Stephen. Somewhat a bully by naturehe
kept where his powers would telland continued to quarrel and
play with the men he had known as boys. He prolonged their youth
unduly. "They won't settle down said Mr. Wilbraham to his wife.
They're wanting things. It's the germ of a Trades Union. I shall
get rid of a few of the worst." Then Stephen rushed up to Mrs.
Failing and worried her. "It wasn't fair. So-and-so was a good
sort. He did his work. Keen about it? No. Why should he be? Why
should he be keen about somebody else's land? But keen enough.
And very keen on football." She laughedand said a word about
So-and-so to Mr. Wilbraham. Mr. Wilbraham blazed up. "How could
the farm go on without discipline? How could there be discipline
if Mr. Stephen interfered? Mr. Stephen liked power. He spoke to
the men like one of themselvesand pretended it was all
equalitybut he took care to come out top. Naturalof course
thatbeing a gentlemanhe should. But not natural for a
gentleman to loiter all day with poor people and learn their
workand put wrong notions into their headsand carry their
newfangled grievances to Mrs. Failing. Which partly accounted for
the deficit on the past year." She rebuked Stephen. Then he lost
his temperwas rude to herand insulted Mr. Wilbraham.

The worst days of Mr. Failing's rule seemed to be returning. And
Stephen had a practical experienceand also a taste for battle
that her husband had never possessed. He drew up a list of
grievancessome absurdothers fundamental. No newspapers in the
reading-roomyou could put a plate under the Thompsons' doorno
level cricket-pitchno allotments and no time to work in them
Mrs. Wilbraham's knife-boy underpaid. "Aren't you a little
unwise?" she asked coldly. "I am more bored than you think over
the farm." She was wanting to correct the proofs of the book and
rewrite the prefatory memoir. In her irritation she wrote to
Agnes. Agnes replied sympatheticallyand Mrs. Failingclever as
she wasfell into the power of the younger woman. They discussed
him at first as a wretch of a boy; then he got drunk and somehow
it seemed more criminal. All that she needed now was a personal
grievancewhich Agnes casually supplied. Though vindictiveshe
was determined to treat him welland thought with satisfaction
of our distant colonies. But he burst into an odd passion: he
would sooner starve than leave England. "Why?" she asked. "Are
you in love?" He picked up a lump of the chalk-they were by the
arbour--and made no answer. The vicar murmuredIt is not like
going abroad--Greater Britain--blood is thicker than water--A
lump of chalk broke her drawing-room window on the Saturday.

Thus Stephen left Wiltshirehalf-blackguardhalf-martyr. Do not
brand him as a socialist. He had no quarrel with societynor any
particular belief in people because they are poor. He only held
the creed of "here am I and there are you and therefore class
distinctions were trivial things to him, and life no decorous
scheme, but a personal combat or a personal truce. For the same
reason ancestry also was trivial, and a man not the dearer
because the same woman was mother to them both. Yet it seemed
worth while to go to Sawston with the news. Perhaps nothing would
come of it; perhaps friendly intercourse, and a home while he
looked around.

When they wronged him he walked quietly away. He never thought of
allotting the blame, nor or appealing to Ansell, who still sat
brooding in the side-garden. He only knew that educated people


could be horrible, and that a clean liver must never enter
Dunwood House again. The air seemed stuffy. He spat in the
gutter. Was it yesterday he had lain in the rifle-butts over
Salisbury? Slightly aggrieved, he wondered why he was not back
there now. I ought to have written first he reflected. Here
is my money gone. I cannot move. The Elliots haveas it were
practically robbed me." That was the only grudge he retained
against them. Their suspicions and insults were to him as the
curses of a tramp whom he passed by the wayside. They were dirty
peoplenot his sort. He summed up the complicated tragedy as a
take in.

While Rickie was being carried upstairsand while Ansell (had he
known it) was dashing about the streets for himhe lay under a
railway arch trying to settle his plans. He must pay back the
friends who had given him shillings and clothes. He thought of
Fleawhose Sundays he was spoiling--poor Fleawho ought to be
in them nowshining before his girl. "I daresay he'll be ashamed
and not go to see herand then she'll take the other man." He
was also very hungry. That worm Mrs. Elliot would be through her
lunch by now. Trying his braces round himand tearing up those
old wet documentshe stepped forth to make money. A villainous
young brute he looked: his clothes were dirtyand he had lost
the spring of the morning. Touching the wallsfrowningtalking
to himself at timeshe slouched disconsolately northwards; no
wonder that some tawdry girls screamed at himor that matrons
averted their eyes as they hurried to afternoon church. He
wandered from one suburb to anothertill he was among people
more villainous than himselfwho bought his tobacco from him and
sold him food. Again the neighbourhood "went up and families,
instead of sitting on their doorsteps, would sit behind thick
muslin curtains. Again it would go down" into a more avowed
despair. Far into the night he wandereduntil he came to a
solemn river majestic as a stream in hell. Therein were gathered
the waters of Central England--those that flow off Hindheadoff
the Chilternsoff Wiltshire north of the Plain. Therein they
were made intolerable ere they reached the sea. But the waters he
had known escaped. Their course lay southward into the Avon by
forests and beautiful fieldseven swifteven pureuntil they
mirrored the tower of Christchurch and greeted the ramparts of
the Isle of Wight. Of these he thought for a moment as he crossed
the black river and entered the heart of the modern world.
Here he found employment. He was not hampered by genteel
traditionsandas it was near quarter-daymanaged to get taken
on at a furniture warehouse. He moved people from the suburbs to
Londonfrom London to the suburbsfrom one suburb to another.
His companions were hurried and querulous. In particularhe
loathed the foremana pious humbug who allowed no swearingbut
indulged in something far more degraded--the Cockney repartee.
The London intellectso pert and shallowlike a stream that
never reaches the oceandisgusted him almost as much as the
London physiquewhich for all its dexterity is not permanent
and seldom continues into the third generation. His fatherhad
he known ithad felt the same; for between Mr. Elliot and the
foreman the gulf was socialnot spiritual: both spent their
lives in trying to be clever. And Tony Failing had once put the
thing into words: "There's no such thing as a Londoner. He's only
a country man on the road to sterility."

At the end of ten days he had saved scarcely anything. Once he
passed the bank where a hundred pounds lay ready for himbut it
was still inconvenient for him to take them. Then duty sent him
to a suburb not very far from Sawston. In the evening a man who
was driving a trap asked him to hold itand by mistake tipped


him a sovereign. Stephen called after him; but the man had a
woman with him and wanted to show offand though he had meant to
tip a shillingand could not afford thathe shouted back that
his sovereign was as good as any one'sand that if Stephen did
not think so he could do various things and go to various places.
On the action of this man much depends. Stephen changed the
sovereign into a postal orderand sent it off to the people at
Cadford. It did not pay them backbut it paid them something
and he felt that his soul was free.

A few shillings remained in his pocket. They would have paid his
fare towards Wiltshirea good county; but what should he do
there? Who would employ him? Today the journey did not seem worth
while. "Tomorrowperhaps he thought, and determined to spend
the money on pleasure of another kind. Two-pence went for a ride
on an electric tram. From the top he saw the sun descend--a disc
with a dark red edge. The same sun was descending over Salisbury
intolerably bright. Out of the golden haze the spire would be
piercing, like a purple needle; then mists arose from the Avon
and the other streams. Lamps flickered, but in the outer purity
the villages were already slumbering. Salisbury is only a Gothic
upstart beside these. For generations they have come down to her
to buy or to worship, and have found in her the reasonable crisis
of their lives; but generations before she was built they were
clinging to the soil, and renewing it with sheep and dogs and
men, who found the crisis of their lives upon Stonehenge. The
blood of these men ran in Stephen; the vigour they had won for
him was as yet untarnished; out on those downs they had united with
rough women to make the thing he spoke of as himself"; the last
of them has rescued a woman of a different kind from streets and
houses such as these. As the sun descended he got off the tram
with a smile of expectation. A public-house lay oppositeand a
boy in a dirty uniform was already lighting its enormous lamp.
His lips partedand he went in.

Two hours laterwhen Rickie and Herbert were going the roundsa
brick came crashing at the study window. Herbert peered into the
gardenand a hooligan slipped by him into the housewrecked the
halllurched up the stairsfell against the banistersbalanced
for a moment on his spineand slid over. Herbert called for the
police. Rickiewho was upon the landingcaught the man by the
knees and saved his life.

What is it?cried Agnesemerging.

It's Stephen come back,was the answer. "HulloStephen!"

Hither had Rickie moved in ten days--from disgust to penitence
from penitence to longing from a life of horror to a new lifein
which he still surprised himself by unexpected words. Hullo
Stephen! For the son of his mother had come backto forgive him
as she would have doneto live with himas she had planned.

He's drunk this time,said Agnes wearily. She too had altered:
the scandal was ageing herand Ansell came to the house daily.

Hullo, Stephen!

But Stephen was now insensible.


Stephen, you live here--

Good gracious me!interposed Herbert. "My advice isthat we
all go to bed. The less said the better while our nerves are in this
state. Very
wellRickie. Of courseWonham sleeps the night if you wish." They
carried the
drunken mass into the spare room. A mass of scandal it seemed to one of
thema
symbol of redemption to the other. Neither acknowledged it a manwho
would
answer them back after a few hours' rest.

Ansell thought he would never forgive me,said Rickie. "For
once he's wrong."

Come to bed now, I think.And as Rickie laid his hand on the
sleeper's hairhe addedYou won't do anything foolish, will
you? You are still in a morbid state. Your poor mother--Pardon
me, dear boy; it is my turn to speak out. You thought it was your
father, and minded. It is your mother. Surely you ought to mind
more?

I have been too far back,said Rickie gently. "Ansell took me
on a journey that was even new to him. We got behind right and
wrongto a place where only one thing matters--that the Beloved should
rise
from the dead."

But you won't do anything rash?

Why should I?

Remember poor Agnes,he stammered. "I--I am the first to
acknowledge that we might have pursued a different policy. But we
are committed to it now. It makes no difference whose son he is.
I meanhe is the same person. You and I and my sister stand or
fall together. It was our agreement from the first. I hope--No more of
these
distressing scenes with herthere's a dear fellow. I assure you they
make my
heart bleed."

Things will quiet down now.

To bed now; I insist upon that much.

Very well,said Rickieand when they were in the passage
locked the door from the outside. "We want no more muddles he
explained.

Mr. Pembroke was left examining the hall. The bust of Hermes was
broken. So was the pot of the palm. He could not go to bed
without once more sounding Rickie. You'll do nothing rash he called.
The
notion of him living here wasof coursea passing impulse. We three
have
adopted a common policy."

Now, you go away!called a voice that was almost flippant. "I
never did belong to that great sect whose doctrine is that each
one should select--at leastI'm not going to belong to it any
longer. Go away to bed."


A good night's rest is what you need,threatened Herbertand
retirednot to find one for himself.

But Rickie slept. The guilt of months and the remorse of the last
ten days had alike departed. He had thought that his life was
poisonedand lo! it was purified. He had cursed his motherand
Ansell had repliedYou may be right, but you stand too near to
settle. Step backwards. Pretend that it happened to me. Do you
want me to curse my mother? Now, step forward and see whether
anything has changed.Something had changed. He had journeyed-as
on rare occasions a man must--till he stood behind right and
wrong. On the banks of the grey torrent of lifelove is the only
flower. A little way up the stream and a little way down had
Rickie glancedand he knew that she whom he loved had risen from
the deadand might rise again. "Come away--let them die out--let
them die out." Surely that dream was a vision! To-night also he
hurried to the window--to rememberwith a smilethat Orion is
not among the stars of June.

Let me die out. She will continue,he murmuredand in making
plans for Stephen's happinessfell asleep.

Next morning after breakfast he announced that his brother must
live at Dunwood House. They were awed by the very moderation of
his tone. "There's nothing else to be done. Cadover's hopeless
and a boy of those tendencies can't go drifting. There is also
the question of a profession for himand his allowance."

We have to thank Mr. Ansell for this,was all that Agnes could
say; and "I foresee disaster was the contribution of Herbert.

There's plenty of money about Rickie continued. Quite a
man's-worth too much. It has been one of our absurdities. Don't
look so sadHerbert. I'm sorry for you peoplebut he's sure to
let us down easy." For his experience of drunkards and of Stephen
was small.

He supposed that he had come without malice to renew the offer of
ten days ago.

It is the end of Dunwood House.

Rickie noddedand hoped not. Agneswho was not looking well
began to cry. "Ohit is too bad she complained, when I've
saved you from him all these years." But he could not pity her
nor even sympathize with her wounded delicacy. The time for such
nonsense was over. He would take his share of the blame: it was
cant to assume it all.

Perhaps he was over-hard. He did not realize how large his share
wasnor how his very virtues were to blame for her
deterioration.
If I had a girl, I'd keep her in line,is not the remark of a
fool nor of a cad. Rickie had not kept his wife in line. He had
shown her all the workings of his soulmistaking this for love;
and in consequence she was the worse woman after two years of
marriageand heon this morning of freedomwas harder upon her
than he need have been.

The spare room bell rang. Herbert had a painful struggle between
curiosity and dutyfor the bell for chapel was ringing alsoand
he must go through the drizzle to school. He promised to come up
in the intervalRickiewho had rapped his head that Sunday on
the edge of the tablewas still forbidden to work. Before


him a quiet morning lay. Secure of his victoryhe took the
portrait of their mother in his hand and walked leisurely
upstairs. The bell continued to ring.


See about his breakfast,he called to Agneswho repliedVery
well.The handle of the spare room door was moving slowly. "I'm
coming he cried. The handle was still. He unlocked and entered,
his heart full of charity.


But within stood a man who probably owned the world.


Rickie scarcely knew him; last night he had seemed so colorless,
no negligible. In a few hours he had recaptured motion and
passion and the imprint of the sunlight and the wind. He stood,
not consciously heroic, with arms that dangled from broad
stooping shoulders, and feet that played with a hassock on the
carpet. But his hair was beautiful against the grey sky, and his
eyes, recalling the sky unclouded, shot past the intruder as if
to some worthier vision. So intent was their gaze that Rickie
himself glanced backwards, only to see the neat passage and the
banisters at the top of the stairs. Then the lips beat together
twice, and out burst a torrent of amazing words.


Add it all upand let me know how much. I'd sooner have died.
It never took me that way before. I must have broken pounds' worth.
If you'll not tell the policeI promise you shan't loseMr.
ElliotI swear. But it may be months before I send it.
Everything is to be new. You've not to be a penny out of pocket
do you see? Do let me gothis once again."


What's the trouble?asked Rickieas if they had been friends
for years. "My dear manwe've other things to talk about.
Gracious mewhat a fuss! If you'd smashed the whole house I
wouldn't mindso long as you came back."


I'd sooner have died,gulped Stephen.


You did nearly! It was I who caught you. Never mind yesterday's
rag. What can you manage for breakfast?


The face grew more angry and more puzzled. "Yesterday wasn't a
rag he said without focusing his eyes. I was drunkbut
naturally meant it."


Meant what?


To smash you. Bad liquor did what Mrs. Elliot couldn't. I've put
myself in the wrong. You've got me.


It was a poor beginning.


As I have got you,said Rickiecontrolling himselfI want to
have a talk with you. There has been a ghastly mistake.


But Stephenwith a countryman's persistencycontinued on his
own line. He meant to be civilbut Rickie went cold round the
mouth. For he had not even been angry with them. Until he was
drunkthey had been dirty people--not his sort. Then the trivial
injury recurredand he had reeled to smash them as he passed.
And I will pay for everything,was his refrainwith which the
sighing of raindrops mingled. "You shan't lose a pennyif only
you let me free."


You'll pay for my coffin if you talk like that any longer! Will



you, one, forgive my frightful behaviour; two, live with me?For
his only hope was in a cheerful precision.

Stephen grew more agitated. He thought it was some trick.

I was saying I made an unspeakable mistake. Ansell put me right,
but it was too late to find you. Don't think I got off easily.
Ansell doesn't spare one. And you've got to forgive me, to share
my life, to share my money.--I've brought you this photograph--I
want it to be the first thing you accept from me--you have the
greater right--I know all the story now. You know who it is?

Oh yes; but I don't want to drag all that in.

It is only her wish if we live together. She was planning it
when she died.

I can't follow--because--to share your life? Did you know I
called here last Sunday week?

Yes. But then I only knew half. I thought you were my father's
son.

Stephen's anger and bewilderment were increasing. He stuttered.
What--what's the odds if you did?

I hated my father,said Rickie. "I loved my mother." And never
had the phrases seemed so destitute of meaning.

Last Sunday week,interrupted Stephenhis voice suddenly
risingI came to call on you. Not as this or that's son. Not to
fall on your neck. Nor to live here. Nor--damn your dirty little
mind! I meant to say I didn't come for money. Sorry. Sorry. I
simply came as I was, and I haven't altered since.

Yes--yet our mother--for me she has risen from the dead since
then--I know I was wrong--

And where do I come in?He kicked the hassock. "I haven't risen
from the dead. I haven't altered since last Sunday week. I'm--" He
stuttered again. He could not quite explain what he was. "The man
towards Andover--after allhe was having principles. But you've-"
His voice broke. "I mind it--I'm--I don't alter
--blackguard one week--live here the next--I keep to one or the
other--you've hurt something most badly in me that I didn't know
was there."

Don't let us talk,said Rickie. "It gets worse every minute.
Simply say you forgive me; shake handsand have done with it."

That I won't. That I couldn't. In fact, I don't know what you
mean.

Then Rickie began a new appeal--not to pityfor now he was in no
mood to whimper. For all its pathosthere was something heroic
in this meeting. "I warn you to stop here with meStephen. No one
else in the world will look after you. As far as I knowyou have
never been really unhappy yet or sufferedas you should dofrom
your faults. Last night you nearly killed yourself with drink.
Never mind why I'm willing to cure you. I am willingand I warn
you to give me the chance. Forgive me or notas you choose. I
care for other things more."

Stephen looked at him at lastfaintly approving. The offer was


ridiculousbut it did treat him as a man.

Let me tell you of a fault of mine, and how I was punished for
it,continued Rickie. "Two years ago I behaved badly to youup
at the Rings. Noeven a few days before that. We went for a
rideand I thought too much of other mattersand did not try to
understand you. Then came the Ringsand in the eveningwhen you
called up to me most kindlyI never answered. But the ride was
the beginning. Ever since then I have taken the world at
second-hand. I have bothered less and less to look it in the
face--until not only youbut every one else has turned unreal.
Never Ansell: he kept awayand somehow saved himself. But every
one else. Do you remember in one of Tony Failing's books'Cast
bitter bread upon the watersand after many days it really does
come back to you'? This had been true of my life; it will be
equally true of a drunkard'sand I warn you to stop with me."

I can't stop after that cheque,said Stephen more gently. "But
I do remember the ride. I was a bit bored myself."

Agneswho had not been seeing to the breakfastchose this
moment to call from the passage. "Of course he can't stop she
exclaimed. For better or worseit's settled. We've none of us
altered since last Sunday week."

There you're right, Mrs. Elliot!he shoutedstarting out of
the temperate past. "We haven't altered." With a rare flash of
insight he turned on Rickie. "I see your game. You don't care
about ME drinkingor to shake MY hand. It's some one else you
want to cure--as it werethat old photograph. You talk to me
but all the time you look at the photograph." He snatched it up.

I've my own ideas of good manners, and to look friends between
the eyes is one of them; and this--he tore the photograph across
and this--he tore it again--"and these--" He flung the pieces
at the manwho had sunk into a chair. "For my partI'm off."

Then Rickie was heroic no longer. Turning round in his chairhe
covered his face. The man was right. He did not love himeven as
he had never hated him. In either passion he had degraded him to
be a symbol for the vanished past. The man was rightand would
have been lovable. He longed to be back riding over those windy
fieldsto be back in those mystic circlesbeneath pure sky.
Then they could have watched and helped and taught each other
until the word was a realityand the past not a torn photograph
but Demeter the goddess rejoicing in the spring. Ahif he had
seized those high opportunities! For they led to the highest of
allthe symbolic momentwhichif a man acceptshe has
accepted life.

The voice of Agneswhich had lured him then ("For my sake she
had whispered), pealed over him now in triumph. Abruptly it broke
into sobs that had the effect of rain. He started up. The anger
had died out of Stephen's face, not for a subtle reason but
because here was a woman, near him, and unhappy.

She tried to apologize, and brought on a fresh burst of tears.
Something had upset her. They heard her locking the door of her
room. From that moment their intercourse was changed.

Why does she keep crying today?" mused Rickieas if he spoke to
some mutual friend.

I can make a guess,said Stephenand his heavy face flushed.


Did you insult her?he asked feebly.

But who's Gerald?

Rickie raised his hand to his mouth.

She looked at me as if she knew me, and then gasps 'Gerald,' and
started crying.

Gerald is the name of some one she once knew.

So I thought.There was a long silencein which they could
hear a piteous gulping cough. "Where is he now?" asked Stephen.

Dead.

And then you--?

Rickie nodded.

Bad, this sort of thing.

I didn't know of this particular thing. She acted as if she had
forgotten him. Perhaps she had, and you woke him up. There are
queer tricks in the world. She is overstrained. She has probably
been plotting ever since you burst in last night.

Against me?

Yes.

Stephen stood irresolute. "I suppose you and she pulled
together?" He said at last.

Get away from us, man! I mind losing you. Yet it's as well you
don't stop.

Oh, THAT'S out of the question,said Stephenbrushing his cap.

If you've guessed anything, I'd be obliged if you didn't mention
it. I've no right to ask, but I'd be obliged.

He noddedand walked slowly along the landing and down the
stairs. Rickie accompanied himand even opened the front door.
It was as if Agnes had absorbed the passion out of both of them.
The suburb was now wrapped in a cloudnot of its own making.
Sigh after sigh passed along its streets to break against
dripping walls. The schoolthe houses were hiddenand all
civilization seemed in abeyance. Only the simplest soundsthe
simplest desires emerged. They agreed that this weather was
strange after such a sunset.

That's a collie,said Stephenlistening.

I wish you'd have some breakfast before starting.

No food, thanks. But you knowHe paused. "It's all been a
muddleand I've no objection to your coming along with me."

The cloud descended lower.

Come with me as a man,said Stephenalready out in the mist.
Not as a brother; who cares what people did years back? We're


alive together, and the rest is cant. Here am I, Rickie, and
there are you, a fair wreck. They've no use for you here,--never
had any, if the truth was known,--and they've only made you
beastly. This house, so to speak, has the rot. It's common-sense
that you should come.

Stephen, wait a minute. What do you mean?

Wait's what we won't do,said Stephen at the gate.

I must ask--

He did wait for a minuteand sobs were heardfainthopeless
vindictive. Then he trudged awayand Rickie soon lost his colour
and his form. But a voice persistedsayingCome, I do mean it.
Come; I will take care of you, I can manage you.

The words were kind; yet it was not for their sake that Rickie
plunged into the impalpable cloud. In the voice he had found a
surer guarantee. Habits and sex may change with the new
generationfeatures may alter with the play of a private
passionbut a voice is apart from these. It lies nearer to the
racial essence and perhaps to the divine; it canat all events
overleap one grave.

XXXII

Mr. Pembroke did not receive a clear account of what had happened
when he returned for the interval. His sister--he told her
frankly--was concealing something from him. She could make no
reply. Had she gone madshe wondered. Hitherto she had pretended
to love her husband. Why choose such a moment for the truth?

But I understand Rickie's position,he told her. "It is an
unbalanced positionyet I understand it; I noted its approach
while he was ill. He imagines himself his brother's keeper.
Therefore we must make concessions. We must negotiate." The
negotiations were still progressing in Novemberthe month during
which this story draws to its close.

I understand his position,he then told her. "It is both weak
and defiant. He is still with those Ansells. Read this letter
which thanks me for his little stories. We sent them last month
you remember--such of them as we could find. It seems that he
fills up his time by writing: he has already written a book."

She only gave him half her attentionfor a beautiful wreath had
just arrived from the florist's. She was taking it up to the
cemetery: today her child had been dead a year.

On the other hand, he has altered his will. Fortunately, he
cannot alter much. But I fear that what is not settled on you,
will go. Should I read what I wrote on this point, and also my
minutes of the interview with old Mr. Ansell, and the copy of my
correspondence with Stephen Wonham?

But her fly was announced. While he put the wreath in for her
she ran for a moment upstairs. A few tears had come to her eyes.
A scandalous divorce would have been more bearable than this
withdrawal. People askedWhy did her husband leave her?and
the answer cameOh, nothing particular; he only couldn't stand
her; she lied and taught him to lie; she kept him from the work


that suited him, from his friends, from his brother,--in a word,
she tried to run him, which a man won't pardon.A few tears; not
many. To herlife never showed itself as a classic dramain
whichby trying to advance our fortuneswe shatter them. She
had turned Stephen out of Wiltshireand he fell like a
thunderbolt on Sawston and on herself. In trying to gain Mrs.
Failing's money she had probably lost money which would have been
her own. But irony is a subtle teacherand she was not the woman
to learn from such lessons as these. Her suffering was more
direct. Three men had wronged her; therefore she hated themand
if she couldwould do them harm.

These negotiations are quite useless,she told Herbert when she
came downstairs. "We had much better bide our time. Tell me just
about Stephen Wonhamthough."

He drew her into the study again. "Wonham is or was in Scotland
learning to farm with connections of the Ansells: I believe the
money is to go towards setting him up. Apparently he is a hard
worker. He also drinks!"

She nodded and smiled. "More than he did?"

My informant, Mr. Tilliard--oh, I ought not to have mentioned
his name. He is one of the better sort of Rickie's Cambridge
friends, and has been dreadfully grieved at the collapse, but he
does not want to be mixed up in it. This autumn he was up in the
Lowlands, close by, and very kindly made a few unobtrusive
inquiries for me. The man is becoming an habitual drunkard.

She smiled again. Stephen had evoked her secretand she hated
him more for that than for anything else that he had done. The
poise of his shoulders that morning--it was no more--had recalled
Gerald.

If only she had not been so tired! He had reminded her of the
greatest thing she had knownand to her cloudy mind this seemed
degradation. She had turned to him as to her lover; with a look
which a man of his type understoodshe had asked for his pity;
for one terrible moment she had desired to be held in his arms.
Even Herbert was surprised when she saidI'm glad he drinks. I
hope he'll kill himself. A man like that ought never to have been
born.

Perhaps the sins of the parents are visited on the children,
said Herberttaking her to the carriage. "Yet it is not for us
to decide."

I feel sure he will be punished. What right has he--She broke
off. What right had he to our common humanity? It was a hard
lesson for any one to learn. For Agnes it was impossible.
Stephen was illicitabnormalworse than a man diseased. Yet she
had turned to him: he had drawn out the truth.

My dear, don't cry,said her brotherdrawing up the windows.
I have great hopes of Mr. Tilliard--the Silts have written--Mrs.
Failing will do what she can--

As she drove to the cemeteryher bitterness turned against
Ansellwho had kept her husband alive in the days after
Stephen's expulsion. If he had not been thereRickie would have
renounced his mother and his brother and all the outer world
troubling no one. The mysticinherent in himwould have
prevailed. So Ansell himself had told her. And Anselltoohad


sheltered the fugitives and given them moneyand saved them
from the ludicrous checks that so often stop young men. But when
she reached the cemeteryand stood beside the tiny graveall
her bitternessall her hatred were turned against Rickie.

But he'll come back in the end,she thought. "A wife has only
to wait. What are his friends beside me? They too will marry. I
have only to wait. His booklike all that he has donewill
fail. His brother is drinking himself away. Poor aimless Rickie!
I have only to keep civil. He will come back in the end."

She had movedand found herself close to the grave of Gerald.
The flowers she had planted after his death were deadand she
had not liked to renew them. There lay the athleteand his dust
was as the little child's whom she had brought into the world
with such hopewith such pain.

XXXIII

That same day Rickiefeeling neither poor nor aimlessleft the
Ansells' for a night's visit to Cadover. His aunt had invited
him--whyhe could not thinknor could he think why he should
refuse the invitation. She could not annoy him nowand he was
not vindictive. In the dell near Madingley he had criedI hate
no one,in his ignorance. Nowwith full knowledgehe hated no
one again. The weather was pleasantthe county attractiveand
he was ready for a little change.

Maud and Stewart saw him off. Stephenwho was down for the
holidayhad been left with his chin on the luncheon table. He
had wanted to come also. Rickie pointed out that you cannot visit
where you have broken the windows. There was an argument--there
generally was--and now the young man had turned sulky.

Let him do what he likes,said Ansell. "He knows more than we
do. He knows everything."

Is he to get drunk?Rickie asked.

Most certainly.

And to go where he isn't asked?

Maudthough liking a little spirit in a mandeclared this to be
impossible.

Well, I wish you joy!Rickie calledas the train moved away.
He means mischief this evening. He told me piously that he felt
it beating up. Good-bye!

But we'll wait for you to pass,they cried. For the Salisbury
train always backed out of the station and then returnedand the
Ansell familyincluding Stewarttook an incredible pleasure in
seeing it do this.

The carriage was empty. Rickie settled himself down for his
little journey. First he looked at the coloured photographs. Then
he read the directions for obtaining luncheon-basketsand felt
the texture of the cushions. Through the windows a signal-box
interested him. Then he saw the ugly little town that was now his
homeand up its chief street the Ansells' memorable facade. The
spirit of a genial comedy dwelt there. It was so absurdso


kindly. The house was divided against itself and yet stood.
Metaphysicscommercesocial aspirations--all lived together in
harmony. Mr. Ansell had done muchbut one was tempted to believe
in a more capricious power--the power that abstains from
nipping.One nips or is nipped, and never knows
beforehand,quoted Rickieand opened the poems of Shelleya
man less foolish than you supposed. How pleasant it was to read!
If business worried himif Stephen was noisy or Ansell perverse
there still remained this paradise of books. It seemed as if he
had read nothing for two years.
Then the train stopped for the shuntingand he heard protests
from minor officials who were working on the line. They
complained that some one who didn't ought tohad mounted on
the footboard of the carriage. Stephen's face appearedconvulsed
with laughter. With the action of a swimmer he dived in through
the open windowand fell comfortably on Rickie's luggage and
Rickie. He declared it was the finest joke ever known. Rickie was
not so sure. "You'll be run over next he said. What did you do
that for?"

I'm coming with you,he giggledrolling all that he could on
to the dusty floor.

Now, Stephen, this is too bad. Get up. We went into the whole
question yesterday.

I know; and I settled we wouldn't go into it again, spoiling my
holiday.

Well, it's execrable taste.

Now he was waving to the Ansellsand showing them a piece of
soap: it was all his luggageand even that he abandonedfor he
flung it at Stewart's lofty brow.

I can't think what you've done it for. You know how strongly I
felt.

Stephen replied that he should stop in the village; meet Rickie
at the lodge gates; that kind of thing.

It's execrable taste,he repeatedtrying to keep grave.

Well, you did all you could,he exclaimed with sudden sympathy.
Leaving me talking to old Ansell, you might have thought you'd
got your way. I've as much taste as most chaps, but, hang it!
your aunt isn't the German Emperor. She doesn't own Wiltshire.

You ass!sputtered Rickiewho had taken to laugh at nonsense
again.

No, she isn't,he repeatedblowing a kiss out of the window to
maidens. "Whywe started for Wiltshire on the wet morning!"

When Stewart found us at Sawston railway station?He smiled
happily. "I never thought we should pull through."

Well, we DIDN'T. We never did what we meant. It's nonsense that
I couldn't have managed you alone. I've a notion. Slip out after
your dinner this evening, and we'll get thundering tight
together.

I've a notion I won't.


It'd do you no end of good. You'll get to know people-shepherds,
carters--He waved his arms vaguelyindicating
democracy. "Then you'll sing."

And then?

Plop.

Precisely.

But I'll catch you,promised Stephen. "We shall carry you up
the hill to bed. In the morning you wakehave your row with old
Em'lyshe kicks you outwe meet--we'll meet at the Rings!" He
danced up and down the carriage. Some one in the next carriage
punched at the partitionand when this happensall lads with
mettle know that they must punch the partition back.

Thank you. I've a notion I won't,said Rickie when the noise
had subsided--subsided for a moment onlyfor the following
conversation took place to an accompaniment of dust and bangs.
Except as regards the Rings. We will meet there.

Then I'll get tight by myself.

No, you won't.

Yes, I will. I swore to do something special this evening. I
feel like it.

In that case, I get out at the next station.He was laughing
but quite determined. Stephen had grown too dictatorial of late.
The Ansells spoilt him. "It's bad enough having you there at all.
Having you there drunk is impossible. I'd sooner not visit my
aunt than thinkwhen I sat with herthat you're down in the
village teaching her labourers to be as beastly as yourself. Go
if you will. But not with me."

Why shouldn't I have a good time while I'm young, if I don't
harm any one?said Stephen defiantly.

Need we discuss self.

Oh, I can stop myself any minute I choose. I just say 'I won't'
to you or any other fool, and I don't.

Rickie knew that the boast was true. He continuedThere is also
a thing called Morality. You may learn in the Bible, and also
from the Greeks, that your body is a temple.

So you said in your longest letter.

Probably I wrote like a prig, for the reason that I have never
been tempted in this way; but surely it is wrong that your body
should escape you.

I don't follow,he retortedpunching.

It isn't right, even for a little time, to forget that you
exist.

I suppose you've never been tempted to go to sleep?

Just then the train passed through a coppice in which the grey
undergrowth looked no more alive than firewood. Yet every twig in


it was waiting for the spring. Rickie knew that the analogy was
falsebut argument confused himand he gave up this line of
attack also.

Do be more careful over life. If your body escapes you in one
thing, why not in more? A man will have other temptations.

You mean women,said Stephen quietlypausing for a moment in
this game. "But that's absolutely different. That would be
harming some one else."

Is that the only thing that keeps you straight?

What else should?And he looked not into Rickiebut past him
with the wondering eyes of a child. Rickie noddedand referred
himself to the window.

He observed that the country was smoother and more plastic. The
woods had goneand under a pale-blue sky long contours of earth
were flowingand mergingrising a little to bear some coronal
of beechesparting a little to disclose some green valleywhere
cottages stood under elms or beside translucent waters. It was
Wiltshire at last. The train had entered the chalk. At last it
slackened at a wayside platform. Without speaking he opened the
door.

What's that for?

To go back.

Stephen had forgotten the threat. He said that this was not
playing the game.

Surely!

I can't have you going back.

Promise to behave decently then.

He was seized and pulled away from the door.

We change at Salisbury,he remarked. "There is an hour to
wait. You will find me troublesome."

It isn't fair,exploded Stephen. "It's a lowdown trick. How can
I let you go back?"

Promise, then.

Oh, yes, yes, yes. Y.M.C.A. But for this occasion only.

No, no. For the rest of your holiday.

Yes, yes. Very well. I promise.

For the rest of your life?

Somehow it pleased him that Stephen should bang him crossly with
his elbow and sayNo. Get out. You've gone too far.So had the
train. The porter at the end of the wayside platform slammed the
doorand they proceeded toward Salisbury through the slowly
modulating downs. Rickie pretended to read. Over the book he
watched his brother's faceand wondered how bad temper could be
consistent with a mind so radiant. In spite of his obstinacy and


conceitStephen was an easy person to live with. He never
fidgeted or nursed hidden grievancesor indulged in a shoddy
pride. Though he spent Rickie's money as slowly as he couldhe
asked for it without apology: "You must put it down against me
he would say. In time--it was still very vague--he would rent or
purchase a farm. There is no formula in which we may sum up
decent people. So Ansell had preached, and had of course
proceeded to offer a formula: They must be seriousthey must be
truthful." Serious not in the sense of glum; but they must be
convinced that our life is a state of some importanceand our
earth not a place to beat time on. Of so much Stephen was
convinced: he showed it in his workin his playin his
self-respectand above all--though the fact is hard to face-in
his sacred passion for alcohol. Drinktodayis an unlovely
thing. Between us and the heights of Cithaeron the river of sin
now flows. Yet the cries still call from the mountainand
granted a man has responded to themit is better he respond with
the candour of the Greek.

I shall stop at the Thompsons' now,said the disappointed
reveller. "Prayers."

Rickie did not press his triumphbut it was a happy moment
partly because of the triumphpartly because he was sure that
his brother must care for him. Stephen was too selfish to give up
any pleasure without grave reasons. He was certain that he had
been right to disentangle himself from Sawstonand to ignore the
threats and tears that still tempted him to return. Here there
was real work for him to do. Moreoverthough he sought no
rewardit had come. His health was betterhis brain soundhis
life washed cleannot by the waters of sentimentbut by the
efforts of a fellow-man. Stephen was man firstbrother
afterwards. Herein lay his brutality and also his virtue. "Look
me in the face. Don't hang on me clothes that don't belong--as
you did on your wifegiving her saint's robeswhereas she was
simply a woman of her own sortwho needed careful watching. Tear
up the photographs. Here am Iand there are you. The rest is
cant." The rest was not cantand perhaps Stephen would confess
as much in time. But Rickie needed a tonicand a mannot a
brothermust hold it to his lips.

I see the old spire,he calledand then addedI don't mind
seeing it again.

No one does, as far as I know. People have come from the other
side of the world to see it again.

Pious people. But I don't hold with bishops.He was young
enough to be uneasy. The cathedrala fount of superstitionmust
find no place in his life. At the age of twenty he had settled
things.

I've got my own philosophy,he once told Anselland I don't
care a straw about yours.Ansell's mirth had annoyed him not a
little. And it was strange that one so settled should feel his
heart leap up at the sight of an old spire. "I regard it as a
public building he told Rickie, who agreed. It's usefultoo
as a landmark." His attitude today was defensive. It was part of
a subtle change that Rickie had noted in him since his return
from Scotland. His face gave hints of a new maturity. "You can
see the old spire from the Ridgeway he said, suddenly laying a
hand on Rickie's knee, before rain as clearly as any telegraph
post."


How far is the Ridgeway?

Seventeen miles.

Which direction?

North, naturally. North again from that you see Devizes, the
vale of Pewsey, and the other downs. Also towards Bath. It is
something of a view. You ought to get on the Ridgeway.


I shouldn't have time for that.


Or Beacon Hill. Or let's do Stonehenge.


If it's fine, I suggest the Rings.


It will be fine.Then he murmured the names of villages.


I wish you could live here,said Rickie kindly. "I believe you
love these particular acres more than the whole world."


Stephen replied that this was not the case: he was only used to
them. He wished they were driving outinstead of waiting for the
Cadchurch train.


They had advanced into Salisburyand the cathedrala public
buildingwas grey against a tender sky. Rickie suggested that
while waiting for the trainthey should visit it. He spoke of
the incomparable north porch.
I've never been inside it, and I never will. Sorry to shock you,
Rickie, but I must tell you plainly. I'm an atheist. I don't
believe in anything.


I do,said Rickie.


When a man dies, it's as if he's never been,he asserted. The
train drew up in Salisbury station. Here a little incident took
place which caused them to alter their plans.


They found outside the station a trap driven by a small boywho
had come in from Cadford to fetch some wire-netting. "That'll do
us said Stephen, and called to the boy, If I pay your
railway-ticket backand if I give you sixpence as wellwill you
let us drive back in the trap?" The boy said no. "It will be all
right said Rickie. I am Mrs. Failing's nephew." The boy shook
his head. "And you know Mr. Wonham?" The boy couldn't say he
didn't. "Then what's your objection? Why? What is it? Why not?"
But Stephen leant against the time-tables and spoke of other
matters.


Presently the boy saidDid you say you'd pay my railway-ticket
back, Mr. Wonham?


Yes,said a bystander. "Didn't you hear him?"


I heard him right enough.


Now Stephen laid his hand on the splash-boardsayingWhat I
want, though, is this trap here of yours, see, to drive in back
myself;and as he spoke the bystander followed him in canon
What he wants, though, is that there trap of yours, see, to
drive hisself back in.


I've no objection,said the boyas if deeply offended. For a



time he sat motionlessand then got downremarkingI won't
rob you of your sixpence.

Silly little fool,snapped Rickieas they drove through the
town.

Stephen looked surprised. "What's wrong with the boy? He had to
think it over. No one had asked him to do such a thing before.
Next time he'd let us have the trap quick enough."

Not if he had driven in for a cabbage instead of wire-netting.

He never would drive in for a cabbage.

Rickie shuffled his feet. But his irritation passed. He saw that
the little incident had been a quiet challenge to the
civilization that he had known. "Organize." "Systematize." "Fill
up every moment Induce esprit de corps." He reviewed the
watchwords of the last two yearsand found that they ignored
personal contestpersonal trucespersonal love. By following
them Sawston School had lost its quiet usefulness and become a
frothy seawherein plunged Dunwood Housethat unnecessary ship.
Humbledhe turned to Stephen and saidNo, you're right.
Nothing is wrong with the boy. He was honestly thinking it out.
But Stephen had forgotten the incidentor else he was not
inclined to talk about it. His assertive fit was over.

The direct road from Salisbury to Cadover is extremely dull. The
city--which God intended to keep by the river; did she not move
therebeing thirstyin the reign of William Rufus?--the city
had strayed out of her own plainclimbed up her slopesand
tumbled over them in ugly cataracts of brick. The cataracts are
still shortand doubtless they meet or create some commercial
need. But instead of looking towards the cathedralas all the
city shouldthey look outwards at a pagan entrenchmentas the
city should not. They neglect the poise of the earthand the
sentiments she has decreed. They are the modern spirit.

Through them the road descends into an unobtrusive country where
neverthelessthe power of the earth grows stronger. Streams do
divide. Distances do still exist. It is easier to know the men in
your valley than those who live in the nextacross a waste of
down. It is easier to know men well. The country is not paradise
and can show the vices that grieve a good man everywhere. But
there is room in itand leisure.

I suppose,said Rickie as the twilight fellthis kind of
thing is going on all over England.Perhaps he meant that towns
are after all excrescencesgrey fluxionswhere menhurrying
to find one anotherhave lost themselves. But he got no
responseand expected none. Turning round in his seathe
watched the winter sun slide out of a quiet sky. The horizon was
primroseand the earth against it gave momentary hints of
purple. All faded: no pageant would conclude the gracious day
and when he turned eastward the night was already established.

Those verlands--said Stephenscarcely above his breath.

What are verlands?

He pointed at the duskand saidOur name for a kind of field.
Then he drove his whip into its socketand seemed to swallow
something. Rickiestraining his eyes for verlandscould only
see a tumbling wilderness of brown.


Are there many local words?

There have been.

I suppose they die out.

The conversation turned curiously. In the tone of one who
replieshe saidI expect that some time or other I shall
marry.

I expect you will,said Rickieand wondered a little why the
reply seemed not abrupt. "Would we see the Rings in the daytime
from here?"

(We do see them.) But Mrs. Failing once said no decent woman
would have me.

Did you agree to that?

Drive a little, will you?

The horse went slowly forward into the wildernessthat turned
from brown to black. Then a luminous glimmer surrounded themand
the air grew cooler: the road was descending between parapets of
chalk.

But, Rickie, mightn't I find a girl--naturally not refined--and
be happy with her in my own way? I would tell her straight I was
nothing much--faithful, of course, but that she should never have
all my thoughts. Out of no disrespect to her, but because all
one's thoughts can't belong to any single person.

While he spoke even the road vanishedand invisible water came
gurgling through the wheel-spokes. The horse had chosen the ford.
You can't own people. At least a fellow can't. It may be
different for a poet. (Let the horse drink.) And I want to marry
some one, and don't yet know who she is, which a poet again will
tell you is disgusting. Does it disgust you? Being nothing much,
surely I'd better go gently. For it's something rather outside
that makes one marry, if you follow me: not exactly oneself.
(Don't hurry the horse.) We want to marry, and yet--I can't
explain. I fancy I'll go wading: this is our stream.

Romantic love is greater than this. There are men and women--we
know it from history--who have been born into the world for each
otherand for no one elsewho have accomplished the longest
journey locked in each other's arms. But romantic love is also
the code of modern moralsandfor this reasonpopular. Eternal
unioneternal ownership--these are tempting baits for the
average man. He swallows themwill not confess his mistake
and--perhaps to cover it--cries "dirty cynic" at such a man as
Stephen.

Rickie watched the black earth unite to the black sky. But the
sky overhead grew clearerand in it twinkled the Plough and the
central stars. He thought of his brother's future and of his own
pastand of how much truth might lie in that antithesis of
Ansell's: "A man wants to love mankinda woman wants to love one
man." At all eventshe and his wife had illustrated itand
perhaps the conflictso tragic in their own casewas elsewhere
the salt of the world. Meanwhile Stephen called from the water
for matches: there was some trick with paper which Mr. Failing
had showed himand which he would show Rickie nowinstead of


talking nonsense. Bending downhe illuminated the dimpled
surface of the ford. "Quite a current." he saidand his face
flickered out in the darkness. "Yesgive me the loose paper
quick! Crumple it into a ball."

Rickie obeyedthough intent on the transfigured face. He
believed that a new spirit dwelt thereexpelling the crudities
of youth. He saw steadier eyesand the sign of manhood set like
a bar of gold upon steadier lips. Some faces are knit by beauty
or by intellector by a great passion: had Stephen's waited for
the touch of the years?

But they played as boys who continued the nonsense of the railway
carriage. The paper caught fire from the matchand spread into a
rose of flame. "Now gently with me said Stephen, and they laid
it flowerlike on the stream. Gravel and tremulous weeds leapt
into sight, and then the flower sailed into deep water, and up
leapt the two arches of a bridge. It'll strike!" they cried;
no, it won't; it's chosen the left,and one arch became a fairy
tunneldropping diamonds. Then it vanished for Rickie; but
Stephenwho knelt in the waterdeclared that it was still
afloatfar through the archburning as if it would burn
forever.

XXXIV

The carriage that Mrs. Failing had sent to meet her nephew
returned from Cadchurch station empty. She was preparing for a
solitary dinner when he somehow arrivedfull of apologiesbut
more sedate than she had expected. She cut his explanations
short. "Never mind how you got here. You are hereand I am quite
pleased to see you." He changed his clothes and they proceeded to
the dining-room.

There was a bright firebut the curtains were not drawn. Mr.
Failing had believed that windows with the night behind are more
beautiful than any picturesand his widow had kept to the
custom. It was brave of her to perseverelumps of chalk having
come out of the night last June. For some obscure reason--not so
obscure to Rickie--she had preserved them as mementoes of an
episode. Seeing them in a row on the mantelpiecehe expected
that their first topic would be Stephen. But they never mentioned
himthough he was latent in all that they said.

It was of Mr. Failing that they spoke. The Essays had been a
success. She was really pleased. The book was brought in at her
requestand between the courses she read it aloud to her nephew
in her soft yet unsympathetic voice. Then she sent for the press
notices--after all no one despises them--and read their comments
on her introduction. She wielded a graceful penwas apt
adequatesuggestiveindispensableunnecessary. So the meal
passed pleasantly awayfor no one could so well combine the
formal with the unconventionaland it only seemed charming when
papers littered her stately table.

My man wrote very nicely,she observed. "Nowyou read me
something out of him that you like. Read 'The True Patriot.'"

He took the book and found: "Let us love one another. Let our
childrenphysical and spirituallove one another. It is all
that we can do. Perhaps the earth will neglect our love. Perhaps
she will confirm itand suffer some rallying-pointspire
moundfor the new generatons to cherish."


He wrote that when he was young. Later on he doubted whether we
had better love one another, or whether the earth will confirm
anything. He died a most unhappy man.

He could not help sayingNot knowing that the earth had
confirmed him.

Has she? It is quite possible. We meet so seldom in these days,
she and I. Do you see much of the earth?

A little.

Do you expect that she will confirm you?

It is quite possible.

Beware of her, Rickie, I think.

I think not.

Beware of her, surely. Going back to her really is going back-throwing
away the artificiality which (though you young people
won't confess it) is the only good thing in life. Don't pretend
you are simple. Once I pretended. Don't pretend that you care for
anything but for clever talk such as this, and for books.

The talk,said Leighton afterwardscertainly was clever. But
it meant something, all the same.He heard no morefor his
mistress told him to retire.

And my nephew, this being so, make up your quarrel with your
wife.She stretched out her hand to him with real feeling. "It
is easier now than it will be later. Poor ladyshe has written
to me foolishly and oftenbuton the wholeI side with her
against you. She would grant you all that you fought for--all the
peopleall the theories. I have itin her writingthat she
will never interfere with your life again."

She cannot help interfering,said Rickiewith his eyes on the
black windows. "She despises me. BesidesI do not love her."

I know, my dear. Nor she you. I am not being sentimental. I say
once more, beware of the earth. We are conventional people, and
conventions--if you will but see it--are majestic in their way,
and will claim us in the end. We do not live for great passions
or for great memories, or for anything great.

He threw up his head. "We do."

Now listen to me. I am serious and friendly tonight, as you must
have observed. I have asked you here partly to amuse myself--you
belong to my March Past--but also to give you good advice. There
has been a volcano--a phenomenon which I too once greatly
admired. The eruption is over. Let the conventions do their work
now, and clear the rubbish away. My age is fifty-nine, and I tell
you solemnly that the important things in life are little things,
and that people are not important at all. Go back to your wife.

He looked at herand was filled with pity. He knew that he would
never be frightened of her again. Only because she was serious
and friendly did he trouble himself to reply. "There is one
little fact I should like to tell youas confuting your theory.
The idea of a story--a long story--had been in my head for a


year. As a dream to amuse myself--the kind of amusement you would
recommend for the future. I should have had time to write itbut
the people round me coloured my lifeand so it never seemed
worth while. For the story is not likely to pay. Then came the
volcano. A few days after it was over I lay in bed looking out
upon a world of rubbish. Two men I know--one intellectualthe
other very much the reverse--burst into the room. They said
'What happened to your short stories? They weren't goodbut
where are they? Why have you stopped writing? Why haven't you
been to Italy? You must write. You must go. Because to writeto
gois you." WellI have writtenand yesterday we sent the long
story out on its rounds. The men do not like itfor different
reasons. But it mattered very much to them that I should write
itand so it got written. As I told youthis is only one fact;
other factsI trusthave happened in the last five months. But
I mention it to prove that people are importantand therefore
however much it inconveniences my wifeI will not go back to
her."

And Italy?asked Mrs. Failing.

This question he avoided. Italy must wait. Now that he had the
timehe had not the money.

Or what is the long story about, then?

About a man and a woman who meet and are happy.

Somewhat of a tour de force, I conclude.

He frowned. "In literature we needn't intrude our own
limitations. I'm not so silly as to think that all marriages turn
out like mine. My character is to blame for our catastrophenot
marriage."

My dear, I too have married; marriage is to blame.

But here again he seemed to know better.

Well,she saidleaving the table and moving with her dessert
to the mantelpieceso you are abandoning marriage and taking to
literature. And are happy.

Yes.

Because, as we used to say at Cambridge, the cow is there. The
world is real again. This is a room, that a window, outside is
the night

Go on.

He pointed to the floor. "The day is straight belowshining
through other windows into other rooms."

You are very odd,she said after a pauseand I do not like
you at all. There you sit, eating my biscuits, and all the time
you know that the earth is round. Who taught you? I am going to
bed now, and all the night, you tell me, you and I and the
biscuits go plunging eastwards, until we reach the sun. But
breakfast will be at nine as usual. Good-night.

She rang the bell twiceand her maid came with her candle and
her walking-stick: it was her habit of late to go to her room as
soon as dinner was overfor she had no one to sit up with.


Rickie was impressed by her lonelinessand also by the mixture
in her of insight and obtuseness. She was so quickso
clear-headedso imaginative even. But all the sameshe had
forgotten what people were like. Finding life dullshe had
dropped lies into itas a chemist drops a new element into a
solutionhoping that life would thereby sparkle or turn some
beautiful colour. She loved to mislead othersand in the end her
private view of false and true was obscuredand she misled
herself. How she must have enjoyed their errors over Stephen! But
her own error had been greaterinasmuch as it was spiritual
entirely.

Leighton came in with some coffee. Feeling it unnecessary to
light the drawing-room lamp for one small young manhe persuaded
Rickie to say he preferred the dining-room. So Rickie sat down by
the fire playing with one of the lumps of chalk. His thoughts
went back to the fordfrom which they had scarcely wandered.
Still he heard the horse in the dark drinkingstill he saw the
mystic roseand the tunnel dropping diamonds. He had driven away
alonebelieving the earth had confirmed him. He stood behind
things at lastand knew that conventions are not majesticand
that they will not claim us in the end.

As he musedthe chalk slipped from his fingersand fell on the
coffee-cupwhich broke. The chinasaid Leightonwas expensive.
He believed it was impossible to match it now. Each cup was
different. It was a harlequin set. The saucerwithout the cup
was therefore useless. Would Mr. Elliot please explain to Mrs.
Failing how it happened.

Rickie promised he would explain.

He had left Stephen preparing to batheand had heard him working
up-stream like an animalsplashing in the shallowsbreathing
heavily as he swam the pools; at times reeds snappedor clods of
earth were pulled in. By the fire he remembered it was again
November. "Should you like a walk?" he asked Leightonand told
him who stopped in the village tonight. Leighton was pleased. At
nine o'clock the two young men left the houseunder a sky that
was still only bright in the zenith. "It will rain tomorrow
Leighton said.

My brother saysfine tomorrow."

Fine tomorrow,Leighton echoed.

Now which do you mean?asked Rickielaughing.

Since the plumes of the fir-trees touched over the driveonly a
very little light penetrated. It was clearer outside the lodge
gateand bubbles of airwhich Wiltshire seemed to have
travelled from an immense distancebroke gently and separately
on his face. They paused on the bridge. He asked whether the
little fish and the bright green weeds were here now as well as
in the summer. The footman had not noticed. Over the bridge they
came to the cross-roadsof which one led to Salisbury and the
other up through the string of villages to the railway station.
The road in front was only the Roman roadthe one that went on
to the downs. Turning to the leftthey were in Cadford.

He will be with the Thompsons,said Rickielooking up at dark
eaves. "Perhaps he's in bed already."

Perhaps he will be at The Antelope.


No. Tonight he is with the Thompsons.

With the Thompsons.After a dozen paces he saidThe Thompsons
have gone away.

Where? Why?

They were turned out by Mr. Wilbraham on account of our broken
windows.

Are you sure?

Five families were turned out.

That's bad for Stephen,said Rickieafter a pause. "He was
looking forward--ohit's monstrous in any case!"

But the Thompsons have gone to London,said Leighton. "Why
that family--they say it's been in the valley hundreds of years
and never got beyond shepherding. To various parts of London."

Let us try The Antelope, then.

Let us try The Antelope.

The inn lay up in the village. Rickie hastened his pace. This
tyranny was monstrous. Some men of the age of undergraduates had
broken windowsand therefore they and their families were to be
ruined. The fools who govern us find it easier to be severe. It
saves them trouble to sayThe innocent must suffer with the
guilty.It even gives them a thrill of pride. Against all this
wicked nonsenseagainst the Wilbrahams and Pembrokes who try to
rule our world Stephen would fight till he died. Stephen was a
hero. He was a law to himselfand rightly. He was great enough
to despise our small moralities. He was attaining love. This evening
Rickie caught Ansell's enthusiasmand felt it worth while
to sacrifice everything for such a man.

The Antelope,said Leighton. "Those lights under the greatest
elm."

Would you please ask if he's there, and if he'd come for a turn
with me. I don't think I'll go in.

Leighton opened the door. They saw a little roomblue with
tobacco-smoke. Flanking the fire were deep settles hiding all but
the legs of the men who lounged in them. Between the settles
stood a tablecovered with mugs and glasses. The scene was
picturesque--fairer than the cutglass palaces of the town.

Oh yes, he's there,he calledand after a moment's hesitation
came out.

Would he come?

No. I shouldn't say so,replied Leightonwith a furtive
glance. He knew that Rickie was a milksop. "First nightyou
knowsiramong old friends."

Yes, I know,said Rickie. "But he might like a turn down the
village. It looks stuffy inside thereand poor fun probably to
watch others drinking."


Leighton shut the door.

What was that he called after you?

Oh, nothing. A man when he's drunk--he says the worst he's ever
heard. At least, so they say.


A man when he's drunk?


Yes, Sir.


But Stephen isn't drinking?


No, no.


He couldn't be. If he broke a promise--I don't pretend he's a
saint. I don't want him one. But it isn't in him to break a
promise.


Yes, sir; I understand.


In the train he promised me not to drink--nothing theatrical:
just a promise for these few days.


No, sir.
'No, sir,'stamped Rickie. "'Yes! no! yes!' Can't you speak
out? Is he drunk or isn't he?"


Leightonjustly exasperatedcriedHe can't stand, and I've
told you so again and again.


Stephen!shouted Rickiedarting up the steps. Heat and the
smell of beer awaited himand he spoke more furiously than he
had intended. "Is there any one here who's sober?" he cried. The
landlord looked over the bar angrilyand asked him what he
meant. He pointed to the deep settles. "Inside there he's drunk.
Tell him he's broken his wordand I will not go with him to the
Rings."


Very well. You won't go with him to the Rings,said the
landlordstepping forward and slamming the door in his face.


In the room he was only angrybut out in the cool air he
remembered that Stephen was a law to himself. He had chosen to
break his wordand would break it again. Nothing else bound him.
To yield to temptation is not fatal for most of us. But it was
the end of everything for a hero.


He's suddenly ruined!he criednot yet remembering himself.
For a little he stood by the elm-treeclutching the ridges of
its bark. Even so would he wrestle tomorrowand Stephen
imperturbablereplyMy body is my own.Or worse stillhe
might wrestle with a pliant Stephen who promised him glibly
again. While he prayed for a miracle to convert his brotherit
struck him that he must pray for himself. For hetoowas
ruined.


Why, what's the matter?asked Leighton. "Stephen's only being
with friends. Mr. Elliotsirdon't break down. Nothing's
happened bad. No one's died yetor even hurt themselves." Ever
kindhe took hold of Rickie's armandpitying such a nervous
fellowset out with him for home. The shoulders of Orion rose
behind them over the topmost boughs of the elm. From the bridge
the whole constellation was visibleand Rickie saidMay God



receive me and pardon me for trusting the earth.

But, Mr. Elliot, what have you done that's wrong?

Gone bankrupt, Leighton, for the second time. Pretended again
that people were real. May God have mercy on me!

Leighton dropped his arm. Though he did not understanda chill
of disgust passed over himand he saidI will go back to The
Antelope. I will help them put Stephen to bed.

Do. I will wait for you here.Then he leant against the parapet
and prayed passionatelyfor he knew that the conventions would
claim him soon. God was beyond thembut ahhow far beyondand
to be reached after what degradation! At the end of this childish
detour his wife awaited himnot less surely because she was only
his wife in name. He was too weak. Books and friends were not
enough. Little by little she would claim him and corrupt him and
make him what he had been; and the woman he loved would die out
in drunkennessin debaucheryand her strength would be
dissipated by a manher beauty defiled in a man. She would not
continue. That mystic rose and the face it illumined meant
nothing. The stream--he was above it now--meant nothingthough
it burst from the pure turf and ran for ever to the sea. The
batherthe shoulders of Orion-they all meant nothingand were
going nowhere. The whole affair was a ridiculous dream.

Leighton returnedsayingHaven't you seen Stephen? They say he
followed us: he can still walk: I told you he wasn't so bad.

I don't think he passed me. Ought one to look?He wandered a
little along the Roman road. Again nothing mattered. At the
level-crossing he leant on the gate to watch a slow goods train
pass. In the glare of the engine he saw that his brother had come
this wayperhaps through some sodden memory of the Ringsand
now lay drunk over the rails. Wearily he did a man's duty. There
was time to raise him up and push him into safety. It is also a
man's duty to save his own lifeand therefore he tried. The
train went over his knees. He died up in Cadoverwhispering
You have been right,to Mrs. Failing.

She wrote of him to Mrs. Lewin afterwards as "one who has failed
in all he undertook; one of the thousands whose dust returns to
the dustaccomplishing nothing in the interval. Agnes and I
buried him to the sound of our cracked belland pretended that
he had once been alive. The otherwho was always honestkept
away."

>From the window they looked over a sober valleywhose sides were
not too sloping to be ploughedand whose trend was followed by a
grass-grown track. It was late on Sunday afternoonand the
valley was deserted except for one labourerwho was coasting
slowly downward on a rosy bicycle. The air was very quiet. A jay
screamed up in the woods behindbut the ring-doveswho roost
earlywere already silent. Since the window opened westwardthe
room was flooded with lightand Stephenfinding it hotwas
working in his shirtsleeves.

You guarantee they'll sell?he askedwith a pen between his
teeth. He was tidying up a pile of manuscripts.


I guarantee that the world will be the gainer,said Mr.
Pembrokenow a clergymanwho sat beside him at the table with
an expression of refined disapproval on his face.

I'd got the idea that the long story had its points, but that
these shorter things didn't--what's the word?

'Convince' is probably the word you want. But that type of
criticism is quite a thing of the past. Have you seen the
illustrated American edition?

I don't remember.

Might I send you a copy? I think you ought to possess one.

Thank you.His eye wandered. The bicycle had disappeared into
some treesand thitherthrough a cloudless skythe sun was
also descending.

Is all quite plain?said Mr. Pembroke. "Submit these ten
stories to the magazinesand make your own terms with the
editors. Then--I have your word for it--you will join forces with
me; and the four stories in my possessiontogether with yours
should make up a volumewhich we might well call 'Pan Pipes.'"

Are you sure `Pan Pipes' haven't been used up already?

Mr. Pembroke clenched his teeth. He had been bearing with this
sort of thing for nearly an hour. "If that is the casewe can
select another. A title is easy to come by. But that is the idea
it must suggest. The storiesas I have twice explained to you
all centre round a Nature theme. Panbeing the god of--"

I know that,said Stephen impatiently.

--Being the god of--

All right. Let's get furrard. I've learnt that.

It was years since the schoolmaster had been interruptedand he
could not stand it. "Very well he said. I bow to your superior
knowledge of the classics. Let us proceed."

Oh yes the introduction. There must be one. It was the
introduction with all those wrong details that sold the other
book.

You overwhelm me. I never penned the memoir with that
intention.

If you won't do one, Mrs. Keynes must!

My sister leads a busy life. I could not ask her. I will do it
myself since you insist.

And the binding?

The binding,said Mr. Pembroke coldlymust really be left to
the discretion of the publisher. We cannot be concerned with such
details. Our task is purely literary.His attention wandered. He
began to fidgetand finally bent down and looked under the
table. "What have we here?" he asked.


Stephen looked alsoand for a moment they smiled at each other
over the prostrate figure of a childwho was cuddling Mr.
Pembroke's boots. "She's after the blacking he explained. If
we left her thereshe'd lick them brown."

Indeed. Is that so very safe?

It never did me any harm. Come up! Your tongue's dirty.

Can I--She was understood to ask whether she could clean her
tongue on a lollie.

No, no!said Mr. Pembroke. "Lollipops don't clean little girls'
tongues."

Yes, they do,he retorted. "But she won't get one." He lifted
her on his kneeand rasped her tongue with his handkerchief.

Dear little thing,said the visitor perfunctorily. The
child began to squalland kicked her father in the stomach.
Stephen regarded her quietly. "You tried to hurt me he said.
Hurting doesn't count. Trying to hurt counts. Go and clean your
tongue yourself. Get off my knee." Tears of another sort came
into her eyesbut she obeyed him. "How's the great Bertie?" he
asked.

Thank you. My nephew is perfectly well. How came you to hear of
his existence?

Through the Silts, of course. It isn't five miles to Cadover.

Mr. Pembroke raised his eyes mournfully. "I cannot conceive how
the poor Silts go on in that great house. Whatever she intended
it could not have been that. The housethe farmthe money-everything
down to the personal articles that belong to Mr.
Failingand should have reverted to his family!"

It's legal. Interstate succession.

I do not dispute it. But it is a lesson to one to make a will.
Mrs. Keynes and myself were electrified.

They'll do there. They offered me the agency, but--He looked
down the cultivated slopes. His manners were growing roughfor
he saw few gentlemen nowand he was either incoherent or else
alarmingly direct. "Howeverif Lawrie Silt's a Cockney like his
fatherand if my next is a boy and like me--" A shy beautiful
look came into his eyesand passed unnoticed. "They'll do he
repeated. They turned out Wilbraham and built new cottagesand
bridged the railwayand made other necessary alterations." There
was a moment's silence.

Mr. Pembroke took out his watch. "I wonder if I might have the
trap? I mustn't miss my trainmust I? It is good of you to have
granted me an interview. It is all quite plain?"

Yes.

A case of half and half-division of profits.

Half and half?said the young farmer slowly. "What do you take
me for? Half and halfwhen I provide ten of the stories and you
only four?"


I--I--stammered Mr. Pembroke.

I consider you did me over the long story, and I'm damned if you
do me over the short ones!

Hush! if you please, hush!--if only for your little girl's
sake.

He lifted a clerical palm.

You did me,his voice droveand all the thirty-nine Articles
won't stop me saying so. That long story was meant to be mine. I
got it written. You've done me out of every penny it fetched.
It's dedicated to me--flat out--and you even crossed out the
dedication and tidied me out of the introduction. Listen to me,
Pembroke. You've done people all your life--I think without
knowing it, but that won't comfort us. A wretched devil at your
school once wrote to me, and he'd been done. Sham food, sham
religion, sham straight talks--and when he broke down, you said
it was the world in miniature.He snatched at him roughly. "But
I'll show you the world." He twisted him round like a babyand
through the open door they saw only the quiet valleybut in it a
rivulet that would in time bring its waters to the sea. "Look
even at that--and up behind where the Plain begins and you get on
the solid chalk--think of us riding some night when you're
ordering your hot bottle--that's the worldand there's no
miniature world. There's one worldPembrokeand you can't tidy
men out of it. They answer you back do you hear?--they answer
back if you do them. If you tell a man this way that four sheep
equal tenhe answers back you're a liar."

Mr. Pembroke was speechlessand--such is human nature--he chiefly
resented the allusion to the hot bottle; an unmanly luxury in which
he never indulged; contenting himself with nightsocks. "Enough-there
is no witness present--as you have doubtless observed." But
there was. For a little voice criedOh, mummy, they're fighting-such
fun--and feet went pattering up the stairs. "Enough. You
talk of 'doing' but what about the money out of which you 'did' my
sister? What about this picture"--he pointed to a faded photograph
of Stockholm--"which you caused to be filched from the walls of my
house? What about--enough! Let us conclude this disheartening
scene. You object to my terms. Name yours. I shall accept them.
It is futile to reason with one who is the worse for drink."

Stephen was quiet at once. "Steady on!" he said gently. "Steady
on in that direction. Take one-third for your four stories and
the introductionand I will keep two-thirds for myself." Then he
went to harness the horsewhile Mr. Pembrokewatching his
broad backdesired to bury a knife in it. The desire passed
partly because it was unclericalpartly because he had no knife
and partly because he soon blurred over what had happened. To him
all criticism was "rudeness": he never heeded itfor he never
needed it: he was never wrong. All his life he had ordered little
human beings aboutand now he was equally magisterial to big
ones: Stephen was a fifth-form lout whomowing to some flaw in
the regulationshe could not send up to the headmaster to be
caned.

This attitude makes for tranquillity. Before long he felt merely
an injured martyr. His brain cleared. He stood deep in thought
before the only other picture that the bare room boasted--the
Demeter of Cnidus. Outside the sun was sinkingand its last rays
fell upon the immortal features and the shattered knees. Sweet-
peas offered their fragranceand with it there entered those


more mysterious scents that come from no one flower or clod of
earthbut from the whole bosom of evening.
He tried not to be cynical. But in his heart he could not regret
that tragedyalready half-forgottenconventionalized
indistinct. Of course death is a terrible thing. Yet death is
merciful when it weeds out a failure. If we look deep enoughit
is all for the best. He stared at the picture and nodded.

Stephenwho had met his visitor at the stationhad intended to
drive him back there. But after their spurt of temper he sent him
with the boy. He remained in the doorwayglad that he was going
to make moneyglad that he had been angry; while the glow of the
clear sky deepenedand the silence was perfectedand the scents
of the night grew stronger. Old vagrancies awokeand he resolved
thatdearly as he loved his househe would not enter it again
till dawn. "Goodnight!" he calledand then the child came
runningand he whisperedQuick, then! Bring me a rug.
Good-night,he repeatedand a pleasant voice called through an
upper windowWhy good-night?He did not answer until the child
was wrapped up in his arms.

It is time that she learnt to sleep out,he cried. "If you want
mewe're out on the hillsidewhere I used to be."

The voice protestedsaying this and that.

Stewart's in the house,said the manand it cannot matter,
and I am going anyway.

Stephen, I wish you wouldn't. I wish you wouldn't take her.
Promise you won't say foolish things to her. Don't--I wish you'd
come up for a minute--

The childwhose face was laid against hisfelt the muscles in
it harden.

Don't tell her foolish things about yourself--things that aren't
any longer true. Don't worry her with old dead dreadfulness. To
please me--don't.

Just tonight I won't, then.

Stevie, dear, please me more--don't take her with you.

At this he laughed impertinently. "I suppose I'm being kept in
line she called, and, though he could not see her, she
stretched her arms towards him. For a time he stood motionless,
under her window, musing on his happy tangible life. Then his
breath quickened, and he wondered why he was here, and why he
should hold a warm child in his arms. It's time we were
starting he whispered, and showed the sky, whose orange was
already fading into green. Wish everything goodnight."

Good-night, dear mummy,she said sleepily. "Goodnightdear
house. Good-nightyou pictures--long picture--stone lady. I see
you through the window--your faces are pink."

The twilight descended. He rested his lips on her hairand
carried herwithout speakinguntil he reached the open down. He
had often slept here himselfaloneand on his wedding-night
and he knew that the turf was dryand that if you laid your face
to it you would smell the thyme. For a moment the earth aroused
herand she began to chatter. "My prayers--" she said anxiously.
He gave her one handand she was asleep before her fingers had


nestled in its palm. Their touch made him pensiveand again he
marvelled why hethe accidentwas here. He was alive and had
created life. By whose authority? Though he could not phrase it
he believed that he guided the future of our raceand that
century after centuryhis thoughts and his passions would
triumph in England. The dead who had evoked himthe unborn whom
he would evoke he governed the paths between them. By whose
authority?

Out in the west lay Cadover and the fields of his earlier youth
and over them descended the crescent moon. His eyes followed her
declineand against her final radiance he sawor thought he
sawthe outline of the Rings. He had always been gratefulas
people who understood him knew. But this evening his gratitude
seemed a gift of small account. The ear was deafand what thanks
of his could reach it? The body was dustand in what ecstasy of
his could it share? The spirit had fledin agony and loneliness
never to know that it bequeathed him salvation.

He filled his pipeand then sat pressing the unlit tobacco with
his thumb. "What am I to do?" he thought. "Can he notice the
things he gave me? A parson would know. But what's a man like me
to dowho works all his life out of doors?" As he wonderedthe
silence of the night was broken. The whistle of Mr. Pembroke's
train came faintlyand a lurid spot passed over the land-passed
and the silence returned. One thing remained that a man
of his sort might do. He bent down reverently and saluted the
child; to whom he had given the name of their mother.