The Yellow Book
An Illustrated Quarterly
Volume XI October 1896
I. The Happy Hypocrite . By Max Beerbohm . Page 11
II. A Ballad of Cornwall . F. B. Money Coutts . 45
III. The Friend of Man . Henry Harland . . 51
IV. The Poetry of John Barlas . H. S. Salt . . . 80
V. The White Statue . Olive Custance . . 91
VI. Scarlet Runners . J. S. Pyke Nott . . 97
VII. The Elsingfords . . Robert Shews . . . 101
VIII. The Love Germ . . Constance Cotterell . 125
IX. Stories Toto Told Me . Baron Corvo. . . 143
X. Two Poems . . . Alma Strettell . . 163
XI. An Early Chapter . . H. Gilbert . . . 168
XII. The Heavenly Lover B. Paul Neuman . . 184
XIII. The Uttermost Farthing B. Paul Neuman . . 184
XIV. The Secret . . . T. Mackenzie . . 233
XV. A Chef d’œuvre . . Reginald Turner . . 237
XVI. The Closed Manuscript . Constance Finch . . 248
XVII. Chopin Op. 47 . . Stanley V. Makower . 250
XVIII. Lot 99 . . . . Ada Radford . . . 267
XIX. The Wind and the Tree Charles Catty . . 282
XX. Gabriele d’Annunzio . Eugene Benson . . . 284
XXI. The Darkened Room . Elsie Higginbotham . 300
XXII. A Marriage . . . Ella D’Arcy . . . 309
The Yellow Book — Vol. XI. — October, 1896
I. The Yellow Dwarf. By Max Beerbohm . Page 7
II. The Child’s World . Charles Robinson . . 48
III. Recreations of Cupid . Charles Conder . . 92
IV. A Romance . . . Charles Conder . . 92
V. St. Columb’s Porth, CornwallGertrude Prideaux-Brune . 140
VI. Bodley Heads, No. 5—Portrait of Mr. G. S. Street Francis Howard . . 230
VII. Bradda Head, Isle of Man . . . C. F. Pears . . . 259
VIII. Aberystwith, from Constitution Hill . . C. F. Pears . . . 259
IX. Study of a Head . . C. F. Pears . . . 259
X. The War Horses of Rustem . . . Patten Wilson . . . 301
XI. A Phantasy . . . Patten Wilson . . . 301
XII. ” So the wind drove us on Patten Wilson . . . 301
to the cavern of gloom
Where we fell in the toils
of the foul sea-snake ;
Their scaly folds drew us on
to our doom
Pray for us, stranger, for
Christ’s sweet sake.
The Title-page and Front Cover are by
The Happy Hypocrite
NONE, it is said, of all who revelled with the Regent, was half
so wicked as Lord George Hell. I will not trouble my
little readers with a long recital of his great naughtiness. But it
were well they should know that he was greedy, destructive, and
disobedient. I am afraid there is no doubt that he often sat up
at Carlton House until long after bed-time, playing at games,
and that he generally ate and drank far more than was good for
him. His fondness for fine clothes was such, that he used to
dress on week-days quite as gorgeously as good people dress on
Sundays. He was thirty-five years old and a great grief to his
And the worst of it was that he set such a bad example to
others. Never, never did he try to conceal his wrong-doing; so
that, in time, every one knew how horrid he was. In fact, I
think he was proud of being horrid. Captain Tarleton, in his
account of Contemporary Bucks suggested that his lordship’s great
Candour was a virtue and should incline us to forgive some of his
abominable faults. But, painful as it is to me to dissent from any
opinion expressed by one who is now dead, I hold that Candour is
good, only when it reveals good actions or good sentiments, and
that, when it reveals evil, itself is evil, even also.
Lord George Hell did, at last, atone for all his faults, in a way
that was never revealed to the world during his life-time. The
reason of his strange and sudden disappearance from that social
sphere, in which he had so long moved and never moved again, I
will unfold. My little readers will then, I think, acknowledge
that any angry judgment they may have passed upon him must be
reconsidered and, it may be, withdrawn. I will leave his lordship
in their hands. But my plea for him will not be based upon that
Candour of his, which some of his friends so much admired.
There were, yes ! some so weak and so wayward as to think it a
fine thing to have an historic title and no scruples. ” Here comes
George Hell,” they would say. ” How wicked my lord is looking ! ”
Noblesse oblige, you see, and so an aristocrat should be very careful
of his good name. Anonymous naughtiness does little harm.
It is pleasant to record that many persons were unobnoxious to
the magic of his title and disapproved of him so strongly that,
whenever he entered a room where they happened to be, they
would make straight for the door and watch him very severely
through the key-hole. Every morning, when he strolled up
Piccadilly, they crossed over to the other side in a compact body,
leaving him to the companionship of his bad companions on that
which is still called the ” shady ” side. Lord George—οχετλιος—
was quite indifferent to this demonstration. Indeed, he seemed
wholly hardened, and, when ladies gathered up their skirts as they
passed him, he would lightly appraise their ankles.
I am glad I never saw his lordship. They say he was rather
like Caligula, with a dash of Sir John FalstafF, and that sometimes,
on wintry mornings in St. James s Street, young children would
hush their prattle and cling in disconsolate terror to their nurses’
skirts, as they saw him come (that vast and fearful gentleman ! )
with the east wind ruffling the round surface of his beaver,
ruffling the fur about his neck and wrists, and striking the purple
complexion of his cheeks to a still deeper purple. ” King Bogey ”
they called him in the nurseries. In the hours when they too were
naughty, their nurses would predict his advent down the chimney or
from the linen-press, and then they always ” behaved.” So that, you
see, even the unrighteous are a power for good, in the hands of nurses.
It is true that his lordship was a non-smoker—a negative virtue,
certainly, and due, even that, I fear, to the fashion of the day—
but there the list of his good qualities comes to an abrupt con-
clusion. He loved with an insatiable love the Town and the
pleasures of the Town, whilst the ennobling influences of our
English lakes were quite unknown to him. He used to boast that
he had not seen a buttercup for twenty years, and once he called
the country ” A Fool’s Paradise.” London was the only place
marked on the map of his mind. London gave him all he wished
for. Is it not extraordinary to think that he had never spent a
happy day nor a day of any kind in Follard Chase, that desirable
mansion in Herts., which he had won from Sir Follard Follard, by
a chuck of the dice, at Boodle’s, on his seventeenth birthday ?
Always cynical and unkind, he had refused to give the broken
baronet his revenge. Always unkind and insolent, he had offered
to instal him in the lodge—an offer which was, after a little hesi-
tation, accepted. ” On my soul, the man s place is a sinecure,”
Lord George would say, ” he never has to open the gate to me.” *
So rust had covered the great iron gates of Follard Chase, and
moss had covered its paths. The deer browsed upon its terraces.
There were only wild flowers anywhere. Deep down among
the weeds and water-lilies of the little stone-rimmed pond he had
looked down upon, lay the marble faun, as he had fallen.
* Lord Colerainis Correspondence, page 101.
Of all the sins of his lordship’s life, surely not one was more
wanton than his neglect of Follard Chase. Some whispered (nor
did he ever trouble to deny) that he had won it by foul means, by
loaded dice. Indeed no card-player in St. James s cheated more
persistently than he. As he was rich and had no wife and family
to support, and as his luck was always capital, I can offer no
excuse for his conduct. At Carlton House, in the presence of
many bishops and cabinet ministers, he once dunned the Regent
most arrogantly for 5000 guineas out of which he had cheated
him some months before, and went so far as to declare that he
would not leave the house till he got it ; whereupon His Royal
Highness, with that unfailing tact for which he was ever famous,
invited him to stay there as a guest ; which, in fact, Lord, George
did, for several months. After this, we can hardly be surprised
when we read that he ” seldom sat down to the fashionable game of
Limbo with less than four, and sometimes with as many as 7 aces up
his sleeve.” * We can only wonder that he was tolerated at all.
At Garble’s, that nightly resort of titled rips and roysterers, he
usually spent the early part of his evenings. Round the illumin-
ated garden, with La Gambogi, the dancer, on his arm and a
Bacchic retinue at his heels, he would amble leisurely, clad in
Georgian costume, which was not then, of course, fancy dress, as it
is now.☨ Now and again, in the midst of his noisy talk, he would
crack a joke of the period, or break into a sentimental ballad, dance
* Contemporary Bucks, vol. i. page 73.
☨It would seem, however, that, on special occasions, his lordship
indulged in odd costumes. ” I have seen him,” says Captain Tarleton
(vol. i. p. 69), “attired as a French clown, as a sailor, or in the crimson
hose cf a Sicilian grandee—peu beau spectacle. He never disguised his
face, whatever his costume, nevertheless.”
a little, or pick a quarrel. When he tired of such fooling, he
would proceed to his box in the tiny al fresco theatre and patronise
the jugglers, pugilists, play-actors and whatever eccentric persons
happened to be performing there.
The stars were splendid, and the moon as beautiful as a great
camellia, one night in May, as his lordship laid his arms upon the
cushioned ledge of his box and watched the antics of the Merry
Dwarf, a little, curly-headed creature, whose dèbut it was. Cer-
tainly, Garble had found a novelty. Lord George led the applause,
and the Dwarf finished his frisking with a pretty song about
lovers. Nor was this all. Feats of archery were to follow. In
a moment, the Dwarf reappeared with a small, gilded bow in his
hand and a quiverful of arrows slung at his shoulder. Hither and
thither he shot these vibrant arrows, very precisely, several into
the bark of the acacias that grew about the overt stage, several
into the fluted columns of the boxes, two or three to the stars.
The audience was delighted. “Bravo! Bravo Saggitaro !
murmured Lord George, in the language of La Gambogi, who
was at his side. Finally, the waxen figure of a man was carried
on by an assistant and propped against the trunk of a tree. A scarf
was tied across the eyes of the Merry Dwarf, who stood in a
remote corner of the stage. Bravo indeed ! For the shaft had
pierced the waxen figure through the heart, or just where the
heart would have been, if the figure had been human, and not
Lord George called for port and champagne and beckoned the
bowing homuncle to his box, that he might compliment him on
his skill and pledge him in a bumper of the grape.
” On my soul, you have a genius for the bow,” his lordship
cried, with florid condescension. ” Come and sit by me, but
first let me present you to my divine companion the Signora
—Gambogi Virgo and Sagittarius, egad ! You may have met on
” Indeed, I met the Signora many years ago,” the Dwarf replied,
with a low bow. “But not on the Zodiac, and the Signora
perhaps forgets me.”
At this speech the Signora flushed angrily, for she was indeed
no longer young, and the Dwarf had a childish face. She thought
he mocked her. Her eyes flashed. Lord George’s twinkled rather
” Great is the experience of youth,” he laughed. ” Pray, are
you stricken with more than twenty summers ? ”
“With more than I can count,” said the Dwarf. “To the
health of your lordship ! ” and he drained his long glass of wine.
Lord George replenished it and asked by what means or miracle
he had acquired his mastery of the bow.
” By long practice,” the little thing rejoined; “long practice
on human creatures.” And he nodded his curls mysteriously.
” On my heart you are a dangerous box-mate.”
” Your lordship were certainly a good target.”
Little liking this joke at his bulk, which really rivalled the
Regent’s, Lord George turned brusquely in his chair and fixed
his eyes upon the stage. This time it was the Gambogi who
A new operette, The Fair Captive of Samarcand, was being
enacted, and the frequenters of Garble s were all curious to behold
the new dèbutante, Jenny Mere, who was said to be both pretty
and talented. These predictions were surely fulfilled, when the
captive peeped from the window of her wooden turret. She
looked so pale under her blue turban. Her eyes were dark with
fear. Her parted lips did not seem capable of speech. “Is it
that she is frightened of us ? ” the audience wondered. ” Or of
the flashing scimitar of Aphoschaz, the cruel father who holds her
captive ?” So they gave her loud applause, and when, at length,
she jumped down, to be caught in the arms of her gallant lover,
Nissarah, and, throwing aside her Eastern draperies, did a simple
dance, in the convention of Columbine, their delight was quite
unbounded. She was very young and did not dance very well, it
is true, but they forgave her that. And when she turned in the
dance and saw her father with his scimitar, their hearts beat swiftly
for her. Nor were all eyes tearless, when she pleaded with him
for her life.
Strangely absorbed, quite callous of his two companions, Lord
George gazed over the footlights. He seemed as one who is in a
trance. Of a sudden, something shot sharp into his heart. In
pain he sprang to his feet and, as he turned, he seemed to see a
winged and laughing child, in whose hand was a bow, fly swiftly
away into the darkness. At his side, was the Dwarf s chair. It
was empty. Only La Gambogi was with him and her dark face
was like the face of a fury.
Presently he sank back into his chair, holding one hand to his
heart, that still throbbed from the strange transfixion. He
breathed very painfully and seemed scarce conscious of his sur-
roundings. But La Gambogi knew he would pay no more
homage to her now, for that the love of Jenny Mere had come
into his heart.
When the operette was over, his love-sick lordship snatched up
his cloak and went away without one word to the lady at his side.
Rudely he brushed aside Count Karoloff and Mr. FitzClarence,
with whom he had arranged to play hazard. Of his comrades, his
cynicism, his reckless scorn—of all the material of his existence—
he was oblivious now. He had no time for penitence or diffident
delay. He only knew that he must kneel at the feet of Jenny
Mere and ask her to be his wife.
” Miss Mere is in her room,” said Garble, ” resuming her
ordinary attire. If your lordship deign to await the conclusion of
her humble toilet, it shall be my privilege to present her to your
lordship. Even now, indeed, I hear her footfall on the stair.”
Lord George uncovered his head and with one hand nervously
smoothed his rebellious wig.
” Miss Mere, come hither,” said Garble. , ” This is my Lord
George Hell, that you have pleased whom by your poor efforts
this night will ever be the prime gratification of your passage
through the roseate realms of art.”
Little Miss Mere, who had never seen a lord, except in fancy or
in dreams, curtseyed shyly and hung her head. With a loud
crash, Lord George fell on his knees. The manager was greatly
surprised, the girl greatly embarrassed. Yet neither of them
laughed, for sincerity dignified his posture and sent eloquence
from its lips.
” Miss Mere,” he cried, ” give ear, I pray you, to my poor
words, nor spurn me in misprision from the pedestal of your
Beauty, Genius and Virtue. All too conscious, alas ! of my pre-
sumption in the same, I yet abase myself before you as a suitor
for your adorable Hand. I grope under the shadow of your raven
Locks. I am dazzled in the light of those translucent orbs, your
Eyes. In the intolerable whirlwind of your Fame I faint and am
“Sir—” the girl began, simply.
” Say < My Lord, ” said Garble, solemnly.
” My lord, I thank you for your words. They are beautiful.
But indeed, indeed, I can never be your bride.”
Lord George hid his face in his hands.
” Child,” said Mr. Garble, ” let not the sun rise ere you have
retracted those wicked words.”
” My wealth, my rank, my irremediable love for you, I throw
them at your feet,” Lord George cried, piteously. ” I would wait
an hour, a week, a lustre, even a decade, did you but bid me
hope ! ”
“I can never be your wife,” she said, slowly. “I can never be
the wife of any man whose face is not saintly. Your face, my
lord, mirrors, it may be, true love for me, but it is even as a
mirror long tarnished by the reflection of this world s vanity. It
is even as a tarnished mirror. Do not kneel to me, for I am
poor and humble. I was not made for such impetuous wooing.
Kneel, if you please, to some greater, gayer lady. As for my
love, it is my own, nor can it be ever torn from me, but given, as
true love must needs be given, freely. Ah ! rise from your knees.
That man, whose face is wonderful as are the faces of the saints,
to him I will give my true love.”
Miss Mere, though visibly affected, had spoken this speech with
a gesture and elocution so superb, that Mr. Garble could not help
applauding, deeply though he regretted her attitude towards his
honoured patron. As for Lord George he was immobile as a
stricken oak. With a sweet look of pity, Miss Mere went her
way, and Mr. Garble, with some solicitude, helped his lordship to
rise from his knees. Out into the night, without a word, went
his lordship. Above him the stars were still splendid. They
seemed to mock the festoons of little lamps, dim now and gutter
ing, in the garden of Garble s. What should he do ? No
thoughts came. Only his heart burnt hotly. He stood on the
brim of Garble s lake, shallow and artificial as his past life had
been. Two swans slept on its surface. The moon shone strangely
upon their white, twisted necks. Should he drown himself?
The Yellow Book Vol. XI. B
There was no one in the garden to prevent him, and in the
morning they would find him floating there, one of the noblest of
love s victims. The garden would be closed in the evening.
There would be no performance in the little theatre. It might
be that Jenny Mere would mourn him. ” Life is a prison, without
bars,” he murmured, as he walked away.
All night long he strode, knowing not whither, through the
mysterious streets and squares of London. The watchmen, to
whom his figure was most familiar, gripped their staves at his
approach, for they had old reason to fear his wild and riotous
habits. He did not heed them. Through that dim conflict
between darkness and day, which is ever waged silently over our
sleep, Lord George strode on in the deep absorption of his love
and of his despair. At dawn, he found himself on the outskirts of
a little wood in Kensington. A rabbit rushed past him through
the dew. Birds were fluttering in the branches. The leaves
were tremulous with the presage of day, and the air was full of
the sweet scent of hyacinths.
How cool the country was ! It seemed to cure the feverish
maladies of his soul and consecrate his love. In the fair light of
the dawn he began to shape the means of winning Jenny Mere,
that he had conceived in the desperate hours of the night. Soon
an old woodman passed by, and, with rough courtesy, showed him
the path that would lead him quickest to the town. He was
loth to leave the wood. With Jenny, he thought, he would live
always in the country. And he picked a posy of wild flowers for
His rentrée into the still silent town strengthened his Arcadian
resolves. He, who had seen the town so often in its hours of
sleep, had never noticed how sinister its whole aspect was. In its
narrow streets the white houses rose on either side of him like
cliffs of chalk. He hurried swiftly along the unswept pavement.
How had he loved this city of evil secrets ?
At last he came to St. James’s Square, to the hateful door of his
own house. Shadows lay like memories in every corner of the
dim hall. Through the window of his room, a sunbeam slanted
across his smooth bed, and fell ghastly on the ashen grate.
It was a bright morning in Old Bond Street, and fat little Mr.
Aeneas, the fashionable mask-maker, was sunning himself at the
door of his shop. His window was lined as usual with all kinds of
masks—beautiful masks with pink cheeks, and absurd masks with
protuberant chins ; curious πρooδωπα copied from old tragic models ;
masks of paper for children, of fine silk for ladies, and of leather
for working men ; bearded or beardless, gilded or waxen (most of
them, indeed, were waxen), big or little masks. And in the
middle of this vain galaxy hung the presentment of a Cyclops’
face, carved cunningly of gold, with a great sapphire in its brow.
The sun gleamed brightly on the window, and on the bald head
and varnished shoes of fat little Mr. Aeneas. It was too early for
any customers to come, and Mr. Aeneas seemed to be greatly
enjoying his leisure in the fresh air. He smiled complacently as
he stood there, and well he might, for he was a great artist, and
was patronised by several crowned heads and not a few of the
nobility. Only the evening before, Mr. Brummell had come into
his shop and ordered a light summer mask, wishing to evade, for a
time, the jealous vigilance of Lady Otterton. It pleased Mr.
Aeneas to think that his art made him recipient of so many
high secrets. He smiled as he thought of the titled spendthrifts,
who, at this moment, perdus behind his masterpieces, passed un-
scathed among their creditors. He was the secular confessor of
his day, always able to give absolution. An unique position !
The street was as quiet as a village street. At an open window
over the way, a handsome lady, wrapped in a muslin peignoir, sat
sipping her cup of chocolate. It was La Signora Gambogi, and
Mr. Aeneas made her many elaborate bows. This morning,
however, her thoughts seemed far away, and she did not notice
the little man’s polite efforts. Nettled at her negligence, Mr.
Aeneas was on the point of retiring into his shop, when he saw
Lord George Hell hastening up the street, with a posy of wild
flowers in his hand.
” His lordship is up betimes ! ” he said to himself. ” An early
visit to La Signora, I suppose.”
Not so, however. His lordship came straight towards the
mask-shop. Once he glanced up at the Signora s window and
looked deeply annoyed when he saw her sitting there. He came
quickly into the shop.
” I want the mask of a saint,” he said.
” Mask of a saint, my lord ? Certainly ! ” said Mr. Aeneas,
briskly. “With or without halo ? His Grace the Bishop of St.
Aldreds always wears his with a halo. Your lordship does not
wish for a halo ? Certainly. If your lordship will allow me to
take his measurement—
” I must have the mask to-day,” Lord George said. ” Have
you none ready-made ? ”
” Ah, I see. Required for immediate wear,” murmured Mr.
Aeneas, dubiously. ” You see, your lordship takes a rather large
size.” And he looked at the floor.
” Julius ! ” he cried suddenly to his assistant, who was putting
the finishing touches to a mask of Barbarossa which the youno-
king of Ztirremberg was to wear at his coronation, the following
week. “Julius ! Do you remember the saint’s mask we made
for Mr. Ripsby, a couple of years ago. ”
” Yes, sir,” said the boy. ” It s stored upstairs.”
“I thought so,” replied Mr. Aeneas. ” Mr. Ripsby only had
it on hire. Step upstairs, Julius, and bring it down. I fancy it
is just what your lordship would wish. Spiritual, yet hand-
“Is it a mask that is even as a mirror of true love?” Lord
George asked, gravely.
” It was made precisely as such,” the mask-maker answered.
” In fact it was made for Mr. Ripsby to wear at his silver wedding,
and was very highly praised by the relatives of Mrs. Ripsby.
Will your lordship step into my little room ?”
So Mr. Aeneas led the way to his parlour behind the shop. He
was elated by the distinguished acquisition to his clientèle, for
hitherto Lord George had never patronised his business. He
bustled round his parlour and insisted that his lordship should take
a chair and a pinch from his snuff-box, while the saint’s mask was
Lord George’s eye travelled along the rows of framed letters
from great personages, which lined the walls. He did not see
them, though, for he was calculating the chances that La Gambogi
had not observed him, as he entered the mask-shop. He had
come down so early that he had thought she would be still abed.
That sinister old proverb, La jalouse se lève de bonne heure, rose in
his memory. His eye fell unconsciously on a large, round mask
made of dull silver, with the features of a human face traced over
its surface in faint filigree.
“Your lordship wonders what mask that is ?” chirped Mr.
Aeneas, tapping the thing with one of his little finger nails.
“What is that mask ?” Lord George murmured.
” I ought not to divulge, my lord,” said the mask-maker. ” But
I know your lordship would respect a professional secret, a secret
of which I am pardonable proud. This,” he said, is a mask for
the sun-god, Apollo, whom heaven bless !
” You astound me,” said Lord George.
” Of no less a person, I do assure you. When Jupiter, his
father, made him lord of the day, Apollo craved that he might
sometimes see the doings of mankind in the hours of night time.
Jupiter granted so reasonable a request. When next Apollo had
passed over the sky and hidden in the sea, and darkness had fallen
on all the world, he raised his head above the waters that he might
watch the doings of mankind in the hours of night time. But,”
Mr. Aeneas added, with a smile, ” his bright countenance made
light all the darkness. Men rose from their couches or from their
revels, wondering that day was so soon come, and went to their
work. And Apollo sank weeping into the sea. Surely, he
cried, it is a bitter thing that I alone, of all the gods, may not
watch the world in the hours of night time. For in those hours,
as I am told, men are even as gods are. They spill the wine and
are wreathed with roses. Their daughters dance in the light ot
torches. They laugh to the sound of flutes. On their long
couches they lie down at last, and sleep comes to kiss their eye
lids. None of these things may I see. Wherefore the bright
ness of my beauty is even as a curse to me and I would put it
from me. And as he wept, Vulcan said to him, I am not the
least cunning of the gods, nor the least pitiful. Do not weep,
for I will give you that which shall end your sorrow. Nor need
you put from you the brightness of your beauty. And Vulcan
made a mask of dull silver and fastened it across his brother’s face.
And that night, thus masked, the sun-god rose from the sea and
watched the doings of mankind in the night time. Nor any
longer were men abashed by his bright beauty, for it was hidden
by the mask of silver. Those whom he had so often seen haggard
over their daily tasks, he saw feasting now and wreathed with red
roses. He heard them laugh to the sound of flutes, as their
daughters danced in the red light of torches. And when at
length they lay down upon their soft couches, and sleep kissed
their eyelids, he sank back into the sea and hid his mask under a
little rock in the bed of the sea. Nor have men ever known that
Apollo watches them often in the night time, but fancied it to be
some pale goddess.”
” I myself have always thought it was Diana,” said Lord George
” An error, my lord ! ” said Mr. Aeneas, with a smile. ” Ecce
signum ! ” And he tapped the mask of dull silver.
” Strange ! ” said his lordship. ” And pray how comes it that
Apollo has ordered of you this new mask?”
” He has always worn twelve new masks every year, inasmuch
as no mask can endure for many nights the near brightness of his
face, before which even a mask of the best and purest silver soon
tarnishes, and wears away. Centuries ago, Vulcan tired of making
so very many masks. And so Apollo sent Mercury down to
Athens, to the shop of Phoron, a Phoenician mask-maker of great
skill. Phoron made Apollo’s masks for many years, and every
month Mercury came to his shop for a new one. When Phoron
died, another artist was chosen, and when he died, another, and so
on through all the ages of the world. Conceive, my lord, my
pride and pleasure when Mercury flew into my shop, one night
last year, and made me Appolo s warrant-holder. It is the highest
privilege that any mask-maker can desire. And when I die,”
said Mr. Aeneas, with some emotion, ” Mercury will confer my
post upon another.”
” And do they pay you for your labour ? ” Lord George asked.
Mr. Aeneas drew himself up to his full height, such as it was.
“In Olympus, my lord,” he said, “they have no currency. For
any mask-maker, so high a privilege is its own reward. Yet the
sun-god is generous. He shines more brightly into my shop than
into any other. Nor does he suffer his rays to melt any waxen
mask made by me, until its wearer doff it and it be done with.”
At this moment, Julius came in with the Ripsby mask. ” I must
ask your lordship s pardon for having kept you so long,” pleaded
Mr. Aeneas. ” But I have a large store of old masks and they
are imperfectly catalogued.”
It certainly was a beautiful mask, with its smooth, pink cheeks
and devotional brow. It was made of the finest wax. Lord
George took it gingerly in his hands and tried it on his face. It
fitted à merveille.
“Is the expression exactly as your lordship would wish ?” said
Lord George laid it on the table and studied it intently. “I
wish it were more as a perfect mirror of true love,” he said at
length. ” It is too calm, too contemplative.”
” Easily remedied ! ” said Mr. Aeneas. Selecting a fine pencil,
deftly he drew the eyebrows closer to each other. With a brush
steeped in some scarlet pigment, he put a fuller curve upon the
lips. And, behold ! it was the mask of a saint who loves dearly.
Lord George s heart throbbed with pleasure.
“And for how long does your lordship wish to wear it ? ” asked
” I must wear it until I die,” replied Lord George.
” Kindly be seated then, I pray,” rejoined the little man.
” For I must apply the mask with great care. Julius, you will
assist me ! ”
So, while Julius heated the inner side of the waxen mask over
a little lamp, Mr. Aeneas stood over Lord George, gently smearing
his features with some sweet-scented pomade. Then he took the
mask and powdered its inner side, all soft and warm now, with
a fluffy puff. “Keep quite still, for one instant,” he said, and
clapped the mask firmly on his lordship s upturned face. So
soon as he was sure of its perfect adhesion, he took from his
assistant s hand a silver file and a little wooden spatula, with
which he proceeded to pare down the edge of the mask, where it
joined the neck and ears. At length, all traces of the “join”
were obliterated. It remained only to arrange the curls of the
lordly wig over the waxen brow.
The disguise was done. When Lord George looked through
the eyelets of his mask into the mirror that was placed in his
hand, he saw a face that was saintly, itself a mirror of true love.
How wonderful it was ! He felt his past was a dream. He felt
he was a new man indeed. His voice went strangely through the
mask s parted lips, as he thanked Mr. Aeneas.
” Proud to have served your lordship,” said that little worthy,
pocketing his fee of fifty guineas, while he bowed his customer
When he reached the street, Lord George nearly uttered a
curse through those sainted lips of his. For there, right in his
way, stood La Gambogi, holding a small, pink parasol. She laid
her hand upon his sleeve and called him softly by his name. He
passed her by without a word. Again she confronted him.
” I cannot let go so handsome a lover,” she laughed, ” even
though he spurn me ! Do not spurn me, George. Give me
your posy of wild flowers. Why, you never looked so lovingly at
me in all your life ! :
” Madam,” said Lord George, sternly, ” I have not the honour
to know you.” And he passed on.
The lady gazed after her lost lover with the blackest hatred in
her eyes. Presently she beckoned across the road to a certain
And the spy followed him.
Lord George, greatly agitated, had turned into Piccadilly. It
was horrible to have met this garish embodiment of his past on the
very threshold of his fair future. The mask-maker’s elevating
talk about the gods, followed by the initiative ceremony of his
saintly mask, had driven all discordant memories from his love-
thoughts of Jenny Mere. And then to be met by La Gambogi !
It might be that, after his stern words, she would not again
seek to cross his path. Surely she would dare not mar his sacred
love. Yet, he knew her dark, Italian nature, her passion of
revenge. What was the line in Virgil ? Spretaeque—something.
Who knew but that, somehow, sooner or later, she might come
between him and his love ?
He was about to pass Lord Barrymore’s mansion. Count
Karoloffand Mr. FitzClarence were lounging in one of the lower
windows. Would they know him under his mask ? Thank
God, they did not. They merely laughed as he went by, and
Mr. FitzClarence cried in a mocking voice, ” Sing us a hymn,
Mr. Whatever-your-saint’s-name-is ! ; The mask, then, at least,
was perfect. Jenny Mere would not know him. He need fear
no one but La Gambogi. But would not she betray his secret ?
That night he was going to visit Garble’s and to declare his
love to the little actress. He never doubted that she would love
him for his saintly face. Had she not said, u That man whose
face is wonderful as are the faces of the saints, to him I will
give my true love ” ? She could not say now that his face
was as a tarnished mirror of love. She would smile on
him. She would be his bride. But would La Gambogi be at
The operette would not be over before ten that night. The
clock in Hyde Park Gate told him it was not yet ten ten o the
morning. Twelve whole hours to wait, before he could fall
at Jenny’s feet ! ” I cannot spend that time in this place of
memories,” he thought. So he hailed a yellow cabriolet and bade
the jarvey drive him out to the village of Kensington.
When they came to the little wood where he had been but a
few hours ago, Lord George dismissed the jarvey. The sun, that
had risen as he stood there thinking of Jenny, shone down on his
altered face. But, though it shone very fiercely, it did not melt his
waxen features. The old woodman, who had shown him his way,
passed by under a load of faggots and did not know him. He
wandered among the trees. It was a lovely wood.
Presently he came to the bank of that tiny stream, the Ken,
which still flowed there in those days. On the moss of its bank
he lay down and let its water ripple over his hand. Some bright
pebble glistened under the surface, and, as he peered down at it, he
saw in the stream the reflection of his mask. A great shame
rilled him that he should so cheat the girl he loved. Behind that
fair mask there would still be the evil face that had repelled her.
Could he be so base as to decoy her into love of that most in
genious deception ? He was filled with a great pity for her, with
a hatred of himself. And yet, he argued, was the mask indeed a
mean trick ? Surely it was a secret symbol of his true repentance
and of his true love. His face was evil, because his life had been
evil. He had seen a gracious girl, and of a sudden his very soul
had changed. His face alone was the same as it had been. It
was not just that his face should be evil still.
There was the faint sound of some one sighing. Lord George
looked up, and there, on the further bank, stood Jenny Mere,
watching him. As their eyes met, she blushed and hung her
head. She looked like nothing but a tall child, as she stood there,
with her straight, limp frock of lilac cotton and her sunburnt
straw bonnet. He dared not speak ; he could only gaze at her.
Suddenly there perched astride the bough of a tree, at her side,
that winged and laughing child, in whose hand was a bow. Be
fore Lord George could warn her, an arrow had flashed down
and vanished in her heart, and Cupid had flown away.
No cry of pain did she utter, but stretched out her arms to her
lover, with a glad smile. He leapt quite lightly over the little
stream and knelt at her feet. It seemed more fitting that he
should kneel before the gracious thing he was unworthy of. But
she, knowing only that his face was as the face of a great saint,
bent over him and touched him with her hand.
“Surely,” she said, “you are that good man for whom I have
waited. Therefore do not kneel to me, but rise and suffer me to
kiss your hand. For my love of you is lowly, and my heart is all
But he answered, looking up into her fond eyes, ” Nay, you are
a queen, and I must needs kneel in your presence.”
And she shook her head wistfully, and she knelt down also, in
her tremulous ecstasy, before him. And as they knelt, the one to
the other, the tears came into her eyes, and he kissed her. Though
the lips that he pressed to her lips were only waxen, he thrilled
with happiness, in that mimic kiss. He held her close to him in
his arms, and they were silent in the sacredness of their love.
From his breast he took the posy of wild flowers that he had
” They are for you,” he whispered, ” I gathered them for you,
hours ago, in this wood. See ! They are not withered.”
But she was perplexed by his words and said to him, blushing,
” How was it for me that you gathered them, though you had
never seen me ? ”
” I gathered them for you,” he answered, ” knowing I should
soon see you. How was it that you, who had never seen me, yet
waited for me ? ”
” I waited, knowing I should see you at last.” And she kissed
the posy and put it at her breast.
And they rose from their knees and went into the wood, walk
ing hand in hand. As they went, he asked the names of the
flowers that grew under their feet. “These are primroses,” she
would say. “Did you not know? And these are ladies feet,
and these forget-me-nots. And that white flower, climbing
up the trunks of the trees and trailing down so prettily from the
branches, is called Astyanax. These little yellow things are
buttercups. Did you not know ? And she laughed.
” I know the names of none of the flowers,” he said.
She looked up into his face and said timidly, “Is it worldly and
wrong of me to have loved the flowers ? Ought I to have
thought more of those higher things that are unseen ? ”
His heart smote him. He could not answer her simplicity.
“Surely the flowers are good, and did not you gather this posy
for me ? ” she pleaded. ” But if you do not love them, I must
not. And I will try to forget their names. For I must try to
be like you in all things.”
” Love the flowers always,” he said. ” And teach me to love
So she told him all about the flowers, how some grew very
slowly and others bloomed in a night ; how clever the convol
vulus was at climbing, and how shy violets were, and why honey-
cups had folded petals. She told him of the birds, too, that sang
in the wood, how she knew them all by their voices. That is
a chaffinch singing. Listen ! ” she said. And she tried to
imitate its note, that her lover might remember. All the birds,
according to her, were good, except the cuckoo, and whenever
she heard him sing she would stop her ears, lest she should for
give him for robbing the nests. ” Every day,” she said, ” I have
come to the wood, because I was lonely, and it seemed to pity
me. But now I have you. And it is glad.”
She clung closer to his arm, and he kissed her She pushed
back her straw bonnet, so that it dangled from her neck by its
ribands, and laid her little head against his shoulder. For a while
he forgot his treachery to her, thinking only of his love and her
love. Suddenly she said to him, ” Will you try not to be angry
with me, if I tell you something ? It is something that will seem
dreadful to you.”
” Pauvrette” he answered, “you cannot have anything very
dreadful to tell.”
“I am very poor,” she said, “and every night I dance in a
theatre. It is the only thing I can do to earn my bread. Do
you despise me because I dance ? She looked up shyly at him
and saw that his face was full of love for her and not angry.
” Do you like dancing ? ” he asked.
“I hate it,” she answered, quickly. “I hate it indeed. Yet
to-night, alas ! I must dance again in the theatre.”
” You need never dance again,” said her lover. ” I am rich
and I will pay them to release you. You shall dance only for me.
Sweetheart, it cannot be much more than noon. Let us go
into the town, while there is time, and you shall be made my bride,
and I your bridegroom, this very day. Why should you and I be
lonely ? ”
” I do not know,” she said.
So they walked back through the wood, taking a narrow path
which Jenny said would lead them quickest to the village. And,
as they went, they came to a tiny cottage, with a garden that was
full of flowers. The old woodman was leaning over its paling,
and he nodded to them as they passed.
“I often used to envy the woodman,” said Jenny, “living in
that dear little cottage.”
” Let us live there, then,” said Lord George. And he went
back and asked the old man if he were not unhappy, living there
” Tis a poor life here for me,” the old man answered. ” No
folk come to the wood, except little children, now and again, to
play, or lovers like you. But they seldom notice me. And in
winter I am alone with Jack Frost. Old men love merrier com-
pany than that. Oh ! I shall die in the snow with my faggots on
my back. A poor life here ? ”
” I will give you gold for your cottage and whatever is in it,
and then you can go and live happily in the town,” Lord George
said. And he took from his coat a note for two hundred guineas,
and held it across the palings.
“Lovers are poor, foolish derry-docks,” the old man muttered.
“But I thank you kindly, sir. This little sum will keep me
finely, as long as I last. Come into the cottage as soon as soon
can be. It s a lonely place and does my heart good to depart
“We are going to be married this afternoon, in the town,”
said Lord George. ” We will come straight back to our
” May you be happy ! ” replied the woodman. ” You ll find me
gone when you come.”
And the lovers thanked him and went their way.
“Are you very rich?” Jenny asked. “Ought you to have
bought the cottage for that great price ?
“Would you love me as much if I were quite poor, little
Jenny ? ” he asked her, after a pause.
” I did riot know you were rich when I saw you across the stream,” she said.
And in his heart Lord George made a good resolve. He would
put away from him all his worldly possessions. All the money
that he had won at the clubs, fairly or foully, all that hideous
accretion of gold guineas, he would distribute among the comrades
he had impoverished. As he walked, with the sweet and trustful
girl at his side, the vague record of his infamy assailed him, and a
look of pain shot behind his smooth mask. He would atone. He
would shun no sacrifice that might cleanse his soul. All his
fortune he would put from him. Follard Chase he would give
back to poor Sir Follard. He would sell his house in St. James’s
Square. He would keep some little part of his patrimony, enough
for him in the wood with Jenny, but no more.
“I shall be quite poor, Jenny,” he said.
And they talked of the things that lovers love to talk of, how
happy they would be together and how economical. As they were
passing Herbert’s pastry-shop, which, as my little readers know,
still stands in Kensington, Jenny looked up rather wistfully into
her lover s ascetic face.
” Should you think me greedy,” she asked him, ” if I wanted a
bun ? They have beautiful buns here ! ”
Buns ! The simple word started latent memories of his child
hood. Jenny was only a child, after all. Buns ! He had for
gotten what they were like. And as they looked at the piles of
variegated cakes in the window, he said to her, ” Which are buns,
Jenny ? I should like to have one, too.”
” I am almost afraid of you,” she said. ” You must despise me
so. Are you so good that you deny yourself all the vanity and
pleasure that most people love ? It is wonderful not to know
what buns are ! The round, brown, shiny cakes, with little raisins
in them, are buns.”
So he bought two beautiful buns, and they sat together in the
shop, eating them. Jenny bit hers rather diffidently, but was
reassured when he said that they must have buns very often in the
cottage. Yes ! he, the famous toper and gourmet of St. James’s,
relished this homely fare, as it passed through the insensible lips of
his mask to his palate. He seemed to rise, from the consumption
of his bun, a better man.
But there was no time to lose now. It was already past two
o clock. So he got a chaise from the inn opposite the pastry-shop,
and they were driven swiftly to Doctors’ Commons. There he
purchased a special license. When the clerk asked him to write
his name upon it, he hesitated. What name should he assume ?
Under a mask he had wooed this girl, under an unreal name he
must make her his bride. He loathed himself for a trickster. He
had vilely stolen from her the love she would not give him. Even
now, should he not confess himself the man whose face had
frightened her, and go his way ? And yet, surely, it was not
just that he, whose soul was transfigured, should bear his old name.
Surely George Hell was dead, and his name had died with him. So
he dipped a pen in the ink and wrote ” George Heaven,” for want
of a better name. And Jenny wrote ” Jenny Mere ” beneath it.
An hour later they were married according to the simple rites
of a dear little registry office in Covent Garden.
And in the cool evening they went home.
In the cottage that had been the woodman s they had a wonderful
The Yellow Book Vol. XI. C
honeymoon. No king and queen in any palace of gold were
happier than they. For them their tiny cottage was a palace, and
the flowers that filled the garden were their courtiers. Long and
careless and full of kisses were the days of their reign.
Sometimes, indeed, strange dreams troubled Lord George’s
sleep. Once he dreamt that he stood knocking and knocking at
the great door of a castle. It was a bitter night. The frost
enveloped him. No one came. Presently he heard a footstep in
the hall beyond, and a pair of frightened eyes peered at him through
the grill. Jenny was scanning his face. She would not open to
him. With tears and wild words he beseeched her, but she would
not open to him. Then, very stealthily, he crept round the castle
and found a small casement in the wall. It was open. He
climbed swiftly, quietly through it. In the darkness of the room,
some one ran to him and kissed him gladly. It was Jenny.
With a cry of joy and shame he awoke. By his side lay Jenny,
sleeping like a little child.
After all, what was a dream to him ? It could not mar the
reality of his daily happiness. He cherished his true penitence for
the evil he had done in the past. The past ! That was indeed
the only unreal thing that lingered in his life. Every day its
substance dwindled, grew fainter yet, as he lived his rustic honey
moon. Had he not utterly put it from him ? Had he not, a few
hours after his marriage, written to his lawyer, declaring solemnly
that he, Lord George Hell, had forsworn the world, that he was
where no man would find him, that he desired all his worldly
goods to be distributed, thus and thus, among these and those of
his companions ? By this testament he had verily atoned for the
wrong he had done, had made himself dead indeed to the world.
No address had he written upon this document. Though its
injunctions were final and binding, it could betray no clue of his
hiding-place. For the rest, no one would care to seek him out.
He, who had done no good to human creature, would pass
unmourned out of memory. The clubs, doubtless, would laugh
and puzzle over his strange recantations, envious of whomever he
had enriched. They would say ’twas a good riddance of a rogue
and soon forget him.* But she, whose prime patron he had
* I would refer my little readers once more to the pages of
Contemporary Bucks, where Captain Tarleton speculates upon the
sudden disappearance of Lord George Hell and describes its effect
on the town. ” Not even the shrewdest,” says he, ” ever gave a guess
that would throw a ray of revealing light on the disparition of this
profligate man. It was supposed that he carried off with him a little
dancer from Garble’s, at which haunt of pleasantry he was certainly on
the night he vanished, and whither the young lady never returned
again. Garble declared he had been compensated for her perfidy, but
that he was sure she had not succumbed to his lordship, having in
fact rejected him soundly. Did his lordship, say the cronies, take
his life—and hers ? Il n’y a pas d’epreuve. The most astonishing
matter is that the runaway should have written out a complete will,
restoring all money he had won at cards, etc. etc. This certainly
corroborates the opinion that he was seized with a sudden repentance
and fled over the seas to a foreign monastery, where he died at last in
religious silence. That’s as it may, but many a spendthrift found his
pocket chinking with guineas, a not unpleasant sound, I declare. The
Regent himself was benefited by the odd will, and old Sir Follard
Follard found himself once more in the ancestral home he had for-
feited. As for Lord George’s mansion in St. James’s Square, that was
sold with all its appurtenances, and the money fetched by the sale, no
bagatelle, was given to various good objects, according to my lord’s
stated wishes. Well, many of us blessed his name—we had cursed it
often enough. Peace to his ashes, in whatever urn they be resting, on
the billows of whatever ocean they float ! ”
been, who had loved him in her vile fashion, La Gambogi, would
she forget him easily, like the rest ? As the sweet days went by,
her spectre, also, grew fainter and less formidable. She knew his
mask indeed, but how should she find him in the cottage near
Kensington ? Devia dulcedo latebrarum ! He was safe hidden
with his bride. As for the Italian, she might search and search—
or had forgotten him, in the arms of another lover.
Yes ! Few and faint became the blemishes of his honeymoon.
At first, he had felt that his waxen mask, though it had been the
means of his happiness, was rather a barrier ‘twixt him and his
bride. Though it was sweet to kiss her through it, to look at her
through it with loving eyes, yet there were times when it incom=
moded him with its mockery. Could he but put it from him!
yet, that, of course, could not be. He must wear it all his life.
And so, as days went by, he grew reconciled to his mask. No
longer did he feel it jarring on his face. It seemed to become
an integral part of him, and, for all its rigid material, it did
forsooth express the one emotion that filled him, true love. The
face, for whose sake Jenny gave him her heart, could not but be
dear to this George Heaven, also.
Every day chastened him with its joy. They lived a very
simple life, he and Jenny. They rose betimes, like the birds, for
whose goodness they both had so sincere a love. Bread and
honey and little strawberries were their morning fare, and in the
evening they had seed cake and dewberry wine. Jenny herself
made the wine, and her husband drank it, in strict moderation,
never more than two glasses. He thought it tasted far better
than the Regent’s cherry brandy, or the Tokay at Brooks’s. Of
these treasured topes he had, indeed, nearly forgotten the taste.
The wine made from wild berries by his little bride was august
enough for his palate. Sometimes, after they had dined thus
he would play the flute to her upon the moonlit lawn, or tell
her of the great daisy-chain he was going to make for her
on the morrow, or sit silently by her side, listening to the
nightingale, till bedtime. So admirably simple were their
One morning, as he was helping Jenny to water the flowers,
he said to her suddenly, ” Sweetheart, we had forgotten ! ”
” What was there we should forget ? ” asked Jenny, looking
up from her task.
” Tis the mensiversary of our wedding,” her husband answered,
gravely. ” We must not let it pass without some celebration.”
” No, indeed,” she said, ” we must not. What shall we
do ? ”
Between them they decided upon an unusual feast. They
would go into the village and buy a bag of beautiful buns and eat
them in the afternoon. So soon, then, as all the flowers were
watered, they set forth to Herbert s shop, bought the buns and re-
turned home in very high spirits, George bearing a paper bag that
held no less than twelve of the wholesome delicacies. Under the
plane tree on the lawn Jenny sat her down, and George stretched
himself at her feet. They were loth to enjoy their feast too soon.
They dallied in childish anticipation. On the little rustic table
Jenny built up the buns, one above another, till they looked like
a tall pagoda. When, very gingerly, she had crowned the struc-
ture with the twelfth bun, her husband looking on with admira-
tion, she clapped her hands and danced round it. She laughed so
loudly (for, though she was only sixteen years old, she had a great
sense of humour), that the table shook, and, alas ! the pagoda
tottered and fell to the lawn. Swift as a kitten, Jenny chased the
buns, as they rolled, hither and thither, over the grass, catching
them deftly with her hand. Then she came back, flushed and
merry under her tumbled hair, with her arm full of buns. She
began to put them back in the paper bag.
” Dear husband,” she said, looking timidly down to him, ” why
do not you smile too at my folly ? Your grave face rebukes me.
Smile, or I shall think I vex you. Please smile a little.”
But the mask could not smile, of course. It was made for a
mirror of true love, and it was grave and immobile. ” I am very
much amused, dear,” he said, ” at the fall of the buns, but my lips
will not curve to a smile. Love of you has bound them in
” But I can laugh, though I love you. I do not understand.”
And she wondered. He took her hand in his and stroked it
gently, wishing it were possible to smile. Some day, perhaps, she
would tire of his monotonous gravity, his rigid sweetness. It was
not strange that she should long for a little facial expression.
They sat silently.
“Jenny, what is it?” he whispered, suddenly. For Jenny,
with wide-open eyes, was gazing over his head, across the lawn.
” Why do you look frightened ? ”
” There is a strange woman smiling at me across the palings,”
she said. ” I do not know her.”
Her husband s heart sank. Somehow, he dared not turn his
head to the intruder. He dreaded who she might be.
” She is nodding to me,” said Jenny. ” I think she is foreign,
for she has an evil face.”
” Do not notice her,” he whispered. ” Does she look evil ? ”
” Very evil and very dark. She has a pink parasol. Her teeth
are like ivory.”
“Do not notice her. Think ! It is the mensiversary of our
wedding, dear ! ”
” I wish she would not smile at me. Her eyes are like bright
blots of ink.”
“Let us eat our beautiful buns ! ”
” Oh, she is coming in ! ” George heard the latch of the gate
jar. ” Forbid her to come in ! ” whispered Jenny, ” I am afraid ! ”
He heard the jar of heels on the gravel path. Yet he dared
not turn. Only he clasped Jenny s hand more tightly, as he
waited for the voice. It was La Gambogi’s.
” Pray, pray, pardon me ! I could not mistake the back of so
old a friend.”
With the courage of despair, George turned and faced the
” Even,” she smiled, ” though his face has changed marvel-
” Madam,” he said, rising to his full height and stepping
between her and his bride, ” begone, I command you, from this
garden. I do not see what good is to be served by the renewal of
“Acquaintance!” murmured La Gambogi, with an arch of
her beetle-brows. ” Surely we were friends, rather, nor is my
esteem for you so dead that I would crave estrangement.”
” Madam,” rejoined Lord George, with a tremor in his voice,
” you see me here very happy, living very peacefully with my
” To whom, I beseech you, old friend, present me.”
” I would not,” he said hotly, ” desecrate her sweet name by
speaking it with so infamous a name as yours.”
” Your choler hurts me, old friend,” said La Gambogi, sinking
composedly upon the garden-seat and smoothing the silk of her
“Jenny,” said George, ” then do you retire, pending this lady’s
departure, to the cottage.” But Jenny clung to his arm.
were less frightened at your side,” she whispered. ” Do not send
me away ! ”
“Suffer her pretty presence,” said La Gambogi. “Indeed I am
come this long way from the heart of the town, that I may see
her, no less than you, George. My wish is only to befriend her.
Why should she not set you a mannerly example, giving me
welcome? Come and sit by me, little bride, for I have things
to tell you. Though you reject my friendship, give me, at least,
the slight courtesy of audience. I will not detain you overlong,
will be gone very soon. Are you expecting guests, George ?
On dirait une masque champêtre ! ” She eyed the couple critic-
ally. “Your wife’s mask,” she said, “is even better than
“What does she mean ? ” whispered Jenny. “Oh, send her
“Serpent,” was all George could say, “crawl from our Eden,
ere you poison with your venom its fairest denizen.”
La Gambogi rose. ” Even my pride,” she cried passionately,
” knows certain bounds. I have been forbearing, but even in my
zeal for friendship I will not be called serpent. I will indeed
begone from this rude place. Yet, ere I go, there is a boon I
will deign to beg. Show me, oh show me but once again, the
dear face I have so often caressed, the lips that were dear to
George started back.
” What does she mean ? ” whispered Jenny.
” In memory of our old friendship,” continued La Gambogi,
” grant me this piteous favour. Show me your own face but for
one instant, and I vow I will never again remind you that I
live. Intercede for me, little bride. Bid him unmask for me.
You have more authority over him than I. Doff his mask with
your own uxorious ringers.”
” What does she mean ? ” was the refrain of poor Jenny.
” If,” said George, gazing sternly at his traitress, ” you do not
go now, of your own will, I must drive you, man though I am,
violently from the garden.”
“Doff your mask and I am gone.”
George made a step of menace towards her.
” False saint ! ” she shrieked, ” then I will unmask you.”
Like a panther she sprang upon him and clawed at his waxen
cheeks. Jenny fell back, mute with terror. Vainly did George
try to free himself from the hideous assailant, who writhed round
and round him, clawing, clawing at what Jenny fancied to be his
face. With a wild cry, Jenny fell upon the furious creature and
tried, with all her childish strength, to release her dear one. The
combatives swayed to and fro, a revulsive trinity. There was a
loud pop, as though some great cork had been withdrawn, and La
Gambogi recoiled. She had torn away the mask. It lay before
her upon the lawn, upturned to the sky.
George stood motionless. La Gambogi stared up into his face,
and her dark flush died swiftly away. For there, staring back at
her, was the man she had unmasked, but, lo ! his face was even as
his mask had been. Line for line, feature for feature, it was the
same. ‘Twas a saint’s face.
” Madam,” he said, in the calm voice of despair, ” your cheek
may well blanch, when you regard the ruin you have brought
upon me. Nevertheless do I pardon you. The gods have
avenged, through you, the imposture I wrought upon one who
was dear to me. For that unpardonable sin I am punished. As
for my poor bride, whose love I stole by the means of that waxen
semblance, of her I cannot ask pardon. Ah, Jenny, Jenny do
not look at me. Turn your eyes from the foul reality that I
dissembled.” He shuddered and hid his face in his hands. ” Do
not look at me. I will go from the garden. Nor will I ever
curse you with the odious spectacle of my face. Forget me,
But, as he turned to go, Jenny laid her hands upon his wrists
and besought him that he would look at her. ” For indeed,” she
said, ” I am bewildered by your strange words. Why did you
woo me under a mask ? And why do you imagine I could love
you less dearly, seeing your own face ? ”
He looked into her eyes. On their violet surface he saw the
tiny reflection of his own face. He was filled with joy and
” Surely,” said Jenny, ” your face is even dearer to me, even
fairer, than the semblance that hid it and deceived me. I am not
angry. Twas well that you veiled from me the full glory of your
face, for indeed I was not worthy to behold it too soon. But I
am your wife now. Let me look always at your own face. Let
the time of my probation be over. Kiss me with your own
So he took her in his arms, as though she had been a little
child, and kissed her with his own lips. She put her arms round
his neck, and he was happier than he had ever been. They were
alone in the garden now. Nor lay the mask any longer upon the
lawn, for the sun had melted it.
A Ballad of Cornwall
By F. B. Money Coutts
SIR Tristram lay by a well,
Making sad moan ;
Fast his tears fell,
For wild the wood through,
Stricken with shrewd
Sorrow, he ran,
When he deemed her untrue—
La Beale Isoud !
For he loved her alone.
So as he lay,
Wasted and wan,
Scarce like a man,
Pricking that way
His lady-love came,
With her damsels around,
And her face all a-flame
With the breezes of May ;
While a brachet beside her
Still bayed the fair rider,
Still leaped up and bayed her ;
A small scenting hound
That Sir Tristram purveyed her.
So she rode on ;
But the brachet behind
Hung snuffing the wind,
Till seeking and crying
Faster and faster,
Beside the well lying
She found her dear master !
Then licking his ears
And cheeks wet with tears,
For joy never resting
Kept whining and questing.
Seeking her hound)
Soon as she learned
Tristram was found,
Fell in a swound.
Won by her lover
Thence to recover,
Who shall the greeting
Tell of their meeting ?
Joy, by no tongue
E’er to be sung,
Passed in that plighting !
Thus while they dallied,
Forth the wood sallied
An horrible libbard, and bare
The brachet away to his lair !
The Friend of Man
THE other evening, in the Casino, the satisfaction of losing
my money at petits-chevaux having begun to flag a little,
I wandered into the Cercle, the reserved apartments in the
west wing of the building, where they were playing baccarat.
Thanks to the heat, the windows were open wide ; and
through them one could see, first, a vivid company of men and
women, strolling backwards and forwards, and chattering busily,
in the electric glare on the terrace ; and then, beyond them, the
sea—smooth, motionless, sombre ; silent, despite its perpetual
whisper ; inscrutable, sinister ; merging itself with the vast black
ness of space. Here and there the black was punctured by a
pin-point of fire, a tiny vacillating pin-point of fire ; and a lands-
man’s heart quailed for a moment at the thought of lonely vessels
braving the mysteries and terrors and the awful solitudes of the
sea at night. . . .
So that the voice of the croupier, perfunctory, machine-like,
had almost a human, almost a genial effect, as it rapped out
suddenly, calling upon the players to mark their play. ” Marquez
vosjeux, messieurs. Quarante louis par tableau.” It brought one
back to light and warmth and security, to the familiar earth, and
the neighbourhood of men.
One’s pleasure was fugitive, however.
The neighbourhood of men, indeed ! The neighbourhood of
some two score very commonplace, very sordid men, seated or
standing about an ugly green table, intent upon a game of
baccarat, in a long, rectangular, ugly, gas-lit room. The banker
dealt, and the croupier shouted, and the punters punted, and
the ivory counters and mother-of-pearl plaques were swept now
here, now there ; and that was all. Everybody was smoking, of
course ; but the smell of the live cigarettes couldn’t subdue the
odour of dead ones, the stagnant, acrid odour of stale tobacco, with
which the walls and hangings of the place were saturated.
The thing and the people were as banale, as unremunerative,
as things and people for the most part are ; and dispiriting,
dispiriting. There was a hardness in the banality, a sort of
cold ferocity, ill-repressed. One turned away, bored, revolted.
It was better, after all, to look at the sea ; to think of the lonely
vessel, far out there, where a pin-point of fire still faintly blinked
and glimmered in the illimitable darkness
But the voice of the croupier was insistent. ” Faites vos jeux,
messieurs. Cinquante louis par tableau. Vos jeux sont faits ?
Rien ne va plus.” It was suggestive, persuasive, besides, to one
who has a bit of a gambler’s soul. I saw myself playing, I felt
the poignant tremor of the instant of suspense, while the result is
uncertain, the glow that comes if you have won, the twinge if
you have lost. ” La banque est aux enchères,” the voice
announced presently ; and I moved towards the table.
The sums bid were not extravagant. Ten, fifteen, twenty
louis ; thirty, fifty, eighty, a hundred.
” Cent louis ? Cent ? Cent ?—Cent louis à la banque,” cried
the inevitable voice.
I glanced at the man who had taken the bank for a hundred
louis. I glanced at him, and, all at oncv=, by no means without
emotion, I recognised him.
He was a tall, thin man, and very old. He had the hands of a
very old man, dried-up, shrunken hands, with mottled-yellow skin,
dark veins that stood out like wires, and parched finger-nails.
His face, too, was mottled-yellow, deepening to brown about the
eyes, with grey wrinkles, and purplish lips. He was clearly very
old ; eighty, or more than eighty.
He was dressed entirely in black : a black frock-coat, black
trousers, a black waistcoat, cut low, and exposing an unusual
quantity of shirt-front, three black studs, and a black tie, a stiff,
narrow bow. These latter details, however, save when some
chance motion on his part revealed them, were hidden by his
beard, a broad, abundant beard, that fell a good ten inches down
his breast. His hair, also, was abundant, and he wore it long ;
trained straight back from his forehead, hanging in a fringe about
the collar of his coat. Hair and beard, despite his manifest
great age, were without a spear of white. They were of a dry,
inanimate brown, a hue to which they had faded (one surmised)
If it was surprising to see so old a man at a baccarat table, it
was still more surprising to see just this sort of man. He looked
like anything in the world, rather than a gambler. With his tall
wasted figure, with his patriarchal beard, his long hair trained in
that rigid fashion straight back from his forehead ; with his stern
aquiline profile, his dark eyes, deep-set and wide-apart, melancholy,
thoughtful : he looked—what shall I say ? He looked like
The Yellow Book—Vol. XI. D
anything in the world, rather than a gambler. He looked like a
savant, he looked like a philosopher ; he looked intellectual,
refined, ascetic even ; he looked as if he had ideas, convictions ;
he looked grave and wise and sad. Holding the bank at baccarat,
in this vulgar company at the Grand Cercle of the Casino, dealing
the cards with his withered hand?, studying them with his deep
meditative eyes, he looked improbable, inadmissible, he looked
supremely out of place.
I glanced at him, and wondered. And then, suddenly, my
heart gave a jump, my throat began to tingle.
I had recognised him. It was rather more than ten years since
I had seen him last ; and in ten years he had changed, he had
decayed terribly. But I was quite sure, quite sure.
” By Jove,” I thought, ” it’s Ambrose—it’s Augustus Ambrose !
It’s the Friend of Man ! ”
Augustus Ambrose ? I daresay the name conveys nothing to
you ? And yet forty, thirty, twenty years ago, Augustus Ambrose
was not without his measure of celebrity in the world. If almost
nobody had read his published writings, if few had any but the
dimmest notion of what his theories and aims were, almost every-
body had at least heard of him, almost everybody knew at least
that there was such a man, and that the man had theories and
aims—of some queer radical sort. One knew, in vague fashion,
that he had disciples, that there were people here and there who
called themselves ” Ambrosites.”
I say twenty years ago. But twenty years ago he was already
pretty well forgotten. I imagine the moment of his utmost
notoriety would have fallen somewhere in the fifties or the sixties,
somewhere between ’55 and ’68.
And if my sudden recognition of him in the Casino made my
heart give a jump, there was sufficient cause. During the greater
part of my childhood, Augustus Ambrose lived with us, was
virtually a member of our family. Then I saw a good deal of him
again, when I was eighteen, nineteen ; and still again, when I was
four or five and twenty.
He lived with us, indeed, from the time when I was scarcely
more than a baby till I was ten or eleven ; so that in my very
farthest memories he is a personage—looking backwards, I see
him in the earliest, palest dawn : a tall man, dressed in black,
with long hair and a long beard, who was always in our house,
and who used to be frightfully severe ; who would turn upon me
with a most terrifying frown if I misconducted myself in his
presence, who would loom up unexpectedly from behind closed
doors, and utter a soul-piercing hist-hist, if I was making a noise :
a sort of domesticated Croquemitaine, whom we had always
Always ? Not quite always, though ; for, when I stop to
think, I remember there would be breathing spells : periods during
which he would disappear—during which you could move about
the room, and ask questions, and even (at a pinch) upset things,
without being frowned at ; during which you could shout lustily
at your play, unoppressed by the fear of a black figure suddenly
opening the door and freezing you with a hist-hist ; during
which, in fine, you could forget the humiliating circumstance that
children are called into existence to be seen and not heard, with
its irksome moral that they should never speak unless they are
spoken to. Then, one morning, I would wake up, and find that
he was in the house again. He had returned during the night.
That was his habit, to return at night. But on one occasion,
at least, he returned in the daytime. I remember driving with
my father and mother, in our big open carriage, to the railway
station, and then driving back home, with Mr. Ambrose added to
our party. Why I—a child of six or seven, between whom and
our guest surely no love was lost—why I was taken upon this
excursion, I can’t at all conjecture ; I suppose my people had
their reasons. Anyhow, I recollect the drive home with particular
distinctness. Two things impressed me. First, Mr. Ambrose,
who always dressed in black, wore a brown overcoat ; I remember
gazing at it with bemused eyes, and reflecting that it was exactly
the colour of gravy. And secondly, I gathered from his conversa-
tion that he had been in prison ! Yes. I gathered that he had
been in Rome (we were living in Florence), and that one day he
had been taken up by the policemen, and put in prison !
Of course, I could say nothing ; but what I felt, what I
thought ! Mercy upon us, that we should know a man, that a
man should live with us, who had been taken up and put in
prison ! I fancied him dragged through the streets by two
gendarmes, struggling with them, and followed by a crowd of
dirty people. I felt that our family was disgraced, we who had
been the pink of respectability ; my cheeks burned, and I hung
my head. I could say nothing ; but oh, the grief, the shame, I
nursed in secret ! Mr. Ambrose, who lived with us, whose
standards of conduct (for children, at any rate) were so painfully
exalted, Mr. Ambrose had done something terrible, and had been
found out, and put in prison for it ! Mr. Ambrose, who always
dressed in black, had suddenly tossed his bonnet over the mills,
and displayed himself cynically in an overcoat of rakish, dare-devil
brown the colour of gravy ! Somehow, the notion pursued me,
there must be a connection between his overcoat and his crime.
The enormity of the affair preyed upon my spirit, day after
day, night after night, until, in the end, I could endure it silently
no longer ; and I spoke to my mother.
” Is Mr. Ambrose a burglar ? ” I enquired.
I remember my mother’s perplexity, and then, when I had
alleged the reasons for my question, her exceeding mirth. I
remember her calling my father ; and my father, also, laughed
prodigiously, and he went to the door, and cried, ” Ambrose !
Ambrose ! ” And when Mr. Ambrose came, and the incident
was related to him, even he laughed a little, even his stern face
When, by-and-by, they had all stopped laughing, and Mr.
Ambrose had gone back to his own room, my father and mother,
between them, explained the matter to me. Mr. Ambrose, I
must understand, (they said), was one of the greatest, and wisest,
and best men in the world. He spent his whole life ” doing good.”
When he was at home, with us, he was working hard, all day long
and late into the night, writing books ” to do good “—that was
why he so often had a headache, and couldn’t bear any noise in
the house. And when he went away, when he was absent, it
was to ” do good ” somewhere else. I had seen the poor people
in the streets ? I knew that there were thousands and thousands
of people in the world, grown-up people, and children like myself,
who had to wear ragged clothing, and live in dreadful houses, and
eat bad food, or go hungry perhaps, all because they were so poor ?
Well, Mr. Ambrose spent his whole life doing good to those poor
people, working hard for them, so that some day they might be rich,
and clean, and happy, like us. But in Rome there was a very
wicked, very cruel man, a cardinal : Cardinal Antonelli was his
name. And Cardinal Antonelli hated people who did good, and
was always trying to kidnap them and put them in prison. And
that was what had happened to Mr. Ambrose. He had been
doing good to the poor people in Rome, and Cardinal Antonelli
had got wind of it, and had sent his awful shirri to seize him and
put him in prison. But the Pope was a very good man, too ; very
just, and kind, and merciful ; as good as it was possible for any
man to be. Only, generally, he was so busy with the great
spiritual cares of his office, that he couldn’t pay much attention to
the practical government of his City. He left that to Cardinal
Antonelli, never suspecting how wicked he was, for the Cardinal
constantly deceived him. But when the Pope heard that the great
and good Mr. Ambrose had been put in prison, his Holiness was
shocked and horrified, and very angry ; and he sent for the
Cardinal, and gave him a sound piece of his mind, and ordered
him to let Mr. Ambrose out directly. And so Mr. Ambrose had
been let out, and had come back to us.
It was a relief, no doubt, to learn that our guest was not a
burglar, but I am afraid the knowledge of his excessive goodness
left me somewhat cold. Or, rather, if it influenced my feeling
for him in any way, I fancy it only magnified my awe. He was
one of the greatest, and wisest, and best men in the world, and he
spent his entire time doing good to the poor. Bene ; that was
very nice for the poor. But for me ? It did not make him a bit
less severe, or cross, or testy ? It did not make him a bit less an
uncomfortable person to have in the house.
Indeed, the character, in a story such as I had heard, most
likely to affect a child s imagination, would pretty certainly have
been, not the hero, but the villain. Mr. Ambrose and his
virtues moved one to scant enthusiasm ; but Cardinal Antonelli !
In describing him as wicked, and cruel, and deceitful, my
people were simply using the language, expressing the sentiment,
of the country and the epoch : of Italy before 1870. In those
days, if you were a Liberal, if you sympathised with the Italian
party, as opposed to the Papal, and especially if you were a
Catholic withal, and so could think no evil of the Pope himself—
then heaven help the reputation of Cardinal Antonelli ! For my
part, I saw a big man in a cassock, with a dark, wolfish face, and
a bunch of great iron keys at his girdle, who prowled continually
about the streets of Rome, attended by a gang of ruffian shirri,
seeking whom he could kidnap and put in prison. So that when,
not very long after this, we went to Rome for a visit, my heart
misgave me ; it seemed as if we were marching headlong into
the ogre s den, wantonly courting peril. And during the month
or two of our sojourn there, I believe I was never quite easy in
my mind. At any moment we might all be captured, loaded
with chains, and cast into prison : horrible stone dungeons, dark
and wet, infested by rats and spiders, where we should have to
sleep on straw, where they would give us nothing but bread and
water to eat and drink.
I didn’t know what the words meant, but they stuck in my
memory, and I felt that they were somehow appropriate. It
was during that same visit to Rome that I had heard them. My
Aunt Elizabeth, with whom we were staying, had applied them,
in her vigorous way, to Mr. Ambrose (whom we had left behind
us, in Florence). ” Poh ! An empty windbag, a canting
egotist, a twopenny-halfpenny charlatan, a cheap impostor,” she
had exclaimed, in the course of a discussion with my father.
Charlatan, impostor : yes, that was it. A man who never
did anything but make himself disagreeable—who never petted
you, or played with you, or told you stories, or gave you things—
who never, in fact, took any notice of you at all, except to frown,
and say hist-hist, when you were enjoying yourself—well, he
might be one of the greatest, and best, and wisest men in the
world, but, anyhow, he was a charlatan and an impostor. I had
Aunt Elizabeth s authority for that.
One day, after our return to Florence, my second-cousin
Isabel (she was thirteen, and I was in love with her)—my second-
cousin Isabel was playing the piano, alone with me, in the school
room, when Mr. Ambrose opened the door, and said, in his
testiest manner : ” Stop that noise—stop that noise ! ”
” He’s a horrid pig,” cried Isabel, as soon as his back was
“Oh, no; he isn’t a pig,” I protested. “He’s one of the
greatest, and wisest, and best men in the world, so of course he
can’t be a horrid pig. But I’ll tell you what he is. He’s a
charlatan and an impostor.”
” Really ? How do you know ? ” Isabel wondered.
” I heard Aunt Elizabeth tell my father so.”
“Oh, well, then it must be true,” Isabel assented.”
He lived with us till I was ten or eleven, at first in Florence,
and afterwards in Paris. All day long he would sit in his room
and write, (on the most beautiful, smooth, creamy paper—what
wouldn’t I have given to have acquired some of it for my own
literary purposes !) and in the evening he would receive visitors :
oh, such funny people, so unlike the people who came to see my
mother and father. The men, for example, almost all of them,
as Mr. Ambrose himself did, wore their hair long, so that it fell
about their collars ; whilst almost all the women had their hair
cut short. And then, they dressed so funnily : the women in
the plainest garments—skirts and jackets, without a touch of
ornament ; the men in sombreros and Spanish cloaks, instead of
ordinary hats and coats. They would come night after night,
and pass rapidly through the outer regions of our establishment,
and disappear in Mr. Ambrose’s private room. And thence I
could hear their voices, murmuring, murmuring, after I had gone
to bed. At the same time, very likely, in another part of the
house, my mother would be entertaining another company, such
a different company—beautiful ladies, in bright-hued silks, with
shining jewels, and diamond-dust in their hair (yes, in that
ancient period, ladies of fashion, on the continent at least, used to
powder their hair with a glittering substance known as “diamond-
dust “) and officers in gold-embroidered uniforms, and men in
dress-suits. And there would be music, and dancing, or theatri-
cals, or a masquerade, and always a lovely supper—to some of
whose unconsumed delicacies I would fall heir next day.
Only four of Mr. Ambrose’s visitors at all detach themselves,
as individuals, from the cloud.
One was Mr. Oddo Yodo. Mr. Oddo Yodo was a small,
grey-bearded, dark-skinned Hungarian gentleman, with another
name, something like Polak or Bolak. But I called him Mr.
Oddo Yodo, because whenever we met, on his way to or from
the chamber of Mr. Ambrose, he would bow to me, and smile
pleasantly, and say : ” Oddo Yoddo, Oddo Yoddo.” I discovered,
in the end, that he was paying me the compliment of saluting me
in my native tongue.
Another was an Irishman, named Slevin. I remember him,
a burly creature, with a huge red beard, because one day he
arrived at our house in a state of appalling drunkenness. I re-
member the incredulous dismay with which I saw a man in that
condition enter our very house. I remember our old servant,
Alexandre, supporting him to Mr. Ambrose’s door, nodding his
head and making a face the while, to signify his opinion.
Still another was a pale young Italian priest, with a tonsure,
round and big as a five-shilling piece, shorn in the midst of a dense
growth of blue-black hair, upon which I alwavs vaguely longed
to put my finger, to see how it would feel. I forget his name,
but I shall never forget the man, for he had an extraordinary
talent : he could write upside-down. He would take a sheet of
paper, and, beginning with the last letter, write my name for me
upside-down, terminating it at the first initial with a splendid
flourish. You will not wonder that I remember him.
The visitor I remember best, though, was a woman named
Arse”neff. She had short sandy hair, and she dressed in the ugliest
black frocks, and she wore steel-rimmed spectacles ; but she was
a dear soul, notwithstanding. One afternoon she was shown into
the room where I chanced to be studying my arithmetic lesson,
to wait for Mr. Ambrose. And first, she sat down beside me, in
the kindest fashion, and helped me out with my sums ; and then
(it is conceivable that I may have encouraged her by some cross-
questioning) she told me the saddest, saddest story about herself.
She told me that her husband had been the editor of a newspaper
in Russia, and that he had published an article in his paper, saying
that there ought to be schools where the poor people, who had to
work all day, could go in the evening, and learn to read and write.
And just for that, for nothing more than that, her husband and
her two sons, who were his assistant-editors, had been arrested, and
chained up with murderers and thieves and all the worst sorts of
criminals, and forced to march, on foot, across thousands of miles of
snow-covered country, to Siberia, where they had to work as
convicts in the mines. And her husband, she said, had died of it;
but her two sons were still there, working as convicts in the mines.
She showed me their photographs, and she showed me a button,
rather a pretty button of coloured glass, with gilt specks in it, that
she had cut from the coat of one of them, when he had been
arrested and taken from her. Poor Arséneff; my heart went out
to her, and we became fast friends. She was never tired of talking,
nor I of hearing, of her sons ; and she gave me a good deal of
practical assistance in my arithmetical researches, so that, at the
Lycée where I was then an externe, I passed for an authority on
Mr. Ambrose s visitors came night after night, and shut them-
selves up with him in his room, and stayed there, talking, talking,
till long past bed-time ; but I never knew what it was all about.
Indeed, I can’t remember that I ever felt any curiosity to know.
It was simply a fact, a quite uninteresting fact, which one
witnessed, and accepted, and thought no more of. Mr. Ambrose
was an Olympian. Kenneth Grahame has reminded us with what
superior unconcern, at the Golden Age, one regards the habits and
doings and affairs of the Olympians.
And then, quite suddenly, Mr. Ambrose left us. He packed up
his things and his books, and went away ; and I understood,
somehow, that he would not be coming back. I did not ask where
he was going, nor why he was going. His departure, like his
presence, was a fact which I accepted without curiosity. Not
without satisfaction, though ; it was distinctly nice to feel that
the house was rid of him.
And then seven or eight years passed, the longest seven or eight
years, I suppose, that one is likely ever to encounter, the seven or
eight years in the course of which one grows from a child of ten
or eleven to a youth approaching twenty. And during those
years I had plenty of other things to think of than Mr. Ambrose.
It was time more than enough for him to become a mere dim
outline on the remote horizon.
My childish conception of the man, as you perceive, was
sufficiently rudimental. He represented to me the incarnation of
a single principle : severity ; as I, no doubt, represented to him
the incarnation of vexatious noise. For the rest, we overlooked each
other. I had been told that he was one of the greatest and wisest
and best men in the world : you have seen how little that mattered
to me. It would probably have mattered quite as little if the
information had been more specific, if I had been told everything
there was to tell about him, all that I have learned since. How
could it have mattered to a child to know that the testy old man
who sat in his room all day and wrote, and every evening received a
stream of shabby visitors, was the prophet of a new social faith,
the founder of a new sect, the author of a new system for the
regeneration of mankind, of a new system of human government,
a new system of ethics, a new system of economics? What could
such a word as ” anthropocracy ” have conveyed to me ? Or such
a word as ” philarchy ” ? Or such a phrase as ” Unification versus Civilisation ” ?
My childish conception of the man was extremely rudimental.
But I saw a good deal of him again when I was eighteen, nineteen;
and at eighteen, nineteen, one begins, more or less, to observe and
appreciate, to receive impressions and to form conclusions. Any-
how, the impressions I received of Mr. Ambrose, the conclusions
I formed respecting him, when I was eighteen or nineteen, are
still very fresh in my mind ; and I can’t help believing that on the
whole they were tolerably just. I think they were just, because
they seem to explain him ; they seem to explain him in big and in
little. They explain his career, his failure, his table manners, his
testiness, his disregard of other people’s rights and feelings, his
apparent selfishness ; they explain the queerest of the many queer
things he did. They explain his taking the bank the other night
at baccarat, for instance ; and they explain what happened
afterwards, before the night was done.
One evening, when I was eighteen or nineteen, coming home
from the Latin Quarter, where I was a student, to dine with my
people, in the Rue Oudinot, I found Mr. Ambrose in the
drawing-room. Or, if you will, I found a stranger in the
drawing-room, but a stranger whom it took me only a minute or
two to recognise. My father, at my entrance, had smiled, with a
little air of mystery, and said to me, ” Here is an old friend of
yours. Can you tell who it is?” And the stranger, also—
somewhat faintly—smiling, had risen, and offered me his hand. I
looked at him—looked at him—and, in a minute, I exclaimed,
“It’s Mr. Ambrose!”
I can see him now almost as clearly as I saw him then, when
he stood before me, faintly smiling : tall and thin, stooping a
little, dressed in black, with a long broad beard, long hair, and a
pale, worn, aquiline face. It is the face especially that comes
back to me, pale and worn and finely aquiline, the face, the high
white brow, the deep eyes set wide apart, the faint, faded smile :
a striking face—an intellectual face—a handsome face, despite
many wrinkles—an indescribably sad face, even a tragic
face—and yet, for some reason, a face that was not altogether
sympathetic. Something, something in it, had the effect rather
of chilling you, of leaving you where you were, than of warming
and attracting you : something hard to fix, perhaps impossible to
name. A certain suggestion of remoteness, of aloofness ? A
suggestion of abstraction from his surroundings and his company,
of inattention, of indifference, to them ? Of absorption in matters
alien to them, outside their sphere ? I did not know. But there
was surely something in his face not perfectly sympathetic.
I had exclaimed, “It s Mr. Ambrose!” To that he had
responded, ” Ah, you have a good memory.” And then we shook
hands, and he sat down again. His hand was thin and delicate,
and slightly cold. His voice was a trifle dry, ungenial. Then
he asked me the inevitable half-dozen questions about myself—
how old I was, and what I was studying, and so forth ; but
though he asked them with an evident intention of being friendly,
one felt that he was all the while half thinking of something else,
and that he never really took in one s answers.
And gradually he seemed to become unconscious of my pre-
sence, resuming the conversation with my father, which, I suppose,
had been interrupted by my arrival.
” The world has forgotten me. My followers have dropped
away. You yourself—where is your ancient ardour ? The
cause I have lived for stands still. My propaganda is arrested.
I am poor, I am obscure, I am friendless, and I am sixty-five
years old. But the great ideals, the great truths, I have taught,
remain. They are like gold which I have mined. There the
gold lies, between the covers of my books, as in so many caskets.
Some day, in its necessities, the world will find it. What is
excellent cannot perish. It may lie hid, but it cannot perish.”
That is one of the things I remember his saying to my father,
on that first evening of our renewed acquaintance. And, at
table, I noticed, he ate and drank in a joyless, absent-minded
manner, and made unusual uses of his knife and fork, and very
unusual noises. And, by-and-by, in the midst of a silence, my
mother spoke to a servant, whereupon, suddenly, he glanced up,
with vague eyes, and the frown of one troubled in the depths of a
brown study, and I could have sworn it was on the tip of his
tongue to say hist-hist !
He stayed with us for several months—from the beginning of
November till February or March, I think—and during that
period I saw him very nearly every day, and heard him accomplish
a tremendous deal of talk.
I tried, besides, to read some of his books, an effort, however,
from which I retired, baffled and bewildered : they were a thou
sand miles above the apprehension of a nineteen-year-old potache ;
and I did actually read to its end a book about him : Augustus
Ambrose, the Friend of Man : an Account of his Life, and an
Analysis of his Teachings. By one of his Folloivers. Turin :
privately printed, 1858. Of the identity of that “Follower,”
by-the-by, I got an inkling, from a rather conscious, half
sheepish smile, which I detected in the face of my own father,
when he saw the volume in my hands. I read his Life to its
end ; and I tried to read The Foundations of Monopantology,
and Anthropocracy : a Remedy for the Diseases of the Body
Politic, and Philarchy : a Vision ; and I listened while he
accomplished a tremendous deal of talk. His talk was always
(for my taste) too impersonal ; it was always of ideas, of theories,
never of concrete things, never of individual men and women.
Indeed, the mention of an individual would often only serve him
as an excuse for a new flight into the abstract. For example, I
had learned, from the Life, that he had been an associate of
Mazzini’s and Garibaldi’s in ’48, and that it was no less a person
than Victor Emmanuel himself, who had named him—in an
official proclamation, too—” the Friend of Man.” So, one day, I
asked him to tell me something about Victor Emmanuel, and
Mazzini, and Garibaldi. ” You knew them. I should be so
glad to hear about them from one who knew them.”
” Victor Emmanuel, Garibaldi, Mazzini, Cavour—I knew
them all ; I knew them well. I worked with them, fought
under them, wrote for them, spoke for them, throughout the long
struggle for the unification of Italy. I did so because unification
is my supreme ideal, the grandest ideal the human mind has ever
formed. I worked for the unification of Italy, because I was and
am working for the unification of mankind, and the unification
of Italy was a step towards, and an illustration of, that sublime
object. Let others prate of civilisation ; civilisation means
nothing more than the invention and multiplication of material
conveniences—nothing more than that. But unification—the
unification of mankind that is the crusade which I have
preached, the cause for which I have lived. To unify the scat-
tered nations of this earth into one single nation, one single
solidarity, under one government, speaking one language, pro-
fessing and obeying one religion, pursuing one aim. The
religion—Christianity, with a purified Papacy. The government
—anthropocratic philarchy, the reign of men by the law of Love.
The language—Albigo. Albigo, which means, at the same time,
both human and universal—from Albi, pertaining to man, and
Gom, pertaining to the whole, the all. Albigo : a language
which I have discovered, as the result of years of research, to
exist already, and everywhere, as the base, the common principle,
of all known languages, and which I have extracted, in its
original simplicity, from the overgrowths which time and separ-
ateness have allowed to accumulate upon it. Albigo : the tongue
which all men speak unconsciously : the universal human tongue.
And, finally, the aim—the common, single aim—the highest
possible spiritual development of man, the highest possible culture
of the human soul.”
That is what I received in response to my request for a few personal
reminiscences of Victor Emmanuel, Garibaldi, and Mazzini.
You will infer that Mr. Ambrose lacked humour. But his
most conspicuous trait, his preponderant trait—the trait which, I
think, does more than any other to explain him, him and his
fortunes and his actions—was the trait I had vaguely noticed in
our first five minutes’ intercourse, after my re-introduction to him ;
the trait which, I have conjectured, perhaps gave its unsympathetic
quality to his face : abstraction from his surroundings and his
company, inattention, indifference, to them.
On that first evening, you may remember, he had asked me
certain questions ; but I had felt that he was thinking of something
else. I had answered them, but I had felt that he never heard my
That little negative incident, I believe, gives the key to his
character, to his fortunes, to his actions.
The Friend of Man was totally deaf and blind and insensible to
men. Man, as a metaphysical concept, was the major premiss of
his philosophy ; men, as individuals, he was totally unable to realise.
He could not see you, he could not hear you, he could get no
” realising sense ” of you. You spoke, but your voice was an
unintelligible murmur in his ears ; it was like the sound of the
wind—it might annoy him, disturb him (in which case he would
seek to silence it with a hist-hist], it could not signify to him.
The Yellow Book—Vol. XI. E
You stood up, in front of him ; but you were invisible to him ; he
saw beyond you. And even when he spoke, he did not speak to
you, he spoke to the walls and ceiling—he thought aloud. He
took no account of his auditor’s capacities, of the subject that would
interest him, of the language he would understand. You asked
him to tell you about Mazzini, and he discoursed of Albigo and
the Unification of Mankind. And then, when he ceased to speak,
directly he fell silent and somebody else took the word, the gates
of his mind were shut ; he withdrew behind them, returned to his
private meditations, and so remained, detached, solitary, preoccupied,
till the time came when he was moved to speak again. He was
the Friend of Man, but men did not exist for him. He was like
a mathematician busied with a calculation, eager for the sum-total,
but heedless of the separate integers. My father—my mother—
I—whosoever approached him—was a phantasm : a convenient
phantasm, possibly, a phantasm with a house where he might be
lodged and fed, with a purse whence might be supplied the funds
requisite for the publication of his works ; or possibly a trouble
some phantasm, a phantasm that worried him by shouting at its
play : but a phantasm, none the less.
Years ago, my downright Aunt Elizabeth had disposed of him
with two words : a charlatan, an impostor. My Aunt Elizabeth
was utte r ly mistaken. Mr. Ambrose’s sincerity was absolute.
The one thing he professed belief in, he believed in with an
intensity that rendered him unconscious of all things else ; his one
conviction was so predominant as to exclude all other convictions.
What was the one thing he believed in, the one thing he was
convinced of? It would be easy to reply, himself; to declare that,
at least, when she had called him an egotist, my Aunt Elizabeth
had been right. It would be easy, but I am sure it would be
untrue. The thing he believed in, the thing he was convinced of,
the only thing in this whole universe which he saw, was his
vision. That, I am persuaded, is the explanation of the man. It
explains him in big and in little. It explains his career, his
fortunes, his failure, his table-manners, his testiness, and the
queerest of his actions.
He saw nothing in this universe but his vision ; he did not see the
earth beneath him, nor the people round him. Is that not enough
to explain everything, almost to justify anything ? Doesn’t it
explain his failure, for example ? The fact that the world ignored
him, that his followers dropped away from him, that nobody read
his books ? For, since he was never convinced of the world, how
could he convince the world ? Since he had no ” realising sense ”
of men, how could he hold men ? Can you hold phantasms ?
Since, in writing his books, he took no account of human nature,
no account of human taste, human desires, needs, endurance, no
account of the structure of the human brain, of human habits of
thought, of the motives by which human beings can be influenced,
of the arguments they can follow, of the language they can under
stand—since, in a word, he wrote his books, as he spoke his
speeches, not to you or me, not to flesh and blood, but to the walls
and ceiling, to space, to the unpeopled air—how was it possible
that he should have human readers ? It explains his failure, the
failure of a long life of unremitting labour. He was learned, he
was in earnest, he was indefatigable ; and the net product of his
learning, his earnestness, his industry, was nil ; because there can
be no reciprocity established between something and nothing.
It explains his failure ; and it explains—it almost excuses—in a
sense it even almost justifies—the queerest of his actions. Other
people did not exist for him ; therefore other people had no
feelings to be considered, no rights, no possessions, to be respected.
They did not exist, therefore they were in no way to be reckoned
with. Their observation was not to be avoided, their power was
not to be feared. They could not do anything ; they could not
see what he did.
The queerest of his actions ? You will suppose that I must
have some very queer action still to record. Well, there was his
action the other night at the Casino, for one thing ; I haven’t yet
done with that. But the queerest of all his actions, I think, was
his treatment of Israela, his step-daughter Israela. . . .
During the visit Mr. Ambrose paid us in Paris, when I was
nineteen, he, whose early disciples had dropped away, made a new
disciple : a Madame Fontanas, a Mexican woman—of Jewish
extraction, I imagine—a widow, with a good deal of money.
Israela, her daughter, was a fragile, pale-faced, dark-haired, great-
eyed little girl, of twelve or thirteen. Madame Fontanas sat at
Mr. Ambrose’s feet, and listened, and believed. Perhaps she con-
ceived an affection for him ; perhaps she only thought that here
was a great philosopher, a great philanthropist, and that he ought
to have some one to take permanent care of him, and reduce the
material friction of his path to a minimum. Anyhow, when the
spring came, she married him. I have no definite information on
the subject, but I am sure in my own mind that it was she who
took the initiative—that she offered, and he vaguely accepted, her
hand. Anyhow, in the spring she married him, and carried him
off to her Mexican estates.
Five or six years later (by the sheerest hazard) I found him
living in London with Israela ; in the dreariest of dreary lodgings,
in a dreary street, in Pimlico. I met him one afternoon, by the
sheerest hazard, in Piccadilly, and accompanied him home. (It
was characteristic of him, by-the-by, that, though we met face to
face, and I stopped and exclaimed and held out my hand, he gazed
at me with blank eyes, and I was obliged to repeat my name
twice before he could recall me.) He was living in London, for
the present, he told me, in order to see a work through the press.
“A great work, the crown, the summary of all my work. The
Final Extensions of Monopantology. It is in twelve volumes, with
plates, coloured plates.”
” And Mrs. Ambrose is well ? ” I asked.
“Oh, my wife—my wife is dead. She died two or three
years ago,” he answered, with the air of one dismissing an
” And Israela ? ” I pursued, by-and-by.
” Israela ? ” His brows knitted themselves perplexedly, then,
in an instant, cleared. ” Oh, Israela. Ah, yes. Israela is living
And upon my suggesting that I should like to call upon her,
he replied that he was on his way home now, and, if I cared to do
so, I might come with him.
They were living in the dreariest of dreary lodgings, in the
dreariest of streets. But Israela welcomed me with a warmth I
had not anticipated. ” Oh, I am so glad to see you, so glad, so
glad,” she cried, and her big, dark eyes filled with tears, and she
clung to my hand. I was surprised by her emotion, because, after
all, I was scarcely other than a stranger to her ; a man she hadn’t
seen since she was a little girl, and even then had seen only once
or twice. I understood it afterwards, however : when one day she
confided to me that—excepting Mr. Ambrose himself, and servants
and tradesmen—I was the first human being she had exchanged a
word with since they had come to London ! ” We don’t know
anybody—not a soul, not a soul. He doesn t want to know people
—he is so absorbed in his work. I could not make acquaintances
alone. And we had been here four months, before he met you
and brought you home.”
Israela was tall, and very slight ; very delicate-looking, with a
face intensely pale, all the paler for the soft dark hair that curled
above it, and the great dark eyes that looked out of it. Consider
ing that she must have inherited a decent fortune from her mother,
I wondered, rather, to see her so plainly dressed : she wore the
plainest straight black frocks. And, of course, I wondered also to
find them living in such dismal lodgings. However, it was not
for me to ask questions ; and if presently the mystery cleared itself
up, it was by a sort of accident.
I called at the house in Pimlico as often as I could ; and I took
Israela out a good deal, to lunch or dine at restaurants ; and when
the weather smiled, we would make little jaunts into the country,
to Hampton Court, or Virginia Water, or where not. And one
day she came to tea with me, at my chambers.
” Oh, you ve got a piano,” was her first observation, and she
flew to the instrument, and seated herself, and began to play. She
played without pause for nearly an hour, I think : Chopin, Chopin,
Chopin. And when she rose, I said, ” Would you mind telling
me why you—a brilliant pianist like you—why you haven’t a
piano in your own rooms ? ”
” We can’t afford one,” she answered simply.
” What do you mean—you can’t afford one ? ”
” He says we can’t afford one. Don’t you know—we are very
poor ? ”
” You can’t be very poor,” I exclaimed. ” Your mother was
” Yes, my mother was rich. I don’t know what has become of
” Didn’t she leave a will ? ”
“Oh, yes, she left a will. She left a will making my step
father my guardian, my trustee.”
” Well, what has he done with your money ? “
” I don’t know. I only know that we are very poor—that we
can’t afford any luxuries—that we can just barely contrive to live,
in the quietest manner. He almost never gives me any money for
myself. A few shillings, very rarely, when I ask him.”
” My dear child,” I cried, ” I see it all, I see it perfectly.
You’ve got plenty of money, you’ve got your mother’s fortune.
But he’s spending it for his own purposes. He’s paying for the
printing of his gigantic book with it. Twelve volumes, and
plates, coloured plates ! It’s exactly like him. The only thing
he’s conscious of is the importance of publishing his book. He
needs money. He takes it where he finds it. He’s spending your
money for the printing of his book ; and that’s why you have to
live in dreary lodgings in the dreariest part of London, and do
without a piano. He doesn’t care how he lives—he doesn’t know
—he’s unconscious of everything but his book. My dear child,
you must stop him, you mustn’t let him go on.”
Israela was incredulous at first, but I argued and insisted, till, in
in the end, she said, “Perhaps you are right. But even so, what
can I do ? How can I stop him ? ”
” Ah, that’s a question for a lawyer. We must see a lawyer.
A lawyer will know how to stop him.”
But at this proposal, Israela shook her head. ” Oh, no, I will,
have no lawyer. Even supposing your idea is true, I can’t set a
lawyer upon my mother’s husband. After all, what does it matter ?
Perhaps he is right. Perhaps the publication of his book is
very important. I’m sure my mother would have thought so. It
was her money. Perhaps he is right to spend it for the publication
of his book.”
Israela positively declined to consult a lawyer ; and so they
continued to live narrowly in Pimlico, and he proceeded with the
issue of The Final Extensions of Monopantology, in twelve
volumes, with coloured plates. Meanwhile, the brown London
autumn had turned into a black London winter ; and Israela,
delicate-looking at its outset, grew more and more delicate-looking
” After all, what does it matter ? The money will be his, and
he can do as he wishes with it honestly, as soon as I am dead,” she
said to me, one evening, with a smile I did not like.
” What on earth do you mean ? ” I asked.
” I am going to die,” she said.
” You’re mad, you re morbid,” I cried. ” You mustn’t say such
things. You’re not ill ? What on earth do you mean ? ”
“I am going to die. I know it. I feel it. I am not ill ? I
don’t know. I think I am ill. I feel as if I were going to be ill.
I am going to die—I know I am going to die.”
I did what I could to dissipate such black presentiments. I
refused to talk of them. I did what I could to lend a little gaiety
to her life. But Israela grew whiter and more delicate-looking
day by day. I was her only visitor. I had asked if I might not
bring a friend or two to see her, but she had answered, ” I’m afraid
he would not like it. People coming and going would disturb him.
He can’t bear any noise.” So I was her only visitor—till, by-and-
by, another became necessary.
I wonder whether Mr. Ambrose ever really knew that Israela was
lying in her bed at the point of death, and that the man who called
twice every day to see her was a doctor ? True, in an absent-
minded fashion, he used to enquire how she was, he used even
occasionally to enter the sick-room, and look at her, and lay his
hand on her brow, as if to take her temperature ; but I wonder
whether he ever actually realised her condition ? He was terribly
pre-occupiedjust then with Volume VIII. At all events, on a certain
melancholy morning in April, he allowed me to conduct him to a
carriage and to help him in ; and together we drove to Kensal
Green. He was silent during the dr—thinking hard, I fancied,
about some matter very foreign to our errand. . . . And as soon
as the parson there had rattled through his office and concluded it,
Israela’s step-father pulled out his watch, and said to me, ” Ah, I
must hurry off, I must hurry off. I’ve got a long day’s work before
That was something like ten years ago—the last time I had
seen him. . . . Until now, to-night, on this sultry night of
August 1896, here he had suddenly reappeared to me, holding the
bank at baccarat, at the Grand Cercle of the Casino : Augustus
Ambrose, the Friend of Man, the dreamer, the visionary, holding
the bank at baccarat, at the Grand Cercle of the Casino !
I looked at him, in simple astonishment at first, and then
gradually I shaped a theory. ” He has probably come pretty nearly
to the end of Israela’s fortune ; it would be like him to spend
interest and principal as well. And now he finds himself in need
of money. And he is just unpractical enough to fancy that he
can supply his needs by play. Or—or is it possible he has a
system ? Perhaps he imagines he has a system.” And then I
thought how old he had grown, how terribly, terribly he had
I looked at him. He was dealing. He dealt to the right, to
the left, and to himself. But when he glanced at his own two
cards, he made a little face. The next instant he had dropped
them under the table, and helped himself to two fresh ones. . . .
The thing was done without the faintest effort at concealment,
in a room where at least forty pairs of eyes were fixed upon him.
There was, of course, an immediate uproar. In an instant
every one was on his feet ; Mr. Ambrose was surrounded. Men
were shaking their fists in his face, screaming at him excitedly,
calling him ugly names. He gazed at them placidly, vaguely.
It was clear he did not grasp the situation.
Somebody must needs intervene.
” I saw what Monsieur did. I am sure it was with no ill
intention. He made no effort at concealment. It was done in
a fit of absence of mind. Look at him. He is a very old man.
You can see he is bewildered. He does not even yet understand
what has happened. He should never have come here, at his age.
He should never have been allowed to take the bank. Let the
croupier pay both sides. Then I will take Monsieur away.
Somehow I got him out of the Casino, and led him to his hotel,
a small hotel in the least favoured quarter of the town, the name
of which I had a good deal of difficulty in extracting from him.
On the way thither scarcely a word passed between us. I forbore
to tell him who I was ; of course, he did not recognise me. But
all the while a pertinacious little voice within me insisted : ” He
did it deliberately. He deliberately tried to cheat. With his
gaze concentrated on his vision, he could see nothing else ; he
could see no harm in trying to cheat at cards. He needed money
—it didn’t matter how he obtained it. The other players were
phantasms—where’s the harm in cheating phantasms ? Only he
forgot—or, rather, he never realised—that the phantasms had eyes,
that they could see. That’s why he made no effort at conceal
ment.”—Was the voice right or wrong ?
I parted with him at the door of his hotel ; but the next day a
feeling grew within me that I ought to call upon him, that I
ought at least to call and take his news. They told me that he
had left by an early train for Paris.
As I have been writing these last pages, a line of Browning’s
has kept thrumming through my head. ” This high man, with
a great thing to pursue , . . This high man, with a great thing
to pursue . . .” How does it apply to Mr. Ambrose ? I don’t
know—unless, indeed, a high man, with a great thing to pursue,
is to be excused, is to be pitied, rather than blamed, if he loses his
sense, his conscience, of other things, of small things. After all,
wasn’t it because he lost his conscience of small things, that he
missed his great thing ?
John Barlas’s Poetry
CRITICS of the present phase of democracy in England have
remarked that, whatever else it may have produced, it has
not produced poets. The judgment is only partly true. It is
true that the lines on which the ” social question ” is nowadays
argued are largely scientific ; the battle is one of economics rather
than heroics, and the atmosphere of economics is not inspiriting to
singers. Therefore, as might have been expected, song has not
played anything like the same part in the Socialist as in the
Chartist propaganda, or as in the Irish struggle of the Forties ;
there have been no popular song-writers at all comparable to those
who inspired the enthusiasts of half a century ago. On the other
hand it must be remembered that in democratic poetry, even more
than in other poetry, the really original writers—those who aim
at something beyond an expression of the common sentiments of
their comrades—are apt to be unrecognised, or very slowly recog-
nised, by contemporary opinion ; so that the literature of a social
movement still in course of development may turn out to be more
important than at first sight appears.
For example, at the present time, very few of the ” reading
public,” and perhaps not many of the ” leading critics ” (leading,
in the sense of the blind leading the blind), know anything at all
of such very notable poems as Edward Carpenter’s ” Towards
Democracy ” and Francis Adams’s ” Songs of the Army of the
Night,” two powerful and characteristic works alone sufficient to
distinguish the period that produced them. But even under such
conditions, it seems strange that the poetry of John E. Barlas
(” Evelyn Douglas “) is read and valued by none but a few fellow-
enthusiasts. For, as a set-off against the disadvantage of obscure
publication, Barlas’s style, unlike that of Carpenter and Adams,
is not, externally at least, a novel or unfamiliar one, but is framed
on established literary canons ; so that there should have been one
obstacle the less to a recognition of his rich and brilliant genius.
Of all rebels against the existing state of society, none perhaps
are so irreconcilable as the passionate lovers of beauty and nature
who, like Richard Jefferies, are for ever contrasting the actual
with the ideal, the serfdom of the present with the freedom of the
years to come. It is to this order of heart and mind, children of
a golden past or a golden future, that Barlas belongs. He is, if
ever poet was, a Greek in spirit, but he possesses also, in a high
degree, the modern sense of brotherhood with all that lives. A
fiery impatience of privilege, authority, commercialism, breathes
through all his writings ; and therefore, like all poets who have
held these burning thoughts, he is lonely, a stranger, an exile, as
it were, from some Hid Isle of Beauty, who has been stranded on
savage shores. This marked characteristic, the isolation of a
proud but loving heart, will not be overlooked by any careful
student of the eight small volumes of verse published by Barlas
between 1884 and 1893.*
It is in the earliest and the latest of these volumes that, in my
* All of these books are more or less difficult to obtain. The British
Museum has a complete set. Mr. F. Kirk, 42 Melbourne Street,
Leicester, has some of the volumes on sale.
opinion, he is seen at his best. The Poems Lyrical and Dramatic,
which appeared in 1884, but were written at various dates from
1877 onward, are indeed in many ways imperfect, but the author’s
apology for the immaturity of these ” February flowers ” was not
needed ; if immature, they are still flowers of which any lyric
poet might be proud, and they could have been grown in no
other garden than that wherein they stand. The influence of
other poets, Shelley and Swinburne and Poe, for instance, may be
noted in this early work ; but the resemblance is only a superficial
one, and there is no mistaking the originality of the thought and
workmanship, the deep heartfelt humanity by which the poems
are informed, or the gorgeous tropical splendour of the imagery
and diction. There are stanzas in ” The Golden City,” ” The
River’s Pilgrimage,” ” Ode to Euterpe,” and elsewhere, which
are steeped in a rich fantasy of feeling and colour quite peculiar to
Barlas, and not to be surpassed, in its own way, in all the range
of our literature. Witness the following verses from “The
Golden City ” :
” I dreamed once of a city
Of marble and of gold,
Where pity melts to pity
And love for love is sold,
Where hot light smokes and shivers
Round endless sweeps of rivers,
A home of high endeavours
For the stately men of old. . . .
And under tower and temple,
By minarets and domes,
With burning waves a-tremble
The stately river foams,
Lapping the granite arches
Of the bridges, while it marches
Through rows of limes and larches
By many hearths and homes.
By buttresses and basements
And pillared colonnade,
By open doors and casements
In festal wreaths arrayed,
By stair and terrace wending
In windings without ending,
Sunlight or moonlight blending
With massy squares of shade.
By gardens full of fountains
And statues white as snow,
Nymphs of the seas and mountains,
And goddesses a-row,
Where the deep heart of the roses
Its secret sweet uncloses,
And the scent, like heat, reposes
On the beds that bask and glow.”
If it be thought that this is mere “word-painting,” take the
passionate cry for rest and healing from ” Santa Cecilia,” surely
one of the most true and beautiful lyrics in modern English
” Ah Santa Cecilia
Touch me and heal me,
Me, storm-swept, even me,
Beyond life’s utmost sea ;
Kiss me and seal me,
Sweet music and melody,
Ye only left me
Far to my heart outweigh
Love, hope, faith, reason’s ray,
All things bereft me,
Music and melody. . . .
Ah Santa Cecilia,
Never forsake me,
In white calm and white storm,
Cold winds and weathers warm,
Let thy voice wake me,
Sweet music and melody,
Take me and lift me
Above where baser tides
Under sheer mountain-sides
Drive me and drift me,
Music and melody.
Ah, Santa Cecilia,
Touch me and heal me,
Me, storm-swept, even me,
Beyond life’s utmost sea ;
Kiss me and seal me,
Nor is this youthful volume wanting in poems which show a firm
grip and a power of concentrated expression. In all that poets
have written of Freedom, it would be difficult to find a nobler
picture than the following from ” Le Jeune Barbaroux ” :
Freedom, her arm outstretched but lips firm set,
Freedom, her eyes with tears of pity wet,
But her robe splashed with drops of bloody dew,
Freedom, thy goddess, is our goddess yet,
Freedom, that tore the robe from kings away,
That clothed the beggar-child in warm array,
Freedom, the hand that raised, the hand that slew,
Freedom, divine then, is divine to-day,
We drown, we perish in a surging sea ;
We are not equal, brotherly, nor free ;—
Who from this death shall stoop and raise us ? who ?
Thy Freedom, and the memory of such as thee,
In the volumes that succeeded these early Poems, it would seem that
John Barlas, in his characteristic recoil from the ugliness of
modern realities, lapsed too far in the contrary direction of
poetical mysticism. His Phantasmagoria, or Dream-Fugues, is
a wonderful attempt at depicting, with huge prodigality of
language and metaphor, his haunting sense of a strange vast
dreamland, in which, as in De Quincey’s opium-visions, the
colossal features of the East loom vague and portentous.
” Hast not sailed in dreams upon a mystic river
Through caverns, and through mountains, and through palaces ?
Seen the sunrays fall, the moonbeams quiver,
On the roofs of Tripolis and Fez :
The Yellow Book—Vol. XI. F
Drifted far ‘mid many a granite column,
Through the brazen gates, on waves that shone,
In the awful hush of moonrise soft and solemn,
Into Babylon ?
Hast thou never strayed through China’s mystic regions,
Lamplit gardens cool with waft of many a fan,
Seen their silken girls in silver legions,
Or the gorgeous ladies of japan,
Heard the small feet patter, long robes sweeping,
Kissed the laughing lips, shocked as it seemed ? —
Ah, thou hast not known the joys of sleeping,
Thou hast never dreamed ! ”
There is a turbid excess of imagery in these weird fantasies that
somehow mars their effect. A similar, but worse exaggeration of
tone and treatment is noticeable in the two dramas, Punchinello
and his wife Judith and The Queen of the Hid Isle, which, in spite
of some very beautiful lines and passages, quite fail to realise their
author s high conception of the subjects chosen by him. Lack of
humour, which in a dream-fugue can perhaps be tolerated, since
dreamland is not often humorous, is fatal to a drama ; and much
that is over-wrought and feeble-forcible in this part of Barlas’s
work is due to this deficiency. That he possessed any of the
essential qualities of a dramatist will hardly be asserted, even by
those who most admire the richness of his lyrics ; but humour
would at least have saved him from the mannerisms and affecta-
tions which make the reading of his dramas a somewhat weary
But when we leave his blank verse behind us, and turn to the
later lyrics and sonnets of 1887-1889, there is a change indeed ;
for in this maturer work there is all the fire of the youthful poems,
but purged and clarified into a calmness and simplicity of expres-
sion which lend it new strength. This increased power, which is
first observable in the charming little volume of Bird-notes (1887),
is seen at its best in the Songs of a Bayadere (1893), from which
I take the following lyric entitled ” The Mummy’s Love-Story,”
a masterpiece of passionate feeling clothed in simplest words :
” Where in a stone sarcophagus
Lay in embalmed repose
A shape with robes luxurious,
They found a faded rose.
Perhaps it was an amorous boy
That to a princess gave
Some token of their secret joy,
That she wore to the grave.
Perhaps it was a murdered youth
Sent on the eve of doom
An emblem of forgiving truth,
His queen wore to the tomb.
Who knows ? But there it speaks for her
Of sorrows long past now,
When neither joy nor pain can stir
The arch of her calm brow.
And so, when you have let me die,
And you too are at rest,
Some trinket of my gift may lie
On your repentant breast.
And when our language is forgot,
Some lover of old scenes
May find it in a haunted spot,
And wonder what it means.”
But it is in the Sonnet, perhaps, that Barlas s genius reaches its
fullest development. I speak advisedly when I say that his
sequence of Love Sonnets (1889), quite unknown as it is to
ninety-nine out of a hundred readers of poetry, deserves to take
rank, and will some day take rank, with the greatest sonnet-
structures of the century. For serenity of tone, mastery of style,
and deep personal pathos, it would be hard to surpass many of the
sonnets in this book, which has drawn from no less an authority
than George Meredith the opinion that, in this form of writing,
Barlas ” takes high rank among the poets of his time.” Here is
the concluding sonnet of the series, which as Mr. Meredith justly
observes, is “unmatched for nobility of sentiment, and the work-
manship is adequate.”
” When in the lonely stillness of the tomb
I voiceless lie and cold, omit not thou
To sing and dance as merrily as now :
Bring roses once a year in fullest bloom,
And rather than that thou should st come in gloom,
Bring thy new love with thee : together bow
O’er the green mound that hides the quiet brow—
Yea I would bless his babe within thy womb.
How can love be where jealousy is not ?
How shall I say ? This only : I have borne
That cruel pain : yet would I never blot,
Living, with selfish love the loved one’s lot,
Nor, dead, would have my dear love live forlorn,—
Yet would not wish my own love quite forgot.”
In speaking of a writer who is practically unknown, I have been
compelled to trust in large measure to quotation. The passages
quoted, though in themselves but brief and fragmentary, will at
least have given some indication of the qualities that distinguish
their author—a rare splendour of imagination and melody of
utterance ; a spirit of intense devotion to beauty and freedom,
intense hatred of oppression and wrong, which rises, in his latest
poems, through unrest of pain and disappointment, to a note of
high calm unselfishness, ” a great peace growing up within the
soul,” which few poets have attained to. In the words of one of
his noblest sonnets :
” Yet love, for thee, yet, love, for thy dear grace,
I walk in dreams as toward the morning star,
Through clouds that shine and open out above ;
And all the future flames about my face,
And all the past lies looming low afar
To me emerging on the heights of love.”
Indirectly, too, what has been quoted may have given some faint
hint of the self-revelation that every true poet perforce leaves in
his verses, intelligible to those only who can read between the
lines with sympathy and understanding—in this case a sad record
of a troubled life, now prematurely darkened by disease. Of one
thing the reader has absolute conviction, that no singer was ever
more true to his faith and his vocation ; though, as he himself
cries in his ode to his goddess, Euterpe :
” To me thou hast given the pangs, and the chaplet of
That the homage due to the great heart of a real poet will be
permanently denied to John Barlas, I do not believe ; and even as
I have been writing this short article, designed to draw attention,
however inadequately, to a neglected fount of song, has come the
welcome news that a volume of selections from his poems is about
to be laid before the public. No more interesting book of verse
will have appeared for many a year.
The White Statue
I LOVE you, silent statue : for your sake
My songs in prayer up-reach
Frail hands of flame-like speech,
That some mauve-silver twilight you make wake !
I love you more than swallows love the south.
As sunflowers turn and turn
Towards the sun, I yearn
To press warm lips against your cold white mouth.
I love you more than scarlet-skirted dawn,
At sight of whose spread wings
The great world wakes and sings.
Forgetful of the long vague dark withdrawn.
* * * * *
I love you most at purple sunsetting,
When night with feverish eyes
Comes up the fading skies. . . .
I love you with a passion past forgetting !
By James S. Pyke-Nott
THIS is the story of a house—its history.
It was a well-kept house when first I knew it, big—for a
house of this kind—and very imposing ; and it was very com-
monly said that many persons would give their eyes to possess it.
But the persons who were thus talked about never thought of it
as a house at all ; and they couldn t have got inside it, even if
they had wished to get there, which they never thought of wish-
ing ; so it is difficult to understand why they wanted it, for as a
mere ornament it was too large and too unmanageable. I speak
of it simply as a house, because I am trying to be charitable, and
I believe that up to the very last it was a comfortable place to live
in—very safe, and always well stored with provisions. I will tell
about those who lived in it after I have explained what a really
wonderful house it was, for then its inmates will be less surprising.
It could move, even when not on wheels, and frequently did so
move ; and once it moved astonishingly fast—and I will tell about
that too in a little while. Yes, it was wonderfully built : what
wonderful machinery it had ! and how wonderfully the machinery
kept in order !
This house, like all houses of its kind, was haunted. It did
not look haunted, very few houses that are in good repair do ; for
ghosts have many affectations, and with them it is unfashionable to
appear in houses that are not dilapidated : also many of them are
shy, and some are proud, and others are sleepy, so, when a house
comes alongside another house, their ghosts as a rule sit quite still
and content themselves with listening to the conversation of the
houses. But those whom the stories are mostly told about are
of course the more eager and restless spirits, who can be seen
looking out through the windows of their houses, and are often
accompanied by strange lights. Some of these are affectionate
ghosts, who long to know their fellow ghosts, and to be under-
stood by them ; and many sad stories are told about these
It is pleasant to sit and talk of ghosts. None of our stern wise
elders can come and vex us with certificated knowledge : we get
to know each other, and that is a great matter, and a very difficult
matter, for generations of wise men have constructed cases for us,
and written out labels to be stuck on us, and classified all our
thoughts ; and wise men of the present come round and say, ” Ah,
yes ; this is a thing we thoroughly understand.” And that is
hateful, and it is absurd ; for we are really ghosts—we are like
those of whom I have spoken, of whom the sad stories are
We will talk no more of ghosts, or we shall sleep less soundly
than we ought to sleep—and I promised to tell about the inmates
of this haunted house. They were not at all troubled by their
ghost ; but then they were many, and they spent all their time in
dancing. I never knew exactly how many they were, it would
not have been easy to count them. Night and day they danced
down the corridors and up the passages, and through a hall where
a wonderful machine beat out the time for them, and seized them
as they approached and whirled them round and sent them off
again down the corridors, and that was great fun. It was never
very light in any part of the dwelling—if that could be called a
dwelling where nobody dwelt for an instant, for these people even
slept dancing—but they could see each other quite well, for they
were all dressed in scarlet.
They must have been fond of dancing, and certainly there
was plenty of company, but I think they found it monotonous,
for whenever they found a crack in the walls they at once forced
their way out into the open, although they always died imme-
diately. But these sad occurrences were rare, for, as I have said,
this was an unusually safe house to live in ; it was quite distressed
when it saw its inmates rush out and die, and so it did its very
best to keep from being injured.
One day a great battle was fought between the houses of two
neighbouring countries, and soon so much smoke arose that it
became difficult to see what was going on ; but the matter did
not end in smoke, for many houses were destroyed, and many
were grievously damaged. And this house was present at the
first : and this is the story I promised to tell. Perhaps it
could not help being present, and certainly as soon as the
hostile houses hove in sight it thought of its inmates and the
danger into which it was bringing them ; but it did not fully
realise the cruelty of remaining where it was until the approaching
houses began to open fire, and then it determined to remain there
no longer. Yes, it had wonderful machinery ! It was a splendid
house to live in.
Nevertheless these bright little dancers come to a woeful and
untimely end. Years went by and they still danced on in safety,
but danger often lurked outside now ; and their house outside
looked less and less desirable—nobody wished to possess it any
longer. And one day there was a violent jerk and then some of
the passages became blocked, and then the company began to
crowd upon each other. The measure died out : silence and
stillness settled throughout the place ; the dancers rested in
Their house had been hanged.
By Robert Shews
IT was a marriage of which everybody augured ill. When a
rumour of the engagement first obtained currency, every-
body scoffed. It was impossible. And even after it had received
official confirmation, people couldn’t shake ofF a sort of dazed
incredulity. It must be some mistake. That any one in his
senses should voluntarily espouse Hennie Bleck was a proposition
which the mind refused to grasp, like a contradiction in terms ;
and of Herbert Elsingford it had always been felt that he was
peculiarly in his senses. He gave you the impression of a man
who, fastidious in all things, would be overwhelmingly so in his
choice of a wife. He was an artist, and he was a man of the
world ; he had travelled, he had knocked about ; he must have
had a varied experience of women, he must have had successes.
With that, and with his humour, his saving touch of cynicism,
one would have thought him the least likely of subjects for a
woman to make a fool of. One would have supposed that he
cultivated an unattainable feminine standard, that he would require
a combination of qualities such as never was on land or sea—the
qualities of a Grecian urn united to those of a rosebud. One
would have imagined that in looking for a wife he would meet
with the fortune of those who look for the absolute—and remain
a bachelor. It was hard to believe that he was going to marry
The Blecks, mother and daughter, had descended upon London,
out of their native New England, some two years before. They
had taken a furnished house near Portman Square, and proceeded,
to the wonder of all beholders, to wriggle themselves into rather
a decent set. Physically, they resembled each other as closely as
two halfpence, with a difference of twenty years in their dates.
Mamma Bleck was undersized and thin, with a nose like a
scimitar, little staring grey eyes, a high forehead, and scanty grey
hair. Miss Bleck was simply her newer replica. They were
both addicted to odd, weasel-like motions, walked sinuously,
and squirmed a good deal when seated. But their methods
in conversation were antipodal. Mrs. Bleck was humble, dis-
tressingly so ; talked but little, and that little under her breath,
in a weary, low-spirited nasal. She deferred constantly to your
opinion, and called you sir : ” Oh, yes, sir,” ” No, sir,” etc., with
the funniest upward intonation. You would have thought she
was trying, in a hopeless way, to sell you something ; and, from
her timidity of attack, you might have suspected a guilty conscious-
ness that the thing wasn t worth your money, that the goods were
damaged, and a terror lest you should discover it and denounce
her. Then she was prone to long melancholic lapses of silence,
during which, by imperceptible degrees,—by a sort of drifting
process,—she would edge away, abstract herself, till by-and-by you
perceived that she was far from you, silent in a corner. But
through her humility you felt a kind of truculence, of sly fierce-
ness, as if she were lying low, and would presently seize her chance
to give you a dab, and escape before you could make sure who had
done it. In her corner, with her dull little eyes fixed steadfastly
on nothing, she had the air of hatching a conspiracy—laying a
mine. She was possibly only fatigued, and wondering when you
would go. Mrs. Bleck was retiring ; but Miss Bleck was for-
ward enough for two—most affable, most condescending. She
talked in a shrill little voice, and at the top of it, so that you could
follow her observations from the other end of the room. She laid
down the law, and kept twisting her neck like a swan’s. She
patronised everybody : she would have patronised the Duke of
Plaza-Toros, the Bank of England ; and her eyes had a sinister
little glitter, and her thin, straight lips a malicious little smile that
made one really afraid of her.
It was a wonder what had brought them to England (they
assured you that everything was better in America) ; it was a
wonder how well they got on here. They were unattractive, un-
distinguished, unconnected, and they weren’t rich. They lived
pretentiously but shabbily, driving their income very hard forcing
a thousand a year to do the work of two or three. They spread
their gilding out so thin that the plaster showed through. You
were sure they starved their servants—a conviction that was
strengthened by the circumstance that they were perpetually
changing them. The same butler never answered your knock
twice. Then they gave awful dinners, and kept a watch on you
lest you should eat and drink too heartily ; viands were whisked
before your eyes, and you went away with the sense of a lost
opportunity. Their afternoons at home were the painfullest
functions in London. They were lavish with weak tea, but
sparing of the milk and sugar, the bread and butter; and the little
dish of sweetmeats lurking behind the tea-urn was never put into
circulation unless a star arrived, and even then (I don’t know how
they managed it) nobody but the star got any. Everybody dis-
liked them, everybody said nasty things about them, yet everybody
visited and invited them. It was partly, I dare say, mere inertia.
Push, and it shall be opened unto you. They pushed : Mamma
silently,—furtively, as it were ; Hennie aggressively, with an effect
of asperity : both persistently—and people made way .for them.
It was partly mere inertia, it was partly a sort of dim fear. One
dimly feared that if one resisted them they would do something.
One divined in them latent resources, hidden potentialities for
mischief. They could blast one’s reputation by some particularly
insidious slander, or even throw vitriol. So people received them
and visited them, and took it out in saying nasty things—of them
and to them. These they never resented, though it was con-
ceivable that they noted them down.
One of their stars was the Dowager Lady Stoke, whose house
they had rented—always a conspicuous figure on their day, having
journeyed up from remote South Kensington, whither she had
withdrawn into lodgings. It was suggested that her attendance
might be a part of the lease ; but brooms apparently were not, for
on one occasion her ladyship was heard somewhat heatedly expostu-
lating : ” New brooms ! But, my dears, brooms are never
included in a furnished house. If I left my brooms it was through
good nature. If you need new brooms, you’ll have to buy ’em,
or do without. Brooms, indeed ! ” Then there were the Wether-
leighs, the Burtons, the Cavely-Browns. It was by Mrs. Burton
that Hennie was presented ; and at the Wetherleighs’ one scarcely
knew who was the hostess, Hennie was so much and so actively
in the foreground—the first to hail your arrival, the last to speed
your departure. Yet Mrs. Wetherleigh quite frankly detested
It was at the Wetherleighs’ in an evil hour that she made the
acquaintance of Herbert Elsingford, then in the flower of his
sudden short-lived fame—the lion of the moment. He had come
home from the East in February, and in April an exhibition of
his pictures had been opened at a dealer ‘mouths. The critics,
the painters, the connoisseurs, had begun it, and the public carried
it on. The explanation was obvious—he had matter as well as
manner. The connoisseurs admired his manner, which was
original and effective ; his light touch, his avoidance of all but the
salient, his clever brushwork. The public were captivated by the
glimpses he gave them into an exotic civilisation, by his pretty
Japanese ladies, his splendid temples, his bright delicate colours.
He had an instant and extremely unusual success. He sold every-
thing, and got no end of orders. This was well, for in his long
apprenticeship he had eaten up his short patrimony. His father
had been a rural dean in Shropshire. Herbert himself had set out
to read for the Bar, but in his second term he thought better of it,
and went to Paris to study art. We never really heard much of
him again till he burst upon us in his sudden celebrity.
He was run after a good deal, I suppose ; but he spent a
surprising amount of his time at the Wetherleighs’, with whom
he was distantly, loosely, connected. He met Hennie Bleck there
in June or July. One would have predicted that he would go
beyond us all in disliking her. He had humour ; he had experi-
ence ; he had a petit air moqueur ; he was the last man in the
world to be taken in. At the same time, he had sensibilities—old-
fashioned sensibilities. He justified the proverb that every artist
is a bit of a woman. At the vulgar, the meretricious, he couldn’t
smile, he couldn t even shrug his shoulders ; his humour, which
had helped him to detect it, abandoned him when it came to
supporting it ; he shuddered and hurried away. He would be
sure to know pinchbeck from gold, and to hate it. He would be
The Yellow Book—Vol. XI. G
sure to dislike Hennie. In the autumn people began to say they
were engaged. People said it and repudiated it as impossible in
the same breath. After the banns were published, people groped
helplessly for a theory. All sorts of wild surmises were launched.
Could it be hypnotism ? There was something uncanny about
the Blecks. Could it be hypnotism, envoûtement, some nefarious
magic ? One could fancy them, the grey old mother, the tallow-
faced little daughter, brewing a witch’s broth and crooning
murky incantations over it. Or blackmail ? They had been
staying in the same country houses, and Elsingford, perhaps, had
secrets. He had lived so much abroad, and travelled in the East ;
and even those of us who stop at home sometimes have secrets.
If Hennie had been rich—but she wasn’t rich. It passed the
limits of the human understanding. It had to be given up as one
of the ultimate mysteries. Elsingford was eight-and-twenty.
Hennie couldn’t be a day under thirty.
Nobody felt it more keenly than Arthur Harvard, Hennie’s
Londonised compatriot. He had been as nearly as any one the
discoverer of Elsingford. He had written articles about him in
the Reviews, and preached his cult by word of mouth wherever
he could find a listener. Then the two men, for all that there
was a score of years between them, became tremendous friends.
Everybody liked Elsingford : he was gentle, modest and amusing.
Harvard had a genius for friendship ; he put it all into his friend
ship for Elsingford. They were together a great deal, took long
walks together, dined and lunched together, talked together till
late into the night.
Harvard couldn’t believe it, but it troubled him. Mrs. Cavely-
Brown whispered it to him : ” They say, you know, that Herbert
Elsingford is going to marry Hennie Bleck.” He never smiled
again, for at least a fortnight. It couldn’t be true, of course ; and
yet it might be. It is the impossible that usually happens. And
in that case something ought to be done ; he ought to do some
thing. Harvard was a man who took things seriously, and felt his
responsibilities. We used to laugh at him a little and call him
“fussy” ; but I think we should have hit nearer the mark if we
had called him conscientious. For a fortnight he wore a perplexed
frown. At last Elsingford set his doubts at rest. He arrived in
town from Selfield, the Wetherleighs’ place in Derbyshire, and
drove straight to Harvard s chambers.
” I want you to congratulate me,” he said. ” Miss Bleck has
done me the honour to accept my hand.”
Harvard pulled himself up.
“Ah ? Indeed ? Ah, yes, yes. I—I’ve heard something about
this,” he responded : there he paused. He felt his responsibilities
—the responsibilities of friendship. It was, then, true. There-
fore something must be done—something must be said. But the
situation had its delicacies. Whatever he did, whatever he said,
must be well considered. Now, to gain time, he asked : “Er
—have you fixed a date ? ”
” Monday, the sixth of January, at St. George’s, Hanover
In the choice of a tabernacle Harvard felt Hennie’s touch : it
” You’re the first person I’ve told,” Elsingford went on. ” You
see, we want you to lend a hand. We want you to give the
bride away. Henrietta and her mother are very anxious. Of
course, this is unofficial. Mrs. Bleck will ask you. You re their
fellow-countryman and my especial friend.”
” If I’m to take part in the ceremony, I’d much rather forbid
the banns,” it was on the tip of Harvard s tongue to answer, but
he lacked nerve. ” My dear fellow, it’s—it’s too great a com-
pliment. They ought if they want an American they ought
to have the Ambassador,” was what he did answer.
” They don’t like the Ambassador ; they’re not on terms with
” Well, but then—but then—the Consul,” suggested Harvard,
losing his head.
” Oh, the Consul’s impossible. The Consul’s not a ….
Nobody knows the Consul. Besides, anyhow, we want you.
You’re the most distinguished American here. And we’re such
So poor Harvard, who had begun by saying that he must do
something, ended by giving the bride away. For months after
wards he felt as if he had picked a pocket and couldn’t lay a
haunting dread of the consequences.
The whole affair was inexplicable ; and not the least inexplic-
able feature of it was the departure, immediately after the
ceremony, of Elsingford, with his wife and mother-in-law, for
dear old Amurica. We had never understood the Blecks presence
in London ; now we were equally at a loss to understand their
absence. One would have expected Hennie to stop and enjoy
her triumph. She had hooked a lion—the lion of the season.
One would have thought she would wish to parade him up and
down a little before an envious public. But no, she led him
straight away into another hemisphere. Everybody boded ill of
the marriage, and particularly of this hegira. Elsingford, with his
sensibilities, would be sure not to like America. The clash, the
hurry, the hard atmosphere, the raw colouring, the ding of the
dominant dollar would give on his nerves. And how long would
he be able to stand Hennie ? ” We ll have him back some fine
morning when we least expect him,” people said. From time to
time Harvard or Mrs. Wetherleigh received a letter from him.
These became rarer and rarer, and at last stopped altogether.
One ceased to hear of him or from him. If he still painted,
he contrived to conceal his results from his admirers in England.
It was a comfort, though, to be rid of the Blecks. We breathed
freely ; a menace had been removed. Elsingford had been immo-
lated to the public good. It was a high price ; but, after all, the
deliverance was worth it.
Harvard would have found it difficult to explain how he had
come by such a complete impression of the way matters stood, or
why he felt so little doubt of its correctness. He hadn’t been able
to ask many questions. Elsingford hadn’t been able to tell him
very much ; a man can’t complain of his wife. But Harvard had
instincts, intuitions. One can reconstruct a mastodon from a
tooth and a claw. A word here, a look, a gesture there, and
Elsingford s very reticence, had made it all horribly clear.
Elsingford was certainly very ill. It had begun the winter
before, at New York, with an attack of what he and Hennie
called the “grip”—probably the influenza. This had left him
with a cough, which he couldn t succeed in throwing off. In the
spring the doctors had insisted that he must stop work and go
abroad. Change, rest, recreation would set him up. He wanted
to come to England, but Hennie objected. When they had left
England on their honeymoon Elsingford had understood that they
were to return in the autumn : they had really stopped in New
York upwards of four years. Hennie, little by little, had opened
her heart to him. With consternation he had discovered in it a
violent hatred of his country and his country-people. She hated
their very names, she said. England was a sink of iniquity and
stodginess. The English were all that is corrupt, perfidious,
ill-mannered, and dull. He tried to reason with her—to argue the
question. But Hennie was in some respects a woman. It pre-
cipitated quarrels, which ended in her weeping, and his having to
beg her pardon. She entertained her American friends with a
thousand shrill little anecdotes, comparisons, sarcasms, at England’s
expense. She was paying off old scores ; she had possibly not
been ignorant of her unpopularity. Her English husband hovered
in the background, conscious that her auditors, through all their
delight and laughter, were compassionating him for his loss in not
being an American. He always meant to put his foot down ; he
always meant to go home next spring. But when he broached
the subject Hennis would put her foot down literally ; she would
stamp her foot and scold and cry, and he would have to make his
peace and comfort her, and talk of something else. Besides,
from a pecuniary point of view, he was doing very well. The
Americans bought his pictures and paid American prices for
When the doctors ordered him abroad, he thought his chance
had come. But Hennie wouldn’t hear of England. She was
very glad “to go to Europe,” but she wouldn’t hear of England.
They had debates and scenes, tears, truces, and a reconciliation,
the terms of which were that they should avoid England. They
landed at Havre, accordingly, and spent the summer in Germany
and Austria, “doing” the Rhine and the Tyrol. They would
pass the winter, Hennie decided, in Paris. She had never had a
whole winter in Paris ; it was of all things what she most desired.
She had heard of a very good pension, kept by an American lady.
Then he could take a studio, and get to work again. And, if he
liked, he might run over to London for a visit, for ten days or a
fortnight. She couldn t spare him longer than a fortnight ; she
was too dependent upon him ; she would be too miserable without
To the idea of a very good pension, kept by an
lady, he opposed the idea of a furnished flat. But Hennie said
they would have no “society.” He suggested that in the pension
they might have no solitude. Hennie replied that this was only
his selfishness, and they established themselves in the pension.
But his cough, which had hung on in an obstinate little fashion
all summer, began now to go from bad to worse. The cold
weather that came early in November seemed to irritate it.
Hennie administered hot drinks and applied extra flannels. She
discouraged his seeing a doctor. He had seen doctors enough last
winter, and what good had they done him ? Doctors always
made people worse by alarming them. Herbert had too much
imagination, anyhow ; he thought too much of his health. If he
would pay less attention to it, and take a studio and go to work,
he would be as well as anybody. His real trouble was nervous.
Indeed, she would go so far as to say that all disease was merely
nervousness—a bad state of the mind. ” If people wouldn’t think
themselves sick they wouldn’t be sick.” He complained of general
lassitude, of pains in his chest, of fever at night. He didn’t believe
it was anything serious, but it prevented his working, it prevented
his enjoying life. He was getting frightfully thin ; he could count
his ribs. Then he had a haemorrhage, and Hennie, in spite of her-
self, was obliged to call in a doctor to stop the bleeding. The
doctor stopped the bleeding, and said that Elsingford ought not to
be in Paris ; he ought to go South, He oughtn’t to expose himself
to the rigours, the changes of a Parisian winter ; he ought to go
to the Riviera, to Sicily, to Algiers—it didn’t matter where, if he
could escape the cold and be in the open air. Hennie scouted
this as ” nonsense.” It confirmed her theory that doctors always
exaggerated things and frightened people. The doctor talked of
“indurations” and “pneumonias,” Hennie reiterated her con-
viction that it was all nerves and imagination. As for the
haemorrhage, it came from the throat : Herbert smoked too
much. To pull up stakes and go to the Riviera, after they had
got so comfortably settled down at Mrs. Slipwell’s, would be a
dreadful bother, a hideous expense. Well, the doctor concluded,
if they remained in Paris, Elsingford must stay in the house ; he
mustn’t go out till spring ; that was the only way of ensuring an
even temperature. Hennie derided this régime as ” crazy,” and
was angry with her husband for following it, as he stubbornly
insisted upon doing. “Be a man ! Get up and go out. Don’t
stick at home molly-coddling yourself like an old woman.”
Elsingford was for peace at any price, and two or three times he
tried it. He found that his outings aggravated his cough,
produced shortness of breath, added a couple of degrees to his
evening fever. After that he insisted upon obeying the doctor.
Hennie made his conduct the object of endless little ironies. She
treated it, and indeed his whole illness, as a personal grievance—a
thing perversely fostered to the end of vexing—her a sort of luxury
that he permitted himself. ” You’ll get no sympathy from me.
What can a man expect who keeps stuck up in the house,
enfeebling and enervating his whole system ? ”
Meanwhile he was losing his constitutional cheerfulness. Little
things that formerly would at most have annoyed him, began to
exasperate him. Formerly he had had his work, he had had the
streets to walk in ; now he was a prisoner in Mrs. Slipwell’s pension,
condemned to idleness. He didn’t like the pension ; he didn’t like
the ” society ” which had attracted Hennie. There were twenty-
five American women and one American man. He had to meet
them at table twice a day. Their talk exasperated him, their
strident voices, their queer intonations. After four years of New
York he still winced at certain intonations. They talked a good
deal about England ; they made the most astounding revelations.
If he ventured to protest, to doubt, they were too many for him.
There was a big, young girl with suspicious-looking yellow hair—
a Miss Mackle, from Chicago. She had lived in England, for two
years, at the Hôtel Métropole. Her popper had been ” promot-
ing a Company” in the City. What she didn’t know about
English things and English ways wasn’t worth knowing. She
described the domestic manners of the aristocracy, and her audience
roared. Hennie backed her up. They couldn’t let England
alone ; they had an Englishman always with them. Elsingford’s
humour, as I have intimated, deserted him at a certain point ; and
he had sensibilities ; and now he was feverish and in pain. Some-
times he would retort—he would abuse America ; then there
would be trouble. The ladies felt that he had insulted them ; he
had been ” ungentlemanly.” Hennie would cry, and reproach
him for offending her friends.
The one American man was a journalist—Paris correspondent
for a ” syndicate ” of American newspapers. Elsingford did not
admire the American newspaper press, and this representative of
it, he thought, was highly representative. He was a stout, squat,
shiny little man, and Elsingford, who was coming to see all things
en noir, felt that be looked like a toad. He used to tell awful
stories of his methods, his achievements, how he ferreted out
people’s secrets, beguiled them into giving him their confidence,
bribed servants to listen at keyholes, and thus ” got a beat” on his
rival correspondents. Mr. Hickey might have amused one at a
distance, or from time to time. But Elsingford had him in the
same house, met him at breakfast and dinner. Hennie liked him
immensely, and made all sorts of explanations. Elsingford com-
plained that an explanation wasn’t necessarily an excuse. Hickey’s
idioms were surprising, incredible. He took no interest “into”
certain events ; he couldn’t do this or that as he ” used to could.”
Elsingford was ill ; he couldn’t smile as he used to could.
Sometimes he would revolt. He would declare that he couldn’t
stand it any longer ; they must move. ” Let’s take a flat.”
Hennie would wonder at his selfishness. Wasn’t it bad enough to
have a malade imaginaire for a husband ? to be alone with him in
a foreign land ? How could he propose anything so cruel as to
take her away from a house where she was comparatively happy ;
where she was surrounded by congenial people ? Well, anyhow,
then, he said, he wouldn’t go to table ; he would have his meals
in his room. ” Il ne manquerait plus que ça,” she cried. “Are
you trying to kill yourself? You begin by staying in the house ;
you end by staying in your room. It’s suicidal. I’m fairly
ashamed of you. How a man can be so morbid ! ” Elsingford,
from constantly being told so, had ended by believing that he was
frightfully selfish. He knew that he was perpetually making his
wife cry. He continued to go to table.
Harvard had received a letter from him towards the end of
January. He read the letter a second time, to glean the wisps of
personal information that were scattered through it. These were
few. It was chiefly about his book. All that he had gathered at
the end of his second reading amounted to this, that Elsingford
was in Paris, in a “pension de famille—the queerest place,” and
that he was ill. How ill, in what manner and degree, the writer
did not say. Not ill in bed, at any rate, for he spoke of sitting
before his fire. ” I sat with my heels kicked up on the fender,
and read and read till there was no more to read.” Harvard
would trust that it was nothing serious, nothing constitutional ;
and, meanwhile, he must answer the letter.
This he did with the warmest feeling, in the warmest language.
” My dear, dear fellow ! . . . To hear from you after so many
years—they must run close upon a hundred—has made glad my
heart like wine, has shaken my faith in the vanity of things.
There are real satisfactions. . . . And what you say of my book
—of the pleasure it was fortunate enough to give you—is very
sweet to hear. . . . Why do you tell me so little about yourself?
I will not believe that your illness is more than trifling ; yet I
could have wished for an affirmative reassurance. . . . And your
work ? . . . . However, these and all other questions (not least
among them that of your return to London, which I hope is a
matter of the early future—and you may be sure we shan’t let you
give us the slip again !), all these questions we shall shortly have
an opportunity to settle by the living voice. I shall be in Paris
next week on my way to Egypt. My own health is a little trouble-
some—the throat—a local irritation and a pain that drive me to-
wards the sun. But at my time of life one must expect things.
I was a dashing youth of forty something when we parted, now I
have turned fifty, and begin to consider myself middle-aged. I
shall arrive on Wednesday evening ; I shan’t let the grass grow
under my feet. On Thursday morning we shall be embracing.”
Elsingford had wound up with a statement that his wife joined
him in love. Harvard, softened by a glow of joy and old affec-
tion, was able to think charitably even of Hennie. So the words,
” Pray convey my best regards to Mrs. Elsingford,” did not stick
in his pen.
Elsingford had mentioned that his boarding-house was the
“queerest place.” And from the address at the top of his letter
Harvard learned that it was in the Rue Franfois-Premier. He
found a small hôtel particuller, very new looking, and adorned with
many flourishes in stucco. The hall, into which he was admitted
by a man-servant, rather dazzled him ; he had not prepared him-
self for so much marble and stained glass and wainscoting—for so
much ducal splendour. It was scarcely a relief to discern that the
wainscoting, though simulating the grandeur of carved oak, was
really only papier machè. As the man-servant opened the door of
the salon Harvard was conscious, for an instant, of a flight of female
figures in loose, light-coloured, morning-gowns, escaping in all
directions, which bewildered him a little, and led him to bow
apologetically. But when he looked up he was alone. The
salon smelt of perfumes and upholstery. It was big and stuffy,
and very gorgeous. He got a suffocating sense of red plush, of
heavy carpets, of gilding and embroidery, of crystal gasaliers, and
broken-backed French novels lying open. It was heated by a
spiteful little choubersky, black, with nickel trimmings.
Harvard was a man who took things seriously—felt things
deeply. It was in a serious, even a solemn condition of mind that
he awaited his meeting with his friend. He sat on the edge of a
red plush sofa, and was conscious of a sort of hush within his soul.
A hundred currents of emotion were temporarily halting, ready to
rush out at Elsingford’s appearance. Presently the door opened,
and he found himself grasping Elsingford’s two hands and uttering
broken ejaculations. Elsingford pressed his hands, and laughed :
” Dear old Harvard ! It’s awfully good of you to come.”
They held each other off at arm’s length for a minute, and
smiled communications. But Harvard was shocked at what he
saw. Elsingford had always been tall and thin ; now he looked
attenuated—drawn out. His skin had a bluish tinge ; his eyes
seemed too big and brilliant ; there were dark circles under them.
He had allowed his beard to grow ; it added ten years to his
apparent age. His laughter terminated in a fit of coughing.
Harvard’s smile faded to a look of concern. He drew Elsingford
down upon the sofa and demanded : “But what is this about your
health ? ”
Elsingford assured him that it was nothing. “A nasty little
cough—a cold that I can’t get rid of. I shall be all right in the
Then Hennie came in and shook hands very condescendingly.
She had not cast her patronising manner ; she evidently meant to
put him at his ease. She developed her theory of the case—nerves
and imagination. Her exposition had the tone of an arraignment.
Her husband was determined to be ill. She blamed him, and
pitied herself. ” We had a stupid doctor here a month or two
ago who put it into Herbert’s head that he mustn’t go out of
doors. Of course it weakens him staying in the house, and makes
him morbid. I hope you will be able to get him out to walk
In the course of two or three days Harvard had obtained his
view of the situation. He had seen a little, heard a little, and
divined the rest. It struck him that the situation was deplorable.
Elsingford was manifestly unhappy. Harvard believed that he
was gravely ill—much more gravely so than he himself seemed
to suspect. Elsingford called it a cold ; Hennie treated it as
pure perversity and self-indulgence. Harvard feared he did not
like to give his fear a —but his friend’s wasted form, his
pallor, the unnatural brightness of his eyes suggested appalling
It amazed him to learn that he was not receiving regular
medical attendance ; that he had only once seen a doctor. He
perceived that Hennie (he must do her justice) was fond of her
husband—after her fashion ; fond of him as one is fond of a
piece of property. If she could have kept him in a box, to
take out when she wanted him, and put back when she was
tired, all would have been well. As she couldn t quite do
this, she did the next best thing—she bullied him, henpecked
him, reproached him, turned on the waterworks, and was only
amiable when he effaced himself and let her have her way. If
you can t get what you want, nag for it. She was an indefatig-
able nagger. In a letter to Mrs. Wetherleigh, Harvard summed
up his observations thus: “All Hennie asks is to be allowed to call
Elsingford s soul her own.”
A dinner or two at the table d’hôte had shown him a
It would be unendurable to a man in the vigour of health. How
Elsingford in his illness lived under it passed Harvard’s compre-
hension. The twenty-five women were as disagreeable as twenty-
five vulgar, empty-headed women, with nothing to do, could be.
Harvard’s humour had even narrower limitations than Elsingford’s.
They talked, they gossiped, they cackled ; they talked of fashions,
and ” gentlemen ” (they reserved ” man ” as a term of opprobrium),
and the prices of things ; they all talked at once. With their un-
cultivated voices, their eagerness to be heard, the place sounded
like a stock exchange transposed an octave higher. Then there
were jealousies and internecine feuds. Some of the ladies ” didn’t
speak ; ” and the seat of war was constantly shifting. This couple
would make it up to-day, that couple would fall out to-morrow.
And they all bragged—every blessed one of the twenty-five
bragged of something. Harvard imagined that they spent many
hours of each day stretched on sofas in overheated rooms, reading
trashy novels and munching sweetmeats, to the detriment of their
digestions, their complexions, and their dispositions. They were
all nervous and violent ; they all powdered a lot ; they all
languished and complained of headaches. There was a tendency
to call one another by their Christian names, and “dears” were
promiscuous. The whole house reeked of scents.
The presence of Harvard brought their conversation back to
England. Most of them had heard of him ; some of them had
read his books. Mr. Hickey claimed him as a confrère and offered
to ” show him around ” Paris. But a notion prevailed that he was
an Anglomaniac—that, an American by birth, he did not love his
country. So they began about England ; they assailed the
“English accent.” It was a sheer affectation. Nice English
people (they were few) talked just like Amuricans.
” Now, Mr. Harvard, you can’t deny it ! ”
Hcnnie threw herself into the breach—led the van. She had
moved in the very best English Society ; she named the titled
personages with whom she had been intimate. Well, she had
never known an English-woman who wasn’t—immoral. Oh,
some of them concealed it, put on airs of virtue, but they were
wolves in sheep s clothing. They were all pourries au fond.
Miss Mackle applauded and corroborated. She had lived two
years at the Hotel Metropole ; she ought to know. Her popper
had been organising a Company in the City ; he got an English
lord to sit as chairman and to introduce him to people ; and ” he
paid him money for it ! ” “That’s your English lord for you!”
Then she shook her yellow locks at Elsingford, and cried, “If you
were my husband I’d have you naturalised.”
Harvard, as a man who felt his responsibilities, told himself that
he must do something. He couldn’t go on to Egypt and leave
Elsingford to the tender mercies of Hennie and the twenty-five.
Elsingford well, would have been big enough to take care of
himself; but Elsingford ill, needed a champion. Harvard saw,
however, that he must proceed with circumspection, with tact ;
he mustn’t ” rile ” Hennie. He had already done so once—at their
first meeting, when he had learnt that they weren’t seeing a doctor.
” But, my dear fellow, I think you ought to see a doctor ; I
really think you ought to see a doctor.”
Elsingford had laughed a little constrainedly. Hennie had given
the speaker a look. Afterwards she caught him alone and warned
“For mercy’s sake, Mr. Harvard, whatever you do don’t tell
Herbert that he ought to see a doctor. Don’t encourage him to
think that he’s sick. The doctors have already done him harm
enough. We had three doctors last winter in America. I assure
you I understand the case—I understand my husband. He’s a
hypochondriac. There’s nothing in the world the matter with
him except his idea. If you want to do him good you’ll help me
to persuade him to go out—to go about. It’s his staying in the
house that hurts him.”
Harvard felt his responsibilities. He went back to his hotel
with knitted brows, wondering what to do. ” I’m glad to be able
to record that they’ve left Mamma Bleck in America. But he
ought to have a rest from Hennie. She worries and terrifies him.
If he opposes her, she scolds ; if he resents her scolding, she makes
a noise about his temper. She has confided it to me : Herbert
has a perfectly fiendish temper. I gave her away ; I wish to
goodness I could take her back.” This from his letter to Mrs.
” It’s awfully good to see you ; you don’t know how I’ve longed
for the sound of a Christian tongue. It will be a bore to let you
go,” Elsingford said.
” My dear fellow, come with me. Come with me to Egypt.
The South was recommended to you. We’ll lie in the sun beside
the Pyramids and talk of art.”
“I should like it immensely; but my wife wants to stop in
” We can leave her here. I ‘ll take charge of you ; I’ll chaperon
you, and hand you back in the spring.”
” Oh, I can’t leave her alone ; that’s impossible.”
Harvard argued the matter. ” A little independence will do
her good. She’s happy here. You mustn’t fancy yourself indis-
pensable.” He painted the pleasures that would await them.
Elsingford looked wistful. “I should like it immensely. I’ll
speak to Hennie,” he said. Harvard hammered while the iron
was hot ; dilated upon Egyptian starlight, the picturesqueness of
the Arabs, the sentiment of the flat, far-reaching landscape.
Elsingford was won. ” It would be delightful ! A tremendous
lark ! I really don’t see why I shouldn’t do it.”
Then Hennie came into the room. ” My dear lady,” Harvard
began, ” I have been urging your husband to come with me to
Egypt. I hope you will send us off with your benediction—
unless you can be moved to come too.”
Hennie looked from Harvard to Elsingford, from Elsingford to
“What do you think of it, my dear ? ” Elsingford inquired.
“Think ? Oh, go, of course. Go, if you wish—of course.”
But she gave it an inflection. The light departed from Elsing-
ford’s face. ” It would be very jolly, but I’m afraid it’s scarcely
practicable,” he said.
The next morning from his haggard mien Harvard knew
that she had made him a scene over night. She had taken
the will for the deed, and made him a scene. ” If I could
foment a rebellion, alienate his affections, induce him to elope
with me,” he thought. He was at his wits ends. He was
eager to defy all danger—to put his fingers between the bark
The Yellow Book—Vol. XI. H
and the tree and abide the consequences but he could not see
Hennie harped eternally upon her single string : ” Be a man
Brace up and go out.” It wearied Elsingford. ” Some day I’ll
get to the bottom of my resistance. I’ll take you at your word
and do it, to purchase silence on the subject.”
It was a lovely day, soft and sunny, the 15th of February.
” I’d be ashamed to pass such a day pent up in the house,” had
been her refrain since morning. “Go out and take a walk with
” Where’s my overcoat ? Where are my hat and stick ? ” he
demanded suddenly. ” I can’t be bothered any longer.”
He and Harvard, arm in arm, strolled gently along the quays.
The sun was bright, the air was soft, yet it had a treacherous
little edge, like the bitter after-taste of something sweet. The
effects of colour, of light and shade and atmosphere, were delicious.
The Trocadéro melted with the sky in a purple blur ; the
bateaux-mouches puffed busily backwards and forwards, breaking
the yellow water into iridescent foam ; the leafless trees etched
themselves like lace against the luminous blue of the sky. They
prolonged their walk as far as the middle of the Pont de la
Concorde, whence they gazed up and down the river. The citè
pink and grey, divided the current like the prow of some grotesque
gigantic galley ; the towers of Notre Dame loomed darkly over
it. Elsingford was in ecstasies. ” It’s the finest town view in
the world,” he said. ” Hennie was right. My walk has done
me good.” They hadn’t walked more than half a mile. They
took a cab home. That night Elsingford seemed immensely
exhilarated. He talked a great deal, and very cheerfully. ” To-
morrow we’ll try it again. It has done me good.”
But when Harvard arrived the next day Hennie greeted him
with the intelligence that her husband was in bed. ” He thinks
he has caught a cold. He won’t get up.”
Harvard found him flushed and drowsy. He roused himself to
say, ” Hello ! old Harvard,” and then closed his eyes and appeared
“Come, come, Herbert; it’s time to get up; it’s nearly twelve
o’clock,” said Hennie.
Harvard begged her to step with him into the next room. ” My
dear lady, we must have a doctor.”
She began to deprecate, but he cut her short. ” You don’t
know what you’re doing. I’m going for a doctor. I’ll bring him
back with me.”
Harvard gave the doctor such data of the case as he possessed.
“If he had fever at night my colleague who advised him to stop
in the house was very wise,” said the doctor. “I don’t like the
fever at night. With that, he ought not to have tried to winter
in Paris : or, if he was bound to stay here, he ought to have
stopped in the house. However, we’ll see, we’ll see.” They
found Elsingford breathing hard. He looked at them with dull
eyes, and did not speak. Harvard went down to the salon to
wait. The doctor joined him there, shaking his head. ” Your
friend’s in a bad way. He ought to have gone South at the
beginning of the winter. Your walk yesterday has finished the
business ; it has fanned a smouldering fire into flame. You’d
better go upstairs and look after his wife. I’ll come back in an
Hennie was seated at the foot of the bed with hands clasped.
She raised a white, agonised face to Harvard as he entered the
“If I had dreamed—if I had dreamed that it was anything
serious ! ” she said.
She was quite prostrated. Harvard attended to everything, and
afterwards accompanied her to Havre and saw her installed in her
cabin aboard the steamer. ” If I had dreamed—if I had dreamed
that it was anything serious ! ” that was almost all she ever said,
except to answer questions.
Harvard hadn’t the heart to go on to Egypt. He came back to
town and buried himself in his work.
By Constance Cotterell
“Yes,” said the Professor, thumping on the road with his big
stick as he spoke, ” I am on its track at last. A few
more experiments, and the world will have it in its own hands to
free itself from the greatest evil it has ever suffered.”
His nostrils quivered. A little more imagination, and I should
have seen flashes from his eyes. I may mention at once that he
was not a stage professor, but a nice clean tidy person in real life,
the sort of man one could put in a drawing-room without the
carpet and curtains swearing at him. He wore clothes that were
in fashion, and the only odd thing about him was his rather long
hair; but it curled and suited him so well that I sometimes
thought that was just vanity. In fact, he was quite the nicest-
looking Professor I have ever seen, and shaved himself every
morning like the most blatant Philistine.
” Are you so sure,” I ventured desperately, for when he was
terribly in earnest he was very convincing, like a loud-voiced
preacher, ” are you so sure that its only effect is evil ? ”
He stood still in that narrow lane, and out of the hedge up above
the long dog-rose boughs waved their roses at him.
“It is the mightiest instrument of woe that man has ever had
to fight,” he said solemnly. ” At his strongest and best it smites
him down. In the flower of his days it permeates his brain, it
undermines his imagination, it corrupts his very reason. Its
mildest onslaught warps the judgment. When a man begins to
think a woman, of whom he probably knows less than of any
other, the best of her sex, the way is open for the germ—if it is
not already there. And of women it is the greatest enemy.
Where would the sufferings of thousands, millions, of them have
been, if the germ had never burrowed in their brains ? Betrayed,
the victims of drunken or depraved husbands, helpless widows with
hungry families—all this might have been saved to them ! :
” But,” I objected, trying to stem his rage, ” doesn’t its in-
fluence generally pass and leave the brain as healthy as before ? ”
He looked at me keenly. He did not wear spectacles, and his
eyes were not in the least dim or bleary.
” That is true,” he said slowly, ” in some cases. After the best
years of life have been blighted,” he added quickly. “Inmost
cases the brain-power is weakened for life. In women especially.”
” Why do you say all this to me, a woman ? :
Because,” he answered, ” young as you are, I believe you to
have a grasp of the seriousness and true import of life which will
prevent you, once warned, from falling into this terrible fate.”
I tried feebly to stop him, but praise is the hardest thing to
fight. Your own heart is against you, and delighteth to hear.
He walked on in silence a little, snuffing up the scent of the
dog-roses, and immensely enjoying himself, I could see. He was
resting from the untiring quest of germs, down there in the
country where we had come to stay too. I looked at him, with
his head thrown back and the passion in his face and the fire in
his eyes, and I thought treason. I thought what a magnificent
lover he would make.
I went back to my old idea. “Are we not just a mass of
germs, some good and some bad ? Why mayn’t this supposed
love-germ be a good one ? ”
At the word ” supposed ” he glared at me in such a manner that
I dared not doubt the fiend s existence.
” A good germ,” he cried, ” that makes men forgetful of right
and of their duty, untrue to their religion, unfaithful to their wives ?”
” It’s responsible for the wives in the first place,” I said per-
versely, ” so isn’t that rather a righteous judgment ? ”
He looked annoyed. ” Don t quibble,” he said. ” You call it
a good germ that was rampant under Catherine of Russia and
Charles II. of England ? A good germ that made five miserable
women through Henry VIII. ? A good germ that led Marc
Antony and hundreds like him to dishonour ? A good germ that
ruins Fausts and Gretchens by the thousand ? A good germ that
wastes young lives like—like Romeo’s and Juliet’s, that might
have been turned to great account ? A good germ that sends
honourable men and women to death ? It’s not natural, and
therefore it’s not right, for one human being to want to die for
another ! The first and the most common thing a lover offers is
to die for his mistress. Is that healthy ? ”
” But,” I objected rather diffidently, for I could not help quail-
ing before his passion and his array of instances, especially the
Faust idea, ” but isn’t it noble to die for another ?”
” Are we here to talk about nobility?” he cried. ” We are
thinking of what is for the good of the whole race.”
He was thoroughly modern, this professor, at least as far as I
had got. But then, you never know when you have got to the
innermost of a man.
“But isn’t the world better for the example of a noble unselfish
life than for a selfish existence, always seeking merely to develop
itself ? ”
” And what is more selfish than the love-germ ? ”
“And more unselfish ?” I retorted, though I could not but feel
puzzled and discomfited and as though he had had the best of it
that time. His enthusiasm bore you down. Then I plucked up
heart a little. ” If it has done more harm it has done more good
too than anything else. Christ had it (“I deny it ! ” he inter-
rupted) ; people who give their lives to work among the sick and
poor have it (“That I altogether deny,” he said, “it’s a totally
different thing “) ; Mrs. Fry had it ; Sister Dora had it ; Father
Damien had it ; Dante too, and we have his poems ; all the knights
errant who took their lives in their hands (” And who asked them
to take their lives in their hands ? ” he demanded) and righted
wrong and broke down oppression—” I stopped for want of
breath, and looked defiantly at him.
He smiled kindly upon me.
” That,” said he from professional heights, ” is not argument.
These great and good people never harboured the love-germ. Nor
any relation of it. What dominated most of them was a germ not
only of another species but another genus. It was the altruism-
germ, which is slowly working out our social evolution, the
noblest bacillus the human animal can support. Like those bene-
ficent phagocylic bacilli, of which of course you have heard, it
will one day have killed all base and baleful germs.”
I was silent. His words were very big. His manner was very
unanswerable. I was not convinced. Who would be ? But his
very personality, the very air that blew from him to me, was so
convincing that I was quashed for the moment.
” There is a girl down here,” I heard him say, as I came out
of my baffled vexation ; ” she has not the germ yet, I believe ; I’m
not sure. But she is a most likely subject. I intend to watch
her. She is ripe. So is a young man who is staying down here
—at her father’s very vicarage. If only my experiments were
perfect,” he almost groaned, ” I could spare them and save them
alive, two sane, beautiful, useful people ! ”
” How do you catch it ? ” I hastened to ask, he seemed so
” How do you catch other germs ? We do not eat and
drink the flesh and blood of our fellow-creatures, but we keep up
a constant interchange of germs with them, nevertheless. And
this germ is even less material, more ethereal, so to say, than any
” A kind of soul of a germ.” I suggested. ” A higher order.”
” No,” he said, ” never that.”
I wanted to ask if he had ever housed the germ himself, but I
did not dare. I afterwards found he hadn’t.
” It is an almost spontaneous generation,” he went on, his face
glowing. ” It is the result of certain rapid spasms of certain
nerve-centres in the brain. When a man or woman looks at
another and begins to love, there is set up an unthinkably violent
agitation among these molecules. It is a motion so incalculably
rapid that it gives a sense of absolute rest, like a stun, as though
the working of the brain had stopped dead short. In reality it is
a movement more rapid than the mind can conceive ; and it is
then that the love-germ is engendered.”
“Cannot you operate beforehand on a brain, so that the germ
may not take ? ” I cried, moved to enthusiasm by his earnest
” I don’t know—I don’t know. It is my dream,” he answered
softly, like one thinking on an absent lover.
The rest of our way lay through the fields. He only woke up
once to say, ” If only it could be proved that a person had died
of it, and one could examine his brain ! ”
We walked across one grass meadow.
” But it never does kill,” he added sorrowfully.
I was gazing on the ripening grasses, thinking of what he
had said. Having just learnt that the real seat of sea-sickness
was in the base of the brain, I was not surprised to hear that
love was there engendered also, contrary to the testimony of
all the ages. And I recollect thinking confusedly that in the
cases of love and sea-sickness both, you were apt to call for
“This is she,” he said suddenly, almost in a whisper. “Look !
In the next field.”
I lifted my eyes and saw Pleasance Gurney coming towards us.
I remember at the very first I thought her a creature by nature
set apart as a victim to speak in terms of love-germ. We met
at the kissing-gate. The wicket, the Profes c or called it. She
bowed to him and looked at me, hanging on her foot as though
she would like to stop and speak, but he held the gate for her
without a word, and so she went on. She had a high instep and
her eyes were blue. That was all I had seen clearly. And there
was a ripple in her hair.
Next day the Vicarage people called on us, and after that we
were always together, picnicking, rowing, walking, bicycling.
The Professor had a very healthy taste in picnics, I cannot but
own. Indeed, he had a very healthy taste altogether, except his
diseased appetite for germs. In the smallest committee there is
always an inner circle, and in our party there was always an inner
four. It consisted of Pleasance Gurney and me, of the Professor
and the young man staying at the Vicarage, Edward Belton.
Sometimes we mixed one way, sometimes the other. The
Professor developed a great interest in wild flowers, and began to
talk about his young days ; which he persisted in shoving a great
deal farther off than they really were, on the same principle that
he called me ” my dear.”
Women always hear of men s young days, and like to hear of
In our private conversations the Professor became exceedingly
elliptical. I found that it always stood for the germ, he for
Edward Belton, and she for Pleasance Gurney. When I had
once found this out his talk was quite intelligible, and we got on
very pleasantly. He had said he would watch Pleasance Gurney,
and he watched her very closely. Sometimes I have seen him be
half an hour with the party of us and not take his eyes oft her.
It was a half-wistful, half-penetrating look, and she used to redden
under it, but I never could see that she disliked it. I believe he
never suffered so much at the thought of the germ seizing on
any one as at the thought of Miss Gurney s falling in love with
Edward Belton. When we walked home from the Vicarage in
the summer twilight he used to talk of it.
“Think of what she might do if she remained sane,” he would
begin, generally quite suddenly. ” Oh, it’s piteous, horrible ! ”
His voice would almost break. ” Not but what Belton is a fine
fellow,” he as often as not added, once between his teeth.
I never said anything. I was always wondering if one ought
to speak, but I never did.
The Professor came to me one day. After looking uneasily
out of window, clearing his throat once or twice, and moving a
chair or two.
” Do you know,” he said quite nervously, ” that that young
man, Edward Belton, is—is—”
“Yes?” I said cruelly, sitting and looking at him. I would
not help him out.
” Is a victim of the germ ? ”
He forced it out and looked at me for a start of horrified sur
prise. He almost gave one himself to see that I did not.
” His eyes, his voice, his absence of mind, his agitation,” he
went on, “—haven’t you noticed ? ”
” I have noticed.”
” Though he has seemed more assured the last day or so.”
He became still more nervous.
” I—I think we could help him, if it hasn’t gone too far.
The only thing is,” he went on musingly, more like himself, ” I
have noticed that even if you do remove the object the germ
still remains and another object will very often feed it just as
” And how do you propose to remove the object ? ” I asked,
with what no doubt corresponded to my great aunt’s much admired
I saw in his eye that he was going to evade me.
” Well, I always thought,” he said with an embarrassed hand
through his hair, ” that when—it—came, you know, it would be
a passion for—for—in fact for Miss Gurney.”
Indeed ? ”
” Just as I expected she would develop one for him.”
” O, I never thought that,” said I.
His eye brightened.
” But it was so likely she should. Everything was in favour
“Except just one thing.”
” What is that ? ”
“I can’t communicate my view,” I said with, I hoped, a fine
scientific manner. ” Well, I conclude it will be of no use to
remove Pleasance Gurney. What do you propose to remove ? :
Well, I—I—in fact, it is in your presence that it is most
active. Indeed, I am afraid he is in a fair way to be what idiots
call in love with you.”
I cannot describe how nervous he was as he said this.
“I know it,” I said, and felt that he thought me a fool for
reddening and grinning in a weak sort of way. He has since
told me that he did.
He looked at me and gave a kind of gasp.
” And you ? ” He could hardly speak.
” Oh, I love him,” I said. For the life of me I could not help
the cruel happiness bursting through into my voice.
He did not say a word, but turned and left me, a bitterly dis-
appointed man. His back had a heartbroken look as it vanished
through the door. I know now that half the bitterness of the
blow was the thought that the germ had seized on my brain,
permeated it, undermined my imagination, corrupted my reason,
and all the rest of it, under his very eyes, while he had never so
much as dreamt of it. It is true all his thoughts had been taken
up with watching for symptoms in Pleasance and Edward Belton.
He would as soon have thought of prying for madness in his own
mother as for the germ in me.
I believe he spent a wretched day. None of us saw him again
” She really is a most interesting girl,” he said to me that very
night in the old friendly way. ” If only she—” and so on and
He had had to take me back. I knew the man must speak to
somebody—or grow worse. So he took me back again, though
his polite and painful congratulations to Edward are better left
unspoken of. For several days he went about us with a sad,
forsaken air. He had wept over us and would have gathered us
into his fold, and we would not. And then when Edward and I
happened to meet each other s eyes the look was a lingering look.
And when our hands happened to touch they did not hurriedly
untouch again. When the Professor marked these things I have
seen his face wrung with pain.
Then I went away for a few days.
When I came back I noticed a certain absorbed look and sup-
pressed excitement about my Professor. He seemed to want to
speak to me, but not to be able to force himself to the point. At
last he succeeded. I had just come in from a walk and we were
sitting in the garden.
” I am certain the germ is attacking her brain,” he began in a
low voice. ” I am certain of it. After all these years I cannot
mistake the signs.”
” I suppose not,” I said dryly. “Oh, no, you cannot possibly
” I cannot,” he said uneasily.
“So I said.” I fanned myself with my hat.
” She is falling in love,” he said with a gulp. ” I don’t know
with whom. Indeed, failing Edward Belton, who is there for her
to fall in—love with ?” He gulped again.
I am afraid I stared at him. ” Oh, I don t know if you don’t,” I
” I ? ” said the Professor.
I said nothing.
” It would be interesting,” he went on, with a spark of the old
enthusiasm I had not missed till I heard it again, “very interesting
if the germ developed without any object, if a person were found
just in—love without any one special calling it out. At times I
find her eyes looking at me like those of an animal in pain, and
seeking help from the misery it does not understand. Curious, if
it were instinct turning to the only man in the world who knows
what is the matter with her ! A man, alas ! who would do any
thing to help her, but who has not yet found the cure.”
He ceased, and remained gazing at the ground, a mere mass of
” You take a great interest in her,” I said stupidly,
His eyes flashed. “And who would not?” he cried. “A
young beautiful creature like that, a creature who could make
existence so good and glad for hundreds of people. There is
nothing she could not do if she remained sane. She is extremely
clever. She has taken a great interest in bacteriology, and
seems really to grasp the enormous part it plays in life. Who
could bear to see it all lost, all frustrated, by a disease of the
brain ? ”
” Of course her being beautiful can t matter,” I said cruelly ;
” but, if she is so intelligent and so interested in germs, why not
explain your theory to her and help her to avoid her danger ? ”
He looked at me thoughtfully. “It is an idea,” he said.
” Have you ever spoken of your own particular germ to her ? ”
” N—no, I haven’t,” he admitted.
” Why not ? ” I persisted. I felt I had him at some sort of
” I don’t know,” he said rather weakly. ” I really couldn’t
“Well,” I said suggestively, ” I passed her a minute ago, sitting
on the seat undei the willows by the river, drawing in the sand.”
I looked at my shoes attentively for the space of a minute.
When I looked up again the other chair was empty.
By-and-by he came back. He looked frightened and anxious
Well ? ”
At first he affected not to know what I meant, and made as
though he would pass me on his way in. Then :
” I have spoken of it to her,” he said, and I thought, and still
think, hurried into the house.
I put my hat on, and went out of the garden. I went down to
that seat under the willows by the river. It was empty. Large
and clear in the sand in front were his initials. Somebody had
hurriedly tried to scratch them over, but there they were.
Then Pleasance Gurney visited a great deal among her father’s
poor people in the village. It took her all day long. It was the
turn of the visitings to prevent the picnics. But we all went on
picnicking just the same, except that the Professor had a great
deal of work to do, and could very seldom come. One day I went
into his room. A week s dust lay over all his papers. Theories,
naturally, one works out in one s head. The others began to
remark on his abject face, and to speak to me of it. I, of course,
had not noticed it.
He hardly ever spoke to me. Sometimes we sat silent for half
an hour. I think he liked that, and felt better for it. He used to
begin with his chin on his chest, and his eyes on the ground.
Then by little and little his head got higher and higher, till, by
the end of the sitting, he was generally looking out straight in
front of him, with a far away look in his eyes, and sometimes a
dawning smile on his mouth. But as soon as anybody came, or I
opened my lips to speak, he would shake his shoulders and pull
himself together, and the smile hardened into sternness, and then
sank into gloom again.
I do not believe he saw Pleasance all that week. Once she
stood under the morning room window, and called up to me that
she had stolen some cherries from our trees, for a sick child. As
she turned away I looked behind me, and there stood the Professor,
craning his neck to look out of the window, with a fine glow on
his face. He sat down and drummed with his fingers on the
table, though it was open to anybody to go and carry her cherries
I think it was the morning after that that we found ourselves
talking almost as we used to talk.
“This has been a terrible holiday for me,” he was saying as
simply as a child.
” Yes,” I murmured.
” Because of her danger.” His face was turned away.
“Yes.” I found I was eagerly leaning forward.
He looked more comfortable when I leaned back again.
“It is so horrible.” He drew a great breath. “No one can
understand how horrible it is to me.”
” I think I can understand.”
” You ? ”
He looked at me with such piercing reproach that the bare idea of
my loving Edward Belton seemed for the moment black apostacy.
I dropped my head before him.
” I did not mean to hurt you, child,” he said, looking at me as
though he did not see me, ” but I believe that there is no human
being who can understand.”
He clasped his hands and gazed out of the window. His head
lay against the back of his chair. Gradually, as I had seen it
before, the pain died out of his face. His mouth and eyes grew
soft, and his hands relaxed. I think he forgot where he was. I
think he was not in the body at all.
” And I would give my life to save her,” he said to himself
As he heard himself say those words a sudden shock went
through him. He sat like a stone.
The Yellow Book—Vol. XI. I
And in the silence I heard the echo of his words ringing from a
few weeks back : The first and most common thing a lover offers to
” Do you know what has happened ? ” he said at last, in a
strange stifled voice, and I saw that his hands were clenched.
” What ? ” I asked joyfully, and exulted, till I saw the anguish
in his face.
” I too am a victim.”
I caught his clenched hands, I could not help it, and wrung
” I am so glad,” I cried. ” Dear Pleasance ! Now she will be
A little light trembled over his face and was gone in an instant,
buried in deepest gloom. He rose up.
” I have a battle to fight,” he said, in such a sad, solemn, earnest
way that I held on harder to his hands, and looked pityingly up
But he broke from me and went into his own room. No one
saw him again till the evening.
I went out for a long walk.
Once or twice I lingered by his room on tiptoe. I could
think of nothing else but the fight going on within. Which
would win, those deep hopes and convictions, or the great law
of nature, the heritage from his fathers ? But in the light of
the events of my own life just then, his theories showed so
impious, that even I did not sympathise to the full with his life
In the evening his door was open. The room was empty.
Nothing had been touched. All the old dust lay on everything.
Only, his chair was drawn up to the empty grate, back to the
window. I could see him as he had sat all day with his head
bent, gazing, gazing at that hard, unanswering black-lead, while
the fight raged up and down within him.
Then I went out thoughtfully and walked to and fro in the
shrubbery. Were two people happy, or were two more people
miserable in this world ?
Suddenly I heard a voice quite near.
” My heart’s love,” it was saying, in tones and depths I had never
dreamt it had. And then it poured out all the dear silly things
that he had certainly never said before, nor heard, but must have
known by divine instinct.
—I caught one glimpse through the leaves as they passed. His
face looked wan and worn from his tremendous battle, but happy
I had never seen the face of a man look so happy.
I crept away.
He was great in his defeat. He was, as I had known, a
magnificent lover. I think even Pleasance does not understand
her—my Professor—as I understand him.
His book on the love-germ is not yet out. But he has just
published one on a very fine mixed breed of germs the Americans
have lately perfected in their big cities.
Stories Toto Told Me
V.—About the Heresy of Fra Serafico
ONE of Toto s brothers was called Nicola, and he was going
to be a priest. He was nineteen years old, and very like
Toto in appearance with this notable difference—there was no
light in his eyes. He was a curious, gaunt, awkward, unworldly
creature, absolutely the opposite of Toto, who had the charm and
freedom of a young savage on the loose. I don’t know why the
clergy, for whom I entertain the highest respect, of course, should
always slink along by the wall, expressing by the cringing
obsequiousness of their carriage that they would take it as a
favour for some one to kick them, but such is the case. I used
to see this Nicola sneaking about during his summer vacation, but
I don’t think I ever spoke to him except when he came to say
” How do you do ? ” and ” Good-bye.” One morning, soon after
his arrival, I asked Toto what was the matter with his brother, for
he looked even more caged, humpty-backed, and slouching, more
utterly miserable and crushed than usual. ” Cola, sir, he said,
“you must know, has a very feeling heart, and if he meets with
any little misfortune it is a much more serious thing to him than
it would be to me. I, of course, would say that it didn’t matter,
and look for something else to amuse me : but ‘Cola will think
over his grief so much that it will seem far greater than it really
is, and he will not be able to eat his food or take any interest in
anything, and wish he was dead or that he had never given
himself the annoyance of being born. And I suppose now he has
had some little trouble in his college—dropped his garter, perhaps,
and let his stocking down when out with the camerata in the
street, and he has thought about it so much that now he believes
he has committed a sin against the sixth commandment, by an
indecent exposure of his person. But, if I have your leave, I will
ask him, for I can see him saying his beads behind the
Toto ran away, and I took a little nap.
When I woke, he was coming down the steps holding a
rhubarb leaf over his head. ” I am sure you will be much
amused, sir, when I tell you what is the matter with ‘Cola,” he
said. “I have made him very angry with me because I could not
help laughing at him, and he has said that I should certainly burn
for making a mock of the clergy—clergy, indeed, and he only a
sub-deacon, and I his brother who know all about him and
everything he ever did ! And Geltruda, too ! For my part
I am sure it is a gift straight from Heaven to be a priest, because I
remember that ‘Cola used to be quite as fond of enjoying himself
as I am, but since he went to the Seminario he will not look at a
petticoat—that is to say, the face that belongs to it, for it is only
the petticoats he does look at. Have I not seen my little mother
cry when he came home, because he only put his lips to her hand—
and they didn’t touch it—as if she were la Signora Duchessa
instead of the mother who wished to take him in her arms ? But
his dolour now, sir, is this. You must know that in the
Seminario you have to preach to the other chierichetti in the
refectory, during supper. This is to give you practice in deliver
ing sermons. And after you have preached, you go to your place,
and, if it is necessary to make any remarks upon what you have
said, the professors tell you then what they think. Well, it was
‘Cola’s turn to preach the night before he came home, and he says
that it was a sermon which he had taken all his life to write. He
had learnt it by heart, and on arriving in the pulpit he repeated it,
moving his hands and his body in a manner which he had practised
before his mirror, without making a single mistake. When he
had finished, the Rector paid him compliments, and two or three
of the other professors did the same. But when it came to the
turn of the Decanus who is the senior student, he said that the
college ought to be very proud of having produced an abbatino so
clever as to be able, in his first sermon, to invent and proclaim
sixteen new and hitherto unheard of heresies. And ‘Cola, instead
of feeling a fine rage against this nasty, jealous prig, with his
mocking tongue, takes all the blame to himself and is making
himself wretched. I told him that there was no difficulty about
heresies, if that was what he wanted, because I think that to do
wrong is as easy as eating, and that the real difficulty is to keep
straight. But he says he is a miserable sinner, and that it is all
his fault, for he cannot have perfectly corresponded with his
vocation. Why, as for heresy, sir, I will tell you how a friar in
Rome was accused of preaching heresy, and then you will know
that it is not always the being accused of inventing heresies that
makes you guilty of that same.
” Ah well, formerly there lived in Rome a certain friar called Fra
Serafico. When he had lived in the world he was of the Princes
of Monte Corvino, but at about the age of ‘Cola he astonished
everybody by giving up his rank and his riches and his state, and
becoming a son of Saint Francis. Now the Franciscans of his
convent were not quite able to understand why a young man who
had his advantages, should give them up as he did, and prefer a
shaved head and naked feet and to be a beggar. And Fra Serafico
though he had the best will in the world, didn’t make a good
impression on the other friars, because his manners were different
to theirs. He felt miserable without a pocket-handkerchief for his
nose. And it was some time before the superiors became certain
that he had a true vocation, for he went about his duties with
diligence and humility, feeling so shy, because the things around
him were so strange, that he gained for himself amongst the other
novices the nickname of ‘Dumbtongue.
” And this went on until he had finished his probation, and taken
the habit and the vows.
” One day after this, the Father Guardian, in order to give him
a good humiliation, told him to prepare a sermon to preach before
the convent at the chapter that afternoon. Fra Serafico received
this command in silence, and, having kissed the ground before his
Superior, he went away to his cell, and when the afternoon came
he stood up to preach.
” Then, sir, a very curious thing happened, for Fra Serafico
preached, and while he preached the faces of the other friars
became set in a glare of astonishment, and the eyes of the Father
Guardian were almost starting out of his head by the time the
sermon was finished. Then there was silence for a little while,
and the friars looked at one another and nodded. It seems that
they had been entertaining an angel unawares, for this Dumb-
tongue, as they called him, had turned out to be a perfect Golden-
mouth. And the friars were more than glad, for, though they
were all good men and very holy, they had no great preacher
among them at that time ; and they thought it was a shame that an
Order whose business was to preach should have no man who could
preach well, and at last they saw a way out of the difficulty : For
surely, they said, this Serafico speaks the words of San Paolo
himself, with the tongue of an angel.
“After this he gave fervorini daily in the convent church, till all
the city was filled with his fame, and at last he was named by
Papa Silvio to preach the Lent in the Church of San Carlo Al
” Of course you know very well, sir, that the devil is always dis-
gusted to see the works of God going on as easily as water running
out of a turned-on tap, and you know also that when a good work
seems to be thriving at its best, then is the time the devil chooses
to try to upset it. And so he went to a little Jesuit called Padre
Tonto Pappagallo—and, of course, I need not tell you that the
Jesuits are not what you might call friendly to the Franciscans—
and he suggested to him the evil thought, that it was a bad thing
for the Jesuits to be beaten in preaching by the Franciscans, and
what a score it would be if a Jesuit were to have the honour of
catching Fra Serafico in the act of preaching heresy. Padre Tonto,
it happened, had made a bad meditation that morning, having
allowed his eyes to fix themselves upon some of the stone angels
who were dangling their beautiful white legs over the arches round
the apsis, and his thoughts to wander from his meditation to those
things which every good priest flies from with as much haste as he
would fly from the foul fiend appearing in person. And so his
mind was just like a fertile field, and when the devil popped in his
suggestion, the seed immediately took root, and before the morn-
ing was over it had burst into blossom, for this Padre Tonto cut
off to the church of San Carlo to hear the great preacher, and
when he saw the vast multitude all so intent upon those golden
words, that if an earthquake had happened then and there I believe
no one would have blinked, and when he heard the sighs from the
breasts of wicked men and saw the tears rain down on women’s
cheeks, he envied Fra Serafico his power to move men so, and
he began to listen to the sermon that he might catch the
preacher preaching heresy. Now, of course, while he was staring
about, he had not paid attention to the words of gold, and the first
sentence that caught his ear when he did begin, indeed, to listen
was this, No one shall be crowned unless he has contended
” Padre Tonto jumped up and ran out of the church. He was
delighted, for he had heard a heresy straight away. ‘No one
shall be crowned,’ he said—’that is, of course, with the crown of
glory which the saints in heaven wear for ever—unless he has
contended lawfully—that is to say, as the martyrs did in the
Colosseo. Pr-r-r-r-r-r, my dear Serafico ! And what, then, be
comes of all the holy bishops and confessors, and of the virgins and
penitents and widows whom Holy Church has numbered with the
saints ? These were not martyrs, nor did they fight with beasts,
like San Paolo’ (and I cannot tell you the place, sir). ‘An I were
Pope, Seraficone mio, I should burn your body in the Campo di
Fiore to-morrow morning, and your soul in hell for ever and the
day after.’ And saying these words and all sorts of other things
like them, he ran away to the Sant Uffizio and made a mischief
with much diligence.
” Now Padre Tonto had a very good reputation and was exceed
ingly well thought of in Rome. Moreover, the accusation he
made, appeared to be well founded. So Fra Serafico was sent for
and the question was put to him, ‘Did you, or did you not, in
your sermon preached in the Church of San Carlo Al Corso on
the second Monday in Lent, say, ” No one shall be crowned un-
less he has contended lawfully ? “‘ And Fra Serafico replied that
his questioner, who was the Grand Inquisitor himself, spoke like
a book with large letters and clasps of silver, for without a doubt
he had used those very words. The Grand Inquisitor laid down
the key of the question room, and remarked that confession of
wrong done was always good for the soul : and he pointed out
to Fra Serafico the dreadful heresy of which he had been guilty
in uttering words which, if they meant anything at all, meant this,
according to Padre Tonto Pappagallo, who was a theologian, That
it was impossible to get to heaven unless you suffered martyrdom.
And he told Fra Serafico, that as he had made his heresy public by
preaching it to all Rome, it would be necessary to make amends
also in the place of his crime, or else to let himself be burnt with
fire in the Campo di Fiore on the next public holiday, both to
atone for the sin, and in order to encourage other people who
might feel it their business to preach heresy as he had done. And
Fra Serafico answered that he wished to live and die a good and
obedient son of Holy Mother Church, and to submit his judg-
ment in all things to Hers ; therefore, it would give him much joy
to make public amends for his heresy at any time or place which
His Eminence in his wisdom might be pleased to appoint.
” The next day the people of Rome were called by proclamation
to the Church of San Carlo Al Corso to see Fra Serafico’s humi-
liation, and because he was such a celebrated man there came
together all the noblest and most distinguished persons in the city.
Papa Silvio sat upon the throne with the Princes Colonna and
Orsini on his right hand and on his left. All around there were
fifty scarlet cardinals, bishops by the score in purple and green,
friars grey, friars white, friars black, monks by the hundred, and
princes and common people like rain drops. And when they had
all taken their places, Fra Serafico entered between two officers of
the Sant’ Uffizio with their faces covered in the usual manner, and
first he prostrated himself before the Majesty in the tabernacle,
and then at the feet of Papa Silvio, then he bowed from the waist
to the Sacred College and the prelates, and from the shoulders to
the rest ; and then he was led into the pulpit from which he had
proclaimed his heresy. There he began to speak, using these
words : ‘Most Holy Father, Most Eminent and Most Reverend
Lords, my Reverend Brethren, Most Illustrious Princes, my dear
Children in Jesus Christ. I am brought here to-day on account of
the vile and deadly heresy which I am accused of preaching in
this pulpit on the first Monday in Lent. That heresy is con-
tained in the following words : ” No one shall be crowned unless
he has contended lawfully.” I freely confess, acknowledge, and
say that I did in real truth use those words. But before I proceed
to abjure the heresy contained in them and to express with tears
my penitence for the crime I have committed, I crave, my beloved
children in Jesus Christ, most illustrious princes, my reverend
brethren, most eminent and most reverend lords, and, prostrate at
Your Feet, Most Holy Father, your indulgence for a few moments
while I relate a dream and a vision which came to me during the
night just past, which I spent for the good of my soul upon the
tender bosom of the Sant’ Uffizio.’ Fra Serafico’s face as he spoke
beamed with a beauty so unearthly, his manner was so gracious,
and the music of his golden voice so entrancing that Papa Silvio,
making the Sign of the Cross, granted him the favour he had asked.
” The Friar went on : ‘In my dream it appeared to me that I
was standing before the bar of the Eternal Judge, and that there I
was accused by a certain Jesuit named Padre Tonto Pappagallo of
having preached heresy on the first Monday in Lent, in the
Church of San Carlo Al Corso, using these words: “No one shall
be crowned unless he has contended lawfully.” And while I
waited there, Blessed Father Francesco himself came and stood
beside me. And the Judge of all men looked upon me with
wrath and anger, asking whether I confessed my crime, and I,
wretched man that I am, in the presence of Him who knows all
things, even the inmost secrets of the heart, could do nothing else
but acknowledge that it was even so. Then the Padre Eterno,
who, though terrible beyond all one can conceive to evil-doers, is
of a justice so clear, so fine, and straight that the crystal of earth
becomes as dark as mud, the keenness of a diamond as blunt
granite, and the shortest distance between two points as crooked
as the curves in a serpent’s tail—this Just Judge, I say, asked me,
who am but a worm of the earth, whether I had anything to say
in excuse for my crime.
“‘And I, covered with confusion as with a garment, because of
my many sins,replied, “May it please Your Majesty,! have confessed
my crime, and in excuse I can only say that when I was preparing
my sermon I took those words from the writings of San Gregorio.”
“‘The Judge of all men ordered my angel to write this down, and
deigned to ask whether I could say in what part of the writings of
San Gregorio this heresy could be found. ” May it please Your
Majesty,” I replied, ” the heresy will be found in the 37th Homily
of San Gregorio on the I4th chapter of the Gospel of San Luca.”
Then I covered my face with my hands and waited for my dread-
ful sentence ; but Blessed Father Francesco comforted me, and
patted my shoulder with his hand, all shining with the Sacred
Stigmata, and the Padre Eterno, speaking in a mild voice to the
Court of Heaven, said, ” My children, this little brother has been
accused of preaching a heresy, and this heresy is said to have been
taken from the writings of San Gregorio. In this case, you will
perceive that it is not our little brother who is a heretic, but San
Gregorio, who will therefore have the goodness to place himself at
the bar, for We are determined to search this matter to its re-
motest end.” Then San Gregorio was led by his guardian angel
from his throne among the Doctors of the Church, and came down
to the bar and stood beside me and Blessed Father Francesco, who
whispered in my ear, ” Cheer up, little brother, and hope for the
best ! ”
“‘ And the Padre Eterno said, “San Gregorio, this little
brother has been accused before Us, that on the first Monday in
Lent, in the Church of San Carlo Al Corso, he preached heresy
in the following words : ‘No one shall be crowned unless he has
contended lawfully.’ We have examined him, and he alleges that
he has taken these words from the 3yth Homily, which you have
written upon the I4th chapter of the Gospel of San Luca. We
demand, therefore, that you should say, first, whether you acknow-
ledge that you have written these words; and secondly, if you
have done so, what excuse you have to offer ? ” And San Gregorio
opened the book of his writings which, of course, he always carries
with him, and turned the pages with an anxious finger. Presently
he looked up with a smile into the Face of God and said, ” May
it please Your Majesty, our little brother has spoken the truth, for
I have found the passage, and when I have read it, You will find
the answer to both questions which Your Condescension has put
me.” So San Gregorio read from his writings these words, ” But
we cannot arrive at the great reward unless through great labours :
wherefore, that most excellent preacher, San Paolo, says, ‘No one
shall be crowned unless he has contended lawfully.’ The great
ness of rewards, therefore, may delight the mind, but does not take
away the obligation of first fighting for it.” ” Hm-m-m-m,”said
the Padre Eterno, “this begins to grow interesting ; for it seems,
My children, that Our little brother here has quoted his heresy from
San Gregorio, and that San Gregorio in his turn quoted it from
San Paolo, upon whom, therefore, the responsibility seems to rest.
Call San Paolo.”
“‘ So the seven archangels blew their trumpets and summoned
San Paolo, who was attending a meeting of the Apostolic
College, and when he came into Court his guardian angel led
him to the bar, where he took his place by the side of San
Gregorio’ (the one who made them Catholics in England, sir,
and the chant, sir, and saw San Michelé Arcangiolo on top of
the Mola, sir), ‘and of my wretched self. “Now, San Paolo,”
said the Padre Eterno, ” We have here a little grey friar who has
been accused of preaching heresy on the first Monday in Lent, in
the Church of San Carlo Al Corso, in these words, ‘No one shall
be crowned unless he has contended lawfully.’ And he has in
formed Us that he quoted these words from the 3yth Homily of
San Gregorio on the I4th chapter of the Gospel of San Luca. We
have examined San Gregorio, and he has pointed out to Us that he
did indeed use these words, as our little brother has said ; but San
Gregorio also alleges that they are not his own words, but yours.
The Court, therefore, would like to know whether San Gregorio’s
statement is true.” Then San Paolo’s guardian angel handed to
him the book which contained all the letters he had written, and
after he had refreshed his memory with this, the great apostle
replied, ” May it please Your Majesty, there is no doubt that both
our little brother and San Gregorio are right, for I find in my second
letter to San Timoteo, chapter ii. verse 5, the following words :
And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned
except he contend lawfully.” ” Well ! ” said the Padre Eterno,
“this is a very shocking state of things that you, of all men,
should publish heresies in this manner and lead men of all ages into
error ! San Gregorio, taking the statement on your authority,
preaches heresy in his time, and a thousand years after, our little
brother, innocently thinking that men of such eminence as the
Apostle of the Gentiles and the Apostle of England are of good
authority, preaches the same heresy. You see now that it is im-
possible to know what the end of a lie will be when once it has
been started on its course.”
“‘” But hear me,” said San Paolo, who was a very bold man,
” for I venture to submit to Your Majesty that the second letter
which I wrote to San Timoteo has been placed by Your Church
on earth on the list of the Canonical Books, and this means that
when I wrote that letter I was inspired by the Third Person of
the Ever Blessed Trinity, and that therefore I was divinely pro-
tected from teaching error in any shape or form ! :
“‘” Of course it does,” replied the Padre Eterno. ” The words
that you have written, San Paolo, in your second letter to San
Timoteo, are not the words of a man, but the words of God
Himself, and the matter amounts to this, that our little brother here,
who took the words from San Gregorio, who took them from you
who were divinely inspired to write them, has not been guilty of
heresy at all, unless God Himself can err. And who,” continued
the Padre Eterno, with indignation, “We should like to know, is
the ruffian who has taken up Our time with this ridiculous and
baseless charge against Our little brother ?”
“‘ Somebody said that it was a Jesuit named Padre Tonto Pappa-
gallo, at which the Padre Eterno sniffed saying, ” A Jesuit ! and
what in the name of goodness is that ? ”
“‘ So the Madonna whispered that it was a son of Sant Ignazio.
” Where is Sant’ Ignazio ? ” said the Padre Eterno. Now Sant’
Ignazio, who had seen the way things were going, and what a
contemptible spectacle his son was presenting, had hidden himself
behind a bush and was pretending to say his office. But he was
soon found and brought into Court, and the Padre Eterno asked
him what he meant by allowing his spiritual children to act in this
way. And Sant Ignazio only groaned and said, ” May it please
Your Majesty, all my life long I tried to teach them to mind their
own business, but in fact I have altogether failed to make them
listen to me.”
“‘ That was my dream, Most Holy Father, Most Eminent and
Most Reverend Lords, my Reverend Brethren, Most Illustrious
Princes, my Beloved Children in Jesus Christ ; and since you have
been so gracious as to listen, I will now no longer delay my recanta-
tion of the heresy of which I am accused of preaching on the first
Monday in Lent, in the Church of San Carlo Al Corso.’
” But Papa Silvio arose from His throne, and the cardinals, and
the bishops, and the princes, and the people, and they all cried
in a loud voice, Eviva, eviva, Bocca d’Oro, eviva, eviva.'”
Love One Another
“YES,” I said, ” that’s a very good story, Toto. And now I
want to know where you learnt it.”
” Well, sir,” he replied, ” it was told to me by Fra Leone of the
Capuccini. Not that I wish you to think the Capuccini and
Franciscans to be the same. Not at all. But, of course, you know
better than that, and it is like their impertinence of bronze to
pretend that they are, as they do, for the Capuccini were not even
heard of for hundreds of years after San Francesco founded his
Order of Little Brothers. And the reason why they came to be
made was only because of the vain man Simon Something or
other, who gave more thought to his clothes than was good for
his soul, and found that the sleeves which were good enough for
San Francesco, and the round tippet which that heavenly saint wore,
The Yellow Book—Vol. XI. K
did not suit his style of beauty, and so he made himself a brown
habit instead of a grey one, with plain sleeves to show the shape
of his arms, and no pockets in them, and a tippet not round but
pointed like the piece of flesh there is between my shoulders.
And then, because there are always plenty of men ready to run
after something new, he got together so many followers who
wished to dress themselves like him, that the Holy Father preferred
to give them permission to have their own way rather than cause
them to become rebels against our Holy Mother the Church, by
making it difficult for them to be obedient, because the matter
had really no importance to speak of.”
I said that I knew all about that, but that I didn’t believe
that religious men, whether they were Franciscans or sham ones
like the Capuccini, or even Jesuits, would show such jealousy and
envy of each other as appeared in the story of Fra Serafico.
“And there,” said Toto, “I can assure you that you are
altogether wrong. I may tell you that in every religious order
there are two kinds of men—the saints and the sinners ; and of
course, the saints always love each other as Francesco and
Domenico did ; and, by contrary, having submitted themselves to
the infernal dragon who always drives all love out of the hearts of
his slaves and inflames them with the undying fire of envy, the
sinners hate each other with a hatred like the poison of vipers,
and occupy themselves with all kinds of schemes by which they
may bring discredit upon their enemies, the sinners of other orders.
Why, I will tell you a tale which is quite true, because I have
seen it, of how some Capuccini—and you will not ask me to say
where their convent is—have done a deed by which much shame
will some day be brought upon a house of Jesuits who live in their
” Well, then, there was a convent of Capuccini, and outside the
grounds or the convent there was a small house in which I lived
with my father and my mother and my brothers and sisters, and
it was a very lonely place. And about as far off as it would take
you to say five Paters, and five Aves, and five Glorias, there was
another house, and there were perhaps three or four cottages in
sight, and that is all, so it was a very lonely place. But six miles
away there was a large college of Jesuits, up in the hills, and when
a Jesuit died it was the custom to bury him in the churchyard of
” Now there was a man who came to live in the other house,
and he was not an old man nor a young man, but just between
the two ; and because he felt lonely he used to pay attention to all
the ladies who came in his way when visiting this celebrated
convent of Capuccini ; and our difficulty was to know which one
he was going to marry. And there was one in particular who
appeared to these Capuccini to be the one that he ought to marry,
but her home was far away in a large town, and so one of the
friars wrote to her parish priest to ask what ought to be done,
and the parish priest replied : ‘Yes, you must get her married as
soon as possible ;’ and soon after that the respectable man married
her and brought her to the house in the lonely place that I am
telling you about. And they lived there very quietly for a little
while, and then his business called the respectable man away from
his house for a few weeks. So he went and his wife remained
at home, and there was no one in the house besides her but a
woman, her servant.
“And presently, in the middle or one night, there was a
knocking at the door of the small house where I lived with my
father and my mother and my brothers and my sisters, and I heard
this knocking because that night I was going to enjoy myself in
the orchard of the Capuccini. So I came downstairs in my shirt
only ; and because I wished to keep what I was going to do a
secret, I left my shirt rolled up in a bundle under the seat in the
porch, and I will tell you why : I thought of two things ; the
first thing was that it was a very rainy night, and if my mother
found in the morning that my shirt was wet, she would guess I
had been up to mischief, and having told my father, I should have
nothing but stick for breakfast ; and the second thing was that if
some Capuccino should be persuaded by an uneasy devil to look
out of his window to see a naked boy running about in the
orchard or in the churchyard, he would say to himself that it was
just a poor soul escaping from purgatory, and then having repeated
a De Profundis, he would go back to his bed. So just as I was
creeping across the yard with the warm rain pouring in torrents
over my body, there came this banging on the door of my house,
and I skipped behind a tree and waited. Then my father opened
the window of his room upstairs, demanding what was the matter,
and the voice of the servant of the respectable man, replied that la
Signora Pucci had suddenly been taken very ill, and that if my
mother was a Christian woman she would come to her assistance.
This servant spoke with a very thick voice, and as I did not think
I was going to be amused if I stayed behind my tree, I ran away
and enjoyed myself enough with the peaches belonging to these
Capuccini. When I came home I dried myself with a cloth,
took my shirt from under the seat in the porch, and went to bed
again. And in the morning when I awoke there was no one to
give us our breakfast, for my father was gone to his work and my
mother to the assistance of the wife of the respectable man, so I
was thankful enough that I had made so many good meals during
the night. All that day and all the next night and the day after
was my mother away from her home, and I need not tell you
that I began to think that something very strange was happening
of which I ought to know ; so I waited here and I waited there,
and I put a question of one kind to this and a question of another
kind to that, and during the night, after my father had seen me go
to bed, I got up again, left my shirt in the porch as before, not
because it was raining now, but because 1 liked it, as well as for
the other reason, and I wandered about quite naked and happy
and free,” (here he tossed his arms and wriggled all over in an
indescribable manner) “dodging behind trees and bushes, from my
father s house to the house of the respectable man and to the
churchyard of the convent of the Capuccini, and during that
night I saw many curious things, and these, with the answers
which were given to the questions I had been asking, and other
odds and ends which I either knew or had seen with my eyes,
made me able to know exactly what this mystery was.
” Now I ought to have told you this, that a week before, a very
old priest from the Jesuit college of which I have already spoken had
been buried in the convent churchyard, also he was the confessor
of the wife of the respectable man, and a priest whom she held in
the very greatest honour, and he was called Padre Tommaso. He
was a saint indeed whom everybody venerated, for the Signer Iddio
had made him live one hundred and two years in order that he
might add to the many good deeds which in his long life he had
done. I should like you to remember this, because now I must
go to another part of the story.
” After the servant of the respectable man had told my father
that her mistress was ill, my mother arose from her bed and went
at once to the house of the sick person. Arrived there, she found
la Signora Pucci fallen upon the floor in great pain, and being a
woman herself, she knew with one stroke of her eye what was the
” Now the servant of the respectable man, who had accompanied
my mother, was drunk and so useless. Therefore my mother,
who is the best of all women living, made la Signora Pucci as
comfortable as she could at that time, went into the stable, put the
horse into the cart and, having driven for three miles to the
nearest town, brought a doctor back with her as the day was
“The sick woman was put to bed, and the doctor gave my
mother directions as to what was to be done during his absence ;
for he said he must go home now to finish his night s rest, and in
the morning he had his patients to see, but in the afternoon he
would come again, and that then, perhaps, something would
happen. But my mother told him that she would on no account
consent to be left alone in the house with la Signora Pucci, be-
cause she perceived that something most dreadful was to happen.
The doctor replied that he would not stay, because he could not ;
and that if my mother was not there to assist the sick woman in
her trouble, she might die. But my mother would by no means
be persuaded, and in the end she conquered, and the doctor stayed,
and they waited ail through the night, and the next morning at
noon there came a new baby into that house, and la Signora Pucci
was so astonished that she really nearly died, and as for the baby,
he did die after a half-hour of this world.
“Then the sick woman became mad, and cried in delirium that
she would not have it known to the respectable man, her husband,
that a new baby had come into that house, so my mother went to
the Father Guardian of these Capuccini, telling him all that she
knew, how she had baptized the baby Angelo herself seeing that he
was at the point of death, and that therefore he must be buried in
the churchyard, and how his mother, la Signora Pucci, demanded
that this should be done secretly, and that the grave should be
made with Padre Tommaso, of whom 1 have told you before, who
was a saint that any person might be glad to be buried with.
Upon which the Father Guardian replied that this was as
easy as eating ; and he directed my mother, having put the
dead baby Angelo into a box, to take him under her cloak
at midnight to the grave of Padre Tommaso. So she did as
she was told, putting the dead baby Angelo into a wooden box
in which rice had been, and cutting a cross upon the lid so that
San Michelé Arcangiolo should know there was a Christian
there ; and at midnight she was there at the grave of Padre
Tommaso. And, of course, I need not tell you that there was
a naked boy hidden in a cedar tree, over their heads, lying flat
upon his face upon a thick branch which he held between his
thighs and with his arms, and looking right down upon the grave.
Then there came out of the convent Fra Giovannino, Fra Lorenzo,
Fra Sebastiano, and Fra Guilhelmo. And if I had not remem-
bered that a naked boy in a cedar-tree was not one of the things
which you are unable to do without at a midnight funeral, I should
have laughed, because these friars, coming out of their convent
without candles, fell over the crosses on the graves and said things
which friars do not say in their offices. They brought two spades
and a bucket of holy water, and when they came to the grave of
Padre Tommaso, Fra Sebastiano and Fra Guilhelmo dug about
three feet of a hole over the Jesuit s head, then my mother gave
them the box from under her cloak and they put it in the earth,
and having sprinkled it with holy water, they covered it up, made
the grave look as it had looked before as best they could in that
dim light, and then returned to their convent, all the time saying
no word aloud.
” Then my mother went back to the house of la Signora Pucci,
and a boy without clothes followed her there. For one hour
afterwards I ran backwards and forwards secretly from the con-
vent to the house of the respectable man, but finding that
nothing else happened I went to my bed.
” About the end of the day after this my mother returned to her
house, and said that the doctor had brought a nurse to la Signora
Pucci, and that the respectable man her husband also was coming
back, so there was nothing more for her to do. Then she swooned
with weariness, for she was tired to death, but having rested some
days while I and my sisters and my brothers kept the house clean
and tidy, she recovered herself.
” And that is all the tale, sir.
“And I think you will see that these Capuccini, unless indeed
they are entirely fools of the most stupid, and that they may be
have been urged on by envy of the Jesuit fathers to lay the begin-
nings of a plot which some day will cause a great scandal. You
must see that they could not help the coming of the new baby
to the house of the respectable man, and it is not for that that I
blame them. You must see that when the new baby had come and
died a Christian, there was nothing else for them to do but to bury
it in their churchyard, and that secretly, to defend la Signora Pucci
from shame. And, after all, you must see that there are yards and
yards and yards of ground in that churchyard where this dead
Christian baby Angelo could be buried by himself secretly, and that
it is simply abominable to have to put him into the grave of a
Jesuit, which, being opened as it may at any time—God knows
when or why, but it is quite likely—will bring a great dishonour
and a foul blot upon the sons of San Ignazio.”
I said that I saw.
(From the French of Emile Verhaeren)
CROSSING the infinite length of the moorland,
Here comes the wind,
The wind with his trumpet that heralds November ;
Endless and infinite, crossing the downs,
Here comes the wind
That teareth himself and doth fiercely dismember ;
With heavy breaths turbulent smiting the towns,
The savage wind comes, the fierce wind of November !
Each bucket of iron at the wells of the farmyards,
Each bucket and pulley, it creaks and it wails ;
By cisterns of farmyards, the pulleys and pails
They creak and they cry,
The whole of sad death in their melancholy.
The wind, it sends scudding dead leaves from the birches
Along o’er the water, the wind of November,
The savage, fierce wind ;
The boughs of the trees for the birds’ nests it searches,
To bite them and grind.
The wind, as though rasping down iron, grates past,
And, furious and fast, from afar combs the cold
And white avalanches of winter the old,
The savage wind combs them so furious and fast,
The wind of November.
From each miserable shed
The patched garret-windows wave wild overhead
Their foolish, poor tatters of paper and glass,
As the savage, fierce wind of November doth pass !
And there on its hill
Of dingy and dun-coloured turf, the black mill,
Swift up from below, through the empty air slashing,
Swift down from above, like a lightning-stroke flashing,
The black mill so sinister moweth the wind,
The savage, fierce wind of November !
The old, ragged thatches that squat round their steeple,
Are raised on their roof-poles, and fall with a clap,
In the wind the old thatches and pent-houses flap,
In the wind of November, so savage and hard.
The crosses—and they are the arms of dead people—
The crosses that stand in the narrow churchyard
Fall prone on the sod
Like some great flight of black, in the acre of God.
The wind of November !
Have you met him, the savage wind, do you remember ?
Did he pass you so fleet,
Where, yon at the cross, the three hundred roads meet—
With distressfulness panting, and wailing with cold ?
Yea, he who breeds fears and puts all things to flight,
Did you see him, that night
When the moon he o’erthrew—when the villages, old
In their rot and decay, past endurance and spent,
Cried, wailing like beasts, ‘neath the hurricane bent ?
Here comes the wind howling, that heralds dark weather,
The wind blowing infinite over the heather,
The wind with his trumpet that heralds November !
(From a Roumanian Folk-Song)
THOU wilt recall, tomorrow,
The sunshine of to-day—
And to the sun wilt say :
” Art thou the same, the self-same sun indeed ? “
Full of dead leaves the path is
That to thy cottage leads,
But there within the cottage
The spring yet blooms for thee.
Thou rockest children’s cradles
To the whirring of thy spindle ;
And the flowers see thee pass.
O wife, when death shall take me,
Let it never rest, thy spindle ;
When the flowers ask : ” Where is he ? ”
Make answer : ” In his grave,
Yet still I rock his slumber
To the whirring of my spindle.”
For to the wars I’m going ;
And on thy brow I kissed thee.
Pale grew thy brow, what time it felt my kiss.
Thou wilt be left all lonely
To watch our plain’s glad shimmer ;
For I no more beside thee
Shall see the maize-fields ripen ;
But the blood’s flowing, I shall see without thee.
And thou shalt tell my threshold :
” Although he has gone from us,
Yet he will come again ; ”
And thou shalt tell my children :
” Yea, he will come again,”
But to thy heart shalt whisper : ” He is dead.”
Do thou bewail and mourn me
Within thy heart’s deep silence,
As in the forest’s silence
The turtle-doves lament.
Yet do not ever give me,
O wife, too many tears ;
Tears are step-sisters of forgetfulness ;
But with thy spindle’s whirring
Tenderly rock my slumber,
And tell it of the harvests,
And plains where maize-fields ripen,
For earth loves fruitfulness,
And I could speak with her
Then, of her fruitfulness,
So that she might grow glad, there where I rest.
Thou wilt recall, to-morrow.
The sunshine of to-day,
to the sun wilt say :
” Art thou the same, the self-same sun indeed ? “
An Early Chapter
By H. Gilbert
ARTHUR NEIL, ” top-boy ” in Scardell Road Board School, had
one characteristic which none of hisfellowscould understand:
he was always more willing to ” make it up ” than to fight. When
Billy Leake, the squint-eyed fighter of the school, once called him
a fool in the heat of chagrin while at play, Arthur,who hotly repelled
all slights, had gone up and struck him lightly on the shoulder—the
invariable challenge to fight. The school bell had sounded just
then, and the elder boys went in warm with the expectation of a
battle between two champions of different achievements. When
school was over, however, and the two lads with their own set had
retired to a quiet piece of ground, it was rumoured that Arthur had
offered to accept an apology ! The descending disgust was averted
by the appearance of Billy, who threw ofF his coat, tucked up his
sleeves, and stood ready—short, firmly built, frowning, his fists
working, his jaw clenched and his fierce eyes unmistakably certain.
But no one said Arthur was afraid ; he stood up and got punished
well, for he could not fight ” for nuts ” ; and his onsets, though
futile against the other’s coolness and science, were reckless.
After this, for some time, Billy and Arthur were great chums,
were seldom apart in scrapes and took a great share together in the
street fights with other schools.
It was Arthur Neil who organised secret societies among the
bigger boys, composed cypher alphabets for the laborious com-
munications between the members of these mysterious brotherhoods
in neighbouring desks ; and kept the accounts of the weekly
journal fund for the purchase and reading of Red Lion Court
literature. He had been Grand Master of the short-lived Order
of the Knights of Albion ; and the dubbing by him of a squire in
one of the school corridors, with the adjuncts of green tunic, ” cap
of maintenance,” dagger and real rapier—”a right Toledo blade”
—was an unforgettable though furtive ceremony. When he picked
out Murray’s Prairie Bird for a prize, and after reading it lent
it round to his friends, their enthusiasm fashioned moccasins and
leggings (ornamented with worsted scalplocks) out of American
cloth, made bows and arrows from umbrella ribs, tomahawks from
blade bones and wood, and scalping knives from abstracted table
cutlery, ripped up mattresses for war-plumes, and secreted all leather
within reach. Arthur, with the advantages of a cap made of badly
dressed rabbit skin, the green tunic (which, though slashed and
puffed, could be made to serve many turns), belt, totem a disk of
bone hung by a leather boot-lace round his neck and having ” a
war eagle ” scratched upon it powder-horn, wooden gun and
cross bow, was made chief of a band of half a dozen warriors,
skulking in the dusky prairies and scarlet-runner forests of a back
garden, until the mother of one of them—Terror of Palefaces—
called him in to go to bed.
It was Arthur also who had suggested basket-lids for shields and
” tolly-whacks ” (rope knotted and twined in graduated thickness)
for weapons, in the fights with other schools. Even the invention
of this “stunning” mode of warfare had been marred by his
weakness. The Scardell Road School was in a newly-opened
suburb, and the boys, being mostly villa residents, had always
despised the neighbouring Delta Road school, it being second
grade and situate near the gasworks. It was not known what
this particular row was about—somebody had hit one of the Delta
Road Boys or jeered at them in passing, or something or other—
anyway, the gas cads at length sent some big fellows and taunted
the Scardell boys as they came out at mid-day. When the elders
had attempted to avenge this, they had been beaten back by a hail
of flints, taken from a heap by the road that was being made up.
The Scardell boys had retired, hurt in mind and body, lusting for
revenge and a flint heap. But Arthur, even then, when his fellows
wished for nothing but the bodies of those boys half a street off,
jeering in the security of their position, wanted to know what they
had been fighting about ? He had even advised a parley, and
though some of the council were disposed to brand him a coward
for his talk, he, notwithstanding the impatience and disgust of the
others, went marching down the middle of the road holding up a
white handkerchief. The Delta boys had seemed puzzled at first,
and then one had thrown a stone and had been imitated by his
fellows. The Scardell boys saw their disowned embassy stop and
rub his leg and then- turn, put his handkerchief away and limp
back, accompanied by hopping flints. They told him ” it served
him cussed well right. What else could he expect from those gas
cads ? ” Arthur said little, but came back from dinner thoughtful,
and it was not long before every elder boy had fashioned a” tolly,”
and bought, begged, or stolen a basket lid, and fitted it with handles.
Then when these had been smuggled to school, the Delta boys
had been waylaid and wiped out, wealed and wailing.
There were many tender relations between the elder boys and
girls of Scardell Road school ; which reciprocity was encouraged
by the head-master. Most of the scholars dropped in and out of
love with the greatest ease. One week Bob Sullivan would be the
sweetheart of Nelly Tulford, who next week would enamour Billy
Leake and flout Bob, who would recriminate contemptuously.
But jilted boys seldom fought their more favoured fellows : they
went and cut out some other friend, who consoled himself
Arthur Neil was the most sensitive to unsuccess or indifference,
the most fastidious in choice and the most constant in attachment.
His sweetheart, Winnie Alfrey, had been in turn the beloved of
three of his best friends. She had indeed wounded the last of them
by her confessed admiration for Arthur, who, though she was
reckoned for the time being by favoured boys to be the prettiest
girl in the school, had hitherto kept himself in studied coldness
before the charms that were setting his friends in rivalry or
His friend Alf Lawers had met Arthur one day on their way to
school, and in the course of conversation said with momentary
moodiness, ” I’m going to chuck up Winnie Alfrey. You can
have her if you like.”
Arthur secretly glowed. ” Why, what’s the matter ? ” he asked.
” What have you fallen out over ? ”
” She wants you. I ain’t good enough for her.”
” Stow it, Alf, don’t talk such rot ! ” said the other, thrilling.
” It’s the truth ! All the girls are gone on you since you
won that prize for reciting. Didn’t you say the other day that
that fat girl, Emily Goodchild, had sent you a note ? Well, that’s
why ! ”
Arthur became thoughtful : he was desired, and with the
self-esteem and impulse to wound that were characteristic of his
semi-feminine nature was moved to play with the circumstance.
You tell her from me she’s had too many chaps already. I’m
nearly sick of girls.”
The Yellow Book—Vol. XI L
Alf subsequently told his friend that he and Winnie had had a
volcanic separation. He had told her that if she wanted Arthur,
Arthur didn t want her, on which she had angrily retorted that
she didn’t care for Arthur Neil, then that she didn’t believe he
had said it ; and, on Alf persisting, had gone off almost crying,
saying she believed it was a falsehood. Arthur regretted his friend’s
distorting and stubborn straightforwardness.
” You’d better tell her yourself, Art,” said Air.
” No,” said the other, assuming indifference, ” I shan’t take
any notice of her.”
” Well, I shan’t speak to her again,” said Alf. ” That new
girl, Kate Dunmore, is a pretty girl. I shall go after her. She
laughed at me this morning.”
It fell out, however, that Winnie was taken ill and was away
from school for a month. During her absence her brother
Harry became a great friend of Arthur’s, though he had hitherto
been disliked by the latter as being spiteful and unfair. When
Winnie returned to school, Arthur with some ot his chums
met her one day with a friend, and her appearance as she
passed and looked at him—so pale, pretty, and yet proud—
overcame him. Within a week many of the little boys, at
safe distances, were calling after them as Arthur escorted her
home from school, her satchel slung upon his back with his own.
This had happened quite a year ago, and still they were lovers.
He even went out with her in the evenings and on Sundays, and
was often at tea with her family.
The girl found that Arthur was not like her former sweethearts.
In matters of endearment he was more shy than she was and had
to be most coyly excited, or he would become cold and proud.
This was very different from, say, Will Kemp’s headiness. She
had only to dare him and he would chase her half a mile and when
he had caught her there would be a delightful struggle for kisses.
If she had ever dared Arthur in the same open way, she felt he
would have left her. But there were compensations. Sometimes,
he would be quite irresistible, exceeding in his dominance any
other sweetheart, and then her coyness was intensified and
deliciously rewarded. Those long spring and summer evenings
spent in the chestnut avenue in the field behind her house, slowly
walking in the twilight, when he would be so daring, so masterful
and sweet ! Then, again, he seemed to be so different in an
indefinable way from other boys. He was not roughly impatient,
or boisterously mocking. She hugged to herself the words passed
by her mother one day when he was mentioned in the family—
” he was a little gentleman ! ” She wondered she had not thought
of this—of course he was. He wore his clothes better, spoke with
more refinement and used different words. Besides, was he not
the best scholar in the school ?
One day Alf Lawers on his way home with Arthur from
morning school said he had had another quarrel with Kate
Dunmore. These two had been sweethearts (with intervals
of mutual unfaithfulness for spite) since Alf had given up
” She’s so beastly proud. She says she’s going on the stage at
Liverpool soon with her mother.”
Arthur’s sympathy had been blunted by frequent exercise on
behalf of his friend.
” When’s she going to leave school, then ? ” he asked.
” Goodness knows ! I don’t believe half she says. She s been
saying she’s going to leave ever since she came.”
” Aren’t you going to try and make it up ? ”
Alf was moody for a moment, and made a wry face. ” I don’t
know. Don’t see any use.”
” She’s a jolly nice girl. I should if I were you.”
Arthur felt a dislike to seeing his friend contemplate throwing
away the pleasure he himself possessed.
“You wouldn’t like to see Bob Sullivan with her, or Will
Kemp, would you ? ”
Alf hesitated, looking at his boots as he walked.
” Oh, all right,” he said. ” I tell you what. Will you see her
and say I’m sorry I offended her and if she’ll make it up I’ll be at
the end lamp-post to-night in Menival Road ? She knows the place.”
” All right, but what did you offend her about ? ”
” Oh,” said Alf laughing, ” she said her mother was Queen of
the Fairies last Christmas in a pantomime, and I said she must
have been a jolly heavy fairy then. You know, her mother is
” Girls don’t like that, you know,” said Arthur, gravely.
” It’s the truth, anyway. It would have to be a moonbeam
like a plank to hold her up.” He laughed. ” Anyhow, you catch
her if you can after school and tell her I’m sorry and all that.
You know how to put it.”
Kate was the daughter of an actress at present ” resting.” She
was pretty, plump, and bewitchingly frank. Arthur managed to
meet her after school, though uneasy as to the result of giving
Winnie the slip. All his pleading, however, was in vain. She
didn’t like Alf, and besides, she was to leave in a month or so for
Liverpool, where she was going to act with her mother.
“He says he’s very sorry he offended you,” said Arthur.
” He says ! ” repeated Kate, in great disdain. ” I’d smack his
face, the cheeky thing ! How would he like me to make game of
his mother ? ”
” It certainly wasn’t kind of him, but Alf always will get a
” I’ll make him laugh the other side of his face.”
” He always laughs both sides,” said Arthur, slyly.
Kate looked at him with puzzled eyes for a moment. Then
with some impatience, said, “Why, you’re as cheeky as he is.
You d better go and find Winnie Alfrey or she ll be jealous.”
” Not she,” said Arthur.
“Dear me, has she got such confidence in you? Isn’t she
afraid of me ? ”
The lad chilled at once. ” She doesn t think anything at all
“Oh, very well. I’m sure I don’t want to rob her. You’d
better go and find her and tell her what I’ve said.”
Arthur was hurt by this implication, and kept walking by her,
she with her head up, looking intently at the hedge on the other
side of the road.
” Don’t be silly, Kate,” he said at length, pleadingly.
“Miss Dunmore, please.”
“Well, then, Miss Dunmore. I don’t see why you turn off
so. You quarrel with every one.”
” It’s a story ! I don’t make a row with anybody if they’ll let
They were nearing her home in a quiet little street of villas.
” Well then, you won’t meet Alf ? ”
” No, I won’t, so you can tell him from me. Boys are such
She looked mischievously into his eyes.
” I wouldn’t have another sweetheart for anything,” she con-
tinued, ” they’re no good, and they are so awfully conceited.”
They stopped in front of the house in the shade of a small
” You’re jolly rough on us,” said Arthur laughing. ” But if
you girls weren’t so nice we shouldn’t be so conceited. It’s your
fault.” He thrilled at his own daring before the provoking look.
“How do you mean, nice?” she asked, with little wrinkles
round her eyes and lips.
” Well—jolly and—and pretty.”
” Oh,” she said, with a little laughing cry, her lace flushing.
” What sauciness ! to dare to say that to any one ! ”
” Well, it’s the truth ! ” said the lad, bolder in the sight of her
She laughed, prettily confused, looking at him for a moment
and then dropping her eyes, her face all warm.
” I think we’d better say good-bye,” she said. ” I shall never
She held out her hand, and retained his.
“Tell Alf I really can t meet him to-night. But I’ll think
about it. After all when we go away, I shan’t see him ever
again perhaps. You will tell him, won’t you ? ” she asked, softly,
with a curious, dilated look.
” Certainly,” replied the boy.
She drew him by the hand quickly and kissed him on the lips.
He started back, glancing about, and looked at her coldly, then
seeing her defiant, shamed face he half laughed.
” Whatever are you doing, Kate ? ” he asked.
” That was for Alf,” she said.
” But I can’t give it to Alf! ”
She laughed merrily as she closed the wooden gate. She stood
leaning over it, and looked at him with bright eyes.
” It was for you then.”
His eyes chilled as he thought of the appearance of unfaithful
ness to Winnie if he did not in some way discard the caress.
” I wish you hadn’t done that,” he said.
“Oh, are you frightened ?” she asked mockingly. Her eyes
dilated again. ” Then give it me back.” She broke into gentle
merriment as his face stiffened.
” I think you are most deceitful,” he said. ” You had no right,
you shouldn’t have done it. I shall never forgive you.”
“Oh, very well, go and tell every one a girl kissed you and you
didn’t like it ! ” Her tone changed to scorn. ” If you tell any
one, I’ll have to leave the school at once. You would be a
coward !” Her voice faltered.
“I would never do that. I should never think of such a
thing.” He spoke with great heat.
” Very well, then, don’t be silly. What have you got to be
upset about ? Good-bye.”
She went up the path and rang the bell, and continued stand
ing with her head bent and her back to him. He hesitated for
some moments, and then as the door was opened went away slowly.
Alf heard no more from Kate in spite of the hope the message
implied. She was about to pass him one day in the street with a
contemptuous look, but he stopped her, saying,
” Aren’t you going to speak to me again, Kate ? ”
“Speak to you ?” she said disdainfully, “No, go away. What
do you mean stopping me like this ? ” She tried to shake off his
He was astounded at this complete change.
” Why, you said you’d think about it,” he blurted angrily,
loosing his hold on her arm.
” Pooh ! ” she ejaculated, slipping away.
He stood for some moments gloomily watching her, but she
did not turn her head.
For ten days after this Alf was a fervid misogynist. His humour
flickered up for a moment, he said that they might spiflicate him
if he was ever done any more by an Irish girl. Later he generalised
his chagrin, saying, ” All girls are cads.” He and Arthur nearly
fell out, for he began making contemptuous reflections on girls
and the boys who debased themselves. He went about almost
estranged, with a gloomy look on his face, which he was always
forgetting to keep there ; going for long walks among the maimed
fields and lanes near by, either by himself or with some school
mate not amatively degenerate. He began to long for the life of
the trapper, lonely, void of all sentimental ” rot,” sternly self-
contained, despising the admiration and yearning which he himself
excited—a superior Dr. Carver, with long black hair, a broad
sombrero, a stern and melancholy countenance, and a beautiful
buckskin suit. He therefore began to get in training. He
discarded braces, and wore a belt, broke the habit of regular meals,
and in the dinner hour would wander off into the meadows,
learning ” wood-lore,” following trails, remarking and laboriously
explaining the meaning of a broken twig or bent. He would
stealthily creep along, following birds flitting in and out of the hedge
rows, keenly observant meanwhile of every movement in the
herbage and the dead leaves about him. Sometimes he got the
cramp when some particularly promising noise attracted him, and
he would stop in a constrained position waiting for developments
that never came, except in the shape of a small beetle or a worm
rustling under the leaves. If anybody passed, he would whistle
and try to appear as if he were doing nothing in particular.
When his stomach craved he gloomily took in another hole of
his belt. Sometimes he ate the young tops of the thorn. He
would return to afternoon school, stern, silent, and hungry, in
figure like a wasp.
As his mother did not trouble herself much about his absence
from the dinner-table, and nobody else seemed to know or care
what he was doing, he soon descended again to braces, good
dinners, games and love-making.
A few evenings after the affair with Kate, Arthur met Winnie
in the field at the back of her house. She looked at him coldly,
and retreated before his proffered caress.
“You’re a deceitful thing, Arthur Neil,” she said. “Go to
that girl Dunmore and kiss her, not me. I wonder you can look
me in the face.”
” I didn’t—” Arthur began hotly, and stopped. ” What do
you mean ! ” he asked.
“Oh, you know what I mean, very well. You kissed Kate
Dunmore. She says you did. I want nothing more to do
Winnie was coldly self-contained, but her appearance—so
prettily proud, her lips curling, and her grey eyes piercing—
excited the lad.
” It isn’t true, Winnie, really, dear.”
” But she says you did, and you told her she was pretty—and—
and such stuff as that ! I’m ashamed of you. You’d better go
to her, for I won t speak to you again.”
The lad was silent; he did not know what to do. He felt
that Kate’s apparent falsehood released him, but he revolted from
the exposure of her, the breaking of his implied promise, and the
prospect of pleading to a girl who condemned him without hear
“I tell you it isn’t true,” he said, soberly. “Can’t you
believe me ? ”
Winnie hesitated before his seriousness. She dropped her eyes,
and then raised them. She looked so pretty with her dignity,
that it was in the lad’s mind to rush upon her and kiss away her
doubt, but his piqued loyalty held him back.
“Will you say you didn’t kiss her and say those things?”
“I didn’t kiss her.”
She noticed his reservation, looked at him sharply, and flung
away with ” I don’t believe you. You did say it ! ” She stopped
a few feet off.
” Very well, I did say she was pretty—and—and so she is ! ”
She gave him a quick glance of scorn.
” Then you may go and tell her so again. I hate you.” She
spoke with composure, and turning, walked away quickly.
Arthur did not hesitate, and went out of the field with head up,
On subsequent evenings, coming from school while Arthur
was waiting to catch Kate for her explanation of things, Winnie
passed him with cold eyes, that looked through him, her lips
curled ; though her brother Harry had confided to Arthur that
she had ” cried her eyes out ” on that fateful evening, and had
been cross ever since.
It seemed evident that Kate was keeping out of the way, and
it was not for a week that he met her, when it happened that,
having been sent, in his capacity as monitor, to a neighbouring
school, he was returning just as the girls were coming out, and
came face to face with Kate, in the van of chattering pupils.
She was confused, and tried to push past him, her shocked com-
panions bidding him, with much laughter, giggles, and reproach,
to leave her alone. He succeeded in drawing her apart, however,
and felt she was not unwilling, when free of her friends.
” I say, Kate,” he began, with gentle reproof, ” why did you
tell Winnie that ?”
She kept her head bent, her cheek suffused.
” I’m very sorry, Arthur, really. I didn’t think she’d go off” in
such a passion, but but we were talking about you and Alf,
and she made me cross, and I said it before I knew what I
was saying. Don’t you think she’d make it up if I told her the
truth ? ”
“I wouldn’t be friends again,” said the lad, decisively. “She’s
been very nasty about it, and wouldn’t believe what I said.”
” You didn’t say—” The girl stopped, and averted her face.
” No ; I didn’t tell her anything about that. If she hadn’t
been in such a temper I might, and, really, Kate, it would have
served you right.”
A moment’s silence. ” It was rather it was mean of me,
wasn’t it ? She turned up her flushing face and pleading eyes
for a moment. “I didn’t deserve your not telling her, I’m sure,
and I’m truly sorry.”
Arthur caught his breath. ” There’s no need for that, Kate.”
A few thrilling seconds passed.
” Well, I must get back to school,” he said at length, with an
effort. ” I’m afraid we’ve been walking out of your way.”
” Not at all,” she replied as they stopped.
He stood, trying to catch her eyes, but she evaded his look.
” Well, then, Kate, good-bye,” he said, seizing both her hands.
She turned her limpid eyes upon his with a daring smile. Her
full, red lips moved slightly, but she did not speak. Her frank
ness thrilled him, and he kissed her, vaguely feeling as if power
less to restrain himself. She laughed softly, and a deeper warmth
swept into her face.
” Was that the one I gave you the other day ? ”
” No, no,” he said, laughing and flushing.
She watched his face, her eyes travelling to the curly dark hair
over the forehead that the blue cricket cap never imprisoned.
“That was for you,” he added.
” I thought
” I thought you said you’d never forgive me ? ” she said, her
eyes bright with merriment.
” That was different. It’s all right now. I told Winnie her
self what I said to you, and that quite turned her. But, you
see, she wanted me to say you weren’t—jolly, you know.”
” Did you really say that, Arthur ? ” Her eyes shone. ” Well,
there ! ”
She laughed a little hysterically.
“We must keep this quiet, Kate. It would be too bad to
hurt her any more, though she has made herself silly.”
“Oh, all right,” said the girl, hesitating. “Can you come
out to-night ? I’m going to play tennis in the meadows.”
They arranged a meeting-place, kissed again, and parted, turn
ing every few steps to kiss their hands, until a bend in the road
hid them from each other.
The furtive love-making of the next month was the most
delightful either had ever enjoyed. Arthur was chary of publicity,
since he felt his conduct might be thought disloyal to Alf, though
the latter was now enamoured of the fat girl, Emily Goodchild,
who joked and punned worse than he. Arthur also shrank from
causing annoyance to Winnie, but he feared she would soon know
the swift defection that must convince her of his falseness. Kate’s
secret, under the usual strict injunctions, spread among her own
set, and elsewhere ; but Winnie kept a proud reserve that some
times moved her rival to pity and shy overtures of peace, which,
for the time, were chilled to constraint as stubborn, by Winnie’s
On the eve of Kate’s departure, she, with Arthur and his
closest friend, spent the last few hours together. The girl was
one moment in excited talk about her dress, and the expected
pleasures of her new life ; but next moment, checking herself,
would express regret in eyes, tones, and words, saying that she
would send him her address, and they would write to each other.
In the darkness, the friend, at a distance, witnessed their separa-
tion. He saw them talk awhile, kiss, and part sedately ; but they
looked back, stopped, and then rushed together again, with arms
about each other. A few moments’ close embrace, the sound of
many caresses, and she darted away quickly. Arthur lingeringly
rejoined his companion, and they went away, silent.
A Ballad and a Tale
By B. Paul Neuman
I.—The Heavenly Lover
IT was the joyful sunrise hour,
The world beneath her lay unrolled,
As from the highest nunnery tower
She watched the shadows turn to gold.
The glistering glory climbed the sky,
It touched the height, and searched the vale.
The forest laid its sackcloth by,
And all its songsters fluted “Hail!”
The splendour lit the slumbering town,
The crowded haunt of busy man,
She looked through tears that trickled down,
Chafing against the iron ban
That barred her from the world whose stir
Makes every morn a glad surprise.
That happy world was not for her,
Save to behold with yearning eyes.
For her the damp and moss-grown walls,
The changeless order of the days,
The fellowship of patient thralls,
The loud monotony of praise.
She wrung her hands, ” Oh hearts of stone !
To cage a little fluttering dove,
Had I but known ! Had I but known !
I still were free for life and love.
” Thou Heavenly Lover, who, they said,
Wouldst come to woo, and stay to win,
Was it a lie, or art thou dead
Or hast thou seen and spurned my sin ? ”
She mourned like any prisoned bird,
Her breast upon the stonework bowed,
Till with a guilty start she heard
A voice that called her, clear and loud.
There came a knocking at the gate.
The wondering portress opened wide ;
With lowly mien, in piteous state
A white-haired beggar stood outside.
His heid all bare, his feet unshod,
In coarsest garments scantly clothed,
Upon his face the brand of God—
The awful scars men feared and loathed.
The meek-eyed sisters held aloof,
But, pointing to a wooden shed,
“A couch of straw, a sheltering roof,
And food are there,” the abbess said.
“And who”—she cast her eyes around—
” Will tend this leper for the sake
Of Him who once on holy ground
The leper s bond of misery brake ? “
In silent fear they stood, and shame,
Their eyes cast down, their cheeks ablaze,
Then from her tower the novice came
With hurrying step and wondering gaze.
” You called me ? ” ” Nay,” they cried, ” not we.”
” I heard the summons, and obeyed.”
” Then go,” the abbess said, ” and see
The burden that is on you laid.”
She heard a tremor in the voice,
The pity in their eyes she saw,
But duty left no room for choice,
The leper called her from his straw.
She raised the latch and stepped within,
The dimness seemed to strike her blind,
She felt the pangs of fear begin
To shake the purpose of her mind.
When, lo ! as o’er the horizon rim
The great sun looks on tropic seas,
And laughs, and at the sight of him
With one quick throb the darkness flees,
So, suddenly a point of light
Shone forth, then burst into a flame,
The shadows spread their wings for flight,
And o er the gloom a glory came.
The ashen laths were cedar wood,
The flagstones priceless marble gleamed,
The bed a jewelled wonder stood,
Such wonder never poet dreamed.
And there were trees with soaring stems,
And spreading leaves of gorgeous t hue,
And dazzling fruits that shone like gems,
And over all an arch of blue.
The lengthening walls were edged with flowers,
The air was fresh with odours sweet,
White blossoms fell in noiseless showers
And made a pathway for her feet.
The Yellow Book—Vol. XI. M
And on the bed as on a throne,
He sat for whom her soul had yearned,
A tender radiance round Him shone,
But o’er His head the aureole burned.
” And hast Thou come indeed ? ” she cried,
“And will Thou love me for Thine own,
And one day set me at Thy side,
Yea even share with me Thy throne ? ”
Then as she felt the splendour grow,
And brighter beams of radiance shine,
She cast her down, and whispered low :
” Nay, not Thy throne, Thy footstool mine.”
With gentle words He bade her rise,
And smiled away her new-born fear,
” Come forth,” He said, ” for Paradise,
The home of those who love, is here.”
The narrowing bounds of time and space
Were straight abolished and forgot,
One glance at that beloved face,
And earthly memories irked her not.
He led her by broad-bosomed streams
Whose waters sparkled clear and blue,
By forests flecked with golden gleams,
And all was fair, and all was new.
The very air she breathed seemed strange,
Strange forms of life stood everywhere,
On everything was written change,
And all was new and all was fair.
With joy she yielded up her will,
The hours might crawl, the aeons fly,
It seemed they two were standing still
While time, and life, and death rushed by.
Great cities rose before their eyes
And fell again to dusty sleep,
They saw the star of empire rise,
And sink into the stormy deep.
They saw a long-drawn vast array
Whose numbers none could count or guess,
Climbing a rugged stony way,
And faint with heat and weariness.
Not one small world alone engrossed
The scene on which their eyes were bent,
To this great struggling suffering host
A thousand stars their legions sent.
all she looked on seemed but naught
(Though everywhere new marvels lay),
Compared to one entrancing thought—
” He loves, has loved, will love for aye.”
One longing still her soul possessed,
” Lord, speak Thy love,” she whispering, cried.
Smiling, he laid her fears to rest ;
” For love of Thee, the leper died.”
With trembling steps, when evening fell,
The abbess sought the lowly shed,
” Did you not hear the vesper bell ?
Come forth, and rest, my child,” she said.
But there was silence. Greater fear
Cast out the less. She pushed the door,
And on the threshold paused to peer
Into the gloom that lowered before.
Her feeble lamp she held on high,
And by its flickering flame she saw
A slender childish figure lie
Stretched out beside the empty straw.
With such a smile upon the face,
And such a gladness in the eyes ;
The abbess from her vantage-place
A little sternly bade her rise.
In vain : no more the iron rule
Could bind the soul that yearned to roam,
From hard routine of dreariest school ;
The Lord of Love had borne her home.
JOHN CROFTS and William Medlett had been friends for many
years. They had come to London together as young men
from the same small country town. Nay, their friendship ran
back to a still earlier date, for they had been at the same gram-
mar school, and had sung as choir-boys in the same old parish
church. And now, as middle-aged men, they had a rare fund of
ancient memories and associations to fall back on, trivial remini-
scences that had a singular interest for them—for them and for
no one else.
This formed, no doubt, the real basis of their friendship, such
as it was. Their acquaintances, sacred and profane, talked of
David and Jonathan, and of Damon and Pythias ; but both these
comparisons were ludicrously inappropriate. There did not
exist in the composition of either of the friends one single
grain of poetry or romance.
Nor were they clever men. Of the two, perhaps Medlett was
the brighter, he certainly had more self-confidence. On the
other hand, Crofts had more perseverance, and rather more taste
for reading. On the whole, the difference in their abilities was
so slight, that for many years they kept a fairly even progress up
the hill of success. They had each obtained employment in a
large wholesale business—Crofts with Barston and Franks, the
great hosiery firm, Medlett with Coningsby, Lord, and Whaler,
who ruled the markets in the matter of waterproofing and rubber
Beginning as office boys at eight shillings a week, they had
steadily worked their way up, till Crofts was head of the woollen
department with a salary of three hundred a year, while Medlett
acted as a kind of general sub-manager with an income of fifty
pounds a year more.
They had both married : Crofts when he was about five and
twenty, his friend a few years later. In consequence, the former
had been burdened with a growing family, while the latter was
still free to save the greater part of his salary. Crofts had found
it a hard struggle, and once or twice had been obliged to
borrow from his friend, who lent readily enough, only taking a
bill of sale on the furniture as a matter of form.
” Better do the thing in a businesslike way,” he said, as he
made the suggestion, and Crofts was glad to agree.
Before very long, however, he was able to repay the loans, for
his wife inherited, on the death of her mother, a sum of between
three and four thousand pounds. On the strength of this he
moved from Holloway to St. John s Wood, and sent his children
to good schools.
His family consisted of five children—two girls and three boys.
The eldest, Nora, was a dark, rather plain girl, with straight,
black hair, marked eyebrows, a thin, firm mouth, and a square
chin and jaw. Next to her came two boys, Jack and Will, of
whom there is little to say but that they were very ordinary,
English, middle-class schoolboys, rather dull at their books, but
well-meaning, wholesome lads. Then came Jane, named after
her mother, dark as Nora, but of a slighter and more delicate
build, inclined to be pretty, and her father’s favourite. Edward
brought up the rear, a little slip of a boy with flaxen hair and a
snub nose, very precocious, and, already, at seven, winning prizes
at his school.
By this time Medlett had married, and had come to live in
Woronzow Road, a few doors from his friend. They travelled
to and from business together, and found new themes of conver-
sation and discussion in their family experiences.
The years passed on, bringing to the two, only very gradual
changes. Their children grew up, and, curiously enough, showed
no inclination to be friendly. This may have been partly due to
the fact that their wives only just tolerated each other. Mrs.
Crofts, perhaps on the strength of her inheritance, was a little
inclined to play the great lady, while Mrs. Medlett was abnor
mally quick to resent the faintest suggestion of patronage. But
the heads of the two families continued their habits of intercourse
undisturbed by these domestic differences. They had grown so
accustomed to travelling and gossiping together, each looked
upon the other as a necessary part of his life. Affection between
them there was none. In the bosom of his family Crofts often
let fall queer little remarks depreciatory of his friend, and Medlett,
in his own way, did much the same.
One morning, as they were sitting together on the omnibus,
Medlett remarked :
” I wish I had a lot of money to invest. I was told of a first-
class thing yesterday.”
” There are so many first-class things,” said Crofts, senten-
” Yes, but this is a real bonâ fide” (he docked this last word of
one of its syllables) “concern. Plenty of capital and real good
people. One of our governors put me on it. It s a new motor.”
” A new what ? ” asked Crofts.
“Anew motor for driving wheels ; it will work a stationary
engine, or a sewing machine, or a carriage. It can be made in
any size, and burns petroleum.”
” Has it been tried ? ”
” Oh, yes, that’s the beauty of it. It isn’t just an inventor’s
notion. It’s been working in the States for some time now and
the American company is doing a roaring trade. This company
is being formed to work the patent over here.”
Crofts shook his head.
” It sounds rather risky to me,” he said, ” if I were you I should
take good care before I put a penny in.”
” Oh, I’ve gone into it over and over again. It’s as sound as a
thing can be. Of course there’s always some risk, but it’s a
perfectly genuine business. I don’t call it speculative. Trust Mr.
Whaler for that. He’s one of the safest men I know to follow.”
There the conversation dropped for the time, but a week or ten
days later Crofts recurred to it.
” Have you taken any shares in that company ? ” he asked.
” What company ? ” replied the other, as if he were in the
habit of making investments every other day.
” You know. That motor business.”
” Oh yes, of course. Well, I’ve put a few hundreds in.”
Crofts knew that a few hundreds would represent all the savings
of many years, and he was considerably impressed with this proof
of his friend’s faith.
” What interest do you expect to get ? ” he asked.
” Well, Whaler says that the American company pays twelve per
cent, on the original shares, and that they are steadily rising in the
market. He thinks we shall certainly pay seven the first year, and
go on rising. Only last Saturday he said, You mark my words,
in five years time those ten pound shares will be worth thirty. ”
” Two hundred per cent., eh ? ” remarked Crofts, and fell a-
Nora was always bothering to take lessons in music, and paint-
ing, and dancing. She was not exactly her father’s favourite, but
he stood a little in awe of her. She could be very outspoken,
could Nora, and then what a will she had ! And with the
children all growing up, expenses seemed to increase by leaps and
bounds. And whenever Mrs. Crofts was in favour of some
expensive alteration or innovation, she always made objection
difficult, by suggesting that her money was available for the
purpose. A substantial increase in their income would be an
enormous relief. As for the risk, Medlett was no speculator, and
besides he was acting under good advice.
A few days after, as they were returning from town, Crofts
remarked to his companion with rather elaborate carelessness :
” By-the-by have you a prospectus or anything of that motor
company you were speaking about the other day ?
“Yes, I think I have it here,” said Medlett, and as he spoke he
took out his pocket-book and drew forth a paper. ” You can
keep it if you like,” he added, “I have another copy at home.”
Crofts took it home and studied it with great care. It was
skilfully drawn and was backed by a fine array of names.
Finally he introduced the subject to his wife. She was by nature
rather cautious, and at first pooh-poohed the idea altogether. But
gradually he wore down her objections, and in her desire for a
larger income she let suspicion sleep, and believed very much
what she wished to believe.
And so at last, after many doubts and much discussion, a
thousand pounds of Mrs. Crofts’ inheritance was invested in
shares of the Limpan Motor, Limited. The dividends were paid
half-yearly, and after the second payment at the rate of six and
a half per cent, Crofts with his wife’s full assent sold out the
remainder of her stocks, and invested the proceeds in a new issue
of motor shares. In the course of one of their many conversations
he mentioned to his friend the fact that he had put more of his
eggs into this basket, but exactly how many, he did not say.
Then Medlett had his stroke of luck. An old aunt had left
him, some years before, a small house at Brixton, let as a baker’s
shop. The baker was unfortunate, and the rent fell in arrear.
Medlett without being cruel, was not particularly soft-hearted,
and talked of distraining. The tenant pointed out that it was
not by any means every one s house, that it would very likely be
empty for some time, and that in such an event the goodwill of
the business would be utterly lost. He admitted he could not
carry it on himself any longer, but he suggested that Medlett
should take it over, and put him in as manager at a small salary,
with the use of two or three rooms, letting the rest of the house
as lodgings. Medlett’s solicitor, whom he consulted, strongly
advised him to accept the tenant;s terms, and offered to advance
him any reasonable sum on the security of the house. A new
railway was projected which would probably pass through the
street, and might have to take the premises. Then there would
be compensation for disturbance. Medlett admired and agreed.
The lawyer was speedily justified. The railway did come, the
house was required, and the owner of the premises and pro-
prietor of the goodwill, received a really handsome sum as
compensation. Medlett s first idea was to invest the whole of
the proceeds in Limpan Motor shares, if that were possible. He
thought it might perhaps please Mr. Whaler, as well as give him
a better idea of his sub-manager’s social position, if he told him
of his intention. To his great surprise his principal strongly
“I don’t feel easy about those Limpans,” he said. “I was going
to speak to you about them. They’re going back in the market
without any apparent reason. It looks as if somebody knew some
thing. I’ve a great mind to get out at a small loss.” And a few
days after, he came into Medlett’s room and told him he was
instructing his broker to sell.
“If I were you I should do so too ; they may be all right but
I don’t like the look of them,” he said ; and Medlett determined
to follow suit, and did so, losing something like £50 on the
As it happened, Crofts was away on his holiday at this time,
but of course there would have been no difficulty in communi-
cating with him. And Medlett felt as though he ought to let
his friend know what he was doing. Yet he felt also a strong
reluctance to do so. He had praised the investment so highly,
had spoken with such an air of authority as to the unassailable
position of the Company, he felt sure Crofts would twit him
mercilessly on the mistake he had made. Besides, he kept
assuring himself, there was probably no real occasion for selling.
Nay, it might be wiser to keep in, for getting out now would
mean a serious loss. At any rate he would wait a bit and
watch the market. If the shares kept on falling, he would
give Crofts a word of warning as soon as he came back from
But while Crofts was luxuriating at Margate there came to
him, forwarded from Woronzow Road, an important-looking
official envelope bearing the seal of the Limpan Motor, Limited.
” A bonus so soon ! ” he exclaimed as he opened it. Then the
next minute he horrified his eldest daughter, who happened to be
sitting in the room with him, by jerking out a couple of vulgar,
dirty oaths such as she had never before heard him use. She
looked up astonished.
” Why, what ever is the matter ? ” she asked. ” Bad news ? ”
” Hold your tongue, and don’t speak till you’re spoken to,” he
The letter that had so upset him, was simply a call of
thirty shillings on each of his three hundred Limpan shares.
They were ten pounds shares, seven pounds ten paid up. He
remembered speaking to Medlett about the liability, but
his friend had assured him there was no likelihood of any
further call being made for a long time to come. If there
should be, he had added, and it were inconvenient to pay the
call, the shares could always be sold. That was what must be
done, and at once, too. It would be all he could do to find
£450, and then there was the remaining pound still liable to
be called up. Decidedly it would be well to get rid of them
He hurried up to town, and went straight to the office of the
broker through whom he had bought. As soon as he indicated
the object of his coming, the broker shook his head.
“Limpans ? Oh, dear, that’s a bad business. You don’t mean
to say you’ve been holding on. Why we advised our regular
clients to get out six weeks ago. Sell at a small loss ! My dear
sir, it’s not to be done. There’s simply no market for them. A
few big men are holding on, just on the off chance of their pulling
round. With that liability, no man in his senses would give a
threepenny piece for the lot.”
” But what’s the matter with the company?” gasped the un-
The broker shrugged his shoulders.
“I’m sure I can’t say exactly. There’s some roguery over in
America, and the English directors are not a very gay lot—two
M.P.’s and a speculating parson on the board ; you know the kind
of thing. I never really liked it.”
” But it was you that bought the shares for me ! ” cried Crofts,
longing for some one on whom to fasten the blame.
Again the broker gave a little shrug.
” I suppose I acted on your instructions ; you have certainly
never been one of our regular clients.”
” No, it was Medlett who made me do it ; he’ll be pretty hard
” Medlett ? Medlett ? Oh, yes, I know. He’s all right. He
sold his shares with Mr. Whaler s in one lot.”
When ? ” snapped Crofts.
” Oh, three weeks or a month ago. They nearly left it till too
late. As it was, they dropped a bit over it. But they soon re-
couped themselves. Everything they’ve touched since has gone
all right. They did a splendid thing in Argentines last week, and
got out just before the fall. Good-day.”
For Crofts, without a word, had suddenly turned his back and
rushed out of the office.
The very next morning he laid wait for Medlett on his way to
town and had a violet quarrel with him. In spite of their long
and close association there had never been any real affection to
hold them together. Of late years especially, there had been
many little jealousies. The Medlett children were much better-
looking than the young Crofts, and were certainly dressed in
better taste. Then Medlett on the strength of his intimacy with
Mr. Whaler, had taken to assuming airs that irritated Crofts.
And now it was gall and wormwood to Crofts to think that while
he had been left to be robbed and swindled, the man who had led
him to make the investment, had not only escaped unscathed, but
had actually reaped no little gain.
Medlett was genuinely shocked at the news, and if Crofts had
not immediately put him on his defence he would certainly have
offered at least temporary help. But when assailed with the most
violent reproaches, accused of having deliberately and with sinister
motives induced his friend to take the shares, and then purposely
left him to be robbed, he soon lost his temper and told Crofts he
had no one but himself to thank for his loss, and that if he hadn’t
the sense to watch the market, he might at least have got some
one to do it for him. The very fact that he was conscious of a
neglect of duty made him more sensitive to reproach, and he felt
it quite a relief to be able to bluster with some show of reason.
Before they parted he did, however, try to patch up the quarrel,
and made his offer of assistance with some reference to their long
friendship. But Crofts was too angry to listen.
” Friendship ? ” he snarled. ” There’s an end of that, thank
God. That’s one good thing at least out of all this. No, I’ve
done with you and yours for good and all. Jenny will be glad of
that. Often and often she s begged me to have nothing more to
do with you. They’re a low lot. Those were her very words. I
wish I’d listened to her.”
Medlett was angry too, by this time.
” Low, indeed,” he answered ; ” I like that. You can just tell
your Jenny that if it hadn’t been for me, you’d have been sold up
long ago, you and she, and brats and all.”
They were crossing Manchester Square. Their loud voices,
and violent gestures, for they had both lost control of themselves,
had excited attention, and several people turned round as they
passed. Crofts incensed by the other’s last remark, would certainly
have struck him, had not a judicious policeman who had been
quietly following them for some little distance, come up and
touch his arm :
” Now then, gentlemen, if you please—
They both started, for the appearance of the man in uniform
recalled them to themselves. Crofts crossed the road hastily,
while Medlett hailed a passing hansom and drove down to the
And, there, for many a long day, all intercourse between them
ceased. Medlett indeed was astute to prevent any chance meet
ings, changing his routes and times. But Crofts took no such
precautions, and rather gloried at the opportunity of scowling at, or
turning his back upon his ancient crony.
Meanwhile the Limpan Motor had, under the safe conduct of
an eminent firm of city solicitors, rapidly gone from bad to
worse, and from worse into voluntary liquidation. Crofts at-
tended every meeting he possibly could, having recourse to all
kinds of excuses to account to Messrs. Barston and Franks for his
frequent absences. Coming away from one of these meetings he
made the acquaintance of two other shareholders who were also
full of their losses. Their common misfortune made them
mutually sympathetic. Half an hour spent together in a
neighbouring Bodega strengthened the tie so much that, from a
general brooding over their wrongs, they advanced to a resolve to
take concerted action to right themselves. The two treated Crofts
with deference for they had only two or three hundred apiece in
the Limpan. One of them mentioned the name of a solicitor he
knew in Basinghall Street, a real good man and no mistake, up to
every dodge. Crofts agreed at once—the description attracted him
in his present mood. Whereupon the others suggested that he
should go down and instruct Mr. Pledgcut.
” You seem to understand all about the law,” they added. He
accepted with a sense of importance ; it was about the first pleasant
feeling he had experienced since the crash.
But now he began to realise the truth of the venerable maxim,
that the law is a jealous mistress. His constant brooding over his
wrongs, and his possible remedies, were sadly interfered with by the
demands upon his time made by Messrs. Barston and Franks. And
there came an hour when in spite of all his ingenious and plausible
excuses, he received a warning from his employers, so forcible, and
so free from ambiguity, that for a time at least, he resumed his
habits of regular and punctual attendance.
Meantime his losses had entailed great changes at home. With
an income diminished by a third, it was impossible to go on living
at Woronzow Road. They were fortunate in being able to sub-let
their house from the next quarter day, and thereupon moved to a
smaller one at Kilburn. This involved a considerable sacrifice of
household gods, over every one of which Mrs. Crofts shed weak
and irritating tears. Indeed the poor woman became a sad burden
to herself, and to her husband. She could not forget that it was
her money that had been lost, or rather her dear mother’s, and was
constantly invoking that awful shade to behold the ruin and
desolation that a husband’s recklessness had brought about. In
prosperity she had been rather a fine-looking womin with what
young Frank Medlett called ” no end of cheap side upon her.”
Now it was pitiful to see the way in which she collapsed. Life-
less, spiritless, she spent the mornings in bed, the rest of the day
in the parlour, her hands in her lap, bewailing their misfortunes,
and cultivating a crop of ailments, which whatever they may have
been originally, soon became real enough to justify a doctor’s
visits. And so by a kind of tacit abdication the reins of domestic
power slipped from her nerveless grasp into the keeping of her
Nora was at this time just past her majority. She was a plain
girl, the outline of her face being too square, and the features too
strongly marked for beauty, but her dark eyes were unmistakably
fine and her hair was like black silk. She had from the first
espoused her father’s quarrel with a fierceness that sometimes
over-awed him. The deterioration of his character which had
already begun to appear, the illness and incompetence of her
mother—these were to her so many items entered in that long
account which she hoped one day to present to Medlett for
payment. As each fresh shadow fell across their path, she
arraigned her father’s enemy anew, and thought with fierce and
gloomy satisfaction of the day of reckoning.
Meanwhile economy had to be rigidly practised. She had an
instinctive horror of running up bills, but every month she
found it harder and harder to get money from her father for the
ordinary household expenses. She suspected that he was spending
more than he could afford on the lawyers, but beside this she soon
discovered that there was another and a more humiliating reason.
One night he came in very late—it was after midnight. She had
been sitting mending the boys’ socks. She went into the hall
with her candle, and there, vainly trying to put his umbrella in
the stand, stood her father obviously, unmistakably drunk.
There was a dreadful kind of half simper on his face as though he
were conscious of his condition, and could not quite make up
his mind whether to try and conceal it, or to carry it off as a
joke. She saved him the trouble of decision. One low cry she
uttered of shame and disgust, then set her candle down on the
stairs and rushed up to her bedroom. For the first time since
their troubles began she gave way to despair. But even then she
did not forget to lay this too at the door of their enemy, and the
larger part of her prayer that night was concerned with him.
From this time things went still worse with the devoted family.
The elder boys were taken from school. They were both wild to
go to sea, and through the good offices of the clergyman whose
church they attended, this was arranged, though their necessary
The Yellow Book—Vol. XI. N
outfit was only procured with the very greatest difficulty. Then
Mrs. Crofts took a severe chill, and having apparently no particular
desire to live, passed away, feebly lamenting her troubles, and
prophesying unutterable things to come. Again Nora had
desperate work to get from her father the money for the funeral.
And in order to pay for mourning for herself and Jane, she had to
begin giving music lessons, the clergyman’s little girls being her
first pupils. The loss of his wife, so far from steadying Crofts,
seemed to have exactly the opposite effect. For some time after
that evening when he had horrified Nora, he had mounted guard
over himself, and taken good care there should be no repetition of
the scene in the hall. Now he relaxed his efforts, and took small
pains to conceal his weakness. And so the housekeeping supplies
grew harder and harder to obtain, and Nora was driven more and
more to depend upon her own earnings to eke out her father’s
small and spasmodic cheques.
One momentary thrill of joy came to her. It was on the
morning when Jane came running in, full of the news that there
was a board up at the Medletts’ house. She was astonished to see
her sister’s dark eyes light up, and an exultant smile transfigure
” I knew it would come,” she said. ” God is just.”
The younger girl was much impressed, but a few days after,
she brought in the information that, far from implying disaster,
the move only meant a great rise up the social ladder. The
Medletts had taken a large new house at Hampstead, near the
Heath. This time Nora said not a word, but the expression of
her face as she bent over her work was so hard and forbidding, the
child was afraid to pursue the subject.
Before their troubles Nora had felt little, and had professed still
le c s interest in religion. She had attended church as regularly as she
considered the conventions demanded, and she had been obliged to
“get up” one of the gospels at school. But when the blow fell,
she began to feel an awful joy in the stern sanctions of the moral
law. Her own prayers, once so empty and formal, suddenly
became a living reality when she found that in them she could
summon her enemy to answer at the judgment seat of God.
And now as she thought of his prosperity, and compared it with
what she called their undeserved misfortunes, she felt as she had
never felt before, the need of some new life to redress the wrongs
and injustices of the old. Reserved and self-contained as she had
always been, she shared these feelings with one, and one only. It
was her younger brother, Ted as they called him, to whom she
confided her anticipations of retribution. It was upon this boy that
she looked as the chosen instrument by which the family wrongs
were one day to be righted. He was unmistakably very clever
indeed, and his school career so far had been a series of unbroken
successes. Whatever else happened, she was determined, even if she
had to starve herself to do it, that his chances should not be inter-
fered with. Perhaps in her anxiety for him she was less than just
to the others. Jane, who was not clever, was taken from school
to be a little drudge at home that Ted might be able to go
among his companions without blushing for his clothes. To him
she constantly talked of their enemy and his wickedness. She
hunted out passages in the Bible that portrayed in vivid colours
the requital of the transgressor. In these she gloried. The
roll and ring of the words, seemed to fire her blood. And
when the boy once asked her whether we ought not to for-
give our enemies, she answered that punishment must come
first. When they had been well punished, then would be the
time to think about forgiveness. And when, unconvinced,
he still urged his difficulties, she grew so angry even with
him, that he was glad to let his doubts and perplexities
Soon after Mrs. Crofts’ death the Medletts made a great effort
to be reconciled. Nora happened to be working at the window
one afternoon, when she saw a smart-looking fly drive up to the
door, and Mrs. Medlett got out, leaving some children inside.
She rang the bell, but before the little maid-of-all-work had
mounted half the kitchen stairs, Nora herself, a dangerous light in
her eyes, had opened the door and stood waiting for her visitor to
speak, making no sign of recognition, meeting her rather nervous
approaches with an icy stare.
” Oh, Nora, my dear, we were so sorry to hear—” she began,
as she mounted the top step and held out her hand.
And Nora, looking full at her, very deliberately shut the hall
door in her face.
Thenceforth for many a day the two families pursued their
separate paths, holding no intercourse with each other, the one
steadily climbing upwards, the other just as steadily slipping down.
One night, about six months later, John Crofts came home
very drunk, and—a rather unusual thing for him—in a very bad
temper. Next morning, instead of going out at his usual time,
he loafed about doing nothing, evidently in a state of severe
depression. The day after, he told Nora that what she had
dreaded for a long time had at last taken place—he had been dis-
missed from his post as manager of his department. She urged
him to go at once to see his principals with a view to reinstate-
ment, but the decisiveness of his refusal suggested to her at once
that the occasion of his dismissal must have been very serious
indeed, or—and this seemed more probable—that it was the last
of a long series.
It would be wearisome and profitless to trace the steps by
which the family s fortunes declined as its head lost situation after
situation, sinking gradually from the managership of a large
department to the desk of a clerk at thirty shillings a week.
Before this was reached, the house had of necessity been given up.
They had gone into lodgings, and within four years from the
winding-up of the Limpan Motor, Limited, those lodgings were
on the top floor of a shabby-genteel lodging-house in a street off
the Edgware Road.
For the full thirty shillings never reached Nora s hands. Crofts
had become a confirmed, though seldom a violent drinker. It was
only by desperately hard work that she could manage to keep up
the semblance of respectability. Jane did a great deal of the
mending and cooking now, while Nora gave lessons in music and
drawing, in both of which she was proficient after the manner of
amateurs. As for Ted, his continued success formed the one
break in the cloud. For the last year and a half he had kept
himself at school by prizes and scholarships. He was now thirteen
and growing fast. Upon him Nora lavished all the affection for
which her vengeful heart could find room. And when at
Christmas he won an exhibition of fifteen pounds she rejoiced
exceedingly, not so much perhaps for the success itself, but because
among the beaten boys was Oscar Medlett, a big boy of fifteen.
From that time Nora had no doubt. Evidently Ted was to be
the chosen instrument. She had long since given up all hopes of
her father. When at night she brooded over the family wrongs,
she set down as equally accomplished facts, the death of her
mother, and the ruin of her father’s character.
And ever as the days went by and the clouds gathered darker,
religion became to her more and more a reality—an awful reality
it is true, and yet one to which she clung with an ever-increasing
intensity of purpose. She felt the universe to be incomplete with-
out Someone at its centre to enforce with unsparing hand the
sanctions of the moral law. The texts and phrases which speak
of the wrath of God thrilled her heart with a feeling akin to joy.
” He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh ; the Lord shall have
them in derision. ” ” Depart ye cursed into everlasting fire, there
shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” These are types of the
passages on which her soul, hungry and thirsty, loved to dwell.
She thought her cup of sorrow pretty full already ; but what
would she have said had she known that the bitterest drop was yet
to come ?
John Crofts had for some time been descending the ladder with
accelerated speed. He was now rapidly approaching the bottom
rung. His last piece of work—some copying—he had obtained
by pestering the solicitor whom he had formerly instructed to act
for him in the Limpan winding-up. By a similar process he had
extracted a couple of shillings on account, and this he had expended
at the nearest public-house. Consequently the work, when he
brought it back the next morning, was not only three hours late,
but so badly done, so full of mistakes and inaccuracies, he was
paid the balance due to him and told very curtly it was no use
applying for any more work there.
Half an hour afterwards he found himself in Fleet Street,
” stony-hearted Fleet Street,” without a penny in his pocket, and
without the prospect of getting one, while within he felt an
imperious demand for more liquor, that simply must be satisfied
somehow. He knew it was no use going to Nora. It was, he
was well aware, only with the greatest difficulty she could find the
bare necessaries of life, and he was by no means anxious to enter
into any conflict with her ; he had already learned to dread her
plain speaking. To look for work and then wait for a week
before getting any money, would be, he felt, quite intolerable.
Slowly and carefully—for he had learned to love loafing—he
reviewed every source from which he could raise money, and one
by one he pronounced them all sealed. Then a sudden inspiration
seized him. There was Medlett ! True, he had ruined him—
curse him ! but wasn’t that all the more reason for getting every
farthing he could, out of him ? Another thing struck him. On
two or three occasions he had received five-pound notes enclosed in
a blank sheet of paper, directed in a boy’s hand. He had wondered
whether they could have come from his former friend ; now he
felt sure of it, and at the thought of his wasted opportunities he
could have wept. Drink, which had killed his self-respect, had at
least scotched his yearning for revenge. In the light of those five-
pound notes and of future possibilities, he began to reconsider his
judgment. Perhaps Medlett was not so much to blame after all.
Anyway, it was foolish keeping up that sort of feud for ever. It
was absurd to talk about it as Nora did. That was just the
difference between a man of sense, a man of the world, and a
silly, hot-headed girl. Medlett must have a rare lot in him ; there
could be no doubt of that. He was junior partner now in his
firm and rolling in money, simply rolling in money. What a
lovely house he had, and as for hansoms, of course he never went
about in anything else. And to think that for years they kept
side by side as it were, rising step by step together. If it hadn’t
been for that stupid quarrel he should have been just where
Medlett was now.
The result of these cogitations was that he went home, and to
his great joy found his eldest daughter out. He made an excuse
to get rid of Jane, and going into Norah s room took from her desk
a sheet of paper, an envelope, and a stamp. Then he sat down and
composed a long letter to his former friend.
It was not an easy letter to write, but he was thirsty ; and
before long the deed was done. He pictured his destitution in
terms which were not ill-chosen, admitted that he had felt bitterly
against his friend, but added that time and the memories of the
past had softened his resentment, or he could never have brought
himself to ask for help. He besought his friend to procure him
work if he possibly could, and at the promptings of the aforesaid
thirst, introduced a postscript.
” A small loan for pressing necessities would be very ac-
Medlett received the letter the same evening, and carried it off
to his little smoking-room to digest with his dinner. He was
shrewd enough to read between the lines, knowing, as he did, a
good deal, and guessing more of Crofts’ present condition. As
he looked round the cosy room, self-complacency began to don-
tlie garb of kindness. The world had indeed gone well with
him. A quite remarkable success had attended his speculations.
It really seemed, he said to himself, reverentially, as if Provi-
dence were bent on rewarding his industrious and persevering
youth. And this poor devil had gone utterly to the wall—no
doubt there was a good reason for it somewhere ; Providence
knew how to discriminate between the wheat and the chaff.
Still, there he was, practically penniless.
” It’s no good finding him work, but I ll send him another
fiver,” was his conclusion ; for Crofts had been quite right
in his surmise : the previous notes had come from Hamp-
stead. Crofts, it need hardly be said, was delighted with
the result of his application, and spent a full week in the
public-house looking for work, returning home at night with
more and more of the Devil’s hall-mark upon his flabby, sodden
At the end of the week he managed to find some more copy-
ing work, which brought in a few shillings. He never thought,
now, of taking anything home; but he was forced to spend a
few shillings on boots. The rest went, of course, to, or rather
towards, satisfying his thirst. Then he found himself once more
in the picturesque but uncomfortable condition of the empty-
pocketed. The idea of applying again to Medlett suggested
itself, and he quickly went through the various stages of indig-
nant refusal, calm consideration, enthusiastic adoption. Once
more he paid a surreptitious visit to Nora’s desk in her absence,
and once more he renewed his application for work, and managed
to introduce a statement to the effect that arrears of rent had
swallowed up the greater part of the five-pound note, and how to
provide the children with warm clothing for the winter he did
not know. As he wrote this, he said to himself that if this
appeal produced any substantial result, he would see that Ted had
an overcoat and Jane some new boots.
The letter reached Medlett at a favourable moment. The
fates were still propitious. He had followed his senior partner
into a speculation from which they had escaped with the spoils of
victory in the very nick of time, and his banking account was at
least £350 to the good by that transaction.
” Poor devil ! Again, so soon ? ” he murmured, and put his
hand into his pocket, fingering the loose silver. Then the Lim-
pan shares came into his mind.
” I ought to have told him ; I wish I had,” he thought, and
put his hand into another pocket. He drew from his pocket-
book a bank-note, slipped it into a sheet of paper, across which
he wrote without any attempt to conceal his handwriting :
” You must make this do. It is enough to give you a start. I
cannot find you work”
When Crofts received the letter and found a ten-pound note
enclosed, he shed copious tears of joy. And to prove to himself
that he could keep his word, and was a most tenderhearted father,
he walked Ted straight off to a ready-made clothes shop, and to
the boy’s undisguised amazement, selected and paid for a warm
winter overcoat at twenty-eight and sixpence. Such a coat as
Ted had not worn since the days of adversity began.
Now Ted was a very sharp lad and unusually observant. When
his father wanted to pay for the coat, he wondered where the
money was coming from. He saw him take an envelope from
his pocket, open it, unfold a sheet of paper, and produce a bank-
note. As he handed the note to the shopman the envelope
fluttered to the ground. Crofts had not noticed the fall. But
Ted as he picked it up, noticed three things : the handwriting
which was large and clear, the postmark which was Hampstead,
and the engraved seal which was a large, antique M. M and
Hampstead gave him a clue, and it occurred to him that perhaps
the wicked Medlett of whose iniquities Nora was constantly
talking, had been trying to make atonement. He had an in-
stinctive feeling, however, that his father would be annoyed at his
conjecture, and so handed back the envelope without a word.
But the hasty snatch, the guilty look, the quick suspicious glance
at him, all these confirmed in the boy s mind the truth of his
On their way back Crofts suddenly asked :
” Do you know of anything Nora wants badly ?
The boy’s first inclination was to answer ” food,” but he
checked it, and after a little consideration replied by mentioning a
pair of gloves.
His father nodded and smiled. At the next draper’s they
stopped, and Crofts bought two pairs of the best ladies’ gloves.
It was nearly dark when they reached home, but Nora was stand
ing by the window, trying to mend her one, shabby-genteel pair,
and to economise lamp oil at the same time. Crofts went up to
her, kissed her—a very unusual thing for him to do—and taking
out the gloves put them in her hands. She uttered an exclama
tion of surprise and looked up with startled eyes. He smiled.
” Take them, my dear. You needn t looked so scared. It’s
all right. Things seem to have taken a turn.”
She opened the paper and stared mechanically at the gloves.
Then she raised her eyes and saw Ted in the glory of his new
” Oh, that is good,” she exclaimed, ” I have been wondering
what he would do this winter for a coat.”
” Don’t you care for your gloves ? ” asked her father, in rather
an injured tone.
” Oh, yes,” she answered, ” one must wear some when one
goes out teaching, and these are mostly holes. But father, what
has happened ? Have the Limpans paid anything at last ? ”
Crofts was one of those who even under the pressure of trouble
can only tell the truth when it is, as it were, fortified by a certain
proportion of falsehood. And his conscience had the very con-
venient habit of crediting him with the truth, and ignoring the
rest. He had often repeated to Nora the story of the Limpan
shares, and the villany of Medlett had lost nothing of picturesque-
ness in his telling. But he had never been able to tell her the
absolute truth—that his law expenses had swallowed up all, and
far more than all the paltry sum he received after the winding-up
was carried through. Perhaps he may never have said so in so
many words, but he had certainly succeeded in leaving on her
mind the impression that there might still be something consider
able recovered when everything had been settled, and he had
even talked vaguely but largely of reconstruction. And though
she had learned long since that his statements must be accepted
with caution, yet this impression had somehow remained unshaken.
Her father shook his head.
” No. Don’t talk of Limpans, I hate the name.” Nora looked
at him with a smile whose meaning he could not read.
“Never mind, father,” she said. “A time will come.
Vengeance is mine. I will repay”
“Yes, my dear, certainly,” answered Crofts weakly, feeling
uncomfortably conscious of the scene that would ensue if Nora
should find out in any way the source of this new wealth, “but
we mustn’t bear malice.”
” Bear malice ? ” and her eyes seemed to blaze as she spoke the
words. ” It isn’t a question of malice. He has ruined you,
killed poor mother yes,” she went on with increasing excitement,
” killed her, as surely as if he had strangled the life out of her with
his own fingers, and brought us all to beggary. Bear malice,
indeed ! Why, to forgive or to forget such wrongs as these, would
be to encourage wickedness.”
” Well, well, well,” exclaimed Crofts fretfully, half irritated,
half cowed by her vehemence, ” you needn’t work yourself up into
a passion, Nora. What is there for supper ? Stale bread and
Dutch cheese I suppose. I think I’ll run out for a minute and
see if I can get a bit of something.”
But Nora knew what running out for a minute meant.
“Let Jane go,” she said. “She hasn’t been out all day, and
she’s a capital little shopper.”
” No,” he answered, ” she’d be sure not to get what I want.”
Which was perfectly true.
He went out about nine, and came back half an hour after
closing time quite drunk and very cheerful.
As he pulled himself up to the top flight of stairs, Nora opened
the sitting-room door, a candle in her hand, and crossed the passage
to the box-room in which she and Jane made shift to sleep.
He saw the light and looked up.
” Shay, Nora, hey ! Do n go bed yet. Wansh hav’ li’l talk—
Shtop, d’y—ear ! there’s goo’ girl—I’m all ri’ tell you—Medlett
sholly goo’ f’ler—been drinkin’ ‘shealth.”
The light disappeared. Fortunately perhaps for him, Nora had
not caught the last sentence. But she had heard enough to fill
her with a feeling only too nearly akin to loathing. She blew
out the candle, for the moon was full, and artificial light was
an extravagance. As she undressed, she looked round the miser
able little room, and each squalid detail from the. cracked, rickety
glass to the torn and dirty window curtain, seemed to mock and
exult over her. Inch by inch, in spite of all her efforts, they
were sinking. Jane was growing up a simple drudge, and her
hands were beginning to look like those of any litttle maid-of-all-
work. There was Ted to be sure, and that thought generally
brought back courage if not cheerfulness. But to-night her
gloom was too deep for any dispersal. No matter how successful
he might be, his success would come too late to save the rest of
them. She could not go on like this for another twelvemonth,
whatever happened. Then another thought, never far remote,
leapt to the front—yes she could. One year, two years, ten years
if need be, till the day of recompense. He, no doubt, was lying
in his snug bed, sleeping the sleep of the just, surrounded by
every luxury, heaping up riches month by month. Ah, she must
pray. And then with clenched hands and eyes staring straight
upwards, she poured forth a silent passion of imprecation so eager,
so vehement, that though no word was uttered, it seemed to
choke her. She ended with ” Our Father,” which she repeated
from old habit. The forgiveness clause presented no more
difficulty to her than does the Sermon on the Mount to an army
“If he had merely injured me, I daresay I could have forgiven
easily enough,” was the only explanation she vouchsafed her
conscience, but it was quite sufficient.
A fortnight later Nora returned home one dull, foggy night,
between nine and ten. It was her late evening, and she was
fairly tired out. Her feet were damp, for the soles of her boots
were in holes, and the long walk home—her pupil lived in Camden
Town—had left her limp and cross. However, Jane had some
hot tea ready, and though she felt too tired to eat the bread and
butter which was ready cut for her, the mild stimulant refreshed
her. She sent the child off to bed, and sat down to her nightly
task of mending clothes. Ted was doing some extra work with
a view to some new prize he was trying for. About eleven his
yawns became so frequent that in spite of his protests she insisted
on his going to bed. Then for some time she was left alone to
her mending and her thoughts. These were as usual of a sombre
description. The gleam of brightness which had come with the
last accession of wealth had vanished. Indeed the mysterious air
assumed by Crofts when she pressed him as to his source, had
occasioned her fresh uneasiness. Her faith in her father was so
grievously shaken that his honesty did not seem to her quite above
suspicion. But she never forgot where to lay the ultimate burden
of blame. ” It is all his doing,” she murmured. ” How long, oh
Lord, how long ? ”
She was surprised to hear the hall door open. It must be her
father she knew, every one else was in, but for the last week he
had been drinking, and seldom came home before midnight. She
was still more astonished to hear the sound of conversation, faint
at first, but growing louder as the talkers mounted the rickety
stairs. One voice she soon recognised—that of her father,
evidently half intoxicated. The other voice sounded familiar,
yet she could not say to whom it belonged. Every time she
heard it she seemed to be on the brink of recognition, but when
it ceased she found it had eluded her. The staircase was a long
one, with a rather sharp turn about half-way between the floors.
She could not imagine who her father’s companion could be. For
one moment the idea that it was a policeman crossed her mind,
but she instantly rejected it ; her father’s voice, though she could
not distinguish the words, sounded perfectly placid. Then it
struck her that he was probably bringing one of his public-house
acquaintances home with him. He had never done such a thing
before, but the unforeseen had happened so often in her experience,
she felt as though nothing could surprise her greatly. Meanwhile
the steps were mounting, but very slowly, the narrow, creaking
stairs. She knew the landing was quite dark, for the floor under-
neath was unoccupied, and she felt no inclination to show a light.
And now as the footsteps turned the angle of the staircase, she
could distinguish what was said. Her father’s articulation was
subject to what he himself sometimes alluded to as ” a slight
affection.” The stranger spoke, and again she racked her memory
to link that voice with its appropriate name.
” That’ll do—I won’t come any further. I’m quite satisfied.
I will send to you to-morrow.”
Then she heard her father speaking in a manner laboriously
slow and portentously solemn.
” Berrer come up now you’r ‘ere. You shtand there. I’ll go
Then silence, followed by the sound of an unsteady step, and
the creaking of the crazy baluster as if some one were clinging to,
or leaning heavily on it. And then after a moment’s pause there
came a strange shuffling sound succeeded by a noise—half-sob,
half-scream—and that followed by a horrid thud, thud, thud, the
sound of something heavy falling down stairs.
Nora sprang to her feet, took the candle from the table, and
threw the door wide open. As she did so she heard the other
voice exclaim in a horror-stricken tone :
“Good God, Crofts ! what have you done ? Are you much
hurt ? ”
The draught from the quickly opened door extinguished her
candle, but before it went out she saw for one short moment
the face of the stranger. It was Medlett—the enemy of the
The shock of the discovery drove the thought of her father out
of her mind for the minute. The one idea that seemed to
dominate every other was this—that the very man upon whose
head she had for years been invoking the wrath of heaven had,
in some mysterious way which as yet she could not divine, been
delivered into her hands.
It was his voice that broke the spell.
” For God’s sake, Nora, get a light ; your father has tumbled
down those cursed stairs and hurt himself. Hark how he groans.”
The door of the third room opened and Ted appeared in his
night-shirt, a candle in his hand. He had been reading over his
lessons in bed.
As the flickering light revealed Medlett’s face all white and
drawn, her tongue was loosed :
“You killed my mother, and now you have murdered my
father,” she said in a strong, harsh voice.
Medlett had not sufficient imagination to be susceptible to
” Don’t talk rubbish,” he said, roughly. ” Here, you boy, bring
Ted obeyed, and at the same moment Mrs. Rouch, the land-
lady, in a very ancient, pink flannel dressing-gown, hastily tied
round the waist with a piece of sash-line, came puffing upstairs, a
kerosene lamp in her hand.
“Dear, dear,” she panted. “Whatever ‘as ‘appened ? Oh, the
turn it give me, to be sure. I thought it was the chimbly gone.
Oh, bless ‘is ‘eart, poor man, ‘is ‘ead must ‘ave caught the edge of
one of the stairs ; they re beastly sharp at the sides. Look, ‘e’s all
smothered in blood. Oh, Mr. Worrall,” she added, as the first-
floor lodger appeared in his shirt sleeves, “just bring a nip o’
brandy ; there’s a good soul.”
” All right, mum,” replied Mr. Worrall, who was a railway
porter, and had an ambulance certificate. ” Let s look at ‘im fust.
Alcol’s the very wust thing in many cases.”
He spoke very slowly, in a deep bass, and Mrs. Rouch was
silenced. And as he stooped and straightened out the huddled
figure, and then gently felt for the wound, they all gathered round,
” There’s a ‘ole, sure enough,” he at last pronounced, ” and a
fracture I should say, but whether comminooted or not I can’t
tell. It’ll be a orspital case, mum. I’d better get a policeman to
bring the ambulance round.”
“No, no,” exclaimed Medlett. “Get a cab and take him to
the nearest hospital at once—St. Mary’s, I suppose.”
” What I want to know is ‘ow did all this ‘appen ? ” suddenly
interjected a sharp, thin voice. It was Mr. Rouch who appeared on
the scene, fully dressed, having stayed behind to complete his toilet.
The Yellow Book—Vol. XI. O
Nora stepped forward and pointed to Medlett.
“That man pushed him down stairs. He ruined us years ago.
I suppose he came to gloat over his work. I heard them quarrel-
ing on the stairs.”
She spoke in short, jerky sentences. Her words seemed to
choke her. Her father would die, she had no doubt of that, but
he should not die alone or unavenged. And as she stood there,
” white as chalk and ‘er eyes all a blazin'” —so Mrs. Rouch sub-
sequently described her appearance—the intensity of her passion
powerfully impressed her audience. Even Medlett, to whom the
possibility of such a charge had never occurred, felt a sudden chill
of fear as he realised the position in which he might find himself.
He showed, however, no sign of this, when he answered, addressing
Mr. and Mrs. Rouch :
” It is true I used to know him years ago, and lately he has
come begging over and over again. I helped him time after time.
To-night I happened to meet him. There was a block near the
Marble Arch, and my cab had to stop. He saw me, got on
the step, and asked me to lend him a couple of sovereigns to get a
sewing-machine for his girl—”
” Liar ! ” interjected Nora, going, if possible, a shade whiter.
” I saw,” continued Medlett, taking no notice of the in-
terruption, ” that he was half intoxicated, and it suddenly
struck me that he might be imposing on me by his tales of
poverty, and at the same time he did not seem in a state to find
his way home safely, so I told him I would give him the money
he wanted, and perhaps more, if he would take me home with
him. He got in. When we reached this house the lights were
out. He had no matches. I had only two, and these went out
in the passage. We had to feel our way upstairs, and he, in his
condition, kept lurching and slipping about. Before we got to
the top landing, I told him I was satisfied and would send him
what he wanted. He wouldn t hear of my going, and asked me
to wait while he went up alone and got a light. A minute after
I heard a lurch and a sort of scream. Then his body come bump-
ing down, and nearly knocked me over.”
Nora stamped her foot with rage, for she saw that the mention
of “my cab” and the sovereigns had produced a marked effect.
“Isn’t it enough,” she cried, “to have killed our mother and
murdered our father, but you must slander him before the breath
is out of his body. As though he would have touched a penny or
your miserable money. He would have died sooner. He hated
you almost as much as I do. ‘Slip,’ indeed, when I heard you
say, “Good God ! what have I done ?'”
“That looks bad if it’s true,” said Mr. Rouch, in an audible
aside to his wife.
“I’ll swear I never said anything of the kind,” cried Medlett,
who had entirely forgotten what he had said.
Ted, who had set down his candle and gone over to where his
father lay, with a roughly extemporised pad under the wound, looked
up quickly, and was upon the point of speaking, when he caught
sight of Nora’s eyes fixed on him with a peculiarly stern and
forbidding expression. And the moment she saw she had arrested
his attention, she made a hurried, imperious gesture, which he
rightly interpreted as a command to hold his tongue.
So for a few minutes they kept their watch in silence. The
injured man seemed to labour more and more in his breathing,
and his face grew, or seemed to grow, more dreadfully livid. At
last the street-door opened, and Mr. Worrall appeared, followed
by a policeman and an exceedingly well-groomed man, whom
both Mr. Worrall and the policeman treated with marked respect.
The doctor—for such he was—knelt down at once by the
patient’s side and commenced his examination. He felt his pulse,
pulled open his eyes, held a light to the pupils, and then felt with
his fingers for the wound in the back of the head. Then he
” Better take him to the hospital at once. It’s just possible he
may become conscious before—before the end. You have the
ambulance there ? ”
The policeman nodded. ” The other man’s got it downstairs.”
” Is there no hope ? ” asked Nora, in a low, husky voice. Her
mouth and throat were parched, as if burned with fever.
The doctor shook his head gravely, but gave no verbal answer.
“Then I charge that man with the murder,” she cried, pointing
to Medlett, her concentratedjiassion seeming suddenly to liberate
her voice, which rang out clear and strong.
“Can’t do that, mum, while the party’s alive,” said C 68, the
suspicion of a smile hovering over his expressionless countenance.
” You can make any statement you like at the inquest, you know,”
he added, soothingly.
She made no further remark, and Medlett, after giving his name
and address, and requesting the doctor, on his behalf, to super-
intend the removal to the hospital, drove home in a cab.
Nora accompanied the little party, and waited till she heard the
doctor s verdict, that there was no immediate danger, that in all
probability there would be no marked change for several hours ;
recovery was absolutely hopeless.
It was striking one when she got back. She had the key with
her, and let herself in quietly. The reaction from the intense
excitement of the last hour or two was upon her ; for the first
time, perhaps, in the course of years, she felt a craving for
sympathy. It would have been a comfort to have had even Mrs.
Rouch to talk to ; anything was better than this cold, black
solitariness. But the distant sound of muffled snoring was the
only sound that fell upon her as she carefully felt her way upstairs.
Would there be a light up there, she wondered. She shuddered
at the thought of the dark, silent rooms, and she stopped, pressing
her hands upon her forehead, trying to remember where she had
put the matches. But as she turned the fatal angle in the staircase,
she saw with joy the sitting-room door slightly open, and within the
glow of light. Still walking warily, for fear of waking Jane, who
had slept undisturbed through all the commotion, she nevertheless
quickened her steps, and pushed open the door with a sigh of
relief. To many people the close, untidy, ill-furnished room
would have looked cheerless enough ; but compared with what she
had pictured and expected, it was delightful. There was a little
fire in the grate, and a kettle on the hob. Two candles stood on
the table, and half a loaf and a piece of butter, accompanied the
teapot and cup that were set opposite her usual chair. On
another chair drawn up to the table, asleep, his head resting on
his outstretched arms, sat Ted. As she saw him and noted the
preparations for her return, her eyes filled with unwonted tears,
and with a sudden impulse she stooped and kissed his forehead very
Gentle as the touch was it woke him. He looked up for a
moment half dazed, then came to himself with a start.
” Oh, Nor, is that you ? I was dreaming about the old house.
I thought I was a little chap in bed and mother came up to kiss
She smiled on him, but laid her fingers on her lips and softly
closed the door.
” What do they say at the hospital ? ” asked the boy.
The question recalled her from her melting mood. The lines
round her mouth seemed to harden, as she answered quietly :
” They say there is no hope. He may live a day or two, and
may possibly be conscious. We must go the first thing in the
The boy looked down and his lip quivered. Partly to make a
diversion she asked :
” Did you get all this ready for me, Ted ? ”
Yes,” he answered ; ” I had to borrow the butter and the
coals from Mrs. Rouch ; I couldn t find any in the cupboard.”
” It was very good of you, dear,” she said, fetching another cup
and filling one for him and one for herself.
They drank their tea in silence, and to please him she tried to
eat a piece of bread and butter. The tea, the light, the fire, the
simple sitting still, all seemed to refresh her; but deeper and most
comforting of all was the sense of human love and sympathy that
for the moment drove out the dogs of hate, and gave her peace
as well as rest.
Not for long though. The boy fidgeted about, and after
several false starts, suddenly said :
” Nor, I am sure you are wrong about Mr. Medlett.”
“What do you mean ?” she asked quietly enough, but every
nerve tense in a moment, and the dogs out on the trail again.
” I was awake, reading in bed, and I heard them come up.
They weren’t quarrelling at all ; and what Mr. Medlett said was :
Good God, Crofts ! what have you done ? I heard it quite
The dogs were in full cry now, but the fear that she might be
baulked of her vengeance just as the opportunity seemed to have
so wonderfully arisen, made her calm and wary.
” Look here, Ted,” she answered, ” you may be right about
that, or I may—I don’t know which is. But one thing is
absolutely clear ; that man—don’t call him ‘Mister’—ruined us.
Mother never got over it, it was that killed her ; and, as for poor
father, you know it lost him his work and drove him to drink.
If this fall were a pure accident, Medlett would be his murderer
just as much, only he would get off scot-free—and that he
And she shut her lips tightly.
Ted sat thinking, and a pink flush mounted to his cheek.
Nora herself, with all her faith in his cleverness, had no idea how
he would carry himself in such a crisis. Like most strong-willed
persons she had great confidence in her own ability to bear down
opposition ; the only question in her mind was how long the
process would take.
After a pause the lad began again.
” Of course you can say what you think you heard ; but they
will be sure to ask me. And I shall have to speak the truth.”
” And let the man who killed your father and mother escape ?
Oh, for shame, Ted. Why savages have more feeling than that.”
” Savages know it is wrong to lie,” answered the boy slowly,
but with a hint of doggedness in his tone that irritated his sister
intensely. She began to feel with dismay her helplessness in face
of this new and unexpected obstacle.
They were both overwrought, and it was a toss-up which
temper would break down the sooner.
Nora made one more eftort.
” Ted, I am older than you, a good deal ; you have obeyed me
for years in little things ; now that I ask you to obey me in a
big thing, I am sure you won’t refuse and break my heart. If
that wretch escapes, I shall lie down and die.”
There was another pause, a long one this time. She leaned
back and watched his face with devouring eagerness. If this appeal
failed she had no resource, no hope.
It seemed to her an interminable time before he spoke. He
was rather incoherent but quite resolved.
” It’s no use, Nor, I can’t tell a lie like that to get a man hanged
when I don’t believe he’s done it. I’m sure it was right what he
said—that he had been sending father money for ever so long. It
was his money bought my coat and your gloves.”
She saw she was beaten, and the tension of the strain she had
been putting on herself was too great for her self-control. She
abandoned herself to a storm of passion, hysterical in its violence.
One sign of restraint she still showed—she made no loud noise.
She showered on the boy every adjective of reproach and contempt
her not particularly abundant vocabulary supplied—mean-spirited,
ungrateful, cruel, cowardly, stupid, these were some of the epithets
which preceded what sounded like a half-finished curse.
Half-finished, for before she could complete her sentence, the
boy jumped to his feet, his cheeks crimson, his eyes sparkling, his
breast heaving with passion.
” Cowardly, mean, cruel, ungrateful, am I ? ” he cried, ” and
what are you ? You who would swear away a man’s life. Yes,
I know you heard the same as I did. You daren’t look me in the
face and say you didn’t. Why, you’re no better than a murderess
yourself. You are no sister of mine ; there, I’d sooner die than
go on living with you.”
And he rushed out of the room, slamming the door after him.
The sight of his fury and the sound of the door sobered her.
She sat up and listened for any sign of movement in the house.
She heard Ted go into his own room ; then there was silence.
Jane even if she had been awakened was evidently not alarmed.
Relieved as to this, she lay back and began to think. Once
more she lay as if waterlogged in the trough of a storm. She felt
very, very tired ; the future seemed utterly blank of hope, and yet
she must think, think, think. Her head was aching with a dull,
persistent pain that seemed part of the universal misery that sur-
rounded her life. She kept losing the thread of thought, begin-
ning with the events of the night, then wondering what she was
thinking about, and having painfully and laboriously to go over
the ground again. At last with infinite pains she fixed her
attention on Medlett, and slowly, clinging to him as the central
figure, reconstructed the whole story. Then she remembered
what the boy had said about his sending money. Had her father
really stooped to beg from their enemy ? It seemed impossible,
and yet—now she came to think of it there were several things
that occurred to her, and made her shudder lest it should indeed
prove to have been so. As she looked round the room, her eyes
rested on a coat that hung against the wall. It was the jacket
Crofts used to sit in while at home. She got up and walked
across the room, for a sudden idea had struck her. She put her
hand into the breast pocket and took out half a dozen letters and
papers. She opened the first, it was an answer to an application
for work. The second gave her the information she was seeking.
The envelope had the monogram M on the flap, and the sheet of
paper inside was headed with the Medletts’ address at Hampstead.
On it was written the following brief message :
” You have had £30 in less than three months. I cannot send
more at present.—W.M.”
It was all true then. Medlett s money had been helping them
to live. The thought was almost intolerable. She went to the
work-basket and took out two pairs of gloves. With the aid of
the scissors she cut them into shreds, and threw them into the
fire. This done she once more sat down in the chair and took
up the burden of her thoughts. She had made revenge—justice
she called it to herself—the goal of her life, but how it was to be
reached she had never been able to divine. And now when quite
suddenly the opportunity presented itself, only one obstacle
stood in the way. The boy for whom she had worked and
sacrificed and half-starved herself, of whom she had grown so
proud and of late so fond, in whom she had seen the chosen
instrument of vengeance, this boy was the fatal hindrance that
had ruined her plans and blighted the one strong hope of her life.
She knew nothing of the irony of fate as the old Greeks conceived
of it, but she felt as if she had been made the sport and jest of an
unseen power against whom it was useless to fight.
And as she realised the fact that the last five years of her life,
with all its pains and humiliations and heartburnings, had been
simply thrown away in utter futility, another thought pierced her
with poignant pain. One element in her daily life had sweetened
and made it tolerable. It was the affection of her favourite
brother. And now that had gone too, gone irretrievably, the
last, and perhaps the most futile sacrifice on the altar of revenge.
She remembered his thoughtfulness for her this very evening. It
had been like healing to her bruised and angry spirit. It had
called up, or called back for a few blessed moments another and a
better Nora. And now he hated her—would have nothing more
to do with her, would not call her sister, called her murderess
instead. And she had cursed him, the boy whom she now dis-
covered she loved with a love stronger even than her hate.
Ill-nourished, overworked, her nerves shattered by this night’s
experiences, the thought of all her misery fairly overcame her.
She threw herself on the floor and broke out into hysterical sobs,
biting her lips hard to prevent their being audible, and in a last
attempt to keep some vestige of self-control. Her loneliness
appalled and crushed her. She had sacrificed Jane and the other
boys to Ted that through him she might taste revenge. She had
never gained their love, and his she had won only to fling it away
again. And so at last, after all these years, it dawned upon her
too late that she was the victim not of blind fate or of malignant
powers and principalities, but of her own hard heart and stubborn
will. It was she herself who with cruel and relentless hand had
exacted from her own starved and prisoned soul the very uttermost
” Oh ! dear Nor, what is the matter ? Do wake up. You
frightened me so dreadfully.”
She had fallen asleep, utterly worn out ; and woke to find
herself still on the floor, with Ted kneeling by her side, in his
shirt sleeves, his face stained with tears.
” Please forgive me, Nor. I didn’t know what I was saying.
I think I must have been mad. Please don’t make me do that.
Any other way I will help you to get your revenge.”
She raised her head from his coat which he had slipped under
her as a pillow. As she saw his anxious expression and the signs
of recent tears, as she heard the tone of his voice, the lines of her
face relaxed into a smile almost like that of a happy child. She
had been living for years among people whose language was
more forcible than polite. She was still under the influence of
strong excitement. The joy of rinding again that which was lost
overcame her. Let one or all of these mitigating circumstances
excuse her manner of speech as she sprang to her feet and kissed
him on the lips :
” Damn revenge ! It’s love I want.”
By T. Mackenzie
YES, you would have me know that it is within the little casket
held level below your tiny, pointed chin, but you forget I
can look into your solemn, omniscient eyes, and read that the
secret lies within them too. Never was mystery more safe than
in your keeping, you weird little creature, with- eyes of a Sphinx
and mouth of a baby. Was your secret known to the artist who
painted you, to him who gave you that thrilling look, over-
teeming with what you can never tell ? Where two persons
know, there concealment is weak, so I am assured that neither
the painter who conceived you, nor I who am in love with you,
can share the knowledge you were created to hide. You are so
sure of it that you look me through and through, guiltless of
having any treasure which no one may share. ” Why need I
fear you ? ” I read in your eyes, ” I hold what you can never
know. I am Mystery, and exist only so long as no one has my
Little positive negation ! Like to-morrow, which never is but
always to be with us, you offer perpetually what you will never
grant. Do you know that you tempt me well-nigh beyond
endurance with that wistful, eldritch beauty, and, madman that I
become, I would that you were a living thing that I might kill
you, and so annihilate the rigid negation of your obstinate self-
control. Have you no compassion for us poor humanity, with
our infinite capacity for needing, that you should sur-taunt us with
that inexorable look of denial ? You glory in your power, there
is satisfaction about your lips, and you hold the casket lightly to
show that it is hopelessly beyond our reach. Indeed, it seems to
me at times, that you are offering the little bronze treasure to the
world at large, saying :
” Here, take my Secret ! ” knowing that you but invite in order
I wonder did you ever live on earth ? Sometimes you seem to
me to be a worldly little person, made to drive a man distracted
for the want of you. It gives you more satisfaction to say No
than Yes ; your baby mouth may be willing and weak, yet your
eyes are always stern, and see too far to care for what is near.
Who once gained your soul, however, would gain it for all
eternity. Steadfast is the watchword of that soul, union or
purpose, oneness of design, truth absolute are its attributes.
I like to sit here beside you, while the dim light of London day
suggests the neutral hue of dusky hair that might be brown and
shadowed eyes that might be blue, and fancy that once you were
a living girl, an artist’s model, and, had you lived, might still be
in the fulness of sweet womanhood.
I am sure that you are dead. I like to fancy that you fulfilled
one duty to the artist and that then you died. Life could not
have wanted you longer, having made you what the picture on
my wall reflects. For all trivial purpose in the world, surely of
all maids you were most unfit. When I think of you as leading
the life of any girl whom fate has brought near my path, I can-
not but smile at the incongruity of the notion. That you lived
is, I grant, a fair thought, but that you should be and act as
other women is an absurd one. Who ever possessed a personality
like yours that you should be expected to resemble another ? I
would as lief imagine that I had two mothers, that two moons
ruled the sea’s tide, as fancy that any one like you in being and
in face ever set foot upon this stony world of stumbling. The
very sweep of your hair falling parted round your face is unique,
the colour of your eyes, neither blue nor green nor grey is un-
paralleled. Who else had hands like those upholding the casket,
unless perhaps it were he, whose stroke upon the lyre made the
mountain tops to bow in adoration ?
All around you is dark, mystic, suggestive ; the delicate tender-
ness of your face against the gloomy canvas is like the petal of a
wild rose adrift upon a murky stream, white and pink and leaf-
* * * *
There are those to whom Mystery is a thing of horror. The
unseen offers suggestions so unthinkable that the mind turns
drowning to what is comprehensible. To such as these my
picture will never be a thing of joy. It offers nothing that the
mind of man can fathom, and the thoughts it awakens bear no
Some there are, and I am or this category, to whom pure
happiness is only possible when all that pertains to the intellect of
man is in abeyance, and the unreasoning, unstudied, uncalculating
part of him is in the ascendant, jubilant in the recklessness of
nature—divinely the brute. Ascetism may recoil at the words,
philosophy be shocked, nevertheless our most glorious passions are
those which are instinctive. Motherhood, Heroism, Love, do
they spring from the intellect ? Irrational, if you will so name
them, these instinctive, animal feelings have not lowered man-
kind ; contrariwise, they have prompted him to Godlike action
when reason would have made him coward.
We may revel in our science, classify and label our emotions,
we can never argue away the beauty of what passes the under-
standing, and to say that Mystery is an abomination is to despise
God and Life and Love and Hope.
With dismay I think on the dissatisfaction inevitably linked
with the solving of what was unknown, that bitter taste under-
lying so much that is rapturous on earth, and I look up at my
maiden with her Secret, and know that the greatest wisdom in
the world is hers.
By Reginald Turner
As I, his literary executor, arrange and destroy his papers, I
realise at last and to the full the tragedy of Alan Herbert’s
life. If ever man lived for his art, he did ; all that he had, of
health and strength, of means and leisure, he gave to what he be-
lieved that art demanded of him. And art was no cant word to him.
By talking of it he dazzled no clique, he became no lion of tea
parties, he gained no undeserved renown. Sincerity, in all the
plainness of that austere word, guided his actions and his
thoughts. He possessed all the prejudices which so many of his
kind affect, and for those prejudices he was ready to suffer. I have
known him ill for a week from the hand-shake of a professional
journalist, though several of his intimate friends were occasional
contributors to the evening papers. Having known him all my
life, I never took him quite seriously. At school and at home I
had never detected anything abnormal in him, but, as boyhood is
not critical of character, this is not surprising ; and I must confess
that his parents, pastors and masters, who were all grown-up,
thought him unremarkable. I never thought about him till my
third year at Oxford. He was in his second year, and though I had
seen him frequently while he was yet a freshman, I had never had
cause to separate him, in my mind, from any of the other men I
The Yellow Book—Vol. XI. P
knew. The first time he surprised me was one day in the beginning
of the October term. I had come up from the river after trying
some of the freshmen for the boats, and I looked in at his rooms
on my way to my own ” Diggs.” At that time, Alan was a very
good-looking fellow of twenty-one, and as I saw him in his chair
with a book in his hand, it struck me for the first time that he had
a student’s face. After a few moments’ conversation, I happened
to ask him what he was going to read for his final schools ; he
seemed to me like a man who would read history, not being scholar
enough for “greats,” nor plodding enough for a pass. ” I think,” he
answered, ” that I shall not take my degree. Reading for a school
narrows one.” I had heard idle or stupid men say that before, and
I told him that being at the ‘Varsity one might as well do some-
thing and read with some object in view. As I said it his face lit
up, and he answered :
” Do something ? I intend to ! I am reading with an object in
view. A month ago I had no object. I intended to get a decent
class and then go down and see what life I should drift into. But
to-day my whole life is changed. You have heard of religious
conversions. There are other kinds. I have been converted, I
have found salvation, and I intend to live—don’t laugh at me !
—for Art. I am not going to shrink from any of the hard-
ships which such a decision brings with it. I take myself
seriously, I believe in myself, because I know that concentration
and determination always gives a man his heart s desire. Look
at this book, it is the life of Balzac, perhaps the greatest
literary character of all time, if we consider his circumstances
and his influence. In this book I have found my salvation.
Before I die I will produce a work which shall be abiding,
which shall be my raison d’être, and by which I shall gain the true
immortality. I am feverish now, the heat of conversion is upon
me, but I believe I have strength enough of purpose to persevere,
for long years, for a lifetime, till at last I conquer. I know I
seem to you now to be a prig, but I am not a prig. I am
sincere ! ”
I saw indeed that he was in earnest, and I confess I was sur-
prised and touched. ” Are you going to write a magnum opus ?
I asked, without any attempt at a sneer, but half in fun.
“The quantity of my work I cannot yet decide, its form lean-
not yet tell, but neither concerns me very much. The smallest
stars are those which shine the brightest.”
” It is perhaps because they are the furthest off that they look
small,” I murmured.
” I know,” he went on, without noticing my interruption, ” that
most men who have done great things in quality have also produced
a large amount of work, but that is perhaps an accident, certainly
not a necessity, and I shall do nothing in a hurry. Balzac pro-
duced for ten years work which was but a preparation, which
might have been destroyed without loss to the world and with
profit to himself. I shall prepare myself, but I shall not produce
till I feel within myself that the time has come, when I can give
to the world my heart s desire.”
” My dear Alan, you won’t find Oxford a very sympathetic
place,” I said, a little impatiently.
“No, I quite think that, and I shall not stay, when I
have exhausted all it can give me for my purpose. I shall
travel and I shall live alone ; fortunately I shall be able to
live my own life. But as yet I am in confusion, I have
formed no plans either for studying the works of others, or
for forming my own, but I am in earnest, and that s the great
That night we dined together, and 1 found him so distrait a
companion that I vowed to see little of my enthusiast till his mania
had worn off. For weeks I saw nothing of him, and one day,
towards the end of term I was surprised to hear that he had been
” sent down.” He had been out all night and could give no better
explanation than that he had gone out, and, forgetting rules and
time, had walked all through the night, till, at six o’clock in the
morning, he had astonished the porter by demanding admittance at
the lodge. Of course neither Don nor Undergraduate would
believe such a story, and so he was told that he would be rusti-
cated for a year. I went to see him before he departed. When
I got to his rooms, he was packing his books, and as I was trying
to say something by way of sympathy, he shrugged his shoulders
and told me that it was the first sacrifice his purpose demanded of
him, and he -didn t regret it. His people at home would not
understand him, but he should hope for as little unpleasantness as
his father’s time with the birds (it was November) would allow
him. And, after all, he said the Varsity was never kind to
dreamers.—” Look at Shelley ! ”
Two years passed before I saw Alan again. During the year of
his rustication, we heard he was abroad, and I received an occasional
letter from him, sometimes from Spain and sometimes from Italy.
When the year was nearly over I got a long letter from him.
He told me that he could never come back to Oxford, with its
rigid rules and narrow ambitions.
” I am going to-morrow,” so his letter, dated from Paris, ran,
” to Croisset, there perhaps to feel the spirit of the great Master
steal over me. In the little rooms which I have taken I shall
study and ponder over that great life which devoted itself to
absolute perfection, and then when I feel I am sufficiently imbued
with the perfect spirit of the scholar and the artist, I shall come
to London and live quietly in my studio. How much nicer that
word ‘studio’ sounds than ‘study.’ The one conjures up all
beautiful, studious, and working things, the other merely conveys
the impression of vain learning and formless severity ! ”
The letter was long, but I won t quote more. I have here before
me, as I write, my answer to that letter, and I confess I feel rather
ashamed of it. For six months Alan stayed at Croisset, going
occasionally to Rouen to chat with the booksellers and study life
on the quay, very much after the manner of Flaubert, I suppose.
Then he suddenly left for Italy again. I fancy a reading party
drove him away from Croisset. At last one of my uncles told
me he had seen him in London. His mother sent me his
address. She seemed rather distressed about him, and begged that I
would try and get him to take some interest in life. I wrote to
him and he wrote back asking me to dine with him. He was
living in some rooms in an old house off the Strand, and when I
entered I noticed that his sitting-room was almost bare of furni-
ture. The wall was covered with long strips of paper, on which
were written what looked like genealogies. I was quite shocked
when 1 1 saw my friend. In place of his former vigorous bearing,
I found him thin, pale, and care-worn, and he certainly had not
been cheating himself by pretending to work, for his face was that
of one who studied by day and by night. As I looked around
me, I saw two or three chairs, a bare writing table, and on the
floor a heap of books in utter confusion.
“I thought we would dine at a restaurant,” he exclaimed,
evidently thinking I was looking for some signs of an impending
meal. ” We shall be more free to talk over old times. This room
is my studio, and while here I cannot take my thoughts from
my work. I’m afraid you’ll find me a bore and an egoist, but
living alone for two years with but one object in view doesn’t
improve one as a companion.”
We went out to dine, and I found that Alan had indeed not
improved as a companion. We talked of old times and friends, and
he told me something of where he had been and what he had done
since we last met. But our conversation soon flagged, and I was
rather glad when he suggested that we should take our coffee in
his rooms. When we got back, I saw that he flung himself into
his chair with infinite content, and when our pipes were lighted
and the coffee—excellent coffee by the way—was brought in, I
began to feel quite cheerful. ” And now, Alan,” I said, between
sips of coffee and whiffs at my pipe, “now that you are back in
London, you must neglect your friends no longer, and we shall
expect you to marry.”
He laughed. ” My friends are here on the wall, and as for my
heart, I have given that away. An artist’s life is a lonely one, he
has some hardships to endure, but he has compensations also. I
should have liked to marry and to have had sons and daughters to
carry me on into the future, but I intend to live in the heart and
memory of every one that knows what beauty in Art is. I
have certainly given my life and my soul to the service of Art.
Since that day in Oxford when I told you my ambition, I have
never faltered ; all my actions have been taken for one object
and though the way has often seemed hard, I have never
regretted it, for I knew I was paying the penalty of my choice.
I remember that day you asked me what form my work would
take. I couldn’t tell you then, but to-day I can. The prepara-
tion is over, the work begun. Will you smile when I tell you
how I have chosen to live ? Please don’t ; it means so much to me.
I may in the future write much, or little, I care not which, but I
am going to stand or fall, to stand I know it will be, by what in
English must be called the ‘short story.'”
” Yes,” I said, rather vacantly, ” the short story s the thing.”
” Why !
” Why ! I have always loved small gems rather than large ones.
They can be judged, comprehended, embraced, more completely.
Fiction involves creation. The characters are mine ; I invented
them, made them live, and they shall never die. Who was Hamlet ?
What woman gave him birth ? What vault holds his body ? Yet
he is more real than any general, whose name is written large on
bloody battlefields, or any king buried beneath a pyramid. Shall I
produce a Hamlet ? No ; for I wish my work to be not a monu-
ment but a cathedral. A perfect orchestra is more beautiful than
the most exquisite achievement of one single instrument. Nor
shall my puppets be mere creatures of the imagination. As I
conceived them, so have I traced their history. You see those
genealogies on the wall ? They are the ancestors of the persons in
my story. I will have justification for every word they utter,
reason for every step they take—reason and justification to
myself. The world who reads my story shall not know, but I,
the author will know, and knowing will convince. There is a
waiter in my story, a Marseillais, he does but little, says nothing,
is of no perceptible consequence. But do you think I would put
him down among my other characters, knowing nothing of him ?
I am far too conscientious. At Marseilles I studied the man, I have
invented for him a history, a family. No man springs from nowhere,
and those who read with eyes open will realise that here is a crea-
tion, ‘This waiter,’ they will say, ‘is not a mere garçon de café, but
a human being with soul and personality.'”
I shifted my seat. In fact I was rather bored and just a little
inclined to laugh ; only his extreme seriousness kept me at atten-
tion. Alan looked at me. He suggested whisky, and I gladly
accepted. I noticed he took none himself and asked him if
living in southern cafs had made him forsake whisky for
” I don’t
“I don’t drink spirits,” he said almost shyly, “I am afraid of
them. At any cost I am going to keep my head clear and my brain
untainted. I don’t want people to speak of my work as of that of
a mad genius. Above all else I must be sane, and spirits give an
unnatural energy, an excited imagination. To a satire or political
pamphlet, alcohol may give point, but the maker of beautiful
things must rely entirely upon himself and his lightness of touch,
his keen insight. His impartiality is bound to be impaired by
stimulants. I am afraid you think me a prig. I have warned you
before ! ”
” You punish yourself, at any rate, Alan,” I answered him.
“Great writers have managed to get on without such austerity,
and have even produced great work, if one can credit rumour,
while consuming quantities of whisky ; I thought it was what
one associated with—”
” With journalists and such creatures, not with real writers. I
will take nothing to vitiate my imagination, just as I will do and
see nothing to vitiate my taste. I never go to a music-hall or a
theatre. Idealist or realist, whichever you be, the theatre will
spoil you. How dramatists can allow actors to interpret inter
pret !—their works, has always been a very painful problem
As he talked, I realised to some extent what this man’s life was.
He was single-hearted, he believed in himself, and he sacrificed
himself to his opinions. I looked upon him almost with awe,
certainly with some apprehension, and I rose to go.
” Come and see me sometimes—often ! ” he said, as we shook
hands. ” I am generally alone, and occasionally lonely, so don t be
afraid of disturbing me. Friendship and the companionship of
friends can do no one anything but good.”
” Come and dine with me ? ” I asked him.
” No, society is different. You will find me here when you want
me, but I should not be an amusing visitor to you. Look! ” and
he pointed to a bundle of uncut books, ” here is my night s work—
Italian love songs. My hero writes one and he must know what to
avoid before he sets himself to the work. Ah ! My hero … for
five months I have searched vainly for his name. I have looked in
directories ; I have walked the streets looking at the names over
the shops, in vain. I have found no name to suit him—no name
which is his.”
” Why not try Smith ? ” I thought as I went downstairs. But
when I got to my cosy chambers, I felt myself to be a low brute
with no aim in life, and I thought of my friend reading his Italian
love-songs in his rooms off the Strand. I saw him continually all
through that summer. He steadily refused to leave London. His
work was really in progress, and whenever I came to town for a
day or two between my various visits in the country, I found my
friend hard at work.
” When is the Chef-d’Œuvre going to be finished ? ” I asked
him one day, and I silently prayed heaven it might be soon,
for Alan waxed thinner and paler as the summer gave place to
” I’ve been at it for over two years now and I shall finish it in
a few months,if all goes well,” he said, cheerfully. “But sometimes
I stop altogether. I look for a word for several days, and then
don’t find it in the end. There are countless other troubles
too wearisome to relate. When it is all over, I shall go to the
But he was never to go. As winter came on he fell ill, and yet
he stuck to work. Day after day, night after night, he was at his
desk, writing, almost letter by letter, his wonderful story.
One day (it was mid-way through November), on going to see
him, I found him frantically writing. His face was flushed and I
thought that on it I saw the mark of tears. When I entered, he
stood up quite still and looked at me. I saw that something had
” I must tell some one. I will tell you,” he gasped out. ” This
morning, I saw my doctor, and he tells me I have to die—only
three weeks more and perhaps I shall be dead ! ”
He took a stride to his table and snatched up his pen. ” But I
must finish this. I must launch it on the world. I must know that
it is safe. I shall never in this world know the estimation they put
upon my work, but I shall at least know that it is safe. I
realise now how hard it must be for a mother to die when her
child is about to begin life. But how much harder if her child
doesn t live and she goes out into the darkness, leaving nothing.”
” You are going to publish the story ? ” I asked. I felt that
commiseration for his fate would be out of place.
” I am going to send it to H—,” and he named the editor of
a well known Review. ” I shall send it with just my initials and
address. Perhaps H— may have heard of me and of my life. I
rather hope not. This gem shall have no borrowed light. It shall
go without a word into the literary world, there to take up its
place. But now I must be alone, I must finish my work. Good
And I left him. Every day I went to see him. Every day
he seemed more feverish, more unearthly. A week later,
when I called, I found him in bed, weary and feeble but quite
” It is finished,” he said. ” I sent it off this morning, and now
I have done. I hope I shall hear from him quickly. I wrote a
note with it, and said that I was going abroad shortly and should
hope to hear from him in a day or two.”
” Why not go abroad ! ” I suggested, though I saw clearly he
was far too ill.
” I have given my life for that one story, but I don’t regret it.
Most men die and leave nothing behind. I have given the world a
possession. I have given it my best.”
Day after day I sat with him. As I watched him dying, I
realised how singularly simple and devoted his life had been. And
he, we both, waited eagerly for news of his life s work.
One morning, a fortnight later, as I sat reading to him, a
passage from the Tentation de Saint Antoine, his landlady came in
with a note. I saw it was from the office of the — Review.
I stretched out my hand to take it, but he prevented me, crying
out with a petulant, childish anxiety.
” No, no, it is for me,” he cried, clutching at it.
Thus the note ran : ” Dear Sir,—We regret that your story,
which we have perused with interest, can find no place in our pages.
It is of no inconsiderable merit, but is somewhat crude and in
places ill-considered. We should advise you however to persevere
and in time no doubt you may produce something worthy.”
As he reached the end, Alan Herbert turned his face to the wall
“The Closed Manuscript”
By Constance Finch
“Alas ! that youth’s sweet scented manuscript should close.”
Rubalyat of Omar Khayyam
IN youth’s sweet scented manuscript we wrote,
All through the perfect, rosy summer days,
And when the nightingale’s delicious note
Toned with love’s orison ; in reverent praise
We chronicled our joy with pencilled lays—
In that sweet scented manuscript we wrote.
All night embalmed in rose leaves soft ’twas laid,
Till the pale parchment glowed with rose tints rare,
As fainting lips from which the blood has strayed
Glow when requickened ; and the perfume there
Tinged with its subtle essence all the air—
Since all night long embalmed so soft ’twas laid.
Alas ! we rolled it up one cloudy day,
When the rude winds of autumn ruffled it.
Torn was the leaf whereon no writing lay,
Yellow, it seemed, by no rose radiance lit.
And never more we twain therein have writ
Since it was folded up that cloudy day !
Bury it somewhere, Love, for ever rolled,
(Perchance some leaves shall always sweet remain)
Beneath a rose-tree, in the soft, dark mould,
For this same summer shall not come again.
Oh ! lest we mar it with our tears, our pain—
Bury it somewhere, Love, for ever rolled !
Chopin Op. 47
By Stanley V. Makower
LATE in the afternoon of the seventeenth of October, eighteen
hundred and eighty-nine, the atmosphere in the little private
room of the Hotel Saxony was a mixture of cigar smoke and
The crimson shades sank lower and lower over the candles.
In one or two places the wire frames had toppled forward
with their silk canopies, and the grease was guttering woefully,
creeping over the edge of the candle and hurrying into little
solid lumps which formed an ever-changing pattern down the
On the table were strewn the remains of a luxurious lunch ; a
confusion of fruit, flowers, and wine. The party consisted solely
” Oceana,” said the host, rising with his glass in his hand and
bending slightly forward to propose the toast, while he appealed
with his eyes to those round him. He was a young man, quietly
dressed in a suit of a thick, dark material, but a large sapphire pin
shone from his black satin tie.
The clear ” tink ” of glasses sounded as they met across the
Some one began to wave his glass, and to hum tempo di liaise :
I’d give the world to gain her,
She’s fair as any flower in the fields to see.”
He hesitated ; trying to recall the words, with a confused look
on his face, when another continued :
“I may be a duffer,
The scorn of men I’d suffer,
So long as Oceana won’t look down on me.”
The last line was sung as a chorus by the whole party.
The wine had flowed freely, and the utmost conviviality and
good humour reigned. They began to talk of Oceana’s last
appearance at the Ambassadeurs, when her yellow dress had been
pronounced a triumph, and the French papers had declared
that the long rows of yellow gas lamps had ” quivered with
One man alone did not seem to share the enthusiasm of the
He sat a little apart from them, running his shrivelled fingers
abstractedly up and down the stem of his glass.
” You look gloomy,” said one.
“I look what I am,” he said, quietly ; “nearly twice as old as
most of you here.” And he leaned his bald head heavily on his
hand as he looked at the group of faces around him.
A feeble protest was raised by one or two who, without wishing
to go into the details of age all round the table, were of opinion
that his theory was not to be supported. The host tapped him
mysteriously on the shoulder, shook his head at him, and laughed,
“Take some more hock and forget your age,” as from the
long-necked bottle he poured the amber-coloured wine into his
But the man only smiled faintly as he pushed an imaginary lock
of hair from his forehead, and murmured :
” I feel old ; sometimes it comes over me.”
There was a silence for a few moments, the querulous tone of the
speaker having checked the merriment of the company.
One of the red silk shades caught fire and fell burning upon the
table. Everybody rose to extinguish it, and sat down again dis-
consolately. Outside the lights were beginning to spring up
along the street.
The next few minutes passed again in silence.
” Let us go,” said some one at last.
The host rose toying with the pin in his tie, which he pulled up
slightly and then pushed back into its place.
” Come to my rooms,” he said, indicating a general invitation
by a vague look in his eyes. ” Suzanne Delisle is coming to play
No one dissented ; so they called for their hats and coats and
went one behind the other out of the hot room, while a voice
quavered out :
“The scorn of men I’d suffer,
So long as Oceana don’t look down . . . .”
It stopped suddenly as they stepped into the cold, foggy street.
They all shivered a little and then set out briskly. A walk of
five minutes brought them to a house.
The host after standing under the gas lamp outside the front
door and fumbling for some time with a bunch of keys, selected
one and quickly slipped it into the lock. As he pushed, the door
fell back noiselessly, leaving the key in his hand. When the
others had trooped past him he shut the door behind him and they
were left in darkness. Only the ends of two cigars glowed—tiny
circles of fiery red—as the owners puffed at them.
” Two flights, nine steps each,” said the host, ” then wait till I
get a match.”
They stumbled up until some one said, ” Stop.”
The host opened the door and vanished into the room to find a
A faint glimmer of green mist made luminous by the gas lamp
outside, indicated the position of a window, and over the landing,
where the party stood waiting for a light, floated a warmer air
loaded with the perfume of flowers which mingled with the heavy
smell of the cigars.
The host was some time finding the match-box.
” Ah, here it is,” he said at last, advancing to the door with it
in his hand.
The unwieldy figure of the old man passed by him and sank
into a large armchair close to the fireplace, in which glowed a
small heap of dull red coal. His eyelids were half-closed—for the
wine and the fog had made him drowsy, so that he did not see the
others as they followed the host in procession across the room.
He felt several people brush past him, then he heard a confused
babble of voices ; that was all.
Lights glimmered, changing the colour that hung before his
eyelids, and he began to imagine that he was in the little room
of the Saxony, and that, if he were to open his eyes, he would see
the table strewn with its confusion of plates and glasses. And the
The Yellow Book—Vol. XI. Q
figure of a man, rising with his glass in his hand and stooping
forward to propose a toast swam before him.
Then he thought he heard a noise as of the opening of a piano,
which threw him back to his boyhood, and he fancied that he was
at home and that his mother was playing to him.
They were in the little sitting-room with its walls crowded with
faded photographs of Rome and Pompeii in black frames. His
mother sat at the piano with her back to him : her head was
slightly turned so that he could see her profile, and her forehead
and hair were lit up by the candle-light.
Divinely fair she looked. And as he listened he felt in his hands
the touch of that silken hair which he stroked every night before
he kissed her and went to bed.
He was sitting at some distance from her, wrapt in wonder, for
her music was like magic.
Then it seemed to him that he closed his eyes in an ecstacy.
Now it was early morning in a forest, and he was treading
noiselessly across the carpet of damp, decayed leaves, winding his
way in and out of the stems of tall trees, whose branches were
dashed with dew. And all the vigour of youth was in his limbs as
he walked joyously, breathing in the soft, moist air, and shaking his
head to toss back the thick lock of hair that fell over his eyes.
Now he had flung himself down at the edge of a wide pool and
was gazing on its motionless surface. Reflected in it he saw the
image of his own face, young and beautiful.
And he smiled. And a light breeze sent a quiver through the
forest making the leaves rustle faintly.
The spirit of youth burned quick within him ; and he was filled
with vague desire to do some great emprise. On the surface of
the pool before him, floated the image of tall, waving trees.
Then as he looked deep down into the water the mirrored forest
melted away to the edge of the pool and before him rose a castle,
dark, mysterious, fronted by broad lawns with several towers in
dull purple, one taller than the rest.
Long and earnestly he gazed.
* * * * *
A sunbeam struck one of the mullioned windows, which opened
and a woman appeared, leaning forward as if to listen. Then the
window was closed again.
Far in the distance the tramp of hoofs, trample of hoofs.
Nearer they come, nearer and nearer.
Lo, a knight clad in shining armour on a white horse with flowing
mane. Now he is at the edge of the forest, now on the lawn, now
under the tower that is tallest, and his white horse prances and
caracoles, prances and caracoles.
And as the sun grows stronger the trappings of his horse flash
with bright gems, which scatter their light about him as he moves
in ever varying figures swifter and swifter.
The mullioned window is open again.
From below it come the sounds of many people bestirring
themselves. Now the full light of day is over the castle.
The knight dances up and down on his shining steed. Behind
him dance the shadows of an army of knights on white horses
which follow him in every movement. Wilder and wilder he
grows—swaying from side to side. And the shadows sway from
side to side. All through the day they dance in front of the castle
until horse and rider grow weary and jaded, and the knight stands
still beneath the tower that is taller than the rest.
And the shadows stand still.
A shower of rose leaves pours from the window of the princess.
Rose leaves, rose leaves, rose leaves. As they fall from her white
fingers a breeze blows them about, tossing them into endless
patterns, until a cloud of rose leaves is about the knight, and the
lawns are strewn with soft petals.
He turns his head to the window, and as he raises his vizor, the
twilight that falls upon his armour quickens to points of ruddy
Dimmer and dimmer grow the lights that flash from the
jewelled horse, as he rides away followed by the army of shadows,
and all is dark.
The sound of the running of innumerable small feet and of muffled
laughter comes now from the wood. Elves tear up and down
in front of the castle, which is all black save where a lighc
burns in the window of the princess. The laughter grows to
shrieks as they come in thousands, leaping and dancing fran-
tically in mimicry of the knight s dance. An elf mounted
on a rabbit scampers up and down the lawn, and each time
that he passes under the window of the princess, the light
Suddenly a gust of wind raises the dead leaves in the wood, so
that they are whirled aloft higher and higher in front of the
castle, rushing and crackling. They hit one another, tossed
hither and thither in their passage through the air until the wind
drops and they tumble, flying helter-skelter, jostling one another,
whispering, fluttering down to the ground.
Far in the distance the tramp of hoofs, trample of hoofs.
Dawn begins to glimmer. As the hoofs come nearer the
noise of the elves grows fainter. They scamper off to the
wood to bar the knight’s way. They pinch and scratch and
bite him, they tug at his helmet until it falls from his head,
but he presses onward : nearer, nearer, until the sunbeam
strikes the window of the princess, from which something
waves in the breeze, and the elves creep away with a faint,
The knight prances up on his white steed, at the back of him
are the army of shadows. At the window waving a long white
scarf the princess stands, and her eyes shine like stars.
A shower of rose leaves falls from her window. Rose leaves,
rose leaves, rose leaves.
Now she is seated on a pillion behind the knight, and they
ride off in a cloud of rose leaves, and the jewels on the knight’s
horse flash in the sunlight.
* * * * *
Was it a horse a white horse ?
How the rose leaves whispered and fluttered.
He rubbed his hand across his face and felt the wrinkles with
which it was indented, while in the darkness of his mind he was
vaguely conscious of a wide pool, over which the wind had sent
How his limbs ached. He half raised his eyelids and then
closed them again wearily, waving his hand feebly in front of him
as if to put away the reality that was breaking upon his dream.
But in spite of himself his eyes opened.
The fire had gone quite out, and he shivered slightly. Through
an arched opening at the end of the room he saw a woman with
auburn hair seated at the piano with her back to him. Her head
was slightly turned so that he could see her profile, and her hair
and forehead were lit up by the candle-light.
She was smiling to a group of men who stood round her.
The man in the armchair groaned a little. By his side was
a bowl of roses, the perfume of which filled his nostrils. He
shut his eyes for a moment, trying to see the picture of
the white horse, but it evaded him and his eyes would not keep
A man-servant entered with a lamp, revealing a room richly
furnished with carved oak. The walls were covered with oil
pictures in heavy frames. Here and there stood bronze statues by
modern French sculptors, and on the table upon which the lamp
had been placed, the soft yellow light fell on a number of curious
objects : old silver boxes, medallions in jewelled frames, tiny
porcelain vases, trays of coins and rings.
Suzanne Delisle rose from the piano and advanced into the
By Ada Radford
THE library in the house where I was born was a well aired
and well dusted room, but the things we kept in it were so
connected in the mind with dust and fustiness that it was difficult
to feel happy there.
There were preserved fish of various kinds hanging from the
walls, there was a large glass case of sea birds, one of many
varieties of inland birds, cases of minerals, and, all over the mantel-
piece, and on the shelves, there were little Hindoo gods, models
of Keltic crosses, models of every imaginable thing from Cleo-
patra s needle to the Eddystone lighthouse.
As a child I hated this room. Although it was called the
library there were few books in it. The writing-desk, where I
was often sent to do my lessons, was horribly uncomfortable and
in a bad light.
My lessons always took me a long time in this room, for al-
though I hated being there, and longed to be away, and off with
Lionel, the evil-looking gods, and the fishes glaring at me with
their glass eyes, chained me to the spot. I never felt at home,
and yet I remember that Aunt Lizzie had been all round the room
with me, and had told me the history of every object, where
father had bought it, and how much it had cost, and I could hear
my voice, as a sound outside me, saying : ” Yes, Auntie, did he
really ? ” and hers, like a nearer sound in answer, to my surprise :
” My dear child, that’s a trifle for a genuine antique.”
How I hated those birds and fishes ! Not only were they dead,
but the life had been dried, inflated, and stuffed out of them, and
horror of horrors, glass eyes had been forced into their senseless
And yet one day I heard Aunt Lizzie tell a lady she was calling
on, that I was wonderfully intelligent. ” It’s the kind of mind I
like,” she said. ” She’s like our side of the family, she takes
interest in external objects.”
I can see Aunt Lizzie’s bonnet now as she said it. The mauve
that blondes used to wear, and on one side, a daring arrangement
in imitation coral and sea-weed. Even in her bonnets Aunt
Lizzie s personality shone out, and very marked were the person-
alities of what I now learnt was my side of the family.
It did not improve the library to my mind that Aunt Lizzie
chose it as the place in which to hang large photographs of her
brothers and sisters. They were striking people ; I felt it as a
child when I met them, and now I am sure of it. Amiable,
strong willed and capable, they indeed were always interested in
external objects. They were a great contrast to the other side of
the family, my mother’s side, ” your poor dear mother ” as Aunt
Lizzie always called her, although my father who was also dead
was always referred to simply as John. Of my mother and her
people I knew little, our grandparents were dead and my mother’s
only sister was married and had a large family of her own in
” I think your poor dear mother did wonderfully considering
her people,” I remember Aunt Lizzie once said to me. ” They
never got on. No common sense. Fortunately your mother
married young, and altered a good deal. At first she had the
most unpractical ideas. She would have no nurse for you children.
She would tell her housemaid not to hurry home in the evening if
she were enjoying herself. She thought of every one before
herself ; that’s very pretty in a young girl, but it may be carried
too far. John’s influence steadied her. But I used to think that
John was just the least little bit foolish about her, although I like
to see a happy marriage ; but really John gave one the idea that
there was no one but Mary in the world. He sometimes neglected
his own people. It was not your mother’s fault, my dear ; no one
could have been more anxious to have us. John got an idea that
she ought to have quiet, and insisted on it, and poor Mary died
when you were six; and we might have brightened her last days
much more than we did, but for John’s obstinacy. Your mother
was a most lovable woman. I was almost glad John never noticed
her lack of common sense.”
I had very little to remind me of my mother. I had been
given a little packet of letters, of father’s to her and hers to father,
but I burnt them unread ; besides those I had nothing but a
few little trinkets. Dainty old-fashioned things ; beautiful,
although bought in the days of the worst taste. Little things
that his sisters would not have looked at. I liked them. They
strengthened a feeling I had that my mother had made her
impression on one member of the family of dominant personalities,
at any rate he had cared to know her mind and tastes, and I felt
more gently towards the ladies and gentlemen who hung in the
library with their marked features and heavy ornaments. To
one of them the family qualities had not been everything, and a
member of the family doomed as regards success had been made a
close study of. Still I was oppressed in the library, the features of
the uncles and aunts, the want of view from the window, the glass
eyes of innumerable birds, the height of the room, or the com-
bination of all these things, made my heart feel solid lead and my
head a disused machine. And it seems to me now in looking
back that whenever anything painful has happened to me it has
happened in that room ; if I have a nightmare I am there and
every object is in its place ; although last time I saw the most
hated of them, they were together in a heap (lot 99), at the
In that room I fought my first important battle and lost. I
think I was too anxious to be calm and logical. I knew my
brother’s opinion of girls. I knew that he had had a legal
training, and I knew that I had had no training. I wanted him
to tell me whether it would be possible for my trustees to advance
me some capital.
It would not have surprised him more if I had asked whether
he thought it well that I should keep a tame tiger, but he only
raised his eyebrows slightly. It was a possibility under the will,
he said, if the trustees were prepared to take a certain amount of
responsibility in the matter.
He sat at the desk, and I having put my tennis hat on one stiff
backed chair took the other, as near as the window as I could get.
I told him that I wanted it for educational purposes, and he asked
me what had been wrong with my education.
I told him that it had not left me in a position to maintain
” Let us be practical,” Lionel said, assuming the expression of
one of his uncles on the wall ; and he made a few notes on a bit
” When you are thirty,” he told me next, ” you will be
independent, because that little property of mother s falls to you
I was nineteen.
” Thirty ? ” I said quietly. ” I might as well be dead.”
Lionel did not argue that point. He looked at me critically.
I felt him notice my disordered hair and blue flannel blouse.
” You are pretty,” he said judicially.
I was annoyed that I blushed, but I said in a sufficiently matter-
of-fact tone : ” But not very.”
He acquiesced, and said, ” It’s difficult not to be pretty in this
climate at nineteen. I don’t think it will last.”
” No,” I broke in eagerly. ” It’s only complexion. Aunt
Lizzie said so a few days ago.”
Lionel looked a little surprised at my eagerness to go off, but I
knew well that my looks were being weighed against the pro-
bability of my doing anything. His next words confirmed my
” You’ll marry,” he remarked.
” Lionel,” I said in a tone so emphatic that again he raised his
eyebrows slightly, ” I shall not marry,” and I meant it.
Lionel smiled the smile of a man who has lived five years
longer than the person he is speaking to, and that person his
It was true that sometimes on our country walks I had wished
that I were engaged, for Jack and Lionel would not stop long in
beautiful places, and they would not let me pick things ; if I said
I wanted to, they would stuff my hands full of flowers and hurry
me along. If I saw something pretty across a stream and waded
for it, Jack would say : ” Do come on, stupid ! you’re getting
your feet wet ! ” and yet the bogs he’d have brought me through
that very day ! And I had thought vaguely, that the person I
was engaged to would not mind waiting for me, or be bored at
loitering. But I never had these ideas indoors, and the knowledge
that Lionel was weighing my chances drove all lingering romance
from my head.
” I have never had an offer,” I said, hoping that this statement
would have due weight with him in his final decision.
Lionel’s smile this time made me flush indignantly. I saw that
he was laughing at me.
” Aunt Lizzie had had more than one before she was my age,”
I said coolly, ” but I do not see what this has to do with the
” It has this,” said Lionel, “whether we boys marry or not, we
have our livings to get ; you have not to, you have a home with
Aunt Lizzie until you marry, and in any case just enough money
of your own when you are thirty. It would be simple madness
to touch your capital.”
I felt completely crushed. I did not in reality know enough
about our affairs to ask an intelligent question, and Lionel’s last
emphatic statement had made its impression. He saw that he had
” What had you thought of doing ? ” he asked now not
” I thought I’d prepare myself to be a teacher,” I said
” Oh don’t,” he said. ” You’d find it an awful grind, you
wouldn’t be half so jolly, and when we came home there’d only be
Aunt Lizzie, or if you were here at all, you’d be half asleep and
talking shop.” I suppose I did not look convinced, for Lionel
grew really distressed and his legal manner disappeared completely,
and he said with what for him was a show of feeling, “We always
said we’d stick together, Grace.”
None the less that this was the first I had heard of it I was
moved, my plans melted away. I held out my hand and renewed
the compact, although vaguely I realised that it meant Lionel
would go and I should stick.
If in my little bedroom rhere were no objects of interest, it was
not Aunt Lizzie’s fault, but my own.
Lionel had won and I had given up the idea of going away
from home for the time being, but from that day I spent some
hours every day in my bedroom stvidying, preparing, working for
examinations, so that I should be ready—for what I hardly
Aunt Lizzie expressed disappointment that I did not choose to
do my work in the library, but on that point I was firm. I could
hardly tell her that I disliked the birds and fishes ; if I had, the
statement would have been met with the same pained surprise as
if I had told her I disliked the portrait of my uncle, the Rev.
Samuel Bayley, that hung under the most surprising swordfish in
the room. So I did not go into the matter. I simply told her
that I preferred my own room, and every morning I found the
maid had lighted the fire there and made it ready for me. I think
no girl ever had an easier aunt to live with.
For more than a year I worked very hard ; but I said nothing
to Lionel about it, from a feeling I had that he might think it
unfair of me.
Aunt Lizzie stood by me in this effort at doing some solid
work. For I remember once, that an old friend of my mother’s
who took an interest in me, pointed out to us that it was a pity
for a girl to be too clever, and to lose her opportunities.
Once I came into the drawing-room when she and Aunt
Lizzie were engaged in eager conversation. I was going away
again, but Aunt Lizzie kept me, saying, ” We were saying nothing
unsuitable for you to hear, my dear.”
I guessed as I turned over a book on the table that this was
hardly her visitor’s opinion.
” The women of my family have never been dolls,” asserted
Any one who knew the women of Aunt Lizzie’s family would
know that when she started from such a fundamental proposition
she was ready for a keen argument.
” There is, I hope, something between a doll and a blue
stocking,” tittered the other lady, and pointed out that while
under proper guidance she thought it quite right that a girl should
study, she thought it a great pity she should obtrude her know
ledge in conversation. She thought that most unattractive,
especially to gentlemen.
” I have never found,” said Aunt Lizzie, “that knowledge and in
telligence are unappreciated by the other sex. On the contrary—”
She broke off, she was so obviously in a position to judge that
it would have been indelicate on her part to pursue the point she
” I know they appreciate it,” said Mrs. Merrit, with a curious
stress on the word appreciate, ” but down here in the country, at
any rate, I don’t think they like it in their wives ; ” and then we
were told, with the little nervous giggle that I knew Aunt Lizzie
thought detestable, that the girls Mrs. Merrit knew who got
engaged first were not clever, not even pretty, but gentle and
anxious to please.
” I have no wish for my niece to become engaged while her
judgment is immature,” said Aunt Lizzie. Mrs. Merrit would
have liked to point out that by the time the judgment is matured
the complexion has gone off, but Aunt Lizzie with her handsome
face, her few words, and the manner of her family, was frightening
this eminently feminine little person.
I was amused at the conversation, but I turned rather wearily
away. I wandered round the library, and finding no rest there,
went out into the garden. Lionel had been at home so little
lately. My time when I had done my work hung very heavily
on my hands. I wanted to get away from home, where, I did
not know or care. I was amused at Aunt Lizzie and the family.
Of course I thought, of course I studied. Of course we weren’t
dolls, the women of our family.
What a curious emphatic way Aunt Lizzie had with her.
I was in the library with Lionel one evening. He was a full-
fledged lawyer now, living at home with us in the old house.
Latterly I had not seen much of him. He was out a great deal.
I had fancied he seemed worried. But it was not our way to
sympathise with each other. My standard of manners and expres-
sion of feeling had been learnt from my brothers. Lionel and I
had even left off our good-night kiss. ” It’s rather a senseless
form,” I had said, and that settled it.
It had been a very hot day. Lionel sat at the desk writing,
and I at the open window. I was oppressed and pining for air,
but I had an unusual feeling that I must wait for Lionel to go
into the garden with me.
” Grace, I want to tell you something.”
My heart seemed to stop, for into our even lives something was
I knew it, for Lionel’s usually matter-of-fact voice was charged
The Yellow Book—Vol. XI. R
” Will you tell me in the garden ? ” I asked.
But no, he would rather tell me where we were. I cannot
remember the words he used. I remember that I tried not to
show how much I felt, and encouraged him quietly to talk. It
was this : it seemed that Lionel was going to marry a girl I had
never seen, a girl not in our social position, and I remember now
in what a relieved tone he said :
” But I knew that you would not mind about that,” and I only
gathered gradually that there was something more than this. He
did not think she was a girl Aunt Lizzie would receive ; it was a
marriage that would hurt his practice perhaps a little separate
him from friends.
Suddenly I had kissed Lionel, the first time for years. I
do not know what I said ; I had only one thought in the midst
of my feelings—that he should feel that there was some one
who would love her, some one who did not care what people
He stroked my hair and seemed touched and surprised at my
warmth. In my heart was a great joy that a subtle barrier I had
felt between us was gone. I asked no questions and had hardly
any fears. He must love her, that was enough. He must be
right. Only one thing would have broken my heart—if Lionel
had not depended on me to love her too.
A few days later, although I had never seen her I fought
Nelly’s battle with Aunt Lizzie. And it seemed that I won, for
in the evening I was able to tell Lionel that Aunt Lizzie had
written to ask Nelly to stay with us, before their wedding which
was to take place soon.
I see now that Aunt Lizzie did all in her power to save Lionel
from this step, and I used all my strength and inexperience to
” He loves her,” I said, as if that settled the matter.
And there in her favourite room Aunt Lizzie enlightened me
about the world I lived in.
Fierce indignation woke in my heart, and unreasoningly it was
directed against Aunt Lizzie, none the less that I knew she was
telling me facts. One moment I hated her for telling me, and
the next I was hating her for not having told me before ; and
then myself for the way I took it.
Aunt Lizzie did not guess how much she was stirring me. I
sat very quiet while she talked. I can remember her saying that
many people, even the clergy, thought it right to chain a young
man to his folly, to make him bear the consequences. In that she
saw a lack of common sense. She would never be one to drive
The only light I could stretch out into all this darkness was
my love for Lionel. For better or worse, I had given him my
hand over this marriage, and Aunt Lizzie, although she did
her best to make me use my influence with him, might just
as well have talked to one of the stuffed birds in the cases.
When she found it was useless, as regards Nelly’s visit she
gave in completely and graciously, and I knew her well enough
to know that she would do her best to make it pleasant for
I have often thought since how well Aunt Lizzie bore with us
both, with Lionel and me. For she was proud of Lionel, of his
brains and his common sense, and in both of us up to this time
she had seen the qualities of her own family, and now Lionel
was on the brink of a piece of quixotic folly, and I was backing
In all that talk Aunt Lizzie did not once remind me of my
youth and inexperience. She told me facts and she appealed to
my common sense. However often she thought of her, she did
not once mention my poor dear mother.
But I had only one clear idea in my head : the world was a hard
cruel unjust place ; Lionel chose to defy it. No one I cared for
should defy it alone.
I have often thought that Aunt Lizzie was not unjustly proud
of the common sense of her family, but I have wondered if she ever
knew how much I appreciated a quality she had that was not
It was some weeks after that scene in the library in which
nominally I had come off victorious. Lionel’s Nelly had been
with us a week. Aunt Lizzie and I had never spoken of her
since she came. Lionel and I had tried to once, but we never tried
again and never shall.
I was alone in the library, the gloomy room. I tried to look
forward. What was there in my life ? How I had wound it
round Lionel and his happiness, and now it took all my strength
to hide my bitter disappointment ! Lionel was entrapped—be-
fooled. I had given him my word that I would stand by him and
her. But what lifeless support !
I could not save him. The less I was with them the better.
My heart grew heavier and heavier. Could Lionel with his keen
sense mistake the tawdry little thing ? More painful was the
thought that was beginning to take possession of me that he
had not mistaken her ; he saw, and seeing had made up his
Looking forward I could see nothing in my own life. Of
what use was my love to Lionel ? Life and health were strong
within me ; outside—nothing, nothing. I burst into tears ;
unconscious that I could be seen from the garden, unconscious
of everything but my own misery. All the objects in the room
were blurred, Nelly’s face was everywhere, and Lionel’s voice
when he first told me about her.
I became aware that some one was in the room and close to
me. I started up in terror. It might be Lionel. Not only
would he see me crying but he would know why, and then what
It was Aunt Lizzie, who had seen me from the garden and had
come in quickly.
” Lionel and Nelly, dear, are coming down the path,” she said,
in a matter-of-fact, but rather hurried voice.
I rose quickly and stood out of sight. Aunt Lizzie had done
me a great kindness. A week or two ago I had told her that I
at any rate should love Nelly, that I was not chained by conven-
tional ideas, that Lionel was and must be the best judge where
his own feelings were concerned.
She must have seen my struggles to keep up for days. Now
she had her enemy down she would not say a word, I knew.
What humiliation she could she had saved me. I wanted her to
know that I appreciated her generosity ; and as I stood at the
door on my way upstairs, I made an effort to speak. Apparently
she did not hear me, for she said in a vexed tone as she too left
the room :
” In spite of all this education it will be a long time before we
get any really nice feeling into the working classes. That new
girl has taken a piece of old lace I left on my dressing-table—a
piece that belonged to your grandmother, my dear—and she’s
actually starched and ironed it ! ”
The vivid light that any sudden change throws on the past
may not be a true light, but I know that when Aunt Lizzie died,
for a long time I saw our early life at home as one sees the scenes
on the brightly lighted stage ; the present as the dim faces around
one, and the future not at all. My later friends, the ties I had
formed, such joys and troubles as I had, claimed for a time a small
share in my thoughts.
They were busied with scraps of Aunt Lizzie’s talk ; all I
should ever hear now of my mother and father. Lionel, Jack,
and I, children walking, learning, living together, and Aunt
Lizzie in our midst, always treating us as rational, almost as
grown-up, beings ; the house, the garden, in which parts were
always kept “as John left them, my dear,” the seat he had put for
” your poor dear mother,” so sheltered, that in that western
country, the year she died, she had sat out of doors in November.
I had had a happy childhood, except for vague depressions which
I had never tried to account for. My lacks were too great for any
child to grasp. Looking back, there are some things in my bringing-
up for which I am most grateful.
It was with my brothers that I learnt to love Nature, so that it
was not as a series of pictures one turns tired eyes on in the hope
of finding rest and refreshment, but as some people love their
homes. I learnt to live out of doors ; we walked, we swam, we
ate and slept, as it pleased us, in the open air. We did not go into
the country in the July and August glare, and sit shivering by our
fires in the other months. We watched the spring come in, and
we tramped the winter through. Better than a cloudless summer
day we loved a storm, and to be swept dry after it by the north-
There were bad times ahead of me, for I had made the mistake
Aunt Lizzie made, in thinking that I had the stable qualities of
her family. I am glad that she never knew how completely they
failed me. But I would give, if I could, to any one else, who had
painful surprises in store for them, the part of my life that I spent
in the open air with my brothers.
And one other thing I am grateful for—that Aunt Lizzie
treated me, long before I deserved it, as a rational being. I feel
no compunction when I realise that I got this treatment entirely
under false pretences. The features of her family—a boy’s
standard of outspokenness and endurance in external things—have
taken in other people besides Aunt Lizzie. But this much she
gave me of what she expected from me : that when I saw my
failure, though there were many names by which it might have
been called, I put them away and gave it the ugliest and the
One of Aunt Lizzie’s brothers was at the funeral. I had never
seen much of Uncle Willie. We walked, after it was over, around
the desolate garden, more desolate, I thought, because down there
flowers linger into November that should be over and done with
Uncle Willie took comfort in what seemed to me the strangest
things ; in the number of persons present at the burial, and in the
fact that the mourning of some very distant cousins was as deep as
One thing he regretted—that the house must be sold.
” Neither of your brothers is in a position to buy it,” he said
regretfully, and then touched on their careers : Lionel’s unfor-
tunate marriage ; Jack’s absurd scheme, which had been broached
to him to-day, and which he was glad, indeed, dear Lizzie had not
lived to hear, of giving up the bar, where he promised to do well
for writing, if you please, using the little capital Aunt Lizzie had
left him in the meantime.
I heard Uncle Willie’s voice rather distantly as our feet sounded
on the gravel, and felt a certain gratitude to him that, although
his position might have justified it, he did not touch on my life or
affairs. He simply told me that my new black was most becom-
ing, and that I had managed to make every one as comfortable as
possible on this sad occasion. I was relieved when he was gone,
and mechanically I turned into the library, which I knew now
would soon be dismantled, and although it was not from affection
as of old, once there, my feet seemed rooted.
After a time, Lionel and Jack came in, and we stayed there,
talking in our old quiet, undemonstrative way about the sale and
the arrangements we had to make. I remember my relief when
Lionel told me that if I did not want them, he and Jack would
like the photographs of our uncles and aunts ; and he told me,
too, that Aunt Lizzie had said she thought I should like to have
some of the things that father had bought.
“I don’t want any of them,” I said. “Wouldn’t some museum
be glad of these things ! ” and I pointed to the birds and the fishes
and many other objects in the room.
I think Jack was a little shocked at my want of sentiment, but
Lionel’s smile, as he said : ” You never cared for relics,” took me
back to our childhood, the time when we were such great friends.
The Wind and the Tree
By Charles Catty
SANG the wind to the tree,
O be mournful with me :
There is nothing can last or can stay ;
And the joy of new leaves
Turns to sorrow that grieves
The bare bough—on a day,
On a day.
Sang the tree to the wind,
O be happy—I find
There is nothing time fails to restore ;
And the fall that bereaves,
Makes the joy of new leaves
In the spring—evermore,
The wind sighed to the tree,
O be mournful with me :
The leaves come not again that I blow ;
And I mourn for the lives
No renewal revives,
The leaves fall’n—long ago,
By Eugene Benson
The New Poet and His Work
“Sovran maestro d’ogni melodia”
THE new romance and the new prose come to us from Italy.
After the attempt, first in France, then here, to make prose
a richer means of expression, it is interesting to see what has been
done in Italian.
It is one thing to limit language, as in a leading article, to the
mere understanding, that is, to the business style ; it is another
thing to make it correspond with, and express, the whole range of
emotion and thought of a poet.
The pedestrian step of the rank and file of writers, doubtless, is
the proper result of discipline ; fit for daily use ; it leads one
forward from fact to fact ; but it is not wise to confine all move
ment of mind and heart to its pace and form.
The concise phrase showing the greatest economy of words,
and the most effective use of them for a given purpose, is not an
illustration of all the resources of language. For a whole order of
sensations and ideas—those of the poet and the artist, that is to
say the interpreters and illustrators of life—the language of a
great soldier, or a great moralist, is inadequate. There is the
ever-recurring search for and sign of new forms of expression.
The reserved and parsimonious masters of the word are displaced
to make room for the givers of the magnificent ; magnificence is
as much a part of greatness of style as it is a part of greatness of
character. The splendour of the true is the beautiful. In art,
form is not cut down as for a thing of speed only, but it is a
generous thing to give full expression, not to stint it. The
symbol of style is not the Greek runner with everything super
fluous for his purpose eliminated, but rather one would accept the
idea of music, with its vast and varied harmonies, its searching
note, as indicating in a better way the richest expressional power.
And it is to make prose like music that the new style is attempted.
Carlyle, uncouth and wilful, yet flashing his own Rembrandt-
like light on one feature ; Ruskin, intemperate, insular, arbitrary,
yet with a splendour of style all his own, made us welcome
Matthew Arnold, who led us to form our expression, as he in part
had done, after the clear, grave and restrained masters of French
style. Our prose became cold and somewhat barren ; it stiffened ;
it lost its free movement. Swinburne and Pater, the one with an
opulent phrase, the other with a choice phrase, at once delicate
subtle and alluring, touched a newly-awakened sense of beauty,
but touched only a few readers. Yet so far, they liberated us
from the stricter prose reactionists, who, like Stendhal, made it a
point of good sense as of virtue not to attempt the splendid
rhetoric of the great masters. Yet the new prose and the new
romance failed to appear ; at least, they came not with all their
means of expression in perfect use, with perfect choice of word,
with that life quickening them without which they are extrava-
gant and ineffective.
In spite of all that has been done in modern prose, if the plain
straight tale is all we ask for, we must go back for the best of the
kind. Story for story, we may still prefer the Book of Daniel to
the Book of Flaubert, and Susannah, the delicate woman, simply
and charmingly presented, is more engaging than the much
Voltaire’s opinion that the Bible stories are masterpieces, is not
discredited by our later tales, though with our modern literature
there comes in a new element, pagan, chivalric, refined ; the
worship of woman, the cult of beauty. The most brilliant
examples of it are still Italian. And it is not only the woman,
but the lady, who is enthroned in the new art.
The new prose and the new romance are the work of Italy’s
new poet, Gabriele d’Annunzio, who, in le Vergtne delle Rocce,
seeks to make prose do all that poetry has done, that is, yield itself
to every breath of emotion, pliant to every sensation. He would
make it like Shelley’s verse. And it is claimed that he has enlarged
the domain of language. The uses to which he has put his prose
imply a less trammelled life than that which our moralists accept.
His style is the result of an unfailing sense of beauty, of a passion
for, and power to express life, without which it would be but a
wordy and incontinent thing, flaccid, nerveless, swollen, ineffec-
tive and fatiguing.
We may prefer the etchist point to the brush, but the brush of
a Titian or a Rubens gives us richer sensations of beauty than
the acid-bitten style of the daily dreadful.
It is fit that from the land of leisure and of art should come
the new romance and the new prose, and it is proper that it should
be the gift of the new poet of Italy, whose lyric achievement is
perfect and unquestioned ; whose artistic needs and aristocratic
preferences forbid him to submit to business aims and democratic
ideals. The old stirring romance of adventure, with every page
appealing to the dramatic sense, or at least to our love of action,
which enthrals the average reader, seems but made for busy men
and for coarse brains. The imaginative art of the new romance
has nothing in common with it ; the poetic and artistic expression
of the new romance really exacts a more cultivated mind, or at
least one upon which all the refinements of thought and expression
are not lost, but give to it a distinct pleasure. If you depreciate
this kind of pleasure, you stop short with the robust, but miss the
finer flowers of the ” Garden of Words.”
In the new romance, the tasce for literature and art is fully
met. The phrase in it is a thing of beauty, a constant joy ;
it takes us into a charmed world, where the ideal transfigures
the real ; but it does so without weakening our sense of actu-
ality ; it rather enriches it, rooted in it, as it is ; very different
from the spurious, the vague, the formless attempts at imagin-
Without some knowledge of Italian genius and culture,
d’Annunzio’s last Romance is hardly likely to be understood, nor
is there anything like it in any language but his own. To tell
the mere story of it would be but to give a skeleton, and ask you
to imagine the sumptuous, the voluptuous beauty of a living
woman, proud and simple and unashamed in all the grace and
charm of her seductiveness. The method of criticism which
divests a tale of its language is fit only for the dull who have no
sense of language, and to whom a phrase is like a vestment that
may be removed, not a vital part of the thing, as it is in
Claudio Cantelmo, the hero of his story, is of an ancient and
illustrious race. After spending his youth according to the
devices of his heart, he retires to his estates to recover himself.
His only neighbours are a strange and secluded family, of which
the two princes of Castromitano were friends of his youth. The
three Virgins of the Romance are the three sisters, very beautiful,
who with their mad mother, the Princess Aldoini, and their
father, Prince Luigi, embittered and saddened by exile—become
so deeply interesting to the hero and to the reader. They appear
and disappear as in a magic mirror. Vividly as they are presented
there is little of the shock of action ; the dramatic movement is so
suave, it is as though they came and went according to some
rhythmic law, to the sound of music, graceful, harmonious,
beautiful. There is an air of high breeding, of melancholy, of
reserve, as in Poe’s Ligeia, as in his Fall of the Home of Usher ;
there is the sense of latent passion, of malady, of mysterious
destiny ; but the reader is kept this side of the dangerous edge of
circumstance ; reflection takes the place of action. One follows
their personal life at intervals not only to be led by curiosity to
know their fortunes, but to get the most brilliant expression of a
beautiful mind. For the obvious sense of the hero s situation,
involving his choice of a wife, has yet a richer interest. The
writer touches the profoundest elements of life with such high
Italian dignity and grace that he is never betrayed into anything
unworthy his fine art, and he shows complete deliverance from
the rank company of realism ; he is poetic ; his work is a work of
art, as art has been understood in Italy before it was infected with
the baser things of its decadence.
It is in this new Romance that d’Annunzio appears with some-
thing like a new faith. Released from the revolting realism and
the questionable types of several of his former books, he puts forth
a new Declaration of Independence, not for the many but for the
few. He at least will resist mediocrity instead of writing to please
it in conformity with its tastes. He has seen that the sense of
style is rare, that the many are incapable of recognising it ; for
the many are only curious about life, and dull about art. The
problem for the real artist is to inform art with life, and make art
give shape to life, which is in fact its highest office—for the art of
life is more than the art of painting, or music ; it is the result of
all art acting on the stuff of our days as they come and go. And
yet we call artists, only those who, mastering the technique of
some art, produce beautiful works, yet live sordidly, mindless
that the great artist is like Goethe, who makes a beautiful and
harmonious whole of his life.
Now that d Annunzio appears to have “dominated the inevit-
able tumults of his youth,” and walks in the paths of art and beauty
with a pure and serene mind, made free by the truth, we are to
recognise him as master, not only of his art, but of himself. He
emerges from his sense-bound experience with a high philosophy
of being. In a magnificent tribute to Socrates, “the Master,” he
repeats the immortal narrative of Phaedo, the beloved disciple.
Few pages of modern literature are comparable to his account of
the Platonic dialogue. It is in le Vergine delle Rocce that you can
read anew the impressive story of the last moments of Socrates,
even to the caressing gesture of the serene philosopher, who pauses
in his discourse on death, and the soul, and immortality, to touch
with a playful hand the beautiful hair of Phasdo. The Platonic
narrative is reproduced, freshened and quickened to serve anew as
the note of ” music ” for which d’Annunzio himself is striving.
He strikes a philosophic note ; he shows a Pagan sense of beauty.
The book opens with a solemn, almost Sacerdotal, intonation.
The carnal muse of the new poet seems absent, and we are led to
expect the development of his theme guided by the antique lover
of wisdom, with a full expression of the higher life of the senses
and the soul. It holds nothing vulgar or common, and it aims to
express the beautiful, in evoking the three ideals of conduct, the
three ideals embodied in the three virgins ; the ideal of religious
life, of filial devotion, of impassioned love of beauty, as it is in the
three sisters in their reserved and hidden life, for the moment
subject to the dominating egotism of the masculine will, embodied
in the hero of the story.
There may be some disappointment if you take d’Annunzio’s
Romance expecting in it the English pattern for domestic use.
It is representative of the Latin or Pagan genius, that is, not the
genius of morality, or of what Matthew Arnold called Conduct,
but the genius of life and art, in a land of never failing beauty.
Much of his former prose is given to record the excesses of
passion in types both degenerate and repugnant, though portrayed
and expressed with mastery. But many of his shorter stories are
quite enchanting, filled with the loveliness of spring, with the
purity of dawn. He shows us the Italian peasant of the Abruzzi,
and gives us descriptions of a part of Italy but little known ;
primitive, antique, curiously interesting. The orange orchards,
the olive slopes, far down the Adriatic; millions of roses, festal
processions and the incredible fanaticism and passion of religion of
the Abruzzi contadini; measureless life under the most subjugating
influences, not so much described as felt and depicted by him,
while again and again his marvellous prose is illuminated by the
word of the poet, as in Les Cloches and Annales d’Anne—translated
into French by E. Hérelle. There is in them the magic and the
charm of nature. Les Cloches of d’Annunzio may be compared
with Les Cloches of Victor Hugo, in Notre Dame, to the advan-
tage of the Italian prose writer, for his expression is richer, more
artistic and convincing.
As to his theory of art, it appears that dulness alone is forbidden
to the artist; that art without life is a dead thing, life without
art, brutal. With a sense that shrinks before nothing, he treats
whatever comes to his hand, or rather whatever interests him,
with perfect composure; with perfect sincerity the infallible
sign of the true artist, as of the true poet. He will not affect a
shame or a repugnance he does not feel when, like a surgeon,
curious and impassive, he deals with a subject. Only the specialist
will sympathise with, or approve of, this impartiality for, this
indifference to, what we call disagreeable or agreeable. I confess
Italian hardihood is always a surprise, and one is induced to think
the race lacks delicacy in things moral and physical. Italian in
sensibility to smell, for instance ; Italian indifference to that
disgusting display of viscera which adds to the sanguinary horror
of the butchers shops of Rome—shock the more fastidious
sense of the colder North. As to the sense of smell, one must
think that the nasal nerve is more robust in the Italian. That
organ does not sniff the offence in the way, nor nose the rat on
the stairs, nor the corpse behind the arras. The Italian ignores
villainous odours. Yet extreme sensibility to all that is most
delicious in nature is shown on many a page of d’Annunzio’s
prose. How often with him one is in a perpetual spring of new
born scents, in a land where the very air becomes an accomplice
to seduce the senses ! and properly so, for Italy is also the land of
heavenly odours, the land of flowery perfumes. Where, as in
Italy, is the very air inebriating with orange blossoms, with roses,
with laurel-bloom sweeter than honey ? Hazlitt boldly said that
he preferred Italian dirt to Dutch cleanliness; thinking decay and
corruption signs of the richer life : the compost of it in Italy
feeding, as it does, a deeper vegetation, and, as some think, a richer
humanity. The Italian accepts it all ; is used to it ; the foreigner,
with the quicker sense revolts at it.
We wonder that a writer of the highest artistic gifts deals with
The Yellow Book Vol. XI. S
diseased and degenerate types, showing the same fervour and
interest that he does when he deals with health and beauty.
Under the pretext of science or truth, he serves a bad turn to
art; he confounds beauty and the normal life with all life ; affects
to be god-like, superior to matter, and handles the unclean and
the clean, forgetting that the first business of the man and the
artist is to discriminate between good and bad. The error of not
choosing the better part will correct, or rather it has corrected
itself, since the writer has turned from the romance of the street
to the romance of the garden.
It is in d’Annunzio’s new romance that we see his choice is
determined by a higher ideal of life than in his former prose, that
the things not nice of realism are abandoned, left buried with the
débris of their day ; their corruption dooms them to be forgotten.
Pestiferous literature has short lease of life. If one goes to
L’lnnocente and Giovanni Episcopo to learn more about d’Annunzio,
one is in danger of taking his exuberant fiction for fact. They
but show the rank ” dressing ” of his former days. Most readers
stop at that, unmindful of, or without seeing, the perfect flowers
of beauty grown out of it. It is true that the heroes of his earlier
romances are not only slaves to animal functions, but they are
more dangerous than animals : they are fatal to the very women
they love ; they have the taint and the action of madness. They
are not so aspiring as Milton’s lion ” pawing to get free his hinder
parts ” ; at the best they are but like dolphins showing their backs
above the element they delight in ; they have no more moral sense
than a water snake ; they have something of Borgia, of Cellini, of
Aretino, of Casanova ; they are stiffening and repugnant to our
sense of rectitude, for they illustrate not rectitude but excess.
The experiences d’Annunzio has written of, with consummate
gifts of expression, in L’lnnocente and in Giovanni Episcopo, are
usually confined to clandestine books, and are seldom presented in
literature, seldom invested with art, at least outside France and
Italy. To match it you must go to that native of Roman Gaul,
the satirist of Nero, who alone is rivalled by the later Pagan, feel
ing responsible not for the story he tells, but for how he tells it,
and determined to tell it in all its details with unmitigated truth.
He shows the utmost unconcern as to what you may think of it.
You have the right to say you do not like his choice of subject.
When Goethe was reproached for the injurious eftect his
Werther had upon weak people, he said : ” If there are mad
people for whom reading is bad, I can t help it. The consequences
do not concern me.” The old Pagan felt himself to be like
nature, working inevitably, in no way responsible for results, which
are the individual’s affair. So d’Annunzio writes with the con-
science of an artist, but without the sensitiveness of a moralist ;
certainly without the restraints which regulate and sometimes
silence expression when there is question of a personal experience
which, as Hamlet says, it is not honest to set down in plain phrase.
In Italy the matter is not so considered.
D’Annunzio’s phrase as a prose writer is supple and opulent;
his word is vivid ; his feeling intense ; he is always serious. He
lacks playfulness. Without a sense of humour, seldom or never
with the purpose of a humourist, without the sport of wit, he yet
holds one fascinated by his word as he tells his tale ; while he tells
it he charms one with the music, the splendour, the colour and the
grace of his language, and one wonders at the sustained flow and
harmony of his periods. The secret of his style is that it is ever
informed by an imaginative mind, shaped by a never failing sense
of art. He seems denied lordship over laughter and tears. That
belongs to the poet, and the dramatist, and the story-teller of
simpler aims and humbler sympathies than the aristocratic and
fastidious artist. He is like a musician who writes—the melodious
element prevails ; he is like a painter who paints—colour prevails;
he is like a worker in marble or metal—form prevails. He is a
writer who, like George Sand, like Gautier, like Swinburne, has
measureless power and a supreme sense of beauty to express his
sense of life and art. Individual and intense, he looked isolated,
like Baudelaire, with questionable tendencies and preferences. He
seems to have escaped the abasement of the unclean, stained, but
not transformed by the thing he worked in when dealing with the
baser experiences of life.
While Baudelaire is close, severe, terse, d’Annunzio is open,
pliant, and abundant. Now and again you get from his poetry a
note, not disavowed, from Shakespeare, from Shelley, from
Baudelaire, from Walt Whitman, from Tennyson. The Northern
novelists have led him to treat of crime and punishment. With
all these elements from the ferment of our modern moral and
intellectual life, he has remained himself, a new talent, a personal
talent, enriched, not dominated by others, maker and master of his
own expression, renewing for us purely Italian types of life and art.
Finally the poet has triumphed over the realist. It is in his later
prose, and in his later verse, that he shows the inevitable change
brought about by time and suffering. It holds a mystic element.
He uses the Natural as the symbol of the Spiritual.
The poet is triumphant.II
The poet has manifested himself more varied in style than the
prose writer. He began with a sense of clean-cut classic form,
objective, Pagan, unacquainted with the maladies of the intro
spective mind, and he produced masterpieces of Greek-like beauty
that at once raised him above the felicitous dilettante of classic art ;
he turned from that, as from a thing accomplished, to reach after
the refinements of the Provencal, and he attained at once in
I’Isottèo an elegance, a lightness, a romantic charm, a laughing
melody and grace of language, beyond anything of our time ; and
last, in his Poema Paradisiaco behold another transformation.
The artificial, complicated, sensual poet of mediaeval and renaissance
gallantry is the suave, simple, intime poet of home affections
won back, as to a spring of pure water, after many and strange
It is because of all this Protean and beautiful work that he is
regarded as the first artist of Italy since ’71. He is the new poet
of his race, not of national aspiration or political aims, but of the
eternal life of eternal Italy ; of what in it endures while Republics,
Empires, Religion, come and go, or are transformed in that land
of open sensuality, pagan from first to last, excessive in its passion
of life and art, and rich and splendid in the expression of it all.
It is interesting to contrast the noble and unfortunate Leopardi,
the poet of unappeased passion, of great memories, the proud poet
of despair, with the new poet who has gratified every passion and
slacked his thirst for every pleasure. Like Leopardi, the sombre
lover of death, d’Annunzio, the poet of pleasure, exhausted and at
the end of sensation, woos the pale mother of all woe and all peace.
Proved to the uttermost, the intellectual life and the sensual life
leave both men restless for the triumph of death ; and all this
perilous stuff is worked off in expression, in fiction, in novels and
verses, which are the artist’s means of self-deliverance.
Leopardi moaned his anguish for the perishing individual doomed
to an enforced renunciation ; moaned for his country, prostrate
and enslaved, renewing no grandeur and quickening no heroism,
till roused by his indignation, moved by his tears ; d’Annunzio,
more fortunate in his youth than the earlier poet, yet gave to sense
what the other gave to mind, the strength and passion of his
best years. With supple and jewelled phrase, with language
expressive of every seduction of the senses, of every enchantment
of beauty, he celebrates the burning pleasures of his youth, his
pride of life, his passion for art. Both are pagan ; the intellectual
penetration of both men pitiless and unhesitating, sparing no
illusion. The one is involved, profound, enwrapt, like Michael
Angelo’s Night, in a dolorous dream ; the other, like some
desperate alchemist, dissolves one by one the jewels of his youth,
intent to test or sacrifice the very substance and quality of his
being. How are we to understand two such poets ? Art we to
turn away from them as aliens, subject to tyrannies which we
know not, or which we have resisted ? Must we go to Clough
and cold water, admit no acquaintance with flesh, escape dense life
only to harass ourselves with introspective verse, which at best is
but a proof of an active intellectual apparatus ; or are we to step
back to the chaste muse of our greater poets and rest with their
simpler and more restrained expression ? The age has to produce
its own poetry. It is not enough that the gods and the demi-gods
have lived. We must have the expression of our own life, and
poetry is the first and final expression, the expression that survives.
D’Annunzio’s verse shows what it is for Italy in Italy to-day.
Christianised or Puritanised as we have been, the pagan ele-
ment has only temporary possession with us. Though it has
appeared allied with a music and an art not unworthy of the
gravest as well as the lightest of Latin poets, serious with a
studied and a premeditated sensuality, it has remained a thing
more for hot-house Englishmen than for the out-of-door man
who makes his race prevail, backed by the portentous matron who
will none of the roses and languors of the foreigner.
The new pagan in Italy does not find himself in contradiction
to his time and race when he sings of the raptures of youth and
pleasure, unconscious of the stays and checks of our severer muse.
His surrender to the life of the senses is complete. But however
frantic his experience, he is serene and untroubled in his expres-
sion of it. The molten metal, the burning elements of his life,
are cast into a shape of beauty which one must admire if one has
a sense of form, a sense of art, and not merely that ” sense of sin ”
which shadows life and dictates most criticism. No wonder we
are so often found incapable of looking at a thing of art as a kind
of deliverance and redemption from the grossness of matter.
The new poet has the advantage of the old moralist ; for in
the very creation of art out of what the moralist must censure
as experience, he makes something beautiful, which is his
delight and consolation. He makes something that enchants us.
Triumphant, he shows his Venus in marble, he shapes the god in
The new poet, with his phosphorescent style, that at times
suggests corruption and smells of it, comes with the curiosity or
the savant and the emotion of the man ; he leaves no experience
of life untried or at least unimagined. He follows a passion ; he
sounds a motive ; absorbed, he seems all but criminal with the
criminal. He shows the flux and reflux of life in human nature.
If the great tide of it carries out or leaves stranded things that
revolt and pain us, we, at least, can show our taste by not occu-
pying ourselves with the more dreadful accidents of the hour and
the more unsightly dèbris of the season. Yet, if that is there,
there is much more in the prose of the poet.
The new pagan having read all literature, questioned all
religions, used up his youth, has one thing left, one thing of
great price, which the mere dèbauché has not known : he has the
consolations of art, and, with it, the higher worship of beauty.
Art is his creation, and with that he enchants us and beguiles
himself. When he treats of the sin of Moonlight and May,
when he describes his “Venus of sweet waters” in the heat and
mystery of the noonday, we are enchanted with beauty ; and we
feel with him the trouble and ecstacy of youth. When he ad-
dresses his old nurse, or returns to his home and walks in the
garden with his mother, or addresses his sister with words of
touching sweetness, we learn that the sacred charities of the
heart are known and felt. He is noble and patriotic when he
pours out the rolling music of his funeral ode to the dead admiral.
We recognise that he is master of every melody, and, if a pagan
still, a pagan to whom the solemnities of life have come, and who
gives himself to the experience appropriate to his years. But
yesterday, living according to the law of his members, concerning
himself, like the French novelists of the day, with the sensual
side of life, with things of sight, and sound, and touch, and smell ;
describing the experience, not of the soul or the mind, but of the
flesh, and in no way ashamed of any condition of it in life or
death. The Frenchman, the Italian, the Spaniard, in a word,
the Latin, studies a corpse, paints it, or a nude living body,
curious of form ; and for that he is as constant as we are for the
domesticities of life. Imagine the different results in art.
Both from Baudelaire and from d’Annunzio we get the de
fundis like a far-off note, recalling the pains and anxieties of the
opium eater. The frenzies of passion that lead the heroes of his
romances to murder or suicide, in the poet himself evoke a cry
of despair. The ever reappearing paganism of youth gives place
to the spiritualism of the new man, born out of suffering, and we
hear the cry of a living soul after the confessions of the sensualist.
It is this evolution which separates d’Annunzio from the objec-
tive and pagan artists of the Italian renaissance like Poliziano, for
example, close as he seems to him by his serene plastic sense ; it
is this which attaches him to Petrarch and Tasso, in his later
verse ; still a pagan, yet with sorrow, and all her family of sighs
and tears, become conscious that the life of the senses is not the
be-all and end-all of existence. The new pagan is touched by
something he cannot define, something that escapes form, yet
permeates it. So d’Annunzio becomes in poetry what Chopin is
in music, a ” sovereign master of every melody.” With the re-
finement of a Provencal, with the serenity of a Greek, he sang of
delightful romantic and classic things, of gardens and fêtes, and
all that belongs to the life of elegance.
He has a sixteenth-century face, like a portrait by Clouet :
fine, sensitive, intense ; implying close acquaintance with the
uncommon. Like a later Leonardo, he is a lover of the beautiful
hands of women ; like him, he is learned in the mysteries of their
touch ; like him, he is a student of their smile ; no grace or
seduction of their being is lost upon him. Like the painter of
the Sacred and Profane Love, he illustrates the beauty, he ex-
presses the significance, of flesh. But little past thirty, his pro-
ductiveness during thejast twelve or thirteen years is remarkable.
He began with a thin volume of verse : Intermezzo in rime; then
wrote Il Piacere in prose ; then in verse l’Isottèo ; La Chimera ;
Elegie Romane ; Odi Navali ; Poema Taradisiaco. Without
mentioning all his prose romances, brilliant as they are in many
respects, and foreign to English taste, the most acceptable is the
last one : ” the golden book of spirit and sense,” the Tre Verglne
By Elsie Higginbotham
A Darkened Room
OUTSIDE the blind, the world lives on ;
A world of mingled green and white—
The blackbird sings—no sweetness gone
From tones, last year, your chief delight ;
And yet, dear heart, that cadence sad,
In last year s notes no utt’ranee had.
This side the blind, the world stands still ;
A world grown dumb, since yesterday ;
No hope of joy—no dread of ill,
Remains, to mar a peace whose sway,
Seems strangest, where, upon their shelves,
In dust, your books enshroud themselves.
Outside the blind, feet pass along ;
I hear a man’s voice blithe and kind,
From speaking change to joyous song—
I hear, and shrink, this side the blind ….
But you stir not ; so fast you sleep,
I dare to kiss your brow …. and weep.
I. The War Horses of Rustem
II. a Phantasy
III. So the wind drove us on to the cavern
Where we fell in the toils of the foul
Their scaly folds drew us on to our
Pray for us, stranger, for Christ’s sweet
IN the upstairs room of a City restaurant two young men were
finishing their luncheon. They had taken the corner table
by the window, and as it was past two o clock the room was
fairly empty. There being no one at either of the tables next
them, they could talk at their ease.
West, the elder of the two, was just lighting a cigarette. The
other, Catterson, who, in spite of a thin moustache, looked little
more than a boy, had ordered a cup of black coffee. When even
a younger man than he was at present, he had passed a couple
of years in Paris, and he continued, by the manner in which he
wore his hair, by his taste in neckties, and by his preferences in
food and drink, to pay Frenchmen the sincerest flattery that was
in his power.
But to-day he let the coffee stand before him untasted. His
young forehead was pushed up into horizontal lines, his full-lipped
mouth was slightly open with anxious, suspended breath. He
gazed away, through the red velvet lounges, through the gilt-
framed mirrors, to the distant object of his thought.
West, leaning back in his seat, emitting arabesques and spirals
of brown-grey smoke, watched him with interest rather than with
sympathy, and could not repress a smile when Catterson, coming
abruptly out of dreamland, turned towards him, to say : ” You
see, if it were only for the child’s sake, I feel I ought to marry
her, and the next may be a boy. I should like him to inherit the
little property, small as it is. And I ve no power to will it.”
His voice was half decided, wholly interrogative, and West
smiled. There had been a moment in all their conversations of
the last six weeks, when some such remark from Catterson was
sure to fall. Experience enabled West to anticipate its arrival,
and he smiled to find his anticipation so accurately fulfilled.
” My dear chap, I see you re going to do it,” he answered, ” so
it’s useless for me to protest any more. But I’ll just remind you
of an old dictum, which, maybe, you’ll respect, because it’s in
French : Ne faites jamais de votre maitresse, votre femme.” :
West spoke lightly, uttering the quotation just because it
happened to flash through his mind ; but all the same, it was a
fixed idea of his, that if you married a girl of ” that sort,” she was
sure to discover, sooner or later, colossal vices ; she was sure to
kick over the traces, to take to drink, or to some other form of
Catterson shrugged his shoulders, flushed, and frowned ; then
recovered his temper, and began again, stammeringly, tumultu-
ously, his words tripping over one another in their haste. He
always stammered a little in moments of emotion.
“But you d-don t know Nettie. She’s not at all—s-she’s quite
different from what you think. Until she had the misfortune to
meet with me, she was as good a girl as you could find.”
” No, I don’t know her, I admit,” observed West, and smoked
” I have been thinking,” Catterson said presently, ” that I should
like you to come down to see her. I should like you to make
her acquaintance, because then I am sure you would agree I
am right. I do want to have your support and approval, you
West smiled again. It amused him to note the anxiety
Catterson exhibited for his approval and support, yet he knew all
the time that the young man was bent on marrying Nettie
Hooper in spite of anything he could say.
But he understood the springs of the apparent contradiction.
He understood Catterson fairly well, without being fond of him.
They had been schoolmates. Chance lately, rather than choice on
West s side, had again thrown them together ; now the luncheon
hour saw them in almost daily companionship. And, correcting
his earlier impressions of the impulsive, sensitive, volatile little boy
by these more recent ones, he read Catterson s as a weak, amiable,
and affectionate nature ; he saw him always anxious to stand well
with his associates, to be liked and looked up to by his little
world. To do as others do, was his ruling passion ; what Brown,
Jones, and Robinson might say of him, his first consideration.
It was because at one time Robinson, Jones and Brown had been
represented for him by a circle of gay young Frenchmen that he
had thought it incumbent upon him, when opportunity offered,
to tread in their footsteps. It was because he found his path set
now within the respectable circles of British middle-class society,
that his anomalous position was becoming a burden ; that the
double personality of married man and father in his riverside
lodgings, of eligible bachelor in the drawing-rooms of Bayswater
and Maida Vale, grew daily more intolerable to sustain. He could
think of no easier way out of the dilemma than to make Nettie
his wife, and let the news gradually leak out, that he had been
married for the last two years.
Some of his arguments in favour of the marriage—and he
required many arguments to outweigh his consciousness of the
mésalliance—were that, for all practical purposes, he was as good
as married already. He could never give Nettie up ; he must
always provide for her and the child as long as he lived. And his
present mode of life was full of inconveniences. He was living at
Teddington under an assumed name, and it is not at all pleasant
to live under an assumed name. At any moment one may be
discovered, and an awkward situation may result.
These were some of his arguments. But then, too, he had
developed the domestic affections to a surprising degree, and if his
first passion for Nettie were somewhat assuaged, he had a much
more tender feeling for her now than in the beginning. And he
was devoted to his little daughter ; a devotion which a few months
ago he would have sworn he was incapable of feeling for any so
uninteresting an animal as a baby. He reproached himself bitterly
for having placed her at such a disadvantage in life as illegitimacy
entails; he felt that he ought at least to give the expected child
all the rights which a legal recognition can confer.
His chief argument, however, was that he had sinned, and that
in marriage lay the only reparation ; and let a man persuade him
self that a certain course of action is the one righteous, the one
honourable course to take more particularly if it jumps with his
own private inclinations—and nothing can deter him from it.
“Not even French proverbs,” laughed West into his beard.
” Come down and see her,” Catterson urged, and West, moved
by a natural curiosity, as well as by a desire to oblige his friend,
agreed to meet him that evening at Waterloo, that they might
go down together.
His soul being eased through confession, Catterson regained at
once the buoyant good spirits which were natural to him, but
which, of late, secret anxieties and perturbation of mind had
overshadowed completely. For when depressed he touched deeper
depths of depression than his neighbour, in exact proportion to the
unusual height and breadth of his gaiety in his moments of elation.
Now he enlivened the journey out from town, by cascades of
exuberant talk, rilling up the infrequent pauses with snatches of
love-songs : the music-hall love-songs of the day.
Yet as the train approached Teddington, he fell into silence
again. A new anxiety began to dominate him : the anxiety that
West should be favourably impressed by Nettie Hooper. His
manner became mere nervous, his stammer increased ; a red spot
burned on either cheek. He could not keep his thoughts or his
speech from the coming interview.
“She doesn t talk much,” he explained, as they walked along
the summer sunset roads ; ” she s very shy ; but you mustn’t on
that account imagine she’s not glad to see you. She’s very much
interested in you. She wants to meet you very much.”
“Of course she s not what s called a lady,” he began again;
” her people don’t count at all. She, herself, wants to drop them.
But you would never discover she wasn t one. She has a perfect
accent, a perfect pronunciation. And she is so wonderfully modest
and refined. I assure you, I’ve known very few real ladies to
compare to her.”
He eulogised her economy, her good management. “My
money goes twice as far since she has had the spending of it.
She’s so clever, and you can’t think how well she cooks. She has
learned it from the old lady with whom we lodge. Mrs. Baker
is devoted to Nettie, would do anything for her, thinks there’s no
one like her in the world. And then she makes all her own
clothes, and is better dressed than any girl I see, although they
only cost her a few shillings.”
The Yellow Book—Vol. XI T
He sang the praises of her sweetness, of her gentleness, of her
domesticity. ” She’s so absolutely unselfish ; such a devoted
mother to our little girl ; and yet, she’s scarcely more than a
child herself. She won’t be nineteen till next April.”
All which encomiums and dozens more wearied West’s ear,
without giving him any clear conception of their subject. He
was thankful when Catterson suddenly broke off with, ” Here
we are, this is Rose Cottage.”
West saw the usual, creeper-covered, French-windowed, sham-
romantic, and wholly dilapidated little villa, which realises the
ideal of all young lovers for a first nest. To more prosaic minds
it suggested earwigs and spiders in summer, loose tiles and burst
pipes in winter, and general dampness and discomfort all the
It stood separated from the road by a piece of front garden, in
which the uncut grass waved fairy spear-heads, and the unpruned
bushes matted out so wide and thick, as to screen off completely
the sitting-room from the passers-by.
The narrow gravel path leading up to the door was painted
with mosses, the little trellis-work porch was giving way beneath
the weight of vine-wood and rose-stem which lay heavy upon it;
the virginia-creeper over the window-top swayed down to the
ground in graceful diminishing tresses ; the bed-room windows
above blinked tiny eyes beneath heavy eyelids of greenery. An
auctioneer would have described the place as a bijou bower of
verdure, and West’s sense of humour was tickled by the
thoroughly conventional background it provided for the con-
ventional solitude à deux,
Catterson rang that he might give notice of West’s arrival, and
a thin bell responded to his pull from the interior of the house.
It was succeeded by the tapping of high heels along the oilcloth,
the door opened, and a very little woman, in a dark woollen gown,
stood within the threshold.
The nurse, the landlady, the servant, perhaps ? West told
himself that this could not be Nettie Hooper, this plain little
creature, who was surely so much older than the girl Catterson
But the next instant Catterson said, ” Nettie, this is my great
friend, West,” and the little woman had given him a lifeless hand,
while she welcomed him in curious, drawling tones, ” I’m so glad
to see you ; Jack is always talking about you ; do come in.”
He was certain she was plain, but he had no time to localise her
plainness—to decide whether it lay in feature, complc-xion, or
expression, for her back was towards him ; he was following her
into the sitting-room, and he looked down upon a dark head of
hair, a meagre figure, a dowdy home-made gown.
“I hope you ve got a good dinner for us,” Catterson began at
once, stammering over every consonant. ” I don’t know how
West may be feeling, but I’m uncommonly hungry myself.”
“You didn’t give me much time,” she answered ; “your wire
only came at four. I ve got you some fish, and a steak.”
” And a salad ? good ! Nettie s steaks are ripping, West,
” Oh, but Mrs. Baker is going to cook the dinner to-night ; I
didn’t think you’d wish me to leave you and Mr. West, like that.”
During these not very illuminating remarks, West was revising
his first impressions. He confessed that the girl had nice features,
regular, well-proportioned ; that, though she lacked colour, her
complexion was of a healthy paleness ; that her expression could
hardly be called disagreeable, for the difficulty lay in deciding
whether she had any expression at all. All the same, she was
olain ; flat-chested, undeveloped, with clumsy feet and hands,
“You have a—quiet little place here,” he said to her to make
conversation. He had been going to say “a charming, little
place,” but a glance round the dark, musty-smelling room was
too much for his powers of unveracity.
“Yes, it’s almost too quiet, while Jack is away. Don’t you
think, Mr. West, I’m very good to stay here by myself all day
long ? ”
She had the oddest voice, very drawling, measured, inanimate.
It said nothing at all to the listener beyond the mere actual words.
“Come, you’ve got baby,” said Catterson, laughing, “let alone
“As though one’s landlady and a baby of seventeen months
were all the companionship one could require ! ” She laughed too.
She was almost pretty when she laughed, and West began to
perceive that after all she might be no older than Catterson had
zaid. She had the abundant crisp-growing hair, the irreproach
able smoothness of skin found only in youth s company. Her
eyes were really remarkable eyes, large, of a bluish-grey, clear as
water, with the pupils very big.
Yes, she was exceedingly pretty. It took you some time to
see it perhaps, but once you had seen it you wondered you
could have overlooked it before. Yet West had no sooner
admitted the fact than he began to qualify it. He said there
was absolutely nothing in her face that appealed to your
imagination ; that such very limpid eyes go with a cold or a
shallow nature, that such very large pupils denote either want or
intelligence or want of strength.
And there was undeniably something common in her physiog-
nomy, though at first he could not decide in which particular
trait it lay. Was it in the cut of the nostril, the line of
the mouth ? No, he thought it was to be found, rather, in a
certain unpleaslng shininess of surface. Her cheek had less of the
velvety texture of the peach, than the glaze of the white-heart
cherry. The wings of the nose, its slightly aquiline bridge ?
reflected the light in little patches.
If her hair was unusually thick, it was coarse too, and of a
uniform dark-brown colour. The front, cut short, seemed to
rebel against the artificial curling to which it was subjected.
Instead of lying on her forehead in rings as was no doubt intended,
here was an undistinguishable fuzz, while there a straight mesh
stood out defiantly.
She had pretty ears and execrably ugly hands, in the thick
fingers of which, with squat nails broader than they were long, in
the tough and wrinkled skin, the want of race of her ancestors
was easily to be read. On the left hand she wore a plain gold
So soon as the first fillip or greeting was spent, she became
noticeable for her silences ; had a way of letting every subject
drop ; and expressed no opinions, or only those universal ones
which every woman may express without danger of self-revelation.
For instance, when West asked whether she cared for reading,
she said she was passionately fond of it ; but when pressed as to
what she liked best to read, she mentioned, after considerable
hesitation, East Lynne and Shakespeare.
As Catterson had said, there was no fault to find with her pro-
nunciation or her accent ; or what faults there were, were faults
he himself was guilty of. West realised that she was quick in
imitation, and, up to a certain point, receptive. She had carefully
modelled her deportment on Catterson s, held her knife and fork
lifted her glass, and used her table napkin in precisely the same way
he did. When, later on, West had occasion to see her hand
writing he found it a curiously close copy of Catterson’s own.
Women, whose characters are still undeveloped, and whose writing
therefore remains unformed, almost invariably do adopt, for a time,
the handwriting of their lovers.
There was nothing in her manners or appearance, to indicate
her precise social origin, nor did West, by-the-by, ever learn
anything definite concerning it. Catterson was very sensitive on
the point, and only once made the vaguest, the most cursory refer-
ence to how he had met her.
Still less was there anything about Nettie Hooper to fit in with
West s preconceived theories. As she sat there, placid, silent,
quiet, he had to admit that as Catterson had said, she was not at
all the sort of girl he had imagined her to be. And yet ….
He made the above mental notes during the course of the
dinner, while Catterson’s nervousness gradually wore off, and his
gaiety returned. His infatuation for Nettie, led him, when in
her presence, to the conviction that every one else must be equally
The dining-room was small, and like the parlour looked out
through a French window over a tangled slip of garden. The
furniture consisted chiefly of Japanese fans, but there was also a
round table, and at least three chairs. The arrangements, gener-
ally, were of a picnic character, and when Mrs. Baker, a stout
and loquacious old body, brought in the dishes, she stayed awhile
to join in the conversation, addressing them all impartially as
” My dear,” and Nettie in particular as ” My dear Life.”
But the meal, if simple, was satisfying, and Nettie herself left
the table to make the coffee, as Catterson had taught her to do, in
French fashion. He brought out from the chiffoniere a bottle of
green Chartreuse, and Nettie handed cigarettes and found an ash-
tray. She was full of ministering attentions.
While they smoked and talked, and she sat silent, her limpid
eyes fixed mostly on Catterson, although every now and then,
West knew they were turned upon him, wails were heard from
“It’s baby, poor little soul,” said Nettie, rising. “Please
Jack, may I go and bring her down ? ”
She presently returned with a flannel-gowned infant in her
arms. The child had just the same large, limpid, blue-grey eyes
as the mother, with just the same look in them. She fixed West
with the relentless, unswerving stare of childhood, and not all her
father s blandishments could extract a smile.
Nettie, kissing the square-toed, pink feet, addressed her as
“Blossom,” and “Dear little soul,” then sat tranquilly nursing
her, as a child might nurse a doll.
She had really many of a child’s ways, and when Catterson, at
the end of the evening, put on his hat to accompany West to the
station, she asked in her long, plaintive drawl, ” May I come, too,
Jack ? ” exactly as a child asks permission of parent or master.
She put her head back again into the dining-room a moment after
leaving it. ” What shall I put on, my cloak or my cape ? ” she
said ; ” and must I change my shoes ? ”
Catterson turned to West with a smile, which asked for con-
gratulations. ” You see how docile she is, how gentle ? And
it’s always the same. It’s always my wishes that guide her. She
never does anything without asking my opinion and advice. I
don’t know how a man could have a better wife. I know I should
never find one to suit me better. But now you ve seen her for
yourself, you ve come over to my opinion, I feel sure ? You’ve
got nothing further to urge against my marrying her, have
you ? ”
West was saved the embarrassment of a reply by the reappear-
ance of Nettie in outdoor things, and Catterson was too satisfied
in his own mind with the effect she must have produced, to notice
He talked gaily on indifferent matters until the train moved out
of the station, and West carried away with him a final vignette of
the two young people standing close together beneath the glare of
a gas-lamp, Catterson with an arm affectionately slipped through the
girl’s. His thin, handsome face was flushed with excitement and
self-content. The demure little figure beside him, that did not
reach up to his shoulder, in neat black coat and toque, stared
across the platform up to West, from limpid, most curious eyes.
What the devil was the peculiarity of those eyes, he asked
himself impatiently ? and hammered out the answer to the oscilla
tions of the carriage, the vibration of the woodwork, the flicker of
the lamp, as the train rumbled through the night and jerked up
at flaring stations.
Beautiful as to shape and colour, beautiful in their fine dark
lashes, in their thinly pencilled brows, these strange eyes seemed to
look at you and ostentatiously to keep silence ; to thrust you coldly
back, to gaze through you and beyond you, as if with the set
purpose of avoiding any explanation with your own.
It was this singularity which in the shock of first sight had
repelled, which had shed over the face an illusory plainness, which
had suggested age and experience, so that it had taken West an
appreciable time to discover that Nettie Hooper was in reality quite
young, and exceedingly pretty. But he had learned on a dozen
previous occasions, that the first instantaneous, unbiased impression
is the one to be trusted. Especially in so far as concerns the eyes.
The eyes are very literally the windows of the soul.
Three years later, West and two men who don’t come into
this story at all, were spending the month of August up the river.
An ill-advised proceeding, for the weather, so far, had proved
deplorably wet, as the weather in August too often does, and of all
sad places in wet weather, the river is incomparably the saddest.
But they had hired their boat, they had made their arrange
ments, dates were fixed, and places decided on. With the
thoroughly British mental twist that to change your plans is to
show inconsistency, and therefore weakness, West’s companions
were determined to carry these plans out to their prearranged end.
He scoffed at their mulishness, but submitted nevertheless ;
and following their example he rowed with bent head and
set teeth through the continually falling rain, or sat, in their
society during interminable hours waiting for it to cease, in an
open boat beneath a dripping elm-tree. And as he gazed out over
the leaden sheet of pock-marked water, he found amusement in
telling himself that here at least was a typically national way of
taking a holiday.
Nor, after all, did it always rain. There were occasional days
of brilliant, if unstable sunshine, when the stream ran dimpling
between its banks of sweet flag and loose-strife ; when the sand-
martins skimmed over the water with their pittering cry ; when
the dabchick, as the boat stole upon her, dived so suddenly,
remained under for so long, and rose again so far off, that but for
a knowledge of her habits, you would pronounce it a genuine
case of bird suicide.
It was on one such a sunny, inspiriting Saturday, that a twenty
mile pull from Maidenhead brought them by afternoon in sight or
the picturesque old bridge at Sonning. Here, in Sonning, they
were to pass the night and stay over till Monday. For here one
of the men had an aunt, and he was under strict maternal orders
to dine with her on Sunday.
There was the usual difference of opinion as to which of the
two inns they should put up at, the White Hart being
voted too noisy, the French Horn condemned as too swagger.
But the question was settled by the White Hart, which you
reach first on the Berkshire bank, proving full ; they accordingly
pulled round the mill-water on the right, to try their luck at the
For those who do not know it, this may be described as one of
the prettiest of riverside inns ; a cosy-looking, two-storied house,
with a wide verandah, and a lawn sloping down to the water’s
edge. Beneath the trees on either side, tea was set out on wicker
tea-tables, and each table had its encircling group of gay frocks
and scarlet sunshades. It presented a Watteau-like picture of
light and shadow and colour, the artistic value of which was
increased by three conspicuous figures, which took the spectator’s
eye straight to the centre of the foreground.
A man, a girl, and a little child stood together, just above the
wooden landing-steps, and a Canadian canoe, brilliant with new
ness and varnish, flaring with flame-coloured cushions, rocked
gently on the water at their feet.
The young man held the painter in his hand ; was dressed in
immaculate white flannel, wore a pink and white striped shirt,
and a waist-handkerchief of crimson silk.
The girl was the boating-girl of the stage. Where the rushes
fringed the lawn you looked instinctively for footlights. The open
work silk stockings, the patent leather evening shoes, the silver
belt compressing a waist of seventeen inches, were all so thoroughly
theatrical. So was her costume of pale blue and white ; so was
the knot of broad ribbon fastening her sailor collar ; so was the
Jack Tar cap, with its blue and silver binding, set slightly on one
side of her dark head. The child by her side was dressed in white
embroidered muslin and a sunbonnet.
” I say, West,” cried the man who steered, ” you who know all
the actresses, tell us who’s that little girl there, with the kid.”
West, who was sculling, turned his head.
“Oh, damn! it s Mrs. Catterson,” he said, with the emphasis
of a surprise, which is a disagreeable one.
Since the marriage, he had not seen very much of Nettie
Catterson, although he was godfather to the boy. For one thing,
it is difficult to see much of people who live in the suburbs ; and
though Catterson had moved twice, first from Teddington to
Kingston, then from Kingston to Surbiton Hill, where he was
now a householder, Surbiton remained equally out of West’s way.
But there was another reason for the evasion of the constant
invitations which Catterson pressed upon him in the City. It had
not taken him long to perceive that he was far from being persona
grata to Mrs. Catterson. Whether this was to be accounted for
by the average woman s inevitable jealousy of her husband’s
friends, whether it was she suspected his opposition to her
marriage, or whether she could not forgive him for having known
her while she was passing as Mrs. Grey, he could not determine.
Probably her dislike was compounded of all three reasons, with a
preponderance, he thought, in favour of the last.
For with marriage, the possession of a semi-detached villa at
Surbiton, and the entrance into such society as a visit from the
clergyman’s wife may open the door to, Nettie had become of
an amazing conventionality, and surpassing Catterson himself
in the matter of deference to Mrs. Grundy, she seemed to
have set herself the task of atoning for irregularity of conduct
in the past, by the severest reprobation of all who erred in the
present, and West s ribaldry in conversation, his light views on
serious subjects, and his habitual desecration of the Sunday were
themes for her constant animadversions and displeasure.
It was the rapid rèsumè of these, his demerits with Mrs. Catter-
son, which had called forth his energetic ” Damn ! ”
At the same moment that he recognised her, Catterson
recognised him, and sung out a welcome. The boat was brought
alongside, and he was received by Nettie with a warmth which
surprised him. His companions, with hasty cap-lifting, escaped
across the lawn to get drinks at the bar, and secure beds for the
He looked after them with envy ; and had to accept Nettie’s
invitation to tea.
” We were just quarrelling, Jack and I,” she said, ” where to
have it. He wants to go down to Marlow, and I want it here.
Now you ve come, that settles it. We’ll have it here.”
Catterson explained his reason : as Nettie wished to go out in
the canoe again, they ought to go now while it was fine, as it was
sure to rain later.
Nettie denied the possibility of rain with an asperity which
informed West that he had arrived on the crest of a domestic
disagreement, and he understood at once the cordiality of his
She had developed none of the tempestuous views which his
theories had required ; on the contrary she appeared to be just
the ordinary wife, with the ordinary contempt for her husband’s
foibles and wishes. She could talk of the trials of housekeeping
and the iniquities of servants as to the manner born, and always
imitative had lately given back the ideals of Surbiton with the
fidelity of a mirror. But there were curious undercurrents
beneath this surface smoothness, of which West now and then got
He renewed his acquaintance with Gladys, the little girl, who
periodically forgot him, and asked after his godson. But the
subject proved unfortunate.
Nettie’s mouth took menacing lines. ” Cyril, I’m sorry to say,
is a very naughty boy. I don’t know what we’re going to do
with him, I’m sure.”
West couldn’t help smiling. ” It’s somewhat early days to
despair of his ultimate improvement, perhaps? How old is he ?
Not three till December, I think ? He told himself that the
open-hearted, sensitive, impulsive little fellow ought not to be very
difficult to manage.
” He’s old enough to be made to obey,” she said, with a glance
at Catterson, which suggested some contentious background to the
” Oh, well, one doesn’t want to break the child’s spirit,” Catter-
” I think his spirit will have to be broken very soon,” asserted
Nettie, ” if he goes on being as troublesome as he has been
Gladys, sitting by her mother’s side, drank in everything that
was said. She was now five years old, and a little miniature of
Nettie. She turned her clear and stolid eyes from one to another.
” Cyril’s a …. naughty …. little boy,” she observed in
a piping drawl, a thin exaggeration of Nettie’s own, and making
impressive pauses between the words. ” He’s never going to be
tooked …. up the river like me. Is he, mother ? ”
” If you want to be a good little girl,” observed Catterson,
” you’ll put your bread and jam into your mouth, instead of feed
ing your ear with it as you are doing at present.”
” Cyril don’t have …. no jam …. for his tea,” she began
again, ” ‘cos he’s so naughty. He only has dry bread an’—”
” Come, come, don’t talk so much, Gladys,” said her father
impatiently, ” or perhaps you won’t get looked up the river
Nettie put an arm round her.
“Poor little soul! Mother’ll take her up the river always,
won’t she ? We don’t mind what Papa says, do we ? ”
” Silly old Papa ! ” cried the child, throwing him one of Nettie’s
own looks, ” we don’t mind what he says, we don’t.”
All the same, when tea was over, and they prepared to make a
start in the canoe, West their still somewhat unwilling guest,
Catterson put his foot down and refused to take Gladys with
them for various reasons. Four couldn’t get into the canoe
with safety or comfort ; the child had been out all day, and had
already complained of sickness from the constant swaying motion ;
but chiefly because it was undoubtedly going to rain. Nettie
gave in with a bad grace, and the little girl was led off, roaring,
by her maid.
Nettie had complained that the tea was cold, and that she
could not drink it. She had insisted on Catterson having a second
brew brought. Then when this came had pushed away her cup,
and pronounced it as unpalatable as before. But no sooner were
they some way down stream, than she said she was thirsty, and
asked for ginger beer.
West remembered Catterson telling him long ago, how Nettie
would suddenly wake up thirsty in the middle of the night,
and how he would have to get up and go down to forage for
something to quench her thirst. It had seemed to Catterson, in
those days, very amusing, pathetic, and childlike, and he had told
of it with evident relish and pride. But the little perversity
which is so attractively provoking in the young girl, often comes
to provoke without any attractiveness in the wife and mother.
Catterson turned the canoe when Nettie spoke, saying they
had best go and get what she wanted at the White Hart, but
West fancied he looked annoyed and slightly ashamed.
After this little episode, because of the ominous appearance of
the sky, it was agreed to keep up stream towards the lock. But
before they reached it the first great drops of rain were splashing
into the water about them. The lock-keeper made them welcome.
He and Catterson were old acquaintances. Having set out for
them, and dusted down three Windsor chairs, he went to spread a
tarpaulin over the canoe.
The darkness of the little room grew deeper every instant.
Then came an illuminating flash followed by a shattering thunder
peal. The ear was filled with the impetuous downrush of the rain.
” There ! Why wouldn’t you let me bring Gladys ? ” cried
Nettie. “Poor little soul, she’s so terrified of thunder, she’ll
scream herself into fits.”
” She’s right enough with Annie,” said Catterson, somewhat too
Nettie replied that Annie was a perfect fool, more afraid of a
storm than the child herself. “Jack, you’ll have to go back and
comfort her. Jack, you must go ! ”
” My dear, in this rain ! ” he expostulated. ” How can you
want me to do anything so mad ? ”
But Nettie had worked herself up into a paroxysm of maternal
solicitude, of anguish of mind. West asked himself if it were
entirely genuine, or partly a means of punishing Catterson for his
self-assertion a while ago.
” Since you re so afraid of a little rain,” she concluded con-
temptuously, ” I’ll go myself. I’m not going to let the child die
She made a movement as though to leave the house. Catterson
drew her back, and turning up the collar of his coat, went out.
But before the canoe was fairly launched, West knew he must be
wet to the skin. He stood and watched him paddling down
against the closely serried, glittering lances of the rain, until lost
in a haze of watery grey.
Then, for his life, he could not refrain from speaking. “I
think it’s very unwise for Jack to get wet like that. It’s not as
though he were particularly strong. He comes of a delicate,
short-lived family, as you probably know ?
But Nettie only stared silently before her as though she had
And there, in silence, they remained for another twenty
minutes, while the rain flooded earth and river, and the thunder
rumbled to and fro over the sky.
Nettie maintained an absolute silence, and West, leaning
against the window-frame, beguiled the time in studying her
with fleeting, inoffensive glances. He again noted the ugliness
of her hands, to which, as they lay folded in her lap, the flashing
of a half-hoop of fine diamonds, now worn above the wedding-
ring, carried first his attention. But when he raised his eyes to
her small, pale face, he decided she was prettier than she used to
be, more strikingly pretty at first sight. She had learned, perhaps,
to bring out her better points. He thought she dressed her hair
more becomingly ; three years steady application of curling irons
had at last induced it to lie in softer curls. Five years of married
life had in no wise dimmed the transparency of her skin. Not a
line recorded an emotion whether of pleasure or of pain. If she
had lived through any psychic experiences, they had not left the
faintest mark behind. And it was partly the immobility of coun-
tenance by which this smoothness of surface was maintained,
which led West again to qualify his favourable verdict, just as he
had done before.
He began to think that the predominant note in her character
was coldness, heartlessness even. He remembered, not so long
ago, hearing her relate as though it were a good story, how
meeting old Mrs. Baker one day in Kingston Market, she had
passed her by with an unrecognising stare. Yet the old woman
had been devoted to Nettie, as she herself used to boast ; a certain
feeling of gratitude, of kindliness might have been looked for in
But there must have been others, West told himself, to whom
she owed a greater debt—the relations, or friends, who had
brought her up, clothed her and fed her until the day she had
met with Catterson. She never referred to these others, she
never let slip the smallest illusion to her early life ; she held her
secrets with a tenacity which was really uncommon ; but it was
evident that she had turned her back on all who had ever be
friended her with the same cold ease she had shown to Mrs.
She was fond, apparently, of her little girl, but this particular
affection was no contradiction to her general want of it ; she
saw in the child a reduplication of herself. For Gladys was
the image of her mother, just as the little boy was Catterson over
again ; very nervous, sensitive, and eager for love and approval.
West mused over the curious want of sympathy Nettie had
always displayed for the boy. It amounted almost to dislike. He
had never been able to win her good word from the day of his
birth, and his natural timidity was greatly augmented by her
The Yellow Book—Vol. XI. U
severe treatment. West was inclined to believe the reason to be
a sort of jealousy for Gladys ; that she resented the fact that Cyril
was legitimate ; that he would inherit under his grandfather’s will,
while the little girl, the first born, the preferred child, could not.
Catterson had never alluded to the subject, but for all that,
West knew that he was profoundly hurt by the difference Nettie
made between the children. If he himself made any in his heart,
and West said it would be only natural if he loved Cyril most,
who adored his father and impulsively showed it, rather than
Gladys who always coldly repulsed his overtures of affection, at
least in his conduct towards them he never let it appear. He
even seemed to overlook Cyril a little, having learned by experi-
ence probably, what were the consequences of paying him too
much attention. Cyril was always left at home, while Gladys
accompanied her parents everywhere.
Studying Nettie’s physiognomy, tracing the lines of the
mouth, the slightly backward drawn nostrils, the hard insensitive
hands, West found himself rejoicing he did not stand in his poor
little godson s shoes.
The storm was over, the sun was out again, and Nettie rising,
suggested they should go. They crossed over the top of the lock-
gates, picked their way between the puddles of the towing-path,
and so back over Sonning Bridge to the hotel.
Catterson was in his room changing his wet clothes, and Nettie
went up to him. West found Gladys sitting in the verandah
beside her nurse, tranquilly playing with a doll.
” Well, babe,” said he, in friendly tones, ” were you very much
frightened by the thunder and lightning just now ?”
But she did not answer, she merely fixed her limpid eyes on
his, thrusting him back with their coldly negative stare. Then,
ostentatiously, she re-absorbed herself in her game.
The next morning kept Catterson in bed with a bad cold
and West sooner than pass the day in the vicinity of Nettie,
persuaded the nephew to abandon the aunt and the dinner,
and both men into the extraordinary inconsistency of pushing
on to Streatley.
One black morning in December, West remembered, for no
reason at all, that it was the birthday of Cyril his godson
Cyril to-day entered on his fifth year, and West found himself
making the usual ” damned silly reflections ” on the flight
of time. Dismissing these as stale and unprofitable, he began
to wonder what present he could take the boy. He tried
to remember what he himself had liked at the age of four, but
he could recall nothing of that antediluvian period. He thought
of a book, a paint-box, a white fur rabbit, but the delights
of painting and reading were surely beyond Cyril’s years, while
the Bunny was perhaps too infantile. Finally, he set his face
westward, trusting to find inspiration in the windows of the shops
he passed. The heavenly smell of chocolate which greeted him
at Buszard s made him decide on a big packet of bon-bons. He
knew from previous experience with the Catterson children, that
chocolates were sure to be appreciated.
The Cimmerian morning had dragged its course through
brown, orange, and yellow hours, to an afternoon of misty grey.
But West nevertheless felt inclined for walking. As he crossed
the park diagonally from the Marble Arch to Queen’s Gate, his
thoughts outran his steps, and were already with the Cattersons.
They had moved again, and now lived in South Kensington.
Nettie had become very intimate with a certain Mrs. Reade,
whose acquaintance she owed to a week spent in the same hotel.
The two young women had struck up an effusive friendship, based
on a similarity of taste in dress and amusement, Mrs. Reade supply
ing the model for Nettie’s faithful imitation. She copied her
manners, she adopted her opinions and ideas. Mrs. Reade had
declared it was impossible to live so far out of town as Surbiton.
The Cattersons therefore disposed of the lease of their house, and
took one close to Mrs. Reade’s in Astwood Place.
Catterson had left his pretty suburban garden with the more
reluctance that he disliked the Reades, considered the husband
common, the wife loud, vulgar, bad style. But he had told West
at the time, there was no price too high to pay for the purchase
of domestic peace.
He was peaceably inclined by nature, but of late, any nervous
energy which might have been contentiously employed was used
up in fighting off the various trifling ailments that continuously
beset him. He was always talcing cold ; now it was lumbago,
now a touch of congestion, now a touch of pleurisy. He spent
half his days at home in the doctor’s hands. Nettie made his bad
health the ostensible reason for quitting Surbiton. The damp air
rising from the river didn’t suit him.
Town suited her, as she expressed it, ” down to the ground,”
and following in Mrs. Reade’s wake, she became one of the
immense crowd of smartly-gowned nobodies, who, always talking
as if they were somebodies, throng fashionable shops, cycle in the
Park, and subscribe to Kensington Town Hall dances. It was
far away from the days when she lived in lodgings at Teddington,
made her own clothes, and cooked her own dinner.
Now she kept four maids, whom she was constantly changing.
West seldom found the door opened by the same girl thrice.
Nettie was an exacting mistress, and had no indulgence for the
class from which presumably she had sprung. Her servants were
expected to show the perfection of angels, the capacity for work of
machines, and the servility of slaves. And she was always detect
ing imperfections, laziness, or covert impertinence of manner or
speech. Every six weeks or so there was a domestic crisis, and
Mary or Jane left in tears, and without a character.
West could generally guess from the expres-ion of Jane’s or
Mary’s face how long she had been in Astwood Place. Dis-
appointment, harassment, and sullen discontent were the stages
through which each new comer passed before reaching the tearful
From the serene appearance of the young person who to-day
let him in, West judged she was but recently arrived. “Mrs.
Catterson was out,” for which he was not sorry ; but ” the
Master was at home,” which he had expected, having heard in
the City that Catterson had not been at his office for some
He found him huddled up over the drawing-room fire, spreading
out his thin hands to the blaze. Half lost in the depths of the
armchair, sitting with rounded shoulders and sunken head, he
seemed rather some little shrunken sexagenarian than a man still
Gladys, with a picture-book open on her knee, sat on a stool
against the fender. She did not move as West came in, but
raising her eyes considered him, as was her wont, with a steadfast
Catterson, turning, jumped up to greet him with something of
his old buoyancy of manner; but the change which a few weeks
had made in his face gave West a fresh shock. Nor could he
disguise it sufficiently quickly—the painful impression.
” You think I’m looking ill, eh ?” asserted Catterson, but with
an eagerness which pleaded for a denial.
West lied instantly and heartily, but Catterson was not taken in.
“You think it’s all UP with me, I see,” he said, returning to
the chair, and his former attitude of dejection.
This was so exaggerated a statement of his thoughts that West
tried absolute candour.
“I don’t think you’re looking very fit,” he said ; “but what
you want is change. This dark, damp, beastly weather plays the
deuce with us all. You should run down to Brighton for a few
days. A man was telling me only last night that Brighton all
this week has been just a blaze of sunshine.”
” Oh, Brighton ! ” Catterson repeated, hopelessly, ” I’m past
that.” With the finger-tip of one hand he kept probing and
pressing the back of the other as it lay open upon his knee,
searching for symptoms of the disease he most dreaded.
To change the channel of his thoughts, West turned to the
little girl who still mutely envisaged him.
” Well, Gladys, have you forgotten, as usual, who I am ?”
” No, I haven’t …. you’re Mithter Wetht,” she told him,
the piping drawl now complicated by a lisp, due to the fact that
she had lost all her front teeth.
“Where’s Sonny?” he asked her. “I’ve got something for
him,” and he put the packet of sweets down on the table by his
She reflected a moment as to who Sonny might be ; then,
“Thyril’s a naughty boy,” she said. ” He’th had a good . . .
whipping . . . and hath been put to bed.”
” Oh poor old chap ! ” West exclaimed, ruefully, ” and on his
birthday too. What has he done ? ”
But Gladys only repeated, ” He’th a … very . . , naughty
boy,” in tones of dogmatic conviction. She seemed to detect the
guest s sympathy with the culprit, and to resent it.
Voices and laughter were heard on the stairs. Nettie entered
in her bonnet and furs, preceded by a big, overdressed woman,
whom West easily identified as Mrs. Reade. They had been
shopping, and both were laden with small, draper’s parcels.
Nettie did not seem pleased to find the drawing-room occupied.
She gave West a limp hand without looking at him, which was
one of her exasperating habits when put out, and then she attacked
her husband for keeping up so big a fire. The heat of the room
was intolerable, she said ; it was enough to make any one ill. She
threw off her wraps with an exaggeration of relief, peevishly
altered the position of a chair which West had pushed aside
inadvertently, and began to move about the room, in the search,
as he knew well, of some fresh grievance. Catterson followed her
for a second or two with tragic eyes. Then he turned to the fire
again. ” To me it seems very cold,” he murmured ; ” I’ve not
been warm all day.”
Mrs. Reade declared he should take to”byking.” That would
warm him ; there was nothing in the world like it. ” Indeed
unless it maims you for life, it cures every evil that flesh is
“But I suppose the chances are in favour of the maiming? ”
West asked her.
She laughed hilariously at this, and though she was certainly
vulgar, as Catterson had complained, West couldn’t help liking
her. He always did like the women who laughed at his little
jokes ; (Mrs. Catterson never laughed at them). Besides, she
was so obviously healthy and good-natured ; handsome too, al-
though you saw that in a few years, she would become too fat.
Nettie wondered why on earth Jack couldn’t have had tea
ready, pulled violently at the bell, and began to examine some
patterns of silk she had brought home with her for the selection
of an evening gown. Her lap was presently filled with little
oblong pieces of black and coloured brocades.
“The green is exquisite, isn’t it, Mimi ? ” she appealed to her
friend, “but do you think it would suit me ? Wouldn’t it make
me look too pale ? The heliotrope is sweet too, but then I had
a gown last year almost that very shade. People would say I
had only had it cleaned or turned. Perhaps, after all, I had
better have black ? I’ve not had a black frock for a long time,
and it’s always so smart-looking, isn’t it ? ”
Mrs. Reade thought that in Nettie’s place she should choose
the green, and have it made up with myrtle velvet and cream
guipure. An animated discussion of dressmaking details began,
during which the men sat, perforce, silent.
Gladys, meanwhile, had come over to the table on which the
chocolates lay, where she stood, industriously picking open the
Catterson presently caught sight of this.
” Gladys ! ” he exclaimed, with the sharp irritability of
She had just popped a fat bon-bon into her mouth, and she
remained petrified for a moment by so unaccustomed a thing as a
rebuke. Then for convenience sake, she took the sweet out
again in her thumb and finger, and burst into sobs of anger and
Nettie was equally surprised and angry. ” What are you
thinking of, Jack, frightening the poor child by shouting at her
like that ? ”
“But did you see what she was doing, my dear, meddling with
West’s property ? ”
“Mr. West shouldn’t leave his sweets about on the table if he
doesn’t want the child to have them. Naturally, she thought
they were for her.”
” Not at all. She knew they were for Cyril. She heard West
” After Cyril’s behaviour to me this morning I certainly shall
not allow him to have them. And I don’t approve of sweets
anyway. It ruins the children’s teeth. I wish Mr. West
wouldn t bring them so often.”
This was sufficiently ungracious, and West’s answer was suffi-
ciently foolish ; “Perhaps you wish I wouldn’t bring myself so
often either ? ” said he.
“I’ve no doubt we could manage to get on just as well without
you,” she retorted, and there were worlds of insult concentrated
in the tone.
The only effectual answer would have been immediate departure,
but consideration for Catterson held West hesitant. It is always
because of their affection for the husband that the wife finds it so
particularly easy, and perhaps so agreeable, to insult his friends.
She offers them their choice between perpetual banishment and
chunks of humble-pie.
Catterson put an end to the situation himself.
” Let’s get away out of this, West,” he said, with flushed cheeks
and shaking voice, ” come down to my study.”
Here, the change of atmosphere brought on a fit of coughing,
to which West listened with a serrement de cceur. In his mind’s
eye he saw Catterson again, vividly, as he had been a few years
back; very gay and light-hearted, full of pranks and tricks. Always
restless, always talking, always in tip-top spirits ; when he fell in
love, finding expression for the emotion in the whistling and singing
of appropriate love-ditties, the music-hall love-ditties of the day.
The foolish refrain of one of these recurred to West, ding-dong,
pertinaciously at his ear :—
They know me well at the County Bank,
Cash is better than fame or rank,
Then hey go lucky ! I’ll marry me ducky,
The Belle of the Rose and Crown.”
And now Catterson, with pinched features, sunken eyes, and
contracted chest, sat there pouring out a flood of bitterness against
himself, life, and the gods for the granting of his prayer.
” You remember Nettie before I married her ? Did she not
appear the gentlest, the sweetest, the most docile girl in the world ?
Who would ever have imagined she could have learned to bully her
husband and insult his friends like this ?
” But the moment her position was assured she changed ;
changed completely. Why, look here, West, the very day we
were married—you remember we went down to Brighton, and
were married there—as we walked back along the King’s Road,
she stopped me before a shop and said, You can just come in here
and buy me some furs. Now I m your wife you needn’t suppose
I’m going through another winter in my wretched, little, old coat
of last year. It was her tone ; the implication of what she had
had to endure at my hands, before she had the right to command
me. It was the first lifting of the veil on her true character.
“Perhaps if I had never married her—who knows ? Women
require to be kept under, to be afraid of you, to live in a condition
of insecurity ; to know their good fortune is dependent on their
” I did the right thing ? Yes, …. but we are told, be not
righteous overmuch ; and there are some virtues which dig their
He spoke in a disconnected manner ; but his domestic misery
Was the string which threaded the different beads. Of West’s
interjected sympathy and well-meant efforts to turn his thoughts
he took no heed.
” Marriage is the metamorphosis of women. Where did I
read that lately ? It’s odd ; but everything I now read relates to
marriage. In every book I take up I find an emphatic warning
against it. Why couldn’t these have come in my way sooner ?
Why couldn t some one tell me I ” Marriage is the meta
morphosis of women—the Circe wand which changes back all
these smiling, gentle, tractable, little girls into their true forms.
” Oh, but after all, you say ? . . . . No, my wife does none of
those things ; but she has made my life miserable, miserable ….
and that’s enough for me. And if I were to try and explain how
she does it, I daresay you would only laugh at me. For there’s
nothing tragic in the process. It’s the thousand pin-pricks of
daily life, the little oppositions, the little perversities, the faint
sneers. At first you let them slip off again almost indifferently,
but the slightest blow repeated upon the same place a thousand
times draws blood at last.
” No, she doesn’t care for me, and sometimes I almost think
she hates the boy. Poor boy …. it seems monstrous, in
credible ; but I ve caught her looking at him with a hardness, a
He sat silent, looking wistfully away into space. West traced
the beginning of a pleasanter train of ideas in the relaxed corners
of his mouth, in the brightening of his sunken eyes.
” He’s the dearest little chap, West ! And so clever ! Do
you know, I believe he’ll have the most extraordinarily logical and
mathematical mind. He has begun to meditate already over what
seems to him the arbitrariness of names. He wanted to know the
other day, for instance, how a table had come to be called a table,
why it wasn’t called a chair, or anything else you like. And this
morning, when we were talking, he and I, over the present I had
given him, he posed me this problem : Supposing two horses
harnessed to a cart were galloping with it, just as fast as ever they
could “go, how much faster could ten horses gallop with it ?
Shows he thinks, eh ? Not bad for a child of four ? ”
He began to forecast Cyril’s career ; he would put his name down
at Harrow, because to Harrow he could get out to see him every
week. He should have the advantages of Oxford or Cambridge,
which Catterson had not had. He should enter one of the liberal
professions, the Bar for choice.
And then his face clouded over again.
” But he shall never marry. He shall do anything else in life
he pleases : but he shall never marry. For it’s no matter how well
a man may be born, it’s no matter how fortunate he may be in life,
if he’s unfortunate in his marriage. And it seems to me, that one
way or another, marriage spells ruin.”
He was back again in the unhappy present, and West felt his
heart wrung. Yet there was no help to be given, no consolation
possible. The one door of deliverance which stood open, was the
one door which Catterson could not face, although his reluctant
feet drew nearer to it every day.
But West had already observed that when life becomes impossible,
when a man’s strength is inadequate to the burdens imposed upon
it, when the good he may yet accomplish is outweighed by the
evils he may have to endure, then the door opens, the invisible
hand beckons him through, and we know no further of his fate.
Though Catterson could not face it, and with an ominous spot
burning on either cheek, tried to reabsorb himself again in plans
for the future, West saw in it the only possible escape, and told
himself it was better, even though it proved an eternal sleep, than
what he daily had to endure.
The wife’s cold heart, her little cruelties, her little meannesses,
all her narrowness, her emptiness of mind rose before him. What
a hell upon earth to have to live in daily companionship with her,
even if unrelated to her in any way ! But for her husband she
was the constant living reminder of his dead illusions. He could
not look at her without seeing the poor, thin ghosts of his lost
youth, of his shattered faith, hope, and happiness, gathered round
her. Every indifference of hers, every neglect, must call up the
memory of some warm protestation, of some dear attention in the
past. And these were less hard to bear than the knowledge that
those had never been genuine.
It is life as you anticipated it, brought still fresh and palpitating
into contrast with the bleak reality, which is so intolerably hard to
The contemplation of Catterson s position became so painful to
West, that he felt he must get away even at the cost of
brutality. He gave warmly the asked for assurance to come
again soon, and knew in his heart as he uttered it, that he would
not soon find the courage to return.
In the hall he looked about him mechanically ; then let slip a
hot and vigorous word on discovering he had left his hat up in the
drawing-room and must go back.
The tea-table now stood by Nettie s elbow. She insisted that
he should take a cup of tea, pressing it on him as a sort of peace-
offering, so that without actual rudeness he could not refuse.
She was again gracious as far as she knew how to be. Possibly
Mrs. Reade, who studied the suavities of life, had been remonstrat-
ing with her.
Gladys lay on the hearthrug, her face in her hands, her elbows
planted on the open book. The packet of sweets in a very
knock-kneed and depleted condition stood beside her. She
sucked a chocolate in her cheek, had kicked off her shoes,
and drummed with her black-stockinged feet upon the floor.
West made a pretence of drinking his tea, but it was tepid, it
was weak, and Nettie had put sugar into it without enquiring his
She and Mimi Reade were still discussing the patterns of the
” I do think the green perfectly sweet, Mimi,” she repeated,
holding the scrap up at arm’s length, so that the lamplight might
slant over it; “and yet the black is a softer, richer silk, and
would make up awfully well with jet trimmings, as you say. I
don t know which I had better have.”
The two women turned and returned the problem, considered
it again in all its bearings. They appeared to have forgotten West,
which was but natural, he had sat silent for so long. To himself,
his brain seemed mesmerised by the vapidity of their talk, so that
an imbecile point of interest grew up within it, as to which colour,
eventually, Nettie would choose.
Meanwhile the study door opened, and Catterson’s cough,
which carried such poignant suggestions to West, was heard again
upon the stairs. It seemed to speak suggestively to Nettie too.
“After all,” she said in her curious, drawling voice, “it
would be more prudent I suppose to decide on the black.”
The Yellow Book, vol. 11, October 1896. Yellow Book Digital Edition, edited by Dennis Denisoff and Lorraine Janzen Kooistra, 2010-2014. Yellow Nineties 2.0, Ryerson University Centre for Digital Humanities, 2021. https://1890s.ca/YBV11_all